The Year of Me

Year-of-Me

Apologies as I have not posted in a while, life has been crazy and I have moved to this fancy new website! I don’t usually do personal posts but I felt the urge to share recently. I feel like talking about the quality of life and how each individual has the choice of making the most out of life.

This post might lean more towards the cliché so if you aren’t about that, now is your cue to exit. Now you’re asking what can I, a 25 year-old woman, tell you about living and life? Truth is I can’t tell you anything for sure, I’m still figuring it out for myself. But what I can tell you is that the last few years have been hard.

I have struggled with anxiety and insecurity but in this last year I have overcome so many obstacles and proven my strength, to myself and others. I have become healthier, both physically and emotionally and I’m back to my overly optimistic self. My favourite thing to say over the last year has been, “I’m just being Miley”, from the Miley Cyrus song “See You Again” (I’m not even really a fan but the saying somehow suits how I’ve been living for the last year).

Looking back I realize for a period of time I wasn’t myself. Letting people into your life is a risk, a risk we make almost every day. It’s a risk that can change you for better or worse. For about two years after I graduated high school I felt like I needed a boyfriend, I craved that kind of affection. I became obsessed with finding someone to fill the void and I did something very unlike myself; I found someone and became so dependent on them that I forgot who I was.

After taking some time to put that behind me I started to find me again. The clock struck midnight and I have turned back into my confident, independent and wonderfully optimistic self and I could not be happier. So you want to know my trick? I have been single for about a year and a half now, it hasn’t exactly been by choice but I think it has been for the best. Basically, I am writing this to tell you what I have learned in the past year and a bit of being with my true soulmate, me (and maybe my sister).

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The Year of Me

Fierce Females: Breanna

Breanna

What is it that empowers you most?
I feel most empowered when collaborating with people in creative settings. I love hovering over a roll of trace and madly scribbling ideas with a design team— teaching international students how to dougie whilst repping the “stank face”— painting murals with inner city children and watching their faces light up with each brushstroke— I live to ignite that spark in others. Architecture, dance and art have been my favourite catalysts

What do you love most about yourself?
I love my ability to discover latent potential in anything, from abandoned objects to dilapidated cities. I refuse to look at the world as a static, impervious place. With imagination, there is always room for positive change.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Dancing. Any place, any style. There is nothing quite like getting lost in a song and trusting your body to explore the extents of the rhythm.

Who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model is my nana. She has experienced loss at unfathomable levels her whole life, and remains the most selfless person I know. Her patience is unwavering, and her faith and love for her family, indestructible. She is also fluent in six languages [self-taught]. Oh, and she is by far the best cook ever.

In addition to my nana, I want to take this moment to celebrate all of the incredible people in my life:

Here’s to my dad, who taught me how to hold a hammer, and the value of hard work. He never fails to remind me of my strength when I feel down.

Here’s to my mom. Words cannot describe the extent of her love. I am proud to have inherited her passion, emotional dynamism and zest for life.

Here’s to my siblings, for enduring all of my [continually] weird phases, and having my back no matter what… even provinces apart.

Here’s to my grandparents, for spoiling me with food, stories and warm hugs.

Here’s to my best friends, for the dance parties, hysterical antics, and heart-to-hearts over bottles of wine.

Here’s to my brilliant, goofy boyfriend, who supports my wildest ambitions and loves me unconditionally.

Thank you all for making me who I am.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
I want to address all the female STARchitects out there… not the “Zaha” types per se, but the women who juggle stellar careers, raise families, and simultaneously make time for themselves. You are living evidence that we do not have to choose one or the other to accomplish great things. In my eyes, you are true heroines.

 

“my biggest life goal is to make a positive difference in the world.”

 

If you could pick one fictional character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. She is tiny, clever, and fiercely independent. AND she has her own sword. So badass.

What is your biggest life goal?
In the cheesiest sense, my biggest life goal is to make a positive difference in the world. I want to find what I am most passionate about, push it to the extreme and share it with others. I want to make a hefty dent in the development of my hometown, Winnipeg, Manitoba. I want to inspire at least one person who is experiencing self-doubt to realize their own strength. I want to share my life with loved ones. I want to travel the world and design spiritual spaces and places of healing. Lastly, when my time comes, I want to know that I lived my life to the fullest for the good of my community, without regret.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Graduating from my Bachelor of Environmental Design studies in architecture… or perhaps more importantly, recovering from 4 consecutive years without sleep, living out of the trunk of my mercury sable and the inevitable downward spirals from critique after critique.

