National Coming Out Day

It’s National Coming Out Day 20GayTeen, and I wanted to share something with you. 🙂

A few months ago, I had a written response assignment based on an article I read for school.  It was meant to be a personal response, and I thought, “What would be more personal for me than to respond to an article about LGBTQ people?”…so I chose Domenick Scudera’s “My Gay Lifestyle”.  It’s great; look it up if you’ve never heard of it.  I had to dig deep for things that I’ve buried over the years, and it wasn’t an easy write.  Surprisingly, I had a heartwarming response to this piece – by my instructor and by a few select people I sheepishly shared it with.  I knew I wanted to open it up to others at some point, because I know I’m not the only one who has lived this experience, but I’m always afraid of criticism and failure and I never felt like the time was ‘right’.

As this is my 2nd year of being fully out to the world as a queer, genderfluid, bisexual being, it feels like a great day to celebrate this piece that I am so proud of.

Before I confuse you, I left my citations intact because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without them. lol.

(Apologies to anyone I wrote about here.  If I included you, anonymously, you were a vital piece in my story so far – regardless of if that has been positive or negative.  Either way, I am grateful because it has lead me to the person I am and that is someone I am grateful to know ❤ )

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I knew I was in awe of women when, at 6 years old, I would look at my first-grade teacher and see sunbeams and rainbows radiate out of her face.  When she spoke, it was as if a heavenly choir had suddenly filled the room.  Everything she embodied caused my heart to flutter.  I’m sure if you had listened closely, you would have heard the soft batting of butterfly wings throughout my abdomen.  I had no idea that this feeling went beyond the notion of wanting to be like her when I grew up.  I had no idea that this feeling went beyond anything normal at all.

I knew I was different when, at 10 years old, I began to recognize that tween heart throb crushes showed up differently for my friends when it came to our favourite celebrities.  My girlfriends were all fawning over their imagined lives with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Justin Timberlake, and Josh Hartnett, while I was swooning over Goran Visnjic and simultaneously going back again and again to the local cinema to see Titanic – and it wasn’t for Leonardo DiCaprio.  I was unknowingly “ruining the fabric of … society” (Scudera) as I tore at its seams with my unhindered thoughts, silently wishing for hand-in-hand sunset strolls along the beach with Geri Halliwell, Julianna Margulies, and Alex Kingston.  As a girl on the cusp of her impending womanhood, I chalked these feelings up to the excitement of finally reaching my destiny as one of these beautifully charming and effervescent women that I so admired.

I knew I was different when, at 18 years old, I found myself falling in love with my female best friend.  I was in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship at the time, and not having had much – if any – exposure to varying sexual identities, I also found myself very confused.   In the world I knew, you were either gay or you were straight, so where in bloody hell had I landed myself that I’d been caught somewhere between the two?!  The real world is black and white and very binary.  A person can’t be attracted to both men and women…can they?

I knew I was different when, at 20 years old, I met a girl in a bar and felt my head begin to spin (no, it wasn’t from the alcohol).  I was entranced and I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to be friends with her, while also wanting to be the object of her affection.  A battle began to rage internally.  If I hadn’t known any better, I would have sworn that on my right shoulder was a Catholic priest shrieking at me about my sin and the burning fires of hell, and on my left, the Devil incarnate himself, pulling me into this lifestyle by the skin of my teeth.  I chose to leave what I knew behind, follow Lucifer, and pursue these feelings because I knew I wouldn’t find the answers by gawking from afar.  Did this mean I was a * gasp * LESBIAN now?!  Short-lived.  I couldn’t seem to shake the cross of my Catholic upbringing or my internalized homophobia, and I allowed myself to be persuaded by a fabrication to leave her (and this lapse in judgement) behind.  The harsh reality of it was that a woman I had considered a close friend had sabotaged my budding relationship.  I was upset, and yet, relieved.  I struggled so intensely with whether I was right or wrong for feeling the way I did.  It became apparent to me just how wrong it must have been when others chose to resign their friendship cards because don’t people know that if a girl has feelings for another girl this means she likes EVERY. SINGLE. GIRL in the entire world?! Or that being friends with someone who is attracted to the same sex might facilitate “the transfer of [their] gayness” to others (Scudera)?!  I marched myself back into the closet and shut the door behind me.

I knew I was cognizant when, at 26 years old, I was introduced to Callie Torres in Grey’s Anatomy and for the first time I saw myself in the image of another.  It was the “A-HA!” moment I had been waiting for.   Here was this strong, accomplished, soft yet bold character who had found herself and proudly professed her love for not just men, but also women.  Sitting there, mouth agape and dumbfounded to have stumbled upon this openly bisexual character in the mainstream media, I thought back to all of the nights I’d spent screaming into the sky trying to rid myself of these feelings, and I found myself asking, “but why would you want to?” That familiar electrified galloping in my chest returned.  No, you cannot “pray away the gay” (Grey’s Anatomy), no matter how hard you try – and believe me, I’ve tried.

I knew I was transforming when, at 28 years old, I’d wanted so badly to announce my solidified bisexuality to my very Conservative, very Catholic family as we watched Ireland legalize the abomination that is gay marriage.  I wanted to turn their angry red faces into faces red with embarrassment as I shouted, “HELLO!  AM I SUCH AN UNNATURAL ABOMINATION? I AM BISEXUAL YOU KNOW. I’VE KISSED GIRLS!!!”.  Instead, I sat there mute with my own cheeks flushing from frustration.  I began to plot all of the ways that I was going to support others like myself, and how I could use my voice to spread love and tolerance in the face of hatred and ignorance such as this. HA! THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM!

