Forgive me, I realize I am the least qualified person in the history of the world to make any kind of blog post about nutrition/food/diet. So I'm not at all claiming to to be an expert on anything. But I felt I had to speak up about something.

I've seen soooo many blog posts recently about what food is best for you, what foods will kill you, etc. Each article spouts out some scientific jargon that nobody really understands but sounds very convincing. But they all contradict each other! So, what to believe? Depends on what articles you're reading I guess.

Let's take milk for example.

Blog post #1: Milk is bad. The whole dairy industry is a big money making hoax. Milk is full of harmful hormones, it was never designed for human consumption, it causes cancer, etc. etc. etc.

Blog post #2: Milk is good for you. Tons of nutrients, good for your bones, preventing osteoperosis, etc.

Both points of view claim they know the absolute truth. Both points of view think the opposing faction is brainwashed into their (false) beliefs.

So, who's right? 

Well I say noone. Noone is right.

Let's just put a little bit of perspective on this. Just think about it for one second:
  • If you never drink milk ever, drink all these fancy alternative milks for your entire life. Well guess what? Eventually you're going to die.
  • And when you do die, nobody will ever be able to conclusively say whether your death was or was not related to the fact that you chose alternatives to milk products.
  • If you drink milk all the time, 2 big glasses a day, lots of cheese and yogurts. Well guess what? Eventually you're going to die.
  • And when you do die, nobody will ever be able to conclusively say whether your death was or was not related to the fact that you drank a lot of milk.

Let's all keep that in mind. The human body is so wonderfully complex, so let's please not steal away from it's magic and wonder and beauty by claiming we know exactly what's best for it and what's not. Honestly it's just not that simple and it just can't be described in absolutes like that. 

And the thing I think both the articles are missing out on (which is SO important to remember) is how the need for milk (or whatever food) varies from person to person. 

Because if I were to pop in on the milk debate, I would definitely be on Team Milk. I love milk. I credit milk with me being alive right now. Milk is literally the one food group I do right. And when I run out of milk, but am too lazy to go to the store to get more, I feel worse. I need it in my diet.

But, I'm not saying everyone needs it in their diets. I think too often these food blog / nutrition articles make way too general blanket statements about what everyone should & should not be eating. We're not all the same… so why does everyone think we should all be eating the same? Something that may work great for me & my body might not work for you & yours.

And part of this just comes from your genetic heritage. All my ancestors on all sides of my family were farmers here in Canada, and before that, were farmers over in Ireland & Scotland. So yeah, I'm pretty sure they all drank milk. And I love milk. So milk makes sense for me. But if your ancestors come from somewhere where drinking milk just isn't part of their culture, then its possible milk just might not sit right with you. And that is fine too!

It's kind of like how people with Aboriginal descent can't process carbohydrates as well as people from other backgrounds can. And it's because, historically, their ancestors had a more of a hunter/gatherer lifestyle where there were less carbohydrates available. And their bodies (being awesome and full of wonder) adjusted to that. So now who are we to say everybody should eat so much of this and so much of that, treating everyone biologically the same? It just doesn't make sense.

I say (and this is a foreign concept in the nutrition world, so don't hate me for it) why not let our bodies tell us what we need and what's good for us? Because, hey, don't they know us better than some blogger on the internet? So if drinking milk makes you feels stronger, and fills you up and you feel good about drinking it, then hey, drink up! But if drinking milk makes you feel sick or lousy, then don't drink it. Find alternatives that work for you. But don't do it because some anonymous blogger on the internet is guilting you into it. Listen to your body and do it because that's what it's asking you to do.

I read a haunting (true) story in my psychology textbook in first year University. It was about some baby who had some kind of a rare undiagnosed salt deficiency. For whatever medical reason he did not have enough salt in his body. And so he cried and cried until his parents fed him something salty. And when they did, he would stop crying. And then later he'd cry and cry and cry until his parents fed him something else salty. And it kept going like this. He was (without knowing it) training his parents to be giving him enough salt to survive. As a toddler, one of his first words was "salt", and he was constantly licking salt off crackers and drinking out of the salt shaker. Now, the story had a really sad ending. At one point, the baby got admitted to the hospital for something completely unrelated to this salt problem. But in the hospital, the nurses would not feed him the salty food he needed to survive, and he ended up dying because of a lack of salt.

