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How rejection has humbled me

So get this. During your lifetime, you will come across people that won’t exactly love you. Heck, they won’t even like you. The very thought of you doing well in life will cause anguish in theirs. And while some people have come to terms with this very early on, realizing it’s just a part of life, I, myself, am just learning this. And dear Lord, it’s quite the humbling experience.

I try to be a good person. Plus, I’m cute. So my first wave of rejection came as a shock. What’s there not to love about me? I carry myself with poise, demonstrate kindness and sincerity, and have just the right amount of confidence. I bring this confidence to all my relationships. I made sure he saw it. I wanted him to. I had feelings for him after all. But after a couple of months, we decided a romantic relationship wasn’t going to work out due to a number of uncontrollable reasons, including distance. Despite the circumstances, we continued speaking anyways. I was hooked. He was my drug. I told myself he was hooked on me too. He had to be.

Then, fate took over. I came across his profile on a dating app my friend had recently signed up for. I read his bio. I read his willingness to move abroad. I read he was looking for a confident, ambitious, smart, funny, and crazy woman. Confident. Ambitious. Smart. Funny. Crazy. I read it over and over again, never feeling smaller then I did at that moment. The confidence I brought to that relationship wasn’t enough. Neither was the ambition. Nothing was. He didn’t find anything he was looking for in me.

It was humbling.

The problem is, I’m a people pleaser. I will bend over backwards to get people to like me, sometimes putting my own priorities at jeopardy. I’ll let my own deadlines slide, or sacrifice that one thing I was saving up for to do something for someone else. It’s the norm I’ve grown up knowing. So after putting in 110% to a relationship that was never really a relationship to begin with, I realized how much I cared for him. What I didn’t realize, was that I was expecting something in return. What I didn’t realize, was that, instead, I was being used as a scapegoat to fill the emotional needs of this person while he was searching for something better.

It was humbling.

I wasn’t as selfless as I thought I was. As I heard in a movie once (because romantic comedies are always credible), unrequited love is actually an immensely powerful feeling. Because unlike other relationships, it doesn’t need to be shared by two people. You have sole proprietorship over it. I gained a little strength from this, but I quickly concluded it was complete bull sh*t. Love feels better to share. Love feels better when its reciprocated. There’s something about it that makes you glow. Inside and out.

Unfortunately, its human nature to want what you can’t have. Even if you were blessed with anything you’ve ever wanted and more, you’ll still want that one thing you weren’t meant to obtain. Your heart will tell you he’s the only one for you, and you’ll genuinely start to internalize this. But then you’ll come to realize….maybe you’re not the one for them.

And its humbling.

Toronto gets ‘More Life’ with release of Drake’s new album

While most people were out on Saturday night enjoying a glass of wine with their girls or at the movies watching Beauty and the Beast with their ‘boo thang’, others were at home on Spotify- listening to their own, mutual ‘boo thang’; Drake. And what a beautiful Saturday evening it was. More Life, since then, has streamed 89.9 million times. That too, in its first 24 hours on Apple Music. That’s a record breaker for the most streams on a single-day album for every music service. Ever. Proud of you, bae!

As fans nodded their heads to the new beats and texted fire emojis to their friends about Canadian artist Drake’s new playlist, one thing became evident quite quickly. More Life is essentially another big ode to Toronto — and people from all across the globe are showing their passion for the big TO. Can you blame them?  Direct references to Queen Street and G-way, which is short for Galloway, had Toronto residents gleaming with pride and fans from all around the world looking up references and street maps of the 6ix. Because they too, want to be part of the culture that is Toronto. *Insert Fake Love lyrics here, while sipping tea.*

The playlist (it’s not an album, folks!) has everything Drake fans are looking for – the soothing, deep voice in octaves so low, it’ll make Morgan Freeman wish he jumped on a musical career. Get it Together, for example, is the perfect track for your coffee shop playlist. Madiba Riddim, on the other hand, will have you reminiscing of his older hits, with similar beats and acoustics. But, whether he’s crooning in Passionfruit or dropping bars in Portland, Drake brings forth the wide range and originality that he’s known for. Let’s face it. He’s not pop-y enough to be a pop sensation and not urban enough to be a hip hop star. Drake is his own genre. And a mighty good genre at that.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to this playlist. Councillor Norm Kelly can prep his tweets on another Meek Mill and Drake feud, as references can be heard in Free Smoke, the most played track on the playlist. Jennifer Lopez no longer has to explain the Instagram picture that sparked alleged dating rumours between the two. Drake took care of that in two of his tracks as well. Also, he may still have ‘the feels’ for rapper, Nicki Minaj. We’re not sure though.

