To The Man Headed North on Line 1

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I’m not sure what it was about you that captured my attention first…

Maybe your laid-back business attire paired with a blue backpack full of pins that stated “yeah I may be professional but I’m also an explorer.”

Or was it the colour of your shirt that complimented your eyes and hair colour (which is a lovely warm shade of brown, like your sun-kissed skin).

Or the scruff that also indicated you might be some sort of travel-lover or a bit of a hippie like me.

Maybe the fact that you had a smaller body frame, and so do I.

You smirked at me slightly while passing me at the Bloor-Yonge station where I stood, awkwardly, knowing I looked like shit (I was hungover). It wasn’t a full smile so I didn’t fully smile back. I wish I had. Maybe this whole story would end differently if I did.

You walked further down as we waited for the Line 1 bus going North. My area was getting crowded, so I walked closer to you, my feet aching in my heels. In retrospect, maybe I was gravitating towards you and I’m using the crowd as an excuse as to why we entered the same TTC doors when the bus flew in.

I wish we interacted sooner. Initially, I thought you were with your mother, though. This lady seemed to have pointed out the North Line sign to you and followed close behind. When I recognized you were both strangers, I wanted so badly to say hello to you. Why couldn’t I? What was stopping me? Ahhh, of course: anxiety.

But I also blame technology and social media and the way the world “interacts” now. Everyone communicates via their smart phone and connections aren’t as intimate as they used to be. I don’t even remember how to approach or talk to strangers. Especially beautifully crafted ones like you.

Zooming North, I watched the flashing lights on the subway map, wondering which stop you were going to get off at. I was hoping it wasn’t soon and I was hoping you were getting off at York Mills (where I did).

On the seat beside me, a girl was leaning against a glass divider, sleeping. Well, it appeared she was asleep but she may have only been resting her eyes.

You were standing diagonally to the right of me, chatting to an older man whom I came to understand was a stranger to you. At first I thought you knew him. You stood facing him and I have no idea what you two shared but I envied how easily you were able to approach someone randomly and strike up a conversation… and hold the conversation. It was attractive and impressive.

Your conversation was funny; I finally saw your smile. Your biggest grin as you two shared laughs and I could not stop staring at you. I melted. You were the most handsome man I’d ever seen.

The two of you kept looking over in my direction and chuckling. I think you were laughing at Sleeping Beauty next to me and I couldn’t help but crack a small smile at the entire situation. I was, for a period of time, worried you were both laughing at me. At my stained shorts, my messy hair and my leftover make-up. Maybe you were laughing at both of us, at the type of people you find on the subway; haggard messes and people with narcolepsy.

York Mills was soon approaching and my time to say hello was running out. But how could I say hi when you were already talking to this man and now his (I assume) wife? I was sweating profusely both because I was full of nerves and it was a humid day. I could smell my B.O. and it made me self-conscious. Whatever. I’m just going to be confident anyway. I’m not looking my best right now but I shouldn’t care what people think. I gave myself a pep talk. I had to say something to this man. I’d regret it, I knew I would.

Maybe I could ask if they were laughing at me and apologize for looking like a homeless hooker but I’m glad to provide entertainment? Maybe I could simply compliment him?

The monotoned voice interrupted my thoughts. “Next Station is York Mills. York Mills Station.”

I stood up, hanging off a handle, hoping he’d smile at me or say something to me. The whole time I’m sweating, trying to find wiggle room into the never-ending conversation with this couple. But I only had seconds left.

The doors opened.

I looked right at him and could feel my face blushing. I smiled shyly, “you’re really handsome, I just had to tell you,” and I stumbled out.

As the doors closed he spoke out, “thank you! Have a great day!”

I instantly felt sad. It was strange. I felt like I missed an opportunity… it felt like I missed a chance to connect with a soul similar to mine. I wanted him to chase me before the doors closed and we’d never cross paths again.

The bus zoomed ahead of me and through the window, he waved, a huge smile planted on his face.

I hope he saw me smile and wave back but I might’ve looked up too late. I spoke to him too late.

On the GO bus back home all I could think about was him and I wondered which stop he got off at. Did he feel the same way I did? Did he wish he could’ve had another chance to connect with me? Did he want to run off that subway and discover who I was as much as I wanted to discover this captivating human?

It was around 5:30pm on a Sunday when this whole story happened. Where was someone dressed in business attire going? Does he work on Sundays? Was his home just a few stops after I hopped off?

To the man headed North on Line 1, where are you?

