Wednesday, 23 November 2016

My First Panic Attack

I was 21 when I had my first panic attack.

I didn't realize what was happening because all I could focus on was the fact that I couldn't breathe.

Chest-tightened. Eyes wide. I thought my lung had collapsed.

After a trip to the doctor's office, then the hospital and then another transfer to a different hospital, I finally got my answer. My oh-so-kind emergency room doctor sat down beside me as I lay in my hospital bed, terrified. He smiled at me as I searched his eyes for some clue of what was going on. He started, "I think you know why you're here but I want you to say it."

The truth is, I didn't know. But gauging from his watchful gaze and soft tone, I concluded that I must be dying. I watched enough Grey's anatomy and E.R to know that doctors don't just sit beside you for no reason.

His explanation surprised me.

"We're pretty sure you had a bad panic attack. Have you been experiencing a lot of stress lately?"

"Maybe a bit?" I replied.

This was the understatement of the year.

For the last few months I had been ignoring the sensations in my body. The overwhelming feeling of dread that coloured each day from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed.

I had been more than "a bit" stressed. More than just a "tad" anxious. I hadn't been able to eat properly in months. Food just wasn't going down right. And the food that would go down would sit in my stomach like a rock. I had resorted to eating smoothies and soft foods and grazing all day because I hadn't been able to swallow properly without feeling a lump of stress in my throat.

Of course, over the months leading up to my hospital visit, I had checked in with my doctor at the school's walk-in clinic who assured me again and again that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. I should get more exercise. I should try to "relax."

Relax is a trigger word for me. Telling an anxious person to relax is the equivalent of yelling, "fly" to someone falling off a cliff.

Sure, I'd love to but the question is how?

So I pretended I understood what she meant and proceeded to do what any 21-year old would do.

I ignored my problems and hoped they'd go away on their own.


Hint: They didn't.
I'd be lying if I said that I would chose this experience however in some twisted way, I'm so glad I did experience such a low in my life. I've had so many beautiful conversations and heart to hearts since my breaking point when I was 21. I've spoken with friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers about our shared experience with depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness in loved ones. And I realized that by opening up about my experience , it really didn't do any harm. It just made me more human and because of my honesty, I finally felt more at home in my body and my mind. 


Months went by. I got thinner. I also got a lot of compliments on how great I looked. My anxiety got worse. My abs looked great.

I drank more than usual because that was the only time I felt relaxed. SEE, I can give stupid medical advice too.

But since I wasn't eating enough to be able to handle my liquor, I was mostly a drunk mess through-out my whole third year of school. Yep, It was a super cute time in my life.

Alcohol, for the record, is a bandaid for anxiety. You take a drink and you feel better. But the next day, you feel worse. So you have to drink again in order to feel calm. And so on, and so forth.

My next charming symptom was lack of sleep. Try as I might, I couldn't sleep properly. I started getting irrationally scared about things that the logical part of mind knew weren't threats.

The mind is a powerful friend or foe depending on how you treat it.

 I was hungry but too stressed to eat. I was tired but I couldn't get my body to move out of fight or flight mode. At my worst, I would line my stomach with apple sauce to fill up the spaces where I'd let myself hollow out.

I became more reserved. The world was a scary place and I was scared of myself in it. Friends and family asked me if I was okay on a regular basis which only made me feel embarrassed and misunderstood and paranoid that people were noticing I was losing it.

All I wanted was for someone to say they understood but I was scared of what would happen if I told anyone what was going on. I isolated myself. My life became lonely and dangerous and which was masked by the fact that I had a perpetual smile plastered on my face.

I have a really convincing fake smile. Just ask my friends.

That's probably why many people didn't notice for a long time. I was glad because that meant I could keep going on with my life. Business as usual.

The thing about the human body is that it can only take so much abuse for so long. Sure, you can coast for a good long while but then, Bam. Face plant.

For me, it was about 8 months of hell before anything changed. And no, it was not by choice but because of one of the lowest moments of my life.

 My anxiety slowly turned into depression. Or maybe I had been depressed for a while and I wasn't conscious enough to notice.

 You see, depression is anxieties quieter and unfiltered friend. It whispers things that no one should hear about themselves.

Depression is dark and terrifying and numbing. I wouldn't wish depression on my worst enemy.

For those of you who think depression is the same as being sad, I can assure you, it's not. I long to punch anyone in the face who says, "Happiness is a choice" to a depressed person.

But I digress.

Being sad is watching Bridget Jones Diary in your sweatpants. Being sad is eating pizza everyday for a week and going out for mopey drinks with your friends.

 Being depressed is lying in your bed, not being able to get up no matter how much you've slept. It can feel like you have a really bad flu that just doesn't let up. Instead of reaching out for help, you want to be alone. Maybe you even convince yourself need to be alone. After all, who would want to hang-out with you like this? But you are also afraid to be alone because that's when all of the terrible thoughts you've been thinking come out and hang out with you. Depression and anxiety can take turns beating you up. You don't have much of a choice in the matter. And no inspirational quote is going to make that better when you're in that dark state of mind.

