Am I 82? Or 24?

I have a confession.

I am really an old lady. A very weird, eclectic old lady. I am the kind of old lady that lives in a small town and becomes the object of gossip and kids telling stories about you being a mythical creature.

You do not have to take my word for it though. I have reasons why I believe I am an old lady.

I like Antiques.

I mean, actually I love antiques. I love old furniture, I love the history, and I love the fact that the pieces basically have past lives, and that you are a part their lives, and the future owners if you take care of it. I also love the fact that the articles have survived through people, disasters, and ups and downs. They are objects with a history, like pieces of art, in and of themselves.

I like Vinyl.

I have my own growing collection, and a player that I clean and maintain. I love the old school quality and scratchiness. The fact that it sounds more like you are there in the recording studios uncut. It just feels better to put on a record and sitting back and listening to it. Records are a memory. CD’s are stolen moments of time, but I would rather have the true memory, than a stolen moment. Honestly if there was a way to do it, I would listen to records in my car…Bad idea.

I like eating dinner at 4.

I know I surprise myself, but I really have no reason for this. It just feels nice to be done another part of your day at 4.

I like Films older than I am.

My top 5 favourite movies (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday, Singing in the Rain, White Christmas and Casablanca)
are all older than me. They are full of love and the way it was portrayed back then, and the simple brilliance of not just being romantic, but also better; at least in my opinion.

I actually own this photo thanks to a lady who knows me Very well. Thank you Birute Pilipaitis!

I actually own this photo thanks to a lady who knows me Very well.
Thank you Birute Pilipaitis!

I am an old lady in many ways, and that is why I truly believe I have a little old lady inside of me. She lets me be able to enjoy the more simple things, because the simple things in life are what makes life worth it.

~ Andreah

Cecil, it’s not personal

On July 1, 2015, a tragedy struck the world – the internet forgot that human beings are worth more than animals. Cecil, a famous lion, was killed in Africa and outrage ensued, leading to the online and real-life lynching of the man who killed him. Literally, the hunter became the huntee. And while the fallout of those actions lead to ‘justice’, the tragedy wasn’t in the death of a protected lion. The tragedy lies in the lack of reaction to other more horrific human deaths that were overlooked without a thought or care.

I appreciate animals. I understand that they have the power to heal, to help, to create meaning in people’s lives. I get it. But their lives should not be the only ones we think about, defend, and fight for. They are not the only ones we should be angry about when they’re cut short. They are not the only ones we should weep over and grieve. We should be angry and grieving over other human lives more than we grieve animals we hear about on the news.

At the beginning of June, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report on the cultural genocide wrought by the Canadian government, people, and churches against our indigenous people. From 1883 to 1996 (yes, as recently as 19 years ago), over 150,000 aboriginal children were ripped from their families and placed in residential schools, resulting in the documented deaths of 6,000, with the understanding that there is a high probability of more children who died at the hands of officials. This means that the children in the schools had around the same chance of dying as a soldier in World War II.

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Languages were wiped out by the schools, forcing the children to learn English and leave behind their cultures, their history, and their homes. People were destroyed by the abuse and ‘teachings’ administered by school officials. Families were ripped apart when children were taken from their homes, away from their parents and everything that they had known. And these actions were taking place in force until the 1980s. THE 1980s. Think about that. Only 30 years ago, the Canadian government was involved in a genocide of our most vulnerable people.

The horrific implications of these actions will last generations and will take generations to repair. For the families that were affected by this, for the children who survived this, for the cultures that were destroyed by this, this horror will be felt for all time.

It’s unconscionable. It’s disgusting. It’s unbelievable. And it’s true. It happened. The active residential school program has been officially over for 20 years, but the effect is still here and will be here forever.

Did you know about this? Did you tweet about this? Did you make your outrage known? Did you track down the politicians, the teachers, the church officials who did these horrific things or allowed this horrific things or put these horrific things in motion and set up protests outside of their offices or their homes? Did you lynch them online and demand justice? Did you talk about it endlessly, worried over it and felt grief over it? Did you feel guilt? Did you feel enraged? Did you feel anything?

Did you even know?

This is my problem with Cecil. I personally believe that trophy hunting is disgusting and harmful – that it’s simply a power trip whereby humans get to murder and then gloat about it. It’s gross. If you hunt to eat, fine. If you hunt to adorn your wall, you’re scum. But to freak out about one lion, then go after all the trophy hunters who boast online, and spend energy and emotion on an animal on the other side of the world and have no idea what is happening here is disgusting and makes you scum.