It's a really sad story, and it's stuck with me because of that. But I think it powerfully illustrates how much smarter our bodies are than we give them credit for. They know what's best for them! So let's listen to them!

Anyone else read Mrs. Hall’s FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)? A blog post by a mother that somehow went viral a couple days ago. … Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have read it either except it showed up on my newsfeed and so I did.

And then, of course, like anything like this that goes viral, some people don’t agree. And so they post their own blog post: A Message To Teenage Girls About That Letter From Mrs. Hall. I read it too, because, again, it showed up in my newsfeed and… why not?

And after reading both sides of an argument (that, don’t worry, I’m not about to take sides on), I found myself solely disappointed. None of the bloggers involved brought up what I feel are the main issues at play here. In my opinion, everybody completely missed the mark. They went off on tangents arguing side points, but nobody went deep enough into what’s actually going on in those teenagers’ heads.

Mrs. Hall – I agree with you. Teenage girls should respect themselves so that others will respect them too and see what awesome beautiful people they are underneath.

People who disagree with Mrs. Hall – I agree with you too. We shouldn’t be judging and shaming girls who do choose to post these selfies on the internet.

I agree and disagree with you both. So let’s move past that. Please… why on Earth is no one talking about the reason teenagers are posting these photos in the first place. The selfies are not the main issue here. They are a just symptom of a much bigger problem. An oh–so familiar problem for those of us who are already living our lives in the adult world.

Working with youth, having younger siblings and cousins, I have a lot of teenage facebook friends. More than the average person, probably. And so of course I see a lot of these selfies pop up in my feed. (Here I’m not necessarily talking about overly sexual pictures, just selfies in general) …I see them a lot. And I’ve thought about them a lot. Because it’s unbelievably prevalent in the youth culture of today. Even the smartest, most confident and independent 15 year old is taking pictures of themselves and posting them on facebook, or instagram, or whatever.

And why? Well the answer is just the obvious answer. For likes. For comments. For shares, or retweets.

Because the way I see it, a teenager’s compulsion to post and repost these sexy pictures of themselves is just an outward reflection of the way all of us human adults feel inside. We all have a deep human desire for love and approval and respect. An infinite longing for happiness, completeness and wholeness. These selfies are just a teenage trend to try to deal with those new feelings of emptiness. You know that deep deep feeling of unsatisfaction… and often you can’t even pinpoint exactly what you’re unsatisfied about, it’s just there. It’s this hole in your heart… or this hole in your soul... you don’t even know where it is but all you know if that you can’t seem to fill it no matter how hard you try. No matter how many likes your picture got on facebook, no matter how well you did on that end of term evaluation. No matter what great job you have, or how much money you make. You get married, you have kids, you grow old. But the longing for more is still always there. 

It’s a desire I think all human adults experience. It’s the way I feel, for sure, and I can see it in others too. It’s the reason people who become rich or famous quickly are so disappointed. They thought everything would be better if they were famous. They thought winning the lottery would answer all their problems. But it didn’t. No matter what, they just can’t shake that unsatisfied feeling… that intense yearning for more. It’s a thirst they just can’t quench, no matter how many million dollars or millions of twitter followers.

So I believe everyone has it. And you know what? I believe there’s a purpose for it. I think it’s the catalyst that thrusts us onto our spiritual journeys (whatever that looks like). It’s necessary. In the same way that hunger is necessary so we know we need to eat. And thirst is necessary so we know we need to drink. This spiritual hunger is pushing at us, and pulling at us and screaming at us that we need something more. What we have right here isn’t enough.

Here, have some quotes from some people smarter and more eloquent than me, and who are saying basically what I am trying to say:
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” –Blaise Pascal
"Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." – C. S. Lewis
(sorry, two C.S. Lewis quotes… couldn’t help myself!)

So we all have it. It’s part of our human nature, this spiritual hunger.

