Four hundred and twenty-nine

Time heals all wounds?

I had a moment yesterday, when I was going through old text messages to remind myself of a few events, and I felt a huge weight come on my heart.  It felt like the weight of date month, everything I went through in my personal life, all of the hurt that I caused and the hurt others caused me, was an anvil pressing down on my chest threatening to cut off my ability to breathe.  Brief tears came to my eyes, but instead of running from them like I always do, I just let all of those events weigh down on me.  I finally let myself feel all of that pain and joy and ups and downs.  It hurt, but I accepted it for what it was and let it be a part of me.

Then the most amazing thing happened – the weight lifted, the pain subsided and I was okay.  I was more than okay.  I let it all go.  At the same time I let it be part of me, but not controlling me.  I let go of all the emotions of pain, hurt, anger, grief, and left only acceptance.  It wasn’t planned and it has taken a very long time, but I forgave those I needed to forgive, and most importantly I forgave myself.

I’m not sure that time heals all wounds, but it definitely allows for us to accept them as fact and move on.  I’m glad because I was having a really hard time writing about the dates without layering them with all the informations and emotions I have now.  By letting that go, I can really put myself in the place of where I was then.  It’s still hard, but in a good way – a healing way.

Four hundred and twenty-two

Date Month

I’m writing about the dreaded date month right now – the month that had me so exhausted by the end I almost fell asleep on an escalator going to see a movie, with my date holding me up.  It’s interesting reliving those dates now that I’m in a relationship and looking back on them.  I’m trying to put myself in the place I was in then and that was a crazy place!  It’s also hard to pick which dates I want to go into more detail about for the book.  They were all unique and had a great story to them, I could almost write a whole book just about that.

When I get frustrated I take a break and do something different to refresh my brain for more writing.  Unfortunately (and sometimes fortunately), my favourite couple from Caledonia told me all about the virtues of Netflix, which has turned into countless hours of watching full seasons of whichever television show I’m in the mood for at the time.  On the plus side, though, as I don’t have cable, I always felt out of the loop when people talked about Dexter or Breaking Bad.  Now I can join in on the conversation.

Recently, I’ve tried to watch educational films or shows to keep my brain working – there are some great documentaries – and came across a series of TEDTalks about Love and Relationships.  I’m researching and being entertained!  They were all fascinating, but one in particular really fits into the topic I’m writing about this month, so I thought I would share with you all what I learned.  This is a talk by anthropologist Helen Fisher about love’s evolution, biochemical foundation, and social importance.  Here are a few points and opinions I found interesting:

TEDTalk – Helen Fisher: Why We Love and Cheat

  • Being madly in love is the same part of brain that reacts as when someone is high on cocaine
  • We have three brain systems: sex drive (to look for love), romantic love (to focus your love), attachment (to be able to tolerate this person long enough to raise a child together).
  • There has been a rise of romantic love: 91% of American women and 86% of men will not marry someone that has every single quality they are looking for in a partner if they’re not “in love” with them.  (No wonder dating in the city is so hard!)
  • Casual sex is not always so casual.  With orgasm you get a spike in dopamine.  Dopamine is associated with romantic love, then you get a real rush of oxytocin associated with attachment.  There is a sense of cosmic union after you make love.
  • Helen Fisher believes we’re not meant to be happy, we’re meant to reproduce, so the happiness we do find we make ourselves.
  • Why do you fall in love with one person rather than another?  Timing; proximity; mystery – you fall in love with somebody who’s somewhat mysterious in part because mystery elevates dopamine in the brain, which could push you over that threshold to fall in love; he/she fits in to your “love map” – an unconscious list of traits you build in childhood as you grow up; you gravitate to complimentary brain systems.

I find the whole concept of how are brains and emotions interact fascinating.  Is love something magical, or is it just a series of brain systems and chemical reactions?  Or maybe it can be both?  How do we find love in the city if there are always a hundred other choices out there that will create different reactions in our brain?  It’s probably why many of my friends have a hard time finding a partner.

