31 years of gratitude

Today’s my 31st birthday, so in no particular order, I whipped up a quick list of 31 things I’m grateful for (besides each and every one of you of course).

31. The 8 hour old school hip hop YouTube clip I listened to while writing this list.

Because memories, amirite.

30. Dojos over daycare

The-Dojo-bjj-bondi

One of my earliest memories is of dad bringing me to the dojo, putting a box of crayons and Sesame Street colouring books in front of me, and jogging off. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and I was quite comfortable spending time there. When I took moments to pay attention to something other than Grover, I learned things like, those who are rigid in movement and thoughts will quickly find themselves landing hard on their ass. Thanks, pops.

29. Summers in Newfoundland

Bell Island, Newfoundland

The beach. The bell. The food. The fam. Canada is great, but being raised in Newfoundland is a blessing. Go there once, and you’ll know.

28. Public Relations

candygram stand

PR has taught me that the success of everything in life, professional or otherwise, is completely dependent on the strength of relationships. And the fact that I get to build, enhance, and create new relationships for a living…well, I’d do it for free. And I do. Maybe too much…lol

27. PR people

The three musketeers plus two

We’re from a different planet. We’re just different, period. And it’s awesome. From mentors to students, being part of a group of people who can be wildly creative yet organized at the same time is incredible. I learn from them constantly, they keep me focused, and I can’t thank them enough for it.

26. Piano

IMG_20130704_180217

Stevie Wonder was my favourite. So at age 6, my parents set me up with piano lessons. And I learned so much more than notes. I discovered that I had a short fuse, the importance of practice, that you learn classical and feel jazz, and that if a song sounds good on a piano, it will likely sound good with a full arrangement. It taught me to appreciate music in all its forms.

25. My piano teacher

STOP_REST

She didn’t hesitate to snap a ruler across my hands, nor did she hesitate to give praise. She was as black and white as the keys, and if she hadn’t given me an ultimatum between music lessons and horses, I might not have become an avid equestrian. I’m grateful for her eight years of militant tutelage.

24. Hip Hop

SALTNPEP_VYN

I can’t remember the first track I heard, but I do remember turning myself inside out trying to rip the plastic off the Salt & Pepa Very Necessary cassette tape my mom snuck me as an early birthday gift. When you grow up with very little, aspirational messages mean so much more than the beat. It taught me to appreciate the English language, puns, complex, figurative language, double entendres, metaphors…it truly set me up for a career that relies heavily on creative writing.

23. Horses
Fae

What’s the first thing you drew as a kid? A stickman? Rainbow? For me, it was a “stickhorse.” I was obsessed at first sight. In fact, I can’t remember having many other childhood interests because I spent most days engrossed in books about them. I remember my first riding lesson as vividly as if it happened yesterday. After a major fall, my parents pulled funding in hopes that I’d quit. So I took a bus as far as it’d go, walked the rest of the way, cleaned stalls, did turnout, fed, groomed, and tacked up horses for lessons, just so that I could get ONE “free” ride. I did it as often as my riding instructor would let me. I learned that opportunities are abundant for those who work hard for them. And to this day, I’d rather work 16 hours at a horse show than eight in a corporate office.

22. Teaching

english-teacher-funny-image-quote-300x300

Whether it was showing someone a music scale, how to judge distance (show jumping), or crafting a grammar lesson, I’ve learned that teaching is a privilege because you learn more from your students that they’ll ever learn from you.

21. O Sensei

aikido398wx

Okay, not THE O Sensei, but a great Aikido sensei nonetheless. When I felt discouraged and didn’t want to go to practice, he drove to my house and dragged me to it. He taught me that there is no hiding from hardships, that you must face them no matter what.

20. Housing
tumblr_lkuq9mSMf41qc4ptso1_500

It taught me about differences in culture, what white privilege is, to see through the façade of students on the ‘other side’ of the street, who dressed and acted a certain way because of mass media, but wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if…well, never mind. It taught me to see through to the core of a person, and understand that the pathway to a better life is to trust your instincts and work hard at everything you do.

19. The jobs

IMG00097

I’ve been a burger flipper, assembly line worker, packer, retail associate, customer care specialist, computer lab coordinator, stable manager, laundry person, and so much more. What am I grateful for (besides staying employed)? The assault I had at work a few years ago. When HR told me to report to work days after it was reported, it gave me the resolve I needed to choose a different path, and discover a career that I love.