One thing is for sure – More Life is giving us life.

What are your thoughts on Drake’s new playlist? Let us know in the comments below!  

 

How should parents deal with child bullying?

Parenting challenges you in unexpected ways. Recently, my daughter confessed to me that a boy is bullying her at school for being vegan. This little kindergartener is a constant source of sorrow for the other kids, teasing and kicking other children at will. My daughter has mostly managed to escape his abuse, but not since he discovered she was vegan.

As a parent, how do I deal with this little bully? I can’t directly confront the child myself as I would if someone was teasing or kicking me, but I also cannot just let it go. Bullying is one of the most devastating things kids can go through in school, and it can have traumatizing effects if not dealt with properly. It does fall to parents to manage it and ensure that all the appropriate parties are aware they have a bully in their midst.

This leads to step number one; telling the teacher and/or daycare. Having open communication with the school and daycare teachers will help the problem. Most times, they simply aren’t aware that a child is being bullied in the first place. If the teacher seems dismissive of the problem, don’t be afraid to go to the principal. Your child matters and putting up a big stink about bullying is necessary to protect kids from harm.

If the bullying continues despite informing teachers or daycare instructors, the next logical thing to do would be contact the child’s parents. This can be difficult to do because parents want to think best of their children, and it is hard to admit when your child isn’t acting appropriately. At girl guides recently, another little girl tried to exclude my daughter from playing in a group of girls and luckily, my daughter held her own and played with another child. I could tell she was upset though and decided to step in after the fact. Being friends with the little girl’s mom, I decided to approach her about it. I made sure to not accuse or blame in any way, and having a friendly rapport with her helped a lot. It is important to build relationships with other parents, so that if there is a problem, it is much easier to speak to the other parent openly and honestly. If this isn’t possible or the parents aren’t receptive to being friendly, contacting them in the most polite and calm way possible is the best way to get the results you want.

Other suggestions include preparing your child against bullies through open communication. After both incidences, my daughter and I had a thorough discussion about how bullying is bad and is often a result of the ‘bully’ being insecure and sad. We also discuss how important it is to walk away from a bully, to be brave, and to tell the teacher. Practicing what to say in case a bully teases her helps her feel more prepared. Now, when someone teases her for being vegan, she knows and understands from our discussions that it is because she is different, but in a good way. Bullies often pick on kids that are vulnerable or different. I try to help her understand that being different is great and she should feel empowered for being known as the token vegan at school.

For younger kids, the book “Have you filled a bucket today? A guide to daily happiness for kids” is a great read that helps promote good behaviour towards others. The story explains that everyone has a bucket and filling other people’s buckets with love and kindness will make you happy. Alternatively, if you are mean and selfish, or you take from people’s buckets, then will be unhappy. It is very simple and helps kids relate better to the abstract explanations of emotions.

Bullying is a common problem that kids and parents are forced to deal with on a regular basis, and being prepared will help. Overall, I try to give my child as many compliments a day as I can to help boost her self-esteem. I try to not stick to compliments solely based on appearance, but compliment her intelligence and skills as well. A child that feels better about themselves can be better armed against bullies, and I want her to feel protected and loved.

What are your solutions to dealing with bullying as a parent? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Woman of the Week: Maggie Habieda

Maggie Habieda has only one goal — to make her clients feel beautiful, like the “queens and kings of old.”

Habieda built Fotografia Boutique Inc., a photography studio that specializes in portraits, about six years ago during a time when photography studios were shutting down. It was one of her biggest challenges, but that didn’t deter her. Habieda isn’t the type of person to simply give up on a dream. With a certain amount of grace and charm, she fights, learns, and persists. She graduated with a Masters in Communication and Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design, but that didn’t include a lot of practical business experience, so she went to the library and took out every book she could find on finance and entrepreneurship.  Six months later, she hosted her grand opening.

Photo by Fotografia Boutique.

Habieda came to Canada from Poland at the age of 16. She knew she had the soul of an artist, but couldn’t get into any  art schools in her home country. She decided to move to a foreign country — Canada — despite the fact she didn’t know the national language, and proceeded to be accepted into art schools with a number of scholarships.

