Saturday, May 16, 2015

It Gets Better

It has been about two years since I last sat down to write a blog post.
I have so much to say and haven't been able to formulate it into proper sentences or even organize my thoughts.

So much can happen in two years - Friends are lost, friends are gained, new relationships are forged, loved ones pass away and new jobs are found.
I have also found myself, as cliché as that sounds.

I feel more myself and more alive and awake in the past year than I have in my almost 28 years on this earth.

I have an amazing job, where I feel valued and cherished, and that my thoughts and ideas are truly considered when I do speak up.

I have a wonderful boyfriend, who I know will be a part of my life for many years to come. Stemming from that relationship, I have a new group of people I call my family and friends, and I finally understand what true caring friendship is, as I've seen his interactions and have become a part of that social circle.

My boyfriend and I are taking the next step in our relationship, and are moving in together in July. I think it's one of the scariest, most amazing and wonderful experiences I've been a part of in my life. Everything happens at its time, and I'm loving every second of it.

I lost my grandmother in January, after a quick diagnosis and two hospitalizations.  In the short time that she was ill, I learned so much more from her, and learned to value my time with the people in my life. I miss her every day, but I know that life moves on in time, as I'm slowly finding peace within my grief for my mother.

I find that with the right therapy and the right medication, I have finally learned how to properly cope with anxiety and depression, and face them head on with a new-found positivity and ability to open up to new and scary things. The past month or so has been an incredible learning experience, and I've found within me a strength and courage I never knew I possessed!

My plan for the summer is to start up my blog again. 
I want to write and be creative and get my stories out for all those who wish to read them.
So, check back again in July; I'll be posting regularly once I've moved into my new apartment and have internet access at home again.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Awake My Soul

I'm not sure where this just came from, but now that's written down, I feel so much better...

We’ve all got these things inside of us that weigh us down, keep us from the true selves we want to become. Regrets, sadness, heartaches... they happen to everybody, but is it really necessary to let them run our lives?

Are we truly the sum of our collected experiences? There’s more to it than that.
Yes, everything we’ve been through up until this point in time has had an effect on us, but do we let those experiences dictate our current and future actions?

I say I’m shy, but my friends don’t believe me. I can be quiet a lot, but when in the right setting with the right people, I shine like the light I know I am supposed to be. Why doesn’t it come out more often? I let my past throw a shadow over my flame, and it’s hard sometimes to be the me I want to be so badly. I’ve been cast aside, hurt too many times, bullied and ashamed. But I’ve also been supported, loved and cared for, though those things are harder to feel when the bad is coming on too strong.
Why can’t it be easier for the good to shine through?

Why does society focus so much on the bad? In the news, all we hear are the terrible stories, with the rare kind gem sparkling in between tragedies. A feel good story, now THAT would be news! Tragedies aren’t news anymore, they seem so common place, and I’m not surprised we’re so desensitized to it. Tell us some good stories for a change- that would be the most pleasant of surprises.
Life is like that too, I guess. We’re so desensitized to the fact that bad things happen, that when something good comes along we don’t believe it, tell ourselves “it’s too good to be true.” Some don’t even see the good things anymore, because the bad has swallowed them whole, and the insides are all dark to our eyes.

What if we wake up? Open our eyes to the good things out there, despite all the shit hitting the fan? What then... Spring is an awakening, and here I am. Wake up! I know there’s been so much going on the past few months, but we’re in spring now, and it’s time to just let go of the darkness and shine on.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Personal Limits

In the past month that my blog has been quiet, my life has been the complete opposite.

As my 24th birthday loomed in the close distance from my last post, I decided that I would try something new as my own personal birthday present to myself.

Everyone has a comfort zone, a point in their mind when they say "This is it; I won't and/or can't go any further than this line." I have a small comfort zone, and I understand that it is not necessarily a good thing to always stay within the confines of comfort. I made a promise to myself that I would do at least one thing outside of my comfort zone every day, to push beyond my personal limits and try new things, to add some spice to my life. This was my present to myself, and it's been my favorite present.

In the past month I've pushed myself in ways I never imagined I could. As a result of this push, my life feels more well rounded, and I feel the most confident I've ever felt before. I'm happier, and that is the best present I could ever have :)

I think if everyone would do at least one thing outside their comfort zone, maybe even just once a day or once a month, it would enhance the quality of life and really work wonders for self esteem, confidence, and happiness!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mental Health

With information surfacing about the deaths of prominent NHL enforcers, the idea that depression plays a key role in the life an enforcer is not so farfetched. What is a little out there is the fact that it is being brought up at all. Depression and mental illness are now at the forefront of the media.