I am a privileged white woman. I may not have been party or integral to the residential school system, but my people were. My people killed other people because they didn’t agree with their culture. Their centuries old, were here before we were, rooted in all the good things like respecting and honouring our natural earth, culture. My people did that. They are scum. I am scum by proxy.

I am tired of hearing about Cecil. I’m sick of hearing about all the animals in the world that are being abused at the hands of horrible humans.

I want to hear about the human beings that my government killed. I want to know about the children that survived and who they are now. I want to know how to help the people whose lives were destroyed by my people. I want to help with the reconciliation piece. I want to be part of the path to healing.

Don’t you?

To learn more, visit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website. For a summary of the findings, take a look at this article by the CBC.

~ Julia

Just me

I don’t know if it is something that happens to every one, or even every woman, but at some point in this last bit of my 20’s, I’ve really grown to like me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

I know it sounds silly, or like I am boasting, but I’m not. I have lots of demons and areas of myself that I know need a shit ton of work and things about my being that I would rather not have to face. But I do. And I am.

Constantly.

What I mean by really liking me, is that I really like who I am growing into. I really enjoy my own company and find myself craving more time alone. I am really comfortable with myself today, even more so than yesterday and even more so than the day before that.

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It’s an evolution I am enjoying the more and more I learn and understand about life from a spiritual perspective, a topic which is sometimes met with eye rolls and sighs. A few that are closest to me have started to referring to me as a hippie when I speak about being more conscious and awake or the adventures I get up to – a title I am fine with because I know what they mean and that they mean it with love. I have come to the realization that people can only meet you as far as they have grown themselves and that is okay. I have also noted on this journey that when some people cannot accept you for who you are or struggle with who you’ve grown into, it is okay to know their time in your story might be coming to an end.

I am okay with not being normal or what is expected. I am aware that I am a bit different and it feels good to me. I am enjoying being in a place where I can look back and say, I have come so far from who I was and I’m getting even closer to who I really am.

In fact, if you met me last year and then met me again today, I would bet you would say, “You’ve changed”, and I bet I would laugh and say “Thank you”. It would be even more apparent if we were close in a past life and you met me today…if you’ve not been here for the past few years, you definitely do not have a clue who I am anymore. And I am pretty cool with that.

This whole idea began spinning in my head this past holiday Monday. A last minute change in Michael’s schedule meant our plans for a few nights away were no longer an option, leaving me to find my own entertainment for what should have been a holiday Monday for him too. The let down of Michael not hanging out with me definitely bummed me out, but I was not against a day alone.

Now, early 20’s Toni, I will admit, would have panicked a bit about not having anything planned to fill my day with or people to hang out with and it would have been a scramble to try to fill the space with shenanigans with a girlfriend or sister. Late 20’s Toni though, she’s got this. Instantly I began to think of all of the places I have been wanting to explore but either hadn’t made the time or had a willing partner.

Michael started work at noon, so we spent a lazy morning together in bed, had breakfast and coffee and then off to work for him and upstairs to pack a bag for me.

I had no idea where I was going to head, so I threw in a sweater, a sports bra, shorts and extra tank, a bikini, book, towel, earphones, some water and snacks. I grabbed my hiking boots, a pair of sneakers and threw on my flip-flops.

Instead of worrying about directions or a GPS, I just got in the Runner and drove.

I drove myself straight to the coast of Lake Huron and parked there for hours. I read, wandered, laid out in the sun and grabbed a beer by myself in a small town along the way. I didn’t pay attention to my phone, I didn’t take a single picture to capture the beauty of my day and I barely spoke a word to another soul all day.

It was perfect and peaceful and my soul felt full by the end.

During the drive home I started to think of how many other people I know would do such a thing on a day of freedom. I also started to think about how much I had enjoyed my day. How much I needed my day, and my very own company.

Just me.

It made me very aware that while I do love the companionship of my man, my friends and especially my sisters, there are just some days when you need to sit alone with yourself for a bit and be comfortable with whatever you find, good or bad.

As I was finishing up with this post, the most suitable email from Elephant Journal floated across my screen and it read:

“No matter where you go or what you do you are always yourself.
There is nothing you can ever do, nothing you can wear,
no story you can tell that will change the basic fact of who you are.
Instead of running from it, accept it, trust it, embrace it,
love it because it’s all you’ve got.
” ~ Kino MacGregor

I am okay with me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

~ Toni

I implore you

I am a bit of a fitness/overall health nut…most days.

