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.)

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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.

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.

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

Photo Diary | July 2015

It is insane how easy it is to not do something. To procrastinate and put it off until you almost don’t even want to do it anymore. Of course, I am talking about me and what a lousy blogger I am. I kept making excuses for not posting and blaming my sudden lack of creativity, or the fact that it’s summer and I’m too busy having bonfires and drinking beer to write a blog post.

So now that it’s almost mid-August, I thought it would be supremely appropriate to post a bunch of photos from the month of July… starting with one from June, obviously.

001 June 26 | My baby brother graduated high school
one

002 July 1 | Happy Canada Day
three

003 July 4 | Girls night ft. sushi
four

004 July 4 | Girls night continued ft. Magic Mike + so much wine
five

005 July 9 | Boardwalkin’
two

006 July 14 | The prettiest sunset you ever did see #nofilter #forrealzies
six

007 July 16 | Concert + rain
nine

008 July 18 | I drove and drove, but I couldn’t find the end
eight

009 July 24 | What does it mean when people compliment “my aesthetic”?
seven

010 July 28 | Even the worst storms gotta end
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I’m going to make a real effort to be back, and post regularly. I have lots of ideas, I’m just bad at follow-through sometimes.

See you soon, blog.

F A V O U R I T E S

Unless you’re a YouTube beauty vlogger, no one ever asks you, “Hey, what’s your favourite stuff right now?”, which I think is completely unfair. The amount of times I text people about insignificant things that like, ‘totally changed my life for reals though’ is ridiculous. So, while I sip wine out of a My Little Pony mug, here, have a blog post. IMG_5288Just Peachy by David’s Tea
 This tea actually came out last year in David’s Tea’s summer collection. Iced peach tea is my favourite thing to drink in the summertime, like, I can’t even tell you how much of this I could drink in a day. I was really bummed when they decided not to bring it back this year, but by some miracle 2014 Stephanie must have known this would happen, and I discovered a full cannister last month! So now I can spend another summer sipping on this and I’m probably more excited than I should be. IMG_5285Glamoflage by Hard CandyReady, Set Gorgeous by Covergirl, and Smooth Skin BB Radiance Powder by NYC
After roughly 10 years of doing makeup daily, I have finally discovered my number one, holy grail foundation combination. Despite the ridiculous names (I mean really, Glamoflage? Ready, Set, Gorgeous? Where are your standards, cosmetics companies?), I’m obsessed – for real, not in a ‘OMG I’m obsessed JK I’ll forget about this in a week’ kind of way. I have never used a better combination of foundation products – it’s not heavy, it lets my skin breathe while still having enough coverage to even out my skin tone, and the colour basically melts into my skin. It’s amazing. The best part, though? All 3 of these products can be purchased at the drugstore for under $17. Insanity! IMG_5283Mint Cocoa Crunch Mints by Saybon
Let me preface this by saying that I think the combination of mint and chocolate is straight out of hell. It’s just so wrong. These, however… I honestly don’t know what it is. These are so good. I can’t stop; We have a dish of them sitting in my office and it’s right next to my desk -the struggle is real, let me tell you. IMG_5289Romper by WalMart (I know, I was surprised too)
This is not new or revolutionary. It’s summer, it’s the season of rompers. I’ve struggled with this trend since it’s conception – I liked the idea but couldn’t get past the fact that it reminded me of a baby’s onesie. The fact that I’m 5’0 on a good day and have enough trouble looking my age is it is lead me to decidethat this trend wasn’t for me. However this year, I tried a few and was disappointed – they all seemed to be too small in the shorts-part and too poofy in the top part. But then one day, strolling through WalMart aimlessly, as you do, I happened upon this one. It was a different style from the ones I had been trying so I figured, “hey, it’s $12 – what’s the worst that could happen?” So I took it home with me and guess what? Now I have a romper that works on my awkward, boyish body. Now if I could just figure out a simpler way to pee while wearing it…IMG_5308Overcast
I’m just gonna come out and say it – I hate the iTunes podcast app. I hate it. It’s not user-friendly, and it does this thing where it will start playing the podcasts, but with no audio. What?! That’s the whole point! This app has been a lifesaver – Maybe not literally, but I love my podcasts so it’s definitely been really great to have. It works with iTunes so it has all the same podcasts, and gets new episodes at the same time, it’s just a different interface. Since switching to Overcast, I haven’t had any issues. I filed away the iTunes podcast app in my “stupid” folder and haven’t looked back since. IMG_1793Imagine Dragons
Earlier this month, I had the absolute pleasure of taking my brother to see his favourite band live. Walking into a concert venue and feeling the energy in the building – that’s my happy place. That’s the best moment to be in, no matter the band that’s playing. If you have the opportunity to go see Imagine Dragons live, take it. Even if you don’t really like them, just go. It was a mind-blowing concert. They perform so well, their light show was absolutely incredible, and I have dubbed them the Unofficial Kings of Drum Solos (a very prestigious award in my world – drummers are my favourites). Not to mention, Dan Reynolds got that white boy groove so, you have to go just to see him dance around during Shots.

