The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made

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“What the fuck have I done?” I thought as I laid awake on my tiny twin bed staring at the ceiling of my dorm room. “What was I trying to prove? Who did I think I was? I am not adventurous, I am not brave. What.the.fuck.was.I.thinking?”

I waited three days for my new roommates to arrive and for 72 hours I chastised myself for the worst decision I had ever made; the soundtrack in my head a compilation of self doubt, anger and crippling loneliness. I’d only moved 300 kilometres away from home but as I laid awake in those ikea sheets, it might as well have been 3000. I’d left everything I knew behind in search of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on anymore. I looked at pictures of my friends back home, taped to my concrete walls, and I couldn’t remember a single reason why I thought attending the University of Calgary was a good idea. “You always have to be different don’t you?” I scolded myself, “you couldn’t just be happy with the status quo.”

Deciding to move away for university seemed like a great idea at the time. I spent a year at Grant MacEwan as a commuter student, not investing any real time there or meeting many new friends. It was a good year but I wanted more. I wanted something different. Calgary was close enough for visits but far enough to gain the independence I was craving. Away I went… applied, accepted, arrived. My little dream had become reality but now I was certain that it was actually a nightmare. (Looking back, it seems ridiculous, but those three nights were some of the longest in my life.)

Eventually my roommates moved in and I was so pleasantly surprised: we drank. we talked. we clicked. (Well 3 out of 4 of us anyway…) We bonded with our quirky neighbour across the hall and over the next three years we embarked on a wild ride together. I made strong, important relationships with my new friends, I navigated my way through university (including switching my major in a mad mid semester panic), and I gained the confidence I needed through my new found independence.

We moved from the safety of our apartment style dorm to a mouse infested duplex and we dreamed together for hours on end about our futures and the people we would become. Booze, books and boys, we learned many lessons in many different facets of life. We challenged each other’s biases and we bonded over our similarities. It felt like we were on the cusp of everything and yet at times “real life” seemed so far away, we couldn’t wait for it to come.

Time has a way of romanticizing the past and erasing the hard edges of a memory. Sure, there were tears and heartbreak, loneliness and anxiety but there was so much more laughter and compassion. I can’t help but look back on my time at the University of Calgary and be amazed at how three short years could have made such an impact on the person I have become and the path that I took to get here.

As I crossed the C-train bridge and headed home after dropping off my final essay, I stopped to take a moment and soak in the view. The mountains to my right, the downtown core and iconic Calgary Tower to my left, I reflected on the scared 19 year old girl lying in that twin bed furious at herself. “This was the best decision you’ve ever made” I thought to myself, my eyes brimming with tears of joy, “You did it, you really did it.” 

The 5 Most Important Things I’m Learning From Yoga

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Not sure who to credit for this awesome cartoon making the rounds, let me know if you do! 

The first time I tried yoga I was 17, worked at a gym, and thought yoga was a place for flatulent old people. My sister and I decided to give it a go anyway and ended up confirming my suspicion: we spent 45 minutes stifling hysterical laughter caused by the audible farts of seniors. A fantastic ab workout, but not something I ever wanted to do again!

As the years went on my view of yoga remained the same, I tried a couple more classes at the Y but it just wasn’t my thing. And then surprisingly, my husband (boyfriend at the time) thought it would be fun for us to do yoga together.

Mike’s parents had taken him to a hot yoga class (probably in hopes of finding him a nice yogi wife) and he loved it. After some convincing, he persuaded me to try a class with him. It was so different than my first yoga experience, it was a real workout and a nice relaxation for my mind.

From there I ventured to our local yoga studio. It took a little bit of bravery but eventually I tried all of the classes they offered and learned that classes can range from virtually catatonic to the hardest workout of your life. No matter which class I took – Hatha, Flow, Freestyle Friday – the lessons of the class remained the same:

  1. Be present
    Don’t think about what happened before you got here or what is to come, focus on the now and be in the moment.
  2. Every day is different
    Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some days you are capable of more challenging feats than others. It’s nothing to be annoyed about, it’s life.
  3. Honour your body
    We are all unique including the limitations of our bodies. Put your ego aside and follow what is right for you, not what you wish you could do.
  4. Plant the seed
    When you face a challenge that seems impossible, instead of telling yourself you can’t do it, plant the seed that perhaps you will be able to in the future.
  5. Thank yourself for showing up
    It may seem small but making a commitment to yourself and following through should be celebrated. You did it!

After coming back from my accidental fitness hiatus, it is more clear to me than ever that these messages are the reason I love yoga the most. In a yoga class, more than any other fitness class I have taken, you are in control and most importantly, you are enough. 

If you are interested in trying your hand at yoga, my go to studios in Edmonton are Bliss YogaSpa and Navina Yoga which just opened this fall. Both studios have an amazing atmosphere and fantastic instructors. Enjoy!

Little Black Heart: What does it take to make a difference?

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I once took a Facebook quiz, back when taking Facebook quizzes wasn’t just something your parents and grandparents did, back when only students could have Facebook profiles, back when all Facebook photos were party pics uploaded from a digital camera… sigh, the good old days. I digress… I once took a Facebook quiz and it was called: “What colour is your heart?” 

