Me Too

Chances are your newsfeed has been filled with this hashtag over the last few days. Some just post a simple status, others are sharing their stories, and many more have decided to stay silent. It does not matter whether an individual has shared or not, every survivor of sexual harassment and sexual assault deserves our respect and admiration.

I did not post myself until this very moment because all I kept thinking was how my experiences weren’t that bad compared to what I’ve heard from others. I know friends who have had it much worse, and the world I work in right now serves as a reminder of how bad things can be for women. But my internalization and the downplay of my own experiences is a symptom of the sickness that is our hyper-masculine, heteronormative society. Choosing not to share just because my experience is lesser is a disservice to myself and others.

I, like many who identify as women, have learnt to expect intrusive comments and uncomfortable situations with men in my everyday life. We who identify as women or girls have come to expect that sometimes someone will stand too close on the subway even when there’s tons of room. We’ve come to expect those awful comments from across the street when we’re walking alone or even with friends. We’ve come to expect the way men’s eyes devour our bodies no matter what we are wearing.

But just because they happen all the time, just because it’s part of our expected reality, that doesn’t make it okay.

I’m here to say it doesn’t matter what your #MeToo involves. It doesn’t matter if it has happened once or if it’s still happening. It’s not right. It shouldn’t be happening and we shouldn’t just have to accept that it’s part of identifying as a woman.

Through the campaign I was exposed to Emma Thompson’s conversation on Harvey Weinstein and I think she makes a really important point (around 1:49) when she talks about how he is only the tip of the iceberg. This really drives home the point that it doesn’t matter what happened, how bad it is perceived, or how many times it happened. The fact that it happens is bad enough.

“Maybe not to that degree. Do they have to all be as bad as him? To make it count? Does it only count if you’ve one done it to loads and loads and loads of women or does it count if you’ve done it to one woman, once. I think the latter.”

While I know posting a hashtag does not solve the problem, I do think it can help open up these conversations and allows us to raise awareness to an issue that is often hushed. We’re told not to talk about it. We’re told to be grateful that it wasn’t worse. But we should talk about it and we should be doing something to stop it, regardless of who we are or how we identify.

This hashtag has started a conversation that has jetted off into many useful topics. Awareness has been raised that that #MeToo campaign was started ten years ago by activist Tarana Burke who started the campaign in hopes to connect survivors. Other conversations have focused on the role men have in this movement to change and to enact change in the men around them.

I’d like to invite any of my readers who identify as male to take the pledge on White Ribbon. But don’t just take the pledge, actually put it to action. Give the girl on the subway a bit of space if you can, say something when one of your friends starts to cat call someone, and stop these types of conversations from happening behind closed doors too. Stop writing things off at boys will be boys or as typical locker room banter, challenge your friends and your family members to be better as you should be better yourselves. Help enact the change we so desperately need.

I recognize there are also male survivors, and I am of the point of view that we can still acknowledge the gendered part of this issue, where women are targeted more often while still acknowledging the struggles and triumphs of survivors of all genders.

Lastly, to every survivor out there, whether you’ve shared your story or not, you did not deserve this. It does not matter what you were wearing, how much you had had to drink, how many partners you’ve had in the past, or anything else. It does not matter if he was your friend, your boyfriend, or your husband. It does not matter if it was one comment or if it was a full on attack. It was wrong.

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You were born for the stars darling

This Friday the youth leaders at my work are hosting a self-love event with spoken word, photo books, visual artistry, and other interactive art that promotes self-acceptance, resiliency, and healthy relationships in youth. I’m saddened that a double tour shift means I won’t be able to attend the actual event but I’ve been inspired by the work the youth leaders are doing and wanted to take part in this practice of self-love.

So for today’s post, I want to combine a more traditional things about me post with this concept of self-love. I’d like to share with you 25 things (since I just turned 25) that I love and appreciate about myself. I’d also like to encourage you to do the same; whether you do it in blog form or you just write it out in a journal for yourself, challenging yourself to pick out the things you love rather than the things you dislike is a good practice in self-care and self-compassion. We could all use a little more love in our lives, and who’s to say it can’t come from ourselves?

I will say in creating this list it took some time. It started off as easy and then I really had to self-reflect. It was uplifting in the end as I realized more and more things about myself that I often take for granted. I hope to look back on this list when I’m having a hard time, hopefully it will inspire me to pick myself back up again.

1. I am compassionate and my ultimate goal in life is to help people in some way. I am the happiest when I am making a difference in someone’s life, whether that’s through crisis counselling or if it’s just giving someone directions on the street.

2. I do not let the fear of not being ‘good enough’ stop me from participating in art forms I enjoy. It’s okay if my writing isn’t perfect, if my pictures are sometimes grainy, and if the only thing I’ve mastered drawing is a cartoon portrait of a character who is neither myself nor Felicity Smoak but is somewhere in between.

3. I am pretty damn good at video games, especially first person shooter.

4. I put a lot of thought into gifts and events that I plan for other people. I care about what their reaction will be and if they’ll actually get use of the gift.