I am proud of myself for taking time to work, for rediscovering favourite past times, moving to a new city and pursuing my masters degree. I am proud of myself for taking risks, maintaining important relationships, and forming new ones.

What is your favourite quote?

“What if?” – Jae Sung Chon

“Love wins. Love always wins.” – Morrie Schwartz

“Sometimes it’s the people no one expects anything from who do the things no one expects.” (The Imitation Game)

And because I am a Harry Potter fanatic:

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” – Albus Dumbledore

“Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.” – Alastor Moody

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Stay weird. Wear artsy hats and sweatpants. Dance your heart out. Do not waste your energy on those who do not respect you in return. Four years of braces will be worth it, I promise. Find inspiration in something small every day. Trust yourself and always push the limits.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is the destruction of the stigma that women are lesser, demanding equal opportunities and respect for all.

Breanna is a Habitat Visionary and Space Planner in Vancouver, Canada

Fierce Females: Breanna

Fierce Females: Alyson

Alyson

What is it that empowers you most?
Knowing that my time here is finite. This might scare most people, but personally knowing that I only get one shot at this crazy thing that we call “life” – one shot to experience as much as possible, to push myself to do things that I’d never imagined, to love deeply and fully, and to try to leave a positive impact – motivates me like nothing else.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my sense of humour. I’ve been told I’m pretty quick-witted, which is a compliment that I hold in the highest esteem. I just adore making people laugh, and there’s nothing quite like sharing a really good belly-laugh with your friends – especially if it’s over a joke you’ve made!

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Working out, especially lifting weights. In the past year I’ve started to really focus on my health and well-being, and going to the gym has become an important part of that routine. I’m not a power lifter or anything, but there’s something incredibly rewarding about being able to pick up really heavy things and put them down again!

Who is your biggest role model and why?
Carl Sagan. I re-watched the original “Cosmos” series again a few years ago on a lark and what stuck with me was Carl’s wonder, not just at the vast, impossible beauty and mystery of space, but of what we’ve accomplished throughout our history as a species. He always conveyed such a hope for what we could accomplish if we all just worked together and focused on the bigger picture, and that hope and reflection is something that I’ve tried to internalize and bring to my daily life. I’m endlessly inspired by his wonder and amazement at everything. His reading of “Pale Blue Dot” makes me cry every time I listen to it.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Eleanor Roosevelt, hands-down. That woman was fierce as hell and took a stand on a lot of touchy subjects like racial issues and women’s rights, even going as far as to publicly disagree with her husband on a number of occasions. Can you imagine the balls that would have taken? He was the President of the United States! Her Wikipedia is just a giant list of huge accomplishments, one right after the other, peppered with badass quotes about not getting pushed around or taking flak from people.

 

“I remember laying in my bed in my apartment and being unable to even get out from under the covers because everything felt so hopeless”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Amy Pond, from the Doctor Who series. She’s one of my favourite companions because she’s a really clever, resourceful, and complex character who packs a ton of sass. I was rather “meh” on the Doctor’s sidekicks until they introduced Amy, and she’s still my favourite. I’m also completely swept up by the idea of being able to travel across all of space and time and see the universe.

What is your biggest life goal?
Professionally speaking I’d like to eventually move to freelancing full-time, but personally (and more importantly) I want to learn to not be so hard on myself. My relationship with my parents, my mother especially, is extremely messy and left me with a lot of negative feelings about my personality, my abilities, my future, my relationships… you name it. I also carry around a tremendous amount of guilt about pretty much everything, and judge myself constantly for “not being good enough” for anything that I’m doing. Which I realize is silly because I’m doing it, but I struggle to turn off that negative little voice in my head, you know?

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Going to university. When I was 19 I literally walked into a really safe, secure government job. I was making almost 40k annually, I had amazing benefits, vacation time, and of course coveted job security. But I was utterly miserable. I remember laying in my bed in my apartment and being unable to even get out from under the covers because everything felt so hopeless; this was my life now and there was nothing else to look forward to or accomplish.

I decided to apply to the Rhetoric and Communications program at the University of Winnipeg, and when I announced my decision to my family they freaked out and my dad actually stopped speaking to me for several months. I was living on my own at the time and my parents refused to let me move home, so I moved in with a roommate and put myself through school, graduating in 2013.