Now, the funny thing I’ve noticed, as I’ve watched and spent time with kids of all ages, is that this unsatisfied feeling is unique to adults (and teenagers). That’s what I believe anyways. Kids just don’t seem to have it. I mean, of course they want to be loved and cared for, and they love people – their caregivers, their siblings, their friends. But they seem genuinely satisfied to just spend time with the people they love and to just be wholly in the moment and happy. The joy of childhood. They don’t seem to have this spiritual longing that the rest of us have got… it’s something they grow into I guess.

And so when you think about it this way, can we really blame teenagers for being moody? I mean, they’re experiencing these brand new angsty feelings for the very first time (on top of all their physical and hormonal changes). They’re going from happy-go-lucky to these deep unsatisfiable feelings. So of course they’re exploring them, figuring out how they work, trying out ways to quench this new thirst. Whether it’s labeled that or not, it’s the start of their spiritual journeys.

Teenagers deal with these new feelings in different ways. For girls it’s often selfies, or vying for attention – they’re trying to fill that inner hole with approval, and admiration from their peers. For boys I find it’s often boredom – or just an intense desire to go do something… they’re no longer satisfied with their regular life, they want more excitement, more danger, more thrill. 

But whatever way it comes out, the root cause is the same. Although we might not understand the need to have thousands of pictures of our face on the internet, I think we can all understand that deep underlying desire for happiness and fulfillment. And that’s where it all comes from.

So Mrs. Hall & Mrs. Hall’s Opposition – next time you see a selfie on facebook, whether you approve or disapprove of it, try to see it for what it really is – a kid trying to use what’s available to her to fill a hole in her soul. And let’s wish her well on her spiritual journey and hope that she will someday find the One thing out there which can and will fill her up and truly satisfy her.

Just got back to regular city life and I have to say, although there's some parts of country living I'm not crazy about (like the bugs), there's so much that's awesome! And I miss it alot :(

So here's my list of some of the awesome things about living in the country:

1. The Stars (not my picture, OBVIOUSLY, but I don't have a good start pic of my own)
Been over this one before. But they're awesome.

2. Outdoor dogs (and playing guitar on a swing, lol)
I'm not a giant dog fan, but I like how in the country people just let their dogs out when they want out and let them in when they want in. Like a cat, except a dog. It's awesome. No need to walk them constantly or pick up their poo. As long as you can train them to stay off the road, you're good!

If I ever had a dog (which I won't), I'd definitely want to live in the country.

3. Who needs to lock doors?
Open houses everywhere. Doors are never locked. Car keys are often just left in the ignition overnight. Maybe people are a little too trusting, but it seems to work for them.

4. Privacy.
I mean like this is your backyard.

5. So much less garbage.
All the table scraps get fed to the dog, so that eliminates a good chunk of the food garbage. Up 'til 4 years ago we had a wood stove, which was amazing because any kind of paper garbage just got burned. Cereal boxes, kleenex, envelopes, etc. just got burned and then it was gone. (My Nanny was a little too keen to burn anything in sight so tons of plastic things also got thrown into that stove, woops, lol)

And this leads into my last point:

6. Anything and Everything can get thrown into the back field!
Literally anything. From corn husks, or apple cores, to dirty mop water, to bigger things like:

Old appliances...
Or even old trucks...
… and even old houses!
(our old farmhouse that they just dragged in the back field & demolished when they built their new house)

Don't you wish you were living in the country right now? I do!

Going for a "midnight swim" on a warm summer's night with these cool underwater pool lights, floating on my back resting on a noodle, staring up at the beautiful stars of a clear clear night in the country.

Run on sentence but I don't care. It was perfect.
Happy Canada Day everyone! I just got back from spending the weekend camping and canoeing in Algonquin Park with my family. Being so close to Canada Day, it really made me appreciate Canada for it's natural beauty! It was awesome. We canoed for two days, camped at a wilderness campsite, where it really is just you and the woods. No phones, no internet, just you and the wildlife. No outhouses even, just a thunderbox. Which is actually kind of cool in its own way because you get to experience nature while going to the bathroom! (And I find they collect less bugs/spiders than outhouses, which is always good)