When you're depressed you're constantly reminded about how worthless you feel and you realize that everyone else has probably already noticed how shitty you were before you even did. Look, you even suck at being self-deprecating. Great one, loser.

If you've ever had to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you still wanted to live today, then you know the difference between being sad and being really depressed.

So as I sat in the E.R, knowing that the doctor, was waiting for an answer from me,  all I could do was stare at him. I was lost...in my own life. 

Time passed. I tried to help myself on my own. Things got worse. Until the day. The day everything crumbled. The day where the pain of pretending got to be too much. My skeleton was too heavy, and I finally found the courage to reach out to anyone and everyone who was around me. It was painful, it was messy, it was the thing that saved my life.

I got help. I talked to people. I finally told the people closest to me what was going on, and I quickly found out who I could trust, and who would say things like "Life is hard." The thing about life is that you see who is really there for you when you're no longer the "fun one." When you aren't the cheery, bubbly person who you strive to be.

I lost friends. I lost relationships. But I also gained the ability to know that I could be open about what was going on.

It's taken me years and many ups and downs to finally get to a place where I feel good. I do actively work at it. I know what is good for me and what makes me backslide into old patterns.

I'd like to think these experiences happen to us because they make us more empathetic towards our fellow human beings. We can't live in this world and ignore the fact that life is sometimes hard on ourselves and other people. Now when I hear of people having a hard time mentally, I have nothing but love and well wishes for them because I do understand.

There is something empowering to openly talk about my experience because for so long it was something I was truly embarrassed about. It felt like a dark mark written across on my forehead. She's been depressed. She's anxious. She's not well.


And now, I am able to gift other people what I so longed for all those years ago. When someone tells me how they are feeling, I will never say, "Life is hard." I will look at them with all the compassion in the world and tell them, "I know it's hard. I understand, you're not alone." I'm  unbelievably grateful for that.

I started working on a play a couple years ago called Surfacing that deals with anxiety and depression in a young woman and how difficult it is to get anyone to understand her experience. Although it's not my story exactly, it does include a lot of feelings from my own experience. It's happening in January 2017 and I hope to see you there! 

Why not use art to start a conversation and let people know it's okay to talk about. It's more than okay, it's life saving. Trust me, I know.

If you'd like to support our show, feel free to click on the link below:


I hope that if you or anyone you know is going through a tough time that you can see there is hope. And that with the right treatment, you can live a very happy life.

As always, much love.

L.B

My work is completely funded by my readers-if you'd like to keep this an ad-free space, please consider making a small monthly donation below to keep the blog posts coming. You are also invited to make a one-time donation in my "tip jar." Thanks for all the love and support. - Laurel



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Friday, 14 October 2016

Wouldn't it be nice?


Wouldn't it be nice if we, as women, were treated well?

Not as a bonus but because it was our inherent right?

If, as a woman, you could walk down the street, late at night, and have no fear for your own safety?

If every man that who approached us, or called out something disgusting, didn't make our heart's race, or our mind panic?

What would it be like to never ask ourselves, "How fast can I run?"

If we didn't need our keys clasped in-between our fingers on our walk home?

Or we never had to hope that if something bad did happen, that it would be over quickly.

Wouldn't it be great if we never had to ask ourselves, "What is he capable of? " after having a man become aggressive with us?

Or that we never again had to placate our aggressor in hopes of deescalating the situation?

If feeling safe was a given. Not a "lucky" circumstance gifted to some and taken from others.

What if we didn't have to justify every act of hate against us?

He was drunk. He didn't mean it. He's a really nice guy normally.

What if we banned all of these excuses? Along with all of the lies that get piled on top of each other? How can we possibly trust the truth of our own experience when it's buried so deep?

 What if we didn't have to pretend that someone touching us without our permission was okay?  

If the sentences, "Take a joke", "I didn't mean it",  "You take things so seriously" were never uttered so we never doubted our initial reaction.

What if we could loudly claim the wrongs down to us, instead of crushing each impulse of hurt, pain, and anger?

What if the way we were treated wasn't dictated by the amount of people we slept with? If it was never suggested that our promiscuity opened the door to abuse because clearly we aren't that picky about who gets in-between our legs?

What if our right to be treated fairly wasn't based on societies perception of how "good" of a person we were, but rather on the fact that we are human beings who deserves basic human decency.

Wouldn't that be nice?


Want to hear more from Laurel? Check out www.laurelbradycreations.com for more content and info!

My work is completely funded by my readers-if you'd like to keep this an ad-free space, please consider making a small monthly donation below to keep the blog posts coming. You are also invited to make a one-time donation in my "tip jar." Thanks for all the love and support. - Laurel



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Monday, 12 September 2016

Today.