Depression is usually something that people sweep under the rug and hide from the world. The afflicted person might even lie and say, "Oh, I'm just tired, nothing to worry about." The truth is, as hidden as depression might be, it is something that does affect many people, and it's not prejudiced on who it will hit.

I believe it's something that needs to be discussed more in school, and that when it does pop up it shouldn't be pushed aside or belittled. From my personal experience, I can't even count how many times I've been told to just "suck it up, and put on a happy face." If it were that easy, don't you think I could have done that by now?

I was a bit sceptical about writing this article and sharing something so personal, but I feel the benefits of shared experience far outweigh the embarrassment I might feel by sharing something so deep.

For as long as I can remember, I've felt this way; sad, down, and usually negative even when a situation could really use some positivity. I thought it was normal, and that that was just my personality. As the years went on, and I grew up and gained more knowledge. I realized that no, that feeling is not normal, especially when it's stuck with you throughout childhood, adolescence and the early 20's.

This summer I pushed myself to see a psychologist and after a couple months of sessions, we decided that medication would be a good idea for my mental health. I'd love to say it's been smooth sailing and that the medication worked its magic, but it's only the beginning. The first month and a half was terrible, as my body was shocked by the medication taking root in my system. The side effects were a nuisance, and I spent days feeling nauseous and experiencing headaches. Now, after two months and two raised doses, the side effects no longer affect me as much, and I can slowly start to feel myself getting better. In no way am I even close to being healthy yet, but I feel the first step taking place, and it's such a big encouragement.

I ask myself all the time why I never sought help before, why I never admitted to myself that there was something very wrong. The only answer I have is that I worried about the stigma attached to mental illness and having to take medication to be "normal." I realized, though, that I shouldn't care about that, because it is normal. It's my normal; though the existence of normalcy is quite debatable, as I briefly mentioned in my last blog post.
It's not that it was my fault or anyone's fault in particular; it's something in my brain, as well as the collection of experiences I've had throughout my life. When you have to go through every day being tormented at school for 11 straight years, it does eventually take a toll on your mind and spirit. That, added to what was already in me, is probably what led to this lifelong battle with depression.

I'm excited at the prospect of getting better, and with this tiny step in the right direction I've been feeling, I know that in the months and years to come, I'll be quite alright.

I just wish that the nagging feeling that there's a stigma to avoid could more often be outweighed by the benefits of seeking help, and that silence does not help anyone if they truly wish to get better and stay better. I wish I had realized that sooner, but then again, everything happens for a reason and at its specific time. This is good for me, and if it was meant to happen now, instead of years ago, that's fine - the end result will be the same, no matter when I made that realization or started to help myself.

Friday, September 2, 2011

We're All A Little Weird

What is it that makes us feel so inadequate? Why do so many of us feel that we are subpar to others, or that we are lacking in certain areas? Body image, self esteem, and positive feelings are so low that we turn outward for validation instead of to our own standards and values. This is sad, for within each of us is a perfect vision of who we are, but that vision is clouded by media, social circles, and societal standards.

What makes someone attractive? How do you weigh attractiveness? What is the comparison to decide what is good, bad, or ugly? Whose views are you using?
Ideally, one should decide based on what is pleasing to them, not what anyone else deigns beautiful or "sexy." Unfortunately, with the world worshipping celebrities and the Hollywood culture, all we get are in-your-face messages on what is "in" at the moment, and what should be "hot" for the current time.

I hate this obsession with the media, the idea that celebrities are god-like in any way, and that every bit of information about them is a gem to hoard. I don't care that Beyonce is pregnant, or that rapper T.I. was released from jail only to be incarcerated again a day later. I don't care that Kate Middleton is looking anorexic or that Lindsay Lohan is a constant train-wreck! Why do I know these things, if I don't care? I know these things because I have information thrown at me from all sides. I can't listen to the radio without hearing celebrity gossip. I can't stand in line at the grocery store without glimpsing a headline on the conveniently placed trash magazines lining the checkout.

Worst of all, from this inundation of celebrity news, is the deeper messages we glean, even subconsciously. We learn that it's alright to date with abandon and marry and divorce countless times. What was once sacred is now turned into a cheapened experience that you can repeat over and over again, to your fancy. Importance is placed on exteriors and material wealth, and sexiness and attractiveness are all the rage.

Do we really want future generations to suffer by the messages we receive today? How can this be healthy for anyone? We went from worshipping idols, to monotheism, to idolatry again; celebrities are revered as gods, and Hollywood has been turned to Mount Olympus.