It was incredibly difficult at times, but I made a decision and proved to myself that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I’m so happy that I took a chance on myself.

What is your favourite quote?
I have a few, which are:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” – Carl Sagan, “Contact”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
“Don’t give up, you’re stronger than you think.” I actually have this pasted on my mood board in-between photos of Jimmy Carter and Tom from Parks and Rec saying “Treat Yo Self.”

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is having the courage to initiate dialogues that challenge normative standards of beauty, class, sexuality, etc to effect positive change. It’s everyone working together, supporting each other towards a shared goal of equality, opportunity and respect.

Alyson is a Marketing Manager and freelance Content Marketer in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fierce Females: Alyson

Fierce Females: Krista

Krista

What is it that empowers you most?
The unknown of tomorrow. No one knows. Life can change so quick. It’s daunting at times but I love looking back and learning lessons.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
That I am caring and loyal. I care immensely about my friends and family. I appreciate them for everything they are and do. The people in my life are the most treasured thing I have.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
When I am still on a high from just finishing some kind of fitness. Whether it be dance, weights, an awesome run or yoga. I feel like I can conquer the day after exercise

Who is your biggest role model and why?
Hmmm tough one. I think I’d say my grandparents. They are so selfless and caring. They have always been supportive of me and what makes me happy. They have taught me so much over the years and even now. I’ve been told I’m an old soul, and my grandparents are the reason behind it. They also spoil me with bacon and baking. Haha

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Does a Disney character count? I’d choose Mulan if so. She was courageous and selfless to protect her family. She is fearless, determined and gets to show up the boys. It’s my favourite Disney movie.

 

“I surprise myself sometimes at how scared I can be but still take a leap forward.”

 

What is your biggest life goal?
To be happy and healthy. I don’t need a million dollars, a big house, to be the president of a business. I just want my health and happiness and my other goals will follow.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Probably what I am today. I surprise myself sometimes at how scared I can be but still take a leap forward. Like moving overseas to a new country. It was a terrifying/exciting change. But I follow my heart and what feels right. I’m determined. It’s not easy being away from home and family, never mind thousands of kilometres away.

What is your favourite quote?
Rise and rise again, until the lamb becomes the lion.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Stop being so serious and just have fun and enjoy being a kid. Bump your head, scrape your knees and let yourself fall. Just get back up again.

What does feminism mean to you?
Equality. To me everyone should be capable to do whatever they want to do and everything they admire to be. Everyone deserves a choice. Whether you are male or female, white, black, brown or blue.

Krista is a Market Development Executive and Co-Owner of a cafe in Gold Coast, Australia.

Fierce Females: Krista

Fierce Females: Greta, Stella & Sunniva Bondesson

Baskery

 

What is it that empowers you most?
We’ve been around the world making no distance too long, no stage too big, and no crowd too small. Experience in itself is empowering, and watching the results of what you or other independent artists have accomplished without much compromising gives a lot of positive energy and the urge to move forward. And to be honest, a too smooth of a ride could hold you back, so some obstacles in different forms and shapes are things that push and strengthen you. Provocation can sometimes be a trigger too, just like encouragement, so it’s all a matter of the right measurements really. (Greta)

What is it that you love most about yourself?
As cliché as it may sound, but to be able to follow your heart and instincts, not compromising and letting money and too much sense rule you. It’s not something everyone manages to do, so it’s something to be proud of. We also love our talent, but even though we had it from birth, we had to nurse it to develop the skills playing your instruments. Just recently we became aware of the fact that we’re actually professional musicians, all due to our hard work and relentless touring. (Greta)

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Unconditional love from lovers, family and friends is what makes you shine, from the inside out. (Greta)

Who is your biggest role model and why?
There’s no real role model present, but in general, people who’ve chosen their own way instead of following the crowd are always inspiring. Be your own role model if you can, that will make you connect directly with your own actions and deeds. (Greta)

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
There are heroines everywhere, people who burn for something and dedicate their whole beings to that specific thing no matter the costs. We admire Joni Mitchell for what she has done musically and for her independence as a woman in a business that for a long time has been, and still is, male dominated. She’s always done her thing and that’s admirable. (Stella)

 

“to remain true to ourselves, be playful and always break new ground.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Catwoman, because we love cats and always wanted to be able to move like one. Three times Catwoman though, that’d be one busy day for Gotham City! (Stella)