18. The women’s shelter

women0

When you decide not to spend one more minute of one more day in an abusive situation, and then find yourself homeless because of what’s supposed to be “the right decision” it takes a toll. What puts a situation like that into perspective? When you meet people who are going through it even worse than you. I met amazing people and experienced things that will stay with me for life. Like meeting kids who are grateful just for drawing them a picture to colour, or ‘sneaking out’ for a fun girls’ night out to escape from the stress of it all. It taught me that every situation is a blessing if you can find the lesson in it.

17. My ex fiancé

asshole cheater

He tricked me into get my driver’s license. He encouraged me to pursue my passion for horses as a career. He’s an animal enthusiast. He was a baseball coach for special needs adults. He dug a huge hole in my mom’s backyard and designed a pond for mother’s day. I cooked for him, cleaned for him, did whatever I could to make him happy. He yelled a lot. We fought like cats and dogs. He cheated. He pushed me through a door. He put our mastiff’s choke chain around my neck from behind and yanked me to the ground. He choked me on the stairs. And I’m grateful, because if he wasn’t such an overwhelming waste of a human being, I might have settled and wouldn’t know what it’s like to experience a great man.

16. VA

ichigo inoue hands

I never felt more cared for in my life than I did by him. No matter what was happening, he was that beam of sunshine that made me feel like a billion bucks. And that is what I choose to remember. I have nothing but love and respect for him.

15. My first car

2001_toyota_celica_gts-pic-46187

The first vehicle I drove was a Celica GT-S. Love at first acceleration. It taught me to never underestimate the pure joy of a great sports car and a curvy road.

14. My first riding coach

K1AD4EEA88B4_1000045

“Oh you want shorter stirrups?” *takes stirrups off the saddle* “relying on your reins?” *makes you drop your reins…over fences* “Scared of falling?” *plays push-you-off-your-horse tag* “Janet, you’re fearless, so BE fearless.” My riding instructor had no time for weaklings. Fall down seven times, stand up eight, wasn’t just a clever phrase, it was mandatory. And it’s why I was able to get back on my horse with a broken arm and ride past students with a smile on my face in hopes that they wouldn’t be scared to do the same if it happened to them.

13. The Flights

K1AD4EEA88B4_1000053

Craziness, laughter, and lots of love, my mom’s family has always been there for my brother and I, no matter what. Going through dark times early in life, they’re a blessing neither of us will ever take for granted.

12. Learning to grin and Barrett

K1AD4EEA88B4_1000038

This side of the family taught me the meaning of fair weather friends and that the essence of family has very little to do with blood. They taught me how to be independent, how to do things for myself, to endure, that trust is earned, and that it’s okay to find inspiration, advice, and mentorship by following your own path.

11. Elementary school jerks

black-stallion-walter-farley-hardcover-cover-art

Kids are cruel. And when you don’t have much, are going through crazy things at home, and don’t have picture-perfect aesthetics, the cruelty is magnified. I found solace in books, and learning that making the jerks laugh was easier than being laughed at. I had to develop a personality to survive. But it was still hard, and I was miserable. Then one day, an individual who, for whatever reason, was hell bent on being my friend, and quickly became one by asking to borrow one of my favourite books. 21 years later, and she’s evolved from being a friend to being the sister I never had. Having jerks in life’s been great, they helped me develop a thick skin, and only pay attention to the people who matter.

10. BFFs

girlfriends6875328

From friendship bracelets to random cards in the mail to marathon Skype conversations to crazy adventures, life just wouldn’t be the same without the besties.

9. The boys

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 7.27.08 PM

They don’t gossip, they talk sports, pay for drinks, listen, and when they do offer advice, it’s straight, true, and thoughtful. Love the men in my life. I learn something new from them every day.

8. Kahlua

Kahlua Puppy Pic

My first puppy, I had her named before we met. She’s been there through ups, downs, and everything in between, with unwavering love and enthusiasm. She’s been the one constant in my life over the past 12 years, and for that I’m eternally grateful. She’s living proof of unconditional love.

7. Jagger

Photo on 2013-02-27 at 17.09

This puppy plays to the beat of his own drum. He’s just happy, and reminds me that I should do and be the same.

6. The gift of an entrepreneurial spirit
ZenPR Lotus

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” I’m trying, and am grateful for the journey.

5. The step-family
step brothers

As a kid, you want your family to stay together, to be a unit. And it was a wild time when my parents split. But now, I don’t feel like I lost a family, I feel like I’ve gained two more. And that’s pretty neat.

4. The sibling
K1AD4EEA88B4_1000029

We have the same eyes, laugh at the same jokes, like the same food, watch the same cartoons, and that’s where the similarities end. He’s a character, and I love him to pieces.

