To say we’ve been through A LOT in the past year is an understatement. Mad finished her Masters degree, moved across the continent to California, and has racked up the miles meeting with NHL superstars and attending every fabulous NHL event across North America. Teal travelled Australia, Japan, and South Korea, moved to Windsor to follow her passion of Sport Management, and then moved back to Montreal for an internship with the Canadian Olympic Committee. During the craziness of the last 12 months, we felt so much support from each other that we thought we’d write on the importance of a truly supportive best friend. Not a friend who’s just supportive in the standard #NationalBestFriendDay or annual birthday Instagram posts but a friend who sincerely wants you to succeed. Because really… a best friend should be like a good bra.
But first, we wondered, when does one move from acquaintance to friend and then from friend to best friend? Teal was a grade above Mad in high school. Our very first words exchanged were ones of support and admiration on Mad’s second day of highschool, Teal complimenting Mad on her hair. A sign from the bronze&gold gods that this friendship was meant to last. From there our friendship blossomed into one of encouragement along the dreaded cross country practice routes. Next, we bonded over our status as Sid fans, insisting we’d be happy for the other if somehow, someway one of us married him. When Teal left for university, Mad’s Grade 12 year was struggle city but we managed to keep in touch and grow our friendship through travels and visits. We became the perfect travel mates and the most qualified co-pilots.
We’ve found ourselves in a friendship that spans many miles and time zones yet we always squeeze in time for a multi-hour phone call at least once a month. Sometimes Mad takes the mic to talk about her feelings, sometimes it’s Teal to talk about a tough school decision. Sometimes we both share exciting news or an awesome opportunity that has come along. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but something we value about our friendship and our support of one another is knowing we have a positive light for any situation. Someone who can help us to look at both sides and then help us to make a decision that is truly in our best interest. A huge part of us starting a forum for people to reflect on their 20s was us wanting to share different things that we are going through and have gone through as best friends in the 20s.
“Supporting another person’s success will never dampen yours” is a top 5 favourite quote of ours. Because it’s totally true! We love to listen to each other’s big ideas and then brainstorm ways to make them bigger and better. We wholeheartedly believe that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with and that’s why our friendship has lasted. Our individual drives are so intense that they can’t help but extend into a passion for seeing the other succeed. And in turn it helps us realize our own potential and when we say goodbye, we leave each other feeling more motivated than ever.
It’s very rare to find a friend you can fully trust with your best interest in mind and when you find one, like a good bra with the perfect measure of support, you must hold onto it and treat it with care.
Teal, you are perfect balance of a well fitted band and straps that don’t dig in. Mad, you are the perkiest shaped cups and just the right thickness of padding.
You’re the peanut to my butter. The milk to my cookies. The best to my friend.
Thank you for being you <3
I can smell small engine fumes as I lay in my bed. My butt muscles are aching in spots I didn’t know existed. When I close my eyes I can feel the throttle as I give it a little too much. The night after Day 1 of my motorcycle lessons I'm riding on cloud 9. "A little give and a little go" is ringing through my mind.
Teal and I both consider ourselves lifelong learners. She always says if she won the lottery she’d stay in school forever. I always say if I marry rich or win the lottery I’d spend my time getting my license to drive a transport, going to beauty school, and taking a coding course. We both just want to soak up everything we can.
While I await the lottery pulling through, though, I’m admittedly focused on knocking off a couple goals that are less time consuming and more of an immediate thrill. Most recently, it is the successful completion of the Harley Davidson Riding Academy.
I can’t pin point the moment I knew I wanted my motorcycle license. Growing up we drove the ol Arctic Cat Panterra snowmobile around a trail in the forest and I always liked that. Maybe that was my first taste of control and freedom.
This year on Easter weekend, while everybody else was waiting for Jesus to be risen I was straddling a Harley, inhaling fumes, and revving the throttle. My rebel spirit was alive and well.
Biking is very Californian. When I first moved here I looked at my goals and knew it was time to check one off. I googled “motorcycle learn to ride” and Harley-Davidson’s New Rider Training popped up. This course would provide me with the classroom learning, motorcycle and gear, and successful completion would exempt me from having to do the driven test with the DMV. I was immediately stoked.
My class was a real mix of people. There was another young girl like me - new to San Diego and embracing her good girl/rebel soul persona. There were a handful of middle aged couples, coming to learn so they could join their couple friends on weekend cruises down the coast. There was a fella with tattoos up the back of his neck and all over his bald head… very similar swagger to Happy for all fellow Sons of Anarchy enthusiasts. There were a pile of Marines and military guys. There were guys who had been riding for years without a license and thought they better finally get registered (God Bless America). There was a artsy young college fella taking the course only because it would give him a break on his recent moped violation. A real mixed bag of us. Coolest part about it, though, was how we were all there to learn and all very supportive of one another.