Let's say enough of being confused and not doing anything about it.

I think my compass must be broken or faulty or stuck.

Head up, lungs breathe deep. I'm over exhaustion.

Always running away from the faint smell of desperation as time ticks like a pace horse that I just can't keep up to.

Forget the seasons changing, I'm changing too.

For the better, I might add.

I love love. I love silence. I love the feeling of these keys kissing my finger tips as I write this.

I love cool breezes that makes you wish you had someone to hold you close.

Loneliness is romantic if you're in the right head space.

I'm over anger that doesn't do anything.

And wishing someone badly because they couldn't be what I wanted.

I think forgiveness is sexy.

And having love for people who let you down is a super power.

I want to write love letters to people I've never met and hope that one of them sticks.

That would be a story to tell. A crazy one that elicits eye rolls and worried looks.

How about we be strangers again?

 I can say hello to you like it's the first time.

Maybe then we'll get it right.

Paths cross and uncross and then we're stuck wondering if we should turn back around.

I don't mind being lost as long as I know it's not forever.

I don't think I can handle anything forever.

But that's just today. After this, who knows what I'll think.

And, oh how exciting and strange life is.


My work is completely funded by my readers-if you'd like to keep this an ad-free space, please consider making a small monthly donation below to keep the blog posts coming. You are also invited to make a one-time donation in my "tip jar." Thanks for all the love and support. - Laurel

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

On your darkest days










On your darkest days, I hope you have someone to say "you're going to be ok."

I hope you have someone to give you a hug, and who feeds you pasta or whatever the heck makes you feel better. And ice cream. Lots of ice cream.

I hope you feel like you have someone to talk to. That one person who really gets you. Who's seen the truly ugly parts of you but says, "Fuck it, I still want you around. Or shut-up you're being ridiculous, let's get out of the house now." Or a little bit of both.

I hope that you know you can complain. To the right people who care. Not that complaining changes anything but at least it lets all the bad stuff out. And takes the pressure off the compressed thoughts of your life because that is important.

I hope you have someone to tell you you're beautiful or handsome even when there is snot coming out of your nose, and your hair isn't washed and frankly, you smell like sweat or is it tears? Or both.

I hope when you say, "I'm fine" someone knows to ask you again how you are really, and that they notice that your eyes have glazed over, and that you're a big fat liar.

I hope they pause when you're about to cry and decide to hold you even if you acted like a jerk.

I hope you find a piece of music, or an article that perfectly incapsulates everything you've been feeling so you know you're not alone. You realize that someone, at some point, went so far as to write about the same feelings as you because they were being eaten alive by the same crap.

I hope you give yourself a break even if you find it hard to do. Even if every time before now you've just pushed through because technically you can fit more in your day. I hope that you know you don't have to.

I hope you say "fuck it" to the part of yourself that says you're a pile of shit, and that you do something kind for yourself instead. And that keep swearing at the part of you that's being so mean to yourself. Fuck that part of you.

I hope you put yourself first even if you let some people down in the process. And even though, it feels shitty, you do it so that you have the energy to invite people into your life and not always push them away.

I hope you keep going, again and again. I hope you pick yourself up because you deserve to, and even if your knees have grown tough from scrape after scrape healing and scarring every time you find yourself on the ground, and that you look down and feel proud at how tough you've become.

I hope you don't give in to the dark parts for too long before someone else pulls you out of it. Because even if you don't realize it, you deserve to be happy. But maybe today you can settle for being ok.

And I hope if you read this and you can relate, it makes you smile knowing that someone else knows has gone through the same ups and downs as you. And even if I don't know you well or at all, I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for you.

I hope you realize how special and wonderful you are. To many people and to yourself.
 <3 p="">
x.o

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Getting Handy


















Where has the time gone? It's already July and I haven't posted in a month! Shame on me! The past month has been filled with lots of work and very little time to work on my precious blog.

Ah well, I forgive myself. As a freelancer, it feels like I go through periods where I just work all the time and see no one or everything is completely quiet. The past month I've worked 7 different jobs and went through a period where I worked 17 days in a row. If you haven't seen me, that's why. I was probably a) sleeping or b) working.

It turns out summer is a very busy time to freelance in the arts/marketing world. Life is a balance and as many of my fellow artists know, it's vital to carve out time to work on your craft.

As many of you know, I'm an actor as well as a writer. And for of those of you who are completely unaware of how you get jobs in the acting industry, the answer is you usually audition (unless you're super famous and/or know the director).

Basically you go into a room, where people judge if you're the best fit for the role and sometimes you get the part and other times, you don't.

It's a funny part of the industry. Think of it like going for a job interview except it's a regular part of your life.

 During auditions you may or may not get asked to do something weird. I'll be honest, most of the time you will.

Cluck like a duck. Act like a prostitute. Pretend like you're running from a giant spider. To name a few. Well recently I got an audition. ALWAYS EXCITING.