I knew I’d found peace when, at 29 years old, I opened the closet doors and stepped out into the world as my full, authentic self.  I’d reconciled that this isn’t something I can change, nor would I wish to.  I’ve been bullied.  I’ve been made a mockery of.  I’ve been invalidated.  I’ve been excluded and judged and abandoned, solely based on who my heart has chosen to love in this life.  I realized that the only permission and validation I’d needed all along was from myself.  I forgave myself for carrying such hatred and disgust towards my heart, my mind, and my soul.  No, my sexuality was never a conscious choice I made; it has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember.  The only choice I’ve made has been allowing myself to be seen.  In doing so, my thorns have softened and I have learned deeper compassion and understanding.  I have been gifted with patience and empathy towards others and myself.  I have increased the love I choose to put out into the Universe, and in turn, the love I receive.  Because of this, I can confidently say that if I was ever given the choice to press rewind and start fresh – I would choose to live it all over again.

 

Levelled Up!

September 17th of this year I turned 30.
A month ago (yesterday!) I celebrated with a day that I will never forget.

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Turning thirty was an incredible milestone for me.
Most people from my generation that I’ve spoken to, who have either passed this marker of life or are creeping up to it quickly, express their lack of excitement for the same.

For me, it’s a joyous occasion.  One that I wasn’t even sure I would be here to see.
I’ve dealt with a lot of trauma and mental health issues over the course of my life thus far, and there were times that I fully expected to not reach this age.  Sometimes, the darkness just felt too heavy and it was more than I could bear.

I’m glad I got here.

Thirty is a beautiful privilege.  It’s afforded me opportunities, experiences, and relationships that I would have missed.  It’s provided me with wisdom, security, self-acceptance, and the knowledge that I am worth so much.  It’s proven to me that I have a purpose on this Earth.

Turning 30 was a momentous occasion, so it was only appropriate that the day of celebration reflect that.

I was so fortunate that I was able to have Leaving Thomas come and play for my closest family and friends.  It was a celebration for myself, but it was also a token of appreciation for those in my life who have stood by me, who have supported me, and who have guided me; a thank you, if you will.

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I also had the incredible honour of joining Annika and Bryton on stage to sing on of my favourite LT songs, “Wreckage”.  It was really fun to see all of the reactions to our little surprise!

Check out the video below, OR head over HERE to their YouTube channel (and have a gander at the rest of their content – they’re totally worth the visit)

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I was also lucky enough to have my boyfriend capture the evening in photographs, but I won’t share those photos here to protect the privacy of my guests (aside from these with my BFF who couldn’t care less LOL)

❤ ❤ ❤

Lust For Life

Proclaiming to love yourself in this world is seen as brave, as courageous, as rebellious.

In a world that profits from your self-loathing, saying a big ‘Fuck You!’ to the people that perpetuate this hatred within you is seen as incredible…and I find that so disturbing.

I am not brave or courageous for loving myself.
I am not defying the odds, or society.
It is not heroic to love the flesh that you inhabit; it’s human.

Just tonight as I was waiting in line with my groceries, I glanced over and saw a reader’s digest style magazine, and every single cover line was about women shedding 2 pounds, 4 pounds, 10 pounds QUICK!  I literally flipped it the bird, and I know it was a superfluous act, but it felt SO. DAMN. GOOD.

1 year ago, I would never have seen it that way.
1 year ago, I would have snuck that trash onto the belt hidden amongst the rest of my purchases.
1 year ago, I would have felt immense shame within myself seeing those bold-font reminders that I am taking up too much space in this world.

Today is a different story.
Not every day is easy but – this day, this hour, this minute, this precious fucking second, I can stand exposed in front of glass coated with metal amalgam and admire what is reflected back at me.

I can gaze at it with soft eyes that carry love instead of hated.
I can caress each curve, each line, each bit of abundance with compassion and pride.
I can move and twirl and bounce, and watch with joy and childlike whimsy.

It has taken me so long to stand here today.  I am tired – literally fatigued – at the notion of having to wake up every day and despise this shell that affords me so much on this Earth.  I simply refuse to do it any longer.

To love yourself allows your mind to truly be free.
To be free of invasive thoughts that steal the light of day.
To be free to see the stars that twinkle against the velvet night sky.
To be free to breathe in every molecule of oxygen so deeply that you taste the pine on the trees.
To be free to live with lust and valiance.
To be free to drink in the magic of the world that surrounds you.

I will not allow others to police my body any longer.
I will not allow others to impose rules upon my autonomy.
I will not allow others to cripple me within my own soul.
I will not allow archaic, misogynistic views of female nudity to remove my power.

I am here.
I am evolving.
I have worked hard to peel back the layers that have been plastered unwillingly onto me to keep me ‘sheltered’ and ‘compliant’.
I don’t want to be sheltered, and I will never be compliant.

I will own my womanhood.
I will own the divine beauty that resides in my soul.
I will own the flesh that houses every speck of dust within me.
I will own this life, and all that I am gifted by it.
I will shower with gratitude those who see my true light, and I will walk away from those who don’t.

And I will not apologize for any of it any longer.

“‘Cause we’re the masters of our own fate
We’re the captains of our own souls
So there’s no need for us to hesitate
We’re all alone, let’s take control…”

 

I am beholden to empowering, inspiring women like Jan Stolee (who is credited for the breathtaking photos below).