From the start I worried I would walk into the classroom and be eyed up as the dippy young girl who had never driven a standard and now thinks she’s tough. When I texted Slate the morning of we were both laughing in disbelief that I was actually going through with it. His advice came from the marvel that is How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days… “Just remember Mad it’s a little give and a little go with the clutch and the throttle”. Why do the chick flicks always come in so handy? The instructors and my classmates were all equally as excited as I was to be learning new things and freeing their hearts and souls.
On the 2nd day of our 3 day course we were invited to join in on the dealership’s free BBQ. There was the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, a country band, burgers on the grill, MC’s wearing cuts (again, for the Sons enthusiasts that’s ‘motorcycle clubs’ wearing leather vests). Harley people really don’t care what you do or don’t have in common because the love of riding is all they need to unite them. It was a super cool community to experience.
Academic nerd alert: I can proudly say that I got a 94% on the written test. Tough bad ass Mad alert: I was then the only girl in my class to pass the driven test. Having never touched a standard vehicle in my life that was my biggest worry and quickly became one of my favourite parts. Inner control freak? You best believe it. I love switching gears as the bike gains speed or comes to a stop. I know my instructors recognized my confidence and that in an of itself made me feel strong. The people in my class who failed the driving portion flunked because they were hesitant or timid. They took the weave or the hard corners too cautiously which proved dangerous. Despite having only ridden on the back of a Harley, and just one time, I went through the pylons with confidence, knowing I was in control of the 450 pound machine beneath me.
Not to get too deep but isn’t that the same with life? If you take it too cautiously you are going to miss the rewards that can only come from taking risks. If you take risks with confidence in yourself and your abilities you are more apt to succeed. Always a lesson in life experiences!
Motorcycling is dangerous and the overprotective men in my life are still not sold on me ever actually having one (however they know Mad and they know they really don’t have a ton of say and can either join me or wind up looking really cute holding onto the back of my bike). It’s certainly a risk to ride one. Having now taken the course, I’m happy to have a better understanding of what the roads are like for bikers. I know I will be a safer car driver who is more considerate of motorcyclists, especially in California where they are allowed to lane split in traffic. And maybe someday I’ll wrap my ginger braid in leather, throw my leg over the saddle, and tear up the open road.
Coming back to school for me was a HUGE decision. However, my choice to do a second Masters degree has been life changing for me. I chose the University of Windsor Master of Human Kinetics for a few different reasons. Their Sport Management program is currently ranked ninth in the world and top in Canada. The option to choose between an internship or a thesis was ideal because I wanted the networking and practical experience that an internship would provide. What I didn’t realize was the numerous out of classroom learning experiences that I would get through my Sport Management program. Less than a month into school, back in September, my Strategic Management in the Sport Industry class headed to Toronto for two days to meet with executives from Maple Leafs Sport and Entertainment, the Toronto Blue Jays, CBC Sports, and the Wasserman Media Group. The trip also featured an alumni networking event at Real Sports Bar & Grill and concluded with the Canada vs. Slovakia World Cup of Hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. Needless to say I was in heaven and knew I had made the right decision to come back to school.
Flash forward 6 months and I’m almost done my first year of the program! It’s been better than I expected and I most recently had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Great Olympic Journey’ as part of my Politics, Crises, and Commercialism in the Modern Olympic Movement class. My professor, Dr. Scott Martyn, has been taking his class on this trip since 2004 and it has become a staple of the Sport Management program at the University. As part of the course requirements, we each had to select a way to journal the trip. Of course, bronze & gold was the obvious choice for me!
The trip was incredible and featured far too many highlights and moments to cover everything but here’s a quick glimpse of our week!
We met at the Human Kinetics building early on Monday morning and somehow managed to cram 12 people and their week’s worth of luggage into two vehicles. After the quintessential first stop of any true road trip- Tim Hortons, we were on our way to Toronto. Our first meeting of the week was with the Toronto Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) office that focuses on marketing and digital content. The COC Foundation is also housed here. We were then surprised by our professor with tickets to Medieval Times where it was then our turn to surprise him with a knighting ceremony.
Tuesday was a full day of driving. In typical Montreal fashion, we arrived in the midst of a 40cm snowstorm. Our original plan was to watch the Habs game but after some unfortunate ticket issues (don’t ask), we were escorted out of the Bell Centre. But nothing could get us down! We were on the Great Olympic Journey after all!! We headed straight to Peel Pub and I think we had more fun watching the game there… especially once the karaoke station was set up.
Thursday marked the halfway point of the Great Olympic Journey and it was a busy one. We started off with an all-access tour of the Montreal Sport Institute followed by a guided tour of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Park facilities. We then crossed the border and made the quick drive to Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. We were welcomed to Lake Placid by Jim Rogers, Chairman of the Protocol Division and Chief of Protocol for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. He gave us a tour of the 1980 Miracle on Ice Herb Brooks Arena before we headed to the U.S Olympic Training Centre where we would be staying for the next 2 days. With an unlimited, 24/7 food service, we really got to live like Olympians, or at least eat like them!
