What #InternationalWomensDay Means to Me

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and at the risk of sounding like a nerd, I have a confession. International Women’s Day is my favorite day of the year. I am a feminist, and believe in #girllove , but as I sit and reflect on all of the strong female influences in my life, I also feel enormous amounts of gratitude towards the men in my life.

I have been very fortunate in my life. I grew up in a household where my father treated all of his children the same, irrespective of their gender. He instilled a ‘why not me’ mind set in each of his children, and that led us each to achieve great success in our lives. He worked very hard for us to have the lives we have today. Even when he became severely ill, he pushed himself to provide for our family. It was a difficult time, but my mother was a great source of strength. She stepped in and ensured that we didn’t miss our after-school activities. That there was a meal on the table every single evening. I think I get my work ethic from her. She is a machine. To this day, I am convinced that she’s attached to a rechargeable battery pack. Even at the age of sixty, she can run laps around me. To this day, I have not met anyone with the same stamina as her.

My parents are a great team, and the person I am today is a result of their hard work.

I also have an exceptional partner, who is constantly pushing me to achieve more. He doesn’t believe in glass ceiling, and has a lot of confidence in me. He also doesn’t believe in gender specific roles, which I find annoying, especially when it comes to me having to cut the grass!  I love the smell of freshly cut grass, and apparently that is reason enough for me to have to cut it. But I have no problem with sitting outside and reading a book while he cuts it. We often joke that he is more of a feminist than I am, and deep down, I think we both know it’s true. He is often disappointed in the media because he doesn’t like the way women are portrayed. He has concerns about  the impact the media will have our younger cousins, nieces and nephews, and how they perceive themselves and females. He is definitely vocal about these concerns.

Lastly, I work for an exceptional multi-national corporation that doesn’t believe in glass ceilings. In our company the VP, General Manager and two regional sales managers are females. To see women occupy these roles is very motivating. These are women who have had to manage the work life balance and have made great strides in a male dominated industry.  I also have an exceptional team lead, who I would consider a feminist. He motivates me and has helped me immensely with my career. Even when I feel that I won’t excel, he reminds me to have confidence and do my best. He’s taught me that my best is good enough, but I need to learn to walk before I can run. He’s also taught me that learning is a process, it’s not an end state. These are very valuable lessons that I can apply in both my professional and personal life.

Reflecting on international women’s day, I am reminded that this day is not only about the exceptional women in our lives, but the exceptional men who propel women’s rights forward. I am the person I am today because of the lessons I have learned from both genders.

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Shades of Gray

Red. Purple. Blue. Pink. Yellow. Teal. I miss the days when I saw the world through a colorful lens. When I felt gratitude in all of life’s experiences, and a sense of purpose. The state of the world has broken me, and I don’t know how to overcome the negativity.

As a colored person, I feel unwelcome in a world that I once considered home. I feel naïve for being optimistic and thinking that the world would see beyond the color of my skin. Every day, I watch the news or scroll through my social media feed and read stories about hate crimes. Seattle, a man is shot in his drive way. Kansas, a man is told to go back home and shot. This hate is slowly finding its way into my home, Canada.

I wasn’t born in Canada, but I love this country. It breaks my heart to think that while I am investing myself in being a Canadian, there are people in this country who feel I don’t belong because of the color of my skin.

When my mum watches television, she reflects on her younger days while living in England.  She remembers people yelling, “the skin heads are coming”.  She would see people run down the street. A couple of hours later her neighbors would come outside to have a look at whose windows were smashed. Fast forward to present day,  I fear for the safety of my family.

Recently, my family has been trying to find a vacation spot, and one of the first comments my brother made was, “we’re not going to the states, look at me, I don’t feel safe”. It’s 2017, and he doesn’t feel safe going to a first world country because of how he looks. What has the US become? I can’t say I disagree with his thinking. In the last NBA play-off season, a few of my family members drove to Cleveland for a basketball game. On the way back, we needed to stop at a gas station. Not even 5 minutes after putting in the gas, we were surrounded by a group of Caucasians. We immediately felt unsafe. We all ran back to our car, jumped in and drove off. We didn’t stop for two hours until we reached Canada. It was only when we were back on Canadian soil that we stopped for a much-needed washroom break. I often think back to that day and wonder what would have happened if we weren’t fast enough to speed off.

At that time, coming home to Canada, we felt safe. But today, that sense of safety is slowly disappearing. The hue of my skin somehow differentiates me from my neighbor. It makes me less human. It makes me less Canadian. I don’t know what I can do to change my Canada back to the tolerant and accepting country that it once was.

The current state of affairs makes me sad.
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Truth & Lies

Words. Chains. Shackles. Suffocate.