Actually... more accurately, my hands did. That's right, not my whole body,  just my hands.

I've started auditioning more frequently this year but most of the time i've been required to use my whole body or at the very least, my face.  But my hands, they have never been the star of the show so they were naturally quite nervous.

Look, they are professionals. In terms of hands, they've been with me for my whole life so I'm quite happy that they can make it on their own. Sure, I'm a little jealous. I mean I've been doing the brunt of the work recently and yes, sure, they have been doing the typing and editing and well the holding of sides.

...sigh.

I guess I just didn't realize that they even wanted to start auditioning. I thought they were happy supporting me. Anyway...it's fine. It's just awkward, you know. Whatever...

All I know is if my hands book a role before I do, I'll just feel really...weird. Like I'll be happy for them and everything...it's just like I hope they remember where they came from.

Hey, please don't tell my hands! I don't want them to know I'm jealous. Thanks for listening. I needed someone to vent to.

Laurel is a writer, Actress, Speaker, and filmmaker from Toronto, Ontario.
Want a little more? Check out laurelbradycreations.com for more on upcoming events, workshops, and performances. 


Monday, 13 June 2016

A Love Letter From Your Ally










To the people who've lost loved ones and to the community who've lost many of their own, there are no words to describe what you are going through. I am an ally, a friend, and someone who hopes you find some peace in this senseless violence. And it is senseless. Don't get me wrong, it's targeted but it's senseless.

I have been lucky enough to be accepted into your community. Most of my friends fall somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum and, not to be biased but they are the greatest people I know. They are my friends, my family, and the loves of my life.

I can't tell you how many times we've rolled up to the club in Toronto's village ready for a great night out. It is our church, our dance floor, our stage. The place to shake off frustrations, to celebrate birthdays, engagements, break-ups and to drink too much all the while being surrounded by fabulous people. Clubs within the LGBTQA community allow you to be you. Whoever you are, you are free to dance with whom you want, to kiss who you want, to be exactly who you are in that moment. For anyone who has had the privilege to step inside a gay club, you know the magic that happens there. The music, the incredible dancing, and the feeling that you are on fire. That's why you go there. That's why all those people were at Pulse Nightclub. But most importantly, anyone within the LGTBQA community knows that we go to these clubs because there is no question about whether or not we'll be safe. Until now.

And that's the thing, this act of violence has created so much devastation within a community that is so filled with love, strength, and hope. It's also made people fearful to go out, to be seen, to be "out" loud and proud in the world and that is unacceptable. I am devastated that one violent person has made my friends question if they are safe in their own clubs. And for that, I'm sorry. It's not fair and it's not right.

In a world where people tell you to hide who you are, who try to stop you from being with the person you love or who ends the lives of many people within your community, I'm so sorry. It doesn't change anything but I'm so incredibly sorry. The world can be a cruel place and it's easy to think that you are not wanted. And although I don't want to speak for you, I want to tell you that you are loved. You are cared about. Your lives matter. And this is absolutely horrific. 

As an ally, I want to be there for the friends who need me. I also want to remind anyone who reads this that your existence matters, you are important, and there are people who are here to support you.

This feels like a very shallow and simplistic post about a complicated and emotionally charged event. But like many people I'm at a loss for what to do or what to say. I don't know what action to take so at this moment so I can only offer this promise; If anyone needs me for a tea, a check-in, or a hug, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Laurel

My work is completely funded by my readers-if you'd like to keep this an ad-free space, please consider making a small monthly donation below to keep the blog posts coming. You are also welcome to make a one-time donation in my "tip jar." Thanks for all the love and support. - Laurel

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Being Your Parent's Wingman
















I think many children of divorce can relate that you do things a little differently in your family. You interact in quite a different manner then your friends whose parents are happily still together.

There is the whole matter of splitting holidays, family dynamics shifting, and of course, giving your parents dating tips.

Wait...what?

That's right folks. When you're parents get divorced you get the charming job of offering them dating advice.


I used to find this weird. The thought of seeing my parents with anyone but each other brought tears to my eyes. They should be with each other I'd think to myself.

Those feeling soon changed.

Let me pause and state that I'm pretty lucky. In terms of divorce, my family won the "divorce" lottery. And before you get sassy and think to yourself, "Wouldn't you rather have your parents together?" I'd say, yeah when it first happened, of course.

I have no idea what my parents thought of each other during their "conscious uncoupling" because they kept things civil. So civil it was weird. Like everyone would be in the same room smiling but it didn't reach their eyes kind-of-thing.

Anyway, many years have passed since, and my parents are not only civil towards each other, they are friends. Like actual friends. As in, they like each other. Heck, they make funny jokes about how they used to be married, and they genuinely enjoy each others company. They respect the hell out of each other. So sure, they're not "together" but I don't think there is lack of love in my family or even for each other. And that's really special.