TMI Award

I want to start off with a short story.  During my vegan month I posted a list of vegan travel websites and blogs that I found useful, with a short commentary on what to expect from each site.  For one of the sites, I made a comment about how that particular site had great information, but to beware that it was hard to navigate and ugly to look at.  The owner of the site sent me a very long e-mail saying, among many other comments:

I’ve never seen a blogger criticize the layout of other people’s sites. That goes outside the scope of what bloggers do…
Bloggers should promote positivity!

She goes on to say “I feel really hurt that you would post such a negative comment about my site when you do not even know me” and “bloggers usually just post comments about helpful info or their own experiences.”

I agree bloggers promoting positivity should be valued, but I also agree that being honest is just as valuable.  Constructive criticism and  talking about topics openly and critically are important.  I’ve never been one to shy away from the truth of how I feel, and people can either love me or hate me for that.  My blog is also structured to be read by everyone – not just vegans or bloggers, and I was offering advice of other useful websites to use to find out more information, with the pros and cons of the sites.  (We left the whole exchange on good terms after a couple of e-mails, by the way)

Before I get into my concerns with the TMI Award, I want to say specifically to Pink that I am not ungrateful for your mention of me –  I just think it’s important that these things are not just accepted as what is in the “scope of what bloggers do” and are critically discussed.  Pink Ninjabi you are an amazing, supportive person and blogger.  Your comments (among a couple of other people, including the eloquent Barry Sullivan) have helped push me forward while writing this book and I appreciate it more than you know.

For those of you not in the blogging community, the TMI award is passed around between bloggers to honour those “blogs that discuss everything in detail and do it well. These bloggers aren’t afraid to discuss their most awkward, embarrassing and intimate experiences with honesty, humor and little to no filter.”  There are rules to it: thank and link back to the person who nominated you, share an awkward, embarrassing and intimate story in 250 words or less, and present the award to 5-10 other deserving blog.  It’s a way for bloggers to support each other within the community and direct readers to other blogs of interest.  I think this is great and important to help each other along.  And I am proof that I wouldn’t have been able to get through my year and the writing I’m doing now without the encouragement of my readers.

I am a little worried, though, that the TMI Award has become more of a blogger spam than a way to support each other.   It’s been around the blogging community so often, I think everyone has received it and I’m not sure it has value anymore.  I’m sorry to all you bloggers out there who like this award – I do sincerely love that you are brave and can really share your lives with the world.  And I do think promoting other like-minded blogs to your own is important.  But I’m not one for passing on things “just because” or for not sharing my honest opinion.  I worry that it excludes those readers who are not bloggers themselves, and makes blogging less inclusive and more elitist.  Perhaps it’s time for a revamp of the TMI chain?

I totally agree with promoting others bloggers, though, so below are a few blogs that I find interesting, exciting, informative, or just fun, and I recommend reading.  Those of you I’ve mentioned, continue the TMI Award trend or don’t – it’s up to you.  Those of you bloggers reading this, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get in trouble with you.  I’d love to hear your opinion and have an open discussion about the TMI Award system.  I am always up for hearing others people’s opinions and adapting my own.  Sometimes we all only see one side of the story and more knowledge helps open us up to see the other side of the coin.

The Traveling Waitress – love her!  So much information on traveling as a woman.  And she blogs too.

Personally Speaking – a personal blog by Marlo Van Mackelberg, who’s been through a lot and has come out on top.  She’s also a beautiful writer who openly shares her heart and often brings a tear to my eye.

What’s Past is Prologue – my favourite photography blog, sharing his life in New York City through photographs.

Oh She Glows – I can’t go without a mention of my favourite vegan food blog.  I know I mention this site way too often, but I just love the food, and I love that she shares her ups and downs of cooking and life along with it.

One Tiny Starfish – I also can’t go without mentioning my cousin’s blog.  She is the first person I knew personally to take blogging seriously, and now devotes her life to helping people in need around the world.  I remember my mother often telling me to read my cousin’s blog because she shared so many personal details about her life.  I always said I’d never be that open online, and look where I am now.  Thanks Nik.

Three hundred and eighty-seven

Wednesday post day and the aftermath of St. Patty’s Day weekend

The biggest day of the year working in an Irish pub came and went and I survived.  I remember last year how absolutely tired I was at the end of it, but still managed to post something.  Good for me.  Although maybe not the best writing I’ve ever done!