What is your biggest life goal?
To keep from screwing up completely haha. Nah I guess to remain true to ourselves, be playful and always break new ground. You wanna develop as a person and in your profession without pulling away from your own believes. Keep your independence, but don’t say no to a good helping hand just because you’re scared of losing control. It’s a fine line and we’re facing tricky decisions everyday. But the most important thing of all is to be healthy and do what you can to keep your loved ones happy. (Stella)

What is your biggest accomplishment?
To keep this band going, to be self-sufficient. It takes a lot of discipline to manage your career, make crucial decisions and to keep the motivation up. To wake up every day and say “go get them” isn’t that easy. Over time though, you learn what you need to prioritize and what signs to look for out there. It’s an amazing feeling to see the fruits of your labor, knowing that you made it all happen. (Sunniva)

What is your favourite quote?
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.” – Aristotle (Sunniva)

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Stay true to your nature and follow your impulses, but don’t ignore advice from others. Be aware of which choices you make, they will influence your whole life. (Sunniva)

What does feminism mean to you?
The word feminism is to me mainly the name of the movement that started in the 60’s. It served its purpose for decades, but I don’t think feminism is a word we need in Sweden today. I would even be radical and say that it creates pity and somewhat undermines the development of gender equality since it is suggesting that women are different from men. Nobody should feel the need to hide behind that word to make themselves heard and stand for an opinion. Women in Sweden today don’t necessary need to regroup to stand up for their rights. There are new groups of the society that suffer from injustices that need to be highlighted but gender equality, which I use instead of feminism, is already a priority in Sweden’s political structures. (Sunniva)

Greta, Stella & Sunniva Bondesson make up the folk rock band Baskery from Stockholm, Sweden
Connect with Baskery: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Fierce Females: Greta, Stella & Sunniva Bondesson

Fierce Females: Steph

Steph

What empowers you the most?
Knowing I have a support system behind me that is filled with unconditional love, humility and no judgement. This small group of incredible people, empower me in my brightest and darkest times.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
When I eat healthy and take care of myself, I feel most beautiful.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
Without a doubt, my parents. My mom has this ability to listen wholeheartedly and give incredible advice without passing on any judgement. I know she inherited that from her mom and I hope to do the same with my child one day. She’s so generous and empathetic to all who surround her. My dad is a brilliant business man who has taught me so many things about succeeding and growing. He too, has a heart of gold. I can honestly say I’m a 50/50 mix of the both of them. I’m so blessed to have them as my parents.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
I have a lot of people I admire.

Crystal Pite is a female cultural heroine that is someone who inspires me in my career. She’s the Artistic Director and founder of the dance company Kidd Pivot. The best part, she’s from Canada! She’s a brilliant choreographer who speaks about her work so passionately and intelligently. Seeing her shows blow my mind! I also love Amy Poehler. If I wasn’t working as a choreographer I would definitely be doing another passion of mine, improv. Amy Poehler is the epitome of cool and someone I definitely look up to.

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Cat Woman. I love how she’s been both superhero and super-villain. It would be interesting to be inside the mindset of both sides.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I think one of my biggest accomplishments in my career is going to happen in a few months. (But I’m not allowed to say right now…!)

To date, I feel the biggest accomplishment was making the move to Toronto. I’ve done lots of amazing things in my career and am so grateful for the awards, shows, videos and other projects I’ve worked on. None of this would of been possible if I didn’t make the move. So, good job 21-year-old Steph! Way to take the plunge!

What is your favourite quote?
“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” – Newt Gingrich

What is your biggest life goal?
To be happy, heathy, confident, kind and always be on time for the rest of my life!! I have big career and family goals/ dreams, of course. If I can manage to be all of those things listed, I think I will have a steady and strong base that will allow me to attain my future life goals.

If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing what would it be?
Girl, those braces will be so worth it!

What does feminism mean to you?
For women and men to have equal rights and mutual respect for one another.

Steph is the founder of Rutherford Movement Exchange in Toronto, Canada.
Connect with Steph: Website / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube

Fierce Females: Steph

Fierce Females: Dani

Dani

What is it that empowers you most?
Knowing that I am a strong, independent woman who can take care of myself and survive some pretty tough situations. I was raised (mostly) by a single mom and it taught me that independence is one of the greatest tools a woman can have in her toolbox!