It's also made break-ups hard for me because I always assume that people will want to be friends. But that's perhaps another blog post entirely.

What was I saying? Oh yes! My parents are awesome? Oh wait! Dating. Dating advice.

I don't know if it's a "divorced parent" thing. Or a "my family" thing but we're pretty open in my immediate family. This was made very clear when my parents started dating other people and they asked my brother and I for advice.

It makes sense from a logical point of view. Technically, we had been in the dating pool more recently. We were also already privy to their private lives. And finally, I imagine they believed that we would be sensitive to their raw emotional state which, for the most part, we were.

And LOOK AT ME NOW writing a blog post about their lives. That's what you get for raising a writer! Huzzza. You created me, mom and dad!

Our dating advice, good or bad, was shared between us and not really talked about (until now). I had never thought that this was a weird thing until last summer when I was living in Vancouver and my dad went on a first date.

My dad had met a very nice woman and told me the story of how he asked her out. My dad, for the record, has way more game then myself or my brother do. I don't know what his secret is but I'm waiting to find out.

Anyway. He went on a date with this charming woman while I sat at home and watched a teen drama on Netflix and ate popcorn. It later occurred to me (as I was involved in my 4th episode of my very good/bad teen drama) that he was out much too late.  My father is up with the birds and is in bed at a (really early) reasonable hour. My mind began to whirl.

What had happened to him? Was he okay? Was this woman a kidnapper? Oh my god-why did I let him go out so late with this strange woman!


I suddenly stopped myself. I put my popcorn bowl down. I looked at my baggy pyjamas and my worried face and was struck with the realization that this is what parenthood must feel like.
I was worried if his date wasn't going well. Worried that this woman had murdered my dad. And just as I was imagining all sorts of horrible things, I heard his keys jingle in the door.

My dad walked in smiling at me like a guilty teenager. "It's awfully late, Dad" I mock scolded him. Then in this strange "Freaky Friday" moment, he sat down with me and we talked about his night.We dissected his coffee date and talked about the possible meanings of what was said and their mutual hopes for a second date. It was at that moment I realized that yes, my parents and I might have a slightly strange relationship. And yes, I probably shouldn't worry about my sixty-something year old father on a first date. But at least we care.

*Care in a strange I know too much about your life kind of way. But also in a I-would-do-anything-for-you type of way.

Seeing my parents getting "out there" made me realize that putting yourself out there is scary and important at any age. And no matter how old we get, we all still feel a bit funny before a first date.

 So yeah, at times, I've been my parents wingman and it's been slightly strange.
But maybe that's what happens when your family gets over their empty nest syndrome. You become your parents wingman.

P.s My dad and this woman are still good friends. He is currently looking for the love of his life.

How about you? Have you ever been in a similar position? If so, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

X.O.

LJB





My work is completely funded by my readers-if you'd like to keep this an ad-free space, please consider making a small monthly donation below to keep the blog posts coming. You are also invited to make a one-time donation in my "tip jar." Thanks for all the love and support. - Laurel Monthly Contribution:
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Monday, 30 May 2016

That Heartbroken Traveler
















Tomorrow is the big day! I leave for another Vancouver adventure and I couldn't be happier. I actually didn't realize how excited I was until I started packing today. I've never left packing this late but so far, so good. Look at me, being "chill" about these things.

As I've been running around prepping and checking my list (maybe even checking it twice), I realized that this is the first trip I've taken in a while where I'm not going anywhere to escape something. 

You see, last summer I went to Vancouver as a way to reset and clear my head.

I was heartbroken, confused, and needed to put my regular life on pause. I was also granted time to write and therefore I made the big jump to leave my long-term job and pursue acting and writing full-time. It was a huge time of transition in my life but probably the best and bravest decision I've ever made.

I arrived in Vancouver excited and scared and just wanting to feel happy after months of being depressed. And what I realized pretty quickly was that when you take away the comfort of the people and places you know, sadness still finds you. But you also have all of these new experiences to fill up the spaces in your life that you didn't realize were empty. Much like the waves I was surrounded by, my days and my mood flowed and shifted. One moment feeling uplifted and inspired, the next I would be crying on a park bench muttering, "What the fuck did I just do?"

To simplify my summer, I drifted from one state to the other and then back again.
There were new things to do, new people to hang out with, and a lot of time spent alone. I remember romanticizing time alone before leaving for this trip as this heavenly experience.

I'll have all of this time to get to know myself. I'll feel amazing.

Listen, I've read "Eat, Pray, Love" (a lot) so I assumed I knew what it would be like to have solo self-discovery time. "This will be a breeze", I laughed to myself.

Well...here's the thing. Time alone can be great. You have time to think, to be, and to chill. Time alone can be great. However...it also can suck.

