Three little words

I’ve wanted to say those three little words for months. I’ve felt them for as long as we’ve been together and last week after a lot of waiting I said them: I told Boyfriend that I love him. Actually what I said was, “Because I love you, you big jerk.” A little romcom cliché but it’s what I said.

After an evening of TIFFing I called Boyfriend to talk and as we talked I got more and more upset. Not saying how I was feeling was driving me insane. I was afraid and I didn’t know how to do it. The last time I told someone I loved them it was the Big Ex and he didn’t say it back. If Boyfriend didn’t say it back it would break me and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay with someone whom I loved if they didn’t love me back, that’s not something I’m willing to do again.

So I said it without knowing what he’d say back, hopeful and terrified all at once. And you know what? He said it back. He said, “I love you too, Shannon Hunter.” It was as if someone lifted a weight off my shoulders and breathed air into my lungs all at once. No more guessing games. I don’t know if I waited too long or if I just waited as long as I needed but saying it felt more right than anything I’ve ever said before—except when I told my mum that I would rather stay home on Saturdays and watch Ninja Turtles than go to ballet… that was probably equally right.

When I was little we used to play he loves me, he loves me not with flowers and as I waited for him to either say it back or break my heart I could see the petals falling in my mind. The last one would determine everything that came next.

So for the first time in five years I know I’m with someone who loves me, I know I’m with someone who will always be there for me and I know that I have a chance at the future I want. I’m happy when I’m single, I’ve never been the type who needs a boyfriend to feel whole, but when I’m with someone that I really care about I do turn into a bit of a girl. I imagine living together, I imagine walking a puppy that we picked out together, I imagine falling asleep and waking up to the same person every day. Life with someone you love doesn’t have to be boring, I want puppies not babies, I want adventures not a wedding, but more than anything I want someone who I know loves me the same way that I love them.

Maybe it took a little longer than I thought it would but a week before our anniversary I know that I am loved. No more guessing games, he loves me he really loves me.

Christopher Peloso, husband of George Smitherman, is missing

Christopher Peloso, 39, has been missing since Monday afternoon. The husband of George Smitherman, former mayoral candidate, was last seen in the Davenport Road/Bathurst Street area.

Peloso was last seen wearing a dark-blue hooded jacket, tan cargo shorts and blue flip flops. He is 5 foot 8 and 150 pounds, white with brown hair and brown eyes.

Through his website, Smitherman released a statement about his husband’s disappearance.

“I regret to confirm that Christopher Peloso has been missing from our home for almost 24 hours. Michael, Kayla and myself, with the support of family and friends, are hopeful that our husband and father will be home safely soon,” he wrote.

Smitherman and Peloso were married in 2007 and have two adopted children.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1300, Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477,  online at 222 Tips, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or leave a tip on the Toronto Police Service  Facebook page.


UPDATE: Peloso has been located. Police tracked his cellphone signal to Dupont and Lansdowne and found him alive and conscious.

Women of the week: Susan Wright

Susan Wright has helped hundreds of people stay the course over the last 15 years.

As a life coach and founder of Wright Momentum, she has worked with entrepreneurs, organizations and a handful of creative professionals enthused about making significant changes in their lives.

“It’s really cool when you get to light somebody’s fire,” says Wright. “They get that spark. They get the focus to stay steady.”

Before Wright started coaching and consulting she worked as a recreation therapist in a clinical environment, helping people to effectively cope with an illness or disease. She enjoyed working with people, but realized she wanted to focus her energy on performance, professional and personal development. She also wanted to integrate it with her health and wellness background.

“I tend to know when I’m ready for change and I knew that my career would take me only so far,” she says. “So there was a ceiling with what I was doing. I had already challenged myself in that area [and] felt fully confident and proficient at what I was doing. I knew that to take myself to the next level, to the next step, I would need to expand my horizons.”

Wright started seeking information about coaching when it was an emerging profession and information about it wasn’t easily accessible. She discovered a number of coaches and was coached herself. She then went on to be certified through the Adler School in Toronto, one of the first few students to go through the coaching program.

“For me it’s a personal philosophy,” she says. “Everybody has the potential, it’s just figuring out how do we tap into that.”

Wright’s approach is very holistic. She takes into consideration the various facets of a person’s life, discovering how they interact in their relationships and what’s important to them.

“Taking care of ourselves in all aspects of health and wellbeing is essential so we can actually bring the best of ourselves in no matter what we do,” she said. “It’s finding what that is for you as an individual.”

Pilates is another large part of Wright’s life. She is a certified Second Wind® Pilates Plus® and Integrated Movement Therapies (IMT) ® instructor. Practicing pilates improves coordination and brings awareness to the body. It can also reduce headaches, mental stress and increases energy.

