Wedding Planning (or how to get incredibly stressed out)

Hey everyone!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, but wedding planning has kept me incredibly busy. Em and I are getting married in exactly two weeks and I can’t wait, partly because I can’t wait to be married to the most amazing person I know, and partly because I can’t wait to get my evenings and weekends back.

Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner made wedding planning look like a breeze, and more importantly, she made it look like fun. Well, I’m here to tell you the unfortunate truth that along with the fun comes lots of stress.

When Em and I got engaged back in September of 2014, we made sure to get a lot of the big planning out of the way: venue, caterer, photographers, wedding ceremony location, DJ, etc. We agreed on everything and we’ve agreed on everything since, which has definitely made the process easier. It’s the glitches along the way, like vendor schedules not lining up, endless meetings, and constant questions on topics we’ve never even thought to consider that make wedding planning really crazy and hectic. That, along with final details that can only be taken care of closer to the wedding date.

The best tip we keep getting is to just go with the flow and when things don’t work out, to just think of a different solution and roll with it. So that’s been our best saviour … well, that and beer.

But it’s really not all bad, there have definitely been some great highs like having our final dress fitting, having our makeup and hair trials, and having our bridal shower. It’s so much fun getting pampered! But it’ll be so nice when we can sit back and relax and enjoy being married.

I’ll write another post after we’re married, but until then, enjoy these pictures from our bridal shower and makeup/hair trials!

Much love!

xox

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At our Bridal Shower.

 

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Two cakes are better than one.
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With our moms ❤
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My wedding makeup trial.
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Em’s wedding makeup trial.
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My hair trial from the side.
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Em’s hair trial. The amount of detail at the back is amazing!

Looking back at 2015

While browsing through Buzzfeed, as I do most nights, I came across a post that really made me stop and think: 30 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before 2016.

I went through all the questions and thought I’d share my answers with all of you. I’d definitely recommend doing it too! 🙂

Here we go:

  1. What did you do this year that you’re proud of?

I really do feel as though I’ve become a kinder and more patient individual and that’s definitely what I’m most proud of.

  1. Who did you meet this year that inspired you?

In my last job, one of my coworkers and I became fast friends. It was one of those weird situations when you meet someone you feel like you’ve known for your entire life. So obviously we became fast friends. Before she started working at the company we were both at, she was a teacher and when she spoke about teaching, her passion for it just oozed out of her. I remember during one particular conversation, she mentioned to me that her goal as a teacher was always to make sure her kids felt extremely safe and loved in her classroom because she didn’t know what their home situation was like and whether they felt that safety and love when they left school. She definitely inspired me (and continues to inspire me) to be a better person and be kind to those I meet because they might not get that same kindness elsewhere.

  1. What did you read that you think bettered you?

I’m an avid reader and I loveeee to read books, but funnily enough the thing I read that I feel bettered me was a poster … actually, I should say a series of posters.

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I saw them on the subway every morning and reading them broke my heart. I was never a big meat eater and would really only eat chicken and when my doctor had suggested cutting down or cutting out meat as a way to aid in the treatment of my mental disorder, I tried eating organic/local farm chicken. After reading those posters and watching movies like Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives, I stopped eating meat completely. I’ve been vegetarian now for 2 months and eat vegan about 75% of the time.

  1. What are songs that you will always hear and think of this year even when you’re listening on some contraption that hasn’t even been invented yet?

Definitely Adele’s “Hello” and “When We Were Young.” I can’t get enough of her new album!

  1. What were some times that you laughed so hard you could barely breathe?

Any scene in Sisters! I’ve definitely had other laugh-so-hard-I-can’t-breathe moments, but I just can’t recall what they are at the moment.

  1. What were your favorite movies? Not what was good, not what you had to see because of your friends or the media. What were your favorites?

I think I’ll have to say Love the Coopers for the sole reason that I absolutely love Christmas movies and unlike other movies that I watch and can never watch again because I know the ending or because they make me too sad, this one reminded me of The Family Stone, which I watch every Christmas … meaning that Love the Coopers will probably be on my must-watch Christmas list.

In terms of movies that really moved me emotionally, I’d have to say Into the Forest and Freeheld. I saw them both at TIFF and they both made me cry. Such amazing performances and moving stories.

  1. What are some fears that you had at the beginning of the year that you overcame?

One of my biggest fears has always been talking openly about my mental disorder, but after seeking counselling earlier this year, I finally feel like I can talk about it and not feel ashamed. My panic disorder is part of who I am and that’s ok.

  1. What were quotes that you loved this year?

A quote of Maya Angelou’s that I read this year: “If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.”

  1. What are ways that you exercised self-care?

Definitely taking time off to focus on my mental health. I now know the difference between what I feel like when I’m healthy (in terms of mental health) and what I feel like when I’m mentally unstable so I made it my mission to ensure I never spiral down to my low point again.