You are literally stuck with yourself. As someone who enjoys her time alone, I soon realized that there are limits to how much "alone time" was actually beneficial and when it was a way to hide away. I would be fine one moment and then these waves of emotion would hit me. And believe me, I lived with these feelings of confusion, anger, and basically feeling like a pile of shit. And it wasn't pleasant.

Had I had another option, I would have saved the life lesson and enjoyed the good feelings. 

Soon enough two whole months passed and my time in Vancouver came to a close. I was rejuvenated, excited, scared, and ready to carry on. I had something new to take back with me to Toronto. I had let Vancouver affect me in ways that I don't think I can really explain to anyone else. I had healed. I had been scared and angry, and pushed myself to continue being there. I had literally and figuratively taken the advice, "ride the wave." I returned to my home refreshed, and found that I appreciated the supportive community I had built for myself in Toronto. I also realized that I could go somewhere else and find wonderful people and time to breathe.

And so, with all that said, I am pleased to go on a two-week holiday to Vancouver with all the experiences I have gathered since leaving the west coast last fall. Cradling my months away filled with death, grief, triumphs, and failures with the realization that this time I am not running away. I am carving out time to visit family, friends, and a place that I love because I've realized you don't just need to be in crisis to need a change or to gather up some happiness. Our lives are precious, and we are caretakers of our time on this earth. And so despite myself and many people I know having experienced very difficult life events in the past 9 months, it's also amazing to create little pockets of happiness for oneself. Just because you want to.

And although I've been packing and checking my list, I've made a conscious effort this time to leave behind my heartbroken traveler mindset. I am very excited to enjoy my time in the mountains as someone more open-hearted and to  just enjoy the ride.

Till next time!


xoxoxo.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

About The One Before.















Isn't it funny how we've done this before?

How caring for someone is made from recycled pieces.

A repetition of soft words melting into each other.  My mouth has connected these words before. déjà vu of feeling. It's still true despite it being rehearsed on someone else.

Do you remember the one before? Whose soft eyes and quick tongue made you happier than you'd ever been?

She showered you with love. Her old stories and familiar touch never requiring explanation.

After weeks, months and years go by, details fade, and she became your ghost -haunting your heart.

The one that's gone.

We've become casualties of love. Forever changed. Marked by another.

And so we met, a little more tentative and battle weary. But willing to try.

One hand holding on to the other. The other hand waiting to be freed from our ghost's grasp. 

 Together, we wait.

 Fingers crossed.

 Trying to try on someone like me.

And me trying right back for you.







Thursday, 7 April 2016

Winter's Back with an Ice Cold Vengeance.











In Canada, we are used to the big weather changes. We have 4 distinct seasons and therefore 4 different sets of clothing for Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. We are usually prepared for whatever Mama Nature throws our way.

We often get asked, "how do you put up living in such a tough climate?"

Our responses to this question usually range from "It's not so bad" to "I love the snow" to "I just stay inside." Depending on the person. Or how long it's been in that season.

However, every year we pay our weather dues that we can have spring and eventually Summer. And boy, do we take advantage of our time in the sun!

This is probably why Canadians do so well when we travel to other countries.We thrive in even slightly warmer places because it feels hot to us. ESPECIALLY if we're travelling during Canadian winter.

I remember going to L.A in February when I was 17 and walking around in dresses and shorts and t-shirts. All the staff in our hotel were walking around in jackets, complaining about how cold it was.

I laughed and stayed out in the sun.

Flash forward to Present Day.

Here I am in April 2016, after surviving the cold and the snow.  I did my time. We all did our time in winter. SERIOUSLY, WE DID.

I didn't even veer off my winter rituals. A yearly practice that I'm 99% sure allows spring to come early (or at least on time). *

*I, in fact, control the universe. Surprise.

Anyway, I did all my usual winter traditions. I drank hot chocolate, went for walks outside, enjoyed the crisp winter air, read books huddled in blankets, went to bed early because it was so dark outside, and now spring is finally here...ermmmm, wait.

Nope. It's suddenly winter. Again.

Let me ask you, mother nature, why? Why?

I look around at my fellow Torontonian's faces and see their confused and pleading expressions as snowflakes smear into their eyeballs.

Our hands, once freed from our mittens, are hidden away under woolly protectors. Again.

We walk around, shocked and demoralised, like a kid whose been promised to be let outside but who is unfairly shut inside again by Mama Nature's sudden change of heart.

Her cool, icy heart.

It's not OK, weather. Not OK.

The only thing worse about this whole thing is the fact that it's affecting me so much I feel the need to write a blog post about it.

Yup, this blog post is about weather

That is just sad. 

Anyway, hopefully something more exciting happens before next week or else who knows what I'll be writing about?

Earth worms? The Dentist? Dryer sheets?

I'll leave you with that mystery.

Until next time, stay warm! I'll be over on the sidelines cheering, "Bring back spring, bring back spring!" Feel free to join.

XO.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Pretty Scares Me.

