5. I’ve worked to embrace the body I have, rather than the one I’ve been told I should have.

6. I asked for help when I needed it the most. While I spent years denying my true feelings and suppressing pain because I thought that was how you handled it, I did come forward when I realized it had all become too much.

7. I do not let my anxiety and fears of social situations stop me from attending things all the time. I challenge myself to go even when I am uncomfortable and I try to make the best out of the situation.

8. I have a strong and wonderful relationship with my parents and my grandfather who all mean the world to me. I make the effort to call or visit whenever I can because maintaining that closeness means a lot to me.

9. Even when I’m crazy busy I always try to make the time to listen to friends when they need to vent.

10. I can really rock dark lipstick shades.

11. I have a wonderful sense of adventure that has allowed me to find hidden gems on a regular day out.

12. I enjoy cooking and I’ve become quite the master in the kitchen. I’ve challenged myself to new dishes and I have found ways to make healthy food exciting and enjoyable.

13. Despite considering myself an introvert who isn’t great at small talk, I have found ways to connect with guests from all over the world to the point where they feel comfortable sharing bits and pieces of their lives with me over an hour and a half walking tour.

14. I have never stopped being a student, even with my schooling finished I look for any opportunity to learn more about the world around me. I challenge myself to go to seminars and talks to get a broader view on life.

15. I can give you directions to pretty much anything from anywhere in the parks at Walt Disney World. I can also do this while I’m not even in Florida.

16. I believe in raising my friends up whenever I can, whether it’s by liking a selfie, giving a pep talk, or reminding them how amazing they are.

17. Most cats love me which is a pretty good sign I should love myself too because cats hate everyone.

18. I’m self-taught in photoshop which is an accomplishment I usually shrug off but it is something that has taken me a lot of time and practice to get good at, and of course I cam still learning.

19. I am physically stronger than anyone has ever given me credit for.

20. While I often feel like my life is a mess and I’m drowning, I do make an effort to maintain organization and control so I make sure that things get done. I do not procrastinate and I work harder when it’s time to hustle.

21. I am able to connect with kids of all ages on topics that really matter. I am able to make a difference by bringing these topics into schools and opening up about them, allowing kids to ask their questions in a space that is safe and inviting.

22. I am incredibly creative. I’m always thinking up new projects and ideas, whether it’s for work or if it’s just for gift giving. I challenge myself to not just go with the flow but to change it.

23. I am vocal about the causes I am passionate for, even if speaking up puts me in conflict with others around me. I stand up for what I believe in, I try to enact action as much as I talk, and I challenge myself to become better.

24. I have not let adversity stop me from doing what I want to do. I have fallen, I have been pushed, and I have continued to get back up again. I have felt the sting of bullying and the pain of disappointment but I have come out of every challenge stronger than before. This has not always been easy and many times it has taken years to rise from the ashes but I’ve come back like a phoenix time and time again.

25. Even after everything, I am still here.

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A Dame and a Dog: in loving memory of my Grandmother

It’s funny how you can have years of memories about a person and yet there are a few that stick out more than others. It is not always because they are more meaningful or special, but just because they seem to be triggered by the smallest of things. With my grandfather it’s sharing moments at the breakfast table at 5am before he would go to work, him sipping coffee and me hot chocolate. A trip into Tim Horton’s or even just seeing him with coffee cup is enough to conjure the memory. Meanwhile, the Canada’s Wonderland parking lot always makes me think of my birth father because I once cried in his car in that parking lot because of a cancelled trip to the theme park.

But with my grandmother it’s just dogs, and a silly story that I’ve heard time and time again. I’ve heard it so many times that it’s become one of my dearest memories of her, even if I wasn’t actually part of it.

During my grandmother’s battle with cancer my mother went to her hospital room to hear a rather detailed and vibrant story about the dogs who had been in the room a while before. She adamantly described a large poodle that had got up on her bed with her. I imagine it was a ray of sunshine in that rather grey cloud filled room of chemotherapy.

Now, even I’ll admit that the story sounded quite delusional, as amusing as it was. The whole family was convinced that perhaps the hospital had gone a little overboard with her medications that day and that she’d simply hallucinated the whole thing.

That is, until the next week when they saw the St. John’s Ambulance dogs in the building.

At the time I don’t think therapy dogs were quite as well known or talked about. A dog wasn’t something you immediately pictured in a hospital unless it was for someone with blindness or vision loss. Now, emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, and trauma dogs seem to be around every corner. I had the pleasure of meeting many St. John’s Ambulance dogs myself while at university because they were brought in during exam time for the school’s wellness week. But at the time the idea of a giant poodle visiting a very ill woman didn’t make much sense.

But my grandmother had in fact had a lovely little visit with some dogs who had brightened her day, even if the whole family had thought she was completely loony at the time.

The story always brings a smile to my face (and sometimes a few tears to my eyes). I will admit that I couldn’t tell you every little fact about my grandmother if I tried. There are others who remember her mannerisms better than I do and who could probably pick her voice out on a recording much quicker than I could. But I try to remember as much as I can from those eleven years I had with her. I remember that she was funny, I remember that she was kind, and I remember that she never failed to make me feel loved.