I was never interested in brand names, trends, or current styles. I always tried to go my own way, and live my own life, free of the societal pulls. No one is completely free from the hold of society, though, but one can certainly try their best. I don't shop for brand name clothing; I shop for what I think is pretty to me and can flatter my figure according to my personal standards. I don't buy magazines, aside from the occasional cooking magazine, if only to look at the recipes and pictures. I despise trashy celebrity gossip magazines, and I refuse to watch ETalk, or read the gossip blogs circulating on the web.
I like current music, but only because it's fun to listen to as background noise when I'm doing things around the house. I prefer alternative rock, metal, folk, Irish punk, and Israeli music, if given a choice.

I don't like "chick flicks" and romance novels, like women are pushed to enjoy by marketing campaigns and clever taglines. I love a good action movie with lots of fight scenes and explosions, and I'm automatically pulled in if there are swordfights. I prefer fantasy and science fiction novels, but will occasionally read a romance novel only for the mindlessness, when my brain needs a break from made up languages and too many characters to remember.

Why should we stick to what's considered normal? Normalcy is weighed against others views, but in reality, normalcy does not exist. We are all weird in our own ways, and that’s what makes us, well, US.

I am my own person, as I strive to be, and I hope my readers can be themselves, too. Put down the magazine, turn off the television, and think about yourself, your life, your values and ideals, and decide if you want to be the one in charge of your views, or if you'd like them spoon-fed to you by the media out there.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From Darkness to Light

This past weekend, I took part in the Montreal Weekend to End Women's Cancers, a 2 or 1 day walk, raising funds, benefitting cancer research at the Jewish General Hospital.

I walked in honor of my mother, who passed almost 2 years ago, from cancer, and for others who have died from the terrible disease. It was my second year doing this walk, and it was an amazing experience.

Looking back on my mother's sickness and death, almost 2 years later, I have no trouble finding the good in this loss.

A sad situation is terrible when you're going through it, because you can't see beyond the perimeters of pain and sadness. Objectively, after the situation has passed, it is possible to reflect on what happened and find some light in even the darkest of times - You just need to make sure your eyes are open to it.

People can pretend to have perfect lives and perfect relationships with those in it, but the truth is that life is full of imperfections, mistakes, and ill feelings, if not for the sole purpose of taking the opportunity to fix such things.

All families have their own ups and downs, and levels of dysfunction - That's what family is all about. To delude ourselves into thinking all families are perfectly functional and happy would be an insult to our ability to change, improve and work on ourselves and our relationships with others.

Personally, I view my mother's illness as the eye opener for me to finding out that I needed a great change in my view, relationship, and life. That point in time became the catalyst that began a change for the better. Priorities shifted, relationships grew and improved, and family became the focal point for the next year.

I believe that cancer brought my family together like nothing else could have ever done. My mother's death was truly a great loss, not only to her family, but to her friends, coworkers, and the lives of everyone her presence had ever touched.

It was, therefore, with great sadness that we bore that loss, but we also gained so much throughout the whole ordeal, and to ignore that would be insult to my mother's memory, I believe. The sadness brought with it a shift in priorities, causing a change in my life that can only breed happiness, and I will thank my mother daily for inadvertently bringing about that change and causing a light to spark within the darkness caused by an ugly disease.


At the age of 18, I made the decision to become an observant Jew. Over the course of the next 5 years, I learned so much to add to the foundation I had acquired already from 12 years of Jewish day school. Having had that prior knowledge of Hebrew and bible stories, it was easier than expected to integrate into Seminary, an institution of higher learning for post-secondary Jewish orthodox girls.

I learned Tanach, bible, in depth, taught myself to read the Rashi script of Hebrew, and was taught countless ideas, as well as the Jewish dietary laws of Kashrut, the laws of keeping the Sabbath, and many other laws of various aspects of Judaism.

I internalized everything I learned and had a great thirst for more. However, that thirst was never fully satiated - I received knowledge and answers galore, but never reached my full understanding or true belief in things I learned or was supposed to believe.

I tried a considerable amount of times to make that leap of faith to believe and trust in everything regardless of how I truly felt, but in the end I wasn`t able to, and couldn`t continue on that path of pretending, as it were. I appreciated everything I learned up until that point and the effort, time, and money the religious community had for me, to educate me in the academic, lifestyle and religious aspects, and I still do appreciate all of it.

I believe for having learned all these things, despite my non-practice at this time, I am greatly changed for the better and am grateful for the knowledge and understanding I have gained through those experiences of my 5 years as a religious Jew. I always felt connected to my religion, identity, and nation and that will never change, no matter my level of religiosity or lack thereof.