We saw a ton of wildlife for only being out there 2 days. We saw a litter (?) of baby otters which was amazing! They were so cute! There was probably like 6 of them swimming across the river the other side. Super little, but looked just like otters. We also saw a fox, a turtle, a beaver dam, a heron and like fifty million mosquitos, lol. It was good though! I hate all bugs, but I actually don't mind mosquitos so they didn't bother me too much :)

Anyways we went to this SUPER cool place in Algonquin Park called High Falls. It had a waterfall, awesome pools to swim in and this "natural waterslide" which was SO fun! Basically you slide down this slippery rock with the fast moving water into the pool below. It was really awesome! Just one of many many little hidden gems in Canada that makes this place awesome!
Anyways, I was reflecting on Canada's awesomeness over the weekend and I thought I'd list some of my favourite things about Canada for Canada Day. So here it goes!

1. Our money is awesome.
(those 5 and 10 dollar bills aren't out yet (coming this fall!) and I'm unbelievably excited about them!)

2. Everybody likes hockey (or they should)
(it's even on our money)
3. We have more lakes than the rest of the world combined.
And they are beautiful.
4. We have a wide variety of weather
It's never boring anyways. It does require having like 4 different jackets and multiple pairs of boots, and always having to decide which to wear each morning, but I wouldn't trade it for anything! We get hot summers but also snow at Christmas, and outdoor skating rinks in the winter. It's always an adventure :) (and we get the pretty colours in the fall)
5. We have a Queen.
(maybe some people don't think this is awesome but I like it a lot)
6. We're pretty chill
In general, most of us are pretty chill. Our politics are pretty mellow. People are generally friendly. We say sorry a lot (that's not even a giant stereotype, I really do say sorry way more than probably I need to). Whenever I'm not in Canada, I always feel like people are yelling at me (even though they're not), I think because I'm so used to our extremely friendly voice tone we use up here. 
7. Bagged Milk
Why have it any other way?
8. Our awesomely patriotic beer commercials
Anyways that's it for now! Hope everyone has an awesome Canada Day!!! Celebrate our country's 146th b-day!

(in this post I'm not talking about a made up stories, I'm using the word "story" to refer to personal anecdotes, usually of the hilarious kind because that's what makes people laugh)

I come from a story telling family - we love a good story (maybe a little too much). My mom is the epitome of this. I swear there's nothing she likes to do more than have the attention of a group of people as they listen to her describe some hilarious event. It is actually her favourite thing in the whole world, and she is famous for her stories.

And she's an awesome story teller. Too awesome, sometimes. If it's just the two of us and she's telling me about something that happened to her at lunch, often she'll drag the whole thing out into an epic saga, describing in detail every emotion and thought that went through her head. And sometimes, I'm just like "please, get to the point". (Haha, but that's just when she gets carried away and makes a story out of no story). She just can't help herself, she is a born storyteller.

In our house, we all have the attitude that a story is meant to be told more than once. If a life situation ever reminds us of a previously told story we'll retell it, to the same group of people who've already heard it over and over. Not just mentioning it like "Oh, remember the time when mom was lost in the bottom of a ferry?", but we'll full on go into all the details and make a 10 minute affair out of retelling it. And if it's Mom who is the one bringing it up, you should go get a snack or something, because this is her favourite story to tell, and it will take like 25 minutes.

When I'm with my friends (who do not understand my philosophy on storytelling) and I start retelling a story I know they already know, sometimes I get met with "I know this story already" or "You already told me this" or "Anna, I was there too!". And then when I explain I'm aware they already know the story, sometimes they still don't understand. "Do you want me to pretend I don't it?" No. I want you to enjoy the retelling of this hilarious tale. Enjoy it with me. re-experience it with me. Because retelling a story is inviting someone to join you in leaving the real world for a second, and hopping into another time, another place, another person's life and experience first hand what they experienced. But that's not fun by yourself! You want to do it with someone. That's the joy of retelling stories.

The funniest times are when the person retelling the story is telling it to another person in the story. Like if mom starts retelling me the story of where the two of us got lost at the Senators arena and ended up behind where the zambonis come on (HILARIOUS story btw). But she's telling it to just me, and I obviously know the story since I also experienced it. But that's okay! We have no problem with that at all. In fact it's better because we can each contribute little details to the story and that can make it even funnier!