You may be wondering why I’ve decided to share this story with you. Perhaps it seems too personal to put on the open web but there is a reason for it. You see, tomorrow is my birthday and it’s also the anniversary of her death. A tragic coincidence, I know. Through the years it’s been hard to celebrate and to really appreciate the day when it took so much from my family. It took the glue that had always kept us together. But over time I’ve learned to honour her memory more and grieve her less. This year, I have a particular way I’d like to do just that.

You see I remembered the story about the dogs at the hospital once again because of another lovely canine who has recently come into my life. Dandy is the trauma dog at Victim Services Toronto. Dandy is mostly used to comfort young victims of sudden crime and tragedy, and has begun comforting victims before court appearances. She is there to provide unconditional support and comfort to individuals during the most difficult of times. Just like the St. John’s Ambulance dogs were there for my grandmother, Dandy is there for many during their struggle.

 


This wonderful trauma dog has become a light in my life, a little reminder of my grandmother, and also a source of comfort. Even just to see her in the office is enough to make a tough day a bit easier.

Coincidently, there is a third party fundraiser for Dandy that is just about to wrap up on Friday. Toronto Police Superintendent Heinz Kuck raises money for Victim Services Toronto every year with wonderful campaigns and this year he completed a 3 day climb of 3 mountain peaks for The Climb campaign with 100% of the proceeds going to Dandy and the work she does.

So instead of gifts this year (although a generous number of early birds have already given me some) I am asking for donations for this wonderful cause. Every dollar counts. Every dollar brings another person a bit of light in a dark time. I’ve made my own donation just now in loving memory of my grandmother, Theresa Miller. Or Terry, as most knew her, though to me she will always be just grammie.

To donatehttps://www.crowdrise.com/the-climb2

To learn more about The Climb and Dandyhttp://victimservicestoronto.com/events/the-climb-2/

Lastly, I just want to say that fourteen years has not made a difference: I still miss you every day, and I love you more than you could ever know. My only hope is that I’ve made you proud.

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I’m thankful for…

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always one of my favourite holidays because it coincided with my birthday. Everyone would gather at my grandparents house. It wasn’t odd to have over twenty people amongst the brood at the table (read: tables). But after we lost my grandmother things changed for a while. Family dinners became smaller, quieter, and a somber mood hung over us as the anniversary of losing her approached. As much as I was always happy to be with my family, it wasn’t much of a holiday anymore.

A few years ago we made the decision to try and make a change. We did a big Thanksgiving dinner while I was home during my first year at university. Family had been visiting from the east coast and we invite all the usual guests from Thanksgivings of old. It had been the first time in eight years that things had felt normal again. Since then we have spent the holidays with our extended family and while nothing will ever replace the feeling of getting together at my grandparents house with my grandma there, this comes as close as it could possibly get.

This afternoon will be filled with family visits, laughter, and way too much food. But before I head off to a day stuffed with… well, stuffing, I wanted to take a moment to actually reflect on what I’m thankful for:

Two jobs I love

While I’ve made a pretty good hobby out of complaining about working two jobs, the only thing I really have to complain about is not being home a lot and having feet that constantly ache. In the grander scheme of things these are two tiny consequences of having two wonderful jobs that I actually enjoy.

I understand that most people thought I would give up my job with Haunted Walks once I found full time work. I honestly thought I would too. I’ve never been a night owl so working until 10 or 11 o’clock at night is quite draining and I wouldn’t choose to do so if I didn’t actually enjoy myself on these tours.

The tours are a creative outlet that I haven’t had in a long time and it really is fun to meet new people from around the world every tour. It’s challenging me to be more social and outgoing which is helping me in my ever day life too. When presented the opportunity to facilitate workshops to high school and elementary school students at my other job I didn’t hesitate to say yes because I’ve become more confident in my ability to engage a crowd.

Plus, what other opportunity am I going to have to wear a cape outside of Halloween?

As for my day job, I am so thankful to be surrounded by such an awesome and hardworking team. I’ve been in too many positions where people are just fine with doing the bare minimum and it’s driven me crazy. But my coworkers now are so dedicated and they work so hard. It truly makes me feel like I fit in. I haven’t felt this comfortable in a work environment in so long and I don’t think I’ve ever connected with a team so quickly. I get up every morning excited to go to work and see what the day brings. Sometimes that’s loads of paper work, and other days it’s a birthday party for a very special trauma dog.

Family who raises me up

If you look at my immediate family it’s very small but if you expand out to who I actually consider family I have quite the large web of people around me. While I don’t always get to spend as much time with them as I would like, every time I do get to see them all, I am reminded how lucky I am to have them. They are always in my corner. They get excited to hear about my successes and always make me feel good about what I’m doing.

I am especially lucky to have parents who support me in every zany adventure I go on. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to continue to travel with them, especially as I look forward to my first adventure to New York City with my mother. I could not be better supported or more loved. People always worry that only children will be lonely but I never felt that; I had two best friends with me the entire time.