I want to meet you… again.

 

mini memoir

Every day that I live I am at war with my own mind. I envy the blissful, healthy minds who’ve never experienced a mental illness. I envy how comfortable you are in your own skin. I envy how easily it is for you to be vibrantly yourself amoung strangers. But being envious isn’t going to heal me. Learning to accept myself (and my mind) the way it is, and to love myself for who I am, is how to heal. I know this. I know this but I still cannot function properly without the aid of Clonazepam.

For the portion of my life I’ve been self-aware — and by this I mean since I was old enough to articulate my own thoughts — I always claimed to be an extravert but somehow trapped. Trapped by thoughts that wouldn’t allow me to fully live out who I am. Thus, I was always seen as the shy girl growing up. I hated being called shy. To this day, actually, it still bothers me if someone says I’m shy because I really am not; I have anxiety and I simply cannot be myself in this moment.

Back in elementary and high school, I had no knowledge of mental illness. I didn’t know I could be diagnosed with something and didn’t know you could take medication to control it. I didn’t know something could be wrong with my brain. I thought I was simply suffering from extreme shyness. Since everybody stated that that’s what it was and who I was, I started to believe it. But then I’d remember occasions with close friends; I’d be outgoing and goofy and I’d remember how normal and real that felt… how it felt like me. But this shyness? What was happening? This wasn’t me. I couldn’t talk in the halls. I couldn’t make new friends. I couldn’t stand up and give a presentation. I couldn’t flirt. I was bullied not only in school, but at home. I had no support system, no one to talk to, no one to hug. I wouldn’t even hug myself. In fact, I hated myself and who I was. My body never received love and I’d scrape hearts into my skin just deep enough to see a peek-a-boo of red.

My funeral existed in my mind very vividly and almost daily; who would attend, what life would be like without me and who would care that I’ve vanished. But I was a coward then, as you’ve come to know because I couldn’t even slit my own wrists. I couldn’t cut deep enough to leave scars and make myself bleed. It hurt too much. Hanging myself would hurt too much and it would leave too much time for my mind to wander and second-guess my choice. Same with drowning. So I would often Google guns, how to purchase one and which gun I’d want to be the “the one.”

I wanted to love me. I wanted to love my body. I gave it those hearts to let it know: I hate you and myself but I want you to be loved. It wasn’t until I reached university (I’m quite shocked I made it here, too) when I finally found freedom and love. I had so many aids for my depression and anxiety that some days would pass and I’d completely forget about the years when those two demons held both my hands. There was nothing to worry about; I was either living the best life or escaping from it to temporarily feel even better. New friends. Alcohol. A social life. People who liked me. Parties to attend. Clubs to join. Stories to tell. People to hug. Friends to cry with. Drugs. My first boyfriend. His love. His need and want for me. All of this… all of it washed over me and hid depression and anxiety away with the undertow.

The downward spiral came when three losses catapulted into my life all within a week. Goodbye, childhood dog. Goodbye, love of my life. Goodbye, Baba. I didn’t know how to grieve, given all of these things were suddenly nonexistent simultaneously at the beginning of 2009. Since my happiness, my self-esteem and my life was tied tightly to that first love of mine, when he was gone, so was all the joy inside me. How could I live without my best friend? How could I live without his love? How do I live without that sense of security I had being in a relationship? There was no one else I’d want to marry, ever.

To cope, I drank… and I drank a lot. I partied and went to bars and kissed so many people. I was desperate. I tried winning him back, I tried letting him go. He came back a few times, but always left, never stayed. He repeatedly smashed my heart and didn’t seem to notice how emotionally abusive it was. Oftentimes when I drank, I’d cry over him during these university years. I’d black out. Sometimes I’d see him at parties and pretend to be okay. Sometimes I’d see him purposely making out with a girl to make me jealous. I was suffering and the more I suffered, the more I drank.

When I wasn’t drinking, anxiety followed me around again… this time, to a much greater degree. In 2011 I saw my campus doctor who diagnosed me with anxiety. He prescribed Citalopram — or some C-word medication — along with good ol’ Clonazepam. I was studying psychology and knew I had anxiety, which is why I sought help. I couldn’t go to classes without taking shots because the anxiety was too extreme. Rum scared it away and brought my confidence back. I intoxicatedly learned so much through these psychology textbooks (rarely through classes because anxiety wouldn’t let me attend), and I was finally learning how I came to be this way.