I’m sitting here trying to complete what can only be described as the tedious task of writing this blog post and suddenly I feel as though I can’t breathe. Why won’t the words leave my mind and find their way to the blank page in front of me? I’m struggling to find the words to explain my emotions. I feel trapped. Words are floating sporadically around my mind. They don’t make any sense. What is bothering me? Why can’t I just speak my mind?

Am I afraid of the raw honesty of my thoughts? Am I being pessimistic. Perhaps it’s the latter. I feel frustrated.

Recently, I’ve had people lie directly to me and it’s been a very disheartening experience. I value words. They allow people to connect and build a sense of community. When people misuse words to withhold the truth, they create invisible barriers that otherwise wouldn’t exist. I don’t understand why people isolate themselves or others. The whole situation can be avoided with a dose of honesty. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Maybe people lie to create barriers? Maybe they subconsciously lie because they want to break ties with people, because after all, lies are daggers. You can sew the wounds, but the stitches will always be visible.  You can’t hide what is on display. No amount of makeup will ever cover them up.

Maybe the truth is simply that people lie. Perhaps they lie because they are too weak to stand up for themselves. Or maybe they lie because they are human, and a human’s innate nature is to look out for themselves first. They lack any regard for the person they are lying to.

It’s disappointing when you invest yourself in relationships, only to learn that they weren’t worth the investment. That the people you overlooked were more worthy of your time. They valued you and instead, you elected to waste your time with people who weren’t deserving of it.

We live in a narcissistic world, where people are starting to look out for number one first. I’m not sure when we went from living as a community to only thinking of ourselves. But I’m done with it. I would rather spend my time with people who are think like me, and value people the way I do. Who chose not to lie just because it is convenient.

2017, people are going to see a very different version of me. I’m learning from their example and if they don’t like it, there are more than a billion other people on the planet, we’re not lacking for people we can have relationships with.

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One In A Billion

The world, people say its overpopulated, but if that’s true why can’t I find a single soul that I feel connected with?  I walk through each day with my vulnerabilities on full display, hoping for a single connection. However, as the day’s pass, I can feel the vulnerabilities shedding away and being replaced by loneliness and sadness. Why does no one see the hurt that’s in my heart.

Life is passing by quickly, and I understand that each of us have our own trials and tribulations that we need to overcome, but what happened to connecting with those around us on a human level and having real relationships? Each one of us is preoccupied by our own daily struggles, but in the process we are losing the ability to connect with each other. We’re becoming lonely and lost souls. We’re floating through life trying to find someone who will understand our souls, but we’re not putting in that effort with others. In the process of becoming fixated on our own emotions, have we lost the ability to empathize with the people around us? Are these relationships of the past?

I try to stay positive, and share my fears with people. I want people to see my weaknesses. I don’t view my weaknesses as a hindrance to me. In fact, I view them as my strengths. They allow me to connect with people on the human level. I am not perfect, and neither is my life, and I am okay to say that. We all have our pain points, and obstacles that we need to overcome, after all, life isn’t perfect. And it shouldn’t be.

Life is about growing, and even if you don’t find the connections with people that you are looking for, you need to try and understand why. Is there something in your own behavior pattern that is preventing you from connecting?

In a world filled with billions of people, surely there is one soulmate for everyone. Whether it be a friend, sibling, spouse, parent or friend, they exist. We need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and enjoy the growing pains of life. Share our hardships. Listen to those around us, and hear their life experiences. They have been put in our lives for a reason, and we need to understand their purpose.

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Why I Blog

Ever feel like you have something to say, but you don’t quite know what it is? That’s me, every time I start a blog post. When I start writing, i’m never quite sure of where my thoughts will take me. But, the second my fingers press on my keyboard it’s as if a serge of word make their way through my finger tips and within minutes a blank white screen is filled with my deepest emotions. 
Through the grapevine, I’ve heard that some people have expressed concerns regarding the honesty of my posts, and questioned why I choose to be open with my deepest thoughts. The answer is simple. It’s because I choose to. The great thing about having a blog is that I can write about my flaws, my fears and my ambitions. I can dissect my weaknesses and reflect on where my thought process is hindering my ability to grow. And most importantly, I can connect with my readers on a human level.

We are all flawed, and in our own way, we face the same obstacles in life. However, these obstacles often impact people differently. Some people grow and are strengthened by them, while others feel defeated. This blog helps me work through my feelings, and hopefully helps others face and grow from their life experiences as well. 

How am I feeling today you ask?

I’m feeling very sad and disappointed with the state of the world today. I’m disappointed in my southern neighbor electing someone who is ignorant to the state of the world. I am upset that those negative emotions are creeping into Canada. I am so tired of the hate, and the division between people. And I am frustrated that people are having to re-fight for rights that were already established.

When did we start to go backwards?