Without whom, I would not carry such meaningful conversation regarding change, allowing growth, and coming into yourself.
Without whom, I would be unable to (literally) see the spike in my confidence through her lens.
Without whom, I would still be ashamed of my uncovered skin – instead of being gifted the vision of the true beauty that a woman’s body holds.

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The Abyss

A poetic, visual piece of my reality living with Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  This piece is real, and raw, and has been clawing to get out for some time now.  In working to capture the true essence of what’s within my mind on any given day, I had to strip away the layers – both within my struggle, and externally.  Please treat this piece with dignity and respect, as it is meant to showcase art…nothing more, nothing less.


The Abyss

 

i feel the monster creeping, closer
clawing it’s way out from under my bed
i’m terrified
paralyzed
this darkness that i have been lead
into
is gripping me

it’s crushing me
consuming me and fooling me
confusing me and cursing me
blood racing through at record speed
i need relief, an outside hand
to help me through this maze dead end
but frozen here, this beast is fed

i fear
i dread
this monster is no entity
this darkness lives inside my head

it tears apart my thoughts and dreams
it strips of me my identity
stuck in a fog with no recede
it’s cunning, coy, calculating
leveraging what i believe

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“you’re horrible
you’re useless trash
the words you use are far too crass
you’ll get nowhere
you’ll be no one
stop wasting time, you’re far too dumb
you’re all alone and that you’ll stay”
this villain toys with me and says

my weary mind now letting go
no academic, i do not know
the best for me, or how to slay
to make this dragon go away
i’m wilting, weeping, wailing high
seduced by darkness’ lulling kiss
gone limp, i’m drug
to the abyss

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but gaze!
the light comes glinting through
a voice then whispers
calm, bijou
“you have the strength, you do, you do
your claws are long and sharp and lean
the shroud, this cloak, straight through they cut
this darkness trap is not what’s true
the light inside, you have, you do
is all that reigns
and it’s a fact
you’re brave
you’re bold
and you will see the actual reality

that you were born of dust and stars
of mercury and venus, mars
your soul here serves a purpose yet
the birth of hope you will beget
for all those trapped here in the depths
with you, before and after you
the cracks within your heart will grow
to let in light, to let them know
they’re safe

the light inside you have, you do
they’ll realize they have it, too”

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Pride! (& Bisexuality)

I read my horoscope the other day on Chani Nicholas and I was shook.  It was a much needed reminder that I am exactly where I am meant to be at this moment in time.  Here’s an excerpt of what literally chilled me to the bone:

Friday’s full moon connects to the core of your personal life. It sheds light on your inner life. It reveals the strides that you have taken to create a sturdier base for your life over the past 2 years. It asks you what beliefs you are ready to part with. Beliefs you’ve inherited from your parents. From your childhood. From the misunderstandings of young adulthood. It asks you to uproot any weeds that are strangling your life-force. It asks you to make room for more positive experiences to blossom.

We cannot hold onto the guilt, shame and fear of our pasts if we are serious about living out our lives in the present. Right now a little excavation goes a long way.”

My eyes bugged outta my damn head…and you’re probably asking why:

It’s JUuUuUuUuUuUuUuuuuune!
That means Pride celebrations and rainbows EVERYWHERE.
And for me, finally, a sense of belonging.

It’s only been within the last 2 or 3 years where I’ve come to a place that I am comfortable within myself and how the world may see me, to build a solid base of self-love and self-understanding, to let go of all of the untruths that I carried about myself and my validity, to (quote directly) “make room for more positive experiences to bloom”.

YES

I struggled with my sexuality, FOR YEARS.  I always fell into the myths of how mainstream media defined bisexuality and, with that, I constantly felt invalidated.  I was confused, I was lonely, I was distressed, I was outcast.   I went through humiliation and agony trying to figure out just who or what the hell this part of me was.

Pride was not something that intrigued me (or even presented as an option) really until last year.  Bisexuality is so commonly erased in the media, and in general conversations about the LGBTQIA+ community, that I never ever felt that Pride was somewhere I belonged; that it wasn’t meant for me… even though the B is RIGHT THERE staring me in the face (and it doesn’t stand for Bagels, or Belugas, or Big Blue Balls).

I went to my first Pride in 2016, and it was TERRIFYING.  I knew without a doubt what this part of me was, yet I was so scared to be outed as “just a bisexual” that I felt incredibly uncomfortable the entire time I was there.  All these people around me who seemed so much more valid than I did because of the conditioning I’d been subjected to on what my sexuality was defined as.  The incredible self-doubt I bathed in because of others defining how I should be feeling, instead of paying attention to how I actually felt.

This year is different.  This year will be my 2nd chance: the first year I attend Pride as a truly out bisexual/queer who is finally comfortable in her identity, and as a B/Q who knows that I have a space in this community.

If you’ve got 30 spare minutes, you can watch the video I posted in October 2016 of my “coming out” HERE .  I cry a lot, I say “um”/”so yeah”/”truth” A LOT,  and I talk at length about Sara Ramirez and Grey’s Anatomy (because Callie was pivotal in my life changing for the better).  It’s vertically filmed because I was a video n00b, and it’s all around just a general, giant, hot mess…but it’s authentic, and raw, and honest.

I had no script for it; I literally sat down with no preparation and hit record because I knew if I didn’t, I’d never get it out.  It was worth it.