I too, like everyone else, am human and have days where the rules or guidelines I happily adhere to normally, go out the window. Whether it is work, my social circle, my fur babies, my man, my real(ish) babies or my super busy family, I am a pretty on the go person. Sometimes this means slipping up due to lack of carved out time to prepare what’s required.

I really do have a hard time sitting still though, so as a coping mechanism, it is my own damn fault that I am so busy. I try to have something planned for my day the night before – even if that is a ‘me day’ where I barely do anything with anyone else and soak up my own time with a hike or some other adventure.

Everyone knows deep down that staying active and eating nutrition-filled foods, in well balanced portions, is one of the hardest yet most rewarding ways of staying healthy. And when you start doing it consistently it becomes second nature and your body actually rejects the crappy, processed stuff and sitting still for too long and you suffer side effects like headaches and tummy troubles when you do indulge.

If you’ve ever been turned-on about something, I hope you understand that I speak from a place of passion and genuine love for this lifestyle I’ve pursued. I just want others to realize what I have come to understand about the body’s natural capabilities – no matter how limited that still may be for me in comparison to what is truly possible. Like I said, I suffer off days and harder days and days where the fastest thing is the first thing I eat because I am stressed, or have gone too long without eating, or have an insatiable craving that I just need to itch…the point is I am human too and far, far, far from perfect. So, so far.

I have a few favourite motivators for why I work out and am conscious about what I ingest – maybe they’ll kick your butt into gear, or maybe they’ll remind you why you get up and do what you do every day to stay healthy and motivated to workout/stay active. Either way, the intent is to inspire just one person to make a small change for the better and I will be the happiest girl in the entire world if that is accomplished.

1. It kinda kicks butt to be able to kick butt: I really do get a giddy high when I accomplish something regarding my health. It could be getting a handle on wheel, crow or a headstand in yoga, or running the side hills of McLennan Park in Kitchener at a faster pace each time.

Had writers block while writing this blog...so this happened for a change in perspective

Had writers block while writing this blog…so this happened for a change in perspective

Running a half-marathon or hiking steeper hills without struggle. Or, it could be the realization that I can mentally control certain parts of my brain when pushing myself through a challenging kilometer or workout set – this ability filters into everyday situations too. I feel more confident in my body’s physical abilities now more than I ever have in my life – and I can’t even imagine how that will feel when I’m 40, 50 and beyond. I love the look on Michael’s face when I clamp my legs around him on the couch a-la-monkey cling and he winces because I’m strong. Or when he trusts me to load our canoe with him because he knows I won’t drop it awkwardly resulting in injury of person or the vehicle. It really kicks butt to be a fit-chick.

2. Having a shit-ton of energy also kicks butt: Really – being up for anything because I have the energy is a huge plus for me. Needing to explore and create and exert energy physically is part of keeping me sane. Normally this might be hard on top of working 50-60 hours per week while balancing every other responsibility. Lucky for me, the circle of exertion and creation of energy is an amazing natural phenomena. PLUS, energy keeps you HAPPY and that’s good for every one, especially Michael – just ask Elle Woods.

Seriously though, if I am free and not ill and you ask me to go for a run, workout, grab a yoga class, hit up a concert after a long day of work, meet you for a beer, catch sunrise on a Saturday morning, play cards, grab dinner/lunch/breakfast/any food, any time, I am usually down.

That leads me to my next point:

3. FOOD: The majority of people really don’t know how FOOD is supposed to taste. I mean veggies – both raw and cooked, fruit, nuts, legumes, lean meat and seafood (if it’s your flavour – there is a huge movement that part of me wants to explore of vegan-ism…but I’ll save that post for another day), real fresh, filtered spring-fed water. Real, from the earth food. We live in a society that desires convenience over effort and with that comes the easy out – the microwave this, the packaged/prepared that, the greasy processed burger…you get the point. Yum, right? No. Not even close to what your food could and is supposed to taste like. On top of the DELICIOUSNESS of the whole foods, add in the perks of moving your buns and you get my most favourite reason for working out EVER – eating. I love food. Like a lot. Like there are only a handful of things that I enjoy more than eating – none of which are SFW enough to mention here. I eat to nourish my body so I enjoy the simplicity that it’s become, however this also means that I get hungry a lot and get to eat A LOT to fuel me and that’s pretty kick-ass.