In college, Habieda painted and drew women – most of them as princesses. Eventually, she discovered a passion for photography and started her professional journey as a wedding photographer, capturing women on the happiest days of their lives. This type of photography changed how she viewed the term “princess.” She started to believe that every woman is a princess, and that’s something she wanted reflected in her work.

“I shifted away from weddings, I wanted my own environment where I could greet people and the whole place to be for them, to feel better for them. Where they could get their hair and makeup done and change clothes where no one is watching. Create their own world where they feel and look beautiful and walk away with something timeless.”

Photo by Fotografia Boutique.

What makes Habieda’s portraits so unique is her classic style, something she says she developed over the years to combat the “overdone” selfie craze. Her photographs are textured so that they don’t quite look like the traditional pictures you may keep on your phone. Instead, they look like classic paintings or drawings, something you may find in an old castle rather than a 21st century living room.

“In today’s world, everyone has a camera – there is sea of photographers taking photos and as soon as they are taken they are forgotten. I bring back the classics,” she says. “When I edit, I like it to be creative. I add textures, adding little elements, something that makes it more illustrative than just a photo itself.”

Habieda’s creativity and ability to focus on true beauty, rather than just point-and-shoot with a camera, is what separates her from others in the industry. She has been able to connect with high-profile celebrities, politicians, and community leaders, which has led to a very successful and thriving business.  She has won a number of prestigious awards for her work, including the Tiboor Horvath Award of Excellence, Wedding Portrait Best in Class, and Certified Glamour Photographer from the Professional Photographers of Canada.

And yet, she still hasn’t lost touch with her true vision — to capture, and inspire, beauty in others.

“Every day, I transform people’s lives. I spend time hearing people, their life stories. This is beyond capturing a portrait — its capturing people’s souls from the inside, how the world should see them.”

When she isn’t working in the studio, Habieda runs an annual concert called Colours of Love, which brings together six international artists to celebrate love, diversity, and the performing arts. This will be the third year Habieda organizes the concert, held at the Mississauga Life Centre, and hopes this year will be just as successful.

“Music is the universal language. I want to give and spread love with this world.”

To see more of Habieda’s portfolio, visit her website at fotografiaboutique.ca.

 

Your 3 step guide to the perfect Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is as joyous as the winter holiday season for some, and as agonizing as Monday mornings for others. Celebrating love and affection between companions is a beautiful experience; however, there is a lot of pressure to live up to the standards society has set for couples. Expressing our love by presenting flowers, a box of chocolates, or cheesy greeting cards with dancing monkeys on them just doesn’t cut it anymore. In today’s day and age, a lot of other factors need to be considered to have the ‘perfect Valentine’s Day.’

I casually watched the build up last week as all my girlfriends in relationships questioned whether or not they should be expecting anything from their significant others on Valentine’s Day. As they prepped themselves with waxing sessions and had their lingerie on standby, one thing became clear very quickly. Even if they’ve been seeing each other for over a year, even if they were married, even if it’s only been a few months – the bottom line is women are always expecting something. That too, without the intent of initiating anything themselves.

Passive aggressive texts are sent and not so subtle hints are dropped to ensure that come Valentine’s Day evening, they will have some sort of plans with bae. So, to avoid any sort of disappointment and heart break, here’s a step by step guide to make sure your Valentine’s Day is barf worthily corny and envied by others.

Initiate it yourself 

Ladies, it’s 2017. If you can’t ask your man or woman out on a date, you’re not doing feminism right. Take a stand against patriarchy and don’t wait around for the flowers and chocolate. Return the favour and make the gesture by getting him/her something nice too. Investing in a red, lacy number is thoughtful, but let’s be real: it’ll only be on you for a maximum of 3 minutes before it’s on the ground. Besides, it’s really more for you than them. Oftentimes, media lure men into getting something special for their partner by advertising jewelry or the perfect type of chocolates to give during the dinner that they too pay for. That sh*t gets pricey. So, if he can spend a good chunk of his pay-cheque to impress you — you can too. Even if you make less money than him. (But let’s sip tea about that another day.)