Also please note: I don’t include Queer in the dialogue of the video.  That’s because it’s an identity I’ve only recently adopted for myself.  By definition, Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or not cisgender.”  Bisexuality alone sometimes feels limiting and uncomfortable.  Queer not only accommodates my sexual orientation, but it also accommodates my gender expression fluidity as well.  To put it more plainly, Bisexuality feels like the sweater I like but is sometimes scratchy, whereas Queerness feels like the soft bunny-hug I cozy up to Netflix in.  Also, Queer is rooted in the meaning of “peculiar” or “strange” and that suits me just perfectly! 🙂

Bisexuality gets a hella bad rep in the world, so I want to do some common myth busting because it’s 20-freaking-17… buckle up!  I’m about ta learn ya somethin’!

Here are 10 common myths regarding bisexuality, and the truth bombs that go with them.

Myth One:  Bisexuality does not exist.
Truth:  I didn’t realize that I had the Super Power of Invisibility! It’s true that some people DO go through a transitional time of bisexuality before cementing their identity as either lesbian/gay or heterosexual.  The notion that bisexuals are confused or “sitting on the fence” is misconstrued; those who go through valid confusion often do so as a function of oppression, not biological misinterpretation.   Our society still largely denies bisexuality as a true and valid identity.

Myth Two: Bisexuals are just homosexuals straddling the closet door.
Truth:
This ties into the whole “confusion” bit, yet isn’t it hilarious that the only people who ever seem to be confused about bisexuality are never those who actively identify as bisexual?  I’ve heard countless stories of people who identify as bisexual who have been grilled about when they’re just going to come out as gay/lesbian (myself included).  THEY’RE NOT.  And to be perfectly honest, even if someone who identified as bisexual for years decided to come out as gay/lesbian because that is how they truly felt, that is still valid, and it’s really none of yo business homie.

Myth Three: You can’t truly be a bisexual if you haven’t engaged in sexual activity with persons of the same and opposite sexes.
Truth:
UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. No.  Just no.  Were you confirmed as straight after sleeping with someone of the opposite sex, or did you know it was true before your parts smashed together?  You can be a virgin and still be a VALID bisexual.  You can be a woman/man who only has sexual experience with men and still be a VALID bisexual.  You can be a woman/man who only has sexual experience with women and still be a VALID bisexual.  Your sexuality is not validated based on your bedpost notches….which brings us to Myth Four.

Myth Four: Bisexuals are greedy or extra promiscuous.
Truth:
This one actually makes me laugh…like, when I think about it in application of my own life, I just get a headache.  Promiscuity is not dependent on sexuality.  People of all orientations and identities experience sexual yearning in varying intensities.  Number of partners and frequency of copulation is dependent on the individual, not the sexuality.  Let it also be known that bisexuals are not more inclined to join in on your ménage à trois tryst just because they have attraction to both sexes.  STOP USING IT AS THE HETERO HOLY GRAIL FANTASY THAT YOU CONTINUALLY PROPOSITION POOR SOULS WITH WHEN YOU’RE THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND.

Myth Five: Bisexuals are “dirty”, aka more like to carry sexually transmitted diseases.
Truth:
Absolutely not, and this accusation is just downright hurtful and rude.

Myth Six: Bisexuals are more likely to cheat on their partners.
Truth:
FALSE.  Bisexuals are no more or less likely to cheat on a monogamous relationship than any other sexuality.  Seeing that men and women are almost equally likely to cheat, looks like we’re all rocking in the same boat, really.  You wouldn’t let an infidelity in a heterosexual relationship taint your views of all heterosexuals, so please don’t allow it to do so with other identities.

Myth Seven:  You automatically become straight if you leave a same sex relationship for an opposite sex one (or reversely becoming gay if you leave an opposite sex relationship for a same sex one).
Truth:
NO NO NO NO NO.  Not confused, not being greedy, not promiscuous.  Literally just attracted to both sexes and not bothered to keep track of if dingaling or if cooter.
Also reference: literally the SAME CONCEPT as if your hetero relationship with your boyfriend/girlfriend fell apart, so you started dating a different guy/girl.

Myth Eight:  Bisexuals are attracted to EVERYONE.
Truth: LOL.  If I could roll my eyes any further into the back of my head, they’d roll out my skull and down the god damn street.  While we ARE attracted to both sexes, we’re NOT attracted to idiots.  You’re safe.

Myth Nine: Bisexuality is 50/50.  If you’re bisexual, you’re attracted to males and females equally.
Truth: 
Oh my sweet llama, NO.  This is something that even I didn’t fully understand until I started reading up about bisexuality and hearing other bi experiences.  Bisexuality is NOT black and white.  It’s not 50/50.  It’s an entire spectrum/umbrella of fluidity and identity.

Myth Ten: The B in LGBTQ stands for Badass.
Truth: Yes, can confirm, this is 100% true.  More importantly, unlike the word subtle, the B in LGBTQ is NOT silent, and it stands for BISEXUAL.  SAY IT.

Happy Pride, everyone!
Let’s remember to be inclusive all months, but especially this month.
The acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for something, and it’s important to remember to create spaces that are safe for ALL identities involved.

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cover photo pc: Eat Drink Chic

WOMEN WHO EXPLORE – GOLDEN, BC

How do I even begin?

How do you compile all of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions into one tiny little post?  I’m going to try, but I can’t say it’s going to be easy…or length conscious.  Fair warning.

I guess… I will start from the beginning!