Behind my keyboard I clicked away, telling Facebook with brutal honesty, how I would react in different situations and who I am as a person. I clicked submit with glee as I waited for the results, which obviously were very scientific and meaningful. Submit… Processing… Black. Wait… what? The colour of my heart was black. Not pink, not red, not even green or blue, but black. That’s not even a colour! I stared at the screen perplexed for a minute as the true colour of my heart was automatically posted to my profile. Well little black heart, I guess the world knows our secret now. 

So, you’re probably wondering, 1.) what’s the point of me telling you all of this and 2.) should you really continue being my friend/colleague/acquaintance? I’m getting to it!

Over the past few years I have been volunteering my time with two different organizations in our city: Big Brothers Big Sisters (6+ years) and Make-A-Wish (1.5+ years). Shocking right? I guess they didn’t catch my little black heart in the interview!

The one thing I have noticed when people hear about my volunteer work is that I get all sorts of compliments and pats on the back. “You’re amazing!” “I don’t know how you do it!” “Oh man, I don’t think I could do that.” “You have such a great heart!” (Ha!) 

Now I love compliments (almost as much as I love getting likes on Facebook) but in the words of one of our three year old Wish Kids, “I’m not a princess, I’m just a regular girl.”

Before I started volunteering, I too put volunteers on a pedestal. I viewed “them” as different from myself. “They” were bubbly, keeners. “They” were probably nicer, smarter, and better than me. “They” were movers and shakers on a mission. I, was little black heart. I admired the difference they were making, but didn’t think I could do it.

After perusing the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Make-A-Wish volunteer applications for awhile and chickening out, I stopped and thought about it. I realized that “they” were just regular people too,”they” just decided to step outside of their comfort zone and follow their heart (whatever colour it may be).

My little black heart told me that if I found the right opportunity, I could have a positive impact on my community. So I leaped and I’ve never looked back.

What does it take to make a a difference? Being yourself and having the confidence to know that you can. Take the leap, you won’t regret it.

29 Life Lessons From My 20s

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On Tuesday it was my birthday. I turned the same age my husband was when I met him and exclaimed “wow, you’re pretty effing old.” Twenty nine years old; it feels foreign coming out of my mouth.

As I embark on my last year in my 20s (sad face), I can’t help but reminisce on the lessons I’ve learned. Some big, some small, and some glaringly obvious, here are 29 things that I’ve learned in my 20s (so far!):

  1. You grow the most when outside of your comfort zone. If you feel a little stressed out and nauseated, it’s working.
  2. People who want to keep in touch with you will.
  3. Dress for the weather, you’ll be considerably less grumpy.
  4. Shameovers are a hangover’s closest companion. Nothing heals a shameover but time, and maybe someone else in your crew getting super crunk at the next wedding / birthday / house party.
  5. Volunteering is rad – you get way more out of it than you give.
  6. Dieting is the worst, it is probably the closest to feeling like a crack head you can get without literally being addicted to crack.
  7. Having a good job and knowing you’re in the right field is one part hard work, one part perseverance and one part luck.
  8. There will always be that one annoying question that everyone can’t help but ask you. It’s important to learn how to answer this question without accidentally saying F.O.
  9. Having a wedding is basically just the most stressful, most expensive and most incredible party you will ever throw.
  10. Admitting you have the poops is way better than trying to pretend you don’t have the poops.
  11. Being married is pretty damn similar to having a sleepover with your bestie every night of the week while your parents are away in Cabo San Lucas. And there’s no lock on the liquor cabinet!
  12. You can feel fat when you’re “skinny” and skinny when you’re “fat”.
  13. Parents are just regular people making shit up as they go. 
  14. Parents of toddlers deserve a medal every.single.day. Holy patience.
  15. Invest in good underwear, it makes all the difference.
  16. Only buy clothes you feel comfortable in. You will never wear them if you don’t. (You’re clothing swap friends will be happy about it though.)
  17. Yoga is the best. Or maybe just Bliss YogaSpa.
  18. You can fall in love with a city you thought you hated if you just open your eyes a little wider.
  19. You CAN find love on the dance floor of a bar at 1 a.m.! 
  20. Being able to walk to work is amazing.
  21. Having a homemade lunch at work is so much better than buying your lunch.
  22. If you throw out your back / neck go see a physio, they’ll fix you up way quicker than popping robaxacets or drinking white wine can.
  23. Accidental audible farts are funny. They just are. It’s pretty much impossible to hold back a laugh or smile in the presence of one.
  24. Being at work is one big group project. Get used to them.
  25. Puppies are about 10x the amount of work you anticipate.
  26. Close the toilet lid when you are running late and getting ready. You will most definitely drop something important in there.
  27. If you delete someone from Facebook, the chance of running into them dramatically increases.
  28. Spend more time with your family, they’re the only one you’ve got.
  29. Admit when you’ve made a mistake. Everyone can relate, it only helps to bond you.

What are your favourite lessons from your 20s?