Our final full day started with a meeting with Jared Steenberge, Manager of Operations of the United States Olympic Committee. Jared gave us even more insights into the day to day life of an American Olympian training at the U.S Olympic Training Centre. We then received a tour of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and the 1932 and 1980 Olympic venues by our good friend, Jim Rogers. We finished off the day and our final night of the trip with the second ECAC Men’s Hockey Championship Semi-Final game at the Herb Brooks Arena.
Our Great Olympic Journey concluded on Saturday morning with a gondola ride to the top of Whiteface Mountain. Our week was filled with educational experiences that really emphasized to me that you can only learn so much in the classroom. Having the opportunity to see all aspects of the Modern Olympic Movement, from the COC Marketing team to WADA to living with the U.S Olympians, was just another reminder that not only is sport management the career for me but I truly made the right decision in choosing the University of Windsor.
If you’re like me you sometimes look at Facebook memories when they pop up in your notifications. Other times, your social media ego snuffs their allure. Today a handful of amazing friends with whom Facebook claimed I had memories peaked my interest. So I clicked.
Lo and behold, one of the memories was a link to my blog from 5 years ago. This was blogger Mad 2-point-0 - a page I called Simply Rad (one of my closest pals in highschool called me Rad Mad, it stuck). It followed my Norwegian exchange blog success as a blog for all of my thoughts. Anything and everything that came to mind and could help me procrastinate from my school work.
This day in particular featured a post I had written after one of the many conferences I attended at Queen’s. My blog had just about reached 10,000 hits and I was inspired. Note the one 'like' and the sole comment from my loving aunt:
March 10, 2012 - This is me: pursuing it.
When I first started blogging (crazy it was nearly 3 years ago now!), I never could have imagined it would turn into what it did. I was never a writer in school, and always had way better ideas than I could ever formulate onto paper. I didn’t think I was the “artsy type”.
Originally I started For the Love of Norway as a means of keeping in touch with everybody back home. I don’t know if it was the mass of carbs I was consuming or the huge quantities of spare time I had in my Norwegian classes, but what began as a simple recount of my day quickly turned into a witty narration of every single thing that happened to me. The feedback was amazing; Mom would tell me that if I didn’t write for a few days she had people asking her if I was okay. She was also my first publicist, printing off copies and leaving them lying around for people to pick up and read. For the Love of Norway became such a significant part of my exchange experience that two of my greatest friends added “Published Author” to my repertoire by making a hardcover book of it.
Simply Rad has become the next chapter, or perhaps even next book in the series. Though time doesn’t permit me the same consistency in writing, the fact that it’s nearing 10,000 hits has me blown away. In all, taking up the hobby of blogging has resulted in many people telling me I should pursue journalism. This has been flattering, stressful (pressure to create wonderful masterpieces every single time) and seriously considered, which is what landed me at the Queen’s Media & Journalism Conference this weekend (so eagerly geeky of me, as per usj). As delegates, we were graced with “animated wisdom on matters such as how to land a sought-after internship, how to create an effective blog, and how to get [our] start in the rapidly changing world of journalism.” We had speakers and workshops and delicious hors d’oeuvres. We learned to carve out our own niche and to not be afraid to take a stand on something. We learned that writing is something that only gets better with practice; and if you take a break, things might get rusty. We were presented with many of the ins and outs of the media industry and where it’s headed.
In all, I think we learned that reflection is valuable (reflecting on your work and reflecting on what’s been successful), and networking is the way to get in. We were encouraged that a degree in journalism isn’t necessary nor will it give you any advantage per se, rather it’s about your drive and your skills. Having been my second conference of the year, and being the influential sponge that I am, I naturally came out of the weekend inspired. Inspired to pursue not necessarily cut-throat journalism, but to pursue the things I am good at and the things I am passionate about.
Be prepared to do a lot more reading, friends. This is me pursuing it (and yes, I might just follow-up with James Duthie afterall).
Sophmore Mad was feeling inspired. And I was coincidentally reminded of this on a 2017 day when inspiration festered again.
Living in Southern California there are constant glimmering reminders to live out your inner dreamer. Got a tech idea? You’re just one lunch time conversation in the In-And-Out line up away from selling it to a potential gazillionaire investor (NDA in hand, of course). Wanna be a star? Hollywood is a hop skip and a jump away and maybe you’ll be discovered walking down Hollywood Blvd. Always dreamed of being a sportscaster? You might just make friends with a Senior Writer for ESPN at an awkward dinner in Las Vegas where a pro gambler says you look like a professor and makes you cry. (I dare ya, which one of those scenarios screams Mad?)
