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.

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.

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.

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

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Dear Uncle Vern,

Saturday will be three years that you’ve been gone. (Well, sort of. February 29 is the technical anniversary, but evidently that doesn’t happen every year.) Three years in which I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I would want to say to you, if I was somehow given 10 minutes in which to do so. Believe me, there’s a lot of words I could throw at you. Actually, there’s a lot of words that I’ve thrown at your gravestone, but unlike those dramatic scenes on television would have you believe, that doesn’t offer a lot of closure. In fact, it just makes you feel a little insane – I mean I’ve literally stood at your headstone and said some terrible things, apologized, cried, and then continued saying terrible things. And not just once, either. I’ve done this several times. Doesn’t that seem a little crazy to you? It feels like a scene from a bad Hugh Grant movie or something.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last three years trying to justify my feelings toward you. Let me be frank, they aren’t pleasant feelings. My memories of those four days are perpetually fresh in my mind. They can replay in my head like a movie – and they often do. That’s why I haven’t slept in three years. That’s why I’ve developed anxiety that’s triggered by dark or silence. It’s because when I close my eyes, I hear my mom sobbing and her empty, dull sounding voice. I hear my dad’s broken words over the phone. I hear my sweet brother asking when we’re going to see you in the hospital. I hear my grandfather quietly trying to piece together how this happened. I hear my grandma, panicked and saying it’s not right that we were leaving you at the cemetery. You have no idea how fucking broken these people were because of you, so you’ll have to forgive me for feeling a little bitter for all this time.

You know how there’s 5 stages of grief? I think that’s bullshit. I go through those stages and a slew of new ones every time I remember the four worst days of my life. Disbelief, anger, bitterness, guilt, sadness, bargaining, exhaustion, rock-bottom depression, and horror. The worst feeling, though, was this awful sense of feeling like my family could never be put back together. This feeling is quite literally the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I wanted to claw my skin off and scream until my throat is raw because I couldn’t fix this. That might sound dramatic but you have no idea how it feels to watch everyone you love go through that kind of pain and hell, and know that there’s nothing you could possibly do to help them. Thankfully, I don’t feel that part anymore. This family has done a hell of a good job of repairing itself.

Acceptance is supposed to be the last stage of grief. I’m not there yet, and experts (AKA my dad) say it takes about 5 years to reach, so I suppose I have some time. Every time I feel like I might almost be there, like maybe I’m ready to forgive you, move on, and try to sleep with the lights off, I swear I see you. Not like an apparition or even a hallucination, but I swear I see you in the flesh. I get a flash of recognition when I see a guy with long, dark hair, or someone driving a white Grand Am, and in the moments afterwards I’m thrown back into a spiral of anger and sadness again. But I’m getting better – I left flowers on your grave for the first time in a really long time, just because I wanted to say hi. I told a funny story about that Christmas when I schooled you in Wii Bowling the other day. I played a Sonic the Hedgehog game and remembered playing with you on your Sega a million years ago, and the memory gave me a teary smile.

I’m getting better, Uncle Vern, and I want you to know that. I don’t want to hate you anymore because that’s not fair. I don’t want my memories of you to consist of heartbreak; I want to smile when I remember being a kid and wearing your giant size 13 shoes instead of my own. I want to remember the years that were good, instead of the last three that have been pretty terrible. I want to be brave, because our family deserves it.

I love you, and you’ll always be a hero to me.