4. Gettin’ down: I won’t elaborate as I know some of our readers blush easy (not to mention my mom is an avid reader…hi mom), but the increase in stamina, interest and desire when it comes to intimate things – working out and eating right do incredible things for your sex life! The added confidence when you feel good about your body and have the energy…need I say more? Seriously, try it out and thank me later.

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For me it’s all three, but this is funny

5. Life in your years, years in your life: The two go hand-in-hand perfectly when you are in control of your nutrition and exercise regime. If you add in an all around lifestyle geared to being health-conscious, the chances you’ll have a better life and longer one, increase tremendously. I truly believe with the right lifestyle, nutrition, meditation/prayer life and diet, an insane amount of the diseases that we are plagued with can be cured. Our lifestyles and diets are killing us – it’s a fact, not just my opinion. Google ‘Lifestyle Disease’ and see the numerous medical publications regarding the study. The more educated you become, the easier the choices become too.

I would not say I am afraid of not being healthy, but I definitely do not take my abilities or my health for granted – I know first hand those things can change at the blink of an eye, and if you don’t take advantage while you can I feel like you might be wasting a bit of your life. It is a definite motivating factor for me and probably an all around driver for the lifestyle changes I am slowly making.

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What are your main motivators for keeping active and eating right? I’m always looking for motivation and my inspiration comes from you too.

I’d like to leave you with this: if you’re considering working on you, stumbling through or are well on your way, I implore you – keep working on you. I promise you won’t regret it.

~ Toni

#CallThemOut

During our blogging hiatus the news about Josh Duggar and his history of sexual molestation broke. Following that, an onslaught of media and commentary and discussion ensued, covering everything from the religion that the Duggars belong to, to the names and identities of the victims, to the “counseling” that Josh completed, to the logistics surrounding the future of the Duggars’ popular “reality” show.

There was a lot of coverage. And a lot of information. And as someone who can’t consume scary or explicit news easily, it was tough navigating social media because this story struck a chord that even I couldn’t ignore or deny or shut down.

The story of a young man taking advantage of people in his innermost circle, his family, and then the family dealing with the fall-out. The story of victims who were forced to keep living a lie right beside the nightmare of a sexual experience no person should ever have to experience. The story of parents who tried to do their best but ultimately failed because in this scenario there are no winners. The story of a perfect-looking family, a close-knit community, and their underbelly of horrible secrets being revealed.

A story that looked, felt, and sounded all too familiar. Like my story.

I don’t have 18 siblings and we didn’t belong to an extreme Christian sect growing up. And I don’t have a reality show to put on a face for. But, I do have a story of childhood molestation that although happened at the fringes of my memory, still haunts me to this day. I am also a victim of a young man’s exploration/exploitation. And my molester also walked away with minimal consequences.

I was four, small and innocent as all four-year olds are/should be. I was being babysat. I always went to sleep with a soft, flannel receiving blanket, something cool to put against my cheek. That night, my parents were out and he was watching me. He couldn’t/wouldn’t find my blanket. Instead of looking for it, he offered me his penis, up against my face, my cheek, and said, “This will work.”

There was no rape. There was no penetration. There were no charges. There was no therapy for me or him. But, there was a lingering trauma that has coloured every sexual experience I’ve ever had since. There was a betrayal that extended beyond the babysitter and to the way things were handled afterwards. There will always be anxiety around him and what he did, around my parents and what they did, around my daughters and son and what they will do/have done to them. It will never go away. Ever.

I read this profound piece by a writer I only found after the Josh Duggar media storm hit. It’s by Kristen Mae who makes a case for calling out your molester, abuser, asshole who changed your life without your consent. She talks about the impossibility of dealing with a molester in your family or your closest circle, discussing the repercussions of having one child hurt another child or one family member hurt another family member in a disgusting, illegal way. She speaks about the fact that we need to entirely shift how we handle these impossible moments, how we handle protecting one child yet helping another. How we work at keeping our family together and safe at the same time. How do we do that?

Her suggestion: let’s name them. Let’s take away the power of the hidden crime, the unspoken secret, the family life built on lies. Let’s remove the pretense that because it happened so closely, so intimately, that it must not be dealt with as if it were a stranger because we can’t ruin one life to save another. Let’s redefine what it means to parent an abuser, parent an abused, and horrifically, to do it at the same time. Let’s not sweep it under the rug, but figure out how to make it work for both parties, both broken people, the abuser and the abused. Let’s not just weep until we hope it goes away or hide behind shame until it’s acceptable to come out again. Let’s make a difference. Let’s change the conversation.