Inner dreamer and a job that makes me feel oh-so-close to realizing my dream is right there if only I reach, reach, reach for it…….And so I’ve begun a journey of taking my own advice circa 2012. I always lamented that the structure of University writing let my voice slip away from me. I always worried that my knack for personable writing would dry up as my studies in politics took precedent. But through this endeavour that Teal and I took on a year and a half ago we’ve been expressing ourselves and honing in on our own respective crafts. And it’s been pretty darn cool.
I’ve written about poverty, period panties, and my inner frugality. I’ve edited pieces by guest writers that we’ve featured. I’ve built upon my P&CC era photoshop skills to create our visual identity standards and various graphics. I know that a downfall I need to overcome is worrying a piece of writing has to be perfect and the ultimate combination of wit and charm before posting. Sometimes, it’s more about throwing the idea out there and letting people formulate their own interpretation. As the overprotective, control freak, older sister that I am it is clear letting go isn’t my strong suit and this extends into my writing. I also know I have to work on gaining experience in various aspects of the industry, having not taken anything in the related field in school. This is why I’ve recently taken a couple leaps on the sportscasting side of things, gone out on a limb and worked towards building upon the drive, skills, and networking I blogged about 5 years ago (wracking up tons of material for a future blog post, if nothing else).
With James Duthie and Jay Onrait’s books stacked on my nightstand how can I go to sleep at night and not brainstorm ways to make my dream a reality? When I watch my favourite sports channels and see a total lack of redhead representation on the sports desks how can I not go chasing it? When I watch interviews or read articles and immediately think of things I would have asked the players, how can I not give myself the opportunity?
And so, for the second time in a blog format I declare - This is me: pursuing it.
Stay tuned for updates if you want to read about the many lessons along the way. ‘Cause you know me... they’ll be awkward and funny and cringe worthy. And maybe my lessons will encourage you to take on a YOLO mentality. (That may be the title of my future biography - Take a YOLO Mentality. 5 years from now when this post is a Facebook memory let’s just see!)
2017 marks a year of milestones for me.
Our family business JED Express marks 25 years of success in business as I finish my first full year working with my Dad and a great group of colleagues.
I turn the big 3-0 in November.
I celebrate over a decade in public life.
And it will be my last full year as Mayor of the Township of North Dundas: a job that I have loved, that I have grown in, and has opened many doors for me.
The past year for me, however, has already been one of transition.
I made, to many, a surprising move to step away from my role in federal politics to reflect on my future and to help my father and our family business.
It has given me more time to think about my future, professionally and personally.
Recently, I concluded that I need to publicly address a key part of my life to allow myself to live my life happy and balanced going forward.
I want to acknowledge today the simple fact that I am gay.
I am one of many men and women who have struggled to balance this with my work and other aspects of my life.
I have struggled and debated about making this statement on a large scale. Do I need to say anything? Will it affect my career? Would I lose friends and people who have supported me for years?
I am not making this announcement for attention. Ironically, for the exact opposite reason.
I want people to know that I have been private about being gay not because I am ashamed or embarrassed. I have always believed that anyone’s private life should be exactly that: private. Rarely, it has any bearing on our abilities to do our jobs and make a difference.
Until now, I have not discussed my sexual orientation because I have always believed it is not relevant to assessing my successes and failures.
Being gay has never impacted my job performance. It has not impacted my skills to run a meeting, to put together a budget, or make a hiring decision.
I have waited this long to show people that sexual orientation shouldn’t impact a person’s ability to do their job effectively.
I have been very proud of what I have been able to achieve in my life to date. I have wanted to be judged solely on my leadership traits and my record as Mayor, and nothing else.
By sharing my story, I am not 100% sure what the reaction will be. I am at the point in my life where that is not my priority. Rather, I want to live freely and proud of who I am, and achieve happiness in my personal and professional life, whatever that direction may be.
Some people will react with surprise, and unfortunately, some with disappointment or anger.
But I suspect that for most people, like I have experienced in coming out to close family and friends, there will be support, or in many cases, just plain indifference to this news.
Social norms have undoubtedly become more tolerant and compassionate in recent years. I could never have gathered the courage to write this a generation ago.
I am fully aware that there is still a ways to go. In the meantime, it is my hope that this news changes nothing.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll go to work like every other day and be treated no different. Someone will call or email me to complain about a pothole or local issue. I’ll run a meeting or two.
And, like I have my entire life, I’ll try and do something to make my community a better place. I plan to make my last 17 months in municipal politics meaningful.
When I step out of the Mayor’s office for the last time next November, I can’t help but begin to reflect about what my legacy will be.
I hope that residents feel I have done a good job and made a difference.
I hope that young people see a 20-something Mayor holding his own alongside colleagues twice or three times his age, to become inspired enough to get involved in public life and their community themselves at a young age.
And after today, I hope a gay teenage boy or girl who is scared about their future, and who wonder if they can ever come out, reads this note to know that it will all be OK in the long run.
