monday morning.

Not to sound too much like an orange cartoon cat, but I hate Mondays. I have a great distaste for them that is only growing as I age. And Monday morning in particular, can suck it. I’m already pretty notorious for only giving myself exactly enough time to get ready in the morning and not one minute longer, so after a weekend of staying up late and sleeping in later, Monday mornings are damn near impossible. My alarm goes off way too early, the sun shines in through my windows and makes it impossible to capture those last few minutes of sleep while I hit snooze, and I do not feel like I want to get up and face the day. But I’m an adult with a job, so I do anyway. I have to.

I’m the first one to arrive at my office, and I’m alone for a good part of my morning, as people begin to trickle in and start their days. Armed with hot coffee, cold water & the unsettling silence of my small office building, I begin my day. This always includes logging into Google Play, and hitting the “play” button on a carefully curated soundtrack of songs just perky enough to wake me up, but calm and gentle enough to do it slowly. I’m going to share that playlist with you today, in hopes that it will improve your Monday, and your morning routine, whatever it may be.

  • Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High – The Arctic Monkeys
  • Ancient History (acoustic) – Set It Off
  • Bloodstream – Ed Sheeran
  • Gold Dust – Banners
  • Islands – The XX
  • I Took A Pill In Ibiza – Mike Posner
  • Death of a Bachelor – PANIC! At The Disco
  • There’s A Ghost – Fleurie
  • Sympathy – Hedley
  • Porcelain – Skott
  • Wildfire – Demi Lovato
  • Hell No – Ingrid Michaelson
  • Here – Alessia Cara
  • Boyz n’ Poizn – Phoebe Ryan
  • Wild – Troye Sivan
  • Too Good – Drake
  • Burn – The Temper Trap
  • Hide Away – Daya
  • Holiday From Real – Jack’s Mannequin
  • Close – Nick Jonas ft. Tov Lo
  • She Looks So Perfect (cover) – Against The Current

My parents always taught me that sharing is caring, so here, have a link to listen to this playlist yourself.

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suicide squad.

Obvious spoiler alert.

Let me start off by saying I liked Suicide Squad. I may be in the minority, but I’d give it a solid 3.5 gun emojis out of 5. The acting and casting was incredible (although I’m never sure Cara Delevingne is the right choice for… anything, really), visually the movie looked great, and it didn’t take itself too seriously, which I think is a big downfall for a lot of DC movies. They’re not willing to make fun of themselves (which, when you’re making a movie about superheroes, literally giant men in tights, you need to be able to laugh about it).

But obviously there were things that needed improvement. That’s not a surprise – the movie got 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and is being demolished by critics and movie-watchers. So let’s discuss these necessary improvements, shall we?

The storyline leaves a lot (and I do mean a lot) to be desired. We spent much of the first half of the movie digging into the Squad’s background. It didn’t do much to set up the climax or further the storyline, and it just felt very repetitive – “Here’s this villain, this is why he’s bad, this is why I want him.”  By the time we got through that, the actual story of the movie felt incredibly rushed and not well executed. I hate to be that asshole who compares DC and Marvel, because they’re different universes, different stories, and different characters but DC should have taken a page from Marvel’s book on this one. Marvel decided, “Hey, we should do an Avengers movie. But how are we going to properly introduce all of those different, important characters while still making a good movie with an interesting story? Oh, I know! We’ll make a series of individual movies showcasing each major character before we put out a group movie – that way the audience is already familiar with each character and story arc, and we won’t be playing catchup for half of The Avengers. Brilliant!” That is what DC should have done, because if I was a brand new fan and this was the first superhero movie I decided to watch, I still wouldn’t know who the heck these people are. For example, if I didn’t already know that The Joker was the most sadistic, psychotic, unfeeling villain of all time, my impression of him from this movie would be that he is a socially awkward gangster who needs to visit a dermatologist. These are things you need introduce before you make a Squad movie. You can’t take for granted that the audience knows your characters.

While we’re hovering around him, The Joker’s appearance in the movie was horribly underwhelming. I might be in the minority here once again, but I’m excited for a sequel because I can’t wait to see what Jared Leto actually does with the character. I liked what little we did see, and I want more. He was so under-used in this movie though, it’s criminal. Like I said, you barely get a sense of who he is. Is he a gangster? What’s his endgame? What does he want to do? Does he actually love Harley Quinn? What’s his beef with Batman? Oh, and what’s the deal with Batman? Is he good or bad? Is his identity even a secret anymore? WHAT IS GOING ON?