I was sitting uncomfortably with my mind across from this caring man. He loaded me with information about anxiety and it’s comorbidity with depression and tons of other undesirable things. “I’m giving you Clonazepam because it will have immediate relief for you and you can go to your classes. It may take a few weeks for the other medication to kick in. But… I’m hesitant. This drug is addictive and I don’t wan’t to turn you into a monster.”

Do you ever have those moments in life and the instant they happen you know it will be a memory that will stick with you forever? The instant I heard that kind, old man sigh, “I don’t want to turn you into a monster,” I knew those words would forever haunt me. I never knew what he meant. I didn’t understand how I could become a monster… I wasn’t evil. I had no evil intentions. Monsters are evil, are they not?

Life still sucked but at least I was able to function, thanks to Clonazepam. Those magical, little orange pills. I was still heartbroken. My grades were awful because I struggled with this whirlwind of depression, anxiety and loss. I knew I was going to fail out of university and it wasn’t because I didn’t care; I was going to be a drop out because of my mental health. How was this fair? Why was I given this extremely difficult-to-control brain? One random day I approached my mom, “Why did you drink and smoke when you were pregnant?”

The best mark I received in all of my psychology classes was in a course titled ‘Developmental Psychology.’ I did so well and during the entire semester, I started putting the puzzle pieces of my life together. Everything began making sense. The whole problem manifested before I was even born. My mom’s answer to that question was “I didn’t know I was pregnant, I only drank the first month.” I’m not sure how much I believe but she did smoke the entire time (she was a heavy smoker up until a few years ago when she quit). “You’re so, so lucky I wasn’t born with fetal alcohol syndrome.”

My childhood and teenage years strongly contributed to the anxiety I currently have today. I have terrifying memories of running away from my mom, screaming in horror as she threatened to beat me. “Dad, help! Mom is scaring me!” He never did anything. I don’t think he knew what to do. I have scarring words she’s said engraved into my brain so deeply that it has caused me to feel uncomfortable giving my own mother a loving hug. It’s uncomfortable, today, to touch her in any way that is more than a quick high five. The words bleed in my ears…

You were a mistake.

I wish you were never born.

I’d wish you’d just drop dead.

There’s a reason you have no friends.

I was tormented by my own mother. Drop dead? I tried. I tried not existing for you. I spent nights alone in my room curled in a ball sobbing, scraping those hearts, wishing I had a different mom. And God, if I ever mentioned I wanted a new mom she’d freak out, transform into an angry demon and threaten me. “I’m going to call the cops if you hurt me!” My two siblings tormented me, too. And so I wrote in my journal often; I was lonely and I wasn’t sure my dog or cat were even listening anymore.

I was isolated; completely… alone.

I jotted notes to solve the mystery of my unfortunate mind in university notebooks. I realized that if I had a better childhood, a better teenage life, hell — an actual supportive and loving family, I probably wouldn’t be struggling as harshly as I am. Or, very importantly, if I was educated on mental health upon entering high school, maybe I’d be further down recovery lane by now.

I have no memories of being an infant but based on everything I was studying and by observing interactions in the past and present, I knew I did not have a secure attachment to my mother (what a healthy baby should have). After analyzing my first relationship with my first love and what happened when it failed, it was evident that I had an insecure-resistant attachment. When I discovered this initially, I was saddened. It all finally clicked. That’s why my mother frightened me and that’s why I can’t hug her.

Discovering all of this upon being diagnosed with anxiety made me feel very, very insecure. There was never any confidence in me unless Clonazepam was working away on my neurotransmitters. The attachment style someone has as an infant lays the foundation for the attachment style in romantic relationships later on in life.

Unlike securely attached couples, people with an anxious attachment tend to be desperate to form a fantasy bond. Instead of feeling real love or trust toward their partner, they often feel emotional hunger. They’re frequently looking to their partner to rescue or complete them. Although they’re seeking a sense of safety and security by clinging to their partner, they take actions that push their partner away.

So that’s what I’ve done all my life: push people away. I became the monster the doctor warned me about. When I don’t have access to Clonazepam, my brain needs something else to numb it — like alcohol. I ruined friendships and relationships. When my last relationship ended two years ago, I didn’t react the same way I did when I was 19, thankfully. Instead, I moved across the country. I developed a deeper relationship with yoga and meditation. I focussed on mindfulness and I actively attempted to move on. But without those orange pills, I still cannot function. I am still searching for the magic within me to free myself from them. I’m getting close, though. I feel it.  My goofy, confident, outgoing self… she’s in there and I can’t wait to find her.

