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.

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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.

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.

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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

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.

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.

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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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