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: 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: Teri

Teri

What is it that empowers you most?
I have some great friends, the kind who remind me who I really am when I’m having trouble remembering.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
My creativity, my intuitive nature and my warped sense of humour.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Feeling comfortable in my own skin.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
One quality that tends to be embodied by the people I consider role models: they’re willing to make themselves completely vulnerable by speaking their own truth, even in the face of great opposition.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
I’m a big fan of music, and especially music by female artists. Some of my favourite cultural heroines are women who push boundaries in both music and art: Patti Smith, Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos. I see Tori Amos’s influence in a lot of the music I adore. When she first broke onto the scene, there wasn’t anyone doing what she was doing, or saying what she was saying. That can be said of Patti & Ani as well. They’re  total bad-asses.

 

“there is a certain kind of freedom that comes from being completely cool with who you are”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because who wouldn’t want to slay their demons… literally.

What is your biggest life goal?
To get to a point where I truly love and accept myself, flaws and all. I think there is a certain kind of freedom that comes from being completely cool with who you are, and being at peace with yourself is the ultimate rebellion in a society that consistently profits by telling you you’re not good enough.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
These days, I’m trying to celebrate all accomplishments big or small, extraordinary or mundane. Today, I’m celebrating the fact that I never take the easy road. I try to stay true to myself, which has sometimes meant going against the grain or speaking up when others would prefer I stay silent. It has meant being brave and taking risks, especially when my first instinct is to run away. It’s not a recipe for a stress-free existence, but I take pride in the fact that I’m willing to push myself outside my comfort zone.

What is your favourite quote?
“Labels are for cans, not people” – Anthony Rapp

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.” – Brene Brown

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
The best thing about high school is that it ends.

What does feminism mean to you?
My feminism has many parts: Having the freedom to choose the life I want. Pointing out that clinging to traditional gender roles holds us all back.  Celebrating the strength and power of women. Demanding equality in every aspect of society.

Teri is an Community Outreach Coordinator in Winnipeg, Canada

Fierce Females: Teri

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

New York – Day 3

100_1046Today is our second last day, it was really fun! We went and saw the new New Amsterdam Theatre and Radio City Music Hall. It was really cool to see all the theatres. We went to Planet Hollywood for dinner, it was a really cool place to eat. We met a real Rockette choreographer.

After that we went shopping until 8:00. When we got back to the hotel Michele, Amirah and I went down to watch a movie with some friends then a bunch of people showed up too, we all chipped in to buy a movie to watch and then someone accidentally bumped the remote changing the channel and we couldn’t get back to our movie. One of the boys called and explained what happened but she wouldn’t let us watch the movie without  paying again.

Amirah, Michele and I went back up to our room and put on our plastic ponchos and ran around the floors “flapping our wings”, then we went back to our room and heard a knock on the door, we looked through the peep-hole and no one was there, then we opened the door and still, no one was there. We were really scared and kept hearing noises down the hall we called the boys to come to our room and checked it out but they got bored and left.

We heard that some of the kids were playing truth or dare next to one of our friends rooms, we thought it would be funny to play a joke on them so Amirah and I went down to our friends adjoining room and listened to them under the door and every time one of the guys told a truth we would phone Michele who was in our room 2 floors above and tell them what he would say and then she would call the room and re-tell the truth back to him. It was really funny to hear what they were saying and even funnier when we sent one of our friends in to ask specific truths that we wanted answers for.

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New York – Day 3

New York – Day 2

197296_5023837050_515957050_80252_589_nSo far today we went to the New Dance Centre and some of the dancers taught us an actual dance from “Hairspray” by Tyrick, and Cameron taught the beginners. Tyrick is an awesome dancer and I got his autograph.

After dance we had a musical theatre class and we sang One Short Day from “Wicked” and learned the real choreography, it was fun! Then we went to the Food Emporium for lunch. After lunch we went to the matinée show of ”Hairspray”, it was a really fun musical, and I got all the main performers autographs.

After the show we went shopping at Capizeo and the big Hershey store. I thought I only had $17.00 on me but when we got back to the hotel I found $20.00 in my pocket! That night we went to see “Avenue Q”, it was really funny but a bit X-rated. The funniest song was “The Internet is for Porn”.

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New York – Day 2