A couple of months back, I wrote a post about how I didn’t get into my program of choice for school, and how hella bummed I was about that.  As fate would have it, I was scrolling through my social medias for happiness inspo (or anything to keep me from completely falling apart, really), and I stumbled across an ad for Women Who Explore.

It was advertising a Soul Sisters Getaway for Golden, British Columbia.  There was to be two nights spent in a luxury river lodge, with all meals (including a wine tasting and a gourmet meal), hot tubbing, and of course activities meant to conjure fun fun fun!

I was feeling very lost, and I really needed something to revive me, so on a complete whim I just booked it.  I said “FUCK IT”, and threw myself into probably THE most uncomfortable position I could put myself into: travelling far from home alone for the first time, travelling solo and not knowing anyone, driving my own ass that far, spending more than a couple of hours with complete strangers, ALL the social interactions, just generally taking a huge leap of faith and trusting that the Universe had my back.

After arriving back home yesterday, all I could say was THANK GOD I TOOK THAT CHANCE.  This past weekend has changed me, in ways I never knew I needed, and in ways I still haven’t discovered yet.

I want to share with you the magic of my experience over the past 3 days, because if you’re someone who is craving a new/life-changing experience, connection with other women, or just need time away for yourself – pay attention.  I think this is JUST what the doctor would order.

Friday

I left home Friday at 12:30 pm, right on time to what I’d been planning (for once in my life!).  I thought I would give myself enough time to make a couple of pit stops in Calgary and Banff on the way in (LOLLLLLLLL).  What I didn’t take into account was that Google Maps is a dirty liar, and the 90 km speed limits severely ate at my time.  I didn’t make any unnecessary stops, and I made it to the ranch RIGHT on time!  Check in was at 6 pm, and I got there with 5 minutes to spare. WHEW!

I was the first of the guests to arrive after the team.  The first face I saw was Jenny’s, who rushed out to greet me.  The first thing I said was, “AM I IN THE RIGHT PLACE?!” because I am severely directionally challenged, and save for my GPS, I could have ended up God knows where.  She assured me I was, and out bounded Lindsay to say her hello’s as well! They offered to get my gear inside, and graciously lugged all my shit into the cabin (I don’t pack light…).  When I initially registered, I had requested solo slumber accommodations if possible; I was so freaked out that I had actually booked myself for such a social event that I was hoping against everything I would at least have a quiet place to chill and be with myself if it all got too overwhelming.  I was SO lucky that they were able to accommodate my request, and they took me straight to my own bedroom (which had a STELLAR view of the mountains/river) – complete with a custom wooden name-tag and a little goodie bag filled with all kinds of amazing things.

Not long after, everyone else started to arrive.  We all sat out on the deck chit-chatting amongst each other as everyone started to come in.  The alcohol came out, and we had a good time laughing, and beginning to get to know the rest of the crew.   Once everyone arrived, Jenny and Lindsay did intros and went over the “house rules” for the weekend.

PC: Ally Pintucci

Friday night was incredible, inspiring, heart-wrenching, and everything I could have never even DREAMED about.

After a late dinner, we all went down to sit in a little gathering circle around the fire pit.  Lindsay came around with a bag of Jelly Belly’s and asked each of us to take some – but wouldn’t tell us how many or why.  We later found out that the number of jellybeans we’d taken was the number of things we had to share about ourselves.  I literally grabbed a handful of 20 fucking jellybeans.  I DON’T EVEN KNOW 20 THINGS ABOUT MYSELF TO SHARE.  I managed to keep it together as I sort of just word-vomited more than I’ve ever told anyone on a first meeting.

I have to say – Friday night was the best night I’ve had in a long, long time.  15 women, sat round a fire, and shared intimate details about themselves with complete strangers.  They were uplifting, inspiring, heart-breaking, intense, strong, courageous stories.  I was awestruck by the openness of these women, and how much I could relate to them.  HOW ON EARTH is it that you stumble across a group of women that are so accepting, so non-judgemental, that you feel you can share the deepest, sometimes darkest parts of you?  The Universe absolutely had my back, and I was in the exact right spot in that moment of time.  I left that campfire feeling so humbled and hopeful.

Saturday

Saturday was met with a delicious breakfast from our lovely hosts (mimosas included).  Seriously, so good.  It was our fuel as we were off to check out some of the surrounding scenery!

We sat down as a group and decided what we were going to do for the day.   We collectively agreed to hit up Emerald Lake and Cedar Lakes.  We parted to get ready and pack our lunches (food provided).  At last minute, I was asked to be a driver which was totally cool! …. except that I’m a total idiot and forgot my wallet, containing my license/money/registration/insurance, and so I had to turn back to get it costing us precious time 😦  We ended up only having time for Emerald Lake, and I felt like a total loser.  Who forgets those things?! LOL C’est la vie!

PC: Lee Horbachewski

Our day at Emerald Lake turned out to be a riot.  We went traipsing in there, us 15 women, our horde of inflatables in tow – to the utter horrifying shock and amusement of the other tourists.

Some of the people near us got a real kick out of it, and even asked to take photos with our “props”

We spent the afternoon floating in the frigid waters of the lake, basking in the warm sunlight.  It was a gorgeous day for a float, and was so peaceful.  As Lee and I were in a raft, a few of the other women decided to attach themselves to us to save their hands from frostbite and we paddled them around.

