Books That Have Recently Changed My Life

Simply put- these books changed my outlook on life, my brain and my perception of absolutely everything.

I’ll keep this short and sweet.

  1. The Desire Map- Danielle LaPorte
    This book feels like a gift for my soul each time I open it. With words that I believe can ring true to any soul searcher, LaPorte invites you on a journey of creating a life you desire based on how you want to FEEl vs. what you want to DO/Accomplish.

    “I ONLY WANT TO HIT MY TARGETS IF THE AIMING AND THE HITTING BOTH FEEL GOOD.” 

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    Buy it here

  2. Take Me With You- Andrea Gibson
    This book holds your hand during the worst of days. Filled with Gibson’s best, most raw and hopeful poems, it is sure to welcome you in for a warm embrace whenever you need it. Though many readers criticized Gibson for the “messy” format and grammatical incorrectness, I believe the heart and soul of these poems make up for it all 10 fold.  Bonus #1: Small enough to take everywhere. Bonus #2. Cute illustrations!

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    Buy it here

  3. UNFU*K YOURSELF: GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND INTO YOUR LIFE- Gary John Bishop

    This book gives it to you straight- no bullshit/no dancing around the truth/ no sugar coating. Though Bishops “tough love” approach may not be for everyone, it was insightful and reaffirmed what I already believed- If you want it bad enough, you’ll go for it. If you don’t go for it, you don’t want it badly enough. A read that encouraged me to get out of the ruts and limitations that I set for myself.

 

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Buy it here

 

Why I Disappear at Christmas Events

With the holidays coming up I think it’s really important to raise awareness of the struggles introverts, people with mental health issues or just anyone who feels overwhelmed by Christmas parties and events.

*Written from the POV of a person who is both an introvert and struggles with mental illness.

  1. I’m Sad: Christmas is a hard time. Even the smell of a Christmas tree can cause childhood memories (good and bad) to come flooding in. Being sad around Christmas is OK. Believe me, I try my best to spread holiday cheer. But, sometimes I just need a few minutes to sit with the sadness, acknowledge it and let it pass.
  2. There are too many people: My comfortable number of people to be around is anywhere from 1-7. Anymore than that & I feel overwhelmed especially if I don’t know them well. It’s important to understand that not everyone enjoys being around a lot of people. It doesn’t mean I dislike anyone, it just means I get overwhelmed by the crowd easily. If I’m sitting away from the crowd, I’m likely just taking a few moments of quiet to regroup.
  3. It’s hot AF: The more people, the hotter it gets. I don’t know about you, but I hate being hot. Actually, more than hate… It’s like when I’m warm my anxiety also goes up 10 degrees. If you see me wander outside without a coat, don’t be alarmed. The shock of the cold is enough to bring me out of a panic attack sometimes.
  4. I’m trying to find a dog, cat or any other animal: I mean come on. Animals are like the greatest therapy. I’ll often find one and invite it to be by my side for the entirety of the evening. This is what my internal dialogue sounds like when I finally find a dog/pet, “Hey, you’re a dog? Perfect. Come with me, let me pet you and please don’t leave my side. You are my ticket out of awkward small talk.”
  5. The noise level is boggling my brain: Loudness can sometimes cause me to feel anxious. My solution? I hide in a bathroom. Okay okay, I don’t hide. But I’ll literally just go chill on the toilet for a bit. Even meditate. It doesn’t mean I want everyone to stop talking, I just need a tiny break.

Things to Remember:

  • I’m not mad at you.
  • I appreciate the effort the host has gone to.
  • I’m having fun (I swear)!
  • It’s not personal. Even if I have a panic attack at the event YOU hosted, it doesn’t mean the panic attack is your fault or relates to you at all. Sometimes panic attacks can be triggered by tiny things that cannot be avoided (ie: song on the radio).
  • I love you. If you’re my friend or family, I love you. And I appreciate you, especially when you’re patient and understanding of me during these events.
  • If you’ve come out of town, I have missed you! Even if I struggle to make conversation, just being around you is nice.

Ways to Help:

  • Offer me an out. Ask me to walk your dog, go to the basement to get something, or anything else that lets me have a break from the crowd.
  • Avoid pressuring me to be social. Please don’t mention how quiet I am or ask me to engage in conversations. Believe me, I will if I can.
  • If you see me standing outside, please don’t draw attention to me. I’m already the gay cousin, I don’t need to be the weird gay cousin who stands outside in minus 30.

Lastly,

Here are 5 memes that perfectly display my love-not love relationship with Christmas

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Love to everyone during the holidays. ❤

 

 

Gift Ideas For Anxious Friends

The holiday season can be especially overwhelming for people who struggle with anxiety. The financial burdens, social gatherings, disrupt of routine and family dynamics are but a few of the triggers a person with anxiety may struggle with. Throw in some seasonal blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the struggle can feel completely overwhelming.

If you know someone who struggles with anxiety or SAD, consider gifts that may help them stay present, calm and loved.