The more I think about it, I really do think the only problem with this movie was that they didn’t have any real lead-up for it. They just kind of threw it together and assumed their audience knew what the heck they were talking about. Newbies to the genre might have questions like who is Deadshot? Why’s he so angry all the time? What’s his history with Batman? Seems pretty long. Does he know who The Joker is? What about Captain Boomerang? He has a silly name, why does he let people call him that? And what did the Enchantress even want? As the main villain in this movie, her plan seemed pretty vague. Also, if this is a movie about a group of bad people who do really bad stuff, why is breaking a store window and stealing an ugly purse the worst thing we see any of them do?

All in all, I did enjoy this movie and it’s actually making me look forward to seeing another DC movie, which isn’t something I thought I’d say  again, since Christopher Nolan’s Batman is over. But I’m coming away from it with more questions than answers, and since this isn’t LOST and no one is stranded on a weird, magical island, it’s not okay that I’m leaving the theater thoroughly confused. Hopefully the clearly insinuated sequel, or possibly the upcoming Justice League movie will clear up some things that we’re all wondering about this movie. And hopefully we’ll get to see a lot more of Harley because let’s be honest – she was the best part.

makeup.

There are a lot of celebrity women who are suddenly promoting going makeup-free and living a bare-faced life. All in all this isn’t a bad lesson and is something that needs to be said over and over again to people who are growing up in our filtered, photoshopped, face-tuned world. But I want to talk about it from the perspective of someone who loves makeup, and chooses to do a full face each morning… okay, most mornings.  Whether it means to or not, this movement misrepresents women who do wear makeup on the daily. Promoting a makeup-free lifestyle says more than just “love the skin you’re in,” it also implies that women who put on makeup each day do it for any reason other than just… because they like it. I have yet to meet a woman who hates makeup, yet still takes the time and money to invest in it. If a woman doesn’t want to wear makeup, she won’t – period.

Society make the mistake of thinking women wear makeup because we’re insecure. Boys make the mistake of thinking women wear makeup because we want them to think we’re pretty. Truth is, some of us just like putting stuff on our faces. As a woman who wears her paycheck in the form of matte lipsticks and winged eyeliner, here are some thoughts:

  • Some people do yoga or exercise in the mornings, but I really like taking that time to drink a cup of coffee and put on my makeup. It’s relaxing, it’s not something I have to use too much brain power to accomplish and taking that time to take care of myself sets me up to have a really good morning.
  • It’s my favourite way to express creativity. I’m not an artsy person – I can’t draw, paint, or design anything. I write sometimes but that’s not something I find the time to do a lot. So I take my creative energy out on my face. I like experimenting with different colours, textures and shapes. I like figuring out how to enhance my already usually good skin and bright eyes. It’s important to me that I have this outlet to express different parts of my personality with differently styled makeup looks – it’s fun for me.
  • I very rarely leave my house without at least a little makeup on – BB cream and brow gel for sure – but that’s not an insecurity thing. I don’t have great skin all the time, my eyebrows are funny shapes and I have a really round face that makes me look about 6 years younger than I am. These are all things that I can (and do) change with makeup but I know that there’s nothing wrong with any of it – I accept the fact that my face is not flawless. I have no problem being bare-faced in public but I’ve never been the type of person who likes to feel sloppy. I’m not a sweatpants person, I don’t own any stained t-shirts, and I do not wear running shoes outside of the gym. To me, taking 5 minutes to put on a little bit of makeup goes hand in hand with putting on a pair of jeans instead of wearing your pajama pants to run errands.
  • For the most part, the makeup industry does not pander to the preferences of men anymore. We’re seeing this a lot more with unnatural coloured lipsticks, bold highlights and extreme contour becoming popular. If we wore makeup only because boys liked it, we wouldn’t wear half of what is trendy right now. In my experience, boys don’t like blue lipstick or neon eyeshadow or huge falsies. I own all of those things, I like all of those things and if a man is going to go out of his way to tell me I’d look better without them – byeeeee. This isn’t to please you honey, it’s for me. It’s a small way for me to express who I am to the rest of the world and if who I am that day wants to wear black lipstick and bold eyebrows, well dammit I’m gonna. Sorry, not sorry.