PC: Ally Pintucci


We retired back to the cabin to check a couple of “firsts” off my list!  Once we arrived back, we were treated to a wine tasting (thanks, Thom!).  I’ve NEVER been to, or experienced, a wine tasting before.  It was definitely interesting!  I learned A LOT about wine that I never would have otherwise.  A very cool experience…my only recommendations would be to most definitely eat before you do a wine tasting, and if you MUST do it on an empty stomach, try to avoid sitting in direct sunlight HAHA.  The wine definitely hit me REAL good.

PC: Ally Pintucci

To follow the wine tasting, we were treated to an incredible, eye-pleasing, absolutely DELICIOUS five course meal courtesy of Dustin.  This was also one of my firsts, as I’ve never experienced a multi-course meal like this.  And OH MY GODDDDDDDDDDDDD.  My tastebuds were orgasming in my mouth.  That’s literally the only way I can truly describe how fucking incredible this food was.  I’m kicking myself now for not taking photos of each course, because not only did it taste unreal, it was SO beautifully plated.

While I don’t have photos to show you of each course, I DID keep the menu so I can tell you what we ate (and you can bathe in your jealousy of it)

*Amuse Bouche (zucchini fritter, honied tomato and goat cheese; pictured)
*Roasted cauliflower pecorino soup with pumpkin seeds, crouton and basil oil
*Smoked duck and baby tuscan kale salad with roasted pistachios, dried cherry relish, shaved parmesan, lemon vinaigrette
*Sous vide Safe Farms grass fed flat iron steak with squash puree, mushroom risotto, seasonal vegetables (carrots and asparagus)
*Lemon tart with fresh raspberries and whipped cream

Yeah, I KNOW.  If only I could eat like this every day…

Supper was phenomenal.  We ate, we laughed, we drank, and drank, and drank…

One we all could eat no more for fear of bursting, we made our way back outside to spend the evening in and around the hot tub.  We found a gas fire pit which saved us a treacherous drunken trek (thank GOD), and it allowed us to all stay close.  We feasted on smore’s and Nutella straight outta the jar.  We passed around binoculars, trying in vain to see the man on the mountain (3rd peak in and swoop) that was either dancing the YMCA or dead, whom Jenny insisted was there (HAHA, love you babe!).  We snuggled on the golden swan floatie under blankets.  We star gazed and eagerly waited for the Aurora Borealis storm to come our way.

A few of the ladies had set up their cameras and tripods as we waited for the Northern Light show to arrive.  Shouts rang out as their screens lit up green, and we all gathered around the deck watching in excitement and awe as the lights started to dance above us.  I grew tired and exhausted from such an amazing day, so I retired to bed early.  The rest of the women stayed up a bit longer, and after heading to bed for a short while themselves, were awoke to an exhilarated Ally who, had noticed the show had intensified, and got everyone up and outside to see the masterpiece in the sky.  I slept through it all, but luckily for me they were able to capture some pretty unbelievable shots.  They speak for themselves, so take a look.

My heart bursts with happiness for everyone who experienced these lights for the first time that night; it’s truly something you’ll never forget.

Sunday

Sunday was the day we said farewell 😦

I stumbled out of my room to the sweet ring of Jenny greeting me, “Good morning love! How did you sleep?”.  In that moment, I realized just how much I was going to miss after I drove away.

I showered, packed, and prepared to go.  We all said our goodbyes, exchanged information, wished each other well, and shed a few tears.

I never could have anticipated walking in just how difficult it would be to walk out.  I managed to keep my eyes dry until I got in my car and hit the highway home.

Everything about this weekend was perfect.  Any imperfections only made it that much more authentic, that much more real, that much better (though I’d be hard pressed to tell you what those imperfections were because I failed to see any – other than my own stupidity).  If you’d have told me on Thursday that the weekend ahead would leave me rocked to my core, indescribably inspired, unexpectedly heartbroken to have to leave these incredible women behind… I would have laughed.  I never could have guessed where this adventure would have taken me; I’m sure that any notion I could have had had been far surpassed in every facet.

I learned so much in my time at the River Ranch with the Women Who Explore, both about myself and about my perception of others.  So many times, we place these barriers upon ourselves by seeing our fellow sisters as competition instead of collaboration.  If we can just be brave enough to look past our own insecurities, and appreciate other women for their stories … oh the bonds and connections we can create.  I am so incredibly thankful to have met every single Soul Sister in Golden.  I am forever changed, in the best of ways, because of all of you and for that I am so grateful.

I can’t wait to connect with you all once again, and for all of the new connections waiting to be born on my next Soul Sisters adventure.

❤ ❤ ❤

MASSIVE THANKS AND ALL MY HEART TO:
Our beautiful, spirited hosts: Jenny and Lindsay
Our photographer: Ally Pintucci
Our unofficial photographer: Lee Horbachewski
To all my Soul Sisters:
Amber
Megan
Taleea
Lena
Bear
Leah
Shannon
Marion
Ashley
Amy

And our guest of honour, Koa ❤

PC: Ally Pintucci

Are you offended?

Probably.

It seems like everyone is offended by everything these days.

Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for you, I’m referring to cis-gendered, thin, white, able-bodied women who are currently getting all kinds of up-in-arms over what’s going on in the #BodyPositive community right now.

Shit, that’s you?

Well, listen up, friend.  I was with you, too…for about 5 minutes.

Over the last few months, I’ve really tried to diversify my Instagram feed.  I did this because of my own internal struggles as I’ve begun packing on the pounds due in part to a medication I’ve been taking for my depression, and my newly adopted #FuckDietCulture attitude.

I’ve unfollowed all of the accounts that made me feel like shit (re: model agencies, model pages, fitspo pages, etc etc)…basically everything and anything that perpetuates diet culture and insinuates what I or anyone else should look like.