I guess what I'm getting at here is that to us, the purpose of stories is not for information, or just to describe some event that has happened. The purpose of a story is for entertainment. And it's the best kind of entertainment, because it's not just artificial scenes on a tv screen designed to make you laugh. These are real people you know in real situations, and believe me they can be just as funny as any sit-com. But more than just that, I think story telling is basically the healthiest activity. Because it's all about spending time with people you love, sharing experiences, and learning how to laugh at yourself. Seriously, the number of times in my life where awkward or embarrassing things have happened to me, and I've been able to be happy about it, because I know it'll make a good story later is awesome!

I honestly don't realize how much my family tells stories (because I'm so used to it), until other people mention to me how awesome my mother is at storytelling (which happens alot!). And then I realize, yeah, we do tell a ton of stories. (It might have something to do with the fact that we are terribly awkward people, and so we have a lot of material to tell stories about. Maybe it's our coping mechanism to deal with our incredible awkwardness, who knows!)

In our house, people request stories to, but in an unspoken kind of a way. My cousin will say something like "oh, remember the time Grampy ran over the dog with the snowmobile?". My cousin isn't going to tell the story, because he doesn't know it well enough. What that actually is, is an invitation for someone who knows the story better than him (ie Grampy or maybe Nanny) to retell the story for all of our enjoyment. And someone always picks up on it and goes right on into the saga of the snowmobile/dog incident.

Of course there are "favourite" stories that my family loves to tell and retell over and over. I'm sure some of the stories I've heard over a hundred times (and probably have told myself quite a few of those). But I was thinking about it the other day, and I realized, more than just for entertainment, stories actually preserve memories.

Think about it. Imagine something happened to you, could just be something little like finding an awesome sale, but imagine you never told anyone. Ever. Eventually you will completely forget it ever happened, and that memory will be completely gone. But imagine you told all your friends about the awesome sale you found. And then the next time you found a good sale, you'd remember and compare it with that first sale, and so on. You'd keep getting reminded of that first memory because you keep bringing it up over and over again.

Same kind of thing if you think back to your childhood. Maybe my memory's just worse than everyone else's, but elementary school is kind of a blur for me. In some grades I can barely remember who my teacher was. I am for sure not remembering the ins-and-outs of my daily routine. But I remember the time I threw up during show and tell in Grade 1. And I remember the time I fell on the ice and cut open my chin in Grade 6. And I remember the time my friend was a giant construction pylon for halloween (made out of an actual pylon), and tripped on a driveway and rolled all the way down it to the street. Because these memories got preserved in stories. Told and retold until I won't ever forget them.

Basically I love a good story, so go take a hilariously awkward thing that happened to you this week and go tell someone about it so they can laugh about it with you!


P.S. in case anyone was thinking I was exaggerating my mom's storytelling abilities, here are some action shots of my mom telling a couple different stories at a family event last summer (she's a *little* animated)
I've recently been noticing how we have a tendency to misuse the internet in a few ways. Yes, the internet's awesome. So awesome. I'm on there all the time. Twitter. Email. Facebook. Heck, this blog even. I love it. But sometimes I can fall into the trap of putting too much trust in the internet. Rely on it too much, and I'm realizing it's just plain not healthy sometimes.

It's funny, the internet is so young, we don't really know how having access to a constant flow of information will affect us in the long run. And it's kind of crazy to be able to witness slowly how it is changing the way we do and think about things.

So here are are a couple ways I've noticed we misuse the internet:

1. Not everything is google-able.
Yes, you can google song lyrics, or flags of different countries. You can search for images of palm trees or map your route home. But, believe it or not, there are questions that google just can't answer for you.

Things like: Does God exist? What is the meaning of life? Is it wrong to do ___________ ? What should I do about this problem I am having with my mother/brother/husband/whoever?

Moral questions. Political questions. Relationship advice. These things just aren't google-able. Sure, there's lots of answers out there. Too many answers, actually. All giving different opinions. All claiming their opinions are right. 