Sure, there will be roadblocks and some intolerance. But you will be more surprised at the love, the support, and the indifference from those that matter.
Everyone faces barriers and roadblocks in life. Some taller or deeper than others. But I hope they will know that they can work hard, be passionate, and reach for their dreams.
I’m grateful to have been given a chance to do just that, and to now have a burden off my shoulders.
Stronger and more proud than ever, I look forward to entering my next decade of life and finish my term in public office.
To any person out there who needs hope, please consider my story: if I can do it, you can too.
Editor's note: Eric Duncan currently serves as Mayor for the Township of North Dundas and served two terms as Warden of the United Counties of SD&G. He was elected Councillor at age 18 and Mayor in 2010 at the age of 22. Eric is the epitome of bronze&gold. His drive goes completely unmatched - spending his twenties in public service as the MAYOR of North Dundas. He rolls around town in a slick Chrysler 300, used to sport his Blackberry in a holster, all while having his trendy facial hair become the whole town's concern. Madison will never forget Eric teaching her how to play card games in the back of Tommy's bus through elementary school. We are truly honoured to have him as a guest writer.
We're excited to introduce you (especially those of you in Ontario) to a new brand that we can't get enough of- Best Case Ontario! We got all the scoop from Co-Founders, Mallory Martin and Shelby Johnston, two 20-something best friends who decided to take the risk and follow their passion- something we're all about!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Who are you? Where are you from?
Hey there! Our names are Mallory Martin and Shelby Johnston. We are the Co-Founders of Best Case Ontario! We are both from small towns located in Chatham-Kent (Shelby is from Ridgetown, Mallory is from Dresden) where we had the privilege of growing up in a rural community surrounded by outdoor beauty. We are just a short drive away from fresh water Great Lakes, surrounded by evergreens, and fields as far as the eye can see. We are currently third year students at the University of Windsor both studying Human Kinetics.
How did you meet?
We were formally introduced and became friends in 2014 when we both arrived at residence for our first year of University! We have been roommates ever since and our friendship has grown immensely.
Can you tell us your vision for deciding to start Best Case Ontario?
Shelb and myself have always had the creativity bug. Throughout second and third year we had constantly been throwing ideas back and forth from each other. Ideas from “self-stirring coffee mugs” to “the chill pill” – a pillow that can be cooled to a certain temperature for the perfect sleeping experience. HAHA. But then it occurred to us that we are very passionate about where we come from and where we grew up! We began to brainstorm ideas to bring people that are just like us together to celebrate this awesome province! A few drafts and names came about during this brainstorming process and then we finally came to Best Case Ontario… safe to say we quickly fell in love with the brand. We are so proud of the brand and what it represents. BCO represents the natural and rural lifestyle us Ontarian's live in. Each wave hidden within the tree line represents each one of the Great Lakes.
Where are BCO Headquarters?
We currently just have a basement full of boxes with our inventory! I have some in my car as well. LOL it seems to have taken up much of my room here at university but as we slowly get the name and brand out there I'm sure the number of boxes will decrease. We don't have any set in stone plans regarding where else to sell from so for now we are just keeping the inventory on hand in our basement! My mom has been our helper while I'm at school and Shelby is away in Europe. My mom has made several trips to our supplier to place/ finalize orders for us and pick up products as well! My boyfriend Neil has also helped out a great deal by doing some deliveries at home while I was away at school. My Mom and Neil are both amazing assets that we have right now and probably couldn't do it without their help and of course without the support of both of our parents!
What’s the best feedback you’ve heard (either positive or negative) from friends, family, or customers?
We have had nothing but positive feedback! Everyone who has purchased items have said they love the logo, sizes fit great and the sweaters are very comfy! Family is obviously very supportive, they have helped us to pursue this dream by assisting us with the ordering process, reaching out to their friends for more support and awareness and of course buying lots of products! We love the positive feedback we are receiving and we hope to continue this as we introduce more products and reach out to more customers!
What are your goals for BCO for the remainder of 2017?
Right now we are focusing on short-term goals like getting our name out there and letting people know who we are and what we are about. We have talked about working with several charities in the near future. We feel that this province has given us so much we are thankful for that we would love to give back in any way we can. We hope to inspire others to be creative and proud of where we come from! Just focusing on expanding and reaching as many as possible would be something we are looking forward to pursing.
Also, we are currently working on easier ways/more user friendly ways to access our brand and purchase products by creating a formal website and a mobile app (to be launched soon). We are also interested in adding more apparel to our product line that we currently have.
What’s your favourite product?
Mallory: Personally my favourite product is the Toque. I like how it fits, and is very casual and fitting for cooler winters/weather we experience here in Ontario.
Shelby: I like the sweaters. They are very laidback and country style. They fit great and are very cozy for nights by the fire, or walking beside the lake on a cool night!
Where can we get some BCO?