A partner who stands by me

I’m pretty bad at writing sappy stuff when it comes to my relationship. I’m much better at talking about the food we ate or the weird adventure we went on (this weekend it was a giant lightsaber battle) but the sentimental stuff is usually something I don’t get into. But the fact of the matter is, I’m very lucky to have fallen in love with my partner. Things are not always easy, for either of us, but through it all I am thankful to have someone who supports me and has stuck with me through some dark times. He’s patient and understanding, he has stood by me through some very big ups and downs without judgement, and he reminds me to not be so uptight all the time. My life would be a lot less fun without him.

Friends olds and new

I’m thankful for the new friends I have made through both of my jobs. I’m always so anxious about meeting new people but around each corner everyone has made me feel welcomed. I’m no longer the person eating lunch by herself in the corner, I’m no longer too anxious to go out to events with coworkers where I have to be outgoing and social. Each new person I’ve met in the past year has made things easy which is something new for me. Being without my core group of friends all the time has been like losing my anchor. I floated around aimlessly for a while but now it seems I’ve found my true north.

Still, that core group of friends is something I’m very thankful for, even though we’re not altogether anymore. It’s hard to make plans and to coordinate schedules but we still try. I’m grateful for every Skype date, every group message, and every unlikely get together. The girls I grew up with have become my sisters which is something I never knew I needed or wanted but my life would be so much duller without them.

For you

Last but definitely not least, I’m thankful for this blog and I’m thankful for each and every one of you who reads it. It’s been over ten months since I’ve started this journey and while some days I struggle to keep up and write new content, for the most part I’m very lucky to be able to put my thoughts out there. Thanks for reading. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Toronto Eats: Pie Pizza Bar

I keep wondering where the time goes. It feels like our lovely little adventure to Fan Expo (read a bit about it here) was only last weekend and yet it’s been over a month since we wandered the convention halls. That means the pictures of some of the most delicious pizza I’ve ever have had have just been sitting in my camera roll for over a  month.

Well, enough of that, it’s time to share.

As I mentioned in my Fan Expo post, we headed out for dinner after the convention, wandering down to Harbourfront as we had a few weeks prior when we’d checked out Joe Bird and The Fix Ice Cream Bar. Queen’s Quay Terminal is home to a handful of eateries and since we were in much need of comfort food we decided to try another one of the options in the building. And what is more comforting than pizza?

Pie Bar Pizzeria is a brand new joint that mixes traditional Italian pizza with some interesting flavour combinations. With options of pastas or pizzas, it’s pretty standard in terms of Italian faire but the unique topping mixes on Pie Bar’s pizzas definitely make it stand out. On their website they claim “While our roots may be Italian, our take on food is a bit quirky, unexpected… a little off the wall. Nonna would definitely not approve.” and after trying some of the joint’s options, I’d definitely say this statement hits the mark.

Their pasta options are limited to spaghetti, linguini, and rigatoni but there are multiple options in terms of flavour and sauces. Interestingly, their Spaghetti Bolognese is made with a mixture of beef and wild boar.

After looking over the pastas I decided I was more in the mood for pizza. Since it had been such a long day we decided waiting for mains was going to be pure torture so we used that as an excuse to get an appetizer. We ended up going with the cheapest item within the “sharing plates” section of the menu: the garlic bread. The cheaper cost did not deduct from flavour; it turned out to be an excellent choice.

The garlic bread was done on fresh-baked pizza bread which was deliciously soft and just covered in garlic. I’m a pretty big fan of garlic bread in general but this one was spectacular. There was just enough garlic butter and the Reggiano cheese was a nice change from the usual mozzarella blend that most restaurants seem to serve.

Held over by the delicious starter, we proceeded to order our pizza choices. Naturally, the blogger in me was extremely happy when we all ordered something different: you know, more things to share.

My personal choice was That’s a Spicy Pie which had a red sauce base (not my favourite in general) fior di latte (cheese), pepperoni and spicy soppressata (meats), and Calabrian chili’s. Despite the fact that I prefer non-tomato sauce based pizzas, this one was actually delightful. The sauce was light and the dough was nice and thin, allowing the flavour of the meats, cheese, and chili to really shine through.

Matt’s choice ended up tasting pretty similar to mine but the addition of honey on top made it more sweet than spicy. He ordered The Angry Bee which happened to be my favourite of the three we tried just because the honey really took the flavours over the top. It had the same Spicy San Marzano sauce that my choice had, along with fior di latte, spicy soppressata, and Calabrian peppers. With the subtraction of the pepperoni and the addition of garlic and honey the similar looking pies departed from each other in their unique flavours.

Lastly, Keeragh had the most unique of the pizzas with a white sauce base, a mixture of cheeses, and a good amount of prosciutto. Simply named Prosciutto, the simple and elegant pie was light and tasty (thanks Kee for letting me have your leftovers).