Lay off social media

Okay, Rachel – we get it. You’re feeling your new Pandora bracelet and the roses you got are redder than your cheeks during the great Canadian winter. But it’s important to say thank you to Carl and let him know you’re grateful for him rather than telling 756 of your ‘friends.’ In midst of all the likes and comments are hidden scoffs and eye rolls from people you barely know, in addition to people you might want to reconsider having any sort of friendship with. Besides, seeing what Richard got Anika may make you question and reevaluate your own relationship. Is your gift big enough? Is your selfie cute enough? Don’t bring that sort of negative energy into your life. Sure, sharing a selfie to commemorate your love is cute, especially on Valentine’s Day. You should be proud of your significant other’s face, and you have every right brag about with your favourite filter. However, one too many posts, and you will end up on the ’16 annoying couple posts’ Buzzfeed piece. And that’s not something to brag about.

Do something! 

Yes, every day should be Valentine’s Day. However, it’s important to make things a little more special sometimes. And if society sets out a special day for you to encourage you to do so, then by all means – take advantage of the opportunity. I’m not saying to go on top of the Empire State building and declare your love with a bouquet of $150 peonies (Thanks, Chuck!). However, if you have dinner with your significant other every night, have dinner with candles tonight. Skip the routine missionary and spooning, put on something sexy, and surprise your significant other with some spine chilling foreplay. If you want Valentine’s Day to be special, go out and make it happen.

Sometimes expectations for Valentine’s Day can be so high that you just can’t reach them. And while putting together the perfect night can take more planning than a military operation, what’s important to remember is that being with the one you care for is what should make it special. Trying not to conform under societal pressures to go big or go home is difficult, but keeping your partner in mind is the key to success. Don’t do it for the Instagram post — do it for bae.

And if you happen to be without a partner this Valentine’s Day, embrace it. No one will ever love you more than you love yourself. And if that’s not the case at the moment, start tonight!

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below! 

Single on Valentine’s Day? It’s going to suck

It’s Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that great?

Two months ago I had a boyfriend. This year would have been the first time I celebrate this “holiday” with a partner. As you can imagine, I was already planning the details. How I would act all surprised when he brought me flowers with a small heart-shaped card asking “will you be my valentine.” He would cook a romantic meal that we would eat by candlelight. Afterwards, a little dancing outside under the stars (in my dream, it’s always warm in February). The perfect, romantic, Valentine’s Day.

And then it all went to shit — as it always does around the holidays. Am I right ladies?

Now, I’m single again. Single on Valentine’s Day. It feels slightly akin to this:

But, I’m used to it. I’m used to the numbing reality of being lonely, with only your parents to send you a quick “I love you” e-card and a box of chocolates to make you feel extra special. Imagine the talk in the office: “ooooo, who gave you those heart-shaped cupcakes??!! Who is the special guy/gal? – Oh, it was my mom.”

But, does Valentine’s Day have to be so crappy for single women? All the magazines tell us that it’s totally fine and there are lots of ways to celebrate this holiday without a partner. Let’s run through the options:

I’m going to focus on self-love this Valentine’s Day: What a bunch of bull shit. Do you think that by going out to a pedicure or treating yourself to a glass of wine, you will forget about how single you are? You know what sounds like a fun time? Going to a fancy restaurant and having a luxurious dinner by yourself while watching as all the couples around you kiss and laugh and dance….yes, that sounds lovely. Sure, I can spend a few hundred dollars on a spa day, surrounded by equally single (or retired) women, drinking gross cucumber water and pretending to be happy. But honestly, it’s just a waste of a lot of money. I’d much rather go to the spa on a day where I can enjoy it.

I like the sentiment. The “I don’t need a man to complete me” philosophy is a good one, but on Valentine’s Day, it all goes out the window. Even the strongest of women are entitled to feel crappy as they watch everyone else pair off. No amount of “self-love” can change that.

I’m going to hang out with my single friends: What single friends? As a millennial in my mid 20s, all of my friends have paired off, and all the single ones bat for the other team. Hanging out with them makes me feel even more alone. Don’t get me wrong, hanging out with friends is always the best bet, especially if you are feeling a bit sad, but it’s not always the best solution. Your friend invites you to a dinner party that night and you may be stuck sitting between couple A and couple B, trying to explain why there was no guy….literally no one….you could have brought.

Let’s say, for argument sakes, you have a solid group of single friends, all looking to hang out and forget about this terrible Hallmark holiday. You go out, drink your fill, and spend the next few hours trying to get the cute guy in the corner to give us the time of day. At the end of the night, all you are left with is a splitting headache and a lot of regret.