Currently you can get access to all our awesome gear by connecting with us on Facebook. Here you will find all our items we are currently selling. To purchase items, simply like our page, follow us, and then message us with what it is you’d like to purchase.
Kayla is a lifelong friend of Teal's from their Cornwall Typhoon hockey days. She is the most caring individual I know and someone you can count on to be there for you no matter what. She is the kind of friend you can go months without seeing but when you get together it's like nothing has changed, a true friendship. Kayla epitomizes bronze & gold in her determination to live life to the fullest, make a difference in the lives of others and see the world. We couldn't be happier to feature her!
My passion growing up was hockey. I had the amazing opportunity to play NCAA hockey for Norwich University. Those four amazing years flew by, and ended. My passion, my lifestyle, everything I knew had come to an end. Returning home the summer of 2014 was hard for me, I found myself a little depressed. I found comfort working for my parents at the Ontario Hockey Academy. My life-long passion continued, in a new form.
Right after graduation, May 2014, before I began working, my sister and I had the opportunity to travel around Europe on the Contiki European Experience. The same Contiki that Mad and Teal did the year prior. I had fallen in love with Europe in every single way. Next thing I knew I had bought a one-way ticket to Brussels, Belgium in April, 2015. This time I was going alone and without a tour company. I spent two and a half amazing months backpacking Europe, and it was the most liberating experience. I remember sitting in the Dublin, Ireland airport with tears in my eyes wishing I was catching the next flight to Warsaw, Poland.
From that trip, a new passion was born - Travelling. Going back to work for another hockey season was tough. I thought day in and day out about where to travel next. I found myself on days sitting at my desk researching places to go, and things to do, rather then doing my work. Now, it has come to the point where I question where my interests lie, what is it I truly want out of life? I am still without an answer and, in fact, am left with more questions, than answers.
I am the type of person that wants to be successful in life. Not needing to make it big, but to a point to just live life comfortably, with not having to worry. The thought of leaving what I know, and taking a risk is the most terrifying thing. I work in the family business so the security of a job is here, but is it what I really want in life? I get asked, or have comments made daily about how one day I will take it over, every time I hear that I wonder, is it really for me?
I am scared; I am terrified to walk away from what I know. I’m scared to walk away from a job, the incoming paycheques, leaving for something I have no answers too. Taking a RISK scares the shit out of me. I don’t want others to see me fail, I want to prove to my family, my friends, myself that I can conquer life. I don’t know what I want out of life, I don’t know my purpose, yet. The only things I do know is that I love traveling and I am scared to take a risk.
I have failed many times in my life, but only with little things, I have never been to the point of rock bottom, and the thought of that ever happening is petrifying. There are many things I have said I want to do, or ideas of what I wanted but I can never come to the point of a conclusion. In the past two years I have thought about pursuing my MBA, maybe becoming an engineer, taking night classes to be a make up artist to do on the side. But why can’t I ever decide which is right for me? When I think about going back to school, why would I put myself in debt? What if I start and don’t like it? When I think about leaving the job I have, I don’t want to burden my parents with more work. These are things I say to myself. Some might call them excuses but they are the reasons I’m scared.
The one statement that always comes to mind when I have these ideas is, I wont be able to travel during that time. With all these don’t knows, I have come to one conclusion that what I do know is I want to travel. It may not bring me answers, it might confuse me so much more, but right now that is what I truly want. Hopefully, sooner then later, I can get over my fear, and set off with no plan, no return date and see what it is really like to not have something to come back to. I know it will fall into place, I just need to take that step.
Is anything real anymore? Is anybody being their authentic self? Hellllloooo-ooo-ooooo?
It’s been on my mind so much lately. Maybe because I’m living in an upscale California community where designer lips are the norm. Maybe because our world is oversaturated with Instagram “models” and people selling their souls to the devil. Maybe because I’m tired of going to bed at night with blood shot eyes from staring at a screen all day. I’m negative, I’m jaded, I’m angry.
This kind of thing was in the media awhile back with Instagram “stars” coming forward and admitting that their perfectly filtered lives were unrealistic, untrue, and in fact undesirable. I thought maybe, just maybe, we were at a turning point. But it seems inauthenticity is what we’re all supposed to strive for. It still reigns in the virtual world that screws with the way we exist in the real world. Candid photos have gone from a roll of film that snapped at the wrong time to falsely looking down or away as your friends takes 16 photos. Enjoying a moment has turned into scouring the landscape for a photo backdrop, posing, then flying through the options and barely responding to those you’re with instead of soaking up the rest of the view. Hey I'm just as guilty.
I like to think our age group, the 20-somethings who are nostalgic of a time when we weren’t slaves to our devices, knows better. We got our handy dandy flip phones with a 45 text message limit (per MONTH!) in the 9th grade. Our social brains had largely developed before screens had a true shot at ruining our eyesight forever. We remember a time when you had to look up your crush’s house in the phone book and nervously dial the number, knowing full well their parents would answer. We know that being interested in someone is more than “sliding into their DMs”. Yet I admit, we get sucked into this behaviour… for the thrill, the convenience, the curiosity...name your vice.