I'm scared of pretty. How it defines and creates such rigid lines around us. I'm terrified to be defined by looks because looks will fade and I don't want to disappear. Pretty. A two syllable word that traps it's recipient in between so much turmoil. It's a badge we wear that protects and stops us from reaching our full potential. All because our hair, our eyes, our features are too pleasing. "Don't worry, you're still pretty" we're told to reassure us. As if life's problems can be solved with a hairbrush and a tube of mascara.


I don't want pretty to define me. But what would my life be without it? Like it or not, it's valuable. It gives us currency for better treatment, for kinder words, for smiles. My face is clear and my eyes are bright and I look much younger than my age which I'm told again and again is a good thing. My youthful looks are celebrated. My ability to hide behind my looks is new to me. It's a gift. You'll be thankful when you're 40. As if the fine lines on my forehead and eyes are a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode. 


Pretty feels like a surprise to me. It was something that I wanted for so long. And then when it didn't feel attainable, I made jokes. And my jokes made people laugh, which made me smile and it felt great to be me again.

But somewhere down the line, pretty happened. 

Always a bit of a late bloomer.  I arrived late to a party I never thought I'd be invited to. Too skinny and awkward to be considered beautiful until I stopped caring and suddenly, I received my prize. The weird part is I have NO IDEA how it happened.


Everyone cheers for the former ugly duckling.

So I'm told i'm pretty and it's new and when I wear make-up, people cheer but it feels like a mask. Encouraged to wear my hair down, my appearance like "Night and day" if I stopped resisting and put in "a little bit of effort" 

You'd be just beautiful.

A reminder of what I've not yet achieved. My short-comings to show-up in my femininity.
It's not a complaint but rather a fact. I am both pleased and disgusted to have pretty in my arsenal.


Once longed for, desired and cried over, now "pretty" feels empty. At least pretty on it's own.
Perhaps combined with something else to make...what?

I want to be more than just pretty.

Contouring my eyes and adding colour to my cheeks when I like the way I look bare-faced even more. Pale, bare, me. I can tell when I'm sad because I'm dull and I know when I'm happy because I glow.

Don't get me wrong, pretty feels nice. It dances around like the bubbles from champagne but the come down is hard. We must guard our looks or else what will we have left?

So here's what I'd like to be, in order of how I'd like to be it. I'd like to be funny because it makes people smile and EVERYONE is beautiful when they smile. I'd like to be smart because I like to have answers for people's questions. And then I'd like be pretty when I chose to be. Like choosing a pair of pearl earrings to be worn on special occasions.

I'll keep pretty in a box. I will own it. It will never own me. To have but never relied upon. 

Let's free ourselves from pretty. We are so much more than that word.



Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Say Hello To Your Little Green Monster.




"...I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU"
-The Little Green Monster










We all have times in our life when we are doing really well. When our hair looks shiny, and our skin is glowing, and the world falls at our feet.

We also have times when things don't going that well for us. During these tricky times, it's hard not to look around and see the flaws in our lives.

If you stalk enough people on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you're eventually going to feel inadequate or...like full-on garbage. Heck, my breakfasts alone would make anyone cry with jealousy. #blessed.

So what happens when you're feeling stuck in a rut and your friends are...well...thriving?

Now I know what you're thinking. Laurel, are you implying that you're not always happy for your friend's success?

To which I'd reply:

Excuse you! Of course I am.

But if you asked me again, I'd probably say:

Yes. But sometimes not immediately.

I love my friends. I want them to thrive. But sometimes there is this jealous part of me looks at them and thinks..."But I want that too."

It's ugly, it's not helpful but sadly, it's the truth.

I'm addressing this dark and dirty secret because the more I talk to people about this, the more I hear about how much shame we carry around because we feel jealousy. Our shame is what cripples us even more than our little Green Monster.

How can we address this if we aren't able to talk about it?

Immediately my writer brain starts spinning. If enough people in my day-to-day life are talking about their doubt and petty thoughts, then shouldn't we open up the conversation about it?

Well...I volunteer as tribute!

It's a shitty feeling to realize that you are...well... human. We all have some flawed emotions. To realize that your knee-jerk reaction is not as altruistic as you've thought is depressing as fuck, to say the least.

But I think it's important to address these feelings head on and be open about them. Otherwise they fester and that's when you start taking those flawed feelings and start making harmful decisions. And that is when the real problems start.

So what do we do? How do we stop the cycle of envy?

Perhaps with some good old-fashioned conversation!

What would happened if we changed our view of our Little Green Monster? What would happen if we embraced it fully?

To look at it from a positive perspective, we could say that jealousy may be a useful emotion. Sure, if you let it, your jealousy will drive you mad (That's a Moulin Rogue quote btw. NBD). However, I'd argue that jealousy can serve a purpose. It highlights qualities, accomplishments, and people that we also desire in our lives.  Without Jealousy perhaps we wouldn't know what we wanted?