 

I’m going to find someone online to spend the evening with: Bad idea. Just a really, really bad idea. I don’t know how much clearer I can be. Anyone online on Valentine’s Day is looking to do just one thing — find a desperate and sad woman willing to have a one-night-stand. I’m sorry, but it’s true. This isn’t Hollywood. No one finds their soulmate on Valentine’s Day. Remember ladies: you never know who is behind the screen. And, if you do decide to meet up with someone, it will never be Ryan Gosling.

 

I’m going to spend time with family: Hi mom! I’m back! Thanks for the cupcakes and the card! Yes, I know I shouldn’t be upset I don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know I deserve better. No, I’m totally fine! Can I have a second helping of mac n’ cheese please?

Seriously though, spending time with family is great. They can be a real comfort when you are feeling down. But, it also emphasizes the fact that, well, you have no where else to be. Unless your family has a tradition of getting together on Valentine’s Day, it’s just a nice reminder that your siblings and friends are all having a romantic evening out and here you are, watching a movie with your mom and dad, pretending everything is normal.

As you can see, the choices are slim. I apologize for my pessimism, but there really is no escaping it. Valentine’s Day is going to suck. Might as well embrace that fact and do it properly — alone, in my pyjamas, with Chinese food and a giant stack of candy, watching A Walk To Remember while clutching a box of Kleenex.

Pro tip: Get to your closest grocery store super early the next day for discount chocolates. It’s really the only positive thing about this stupid holiday. You are welcome.

Will you be single this Valentine’s Day? What will you be doing? Let us know in the comments below!

Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating women

Valentine’s Day is often about separating into couples or honouring your own self-love and independence, but this year I challenge every woman to try something a little different. Instead of giving power to the things that separate women from one another, whether it be by being with our partners or on our own, let’s use the holiday of love to begin building a community of women helping women. Let’s build a community of love, if you will.

January has been a painful month with a megalomaniac fool running the show down south (do I even need to mention his name?) and a relatively silent leader up north, who isn’t saying much to the big bully downstairs. It is a tough time to be a woman, a minority, a member of the media, or anything else other than an old white man. To add salt to the wound, the sun is rarely out and everyone is sick with the cold or the flu. Honestly, what is a girl to do?

In times of great trial, it is necessary to resist spiralling into a great depression by being positive. In an effort to be optimistic, women should use Valentine’s Day as an act of solidarity! Whether it be hanging out with a few friends, or getting your grandmother, mother, and sister to all go out for dinner with you, celebrate the collective community of femininity.

This is not the year for Valentine’s Day to be a comparison between those who have a boyfriend and those who don’t. Doesn’t that seem like such a blasé past-tense way to celebrate a holiday created precisely to celebrate love? By separating women into those two camps, it limits our potential to collectively unite and feel empowered and loved with each other. Let’s continue the momentum from the Women’s Marches around the world and foster a true sense of community and love. There are simply too many women who are not finding valuable connections with other women and are instead desperately lonely and wanting of men on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, which traditionally focus on monogamy.  Instead, use Valentine’s Day as yet another reason to enjoy the beautiful women in your life. Our women communities matter too and deserve as much time and space when it comes to celebrating love.

I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year by looking at my beautiful daughter and revering in her exquisite and effeminate existence. I will be celebrating my mother’s strength and sage wisdom, and thanking her for teaching me how a woman with integrity acts. I will be surrounded by various women influences who have stood by over years of tears and doubts, celebrations and all the mess in between.

Celebrate women on Valentine’s Day. I mean after all, who will be beside you laughing and reminiscing when you are old and bony in the nursing home?

Strength in unity: Women’s March brings millions together

You would think the politics of the last week would divide people. Instead, it brought over a million of women, men, and children of all ethnicities, religions, and economic statuses, together. No matter how I think of it, the feeling of awe is absolutely overwhelming. Did anyone else expect the movement to be this big? I knew it would be impressive, but the turnout blew my mind. I couldn’t remember when a group of people this large marched down the streets of Toronto with a simple purpose: gender equality and women’s rights.

Think about it: Millions of people got together to walk through their city of choice, protesting a government that doesn’t respect their bodies or their rights as a basic human being. That, my dear readers, is a beautiful thing.

In Toronto over 60,000 people marched through the downtown core, surprising skaters at Nathan Phillips square. Photos lit up social media using hashtags #womensmarch and #womensmarchTO, to spread messages of love and resistance. There were participants of all age groups, skin colours, and religious affiliations — all with their own independent voices. But, no matter the cause or the reason why someone joined the march, the overarching message was quite clear: “Love Trumps Hate” — and it always will.