I feel as though there is a huge void in my heart, and I don’t see it being filled anytime soon. For the past week and a half, I have been feeling very empty, and for the first time in a long time, I’ve lost hope. Gandhi says to be the change you want to see in the world, and while I am not a fan of Gandhi, I am trying to stay positive and project positivity. But, I am struggling. I am fighting hard to hold back tears every day. I feel very hollow, but I am trying with everything in me to not project negativity.

Today, on my way home from work, I saw a man’s car stopped on the side of the road. About 20 people drove past him. I also contemplated driving past, but I stopped. To be honest, I thought it was a girl. The person had long blond hair that fell to their shoulders, but when they spoke and I realized that it was a young man in his late teens or early 20s. He said thanks for stopping, but we were both equally clued out as to how to fix his car. He said it was his clutch and that he needed brake oil. I’m not sure if that’s what he needed, but I drove to the gas station to get the oil. For those of you who are a bit panicked right now, relax, I didn’t take him in the car with me, he was still a stranger. I took his number and called him when I got to the gas station to confirm that I picked up the right oil. I brought the oil back to where his car was stopped and gave it to him. He asked me how much the oil cost, and I told him to ‘pay it forward’. To which he responded, ‘I do that too’. For a split second, we both smiled, faith in humanity restored, and I walked back to my car. As I drove down the road to turn my car around, I thought, ‘what if that’s not what he needs, and I just left him?’. Fortunately, by the time I drove past him, another man, from a line of 30 cars had pulled over to help him and I was genuinely happy that another individual stopped to offer a helping hand, it gave me a bit of hope.

With this experience, I could feel that hole inside me fill a little. I left the interaction feeling a little more healed. Not fully healed, but enough to help me genuinely smile for the first time in over a week.

In that moment, we didn’t see each other’s backgrounds, economic status or level of education. We saw each other as people, helping each other.

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Sorry, but i’m not sorry

749b2facbdb43ae0c61b86b99f5c77e9My condolences to the people who expect differently from me, but I will not apologize for who I am. There is only one of me in the world, and I take pride in that fact. I don’t need your approval, so if you feel the need to project your nonsense on me, don’t be surprised if I cut the conversation and remind you that I don’t need your validation.

If you can’t respect me, there is no place for you in my life. I’m tired of compromising myself for the people around me. That chapter of my life has closed. If you don’t like the person I’m becoming, please exit the stage.

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Thank You 2016!

Two Thousand And Sixteen. The words seem so insignificant on paper, yet as I say the numbers out loud, I can feel a paper weight being dropped on my heart. How do I begin to describe the year I’ve hard? As I try to find the right words, I feel confined to the words of the Oxford dictionary. Why can’t language be like light? Infinite.

Two Thousand And Sixteen. Thank you. As I sit here trying to grasp for words that would do my year justice, I feel overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude. This year was tough. Filled with loss and great sadness, but for some reason my mind floats to the happy memories.

This past year, we lost a monarch in my husband’s family. We spent many months going back and forth between work, home and the hospital. While the loss was significant, my memories constantly float to hospital memories that make me smile. I will always remember the look on her face when I entered her hospital room on a day that I said I was busy at work and wouldn’t be able to make it. She was so happy, and for anyone that knew her, she didn’t show much emotion.

My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, the doctors caught the cancer in time and were able to remove it. She underwent radiation treatment shortly after that. Although she gets tired easily and is often in pain, she is still as feisty as ever. You think I have a sharp tongue, wait till you meet my grandmother.

My lung condition also relapsed. This news was a bit tough for me to digest. I had worked so hard to try to prevent this from happening, but it just goes to show, you can’t control everything in your life. Sometimes you just have to accept the cards that you are dealt, even if they are terrible. I remember laying in the emergency room bed, trying not to cry, thinking “please don’t be a relapse”. My condition is rare and easy to misdiagnose. Prior to my diagnosis, I spent many months in and out of hospital with doctors telling me I was having muscle spasms. So when the doctor came to my bed and told me I was good to go home because I was having a muscle spasm I almost started laughing. Muscle Spasm? I asked to see my blood work and x-rays.

The pulmonologist, Dr. Wayneinder Anand, who originally diagnosed me with this rare disease and was one of my biggest blessings of 2015 also ended up being one of my biggest blessings of 2016. Prior to releasing me from his care, he taught me how to read my blood work and x-rays to identify if I was relapsing. So when I saw the results, I knew what was happening. Had he not taken the time to teach me how to read my reports, I would have continued to suffocate and not understood what was happening. My health care would have been in the hands of others. Dr. Wayneinder Anand gave me the knowledge to identify when I was having an issue, and the steps I needed to take to self-stabilize, until I was in the care of another pulmonologist.

When I reflect on Two Thousand and Sixteen I can’t help but smile. This year was filled with trials and errors, laughter, sadness and happiness, but it made me stronger. This year taught me how to be grateful for the life I have. It taught me to make the conscious decision to be optimistic and happy every day. Because when you change your perspective, you change your life.

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