There – my favourites. Thank you for letting me be narcissistic and talk about the random crap that I think is interesting.

The Purest Love

One of the very first thing people learn about me is that I love my dogs. Scratch that – I love all dogs – most dogs – but especially mine. Remember that video from a few years ago of that lady on eHarmony talking about how much she loved cats? And she was crying because she wanted all the cats and was going to put bows on them? That pretty accurately sums up how I feel about dogs – except I’m not joking. I instantly fall in love with any dog I pass on the sidewalk, and I genuinely miss random dogs I happen to meet. I can’t help it, they just have such an infectious happiness that makes everything seem so much brighter.

Today, I want to talk about my dogs a little bit – I treat my dogs like most people treat their kids. I take a thousand photos, I work them into every conversation I can, and I’m constantly telling stories about the funny, cute things they do even though honestly? No one cares to hear them. Basically, I’m that annoying girl you went to high school with who floods your Facebook feed with 1000 photos of her kid that all look the same, and you’re pretty sure she forgot that she like, existed before her kid was born – except my dogs are cute than babies. #SorryNotSorry.

 

Chloe_crop

This is Chloe. Chloe is a white Labrador Retriever, with like, 10% pit bull mixed in. My family rescued Chloe from a shelter when she was 6 months old. When she came to us, she was terrified of …well, everything. People, water, stairs, doors, black clothing, noise, everything. The only source of peace she found in our house for the first little while was her kennel. She slept in a nice, big kennel with a fluffy bed (that she promptly ate), and she loved it. In fact, 4 and a half years later, she only just recently stopped spending nights in her kennel. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to rid Chloe of her demons – we think she was abused for the first 6 months of her life, before we got her, and that’s why she was so afraid of her new home. All these years later, and we still can’t get her anywhere near running water, and she still doesn’t get on well with strangers, mostly strange men. She’s full of love though, and always wants to be touched, pet, and snuggled. She’s a wonderful guard dog, she’s insanely lazy, and sometimes I think she doesn’t like me very much but I can’t imagine not having her around.

tucker

This is Tucker. Tucker is a… Well, I was told that Tucker is an American Bulldog, but she’s growing up to look more like a Boxer. She is a registered American Bulldog though, so who really knows. Tucker came into my life at a time when I needed her a lot. My dog Ben passed away while I was on a trip last summer, and I was devastated, as you can imagine. Ben was such an amazing part of life; he comforted you like a brother, played with you like a best friend, and had the personality of your favourite grandfather – a little grumpy, sometimes unintentionally hilarious,  but mostly incredibly sweet.
The first time I met Tucker was 4 days after Ben was put down. She was this crazy, wiggly little ball of energy. She immediately jumped on me and knocked me over (at 3 months old!) and wanted to play so badly. I started crying right there, because I missed Ben so much. But I don’t think I’ve had much of a chance to miss him since Tucker’s been around, to be honest, because they are so similar. She has the same funny habits and quirks as he did. She does the same things that he did when she wants attention, food, toys, anything. If I believed in reincarnation, I would absolutely say that Ben’s soul went into Tucker’s body, because this dog has never felt like a stranger. She was never intended to replace Ben’s spot in my heart but she’s certainly done an amazing job of filling the hole that he left behind.