Mentally our devices, and the applications we spend so much time on, give us information OVERLOAD… so much so that we think we need to be constantly activated, constantly stimulated and forget that we possess the ability to pass a minute more organically. Our brains need a friggin break. Remember as a kid how you’d stand at the bus stop and kick rocks or talk to the person beside you? Time would pass without playing a game on your tiny screen, without looking at news, and without constantly refreshing the page. I always talk about how lucky we were to have grown up without these “luxuries”. Even TV offered more of a social experience… we watched Young & the Restless every night in my house but in doing so we shared a common bonding experience. Something we talked about, something we shared… one plot line with a couple commercials thrown in. I didn’t have headphones in watching a show on my laptop while Mom played a game on her iPad, Slate sat there texting, and Dad checked emails on his Blackberry. It’s that crazy paradox of being more connected than ever before yet also so. damn. isolated.
I don’t want to leave you thinking I’m old fashioned and can’t embrace change. I got an Apple Watch* for my birthday for heavens sakes! As a consumer of social media, though, I can’t help but think that it all seems to have gotten out of control. We’ve become so obsessed with making our lives come across a certain way we’ve forgotten to live. So obsessed with letting our technology dictate our real life I truly fear we’re one step closer to being robots. This obsession is only exacerbated by platforms that make us compare our lowest moments to everybody else’s highlights. It’s enough to make ya go crazy.
And so my challenge to you: go outside, walk the dog, sit on a park bench, go a day without checking your social media. It’s freeing and you’d be amazed the things you can get accomplished. If it helps, delete the apps off your phone. I’m not challenging you to full on delete your accounts (though I’ve come close I do like to look back on my memories and post from time to time), just remove the apps. You’ll be shocked at the number of times you reach for your phone out of bordom, curiosity or just plain habit.
Because really, what are you going to miss out on? #ootd , #mcm , #baesic #onfleek #kuwtk #instaworthy .. take a seat lame-o hashtags. Be yourselves people, and focus on living authentically. Because we aren’t going to thrive in a world where we’re all clones (aka shitty versions of eachother) who pay no attention to one another and live within the confines of our screens.
*I'm most excited about having my Apple Watch so I no longer have to check my phone and get sucked into the never ending vortex of emails, articles, and 'grams. Now I only look when my wrist vibrates and tells me to.
Disclaimer: I wrote this post in my head earlier today while running my first marathon! I’m proud to share that I completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon under 4 hours!
I haven't written a post in a while. I've been busy, busier than I've ever been before. I won't bore you with the details of my crazy hours and never ending work load because the truth is that I'm loving every minute of it. I know part of the reason is because I’m finally pursuing a career I’m passionate about but at the same time I’m convinced running is to thank.
As a lifelong athlete, I've always enjoyed running but during my sophomore year of college that hobby turned into a full on passion when I signed up for my first half marathon. The race took place about 6 weeks after the end of our hockey season so it was a refreshing change to have something new to train for. For a type A organization crazy girl like me, I loved the feeling of following a set plan to accomplish a final goal, race day. As my runs got longer, I was able to explore and find different parts of Plattsburgh and what I quickly realized was how much mental clarity running gave me. I've tried yoga, I've tried meditation, but nothing helps me clear my head, organize my thoughts, and beat stress like running.
I'm competitive. It's the first word I (and most people who know me) would use to describe me. I struggle with the concept of just doing things for fun because to me everything is a chance to win which is why races have always appealed to me. When I retired from competitive hockey, training for a race gave me a purpose to work-out and a chance to beat my favourite person....myself. Unless you're an elite runner, most people don't actually focus on winning a race because of the high number of entrants, different starting places, and the mix of genders and ages. For these reasons, my focus is not on actually winning the race but achieving a specific time to beat my personal record.
I didn't realize the significance of running in my life until I couldn't run. In 2013, I was training for my first full marathon when I injured myself 2 weeks out from race. What I thought was a strained hip flexor ended up being a torn hip labrum. I needed hip surgery and I couldn’t run for an entire year. The timing of my injury couldn’t have been worse. It came at a very difficult time in my life when for the first time I wasn’t playing hockey, I was living in a new city, and I had just started my first Masters program. Needless to say I was lost. And I felt even more lost without my long runs to organize my thoughts. Finally, after a year I was back running and everything started to come together.