I did manage to spend quite a bit of time working on the book this week, though, in my spare time.  I also heard back from the agent!!!  Her intern and her both read the prologue I sent them and liked it, with a few changes, of course.  I have a phone meeting with them tomorrow evening to discuss what I need to work on and “discuss the next steps in getting this book written!” (in her words).  Awesome! That also means I need to write the book.  For those interested, the book is about my personal journey behind the blog – my romantic journey (and that’s a good one), my physical health journey, my emotional journey, etc – filtered through what I am going through in the blog.  There will be small excerpts from the blog, factual information about the topics, but also my secret personal story of what I was going through at the time.  Well, at least that’s what I’m thinking it will be so far.  I’m all for adaptation, depending in how it is going.  I’m almost done the first section, so hopefully I can keep up this pace.  If I can still find time to write while working St. Patty’s Day weekend at an Irish pub, I can find time any time.

A couple of interesting things that jumped out at me this past week that pertains to topics from the year:

I found the image below on Quora.com answers from “When people look back on their life in their 30s, 40s and older what are some common regrets they have?”.  It reminds me why I do what I do.  And not that I kiss a ton of people (no that’s not what the book is going to reveal!), it’s that I try to live my life without regrets.  Sometimes I succeed better than others.  And I only kissed a few of the boys from date month (if I was The Bachelorette on television, you’d be disappointed if I wasn’t kissing them all, so no judging).  But the ones I did kiss were very special to me, and one of them is especially special to me still (oooo, hint at what my big secret is in the book).

(originally from http://xkcd.com/458/)

As I donated a bunch of money to the Daily Bread Food Bank during Good Deed and after Poverty months, I belong to their mailing list.  I’m sort of against snail mail lists because they’re just wasting paper and killing trees.  I know there are conspiracy theories that if we go completely electronic, the computers could crash or all our personal information will be stolen (you know who I’m talking to – father), but in cases of marketing I think going completely electronic is the socially responsible thing to do.  That being said, the Daily Bread Food Bank does a lot of amazing things, so I can’t hate on them too much.  In their package they sent me, there’s a leaflet about what causes hunger in Ontario and who the donation helps.  Here are a couple of those facts that remind me of what living at the poverty line really is:

  • The median monthly income for people using food banks in Ontario is $925, meaning 72% of their income is spent on rent/mortgage including utilities.
  • 46% of adults have not eaten for a day because of lack of money
  • 36% of food bank clients are children
  • 19% of children go hungry at least once per week

I am grateful every day for what I have and what I was born into.  And I remember every day to try and help those who have different circumstances in their life that are not as fortunate as mine.

Three hundred and fifty-five

“Blasts from the past”

I went for a three-hour walk around the city yesterday.  I always find a long walk gives me inspiration and ideas.  I kept seeing places that I visited this past year.

Do you remember these moments (some are more cryptic than others)?

(Burritos in the park with The Director in date month)

(I entered Anthropologie in Yorkville dressed as a “total hussy” – my highest views all year – and one week later dressed as a “total bum”.  See here for photos on me in the changing room on both occasions.)

(JustEat.ca – the good, the bad, and the ugly during Online Shopping Month)

(The Concert Date at the Tranzac)

(Panacea – vegan store I visited at Bloor and Bathurst, which is very sadly closing.)

(The social experiment date at David’s Tea)

Three hundred and forty-one

“Here is a flower for a beautiful girl…”

Yep, I kept them – the notes attached to two sets of flowers from one of my dates in date month.  There were yellow flowers for my mom and a pink rose for me.

“Here are some flowers for your mother on Mother’s Day, because I’m the kind of guy you can take home to your family.”

“And here is a flower for a beautiful girl, because I’m the kind of guy that you can keep all to yourself!”

It was one of the most romantic and sweet gestures that’s ever happened to me on a one-off date.  He is a writer, though, so I’m not sure if he’s always that romantic, or just putting it on for the sake of the blog…  Either way, I absolutely loved it!  And you can tell by the numerous thumb tack holes, they’ve been moved around my bulletin board a few times.  They always make me smile.