These babes are a big part of what makes my world go ’round. They’re a bright spot in my every day, and even when I’m angry with everyone else, I know these two are always on my side.

Photo Diary // 14032015

This weekend, we had our first taste of springtime in Canada. Winter is so depressing to me – everything is grey, cold, and dead. The novelty of pretty snow wears off pretty quickly once you start having to put on 20 layers of clothing every time you want to leave your house.

So when the snow started melting and the birds started singing, I was so happy to put away the parka, break out some sandals and spend time in the sunshine. I dragged my boyfriend to the nearest beach, thinking it would be sandy and clean, and we could go for a walk while sipping some smoothies. Unfortunately I was not greeted by the warm vision I was hoping for.

It was still pretty messy and frozen, so we were forced to stick to the boardwalk. That’s okay, we still has fun in the warmth of an early spring.

After the beach, we went to this cute little antique shop in town and explored. This place had all kinds of amazing nicknacks, from original publications of Archie comics to vintage luggage. We dug in and wandered through a little bit of history.

Not wanting to stay indoors just yet, we stopped by a park and hopped on the swings. And of course, I made my boyfriend pretend to be a photographer and take OOTD photos “for the blog.”


Shortly after this impromptu photo shoot, I realized that there were patches glued to the inside of my pants, underneath the distressing. I got really excited and ripped them off because my theory about distressed jeans is that you better go big or go home.

We finished off the day with an amazing (and kind of strange) dinner of pepperoni and mushroom pizza, and Brussels sprouts (I love them. I love Brussels sprouts. Sue me.). I wish I had thought to take a photo of that, because once we plated the pizza and veggies, it honestly looked like such a weird and unappetizing combination, but it was exactly what we were craving. We ate while watching Big Hero Six and Horrible Bosses 2 (another weird combination…), and we laughed a lot. Despite the muddy beach and the fact that this headcold of mine is a stage 5 clinger, it was a wonderful time spent with someone I truly love, and that’s all I need to have a perfect day.

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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.

On Home, Love and Valentines

Home is not a place nor a thing; home is with the person who holds your heart, no matter what.  – Sheena Duquette-Oum

When this quote surfaced on my Twitter feed a few weeks ago, I nodded and smiled, thinking it was sweet. With Valentines Day 2015 behind us, I think now I fully understand what she meant.

February 14, 2015 was the fifth Valentine’s Day I have spent with the same person. In past years we’ve done all the usual things – formal dinners, seeing sappy movies in theaters full of awkward teenage couples and middle age married people who would so much rather be home, eating our body weight in chocolates, and exchanging cheesy gifts. However, this one was fairly unique for us. We didn’t go on an exciting date, or spend the day doing cute, romantic things. We spent it in bed – and not in a fun way. Adrian finished moving out of his old apartment and hurt his back, and I fell victim to the worst migraine I’ve ever had. A good majority of our day was spent taking Advil and trying to stay as perfectly still as possible. Some highlights include rubbing Icy Hot on each other and communicating in various groans and squeaks.

But you know what? It ranks pretty high on my list of favourite Valentine’s Days I’ve had. We spent our day together caring for each other, putting our concern for the other ahead of what was ailing us individually and laughing at how pathetic our day was. We were exactly what the other needed in those crappy moments, and we were able to have fun with each other, despite feeling like we were one too-quick hand gesture away from certain death.

Home is where you feel most safe. Home is where you are happiest. Home is where your heart is, no matter what. My home is 5’10 with a goofy smile.

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