I've actually caught myself doing this a bunch of times. Googling things that aren't google-able. I'm actually embarrassed to admit how many times I've caught myself doing this. Reading randoms on the internet's opinion on whatever issue I am googling instead of thinking things through for myself. If you actually do this enough times you'll eventually come to the realization (or at least I hope you do): Why am I listening to what a total stranger is saying? Why am I letting this person I have no idea make me doubt my own convictions? Why am I letting them shape my belief system? I do not know this person. I do not know what their story is. There could be a million reasons for why they've come to their conclusions the way they have, and I will never know them. Maybe it's better if I figure out where I stand on these issues without help from total strangers.

2. The "top comment"-er is not always right.
Similar to my first point. I fall into this trap alllllll the time too. After I finish reading my article that pops up into my twitter feed, I almost always scroll to the bottom to read the comments. I don't know why but I'm addicted to reading comments. Sometimes I don't even hardly read the article, but skip right to the comments. It's a problem, I actually need to stop.

So anyways, orders the comments so the most liked ("top comments") appear at the top. And I catch myself following the line of thinking that since those comments are the most liked, they must be the right way to think of something. Which is just plain bad logic. But I fall into that trap all the time. And if the top comments don't match up with my own beliefs on something, I almost always come away from that feeling a little uneasy, and almost bad about myself. It's just not a good feeling.

But again, I have to remind myself - I do not know this person. Why am I letting them make me feel this way?

I was home the other day (home home, with my family), and my fam-jam is a super newspaper family. We've had a newspaper subscription my whole life, and it's awesome. The newspaper sits on our table from the early morning when my dad is the first one to read it while eating his breakfast at 6am, til we put it away at supper time. The rest of us take our turn throughout the day, grabbing different sections. We'd come home from school and do a crossword. If you ever want to find the sports section, it's on the floor of the bathroom, guaranteed, lol.

But the newspaper businesses are having trouble making money with the whole internet thing. Our local paper just recently cancelled it's Sunday edition, which makes me really sad. The whole thing's a shame really, and I hope they can survive longer than some people are predicting them to.

I was thinking about it the other day - and I think there's a bigger reason for what makes a physical newspaper reading experience significantly better than online news sites. Bigger than just loving the feel of it in your hands, and enjoying the smell of the newly printed ink. It's this: having a physical newspaper in the home creates conversation about the news with people you know and trust and whose opinions you value, instead of with complete strangers on the internet. This is so important!

Because learning about what's happening is only a piece of the experience of reading the news. The rest is conversations, forming opinions, discussing it! And I think this is what I'm missing. I crave this part of the experience when I'm reading my, and so that's what brings me down to the comment section. But it's no comparison to real life. It's soooo much more fulfilling sitting around the breakfast table with a couple brothers talking about whatever craziness is happening in the world. That's something that just can't be replaced by strangers on the internet!

3. Bloggers are not Published Authors
(This includes me, lol)

One of the awesome things about the internet is that everyone can say whatever they want. Anybody can make a blog and express their opinions. The flip side of this, though, is that anybody can make a blog and express their opinions. Meaning there's a lot of garbage out there to read that, in a different era, nobody would ever publish.

And yet, I find myself reading online blogs more often than I find myself reading books. Sometimes I think that's screwed up.

4. Facebook is not Brag-book.
This irritates me. I admit to falling into the trap of the first 3 points, but this one I try really really hard to avoid. 

I don't usually hang out with overly braggy people. I find most people don't want to seem overly show-offy in regular social situations, which I like. But for some reason (still do not understand why) as soon as people get on facebook, all those unspoken rules seemed to be thrown out the window. I honestly don't get it.

Statuses about your perfect kids, mushy relationship statuses, posts about your work out, selfies pics, etc. I really don't get it - nobody cares! (sorry, just had to say it!)


Basically I think we just need to be more purposeful in our internet use. So often I think we just find ourselves on there absorbing so much, without really processing what it is we're absorbing. 


(other than scoring with 30 seconds left to tie a hockey game and make it go to overtime, that is)
Okay. But seriously. I think I've discovered (or realized) what one of the best feelings in the whole world is. And it's super simple. But soooo awesome. It's just this: the feeling of being noticed and appreciated.