I don’t know how to help her

This wasn’t supposed to be my next blog post because I have two others I am currently trying to finish and get posted. But since I deleted Instagram, which I tend to use to rant and tell the world how I am feeling (I like being real), I have no outlet. I could journal but when I need to rant… I need to let things out a lot quicker and typing is, obviously, faster than writing.

It’s quite obvious there has been tension between my mom and I lately. I don’t like to put blame on others but hear me out. I’ve been on a spiritual journey ever since the end of summer last year. I’ve noticed inner growth and a more calm, peaceful, positive state of mind within myself. My mother does not practice any form of mental healing. Focussing on achieving a healthy mindset is equally as important as focusing on achieving a healthy body. I think this is what she (and several people) fail to understand.

I am constantly (so much so, that I’m seriously exhausted) trying to teach her this. I always suggest meditation. I always suggest positive thinking and try to turn her thoughts around. But her mind is molded like bricks and nothing is budging. It’s closed off and there is no openness surrounding the brick wall around the way her mind operates.

This past mother’s day I wrote in her card, “we have limited time on Earth together, please don’t let this be a negative time…” But she read it without even thinking about the deeper meaning and laughed at the gift I gave her without any thought into what I was trying to say.

I thought things might turn around and there would be a brighter future for our relationship. Of course, how could I think it could be that easy? Today has already started again with her negative energy radiating into mine and it hurts my soul because I do not allow negativity (or negative people) in my life. But she’s my mother. I can’t simply toss that out of my life. I want to help her but it’s, again, exhausting. I get nowhere.

As I’m typing this I see multiple messages from her rolling in. I can only imagine she thinks I’m being rude and she’s becoming defensive. Here’s how today’s conversation has gone:

**[Italics are her, regular font is me. In bold, what she could have said in response with a healthier mindset]**

 

“Hi could you sweep floor”

“I’m doing laundry and going climbing. Also have to Skype Lindsay soon, shower and then write.”

“Don’t ask for rides today. Thought you could help out a little since your not working.”
Oh, wow! I didn’t know you had a lot to do today. Maybe if you have time you can sweep? Or tomorrow?

“Oh my god. Can you please stop being like this? I said I would help out but today I already have too much on my agenda. Did you forget my biggest dream is to be an author? I am working – ON MY NOVEL.

“What do you think that statement in your card meant?! I don’t want a negative relationship and you are causing one.”

[side note: my family doesn’t take my writing seriously which is often very hurtful]

“Why don’t you take your own advice, it works both ways”
I’m sorry, I often forget how much it means to you. I’ll think about what you said in the card and make an effort to keep things positive.

[I say something lengthy next and the lack of response infuriates me and makes me so frustrated that I have to close my eyes and breathe]

“I just simply told you I WILL CLEAN but today I cannot

“Mom I am the one who is always meditating and healing myself. You pour negativity out of your mouth on a daily basis and you need to learn that you are putting it into the universe and that is why nothing good may ever come.

“You attract what you put out in the universe

“That snappy remark was negative. Calling people names is negative. Swearing is negative. Not acknowledging your daughter’s passion in life is negative

“Whining is negative. Negative feelings are negative. The list goes on

“Find peace and joy and love and things will turn around.”

“Live in the real world

“I’m driving don’t text me”

I didn’t even realize how negative I’ve been. Forgive me for it? What keeps you so positive? How do I start meditating? Will you show me? 

“That comment was negative as well because you’re not even being open minded to accepting that your thoughts are pessimistic and they actually SHAPE your real world”

Haven’t heard back yet, but if I can guess what happens next: She will be home and come in yelling, saying negative things. Going on about how I’m sitting in bed doing nothing. When in reality, I am working on my novel and waiting to Skype my friend.

I honestly believe an intervention is needed. This is just my day TODAY. Other days are so, so much worse and I cannot even believe how she has functioned this long without even considering bettering her mind. It is so sad to witness.

If anyone has any advice for helping a parent who needs help, please reach out. This is becoming increasingly more serious as the weeks pass by. You can reach out on my contact page if you want to get in touch!

Love and light and all is well.

Nadia

ps. I hear the garage opening. Pray for me. But mostly for her.

the yoga class that left me in tears

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This post is about my recent experience with Michelle Tamblyn-Sabo’s Goddess Flow yoga class that was taught on a Sunday evening at the Toronto Yoga Show.