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

Here are some of the highlights from the march in Toronto:

In Washington, people marched not only in support of women’s rights, but also to protest the new president Donald Trump. Over 200,000 of people attended (although numbers haven’t been officially confirmed), in addition to the slew of celebrity speakers. Here are some of the highlights:

Angela Davis, political activist: “The freedom and struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.”

Kerry Washington, Actress: “When you go back home tonight… and you feel like ‘Wow, there is an agenda at work to make me feel like I don’t matter, because I’m a woman my voice doesn’t matter, because I’m a person of colour my voice doesn’t matter, because I’m an immigrant, because I’m a member of the LGBTQ community, because I’m an old person, because I’m a young person… because I have a fucking voice, I don’t matter.’ You matter.”

Elizabeth Warren, Senator: “Yesterday, Donald Trump was sworn in as president. That sight is now burned into my eyes forever. And I hope the same is true for you, because we will not forget. We do not want to forget. We will use that vision to make sure that we fight harder, we fight tougher, and we fight more passionately than ever — not just for the people whom Donald Trump supports, but for all of America.”

“We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back! We come here to stand shoulder to shoulder to make clear: We are here! We will not be silent! We will not play dead! We will fight for what we believe in!”

Natalie Portman, Actress: “[Women] must seek leadership positions, and support other women who do the same. Until we make it normal to have at least half, if not more, of our leaders be female, we will be serving, and with our taxes financing, a government that believes it’s within their domain to make decisions for our future.”

America Ferrera, Actress: “The president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America. And we are here to stay. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance. We march today for our families and our neighbours, for our future, for the causes we claim and for the causes that claim us. We march today for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war. He would like us to forget the words, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,’ and instead, take up a credo of hatred.”

Scarlett Johansson, Actress: “President Trump, I did not vote for you. That said, I respect that you are you our President-elect and I want to be able to support you. But first I ask that you support me, support my sister, support my mother, support my best friends and all of all girlfriends. Support the men and women here today that are anxiously awaiting to see how your next moves may drastically affect their lives. Support my daughter who may actually, as a result of the appointments you have made, grow up in a county that is moving backwards, not forward, and who may potentially not have the right to make choices for her body and her future that your daughter Ivanka has been privileged to have.”

Bernie Sanders, Senator: “President Trump, you have made a big mistake. By trying to divide us up by race, religion, gender and nationality you have actually brought us closer together. Black, white, Latino, Native American and Asian American, gay or straight, male or female, native born or immigrant we will fight bigotry and create a government based on love and compassion, not hatred and divisiveness.”

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

Did you go to one of the Women’s Marches? Let us know how it went in the comment below! 

 

“The Two of Us” and the importance of an unfinished ending

The connection between two people can be confirmed in a variety of relationships; mother and daughter, lovers, or a boss and employee. The dialogues and stories that result from the bonds people experience are individualistic and universal at the same time. The Two of Us by Kathy Page is a compilation of short stories that made the longlist for the Giller Prize. This set of stories reflects the commonality of all face-to-face relations between two people, and yet how astoundingly different the partnerships are depending on the role each individual plays in the given scenario.

Initially, it is difficult to find a common association between each of the stories and it appears they are inextricably disconnected.  After meditating on the various stories that Page writes, there is a theme that arises between the tales. Each of the stories is written in intense and vivid detail that hooks the reader in and then concludes before the climax of the story is revealed. “Pigs” is about a husband and wife and ends with the woman thinking about killing her husband, but we never find out what happens next. The setting of the story is carefully laid out and the characters are so well described they feel real, and yet the reader never finds out the concluding element in each of the relationships in the set of short stories.

The lack of a conclusion in the stories is initially maddening, but as they continue it becomes apparent how much these awkward in-between moments reflect reality. Oftentimes in the set-up of a story, it has a distinct beginning, middle and end — it is clear-cut. Life does not work like this, and abandoning the traditional set up of a story gives it more authenticity. My discomfort as a reader reflects my desire for the perfect ending. Instead, abandoning my longing for perfection to embrace the rhythm of Page’s set of stories deepens my acceptance of the never-finished stories in real life.