She asks that we first call them out. Call them by name. Say their names and their power goes away because they are no longer shrouded or shipped off to a Christian counseling camp. Let’s speak out loud what we have been forced to hide.

Truth.

Truth.

My molester, my abuser, the boy-man who affected me forever was Peter. He no longer has power over me because I don’t let him. I don’t know where he is or what he is doing or when I will see him next, because inevitably I will. He is, after all, my uncle. But, I refuse to be alone with him, touch him, or have him go near my babies or my sisters. Ever.

If my parents had better tools, if my grandparents were less worried about their precious son and more worried about their family as a whole, if we had better rules around how to handle your worst nightmare, when the loved abuses the loved, then maybe we’d have fewer abusers and abused, more real help and counseling and rehabilitation, and more healing that actually sticks because it’s not the band aid solution to cover up the gunshot wound.

And if you want to see strength in its purest form, read the comments of the other survivors on Kristen’s post. Calling them out is not for the faint of heart. It’s for the survivors, warriors, wounded who pick themselves back up and refuse to be a victim any more. And for those who can’t #CallThemOut yet or ever, you too are numbered in the list of warriors and survivors. I promise.

~ Julia

Wonderful world of work

So there a couple things you should be 100% aware of when it comes to me… I am not normal. Working in an office environment is not normal for me.

This is so more me.

This is so more me. (Photo credit to UCS and their photo of their studio, which makes me miss college and the studio that I got to use there.)

I have never worked in a normal office environment, and I never thought I would ever be working in a cubicle, let alone being excited about it. I am more the type to have weird, in-between jobs that you never even thought someone would have, and I have had quite a few of those…

Have you ever heard of someone working in a turkey farm? Or know of anyone putting away books at the wee hours of the morning?

No? Of course not. Because no sane person decided that they would deal with turkeys, or put away heavy books at warp speed (or as fast as humanly possible) at 5 a.m. Besides the point of this post though, this is about my job now.

This is the most normal job I have ever had. I work roughly 8 hours a day. I come into work, use a punch clock and then punch out when I leave. I have never had a job like this, and although I have never seen myself in this kind of job, there is one thing I love about this job.

The people are AWESOME.

All of them are so unique, and I have made so many new friends that I can hardly count them all. Even my supervisors are awesome and very helpful people and my manager is really funny and nice.

Now, I haven’t told a lot of people at work about our blog at all, so I am so not trying to butter them up through this. It is just nice to be able to like the people you work with and work for. I have found some really good friends in my colleagues while I have been here, and although I am not going to mention any names, they know who they are and they know (from me telling them on a constant basis) how truly awesome and sweet they are.

They make it easier to come into work on my bad brain days because I know I will smile at least once from something ridiculous someone says or does, or that I say or do, and at work I am one of the more random people.

I am truly blessed to not only have a job but have a job where I actually get along with and like the people.

I know this is just a temporary position, but for the time being I have a found a place in the company full of awesome people, and that works just fine for me.

~ Andreah

Food – A generational story

Food – A generational story

If you come to my home, I am going to want to make you food. Whether you are a friend helping with a chore around the house, or a family member dropping in, there is undeniable need to provide food … Continue reading

Hug a terrorist

In high school, I clearly remember being taught that Canada is this beautiful land, full of different cultures and people, and that everyone added their heritage and history to our tapestry, making Canada a unique mosaic of people. And in the next breath, of course, we were taught that America, our southern neighbour, was a melting pot, where people’s histories and heritages were obliterated in a steamrolling of assimilation.

It might be true. And it might be false. The reality, though, is that these are polarizing ideas and they leave little room for exception. There is proof of racism and the demand for assimilation here in Canada, perpetuated even by our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who is demanding Muslim women not be allowed to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. And there is proof of acceptance and ‘mosaic’ behaviour from our American neighbours, like the conversation-igniting campaign that Starbucks tried to tackle with their #RaceTogether scrawls on cups.

Regardless of where we live, what nationality we are currently claiming as ours, or how we choose to identify ourselves, we all have the same thing in common: we are all human. And this fact, again, regardless of anything else, is the most important and often the least remembered piece of any country’s puzzle.