Hmmm...what?

Now I'm not codoning senseless jealousy. If you can't let your partner go out without you, or you are driven insane when they have friends who they could theoretically have sex with (but don't) then you need to check yourself. Or if any time someone does better at you in your field it drives you to the point where you seriously consider pushing that person down a set of stairs, then again, you're going to need to check yourself. No one wants a Tanya Harding around them, boo. Sawwwwwy bout' that.

Of course, the world would be a better place without jealousy coursing through our veins. But until we collectively learn to meditate, or self medicate it away with a magic jealousy-free pill, I guess we're stuck acknowledging these feelings and turning them into productive energy.

Your jealousy can be your compass. What is it trying to show you? Is this worth stressing about? How can this feeling launch you forward instead of crippling you into a hot-mess filled with doubt and spite?

You're worth giving yourself a break from this mental torture. Trust yourself and cut yourself some slack! We all, whether we admit it or not, have moments of intense jealousy. It's...normal (I think).

So today, as you scroll through your social media feed, maybe take it all in with a grain of salt. Practice being truly happy for the people around you because at the end of the day, it's awesome when the people around you are killing it. That thriving energy helps to inspire us to work a little harder and to take joy in the areas of our lives that we value. Happiness does not result from other people doing worse than you. And if it does then you've got some stuff to work through, my friend.

Whether you want to admit it or not, you are doing better at this whole living thing then you'd imagine. And you can chose to thrive even if your monster is tugging at your clothes.

On that note, breathe, release and have a happy Wednesday!

XO.






Monday, 8 February 2016

10 ways to navigate through Valentines Day.

Valentines day, Valentines day, Valentines day.

This holiday is a very tricky holiday to navigate. Whether you are with someone or not, there is so much pressure to enjoy this loved-filled day.

Here is what I think if you are with someone this Valentines, whether it's a hook-up, casual, or a long-term "Put-a-ring-on-it" type situation, maybe we can follow some ground rules.

1) Let's act like we give a shit.  No one wants to feel like they are garbage or the equivalent to chewed up gum on your shoe. Even if you don't end up together forever, you can still treat someone well in the present moment. Be a good person. Be kind. People have hearts and feelings even if they pretend not to.

2) Say Happy Valentines Day. It doesn't mean you'll be together forever. Relax.  It won't trap you into a binding life-long contract. You can say it. It won't kill you...unless, of course, you choke on a candy heart...in which case...sorry.

3) Don't Break-up On Valentines day. Don't do it. Please don't do it. You will ruin Valentines day. Stick it out one more day. Don't be that person. It's like breaking up with someone on Christmas or your birthday. Sure you "can" do it but you're kind of a dick.

4) Eat some chocolate together. Oh, you don't agree? Chocolate is the best. You should eat it everyday.  And why not eat some chocolate with your super sexy someone OR your super sexy friends? What? You don't call your friends super sexy? WEIRD.

5) If you want to have a big argument. What is so important that it can't wait until February 15th? Stop. It. NOW.

6) Have sex...if you're into it. Because why not? Duh. Unless that's not your jam. In which case, rock on. Valentines day (just like any day) can be exactly what you want it to be. You can create your own version of things-take what you like and leave the rest. If you want to sit around in your P.J's  and watch a Muppet movie instead of the typical roses and blah-blah, then by all means, do it!

7)  Cut yourself and your S.F (Special Friend) some slack. February is a tough month. You know it's not the best month when Valentines Day is the only thing you look forward to. If you're feeling pressured or weird about the "holiday" why not...dare I say it...talk about it. Chances are your partner can relate. Most of us know that Valentines Day doesn't always bring out the best in people so by talking about it, you can be one the same page. Page Awesome.

8) If you're single, treat yourself. Are you feeling sad and lonely? Nah bra. You're a babe. Seriously. Why don't you make yourself some treats, put on some sweet sweatpants, and invite some friends over? Friends are pretty much the loves of your life. Think about it! They know all of your favourite foods, they love you despite your awful taste in music, and the put up with your shit. That's love and that's special.

9) Tell your family you love them. Your family loves you (hopefully) and so why not tell them you love them? I know. It's a crazy concept. Chances are your family has seen you at your worst and STILL loves you. Wow, you go famjam.

10) Don't take it too seriously. Valentines Day is a made-up holiday that makes single people feel bad and coupled people feel stressed out...and i guess gives a some people the excuse to buy cute bears. Fine, fine. I'm a sucker for those sappy teddy bears. Shut-up about it.

 In the end, maybe if we appreciated our special someone more than just this one day, it would feel okay. Or if we just chilled out about our expectations , it could be fun? Who knows? But for now, I'd say let's relax and appreciate that we are able to watch Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey fall in love in various movies...and  also...that we're able to celebrate that wonderful thing called Love in WHATEVER form it's shows up in our lives.

XOXO







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