Instead, I’ve begun filling my feed with amazing warriors who are clapping back against the patriarchy and all of these bullshit societal standards because they occupy more space than any of those industries allow.  Thus, I came across the #BodyPosi movement, and I was in heaven! As someone who is in recovery for Eating Disorders, and who struggles with body dysmorphia (feeling like I occupy a larger body than I actually do), it was really encouraging and inspiring to see all these bad ass women who live in fat bodies TAKING UP SPACE and beating their chests and fighting against everything that works to keep them hidden.  FUCK YES! Right?!

Hmmm….

That’s when I noticed a lot of these new accounts I had followed begin to throw around “thin white privilege” and “thin white bodies” in rage-fuelled rants, that were followed by other women “YAS QUEEN”-ing and “SLAY”-ing in the comments, and y’all – I WAS OFFENDED.

“What the fuck? How can this community of love and acceptance be screaming so much hatred at me?! What the hell did I do?! I’ve been YAS QUEEN-ing and SLAY-ing in the comments like everyone else!”

I’ve seen a lot of women in my position who felt the same, but voiced those concerns in not-so-nice ways.  I decided to do some research of my own, and it took all of about 10 minutes to realize what a fucking idiot I looked like in my own upset.

You know what I chose to do instead?

I shut the fuck up, and I listened.

Because when someone who has less privilege and visibility than you starts to tell you that you’re affecting them in a negative way, you step back and you fucking listen.

Because as someone who has experienced erasure within my own LGBTQ+ community as a Bisexual woman, when a POC/disabled/fat/otherwise marginalized woman is telling you that your actions are eliminating their visibility, you step back and you fucking listen.

Because when you can open any magazine and see your slightly chubby, yet still small, body represented on any given page, and there are women who are constantly under-represented or not represented AT ALL fighting out loud to gain that exposure, you step back and you fucking listen.

Because when you start to notice that the comments coming out of the discussions under #BodyPositivity are no longer parallel to the movement’s birth, but instead are centric around diet culture, “health”, and reduction of size equating to societal worth, you step back and you fucking listen.

Because when women in the #BodyPositive community are pounding fists and telling you that you have overtaken their space, the place (for some, the ONLY place) they had to go for safety, acceptance, love, support, and just general bad-ass-ery, you step back and you fucking listen.

I’m not sitting here saying that the things these women are saying are directed specifically at me; they’re not.  It’s a collective, but I am still within that collective.

As much as I may not realize, or easily forget (because I am even afforded that privilege, too), I DO have a lot of privilege that yields me visibility above my minority spacing.

So, if you’re like me, and you get offended – get offended…but before you start spewing off what you think you know, read a few articles, talk to a few people.  Your perspective will probably change, and if it doesn’t, maybe you need to sit down and ask yourself WHY.

There are other ways for us to participate in the Body Positive community.  This doesn’t mean that your struggles are invalid, and this doesn’t mean that you can’t still speak about your own struggles.  This simply means that we need to be more mindful of how we do so.  It’s a shift in language.  It’s allowing these Body Positive warriors to claim their space in the arena, while you cheer them on from the sidelines.  It’s respecting your fellow sisters enough to afford them the same advantages that you experience every – single – day.

By stepping back, you lose nothing.
By stepping back, you pass the torch to those who truly deserve it.

Speaking of, here are some accounts that are worth noting, to get you started:

@bodyposipanda
@sassy_latte
@yourstruelymelly
@mindsetforlifeltd
@chooselifewarrior
@lexiemanion
@virgietovar
@thevagaggle

 

Elemental Necessity

As someone who deals extensively with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, constantly being around people can be a really big hindrance to my recovery.

It’s incredibly draining to always be around that much stressed out, negative energy.

On this #SelfCareSunday, I’m sharing with you an adventure I took yesterday and how being out in my element really helps to recharge my batteries so I can better cope with life when I get back into the city.

I truly believe that when you’re struggling with Mental Illness, it is SO. IMPORTANT. to find something that brings you joy, calm, and happiness – and spend as MUCH time as possible within that element.  It’s necessarily for survival.

This survival element for me is nature photography and mountain climbing.  They easily go hand-in-hand, and I get a great deal of joy out of them both.  It’s nice to be out in the middle of nowhere, with just the sounds of nature – no background noise of honking vehicles and constant voices.  Just me, my own thoughts, the creaking of the trees, and the gusting of the wind.  It’s a great platform to clear my headspace and let go of the pent up stress and negativity that I end up carrying.

Troll Falls

Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada

When One Door Closes…

I got a letter in the mail today.

One that I was super anxious about receiving, that I busted my ass off for two years working towards, that I was praying would carry the answer I was longing for.

It didn’t.

I was hoping against everything to start my Bachelor of Nursing in September.  Today, I found out that I won’t be…and now I’m feeling a whole lot of things that I didn’t think I’d feel.

I’m devastated.  I worked so hard to get here, and it still wasn’t enough.  I spent two years trying to make up for my lack of any sort of will as a high school student, to enable me to take the next step towards what I wanted to do with my life…and yet, here I am – facing another year of waiting, another year of feeling completely lost within myself.

Everything that felt SO obtainable just a month ago, feels thousands of miles away right now, in this moment.

Sure, there are things I can do to keep trudging towards the end goal, but it’s been so long already that I just find myself asking,

“Is it really even worth it anymore?”