To Wright, everyone has the potential to drive forward and develop. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it and then finding the perfect coach. Wright tends to work with high-energy creative individuals who are dedicated to improving their lives.

“If somebody has far too many excuses and no level of commitment, it’s not going to work,” she says. “You’re not ready for coaching. You really need to want something and want something to change. Whether it’s a team leader, a professional, it doesn’t matter. The commitment needs to be there.”

Wright’s book, Seven Steps To Change The Status Quo, looks at what prevents people from making change in their lives and how to go beyond the fears that prevent change from happening. Reaching goals comes with no shortage of roadblocks.

“There will be barriers when we’re making any change in life,” she says. “We’ll hit a cross barrier. Sometimes they’ll be even more mountains to climb. It’s staying the course, staying steady and strong on that course.”

Serenity now

This past week has been one of the hardest Boyfriend and I have ever had. On Sunday we were having dinner and joking around, ready to watch the third episode of Breaking Bad, everything was good and then the phone rang. Boyfriend’s grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and he had to leave for the hospital right away.

We’ve spent the past week communicating through Facebook, text and the occasional phone call. Unsure of what to say or do I tried to be the bright spot in all the badness. I cracked jokes, sent pictures of puppies and GIFs of playful corgis because that’s what he needed. Inside, however, I was dying. He was in so much pain and all I could do was send memes to make him feel better? I felt weak and powerless.

I know everyone grieves in their own way but it hurt me that I couldn’t be there for him, physically. He didn’t want me at the hospital and yesterday after his grandfather finally peacefully slipped away he told me he didn’t want me at the funeral. I want so badly to be there for him and planning to bring him ice cream and pizza after a funeral feels like something a roommate would do, not a girlfriend. He says that he doesn’t want the rest of his family to meet me at a funeral, he wants me to meet them when they are smiling and acting goofy, but I can’t stop this helpless feeling. Shouldn’t I be there to hold his hand? Isn’t that what having a partner is all about? A partner is supposed to be someone who is there to hold you in the cold, in the dark and when you feel like the world is falling apart.

I know it’s selfish to question his grieving process, I know it’s irrational and he needs me to be there for him in the way that works for him, but I hate feeling useless. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do and I want to fix this situation however impossible that sounds.

I know that we’ll get through this, I know that the bad is almost over and even if it isn’t, bad is part of life and I didn’t sign up for a fair weather relationship; I’m here for the long haul.

I just don’t understand why he doesn’t want me there. If I lost a family member or a friend I don’t know that I could do it without him, I would need him by my side. The fact that he doesn’t need me now breaks my heart.

I’m trying to put my hurt feelings aside and just be there for him in the way that he wants and needs but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. So I’m choosing to focus on the future. I’m choosing to plan our anniversary, trips out of the city and a visit to my family, which hopefully will help me shake this nagging feeling that we might be coming to an end.



It’s getting old

Aches and pains. People get them. I train an older demographic: ladies of “a certain age,” as I like to say. When first starting out in the gym, I often hear things like, “Well, I have back pain. But that’s to be expected. It’s just old age.” Is it?

Many seem to think that putting up with a growing assortment of aches and pains is part and parcel of getting older. But other cultures throughout the world demonstrate better aging than in North America. (I’m thinking of Japanese centenarians who can still pop a squat, for example.) I won’t presume that these folks feel just as sprightly as they ever did but it’s fair to say that they feel good enough to keep (surprisingly) active.

There are a couple of problems with using “getting older” to account for feeling crummy. The first is that it can obscure the real reason why people feel that way. If I’ve got one bad hip, let’s say, then why doesn’t the other one feel just as bad? If it’s all about aging then both hips should have gone bust because they’ve got the same number of miles on them. It’s quite possible that there’s a specific mechanical issue that can be addressed with proper exercise (and as a matter of fact, a good trainer *ahem* should make it her business to look out for those issues).

The second problem I see is that this kind of thinking winds up stopping older folks from doing stuff that will keep them healthy and well. If you think “getting older” is the only explanation for your aches and pains then you’re much less inclined to do anything about it. You do less. And the less you do, the less you can do. I’m not suggesting that age isn’t a factor in how our bodies feel and function but I do think that using it as a catch-all is getting old. (See what I did there?)

Nearly a year later

It will be a year next month. Boyfriend and I will have been together for a whole year of our lives, which probably sounds like nothing to couples who have been together for five years or a decade or more, it probably sounds like we made it through the honeymoon phase. But having never really made it through a whole year in a row this feels like a moment worth celebrating. I know, I probably sound like a teenager, but it’s kind of amazing to be here staring down the barrel of a year for only the second time since I was actually a teenager.