It’s important to be comfortable with who you are, and with what you look like. It’s absolutely wonderful to have total confidence in yourself and be okay facing the word without a good foundation and concealer combination to protect you, and I would never try to discredit that message. But a solid contour game and overdrawn lipstick does not mean I am insecure with who I am. So no, I will not participate in #NoMakeupMonday. I will not post a bare-faced selfie for your natural beauty initiative on Facebook. I will not consider going makeup-free for 1 week. I like wearing makeup; I don’t find it daunting or difficult. I don’t feel pressured to look a certain way, and I don’t find your ,”look at me, I’m not wearing makeup because I’m super brave!” attitude to be at all revolutionary. You’re no different than me, except my eyelids are gold and sparkly, and my lashes hit my glasses when I blink.

christina.

I don’t know why tragedies have this way of bringing people together like few other things do – like we all want to experience the same sadness and heartbreak, and feel the same pain as everyone else. It’s so weird to me – I never want my strongest bond with someone to be over a shared painful memory.

But tonight, the Internet is bonded. Tonight our hearts collectively ache and we share the same confusion and anger. Tonight, a beautiful and talented 22 year old – who many, including myself, watched grow up via YouTube – is dead and we will never understand why.  What was the point? How does something like this even happen? Where was venue security, or even her own security detail? How are water bottles and cameras confiscated at concerts but guns manage to slip through the cracks? These mistakes are not okay – these are the type of mistakes that quite literally end lives.

My heart is absolutely shattered for her family. I can’t … I truly can’t begin to imagine their state of mind right now. Her parents will never understand why their daughter is gone. Their pain will never go away. Her brother, the guy who tackled a man with a gun to save his sister, will spend his life thinking he could have reacted faster, and done more. He will never forgive himself for the actions of an absolute sociopath. I’m trying to comprehend what he might be feeling at this moment and my brain won’t even let me go there. My brother is one of the most important humans in the world to me and if, God forbid, we were ever in a similar situation …  I would hate myself every single day for not doing more. For not being able to save him.

Her family’s pain will never be gone. Over time it will lessen but it will never go away. They will never have answers, or understand the reasons or motives behind this fucking insanity. For them there is no silver lining, no greater plan or lesson to be learned. Their lives are forever changed.

I have no political stance or life lesson at the end of this. Frankly I don’t think this is the time. I can leave you only with this: Love each other while you can. Tell those that you love how important they are to you, every chance you get. Love intensely. Love powerfully.

Love always.
Love all ways.

(This was my favourite Christina Grimme performance – from when she was on The Voice a few years back. I know everyone is talking about her cover of Titanium or her original music but… I just always really liked this one.)

tucker.

Tucker.1

You are such a brat – you bring the ball within 2 feet of me and as soon as I reach out to grab it so we can play together, you take off and make me chase you. I’m not sure if you just haven’t quite figured out the basics of fetch yet, or if you like this game better. You are needy, loud and obnoxious. You don’t understand “stranger danger” and drive me crazy when you decide you want to go on an adventure with some random person who happens to be walking down the street. You insist that you’re not too big to be a lap dog (spoiler – you are, but I let you sit on my lap anyway). You push every limit, you make me feel guilty for eating my dinner without sharing and because of you and all of your fur, I will never be 100% clean again.

But I can’t imagine living life without you. Thanks for being the best part of every day.

zach.

I’ve been watching Zach Anner’s videos for a few years. I first discovered him in a documentary about YouTubers called Please Subscribe, and then realized he does work with Rooster Teeth,a channel and community that I was already very familiar with. I quickly fell down a classic YouTube rabbit hole of watching Zach’s videos, and was drawn to his content because – well, because he makes funny videos and I like to laugh. But I stuck around and have continued to watch because Zach is inspirational in a real, honest and effortless way. He’s not one of those so-called inspirational gurus who post generic “mirror mantra” quotes on Instagram, or someone with a sad story who shoves his life journey down peoples’ throats saying, “if I can do this, SO CAN YOU!” You know the types. Frankly I don’t hold a lot of value in inspirational quotes or comparing your own situation to someone else’s unique set of circumstances.

Zach recently wrote a book, which I own, have read, and I can’t even explain to you how great this book was – please read it. In his book he talks about wanting to be seen for the person that he is, rather than just a guy in a wheelchair. At this, I think he has succeeded, because he’s never claimed victim status. He’s never really said, “oh, I can’t do this because of my chair”. He’s problem solved and said, “how can I do this, despite my chair?” And that, I think is so powerful and something that I truly admire.