  1. What are things you want to see more of next year?

More of the world! Em and I have some exciting travel plans in the works and I just can’t wait!

  1. What are five things you did that you never thought you’d actually do?

– I was able to slow down and appreciate the things around me

– I started cooking and sometimes, it actually doesn’t turn out terrible!

– I stood up to our former landlord and took initiative in getting us a new and safe place to live

– I gave up meat

– I stopped buying books! (I get them all from the library now J )

  1. What were your favorite things this year?

– Taking our engagement photos

– Finding THE dress

– Taking the time to watch my cats play

– Meeting my niece, Sarah

– Gaining some patience so I could actually take the time to cook

  1. What are the most important things you learned this year?

People will show you who they are if you let them. This definitely tops the list and is the absolute most important lesson I’ve learned.

  1. What is your favorite photo from this year?

It’s not from this year, but it became an important photo this year and I will cherish it forever.

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  1. What are five things you want to say to people you love?

– Thank you

– You make me stronger

– I’m here for you

– It’s ok to let your emotions take over

– You’ve been a rainbow in my clouds.

  1. What are some places where you feel true joy in your life?

As strange as this is going to sound, I feel happy when I’m eating … especially when I’m eating a vegan meal. My mental illness manifested itself into an eating disorder at one point so I never really appreciated food or felt happy at the thought of eating it, now I finally do!

  1. Where do you feel most yourself?

When I’m with Em. I can be myself no matter what my mood is that day and I know she’s got my back.

  1. What were your favorite meals?

Where to begin?! One that definitely tops the list is a Vegan Creamy pea and kale pasta. Sooooo yummy!

  1. How did you calm yourself in times of stress?

I don’t know if I can really answer that. I can’t say that I’ve mastered this whole panic disorder thing quite yet, but I’m getting there.

  1. What are some compliments that you received that deeply affected you?

One in particular that I received several times this year: “You’re so funny!” (meant genuinely, not sarcastically … I hope! :P)

I always felt as though I was stuck in a pile of gloom so hearing that I can actually brighten someone’s day and make them laugh, really boosted me up this year.

  1. Who are people that you believe are bringing out the best in you?

I’ve never met them, but Shannon and Cammie from the ThisIsLiving YouTube channel always talk about kindness and even their company, Ripple Effect, is focused on creating kindness and letting the ripples of your kindness affect others. I strive to be more like them, for sure!

  1. What items of clothing did you buy that felt the most you?

Funnily enough, a giant XL sweater from the men’s section of Value Village. I can’t get enough of it!

  1. What are you excited about leaving behind in 2015? 

Any remaining toxicity and negativity in my life.

  1. What are five things that you were hard on yourself about but would never have been hard on a friend if they were experiencing it?

If I were asked this question a few years ago, my list would be endless because of the way I used to treat myself. I’ve learned to give myself some slack and step back or take a breather when I need it. Therefore, I don’t have a list.

  1. What are the best pieces of advice you heard this year?

Em and I met someone while volunteering for TIFF who was so extremely joyful and full of life that we couldn’t help but smile around her. She later told us about a party she went to and how she wasn’t having too much fun at first, but then she chose to be happy in that moment and ended up having a good time.

The advice I took away from this: there are times when you can choose to be happy.

  1. What are the best pieces of advice you gave this year?

“You aren’t responsible for other people’s panic.”

  1. What things have you been putting off doing because you didn’t have time?

Going to the beach. It’s on my list every summer and yet, I always manage not to have time to go.

  1. What are some things you’d like to focus and work on in the next year?

I definitely want to become more patient on a day-to-day basis and become more kind and caring toward others.

  1. What are the best parts of you that you feel really showed through this year?

I think my vulnerability definitely showed through this year. I finally took down the wall I built up around me and let people in. I learned that it’s ok not to be ok all the time. I think knowing that makes me stronger.

  1. What are your biggest hopes for 2016?

That’s it’s as big of an amazing adventure as I hope it will be!

 

 

Thanks for a great year, 2015! I can’t wait for 2016!!!

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Today

Today, while the sun was shining and the city was bustling with people pushing their way down crowded sidewalks, a part of my world collapsed. Today, while I walked down busy Toronto streets, trying hard to see through the blurriness of my tear-filled and swollen eyes, my uncle lay brain-dead in Poland. Today, as I woke up from a horrible nightmare, I felt my uncle with me and I knew he was no longer in Poland.

Today, I remember my uncle who always called me his little parrot because of all the stories I would constantly tell. Today, I remember my uncle, my mom’s baby brother, who would always laugh and smile. Today, I remember my uncle, who over a decade ago, lost his leg to severe diabetes and was not expected to live more than a couple of years. Today, I am thankful for the years we did have and the memories we made.