I did not know what to expect, nor did I know what a “Goddess Flow” really was. I figured it would be a regular yoga class with a feminine flare. But instead, it was much, much more intense and far deeper than what I thought.

It began with Michelle introducing herself and telling the story of how she came to develop what she calls a Goddess Flow. All of us women in the class had our mats in a huge circle, all of our souls connecting, feeling, uniting.

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This is me paraphrasing and telling you about her story from my memory. I might be a little off and I probably forgot key details. But I will sum it up the best I can:

Michelle always practiced alignment in yoga; very linear and “by the books.” It wasn’t until she attended a friend’s wedding (where I think the bride was a yogi), when she discovered a different way of moving during yoga. Yoga mats were rolled out and they moved… less linear. It was sensual. Alignment didn’t matter. Movement was more about devotion, self-love and driven by the soul. It was sexy. I remember she mentioned that she felt awkward in the beginning. Moving in such a way, let’s say, by swinging our hips, shaking our breasts or flipping our hair, has all been sexualized and women feel shameful to move in this way. But – these movements are actually primitive. The shaking, the dancing… the fluidity and loving nature of it all.

It was five years ago when she realized she needed to create something to empower women, to gain back our confidence, our femininity, our power and our devotion to ourselves and to love. Yoga, to her, didn’t (and shouldn’t) be linear for women. Women are not linear beings. She realized after the wedding that she wasn’t ever focusing on her lower chakras; she spent so much of her time in her head and focusing on spirituality. She had been neglecting the lower part of her body. Because her lower chakras were being forgotten, she was not whole but fragmented instead.

This resonated so deeply with me when she was telling it that I had to hold back tears. It was as if she was describing myself. We are, actually, animals. We are beautiful, wild creatures and we need to be able to connect to both our primal and spiritual qualities. We deserve this. We deserve to unleash our sensuality and move freely during yoga in a non-linear way. If it feels right for your body, do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. “Fuck alignment,” she told us.

We learned about all the Goddesses through a slideshow and how each of the Goddesses she chose helped shape her style of yoga. She has a list of them (and more about her yoga on her website).

I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know how intense this would be. Someone told me we would be making sex noises and I didn’t know if I wanted to hear the old lady beside me moaning. Would we be grabbing our boobs? Touching ourselves? I was anxious and excited; living outside of your comfort zone opens a door of self-discovery.

Before doing yoga, Michelle had a bunch of things in the center of our circle for us. There were essential oils to rub on ourselves – each one a different scent. I picked Joy. There were also these Truth Bomb cards and each had a positive little quote on them. We also chose a tarot card/some sort of Goddess card. I lathered my wrists and neck/behind my ears in joy and brought my two cards back to my mat.

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We began by sitting on our mats and meditating. Michelle guided us with beautiful words of which I cannot recall – I simply remember floating.

In the centre of the room was her mat, where she was there to demonstrate how the movements worked. If I can remember correctly, we began by doing cat/cow but by adding a circular rotation and we were encouraged to really let our soul feel the movement and let it guide us. We then went on to perform more movements on the ground and then in warrior poses. Everything we did though was not a simple stance that we held; we moved sensually, often moving our hips and running our hands up and down our bodies and through our hair (we were told to let our hair loose during her class).

It felt almost like a soulful, sensual dance. And while we were doing the basic movements, we had freedom to make each one our own and add in our own arm reaches or twists in our body – basically letting ourselves feel the music and letting our souls dance to it in a way that felt good for each of us individually. None of us looked the same, where as in a standard yoga class, you could snap a photo and see everybody in the same warrior two pose.

At first, it was difficult and awkward getting my body/hips to circulate the opposite way, but I started to do my own thing and the most brilliant thing of all happened: I didn’t care what anyone thought. I tuned out the room and listened to my body. I was smiling. My hair was a mess and I was a sensual being.

I had a note written for this blog that said “child’s pose with intense eyes!! talk about this.” But the memory has become so faint that I barely remember what this was referring to. As I close my eyes and place myself back to this evening, I vaguely recall having to use my eyes in a powerful way; with passion and with intent as if I were ready to pounce on my prey (or whatever I wanted). Even a simple pose (child’s pose) became so much more than a “resting pose.” It was remarkable.

During one of our dancing warrior poses, Michelle instructed us to shoot an arrow at our dream or goal and envision it ahead of us. I had/have so many so it was difficult for me to focus my attention on one goal and aim for it. We shot our arrows and pulled in our goal or dream with our invisible rope and did that repeatedly. It was a fun little exercise and it put energy out into the universe towards what we want to attract. It’s kinda like telling It what you want: “hey Universe, this is what I’m aiming for! Pull me closer!”