A young Muslim woman, Assma Galuta, is trying to tackle the gap between reality and perception when it comes to race. She runs a YouTube channel where she posts filmed social experiments she has conducted. Her experiments challenge what people ‘know’ or ‘say’ about the Muslim faith and people, and what is real. Her focus is the universal commonality: we are all human.

In her first experiment, she asked people to finish her poster where she had written, “I am a Muslim, so that makes me…” She herself had put “kind” and “terrorist,” both terms that had been used to describe Assma in the past. Then, she stands on the street, asking people to write what they think a Muslim is.

The result is heartwarming – everyone who takes the time to write on her poster, leaves words of positivity and humanity. And most of them apologize for the word ‘terrorist’. It’s a nice story and a good news item for Canadians…at least, for a handful of Torontonians. The truth, is, though, she has been called a terrorist. She has experienced what she calls, Islamophobia, and hate directed at her because of her dress, her religion and her belief system. The reason for the experiment still exists – people mistreat people who are different, who act differently, who aren’t like them, instead of treating them as they really are: human.

In her second experiment, Assma blindfolds a Muslim man, Mustafa Malwa, complete with brown skin and beard, and puts two signs beside him. One reads: “I am a Muslim. I am labelled as a terrorist.” The other reads: “I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug.”

Again, the response is hopeful – people walk up to him and hug him – men, women, other Muslims, white people, black people, HUMAN people. And it’s a shining ray of light in the dark days of young, black, unarmed men getting shot without provocation, of mosques getting vandalized, and of Jewish cemeteries getting defaced.

But, of course, this is not everyone. Not every person hugs him. Not every person will trust him. Not everyone can look at him and not see a terrorist.

And this is not a small thing.

It is in the way that the media handles violent attacks, labeling some terrorist and others not. Looking for mental illness and reason behind a murder of 149 people instead of looking for a religious political slant on a horrific plane crash because the pilot who downed the plane was white.

It is in the way we handle any difference, reacting in fear when we see a line of people waiting for a bus simply because they all have a different colour of face than we do. Being suspicious of someone because their skin is darker and their hair is longer and their outfit is something we’d never wear. Judging people simply because of their appearance, their religious affiliation, their beliefs, and their ancestry.

It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. So what can we do? How can we combat stereotyping, and culture-phobia, and hate speech? How can we stop perpetuating false ideas about other religions, other cultures, other ethnicities?

I would like to propose a social experiment. I won’t record it and I won’t post it. It won’t go viral online with millions of views and hits on YouTube. But I’d still like to give it a go, because I’m unsure what else I can do, as a privileged white woman living in Southern Ontario.

Assma Galuta's favourite quote.

Assma Galuta’s favourite quote.

I’d like to challenge you to see every person you come across as human. Not as black or brown or white or pink or purple or blue. Not as fat or gay or ugly or gorgeous or thin or fit or heterosexual. Not as a stranger or a friend or a neighbour or a fellow shopper. But as human. Notice their human-ness, what makes them the same as you, what makes them a person, what gives them the right to have all the necessities of life and the right to live it fully. Notice their breath, their heartbeat, their movement, their presence. Notice them. Notice other human beings. And focus on that piece of the melting pot or the mosaic or the country that you’re in. Stop noticing the difference and start embracing, and in some instances, literally hugging, the humans around you. Because they are just like you.

~ Julia

’90s Kid

Being born in the mid-’80s means I got to really appreciate one of the best decades yet – the ’90s. Not to say the here and now isn’t pretty great, but I do feel like the children of today missed out on a lot of incredible things that us ’90s kids were abundantly blessed with:

1. Television: Although growing up in our house out in the country meant 5 channels with our rabbit ears, or sometimes 6 to 7 if our neighbour’s  satellite dish was pointing the right way, the ’90s still meant the best of the after school show. I’m talking the best of the best here, yet to be dethroned by any of the current day options. Shows like Fresh Prince, Saved by the Bell, Family Matters – they taught us how to unrealistically get out of any lie (thanks Zach),  that being loud, proud and funny was acceptable (thank you Will), and that family wasn’t just your blood, but the people you could always count on to have your back (thanks Carl Winslow). Most importantly there was ZERO reality television causing us to mimick and idolize, to be frank, idiots.

Go Will! go Wil!. Go, go, go Will!

Go Will! go Will!. Go, go, go Will!