Actually there’s a lot of things about Zach that I admire – his self-deprecating humour, his realistic-but-always-positive outlook, and his stubborn approach to what he wants to do with his life, to begin. Recently I had the opportunity to hear him speak when he was in my little hometown. He was here promoting his book and at that time, I hadn’t finished reading it yet. I got to hear some parts of it for the first time, directly from him, which was pretty cool. Listening to him speak was really wonderful, and hearing him share hardships and how he found his way out of them was, in all honesty, a wake up call. I was so moved by what he was saying that night. He spoke about believing in himself and not giving up – which is kind of cliche but like, there’s a reason it’s repeated by everyone, and that’s because it’s true. It just is. You do have to believe in yourself and if you give up, you really will never get anywhere. But my biggest takeaway from it was “what’s stopping you?” Like really –  what, exactly, is stopping me from doing what I want in life? And honestly? The only thing stopping me is that I just don’t know. I don’t know what I want to do, what type of career I want to have or where I want to end up. I really don’t, but at least now I know that as soon as I have that small detail figured out – there’s nothing stopping me anymore. Thanks for that lesson, Zach, and thanks for taking the time to chat about Rooster Teeth, hockey and Josh Flanagan’s sexy, sexy bod. You’re the man – truly. 

new year.

Photo 2016-01-03, 2 45 26 PM

For as long as I have been alive, I’ve never made a New Years Resolution. I guess I’ve never believed in the concept. People can’t magically change when they pin up a new calendar. Some people see the new year as a clean slate and in theory, that’s great but like, 2015 doesn’t disappear. You don’t get to start over, or become someone else when the clock strikes midnight. You’re still you, I’m still me, and we still have the same lives.

For 2016, instead of making unrealistic goals that I’m only going to stick to for about 3 weeks before falling back into old habits, I want to focus on developing areas of my life that I feel need improvement. I want to work on turning the human that I already am into the best possible version of myself, and get one step closer to my final form (10 points if you get that ridiculous reference).

  1. I want to be more consistent. I don’t want to go to the gym more often, I just want to go more regularly – none of this 4-times-in-one-week-then-skip-9-days bullshit. I want to post here often, and I want to post about things that I care about. I want to keep up with the things I start, and follow through.
  2. I want to become a morning person. This one feels really resolution-y, but I just really want to be one of those people who wakes up with the sun, brews a cup of tea and enjoys their morning. I’ve come a long way from the girl who woke up 20 minutes before her shift started and did her makeup in the back room after morning paperwork, but I could still do better. I genuinely envy people who have actual time to do real things in the morning –  personally, I’m lucky if I get to wear eyeshadow.
  3. I want to wear lipstick every day. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to have a bad day when my mouth is hot pink.
  4. I want to become a “wine person”. Currently, my knowledge of wine consists of the 2 bottles I purchase every Friday. My ultimate goal in life is to be Jules from Cougar Town (…I joke… kind of), and I can’t be like Jules if I don’t have a handle on my wine situation.
  5. I want to drink more tea. It’s like sometimes I forget that tea exists. In the times that I remember, it’s like I’ve literally found joy in a cup and it is heavenly. I don’t know why I deprive myself of things that are so very lovely.
  6. I want to read more. I already read a lot but like… not enough. Again, this one does feel very much like a resolution, but I never want to be the person who can’t remember the last book they read. Whether it’s angsty teen fiction, an autobiography written by someone who clearly needed an ego boost, or something a little more challenging, I always want to be able to say I’m reading something.

To me, a new year does not equal a new slate or a “new me”. It doesn’t signal anything except another successful rotation around the sun. However, I do believe that people can improve themselves whenever they want, given the resolve to actually follow through. I just hope that this time, I have enough resolve.

paris.

Tonight, I can’t sleep. Tonight, I am coming to you with tears in my eyes and a heart that is breaking. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m currently reading a book detailing the events of one of the most well-known American tragedies of our time, or simply because I can’t fathom how this keeps happening. I really can’t. I don’t care about your political views or your opinions on gun control, today’s (yesterday’s) events in Paris should never, ever happen.

Just a few days ago, I sat with a large number of people and spent the morning honouring those who put their lives on the line to protect my country. We were reminded of the sacrifice that were made by the soldiers of WWI , and the sacrifices that continue to be made every day, so that we can live a happy, healthy life under the protection of these brave men and women. We remembered the fallen and showed our respect for those currently serving, and the whole time, I was overwhelmed by how lucky I am to live in this great country. The attack in Ottawa last year shook me in a unique way. The feelings of fear and helplessness I experienced while watching the news coverage, surrounded by my coworkers, are not anything I ever want to feel again. However at this point I’m sure that I will again in the future. I couldn’t believe that it could happen in Canada – my Canada.

