I Went to Therapy and it was totally normal, helpful and not a big deal

It’s no secret that mental health is a stigmatized subject. Research tells us that mental illness affects people of all ages, all educational levels, all income levels and all cultures. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. That is approximately 7 million people! And still people get awkward and weird when the topic of mental health is brought up.

This September I started regularly seeing a holistic therapist, Angelika. This is like the naturopathic version of a normal therapist. The biggest difference being that Angelika doesn’t have a doctorate and so she doesn’t prescribe medication. Most of her methods and techniques focus on belief change using methods such as guided meditation, positive visualizations, supportive mantra’s, hypnosis, ect. It sounds fancy but for the most part my sessions consisted of me talking and her listening, just like in the movies but without the fancy couch.

I decided to start seeing Angelika when I realized I was struggling to cope in everyday life. She had worked with a friend of mine who saw real positive results and I knew that talking to someone was my best option. You see, a lot happened in September. I moved into downtown Toronto, Lucas moved 2 hours away for school, I started a new job. All very exciting stuff but it was a lot all at the same time and as it turns out, I had some trouble adjusting to it all.

One Monday evening in September I went to yoga class to help calm me down. While in the change room, I put my jewelry in a side pocket of my bag. The next morning I went to get my jewelry from my bag and it wasn’t there and I went from panicked to hysterical to ballistic in minutes. I ended up having to call in to work and take the morning off as a personal day. I couldn’t breathe, I was hyperventilating, I couldn’t stop crying. It took hours for me to calm down. Was the jewelry special? For sure. Was it worth that much stress and anxiety? Hell no. It was just the cherry on top of the overwhelmed pie and that was the moment I knew that I needed to get some help asap.

I met with Angelika 5 times over the course of 4 months and it has made such a positive difference in my life. I feel so much more relaxed, I am managing stressful situations better, and I have a much more positive outlook on the big and small things in my life. We talked about all sorts of things but when whittled down most of my fears and anxieties were rooted in communication with others. Communication with Lucas, my friends, my co-workers, my sisters, my parents. With Lucas, it was a fear of being unable to communicate while being far apart and I was so afraid of that happening that I was making it happen. With my sisters, it was a judgement thing. I thought they judged me and so I treated them a certain way in response to what I assumed they were thinking. It put strain on my relationships. Working with Angelika I have learned how to be less hard on myself and less judgmental and presumptuous in my communication with others. My relationship with Lucas (despite being long distance) has never been stronger. We share more now than we did when we lived together and we have learned how to make each visit more meaningful. Also, my relationship with my sisters is so much better. We used to bicker all the time, which is normal for sisters but was also very sad. For the first time in my life it feels like my sisters and I are friends rather than frenemies and it feels so good!

In October I slipped up while talking with a co-worker and said “oh I was talking with my therapist about that this morning”. He looked at me like I had three heads. At the time I was embarrassed. Even though I was making so much progress, I was proud of myself and I felt like I was controlling my life instead of my life controlling me. I was embarrassed that I had admitted this secret to someone. But now I am realizing that I have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. So I need someone who is unbiased to listen to me vent every once in a while, so what?! It’s healthy! I’m getting things, emotions, thoughts and feelings out into the open and then dealing with them in a rational and clearly thought out way. The way I see it, everyone should be taking the time and energy to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about, it would make the world a much nicer place.

So if you have been thinking about therapy, any kind—do it! Let this post as a sign! Yes, the first appointment is awkward and weird and nerve-wracking but also so incredibly worth it. Let them think that I have three heads… I feel great and that is all that matters.

Musical Musings

If music be the food of love, play on.

~ William Shakespeare

To me, music is emotional and expressive. Music is thrilling and exciting. Music is constantly moving, touching, exploring. Music can be happy, sad, beautiful and tragic all at the same time. Music is exceptional.

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I love listening to music, I love watching music, but most of all I love performing music. I’m no professional or anything. I don’t get paid to sing but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I love. It is important to me to always have some sort of creative outlet be it music, dance, art or drama. I strongly believe that the creative arts help us as human beings to connect with one another on a more meaningful level. It doesn’t matter what language we speak, what social background we come from or what religion we believe in a C major chord will sound happy to everyone.

I’ve been involved with the arts from a very young age. My mum had me in dance and music making classes at the age of 3. While I’ve tried my hand at many various art forms my go-to has always been singing. I really became passionate about vocal music in high school. I was very lucky to attend a Creative Arts specialty school where I was given exceptional instruction in music theory, music history and music performance. In addition to all my regular high school courses. Here was where I fell in love with choral music. There is nothing more magical than performing with a group of singers as one entity. Below is a video of one of the three choirs I participated in singing a super fun song called “I’m a Train”. This piece is originally by the King Singers. (I’m standing in the light of the window).

See how fun was that?! Sometimes choral singing gets a bad reputation as being “boring classical music”, but that is so not the case!  I may have left high school over 6 years ago but I am still singing. In university I sang in the musical theater productions and I sang in a choral group. And currently I am getting my singing fix through a local young adult choir in Toronto. We practice once a week, on Tuesday evenings. The music we sing is everything from regular choral mass arrangements, gospels, jazz numbers, ect.