Today, three years after my injury, I ran my first full marathon and crossing the finish line was the proudest moment of my life. My training for this race has kept me sane during the first six weeks of my Master of Sport Management degree. During my long runs I was able to plan out my to-do list, think about work issues, and just beat stress. From my personal experience, I believe that running and exercise in general are great ways to improve mental health and that’s why I’m encouraging all of our bronze & gold readers to sign up for a race. Elle Woods may have said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy...” Training for and completing a race, regardless of the distance, is an incredible accomplishment and an amazing feel good moment. For our Ottawa followers, Run for Women is being held on May 7th and consists of both 5k and 10k run/walk events. All pledges and donations will be supporting women’s mental health programs at The Royal. I really think that training for this non-competitive fun run/walk will be a great way to beat the winter blues! I really hope you will all consider participating :)
I’m always here to help with training plans so please don’t hesitate to ask.
But as for right now, I’m ready to enjoy a glass of wine and hot bubble bath!
Lots of love,
Now 23, I’ve lived the charmed life and for that I thank my lucky stars every single day. I’m one of those people who spreads positivity and zest for life...from my shiny, untarnished perspective. This I recognize. For the past couple years, though, my academic life has been immersed in a subject that flipped me on my head. And for that I will be eternally grateful.
For my Masters thesis I conducted focus groups with low-income people and gathered a wealth of information on the barriers they face in having enough food from day to day. But what does that mean? I used a small town food bank and Salvation Army branch to recruit people who have trouble making ends meet from month to month. A few brave and resilient souls agreed to meet with me to share their stories of struggle, humiliation, and survival. In a country like Canada it’s so easy to think this doesn’t exist. It’s easy to think that we all live our kushy middle class lifestyles and everything is great.
The research process has taken quite an emotional toll, I’ll admit. I find myself in constant confrontation with socialized norms and having to check myself over and over again: Why as a society do we take one instance of someone who abuses the social welfare system and generalize it to everybody else? The people I consulted spoke only of wanting to be honest, of wanting to help others, of wanting to be healthy, and wanting to be happy. These are not luxuries. Basic humanity doesn’t teach us to trample everybody else while we find our way. When did this stuff happen? When did we decide it was easier to turn a blind eye to people who were suffering and came by it honestly? Why is it so easy for everyday Canadians to get stuck in the rut of social welfare and face an impossible battle to claw their way out?
As a working girl I understand the feeling of seeing half of your paycheque taken away. I get the feeling of waking up in the morning and wishing you could stay in bed but knowing your life depends on that daily grind so getting up anyway. I get the feelings of anger when you drive through your small town and see the “porch dwellers” sitting on the front step dragging on cigarettes, waiting to collect a cheque that comes from your hard earned tax dollars. I don’t think for one minute those are unjustified emotions. I think this is why my education has been so emotionally taxing on me - the constant pull of understanding both sides of the coin. Which is why I share this with everyone today.
We all love a good heart wrenching story as it shares its way around social media. We can all see the great in giving a homeless man a haircut or a hot meal or paying for the person’s coffee in the line behind us. But what is it that makes us so adamant that certain people are and certain people aren’t deserving of the same quality of life? Or atleast an equal shot at it? And that might just be the key.
Our grandparents came here with nothing and worked their way to the top, you hear that over and over again. But what was different at that time was a sense of community which is largely lost today. At that time people came together, be it through the church or otherwise, to help one another. A new family immigrated from the Netherlands? Someone offered them a job on their farm, someone stepped up to teach them English, someone was always around the corner if they were short a cup of sugar or needed a dime to mail a letter. In today’s world we have no idea who our neighbour is, we lock ourselves inside our air conditioned, technology equipped homes to entertain ourselves in isolation. We sit behind screens and feel a false sense of social cohesion.
But what if tomorrow comes and you lose your job, you get diagnosed with a chronic and debilitating disease, your partner leaves you, or your house burns down? Life is fragile. What if you find yourself on the other side of the fence, because the majority of the people living in poverty today will tell you, it can happen with the flick of a switch. They had “normal” lives before they found themselves using the food bank or going without. Have a little faith in people and know that people don’t want to be lazy. People are inherently good. But more importantly, know how lucky you are each and every morning to wake up with a purpose and the health, ability, and opportunity to go out and earn a proud living.
Just something to think about as we ignore the homeless man, sitting cross legged on the street. What was his life before he wound up there asking you for spare change? Did he simply make poor choices (as we’ve been taught to assume and can sometimes be true) or did he face incredible challenges in his childhood? Maybe he served our country and has now returned with unbearable mental health issues and a lack of support? The problems are so much deeper than the grips of a drug addiction. We are all given a different shot at this game of life - all equipped with different social supports, coping mechanisms, and emotional capacities.
Though I cursed the graduate student life more often than not - putting my own privilege on display - I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from people who were at their most vulnerable. I truly learned the value of a dollar, what it can represent, the value of food so many of us take for granted, and the value of life. It gave me perspective that I will forever carry with me. Compassion. Perspective. Appreciation. And most of all 20-something drive - to spread a message and spark conversation...To ameliorate the lives of not just struggling Canadians but ultimately, all of us.