Somewhere some time ago someone said to me even bad pizza is still good because it’s still pizza. While I don’t necessarily disagree with this statement, I am pleased to report that Pie Bar’s pizzas really are excellent pizzas and not just good bad pizzas. They still don’t top my personal list (that honour still goes to Descendant) but it’s somewhere I’d happily go back to again: especially for the atmosphere.

Just like Joe Bird, Pie Bar is right on the water. We enjoyed our time shaded by a canopy in what should have been the last of the hot weather (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). I’m usually the first person to refuse patio seating but this time it turned out to be great way to relax and unwind after a somewhat overwhelming day. We got some nice pictures in the sunshine, and although we may look a little tired I’m taking that just as a sign of a good day.

I honestly have no idea where the time is going (as can be seen by this 10pm blog post). It’s already almost Thanksgiving weekend which means somehow it’s my birthday next week. I’m about to launch into my first Halloween tours of the season and then once October wraps off I’m off to New York City for the first time. Things kind of feel surreal right now; I’m very, very busy but I’m also happy. I’ll be sure to tell you more about it soon.

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The two jobs I ran away from and one I didn’t.

This past week I was standing on the platform of York Mills station when this overwhelming feeling washed over me. I realized that the last time I had been on that platform I had just finished sobbing in the bathroom. I spent the morning filled with anxiety and an overwhelming sense of unhappiness at the job I had started two days prior. Before showing up to work on that first day I had been filled with excitement and optimism about a new journey that might lead to bigger things. By the end of the first day I had been less convinced but determined to try again. But after the second day I was dreading even stepping foot inside the building once more.

I didn’t make it through half of the third day before I decided I was going to resign.

But on this past Tuesday morning I stood on that platform, my music drowning out the sound of late morning commuters. There was a smile on my face that could’ve stretched the length of the station, and all I was doing was running an errand for work.

My journey into the working world has been a messy one. Things were not everything I expected it to be. After months of applying to jobs and having few offers I just wanted to make what came up fit. Unfortunately, I was trying to fit square pegs into a circular hole.

The first job you get might not be the right fit for you, and whether you leave after a day or two or have to stick it out for a few months, know that is it okay to change your mind. For me, that lesson was a hard one. At the time I felt like a failure but now looking back on it all I know what I did wasn’t failing at all. I knew it wasn’t the right fit, I knew I was not in an environment where I could thrive, and so I didn’t stay. I realize I am privileged to have had that luxury and that under other circumstances I might’ve had to stick it out but I still believe the lesson remains; you can change your mind about what you’re doing and that’s okay. It does not mean you failed.

So what I wanted to do with this post is really reflect on what I had deemed as massive failures and come to look at it as more of a learning experience. I think by getting my toes wet in different positions I was able to find out more about myself as an employee, especially by figuring out what I wanted out of work and what I didn’t want. So lets start with that…

Job #1 – The Health Company

I have always been comfortable in administrative work so even though I didn’t fully understand this company in the beginning I had been confident in my ability to be the go to person for any big or small random tasks that come up in any business. I interviewed very well and the team members I spoke with helped excite me about the position. Unfortunately, within an hour on the first day I began to feel let down.

The position was a new combination of roles that others had taken on but didn’t have time for. They tried to squash these altogether into a new part-time position. It was one of the first things that was annoying about this role; it was five days a week but only five hours a day. I would’ve much preferred three full work days to get my work done rather than coming back every day. But that wasn’t the main problem. The real issue was that they didn’t have a real plan for the transfer of work.

The girl who had taken on many of the tasks was too busy with her own work to train me and so that resulted in her doing most of the things that should have been being transferred to me. A bulk of the proposed tasks had previously been done by someone who was on maternity leave and since she’d already left there was no one to train me on those either. The financial employees had some ideas on how I could help but they also didn’t have the time to hand anything over. So I sat there with nothing to do because they didn’t even have a computer set up for me yet. I went home telling myself over and over again that the next day would be better.

It wasn’t.

I do believe they needed someone to take on these responsibilities but they hadn’t taken the time to figure out what that looked like. There was no clear direction and there was a lack of support from the team. This was especially frustrating from a company that seemed like a very innovative and youthful environment where camaraderie was encouraged. Unfortunately that didn’t extend to the new girl.

Frustrated that I had done nothing but watch a powerpoint and search for new office furniture in my three first days I decided this wasn’t a good fit.

Job #2 – The Vacationers Hostel

So it was back to the soul sucking process of job hunting but I luckily managed to get an interview just a few weeks later as a hostel downtown. I thought the interview went okay but I was still surprised when I got the offer. I went in the first day nervous but excited. I knew the job would challenge me to be more social but I was prepared to handle that challenge. At least that is what I had told myself.

I ran tons of events the previous summer while working at Canada’s Wonderland. I assisted clients and guests from all over and never had any problems. But when asked to talk to complete strangers with no real purpose things fell apart really quickly. I spent more time wandering around the stairwells of the hostel than I did actually talking to the guests. I felt panicked and uneasy. I checked my phone over and over again, just dying to go home and get away from all of this.