As a human being, I feel so violated when I hear about these terrorist attacks. Every person has the right to feel safe, and when cowards like those today (yesterday) in Paris threaten that safety, it destroys us as people a little more. We only get one shot at this “mankind” thing, guys – we can’t waste that shot killing each other. Hatred and evil is found in cowards and villains, but bravery and love is found in each of us, and it will always win – that’s not something that only happens in fairy tales.

Because I am, always have been, and always will be a silver lining kind of person, I’m desperate for some kind of positive message or sign of hope to come out of this, and thanks to Hank Green, I have one. Tonight, there was one act of terrorism in Paris, but tonight, the great majority of acts in Paris were out of heroism and love. There will always be heroes, helpers, and those who put their lives on the line for the sake of others. These are the people that mankind will always need, and I am forever thankful that they exist.

While I love seeing countries unite in the wake of senseless and unnecessary tragedies like these, I wish it …lasted longer.  I wish we as people would learn, take these experiences and somehow, create a plan to eliminate terrorism and hate. I’m not smart enough to create that plan. I don’t have the answers, obviously. But I believe they’re out there. Terrorism will never destroy democracy, and while it may take a chip out of us sometimes, terrorism will never destroy mankind. We cannot – and will not – let it.

Tonight, we stand with Paris. Tonight, we are all Parisians. Ce soir, nous sommes tous Parisiens.

peaceforparis

torn jeans + bowler hats.

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This is quickly becoming my favourite spot. The drive to get there is lovely, especially this time of year with the colors of Autumn everywhere, and I have yet to see another living person there. It’s completely out of the way, and such a great spot to hang out with a book or play some music while enjoying what’s left of the beautiful weather for this year. As an added bonus, it’s pretty private so I don’t feel like a moron taking pictures for the blog.

The soundtrack for this photoshoot was Demi Lovato’s Confident, which was released on Friday. It’s literally all I’ve been listening to all weekend and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon. Demi’s been a longtime favourite of mine, both musically and as fashion inspiration. Her edgy, yet always classy sense of style definitely inspired this outfit.

Hedley: 10 Years

Today, I might get a little personal. I’ve been neck-deep in nostalgia in the last few weeks with some old friends, and I am loving it. Last month was the 10 year anniversary of my favourite band’s first album. Today, October 05 2015 is the 10 year anniversary of the first time I saw them live, AKA the best day of my life and something I’d been waiting for over a year to have the chance to do. In the last decade, they’ve put out 5 albums (and are currently working on LP6) and I’ve seen them every time they’ve been in my province. I’ve met them, I’ve had late-night chat session with them, I’ve had the insane opportunities to listen to rough cuts of songs before they’ve been released, and I have had the absolute joy and pleasure of meeting some of the most amazing humans because of this band. Today, I want to talk about Hedley.

I never thought that a band would have so much impact on my life, but they have. Somehow, they push me to be a better person, and to become someone worth being. They remind me that no matter who you are, you can have an influence on someone or something. They’ve taught me how to actively seek happiness instead of just waiting around on it. But I think the biggest thing they’ve taught me is to just be yourself. Honestly, truly, fuck anyone who doesn’t like you, just be you. And when I talk about these lessons and values they’ve placed in my life, I don’t just mean that they’re lyrics have inspired me that much. That’s the thing about discovering your favourite band before they “make it” – you actually have the chance to get to know them because they have like, 100 other fans. You spend late nights on their fan forum and they begin to recognize you – first by your username, then your photo, then they just know you.

But in all honesty, the fact that those 4 guys know my name isn’t even the best part. The best part is the community they’ve created, and the friendships I’ve built because of those 4 guys. This band is one of the reasons that my best friend and I initially bonded during lonely nights chatting on MSN Messenger until 4AM. I have phone numbers in my contact list stretching from Surrey, BC to London, ON to who-knows-where in New Brunswick even thought I’ve never been to those places, because I’ve had the opportunity to meet other fans from across the country. I’ve made some genuine, lifelong friends and I don’t know if I otherwise would have ever met half of these people. Hedley did that for me.

There’s so much I need to thank these guys for – friendships forged, memories made and life lessons learned. They are always there for me in a way that I can’t explain. They somehow seem to always know what to say and when it needs to be said. I am so genuinely proud of these 4 boys for growing from a shitty garage band to an amazing, refined talent, and I’m insanely lucky for having them to grow up with. They’ve challenged and shaped me in a really weird way and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Remember you matter.
Remember they don’t

-jwh