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. I guess that comes from my natural curiosity – I was born curious and I love to hear peoples’ stories. I take pride in the fact that people feel like they can open up to me.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
No makeup. Comfortable clothes. Bare feet…. I love being natural.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
My mom. Truly. Being raised by a single mom and going through some pretty hard times – and most importantly – getting through these hard times on top has really made me realize how strong my mom is, and it didn’t really hit me until I became an adult. She has taught me so much about being strong, and graceful, and a good, kind, generous person even when life doesn’t necessarily deal you the best hand. I am so proud to be her daughter.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Michelle Jean. I admire that woman as much as one can admire someone they’ve only met once. She is, first off, a strong woman in politics – but she is also a talented journalist and generous humanitarian. She also is just genuinely kind (I had the pleasure of meeting her once, in a star struck daze). I have always aspired to be like her.

 

“I feel like my biggest accomplishments are still to come – and I’m looking forward to that. I feel like I’m just getting started.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day, who would it be and why?
So, this is lame, but probably Katniss from The Hunger Games (the books). She totally embodies a strong female and kicks some major ass…. but she’s got a sensitive side, too.

What is your biggest life goal?
To go to bed each day feeling fulfilled and proud of even one small thing I accomplished that day. I want to live a full life and feel like, even in some small way, I’ve given back to this world!

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I don’t think I’m there yet. While I’ve accomplished a lot in 25 years, I feel like my biggest accomplishments are still to come – and I’m looking forward to that. I feel like I’m just getting started.

What is your favourite quote?
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” – Woodrow Wilson

If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
Learn how to let things go. Holding on to things and people who hurt you is a bad habit to form.

What does feminism mean to you?
Living equally. Being a strong, independent woman, who doesn’t rely on anyone to get through this life.

Dani is the Communications Specialist at Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Winnipeg, Canada.
Connect with Dani: Twitter

Fierce Females: Dani

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

ThePactI would first like to start by saying that this book for me personally was very moving. Every time I picked it up it took me to that dark place. I am a very happy and positive person so some times it was hard on me. These two young adults had grown up together, were friends their entire life and then the friendship turned into romantic love but one of them is battling something very dark and decides that not living is the best decision. How do you let someone you love so much go? That’s what hit me hardest, I put myself and my relationship into the story and it made my heart ache.

The other part of this book that was so sad to me is the deterioration of Gus and Melanie’s relationship. Gus Harte befriends Melanie Gold when the Gold’s move in next door to the Hartes and they become even closer when they realize they are both pregnant and have very close due dates. The book toggles back and forth between past (following Chris and Emily as they grow up) and the present. You really get a sense of one big family between these two households and the friendship between Gus and Melanie grow. This big family falls apart with the death of Emily what is Melanie to do when a boy she treated as her own kills her own flesh and blood? How does Gus defend her son against the woman whose daughter was just killed?

In the end you never really know why Emily wanted to end her life, I feel like there was more beyond the molestation and the pregnancy some problems that went unknown and unsolved. What was in her diary that her mother burned? Somethings I wish were answered but maybe it’s more intriguing left unanswered.

A dark novel that will make you think.

★★★★ out of 5

About The Pact by Jodi Picoult
The Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other for eighteen years. They have shared everything from family picnics to chicken pox – so it’s no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily’s friendship blossoms into something more.

When the midnight calls come in from the hospital, no one is prepared: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head, inflicted by Chris as part of an apparent suicide pact. He tells the police the next bullet was meant for himself. A local detective has her doubts. And the Hartes and Golds must face every parent’s worst nightmare and question: do we ever really know our children at all?

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

British Columbia – Day 17

Today we went to Edmonton and went to West Edmonton Mall and went to the water park, it was awesome. I went on the sky screamer five times, so did Court. We went on Nessies Revenge four times. I also went on the Sun Runner, Raging Rapids, The Howler, The Twister and Blue Thunder wave pool. We got a cabana while we were there too, it was neat.

We checked in to the Comfort Inn and then went to Boston Pizza for dinner, went shopping and then went to bed. Tomorrow we are driving to Winnipeg all day.

British Columbia – Day 17

British Columbia – Day 16

Today we drove to Calgaryit was so long and I cried during my very first movie and it was “A Walk to Remember” it was soo sad but a really great movie. When we got to Calgary we walked to Husky then watched “So You Think You Can Dance” and Musa got kicked off and he is so good but Dimitry should have been off. We just chilled for the rest of the day then went for sleep.

British Columbia – Day 16