The next portion of the class is difficult to put into words. I want to dance for you or show you a video. I simply cannot express internally what was going on but I’ll give an effort.

“Why do we have to be limited to moving on our mats? Walk off and away from your mat and use your hips as you walk.” Michelle demonstrated as her swaying hips and dancing soul lead her off her mat.

The music picked up with a quicker tempo and we followed her lead, stepping outside of the rectangular box and outside of our comfort zones. Initially, I was thinking far too much. What movements should I do? Where in the room should I go? What do I do with my arms now? Can I repeat that move if I just did it? Is anyone watching me? This is exactly like improv dancing and I hate improv dancing. Those annoying thoughts quickly diminished when I started focussing on what I was hearing and how that was making me feel. Essentially, I was bringing myself into the moment and out of my head. So then another brilliant thing happened: my mind was silenced and I danced around with a miraculous amount of energy and emotion. I have no idea what I looked like but I remember hearing Michelle speaking over the music to me: “Yes! Beautiful!”

After the class, numerous yogis wanted a chance to talk to Michelle. I did, too, because her story made me cry and the class created so much magic in my soul and in the room. While my friend and I waited for our turn, we started crying uncontrollably. We weren’t sad; we cried because of how beautiful the experience was. Michelle saw us and we all embraced in a hug.

I am so blessed to have been part of that experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you Michelle. You are a beaming ray of light and you helped set my soul on fire. Now, time to unblock these lower chakras…

Love & light,

Nadia

 

 

 

the universe left me confused after not making the bachelor canada

There was so much preparation for nothing. So many misleading hints that I’d make it. Little signs. The amount of time and effort I put in to this process all seems like a waste.

It began with an audition video and a small series of questions I had to fill out in both the online form and in the video. Initially, I was worried; there wasn’t much leg room to say anything or do anything I wanted to make the video entertaining. Answering the required questions took up the full two minute time frame they provided.

After submitting the (what I thought was embarrassing) video, I didn’t expect much else. At least I could say I applied. To my dismay, I received a call from The Bachelor Canada the following week.

“We loved your video and we would like to have you in Toronto for an interview February 11th. And we want you to dress as if you’re stepping out of the limo on that first night.” First of all – this call came in at 11:11, which has always been a time of good luck for me. Secondly, the scheduled interview was on the same date I met Rachel Brathen (my idol) the previous year. No. Way. This was a sign from the universe, I knew it. I had such a good feeling… it was like it was meant to be.

Of course, I tried not to let myself become too optimistic and “expect” to get on the show. But the previous events and what comes next and on the day of the interview all seemed to convince me to disregard the fact that I may not succeed.

The next step was another questionnaire to fill out – this one was 107 ish questions long. I spent roughly 7 hours completing it. It was a very long night and I was confident with my answers; I was both serious about finding love and humourous with the light questions.

Let’s not forget the dress code I was informed of during that initial phone call. Dress as if I’m stepping out of the limo the first night… immediately I pictured myself in a stunning, flowing maxi dress. Nothing in stores came in my size or looked right on me; I had no other option but to order online.

I fell in love with a long, red dress on LuLus.com. I read the reviews of other tiny girls similar to my size. Girls who were my height, girls with my boob size… the reviews sounded promising; the length didn’t drown them and an xxs fit snug. Perfect! I had to order express shipping for it to come in on time and I wasn’t at all worried about it not fitting.

A few days before the interview, my beautiful gown arrived and the whole thing seemed so surreal… I could actually be walking towards a handsome bachelor on tv and partake in a crazy, dramatic show.

Unfortunately, the dress and its straps were a little too long. The dress already costed $270 and now I’d have to spend money on alterations. I also had to order heels for the occasion because, well, I don’t really have any.

Since the phone call and leading up to the interview, I was communicating with Nathan* through emails. He sounded incredibly stoked to meet me and it made me excited and had me thinking that I might already have the upper hand. I’d done a video and form submission, I answered 107 personal questions about myself and I had a single interview. I wasn’t part of the “open casting calls” that were occurring in Toronto that weekend. That had to mean I was already ahead of the game…

I practiced walking in the dress in my new heels with the alterations and it wasn’t so bad if I lifted the dress slightly as I walked. I felt so glamourous. I felt like a bachelorette.