Last night was our first concert of the New Year. It was held in a small church with amazing acoustics. This means that the sound rings and bounces off the walls. It makes for a great performance space. We sang a medium length 5 song set and it was so much fun! Two of my best friends sing in the choir with me. We all stand next to each other and it is such a fun way to spend time with them on a weekly basis. Lucas also came out to see me sing last night. It means the world to me that he supports my music when he can. I know that choral music isn’t his favourite but he is always happy to come and listen. I think he is learning more and more about the art form with every concert he attends. The choir has more concerts coming up in April and I cannot wait!

How do you get your creative fix? Share in the comments!

The Bravery of My Sister

This is my “little” sister, Natasha. Also known as Tasha, Tash and Na-cha-cha. I put the little in brackets because while she is younger than me, she is also taller and looks more mature (I think).

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My sister is a flight attendant. This job is something she has been working towards for just over a year and in December it became official. She underwent 6 weeks of grueling and intensive training to get a position and I couldn’t be more proud of her. The thing is… I’ve never actually told her that. I’ve said good job and that’s awesome but I’ve never said Tasha, I am so proud of you. I guess it’s easier to express emotions onto paper (or a computer screen) than it is to say them out loud. Also, we are just getting out of a period where we didn’t get along to well. We just didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things so it was easier to fight about it, we are very close in age so bickering and button pushing comes pretty naturally. Now that I’m thinking about it we haven’t had a nice, endearing moment with one another in a while. And I wish I could say that this post is my way of telling her that I care but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know that I write a blog at all…

So why then am I writing about my sister? Well, same reason I write about anything else. Because I have these thoughts sitting in my brain and I need to get them out. #thisiswhyblogsexist

Anywhoo, back to the point of this post. I am no novice flyer. I’ve flown back and forth to Europe twice, back and forth to Cuba three times, across Canada and to various places in the states. I have no hesitation getting on a plane but when I think about my sister flying here, there and everywhere on a daily basis… It just makes me nervous. Infrequent flying seems totally natural to me but flying everyday seems to be testing the fates. I imagine there are way more flights everyday then crashes, no one ever reports good news after all, but still. BUT STILL!

But still… she loves it. She is having the time of her life up there! Shes personable and smart and exceptionally pretty so customer service comes naturally to her. She has this thrill for adventure and this need to travel so being able to have lunch in Jamaica but still have breakfast and dinner at home is a luxury.  And she is so brave because she is a flight attendant and I am so proud of her!

I would log off and call her right now to tell her all of this but she is actually in Mexico on a layover. Can’t complain about that! So instead I am going to share with you some of our most adorable moments.

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My 21st Birthday
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Our Annual Family Photo Shoot. Circa 2011
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The time she got stitches & I lost a tooth all in the same day.

One Lovely Blog Award!

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The most thrilling, exciting & wonderful thing has happened! I have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award! Basically this a way for fellow bloggers to show love for other bloggers with new, up-and-coming blogs, like mine. It is an absolute honor to be nominated because to me it means that someone out there finds my blog lovely! And really, can I ask for anything more?! Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU to Angela Eve of My College Odyssey for the nomination! It truly does mean the world, thank you!

The guidelines for the One Lovely Blog Award are:
• Thank the person who nominated you for the award
• Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog
• Share 7 facts/or things about yourself
• Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog

So here goes nothing, seven facts about me!

  1. I am a huge, HUGE Harry Potter fan. I actually have a Potter themed tattoo on my rib cage. It says Fidelius.  10 House points to whoever can tell me what it means!
  2. I used to study classical voice in high school and as much as I loved it I was afraid of letting my love of music become work so I decided not to pursue a career in performance, instead I took the administrative route to supporting and growing the arts. Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I had chosen the opposite path, but as each day goes by I am confident that this was the right one.
  3. I love the suburbs. I love the uniformity of similar looking houses and I like the fact that the suburbs are close to the city but there is still space to move around. Cities are crammed, farm lands are too sparse, but suburbs are just right.
  4. I am embarrassingly proud of the fact that I am a natural blonde. I consider my hair to be one of my best features and I think it quite literally defines who I am as a person.
  5. My favourite food is popcorn. I could eat popcorn all day, everyday. It can be salty, it can be sweet, the possibilities are endless. And it’s something that I can actually make!
  6. My dad and I share the same birthday! I was born in the evening of his 30th Birthday. How is that for the best birthday present ever?!
  7. I love having a blog because it gives me a space to share my wildest, random thoughts but it also makes me feel connected to a larger community.

Nominations! I think the following blogs are lovely and I nominate each of these bloggers for the One Lovely Blog Award:

  1. foodkitten
  2. Mica’s World
  3. Did You Dress Up For This?
  4. The Creative Cavern
  5. Samantha The Reader
  6. asexblogofonesown
  7. Sam I Am
  8. Janes patisserie
  9. Discovering ratchet
  10. Clitington on Film
  11. Orange Drop Delight
  12. Indulge litterae
  13. jonaswalkerson
  14. continuumissues
  15. The Yolo Babes