“Am I even smart enough to do this in the first place?”

“Do I have what it takes?”

“Is this a sign that I shouldn’t even be pursuing this because it’s not meant for me?”

How do you decide if what you thought you wanted to do more than anything is actually what you’re meant for?

Where do you draw the line and just accept that you’re not going to get there?

What the hell do you do if you DO decide this is the fork in the road, but have absolutely no inclination of what road you should even be on?

*sigh*

I thought I knew what I wanted to say, but I just find myself sitting here staring blankly at my screen.  I don’t think I can put my thoughts into words.

All I know is that I was unexpectedly propelled off course by this event, and I feel the gravitation of the black hole I escaped from pulling at me once again.

Find the open door…
You just have to find the open door…

 

This Is The Why

**TRIGGER WARNER: Self-Harm, Self-Harm Scars**

Disclaimer: I have received full permission to post my thoughts, and these photos.
Loren, I love you ❤


This is the why.

When I started this blog, I had no idea what direction it would take, and if you’d told me 4 years ago that I’d be making this post, I would have laughed in your face.  That won’t be me, no, never.

But here I am, and I honestly couldn’t be more proud or humbled to be here.

As you probably know by now I’ve dealt with Mental Illness my whole life, but only more recently (in the last year or two) has it become more intense.  One of the things that’s been therapeutic for myself in navigating the chaos has been to write about it and share my struggles.  I didn’t start sharing my story to get people’s attention, or to get sympathy.  I share it because it genuinely helps me to make sense of what is going on, and I needed to know it was out there on a platform that was larger than just myself.  I suppose a sort of hope for divine intervention, if you will.  I don’t even really know myself… I just know that it’s something I felt I’ve had to do as a part of my recovery.

The more that I shared and put my vulnerability out there, the more people that came to me sharing their similar stories in turn, and that made a really big impact on me.  It was really only then I truly realized that, hey, I’m NOT the only one stuck in this tornado of perpetual existential crises.  I’m not okay a lot of the time, but look how many other people are just as not okay as I am.  You just get stuck in this fallacy that you’re the only person out there who is traipsing around wearing this smile that doesn’t belong to you.

Though I had people sharing the depths of their souls with me, I still never imagined that I’d ever really make that much of an impact on someone.  I sometimes thought how nice it might be to have this affect on someone else, but still my reasoning – my why – was for myself, for my recovery.  I continued sharing my journey for my own betterment, and the thought of “hey, maybe someone somewhere will find something positive in all of this” existed, vaguely, in the background.  As humans, I believe we’re innately inclined to helping each other, but I think we forget just how exactly we DO help others in ways we don’t expect.

It’s sad really, because we do not realize the positive power that we hold, that our words hold, that our story holds.

Flash forward to last night when I had this ceiling absolutely shattered in the most unexpected way possible.  As usual, I was browsing my social medias before settling into bed for the night.  It’s been a rough few days; I’ve been feeling really down, hardcore judging myself and comparing where and who I am to those who seem far better and far more successful than I… in short, I was feeling like a waste of skin, if I’m being completely honest.

And then…

I was notified that I’d been tagged in this post:

 

The flood gates were completely obliterated.
H*ck, the dam is gushing as I type this even now.

YOU. INSPIRED. ME. TO. MAKE. THIS. POST.

WHAT?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

For someone who is struggling, who has scars that are road maps to the pain and suffering they have endured, who has fresh wounds from the pain and suffering they still endure, to be vulnerable enough to share that with the world can be terrifying, crippling, not even in the question….

Yet…someone was able to share THAT level of vulnerability BECAUSE OF ME.

I literally have no words for that.  All I can do is just let the tears flow, and clutch my heart in endless gratitude that my story has reached someone so deeply.   That my journey has made a positive difference to someone trying to make sense of their own.

I won’t share her story with you because it is not my story to tell, but I will say this:  Loren has endured FAR more than any human should ever have to during their time around the Sun.  I’m not comparing her story to mine or anyone else’s because every single story matters, no matter the weight…but man, her story is a heavy, heavy one.

So, to Loren:

You are one of THE strongest, most resilient people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You’ve been knocked down, over and over, by things that would completely ruin others yet you get back up EVERY SINGLE TIME.  I admire you SO fucking much for how you’ve handled life’s blows.  You are the sweetest, most caring, loving individual, and you deserve nothing but all of the good this world has to offer.  Your ring is fucking GORGEOUS, you deserve to feel so special, and I hope each day that passes your courage to show it off rises.  Your scars don’t define you.  They are symbols that you’ve made it through every single shit-sandwich day; they’re a symbol of the warrior that dwells within you, and I hope that you always know just how incredible she is.  If you forget, don’t worry – I’ll remind you.  I am SO proud of you, and how far you’ve come, and I know you’ll get to where you need to be.

And, thank you.
Thank you for your trust.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for being so fucking brave.

Thank you for allowing me to share this piece of your story.

Thank you, for simply being you.

This is the why.  
Because this is a community that holds each other up when times get tough.  This is a community that cheers you on across the finish line, even when you don’t think you have it in you to get that far.  This is a community that continues to support you even after you get there.

This is the why.
Because people (like Loren) deserve happiness.
People deserve to live free of judgement.
People deserve to know they are fucking amazing.
People deserve to know how strong and incredible they are.
People deserve to know just how much they are loved, and how much their story matters.

This is the why.
Because I see now what my words are capable of, and I want to continue on being inspired by others, and maybe (hopefully) inspiring others, too.