The morning of the interview, my sister helped do my make up and she did my hair. (I’m not exactly girly so I suck with these things)

On the way there in an uber, I held two of my favourite crystals in my hands (yes, I brought them for good luck!) I held them each tightly and prayed to the universe that everything would go well and I’d make it on the show.

After navigating around the hotel to where the auditions were being held, I finally found – who I assumed to be – the producers or casting crew sitting behind a check-in table. Across from it: lights, cameras, contestants and interviewers. Almost instantly, and with much enthusiasm, Nathan leaned forward, “You’re Nadia! It’s so nice to finally meet you!” (Seriously, he seemed overly thrilled to meet me in person and it came across as a really good sign).

After changing into my limo-appropriate red gown and cute heels in a tiny stall, I walked (as I practiced) back towards check-in and ET Canada and girls who were being interviewed and photographed.

I’m not trying to be cocky, but as soon as I came into view, I turned heads. Never in my life has that ever happened! I was just a regular girl, but in that moment, I felt famous. I have to give most of the credit to the dress; everyone was commenting on how stunning and beautiful it was.

I  was directed towards a room next to check-in where rows of chairs were set up. A handful of other girls were there filling out paperwork or sitting, waiting. Waiting for what? I thought. Shouldn’t they be having some sort of group interview? Not ALL of these girls submitted a video online. I also noticed I was the only one who seemed to be the most “glammed up.” What’s a better word for that? I looked elegant, I guess. Most girls wore little, cute dresses and those who were auditioning on the spot weren’t dressed up at all. I felt a little out of place… but I also felt like I already made it.

On the back of my number, 0563 (or 0365?), were several questions I had to answer before heading back out to the crew. I scribbled so fast, I don’t even know if it was legible.

ET Canada then wanted to spontaneously interview me, claiming it would be “great preparation for the actual interview.” I agreed, but soon came to realize the questions were very silly and would not actually help prepare me in any way. Maybe for people who haven’t been on camera it would be good practice having one in your face, but I grew up in the entertainment industry. So, even though I only guessed one quote correctly from a selection of old, romantic films I’ve never seen, it didn’t really matter because it wasn’t the real interview.

I didn’t wait long to be lead to the room where the interviews were being held. As I waited outside the door to be called in, there was a girl sitting near me on her laptop. We got chatting and then she offered some advice. “From what I heard, they like hearing that you’re a big family person. Talk about kids and family somehow.”

I’m not going to reveal what questions were asked or too many details, because I’m pretty certain that’s against something I signed… but I can tell you how I felt bout the whole thing.

It’s a bit of a blur now, but I wasn’t as nervous as I expected myself to be. I let myself have fun with it and I stayed true to who I was. And for that, I am proud. They were smiling and I made them laugh so I was feeling good about it. I’m no Corinne, but I thought I was definitely good enough to make at leeeast the top 10 or 20. Also, my answer to her last question was, in her words, “the best answer I’ve heard all day!”

[side note: Corinne was on the most recent season of The Bachelor with Nick Viall]

On my way back to the bathroom from the interview, I was stopped by three students in uniforms. “Oh my gosh, excuse me, hi!” “We know you haven’t made it yet but we are already you’re biggest fans and think you’re so pretty and genuine!”

What. Is. Happening?!

“Wow, thank you so much!”

“Mind if we take a picture with you?”

We took selfies and then they took photos of me by myself.

Before taking off they admitted that they already told the casting crew that they should pick me. I was incredibly flattered and they were making the entire experience even more surreal than it already was. If random people were already wanting me to be picked then I must have made a damn good impression!


On the streetcar ride back to my sister’s, as I replayed everything in my mind, something wasn’t sitting right with one part of it all: I didn’t say goodbye or thank the casting crew.

In the moment, I didn’t even think of it. I thanked the woman who interviewed me, changed and left. I also thought Nathan might be too busy with more sign-in’s and I didn’t want to interrupt.

But in hindsight, I probably should’ve went back. It’s my only regret.

I can’t put what happened next into words because the conversation was a bit far-fetched on the spiritual side, but a random man started speaking to me by asking what my dress was for. He assured me that I was probably getting the part. How would he know? It was odd. But I rationed that it had to do with all these little green flags: the fans, my great answer, the date, etc… basically the Universe telling me this was my calling.