“The right thing to say” follows a couple who live in Canmore, AB, that are trying to have a baby. The mom-to-be is pregnant and they are having testing done to find out if the child has a genetic defect that would affect the health of the baby. This story hits close to home, and the descriptions of the setting are incredibly vivid. It almost feels as if the reader is sitting next to the worried couple in the hospital. This story reflects the various settings that Page uses, switching between England and Canada. It is interesting because Page is a British author who has resided on Vancouver Island for several years. The stories reflect her intimate familiarity with the two settings and helps the reader to really have confidence in in what is being described.

There is a futuristic element to a few of the stories as well. In “It is July Now”, the tale focuses on a character named Piret who is from Sweden and lives in a socialist society where almost nothing is owned privately. A middle-aged American woman comes to intern at the school and attempts to befriend Piret several times, though it is mostly unsuccessful. There is a stark contrast between the strict and stringent lifestyle of Piret and the American woman who is happier and more free with her money. The story between the two characters ends off without a distinct conclusion and it leaves the reader wondering whether the two women become better friends.

The concluding story of the anthology brings the set of stories together in a fascinating way. “Open Water” features a swim coach named Mitch and one of his swimmers, Tara who lives in Vancouver.  Mitch works with Tara for years on her swimming and when she has the opportunity to go to the Olympics, what happens next will leave the reader shocked.

Page does a very subtle and determined job at showing the reader that life is awkward and the unexpected happens, yet it becomes almost soothing in this series of stories. In one of the stories mentioned, the reader will find intimate commonality with their own life in The Two of Us, and walk away with a stronger understanding of the complexities of the unfinished ending in real life. The anthology comes highly recommended, and definitely a study of the most detailed and intimate way to describe a person and their life through the written word without giving everything away.

Don’t fall prey to the holiday blues

Every morning and evening I log into my computer or cell phone to check my various social media apps. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — It’s all the same. All I see are messages of despair or people asking others to leave notes of hope and prayer. It seems like everyone is sad this time of year, and I get it.

The holidays tend to make people a little stressed and depressed. It’s a time of reflection and thoughts of the future. And if 2016 was any precedent, the future doesn’t look really bright. That, in combination with the pressure of gift giving, family, and work, it can all get overwhelming.

Women’s Post explains some of the reasons for these holiday blues, and offers a few suggestions to beat them — however, it should be known that the best cure to the December depression is to spend time with those you love, whether that’s family, friends, or your dog.

Fiscal frustrations: This is the biggest factor contributing to holiday blues, especially if you are a parent. No mother or father wants their child to get less than others. And when you have a mom, dad, sister, brother, and then your aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and coworkers — it all adds up to big bucks. Stockings alone can add up to a hefty bill. When you are counting your pennies (and even when you aren’t), gifts can get expensive.

Remember that expectations for gift giving are never as high as you think. A simple book, pair of socks, or even homemade cookies will put a smile on someone’s face. If you can’t afford to give everyone gifts, do activities instead.

Inability to be with loved ones: This is by far the hardest thing to deal with during the holidays. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, let me first say that I’m terribly sorry. Whether it’s because you’ve experienced a recent death or are miles away from your family this December. The holidays will be really tough. There is no denying it, and there is no “cure”. If this is the case, the best way to handle it is to call up some good friends and invite yourself over. Don’t feel ashamed to say “hey, I’m a bit lonely this holidays, can we get together sometime for some drinks or coffee? Or would you like to come over for dinner?”

If that’s not possible, try skype or calling those you are missing. Otherwise, do things you find enjoyable. Take yourself out to the spa or to a fancy dinner. Don’t stay at home watching sad movies — unless you find it cathartic. Ultimately, know that there are people out there who love you and care for you. That’s all that matters.

Review of past year: A lot of people start to panic around December when they realize how little they’ve accomplished. It’s almost the new year, and there is still so much to do! You have to cook for Christmas dinner, but also get that gym membership you promised yourself 12 months ago. What about the job you’ve been searching for? All of those unfinished projects? All that weight you wanted to loose?

I’m here to tell you to STOP IT! It’s December, and there is no way to change anything right now. Instead, focus on all the fun you will have this month. Go eat at nice restaurants, visit with friends, and go to a museum. Who cares about the missed opportunities! Take advantage of your holiday. All of your decisions and everything that you’ve done over the past year has accumulated in you being you. And you are amazing!!

 

Above all else, remember that you are a wonderful human being who deserves to have a wonderful holiday season. Try not to sit in the dark and feel sorry for yourself. Get out there and enjoy life. Kick those holiday blues in the butt!