My direction from my supervisor on that first day was to just ‘mingle’ which was not what I was expecting from the job. I thought I would be planning outings and big events but instead I was supposed to just engage with people to see if I could help them figure out where to go that day. I was there to promote already existing events and to try and get people to go down to the hostel’s bar that evening. Wanting to make this work, I sucked in a deep breath, tried to push down my fears, and then the first person I tried to talk to waved me off, got up, and left. After this happened a second time I kind of gave up on trying and spent the rest of my shift just sitting in the lobby. The only time a guest actually talked to me was when she asked me to watch her bag while she went to flip her laundry.

Once again I was frustrated by the lack of training, directive, and support from my team. I was more or less thrown to the wolves with no idea of what I was supposed to do or how I was meant to approach people. I feel like if I had had someone with me to support me through the process it could have went smoother. I hardly had any more information about the hostels events than what was on the giant chalkboard in the lobby.

One thing my supervisor did tell me was his plan for me that week. All but one of the days I was scheduled for were going to just be mingle days. Knowing well that it wasn’t something I was comfortable with and likely would not become comfortable with, I decided to resign.

Honourable Mention – The Granting Organization

Between the hostel and my current job I had a part-time administrative position that I was actually sad to leave. While the work was not entirely challenging, my team was extremely supportive and reliable. I was trained on each meticulous task and I was eventually given extraneous duties that were fun and interesting. It was certainly not the kind of work I wanted to do forever but it was a great environment and I felt quite guilty handing in my resignation. The small office was something that really illuminated the fact that while I am an independent worker, I do enjoy having a team around me that I am able to actually go to for support.

That’s exactly what I found at the job I’m in now.

Job #3 – The Non-profit

It would take me seven more months to find another full time position after the hostel. In the meantime in addition to working part-time at the granting organization I started giving ghost tours, I joined the gala committee for a local shelter, and I began volunteering as a crisis counsellor. Eventually all this hard work would pay off and I ended up getting an offer for the position I am in now. During the first week at this job those familiar new experience anxieties bubbled up and there was one night I found myself so anxious that I fell apart. But with encouraging words from my mother and a friend I went back the next day only to find I had been worrying about nothing. What helped me stay was the fact that I wasn’t let down by an unsupportive team or a lack of direction. In fact, I found the opposite.

While my position is very much based in doing random tasks as they come up, I was given some heads up about what the tasks would be. My awesome predecessor created a whole manual which has information on every little thing she was ever asked to do. Things have already come up that aren’t in the manual but I’ve always received the training and support on what to do when something new arises. I’m not left floundering with no assistance, it’s there if I need it. 

And that’s the big difference; I feel like my team wants me to succeed. They’re not just throwing me into the deep end with no idea what to do. I’m over a month into the position and I’ve had multiple staff members check in on me just to make sure I’m happy with the work. I’m delighted to say that I really, really am.

In addition to this I’ve been trusted with tasks that challenge and excite me. New opportunities have opened up just from me saying that I’m interested in them. I’m finding work all over and while this makes my days busy and sometimes overwhelming (driving the company car is not my idea of fun) it is extremely fulfilling. I not only love the work I do but I actually feel like I’m contributing in a positive way.

So that was my long and twisted road into full time work after post-secondary. It took a lot of ups and downs to get where I’m at now so I wanted to share that journey with all of you, especially if you’re soon to leave school and jump into the working world. Some people will find their place right away, but many of us do not. Don’t forget that paid work isn’t the only way to fulfill yourself (as I’ve said in posts before) but that even if you don’t get the job you thought you would (read: Police Officer) you might find something even better. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

 

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Oh where does the time go?

Oh my wonderful readers, how I’ve tried and tried to get back on schedule with this blog. It’s just not happening. The unexpected continues to pop up and expected has filled so much of my time that my day planner is a never ending collage of scribbled tasks and events. But I’m not complaining. I’m busy in the best of ways.

Still, I recognize that me dropping off the face of the earth, or at least the face of this blog, for five to seven days at a time isn’t very reassuring. I promise I’m not going anywhere. I’m not losing steam or running out of ideas. In fact, I have a bunch of half written posts just waiting to be polished, spiced up with pictures, and posted for your consumption. I just need to find the time to actually finish writing them. But looking ahead at that chaotic book I call a day planner, I’m struggling to find an hour or two to really dedicate to a good post and that’s frustrating because I have so much I want to share with you all right now.

Rather than give you half-assed posts that were not edited or even glanced over, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak of what is coming up. Hopefully sharing little bits and pieces will be the kick in the ass I need to find time to regularly post again. Fingers crossed.

For those of you who were fans of the Tasty Tuesdays of old, I have a number of Toronto Eats in the work right now. This includes savoury shares of pizza from Pie Bar, mouth watering waffles from Starving Artist, and a very special anniversary trip to Terroni on Adelaide.