I spent my first half of my 20s pining for a dead love, dating someone who spent our first anniversary with his ‘other’ girlfriend and sleeping my way through agencies and sports bars. It wasn’t a good start, if I’m honest. But I had a lot of fun, I got drunk with many an Irishman, I danced around kitchens baking brownies, I fell in lust and I never worried what would happen next because when it did go south it just meant that I would have a great story to share. So what if he broke up with me in seven words, most of which were the same. Who cares if he declared his deepest darkest secrets to me last night, he’s sober this morning. Everything was a story to tell my friends over drinks.

Bad dates are practically a rite of passage in any major North American city. Toronto gets a new Tumblr every other week completely dedicated to how ridiculous dating in this city can be. Does he live North of Bloor? Yep, that’s not happening. Voted for Ford? Not a chance in hell. Does he pronounce the second ‘t’ in Toronto? He’s basically a tourist. Does he work on Bay Street? Definitely not, I saw American Psycho. We’re picky because there are so many options, but with over two million folks living in our ‘mega city’ it’s really easy to pick wrong, a lot, which I did like it was my job.

Am I happy that I’m not dating anymore? Yes. But it’s not because of the craziness that comes with being single (that was actually pretty fun), it’s because I finally don’t have to pretend anymore. I was always myself with the guys I dated, sure, but it was like a diet version of myself. With Boyfriend I’m learning to stop apologizing for being me, I’m learning to speak my mind and not just in a way that I think people will find entertaining, and I’m learning that love looks a whole lot like falling asleep in someone’s arms on a Friday night after marathoning the latest Netflix original series.

Is a year a long time? No. But at almost 26 this relationship is the first I’ve ever been in that’s built on more than just a desire to tear each other’s clothes off on a semi-regular basis and that is worth celebrating.

Life’s Lessons from a Septuagenarian

It is often at the dusk of our life that we seem to value the life we had and live. I turned to the elderly to sail through seemingly tough times. Here is what I have learned so far…


1. Trust only a person’s actions, not their words. Much can be promised; little of it gets done.


2. Surround yourself with people who will either help you grow as an individual or who keep you happy. You are better off alone than with false friends.


3. Always have a plan. Time passes swiftly and one day you will not realize when you turned 60. Set New Year resolutions; you may not follow them but you will at least know where you want to be.


4. Be happy or learn to be happy. Create your pockets of happy moments, like adventurous travels, risqué affairs, insurmountable challenges, etc. These will be the memories you will return to when in distress.


5. Don’t fight to change people or things. Change your perspective and everything around you will change itself. If there are people bothering you, discard them from your life and stay out of theirs.


6. Gain control over anger and emotions. Maintain silence and refrain from making any decisions when too excited, depressed or upset.


7. Do not envy or compare yourself with anyone else. Know that everyone has their own set of miseries to deal with.


8. Be good to your spouse, friends and children. Your treatment of them will decide how your old age is going to be.


9. Learn your finances well. Money has more value than everyone else advocates. Use it wisely.


10. Remember to never lose faith and instill ample patience. Everything has a way of working out in the end.

Things get worse before they get better

I’ve heard that things always get worse before they get better, but really? Just when things were starting to get better we found out that Boyfriend and I both have close family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. You’d think that after all we’ve been through the universe would give us a break, but as it turns out that isn’t in the cards yet.

So we hold each other, we love each other and we try to support our families as they deal with what comes next. But despite all the pain this summer has brought with it Boyfriend still manages to make me smile, he still manages to make time for me and he still makes me laugh in that totally embarrassing out loud knee slapping kind of way.

I wouldn’t have made it through the summer of 2013 without him; I couldn’t have picked a better partner to stand by my side and I only hope that I give the same thing to him. If I can give him half the strength he gives me we’ll be in a good place because he needs me now and I want to be the one to support him.

I know that we’ll make it through all of this drama a better couple; we’ll make it through stronger and more together than we’ve ever been. But you get to a point where you start to wonder how much more you have to deal with before life gets easy again. At least I wondered that before I remembered that life isn’t easy and that the ‘easy’ relationships I’ve been have never been good; easy isn’t good it’s just easy.

Being with Boyfriend isn’t hard, but life is. When you’re really with someone, I mean committed we’re in this for the long haul with someone, you will inevitably deal with drama, heartache and loss, but you’ll deal with it beside someone you love and that is what makes the bad nights tolerable. I’d really like it if we had a couple of weeks where all we got was good news but life doesn’t often work like that.

Even if things do continue to get worse I’m going to focus on the positive. In the words of a great friend, I’m going to choose love, because I do love him and no matter how hard things are for either of us we make each other better, happier, more sunshine-y people.