3. Starbucks Chai Latte
starbucks-chai

A daily dose of Christmas in a cup, this stuff’s an instant pick-me-up. Comforting, aromatic, and delicious, I love you, Chai.

2. Unwavering faith
faith

From the Bible to the Noble Eightfold Path, the teachings have taught me to look beyond who’s saying what and to focus on the context of the message. The overarching truth of love, promise, humility, and gratitude is way more important that who said what, where.

1. Tetris
tetris

The only game I can beat my brother at, it also reminds me that obstacles never stop coming at you in life and that there’s no time to get comfortable. It gets harder, and the only way to move forward is to stay sharp.

Here’s to another 31 years of gratitude! ❤

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Writing

For My Heart, Day 17-20: Dogs and Zombies

awesome pit bull

Meet Maverick, owner of the Changing Laws for Paws founder

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schultz

I recently teamed up with an organization called Changing Laws for Paws. Dedicated to repealing Breed Specific Legislation in Ontario, they also educate Canadians on what some consider ‘dangerous’ dog breeds. As the Director of PR & Communications, along with copious amounts of research (and coffee, I’m afraid) I’ve been on the lookout for the best way to tell the stories of loving dog owners and their beautiful K9 companions. Pondering on a walk with my pup, I quickly snapped out of it to see a snappy little terrier snarling at us, and looked up to see a visibly embarrassed owner beg and plead with her adorable, terro–err–terrier to cut it out. She then complimented my dog on how well behaved he was, and how she “just didn’t know what to do with him.” This is not the first time I’ve seen this woman, nor will it be the last (she lives on my street), and so I can safely say she has the classic markings of an enabler. “I love him, he’s like my child, and I think he’d come back to me the way yours does when he’s off leash on the field, but I just don’t know,” all the while stroking him while he snarled (in other words, unknowingly praising him for his territorial behaviour). It was just reason #453 as to why BSL legislation simply doesn’t make any sense. A dog owner is responsible for the training and well being of their dog. There are facts to prove that BSL hasn’t reduced dog bites AT ALL. And so, I believe I’ll soon be starting a series on “Holy terrors: when little dogs attack” with a focus on ‘harmless’ dog breeds going after ‘dangerous’ dog breeds, to show that any dog has the ability to have poor manners.

World War Z, Brad Pitt...man, he's still got it.

World War Z, Brad Pitt…man, he’s still got it.

Anyways, the next night, our team went to see World War Z. It was a very impressive 3D film. I’d go as far as saying it’s the most well made 3D film I’ve seen to date. The entire thing was polished, terrifying, entertaining, edgy…and educational. One part in particular stood out for me (not a spoiler I promise). I’ll just say that there was a moment where someone was describing group dynamics, and how they always employed one person to research the opposite of whatever a team consensus was on any given topic handed to them. This encouraged the team to look at an issue from all angles, despite, actually because of, popular opinion. Going forward, we’re going to be using it as a best practice for our own organization. Who knew that a zombie movie would teach us how to not act ‘zombie-like’ in business!

roses, nature, scenery

Take some time to stop and smell (or at least admire) the roses

Today, the dog and I stopped to smell the roses as we took a 4.8k stroll to my mother’s house to pay her and my chocolate lab a visit. I live in a small city, and people tend to complain quite a bit about the ‘lack’ of things to do. Admittedly, I’ve done my share of complaining, but the overarching message in this blog is that I am learning how to appreciate the things around me for what they are: fantastic learning experiences. From the past to the present, from the scenery, to a movie scene, to simply enjoying a walk with the puppy. And you stay in the now, have gratitude, and are curious, there’s nothing you can’t draw inspiration from. **steps off soap box**

What ‘little things’ inspire you?

2 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Goals, Writing

For My Heart, Day 16: The Distance

Prince William Park Trail

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” – Roger Staubach

13 laps = 5.2k

13 laps = 5.2k

Going the extra mile is so much easier when you’re amongst great four-legged company, beautiful weather, and have a goal in place that encourages you to move forward. I decided to ramp things up today by pushing a little harder in my running intervals. During them, I realized that I want someone in life who will run with me, not go a mile ahead and wait, take the other fork(s) in the road, run circles in mockery, or stay behind. It just makes the journey so much more fun. The thing is, you can’t take everyone who comes into your life with you, no matter how much you might want to. And what I know for sure is that in this life, the truth is permanent, and everything else falls to the wayside. Consider keeping that in mind to eliminate worry and doubt in every area of your life. As for me, I’m going to continue to push for more, and celebrate with the people who choose to do the same.

dogs, smiles, track, sunshine

6 laps = 2.4k

I should add that yesterday Jagger and I did get out, and it was awesome until our efforts were thwarted by soccer practice on the field our favourite track encircles. Oh well!