Life wise, I’m hoping to tell you guys a little bit more about my day job now that I’m over a month into it. I’ll probably have a few more posts that involve the working world, especially since I’m amping up for a very busy Halloween season at The Haunted Walk of Toronto. There’ll be shares of new bath bombs, organization tips, and a few lessons in body confidence that I’ve gained over the last little while.

I’m quite excited about all I have to share with you, I just want to take the time to write it well. I’d like to thank you for bearing with me during this erratic and messy period. As organized as I may appear with my date book, clip boards, monthly calendars, and everything else, I can still get quite lost in the chaos. But I’m still here, and my story still continues…

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Toronto Eats: Joe Bird

I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve gone to a lot of new restaurants lately. Most of my foodie adventures are prompted by a post or video from BlogTO but this time around the restaurant came before the blog post. It was about a week after we had dinner at Joe Bird that I scrolled past a video about it on my Facebook feed.

The easiest way to describe Joe Bird is that it’s a swanky version of KFC or Popeye’s. The main focus of the menu is chicken; fried chicken, grilled chicken, bbq chicken, and so on. The bottom of the menu is full of scrumptious sides from slaw to cornbread. They also do pitchers of speciality cocktails or if you’re the only one drinking you can order by the glass.

As we tend to do with a new restaurant, Matt and I decided to order a bunch of food off the menu and just share everything. Actually, we decided to order too much food off the menu but that wasn’t discovered until the plates started arriving at the table. It also didn’t help that the couple next to us ordered the corn on the cob, thereby prompting us to add it to our order as well.

For mains we decided to go with two of the different styles of chicken; Joe’s Fried Bird and the BBQ Bird. The Fried Bird came with a side and a sauce so we decided on Potatoes Brava which are a time of roasted potato wedge covered in garlic aioli and bravas sauce. As it turns out this is a Spanish style recipe. Joe Bird does have a mixed Latin and Southern vibe to it. For our sauce we picked the Rooster Sauce which is just Joe Bird’s medium sauce. It was pretty tasty but I now wish we had just ordered the 6 sauce flight so we could have tried all of the sauces.

The fried chicken itself was one of my favourite parts of the meal. It was crunchy on the outside but the chicken inside was not even a little bit dry. The flavour was great even before it was dipped in the Rooster Sauce. The sauce wasn’t exactly my favourite but it was still tasty enough. I only picked apart one piece of my fried chicken because I had left it until the end. I almost wish I had started with it so I could have ate more.

Joe’s BBQ Bird was definitely unique and had a really nice light flavour. It wasn’t smoky like one would expect from most BBQ chickens. The seeds on top of it had a nice crunch and added a little kick of flavour. The salsa and chips on the side weren’t anything spectacular in my opinion, I would have preferred a different side option if that choice had been there.

The Potatoes Brava we ordered with the fried chicken on the other hand was an excellent side. I’m not the biggest fan of wedges but these potatoes were a middle ground between roasted and wedges, and boy they were delicious. I think one key to my heart is definitely smothering whatever you’re making in sauce. 

Of course I had to save the two best for last; corn and cornbread. The corn was done in a Mexican street style much like the one we tried at La Carnita a few months back. Smothered in cheese and sauces it was absolutely delicious. We definitely didn’t need to order it in addition to everything we already had but I’d like to thank the couple next to us for ordering one just to tempt us into it. It was worth the stomach ache afterwards.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t finish my half of the cornbread because cornbread is one of my all time favourites. Once upon a time on a Disney trip my mother took the pan of cornbread away from my friend Maggi and I because we were going to ruin our whole dinner  by eating the entire serving. Joe Bird’s cornbread was delightful especially with the jalepeno butter on top to make it slightly unique. If we go back I will be making sure I eat my whole piece before I stuff myself to the point of exploding. 

As I mentioned before, we ordered way too much food. With all the sides (and the pre-dinner dessert at The Fix) we would have been fine with just two pieces of each chicken rather than two BBQ and four fried. It doesn’t really seem like a lot but everything together really added up and we were both left feeling quite full, which is always quite a feat when Matt is involved. I’d definitely love to go back and try more of the menu, and with lots of tour shifts coming up in October I’ll be in the neighbourhood once again.

Now it’s time to enjoy a day off and get ready for the next adventure.

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Buttons on Buttons

After spending the majority of the weekend in my hometown visiting friends and spending time with family, I returned to the city in need of groceries and one giant meal prep to prepare for the busy week ahead. But before a cursed trip to Walmart and a heated cooking session with my stovetop, my mom and I decided to go on one last adventure for the weekend.

Black Creek Pioneer Village is a heritage site in North York. I ventured there for the first time a few months back to be a guest on a haunted tour. It was nice to hang up the cloak and lantern for the evening and let someone else tell the ghost stories. Black Creek is especially eerie since you get to venture inside the supposedly haunted buildings. Even with all the ghost hosting I’m still very much a skeptic but after the guide and I both heard the sound of scratching in one of the more haunted buildings I was not too keen to return to Black Creek any time soon.