I chose Boyfriend almost a year ago. I chose to let go of my fears and commit myself to someone who was worth committing to and I’m lucky that I did because without him this summer would have been nearly impossible to get through. So life, give me whatever you’ve got because I’m walking through life hand-in-hand with my favourite person, because I’m strong and he makes me stronger but mostly because when you choose love you can do anything.

When the going gets tough

This summer has been a tough one: I got my dream job, I lost my dream job; I spent a month jobless; my mum was in the hospital for a month and I didn’t know if my mum would make it; I went six weeks without getting paid; I developed an allergy to gluten, which I figured out after a lot of vomiting; and my bio-dad threatened to sue me for the second time. All of these things made for a tough month and a half. Now I’m at a new job that I love, working on brands and clients that really excite me, my mum is on the mend and finally home, I’ve got a handle on my allergy, I got my first pay cheque from my shiny new job this week and bio-dad is ignoring me again. So things are on the upswing and I made it out alive and smiling.

The reason I managed to keep smiling was Boyfriend: he declared depression, “not an option.” He told me that I was smart and a new job was just about the corner, he sat with me as I cried about my mother and my fear of losing her, he insisted we only eat at places that were accommodating to my allergies and he applauded my response to my father’s email. When I thought that my life was falling apart he reminded me that things get tough sometimes but that doesn’t mean that we have to wallow in a pile of sadness until it leaks out of our eyes. I’m paraphrasing, but in all honesty he was my rock.

This kind of support is something I’ve never experienced in a relationship. When I didn’t want to talk about my feelings he just sat there until I let it out. Sometimes that meant tears, sometimes that meant grunts and half sentences flowing out of the mouth of a terrified girl. Not once did he turn me away when I needed him.

The day I signed the contract for my new job Boyfriend and I had plans for dinner, which we were going to do at my house, but after hearing my news that immediately changed to, “We’re going to celebrate Wild Shannons.” Because it had probably been four weeks since I had any good news to share with him and good news is always worth celebrating.

Today is the first day of August and summer may be winding down for most people, but for us this month is summer. We’re planning road trips, BBQs, jet-ski races and anything else we can think of. I don’t care what we do though; we could spend the day on the beach or watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix and it wouldn’t matter to me because I’ll be with my best friend.

I can’t find a word that covers all the feelings I have for Boyfriend so I will use the only one I have, the hopeless inept, grateful. I am so incredibly, wildly, amazingly grateful for everything he’s done for me and I hope that we’ve built up enough karma that the rest of this year will only be filled with wonderful things.

Best friends

I realized recently that Boyfriend is my best friend. I have many bests: there’s #BoyBestie and my Lemon, who I lovingly refer to as my heterosexual life partner; there’s Jen, Nus, Reg and Yaw and really too many amazing bests in my life to count; but the person who I call when I need someone, the person who I call when I want to share great news or moderately good news or just talk to about nothing and everything is Boyfriend. He’s my best friend.

I’m sure there’s a definition or a Thought Catalogue article somewhere that attempts to define what exactly a best friend is, something that uses big words or includes a list of the top bestie duos of all time; are you and best friend more like Monica and Rachel or Joey and Chandler or something along those lines. But for me it’s a little simpler and a lot less ‘90s.

Boyfriend is the only person who calls me a Wild Shannon because for some reason he thinks of me as a Pokemon. There’s literally no logic to this but it makes me laugh uncontrollably. He’s a terrible dancer but we have a dance move that no one else understands and sometimes we’ll do it at the same time. It’s embarrassing and only kind of adorable. We have shows that we watch and we never TV cheat, ever, no matter how hard Netflix makes it for us. We have our own language; we get each other, even if no one else really understands why we’re laughing or what it is we’re talking about.

When it comes down to it though Boyfriend is just the person I’d rather be with; hanging out and watching a movie with him is better than a night out with anyone else. I love my friends and I am so lucky to have them in my life but I had no idea what it felt like before this past (almost) year to be someone’s partner.

Boyfriend is my best friend and I had no idea it could all happen this quickly, I had no idea my life could change in so little time, but I can’t imagine a world where I don’t get random text messages that somehow light up my entire face even though most of the time they are just pictures of cats with silly comments.

What worries me most though are the what ifs. What if we break up? What will I do then? How will I handle that? I try not to think about it but every relationship before this ended; did they end so I could find Boyfriend or do relationships always end? And that’s the big difference between having best friends and being best friends with your boyfriend: My closest friends love me unconditionally, they don’t get to break up with me, but Boyfriend could if he wanted to.

So I’m hopeful, cautiously optimistic if you will. I’ve got nothing to worry about but the idea of losing someone who I love that much scares the hell out of me.