2. Toys & Games: Before the age of incredible graphics in the video games of today, the ’90s toys were just as, if not more exciting than any WoW or GTA scene could be. Remember skip-it?? My sisters and I used to have what felt like fingernail biting competitions to see whose counter would reach the highest number, the fastest, without missing a step. It was the age of Waterfall Ring Toss and Mash. We filled our spare time playing Pogs, Hacky Sack and scribbling crazy mad libs. It might be because the children in my life are mostly located in the city and I know it is because of the crazy technology that we are plugged into ALL DAY LONG, but it certainly feels like we spent a great deal more time outside, a little more free.

Trade you for a slammer. For funsies or keepsies?

Trade you for a slammer… for funsies or keepsies?

3. Music: Um, how about I saw the Sign and really anything Ace of Base? It was the boom of electronic music, but also the rise of Miss. Spears before 2007 happened to her, and Spice Girls reigned queens of every young girls heart – fashion sense too, unfortunately. No Doubt was dealing with teenage angst with every single that dropped, Pearl Jam fronted by the legendary Eddie Vedder made social change their message and Alanis was reminding every man not to mess with a girl with pipes. Not to mention REM, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Counting Crows, Weezer, The Presidents of the United States of America and Oasis to name but a small selection of the greats of the ’90s.

So. Cool.

So. Cool.

4. Lack of Connection: I do not want to gripe on the present day advancements in technology, buuut…. they suck. They suck the life out of you, and the life out of life. I am guilty of it too – being too available, too connected. But, I am working on it. Yes, we had MSN and AOL Messenger to connect to friends, and let’s not forget everyone’s first embarrassing email address as we didn’t yet understand the longevity or importance the medium would take. We also had to sit through the painstakingly and incredibly slow connection of dial-up, which I am sure was a deterrent to sitting at the computer for hours upon hours as we do now. Let’s also not forget how much having a cell phone, never mind smart phone, was a novelty and quite a big deal. You definitely didn’t see mass amounts of people, in public, hunched over a tiny box, staring into the screen for anywhere near the amount of time of current day.

Hello Zach Morris phone!

Hello Zach Morris phone!

The ’90s are arguably one of the last great decades that we will ever see. I’m glad I was of a age to remember a lot of what was popular or how we spent our days when we weren’t outside under our maple trees that encompassed the back yard, making mud-pies and maple-leaf rolls stuffed with gunk as our ‘cabbage rolls’, imagining our childhoods away.  What are your favourite memories of the 90s? I can almost guarantee I’ve forgotten a bunch, as the ’90s were way to good to contain in a simple post.

~ Toni

Can I hear it for some love, peace and understanding?

Everywhere you go there is racism. People judge harshly, quickly, and without cause. We hurt people who had nothing to do with the bigger picture, and too many innocent bystanders suffer.

One place I am going to highlight on is France, especially in light of what happened there this January. This is not to place blame but to recognize that nothing is always as it seems, and that there is more going on then we know. We just need to take a deeper look.

I just want to define something here, an Extremist (which exists in any religion or culture) is a person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour, especially in being politically radical.

Extremists, who were under surveillance last year, but got taken off of it six months prior to the shootings, were the root of the problem. Not Muslims.

A Muslim, as the Sufi spiritual leader Ibn Arabi says, is a: person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God…Islam means making one’s religion and faith God’s alone.

I have recently read an article in the New York Times, written about how Muslims, even if they have lived in a country for their entire life, do not feel like they are home, or that they are welcome.

Can you imagine living somewhere and not ever feeling like you could just live, just be?

Why is it in peaceful places does racism and biased reactions, based on one small group, instead of the whole, reign true? Why can’t there be peace without the violence and why can we not just see that everyone is wrong, and the only right in the world is peace, light, and love?

People judge so harshly based on religion or even just skin colour. We take the leap before we even slow down enough to find out who someone is and to know that they aren’t all bad, just like we aren’t all bad.

I want to stop time and just make sense of all the nonsensical violence, all because of pigmentation or the right to believe in who and what you believe. It will never make any sense. It will never get us anywhere judging people for something that is theirs alone and is in their hearts. You shouldn’t judge what you do not know, and I don’t know much, but I know that when you are walking down the street towards me, I am not going to judge you on the pigmentation of your skin and I am not going to judge you based on which headdress you wear. I am going to smile, keep walking with peace and love in my heart.

As my one roommate says “We all want one thing: to live.”

We will learn. I have hope.

We will learn. I have hope.

~ Andreah