Anyone else ever watch Undercover Boss? I actually really like that show! It's not like I make sure to watch it every week or anything. But if I'm flipping channels and it's on, I'll definitely stay on it. It's super cheesy and predictable, and probably not actually a good show. But I love it. Not the silliness and watching the CEO fail at the brunt work. I mean, that's funny sometimes, but not what makes me keep watching.

I love the part where at the end, the CEO reveals to the worker who he is exactly, and praises the regular worker guy on how hard he's been working and how dedicated he is to the company. It actually makes me cry, which might sound pathetic, but isn't really! Because it's really the best feeling ever.

These people who've been working (hard!) for minimum wage for years are finally being noticed and appreciated. And it's awesome to see. It always makes them sooo happy <333

I think this desire to feel appreciated is deeply deeply rooted in human nature. I mean, think about the last couple times you've been angry or upset at someone. So often it's because you feel like you're being taken advantage of, and you're not being appreciated properly. I know that's the way it is for me, anyways.

And think of the last time you were openly appreciated. Someone sent you a nice card thanking you for all you do. Or you got picked for employee of the month. Or someone mentions you and all you do in some public speech. Or you get some award for all your efforts. Isn't it really the best feeling ever?

I think so anyways.

This weekend I had the opportunity to be the person who openly appreciate some people. And you know what? That feels awesome too! Because they feel so good, and it just flows out from them into you. 

We had a youth retreat, and on it we had an end of year banquet. And we decided, for all the graduating youth, we split them up among the leaders so we each had a couple kids to talk about. And for each of them we'd think about positive things about them, and good things we've noticed they've done. And we also picked a Bible verse for each of them, to kind of motivate and empower them.

It was really great. One of the kids I was talking about, I noticed all year she made a point of making sure everyone was included whenever they split up into groups. She'd always make a point of targeting the person she thought would be left out, and ask if they wanted to join her group. I thought it was super mature for a 14 year old, and was really a great way to keep the inclusive atmosphere of our youth group. 

So I talked about that when it was my turn to talk about her. And I picked the Bible verse Matthew 25:40 - The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' . I picked it as a reminder that not only do we (the leaders) notice and appreciate when she puts other people's needs above her own like that, but also God notices and appreciates those things too.

And it was really sweet, you could totally tell she was moved to be appreciated finally. She was almost crying. I was too <3 It was really awesome.

Of course it's the type of thing that she's not doing it TO be appreciated. But at the same time, it feels so good to have people notice, and reinforce what you're doing. Plus, let's be real, being appreciated helps so much in keeping motivation to continue doing whatever awesome things you're doing! Which brings me to my conclusion - we should appreciate people more often! Or I should make a point to appreciate people more often. Because it's only good that comes out of it! :)


One of my facebook friends posted this on facebook yesterday:
You are the living expression that remains in this world from all of your ancestors. Your children will know their ancestors through you and in your children, you will become one of those ancestors. It is not just yourself on display for the world to see at this time, it is your entire ancestry visible through you, and who you are will live on eternally. No pressure.
And, although somewhat cheesy, I actually really like that! And it all relates back to one of my own personal life philosophies that I came up with a bunch of years back - That one of the keys to loving yourself, and loving your body, is to appreciate, admire and love your family, and where you came from.

I know everyone has some things that if they could, they'd change about themselves. Mine was my skin. I have bad skin - it's pasty but red & blotchy. And it's itchy. And it scars super easily. And I used to hate on it a lot. But then one time I realized… my dad has terrible skin. And so does my grandmother. And you know what? They are awesome people! And my terrible skin is a physical sign that links me to them. It shows that part of them is in me. And that's pretty darn cool if you think about it.

And it could be anything, really. That poofy hair that won't settle down and never looks right. Your nose might be a little larger than you'd have liked. The fact that you might not be as good at running as that athletic kid you're always jealous of in gym class. But that's just who you are. Because that's who your parents and their parents and their parents were. And it's awesome that those parts of your ancestry are still alive in you (even if they're not your favourite parts!)

