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

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

intent vs words.

The biggest problem that I see with so many people having the opportunity to share their voice on the Internet is that they often get criticized for things that they never actually said. Tone has always been something that’s hard to convey via text – from junior high arguments being started by a sarcastic remark on MSN Messenger, to public figures getting decimated in the news for a tweet that was meant to be a joke. Before you attack a person for something they said (or something you think they said), I would recommend that you take a moment to consider what they meant by what was said. Sometimes, there’s a difference. The speakers’ intent isn’t always reflected in their choice of words – or sometimes the audience chooses to project drama and negativity onto what the speaker was trying to get across. And in a world where you need to get your point across in 140 characters or less, your intent often gets lost.

This is something that’s often been at the forefront of my mind. I’ve always been pretty good at reading between the lines and understanding the thought process behind what someone was saying. In high school, I got caught in the middle of arguments between friends a lot because I was able to grasp both sides when they didn’t understand each other. I got high marks in English and Drama classes because I could see past written words and delve into how the author wanted their work to be read and understood. And more recently, I’m able to sympathize with public figures who say things that might not be as “politically correct” as our society demands as of late. In fact, this whole post was inspired by recent tweets from a singer named Jennel Garcia.

jennel

Jennel wasn’t implying that social anxieties aren’t real – obviously that would be an ignorant and plain ol’ incorrect statement to make. However, Jennel has a fair point: People, especially young people, use labels like “anxiety”, “depression” and “mental illness” as a crutch. These conditions are very real, and can be crippling – no one is denying that. While I know this and have experience with it, I also know that not everyone who says they have a mental illness actually has one. “Anxiety” is not a synonym for “shyness”, “depression” is not the same as “having a bad week”, and “mental illness” is certainly not parallel to “feeling off for a little while”. People say things like, “Oh my god, I’m so awkward, I don’t know if I can deal with this party,” because they’d rather be at home on Tumblr than go to the party. Honey, you’re “awkward” because you’d rather experience life through fanfics and text posts than actual social experiences. I know it can be hard – I mean hell, I’m 23 years old and I still don’t like showing up to social events alone because I’m afraid of feeling – you guessed it – awkward. But you’re never going to get past it if you don’t do it. Just do it.

I felt really sorry for Jennel while I was scrolling through the replies to that tweet. People didn’t understand that she wasn’t being ignorant or rude, she was trying to call out the fakers and say, “Hey, it’s not cool that you’re taking this very real thing that effects a lot of people, and using it as a trendy accessory.” If the people who saw that tweet and reacted negatively had taken a minute to see the tweets that came after, or the types of things she was replying to regarding the topic, they would have realized that she wasn’t being malicious, and in fact is very passionate about having honest conversations about mental illness.

I just think it’s something we should keep in mind – people deserve a chance to explain themselves. People deserve more than 140 characters to voice their opinion, but since that’s the platform we use the most, maybe as an audience we need to take a breather and think about the intentions behind what people are saying – most of the time these statements aren’t being made by bad or ignorant people, so why are we so quick to assume they’re being bad and ignorant? I’m sure we all know what it’s like to have something we’ve said taken out of context, and get a lot of shit for it. We don’t like it, so maybe stop doing it to other people, okay? Okay. I’m glad we’ve come to an understanding, People of The Internet.

(Hoo boy, I wish it was that easy to come to an understanding with the People of The Internet…)

Personifying A Change

I’ve never shied away from change in my life. Whether it was something small, like the start of a new high school semester, or a big change like starting a new job in a brand new field, I’m always excited for a fresh start. I fall victim to the dullness of a day-to-day routine, and crave changes on any scale quite often.  Unfortunately, as somewhat of a “grown up”, you can’t change your career path every six months, or pack up and move to Chicago on a whim. So I find other ways to satisfy my thirst which can sometimes result in a mini wardrobe overhaul, downloading a ton of new music, or simply going for a drive and getting lost somewhere that I haven’t been before, just to do something different for an evening.  Most often, though, this craving for a change leads me to the hair care aisle of the nearest drugstore.

collage
This has been my hair journey from 2011 to today, and what a journey it’s been. I’m so thankful that the Era of Selfies is upon us, so that I could document the ever changing rainbow atop my head. Sometimes I feel like with each different hair color, I’ve been a different person. I know that’s not true, but like I said, change is something I crave, and sometimes the idea of completely changing who you are is so appealing to me. A blank page, a fresh start… Some days, it sounds like heaven. I could never actually abandon the life I’ve built for myself and the people in it, nut while I’m scrubbing the dye into my hair, I close my eyes and imagine exactly what that would be like.

And at the end of the day, I honestly believe that if your life is in need of a quick fixer-upper, or if you feel like you don’t like the person you see in the mirror anymore, the first and easiest step is to make that person look different. You hear people say “fake it ’til you make it”, and this is along those same lines. To make a change in your life, you have to start somewhere, and as superficial as it might sound, changing your mirror’s reflection is the best way to kick-start that change. Make the outside reflect what you want on the inside. Personify the type of life you want, and become the change.