Thankfully, today’s venture to the village was much more lighthearted and a lot less eerie. While riding the subway this week I kept seeing advertisements for the Artisan Village Festival that Black Creek was hosting on this fine Sunday afternoon. As we know from my venture to the One of a Kind Show and all my trips to farmers markets I am a big fan of markets.

With the sun glaring down and my focus on the soft serve ice cream I forgot to take the usual pictures I would for this blog but I can tell you the Artisan Village Festival, while small, was still pretty nice. If we had stayed longer we could have taken part in the heritage classes and workshops but instead we just wandered about the historic buildings and checked out the wares at each artists tables.

From handmade leather wallets to organic soaps, the Artisan Village Festival had a small but varied stock of artistry to admire and purchase. While we weren’t teetering out with arms full of handmade goods I did make two small purchases that I thought I’d share.

The table I marvelled at the most unfortunately didn’t have a shop name anywhere I could see and I failed to ask the woman for a card or something so I could look her up. But she had turned various Toronto monuments and street signs into buttons, magnets, and even wooden coasters. I ended up grabbing a College St. magnet to commemorate my new (it’s still only been a month, I can call it new) job.

My other small purchase was from a collective shop called The Evergreen Collective. I was able to get their card when grabbing the little trio of fabric button earrings that they had packed together in a little mesh bag. The three pairs of earrings were $10 all together which was a score seeing as they’re handmade and one of a kind. I’m already planning an outfit for tomorrow so I can wear a pair.

Our adventure was just over an hour and while it wasn’t anything spectacular it was still a nice thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. It also didn’t hurt that my job with Haunted Walks got my mom and I in for free. Afterwards it was off to a full afternoon of meal prep and cleaning, and now it’s time to just relax until another full work week begins. Lets hope it goes as smoothly as the last.

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Toronto Eats: The Fix Ice Cream Bar

With my parents safe in Florida and booked on a flight home tonight it’s time to return to our usual scheduled programming. But before I do I’d just like to thank everyone who reached out to me over the last week to check in. I never doubt that I have a loving support network but ya’ll really came out in full force during this hard time and I love you all the more for it.

Now lets talk about food!

I’ll start off by saying that I have been on a real marshmallow fix this summer so when BlogTO posted about a new ice cream joint down by the water that featured an ice cream cone with marshmallow toasted onto the edge I just had to go. Another Saturday in August giving tours downtown meant I had to be in the neighbourhood anyway so Matt and I made a day of it.

The Fix Ice Cream Bar is a walk up ice cream bar that faces Lake Ontario. It is nestled beside its sister restaurant Joe Bird. Bright graffiti draws the eye in before you even get the chance to walk up and look at their selection of treats. On the far side of the bar is a display with faux versions of their different concoctions. There’s both soft serve and traditional scooped ice cream to choose from and they all looked pretty interesting. But I already had my mind made up and glancing over the different flavours did not change it.

The Campfire is one of The Fix’s signature cones. They stuff a waffle cone with burnt marshmallow ice cream but only after they’ve put toasted marshmallow on the edge of the cone. It’s actually toasted with a blowtorch so it mocks a campfire marshmallow perfectly. The burnt marshmallow ice cream has a smoky butterscotch flavour to it which was to die for. To top it all off they stick in a toasted marshmallow and a chocolate dipped graham cracker with mini marshmallows stuck to it.

This creation did not disappoint and while a single serving came to about $9 after taxes it was definitely enough for two to share. It was also delicious enough that I really don’t mind paying the extra to have it again.

We actually went back to The Fix after our Fan Expo adventure and decided to try something new. Unfortunately they were out of chocolate soft serve so I wasn’t able to order Chocontreau (chocolate soft serve with orange meringue sticks, chocolate brownie, and cointreau syrup pipette) as planned. Instead we ended up with the brulee donut “sammich” while Keeragh ordered the Grasshopper. Both were really lovely. The Grasshopper had smooth french mint ice cream, chocolate coating, crushed candy cane, and chocolate pearls. As a mint chocolate chip lover myself, the few spoonfuls I had were enough to tell me I could’ve devoured the whole thing.

The sammich on the other hand was filled with the same burnt marshmallow ice cream that was found inside the Campfire cone. This was actually part of the reason I picked it. Normally I only like hard ice cream if it is filled with candy bits or chocolate chunks but in this case the flavour of the actual ice cream was what brought the sammich over the top. Additionally, they brulee it with a blowtorch which add a nice crisp warmth to the whole thing.

I still prefer soft serve ice cream when it comes to having a chilly treat but I would say the Campfire from The Fix is a close second to the best upscale ice cream I’ve had (which is the Cookies, Cookies, Cookies and Cream from Sweet Jesus). Still, a plain old dipped twist cone from one of the trucks in town still has the biggest place in my heart. Sometimes simpler is better.

We’ve had lots of food adventures in the last few weeks and the pictures are just piled up in my phone waiting to be shared so you can look forward to more Toronto Eats. I am hoping to getting back to more regular posting but I make no promises as life continues to remain unpredictable, no matter how much I write down in my day planner. Thank you all for sticking with me. The adventure continues…

 

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