And it's more than just physical appearances. So much is from your family! Your terrible organization skills which are very similar to your mother's. Your anxiety disorder which is shared with several family members. Your terrible eyesight and the curse of having to wear glasses for the rest of your life. The list goes on and on. Some may be purely genetic, some could be partially nurtured. Either way, since it was your family that nurtured you (or you adoptive family), it's still ways for them to live on through you. And these are things which may get passed on through you to your children.

So I say - embrace those things you don't like about yourself! They make you who you are! And if you don't like who you are (and so that motivation phrases means nothing to you), maybe you like your mom. Or your dad. Or your Gramps, and the sweet childhood memories of curling up next to him while he read you goodnight story. And you have the honour of sharing genes with those awesome people - so don't hate on what links you to them!

So. I’ve had an interesting week.

I feel like I’ve experienced every possible emotion this week. From anger and frustration to sadness and disappointment to excitement and peace.

It was just a memorable week. So many weeks are exactly the same as the weeks before them. You get in a routine and the weeks just seem to blend together. Same in, same out. But this one wasn’t. Things were different this week. Everything seemed different this week. And it was odd how problems came up, but those problems seemed to get resolved, all in the span of the one week. So I'm left in the aftermath, the calm after the storm I guess, wondering "what the heck just happened"? 

Stuff was just not normal this week.
Stuff with work: Tutoring. Helping people prep for their exams. 
Stuff with friends: New friend. Old friends. Pretend friends. 
Stuff with life next year: New job. Job Applications. New apartment? 
Transition stuff: Goodbyes. For the summer. For forever?
Other stuff: Got sick. Psycho weather. (sheesh, even the weather was being weird this week).

Like I said. Everything was all over the place. Which caused major mood swings on my part. Some of this was really good. Some of it was really bad. In the bad parts though I did try to keep perspective. I thought a lot about this blog post I wrote a while ago – a lot of my problems were “wonderful problems”. And I tried to keep reminding myself that.

I recognized pretty early in the week that it was going to be a week of learning. There were definitely some lessons to be pulled out it, I just hadn't figured out what they were yet. I felt strongly that God was trying to say something to me. But I could not figure out what.

It was such a weird week, I can’t even explain it properly. It made me question everything I’d done this year. Everything I’d done the last couple years. It made me question any plans I’d made for next year. And I even had the thought of leaving everything behind, being spontaneous and doing something totally random and totally different next year. I could have, since really I realized I had nothing keeping me anywhere next year. No job, I hadn’t resigned my lease yet. I totally could get up and just go anywhere. And I thought, maybe this is what God is trying to tell me. Maybe this whole perfect storm of a week was a sign for me to go. To leave. And start something new.

It wasn’t though. By the end of the week, I figured out what my lesson was. It became clear to me. It was not a message to pick up and leave. It was message to stay, but redirect my focus.

I like the imagery of us being babies in the eyes of God. We don’t, and can’t, see things the way they actually are. We have a child’s viewpoint on things, very “Me! Me! Me!” centered and really, we can’t see big picture. We really are such babies.

Continuing with this imagery then, this is how I would describe what I learned this week: You know when a kid is doing something, distracted by something, and their parent is trying to get their attention but they are just not listening? And so after calling the child’s name like 10 times without success, the parent eventually has to actually take more direct action. And so they bend down, and gently, but firmly, take the child’s chin in their hand and direct their face away from their current distraction and actually force the eye contact. It’s only then that the child is really forced to listen and pay attention.

This is exactly what I feel like happened to me this week. A redirection of focus. The stripping away of the distractions.  A firm but gentle tug away from what I was oh so interested in and the tilting of my chin upward. The couple of seconds of forced eye contact. And finally, through that process, the clarity. 

This is what you should be focusing on.

This will help you grow. It is right. You will see.

Redirect your focus.

My focus was redirected, not by my choice but as a way to get a message across to me. And the message was redirect your focus. I get it now.

I am definitely seeing things much clearer than I did a week ago. Only a week! Can’t believe that almost, so much has happened. I wouldn’t say I have a new life perspective or anything wild like that. But I would say I can see my path forward. The next chapter is getting written, and I’m excited about it :)