What does it take for you to go the distance?

Leave a comment

Filed under Goals, Quotes, Writing

For My Heart, Days 8-15: Going Off Track to Get Back on Track

Benjamin Franklin, electricity, kite, key

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Progress is a process, and during these past few days, I dedicated my time towards moving forward with career plans. I have amazing mentors, and a lot of knowledge is currently being put into motion. Yet ironically, one of the greatest lessons I learned is that some of my best ideas pop into mind during walks and jogs. So never again will I not find an hour of time to carve out for a time to sweat and reflect. Physical movement lends to mental movement, and with that kind of value, it’s ridiculous to even consider taking another week off from the routine. I can already tell the puppy is elated with this revelation.

What do you do to “jog” your creativity?

Leave a comment

Filed under Goals, Quotes, Writing

For My Heart, Day 7: Sunshine

Sunshine

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.” – Walt Whitman

What a glorious day. There’s something about sunny weather that cleanses the soul. And every time I think of Walt Whitman, I’m reminded of The Notebook, one of my favourite movies. Sunshine + Ryan Gosling? Endorphins were running high before I even got out on the track.

Ryan Gosling

I remember receiving a text once upon a time with the message “your favorite movie” (American spelling intended). It had a picture of a notepad with a post-it stuck on the front with “The Notebook” written on it. It’s little things like that, that put a smile on my face to this day…I don’t know why, but it reminds me of this line in Noah’s last letter to Allie:

And if in some distant place in the future we see each other in our new lives, I will smile at you with joy and remember how we spent a summer beneath the trees learning from each other and growing in love.

Jagger, day 7

Anyways, I could have gone for a much longer trip around the track today, but my canine companion tapped out. Guess there’s a first time for everything. Taking advantage of the momentum, however, I fit in a quick strength training session to round out the workout.

What are some of the little things that make you smile?

Leave a comment

Filed under Goals, Quotes, Writing

For My Heart, Day 5 & 6: Woofstock and Mark Twain

Mark Twain and Blue

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” – Mark Twain

Woofstock 2013

Woofstock 2013

What better way to spend a Sunday than amongst good friends, in a great city, with hundreds of happy dogs? Woofstock, the largest festival for dogs in North America, was the place to be for canine/human combos this weekend. The turnout was incredible. From Afghans to Hairless Mexicans, to my personal favourite, Chocolate Labrador Retrievers, St. Lawrence Market in Toronto had truly gone to the dogs in a great way. While we did witness a few unsavoury actions by careless owners, I’m choosing to focus on the paws-itive things: we got in a ton of walking, people/dog watching, and free swag.

Rain

Today’s weather was in stark contrast to the loveliness we experienced yesterday. Days like this are perfect for curling up and reading some Mark Twain. He always gets me thinking about relationships. Things like how it’s possible that a man will ‘bite’ you, no matter how good you are to him. And that putting energy towards making yourself the best person you can be is far more productive than trying to change someone.

With those thoughts, I had excess energy to burn and opted for strength training. Since I’m wary of re-injuring my knee, I gave my dad a call (he’s a personal trainer) and then took to the interwebz to search for visuals to his recommendations on exercises that build muscle around the knees. I came across this great article on box squats from a really cool blog. What do you do to stay focused, despite the ‘rain’?

Leave a comment

Filed under Goals, Quotes, Writing

For My Heart, Day 4: Happier Skies

Walt reads to Mickey

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

I never want a future partner to wonder if he cares more about me than I do about myself, be it by my inaction, laziness, or indifference. I’ve let it happen, and the repercussions truly felt like a kick in the teeth. Man, did it hurt. I want my happily ever after, but thankfully Walt also knows how to put tough lessons into perspective.

IMG_20130608_194419

Bluer skies, awesome puppy, and 6 laps = 2.4k…not too shabby

Keeping that in mind, I marched onto the track with my favourite running partner, Jagger, and looked up to see happier looking skies break through the storm clouds. Coincidence? Nah, I prefer to think of it much more poetically.

It’s amazing how a strong resolve gives you a newfound purpose. It requires action, and action creates momentum. Momentum leads to progress. And isn’t that what happiness is, progress? Even if it’s baby steps, a step forward feels so much better than being at a standstill.

That’s why I made another resolution to mark my laps by hand from here on out. It’s just so much more rewarding that way. Moving forward. Feels good, man.

Leave a comment

Filed under Goals, Quotes, Writing