Though your body remains connected to machines breathing for you, your suffering is over. You will be free soon and I know you, along with grandma, will always watch over our family.

I love you,
Your parrot

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Second Life by S.J. Watson

From the author of Before I Go To Sleep, comes another thrilling novel featuring another female lead, which is both exciting and disappointing all at once.

Before I explain why that is, let me start by saying that I love S.J. Watson’s writing and found the twist in his second novel much more unexpected and shocking than his first (something I always look forward to). Although I am a huge fan of Before I Go To Sleep, I felt like I knew what the twist would be before even getting halfway through the text. This novel was the complete opposite. I thought I knew what was happening, but I had no idea!

Ok, so now back to my earlier comment about Watson’s female lead being both exciting and disappointing. As a woman, I enjoy reading novels or watching movies/shows featuring a strong, no-bullshit female lead (something I enjoyed a lot about Watson’s first novel). So, female lead = exciting.

What kind of ruined the excitement for me with Second Life was the fact that the lead was not really what I wanted or expected her to be like. Julia (the protagonist) is a former alcoholic and addict who is sober, has a family and is a fairly successful photographer, all awesome things … especially the part about her being able to battle her addiction. I always admire people and / or characters who are strong-willed and able to fight back against something that can often be much stronger than they are. So, yes, Julia is a strong, no-bullshit female lead in the sense that she was able to overcome (and continues to fight against) her addictions.

However, she seems 100% ready to throw her entire life away after going online to try to catch a killer via a dating website. Julia is married, has a child and goes online to try to locate a murderer, except, along her heroic quest, she falls for someone she’s initially suspicious about. And I don’t just mean that they have an emotional connection. I mean they have an emotional and physical connection that continues to develop throughout the novel. (I should probably mention that I have huge issues with cheating in any form and the way the novel was going at this point was already rubbing me the wrong way).

Not only does Julia have a romantic relationship with her online lover, she’s also extremely shocked when she learns he’s not exactly who he says he is. I mean, come on. You mean to tell me that you went online to find a killer and then you were shocked when the person you suspected turned out to be a total creep? What is it with female characters being written as these stupid, helpless idiots when it comes to a man in their lives? It really bothers me. And that’s not to say it wouldn’t bother me if the lead were a man who was “catfished.” It absolutely would.

My main concern here is that there are already so few novels, movies, etc. that feature strong female leads and novels like Second Life that make women sound helpless and idiotic instead of smart really put a damper on other media trying to do the opposite.

In all honesty, I’m really conflicted about this novel. On the one hand, I love Watson’s writing and am a huge fan, on the other hand I really don’t like the direction in which he took this story and how Julia was portrayed. Bottom line, I will still read his next novel (if he writes one).

Have you read Second Life? What did you think about the novel? Let me know your thoughts!

Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner

Oh-Em-Gee! I just finished this book seconds ago and I couldn’t wait another minute to start writing a blog post about it.

If you follow my blog, or read it regularly, you know that I’m a sucker for a great thriller novel. One of my favourite thriller writers is Lisa Gardner so when I heard she had recently published a new book, I immediately got on my library’s waitlist (and it was a longggggg waitlist). But let me reassure you that the wait was absolutely worth it!

There were so many crazy twists and turns throughout Crash & Burn that I often found myself gasping and trying to steady my heartbeat. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just give you guys the gist of how the novel starts:

A woman crashes her car in the middle of the night and is found bloody, covered in mud and screaming for someone named Vero. The police automatically start on a search for Vero, who they identify as the woman’s daughter. When the woman’s husband turns up at the hospital, not only does she have a hard time remembering exactly who he is, but he has to convince her that Vero is not real and that after 22 years of marriage, they have no children. What happens from that point forward is — in a single word — INSANE!!!!!

If you’re into thrillers, or you’re looking for a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is it! As Stephon would say, “This book has everything … !”

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Happy reading! 🙂

Pan Am Craziness: Roller Figure Skating & Archery

Hey guys!

By now most of you know that I live in Toronto and this year, my city is hosting the Pan Am Games (yay!). I’m not super sporty, nor do I know a lot about sports, but I do always love to watch coverage of major sporting events (like the Olympics). Since all the events are happening just outside my door, I decided to get some tickets to a few of the events.

So far I’ve taken my mom to see Roller Figure Skating (I got the tickets for her birthday) and Em and I went to see Archery (unfortunately Katniss wan’t there, but Canada rocked it!).

I’ll admit, there have been some issues with the marketing behind the Pan Am Games, the way their website works and the setup at various venues (you can read my full rant on Buzzfeed), but the events themselves have been amazing!

Check out some of my pictures from Archery: 

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Fun Fact: The arrows move at an average speed of 250km/h!!!

And here’s a short video of my time watching Roller Figure Skating: 

I’ll also be making a short video of our time watching Archery, so I’ll post that here too! 🙂