Here are 5 gifts to give someone who’s struggling through the holiday season:

  1. Books: Anxiety can cause people to isolate. Give them a book to keep them company during the cold holiday season.Consider these: UNPLUG: A SIMPLE GUIDE TO MEDITATION FOR BUSY SKEPTICS AND MODERN SOUL SEEKERS

    Buy HereF*ck That: An Honest Meditation

    Buy Here

    O’S LITTLE BOOK OF CALM & COMFORT

    Buy Here

  2. Cozy Items: Give them some warm comfort to help them feel comfortable.Consider These:

    Comfort Memory Foam Slippers

    Buy HereAVALANCHE PLAID ROLLED STADIUM THROW – GREYBuy Here
  3. Self-Care Items: These don’t have to be too fancy. Since the holidays can be a lot financially, even just buying them their favourite shampoo and conditioner can take some stress off.Consider These:Aveeno Body Wash

    Buy HereThe Comforter Bubble Bar (Lush)

    Buy Here
  4. Journaling Items: Journaling can be extremely helpful for people who struggle with anxiety. To make this gift extra special, inscribe something hopeful and heartfelt inside.

    Consider These:IT’S GONNA BE OKAY MINI INNER TRUTH JOURNAL

    Buy Here

    HABIT TRACKING JOURNAL

    Buy Here

  5. Art Supplies/Books: I know for me, art brings me back to childhood. It allows me to let go of current worries and just have fun.Consider These:

    LETTERING IN THE WHIMSICAL WOODLANDS

    Buy HerePencil Crayons

    Buy Here

Dual Brush Pens

Buy Here

 

What else would you add?

A letter not sent

I’ve been going through some old writing, from a harder time in my life. A time when I was treading water…trying to stay above water. I’ve been reading the words, remembering how I felt, and being so thankful that I’m not feeling so empty these days.

I’ve decided to post some of my most vulnerable pieces of writing. Not my best pieces, but the pieces that hurt my heart to write, and even more to read years later.

Here is a letter to my grandmother, not sent.

TO MY GRANDMOTHER

“Tonight marks two years. Two years since I graduated high school and two years since your soul let go. I remember that night like yesterday…I knew you were sick, I visited you a few months prior and saw your beautiful white curls fall and saw the light go out in your eyes. That night, I walked onto the stage, I accepted my diploma. I made it. I made it in spite of the depression. in spite of the heartache, the losses and the cruelty of people. I reflected one the four years that I hated so much and for some reason wished they weren’t over yet. I looked into the crowd and saw my mom, her bright eyes full of hope. Hope for me, and you. Hope that I would always remember this night and hope that you would be able to see me succeed in my life. I walked off the stage, sat beside her and held her hand. I thought of you and wished you could be there sitting with us to share that moment. I remember after graduation I went home and had a drink, I sat and took my life in. I felt panicked…as if something bad was happening. I tossed and turned trying to sleep that night, I woke up from a dream of you. You were swimming in the ocean, the sun was shining and so were you. Half asleep I heard the phone ring. I knew you were gone. You went into my dreams to show me you’re happy now, you’re shining now. My mom knocked on my door and my heart sank knowing that the light would now be gone from her eyes too…To lose your mother must be the most difficult thing imaginable. I hugged her and I promised her everything would be okay. I kept that promise, I got my shit together. But most days I miss you so deeply that it numbs my heart and it hurts my soul. You were the single person I felt truly knew me. I hope you’re swimming in the ocean with the sun beaming on your fair skin. I love you more than I ever expressed and I promise I will keep your daughter safe.”

My heart feels heavy and light reading this. To my 17 year old self- you are so strong. To my 17 year old self- you are going to be okay. To my 17 year old self- do not look back. To my 17 year old self- live, live, live.

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How to Survive When You Miss Your Medication

Worst. Feeling. Ever. Am I right?

I don’t often miss my medication but, when I do, I sure do feel it. My head feels like electric shocks are pulsing through my synapses and my stomach feels like it’s being shredded. I feel exhausted no matter how much sleep I get. I’m irritable, angry and impossible to be around. And it’s really, really hard to ground myself and remember this will pass.

So, from my experiences, here are some ways to survive when you miss your medication:

  • Cry: Just allow yourself to cry a good body shaking, lip quivering cry. Personally, the only time I can really cry is when something terrible happens OR when I forget my medication. So, if I miss my medication, I just allow myself to cry. Not all day or anything. But, a half hour cry never killed anyone.
  • Get Creative: I try to use my missed medication day as an excuse to channel my negative energy into something creative. Whether it be writing, drawing or even just listening to music. I try to get in tune with my creative energy. It helps to distract me from how bad I feel, and also helps make me feel accomplished.
  • Organize: When I miss my medication, I feel like I don’t have control over my body and emotions. This very quickly can turn into a negative thought pattern of not having control over anything in my life. What do I do? Find something small I can control. I’ll often organize something in the house that I’ve been wanting to organize. Today I organized my art supplies and it, for some reason, made me feel in control of my day.
  • Rest: This ones important. Your body is going through something. Be kind to it, allow it to rest and try not to feel guilty or “lazy.” Put on your favourite movie (My go-to is Elf) and cuddle up on the couch. Remind yourself that mental illness is equal to physical illness. If you had the flu, you’d allow yourself to rest, right?
  • Try not to push people away: This one is hard for me. I find it extremely difficult to be around people when I haven’t taken my medication. I’m really quick to snap and get angry/sad and usually seclude myself during these times. But, it’s important to allow loved ones to hold you, help you and listen to you. Connecting during these times can really help. Remind yourself that you are loved, and try to be kind to your loved ones and to yourself.
  • Distract: Distracting yourself when you feel physically and mentally ill is one of my favourite strategies because, in my opinion, it’s one of the easiest.

    Here are some of my favourite distractions:

  • Hand Lettering Worksheets
  • Online Magazines 
  • Knitting
  • Yoga with Adrienne 
  • Gratitude Journalling

I hope this is helpful and reassuring to anyone going through the medication madness.

Love

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What it’s Really Like to Plan a Big LESBIAN Wedding

My partner and I have been really lucky in finding the best vendors, and service providers who have shown the utmost acceptance and haven’t drawn attention to the fact that we are, in fact, 2 women getting married. But, during our process of finding vendors and service providers, we did come across a few who were…less than inclusive.

We totally anticipated that although most people will be accepting, there may be a few who ask questions that are offensive or just irrelevant. Lucky for us, we end up laughing it off. Usually.

Here are the 8 most annoying parts of planning a same-sex wedding.

  1. Being asked to sign contracts that clearly, weren’t revised for a bride and bride wedding. Flip a coin for who signs beside the groom!
  2. Being asked “who’s gonna wear the dress?” Um…we both are?
  3. Having to make up new terms for our wedding party. Eg: Groomsmen= Brides-men.
  4. Shopping for wedding essentials and having each and every sales attendant ask who the lucky guy is. Ain’t no guy lucky in this relationship.
  5. Trying to find a wedding planning book that doesn’t either say “Bride and Groom” or use traditional attendant roles such as “Groomsmen” and “Mother of the Groom.” I’ve decided just to cross those out and write my own terms.
  6. Deciding how to walk down the aisle…Like, do we walk down together, do we meet in the middle? Does one of us hide behind a bush?
  7. Deciding on what traditions to stick with. Do we have 2 bachelorette parties? 1 joined bachelorette party? Do we both throw bouquets, what about the garter? So. many. decisions.
  8. People assuming our colour scheme will be rainbow. Sure, and our tagline will be “you can taste the rainbow.” Just no.

But, in reality, we are so lucky to live in a Country at a time where same-sex marriage not only legal, but widely accepted. Despite these 8 annoying things we have encountered, we have had way more pleasant experiences and met so many accepting, kind and respectful vendors.

Happy wedding planning everyone!

Note: Janice Ian inspired this blog title.

How to Make Hard Decisions

Lately, I’ve been making some hard decisions. Decisions, I quite frankly, wish I didn’t have to make. Decisions that I wish the depression could make for me. I mean it takes up my entire body anyways. Making decisions when you have anxiety and depression is light fighting a fight you aren’t even sure you want to win. But god, I know these decisions are important to make.

Growing up, when making decisions usually resulted in making the wrong one, my dad would tell me:

“Life is about choices.”

I didn’t know how right he was until I grew up. Had to make these choices, with no idea of the outcome. Just a strong hope that I was doing the right thing. But what is the right thing? Is it what

  • society wants
  • brain wants
  • my body wants
  • my heart wants
  • my family wants
  • everyone expects from me
  • is stable/safe

Its taken me years of struggling, and doing things that don’t benefit my mental health, that I realize I finally have a definition of what is right (for me).

“Doing what is right means doing what benefits your body, mind and soul. It has to light you up. If it doesn’t, it isn’t right for you.” – Tara Jean

Some hard decisions I’ve been making lately include the following:

  • Go back to therapy (mine went on mat leave, and finding a new one has proved to be difficult)
  • Up my meds
  • Reduce # of hours I’m working to better manage my mental health
  • Eliminate as many things in my life as possible that do not bring me joy

All of these decisions have consequences. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good decisions. It just means they may be hard to make. My heart feels heavy knowing that these decisions all have consequences, and that I may never know if the decision was the “right” one to make. All I know right now, is I have to trust my heart and listen to what it needs. I have to block out judgements, and make room for love and understanding.

Here are my 3 steps to help in making hard decisions

  1. Figure out what is driving the decision. Is it fear, money, health, opinions of others, opinion of yourself…
  2. Determine what the pro’s and con’s are. Make a list to help you see it.
  3. Consider the impacts of the decision and decide if the impacts are manageable.

For anyone going through a hard time, or in the process of making hard life choices, you’ve got this. Trust your soul and follow your passion. And most of all, take care of yourself. 

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