Tuesday rolled around and I sent an email to the casting address, thanking them for their time and wishing them a wonderful day of love (it was Valentines Day). By Thursday, I hadn’t received a reply so I gave Nathan a call with the number he gave me in one of our previous conversations.

Again, so much enthusiasm: “Nadia! So good to hear from you! It was so lovely meeting you. How are you?!”

I explained that I wanted to thank him and everyone else and that I wanted to know if there was a certain date I should be hearing back by.

“If you don’t hear from us by March first then you can assume you didn’t make it. So wait until then!”

And we said good bye as if I’d be talking to him again. But maybe this was simply his personality. Who knows.

Painfully, March 1st arrived with no phone call yet. How have they not contacted me yet? Are they doing this to get a surprised reaction out of me? My thoughts were racing. The previous night, I started to tell myself I wasn’t being chosen. I had to start accepting it so when then end of March 1st came, I was already easing into the rejection.

Still. I had hope.

I kept my phone on silent (with a vibrate) in my pocket during work hours (when it should’ve been in my locker). I wasn’t expecting any phone calls, so if my phone was vibrating, it could be The Bachelor and I didn’t want to miss their call.

The hours dragged on. and on.

My stomach started vibrating. “I need to use the washroom quickly.”

And I bolted to the staff washroom to check my missed call.

“Hi Nadia. I’m calling from Brampton’s Job…” and I hung up.

The days following, I was in disbelief. I still am. I thought I had it, I really did. At first I wasn’t so sure, but everything fell into place and all these little signs and good vibes elevated my confidence. I am bummed, but I’ll probably try out again next year. And if they chose Mike Ogilvie as The Bachelor, I won’t even be able to watch the show knowing I could’ve been there having an amazing time getting to know him!

Two months of 2017 dedicated to The Bachelor. But, you regret the things you don’t do more than the ones you did.

ps. sorry my first 3 fans!

 

May we all find love within ourselves before loving another soul

-Nadia

 

*Name changed for privacy

 

destination: panorama ridge

I regret not writing about these adventures right after they happened. My memory is a little foggy; I can’t remember details or exactly how I felt during this lengthy trek. I do recall memorable things that happened and some mental notes I made along the way. I’ll share with you what I can dig up in my brain’s adventure folder.

This hike was longer (especially since we walked to the destination and back down in the same day). In total we hiked 30kms in one day. It wasn’t as challenging as Wedgemount because it wasn’t as steep and I wasn’t carrying my giant backpack with me (I was carrying a small one). I remember when we passed the 3km mark I was in disbelief; it felt like we’d been on the trail for hours and we only zigzagged for three kilometres. Making it to the destination didn’t even seem doable.

Again, I was hiking with my super fit friend and when she hikes, there are limited amounts of stops/breaks for water and catching our breath. She’s so intense. I learned during our previous hike that she was doing military training back home and concluded that this was why she was insanely fit. The most difficult thing for me as we ascended towards Panorama Ridge was convincing myself to keep pushing onwards when all I wanted to do was stop, catch my breath and chug some water. I had to keep up with my super-powered friend.

I lagged behind a bit but I had to force myself to keep going. After countless switchbacks that seemed to never end, we reached the meadows. I felt as if I were in a fairytale or Disney movie. I can’t even describe in words how beautiful alpine meadows look on a sunny day, populated with a rainbow of wildflowers. We hiked about halfway through the fairytale when we finally stopped for a break. We all collapsed on top of large rocks and consumed our lunches, all of us well-starved.

Our lunchtime was disturbed by mosquitos (or mozzies as the Aussies out west call them) and Whiskey Jack birds. I didn’t find the mosquitos too bad at this part of the hike but one of my other friends couldn’t stand them and inhaled her sandwich very quickly. I wasn’t too bothered until a Whiskey Jack lunged from a tree and smashed into my sandwich, which was in my mouth! I was too afraid to eat at this point, in the case another bird swooshed at my face and plucked an eyeball out. Too disturbed by these creatures, we carried on, finishing our meal as we walked. Black Tusk was in view, in the far distance to our left, but there was no sight of our destination yet.

There’s a section of the hike from the meadow to the beginning of the journey up the ridge that is foggy in my memory. I can recall a section of long grass and little “lakes” down below in the distance. From where we were, they looked like ponds.

At some point the terrain descended towards the ponds and in the distance we could see the ridge. But to get there involved a lengthy scramble on an incline for the remainder of the hike.

The last stretch – reaching Pano Ridge – began with a foresty area where TONS of mozzies swarmed around. I remember we were sweating at this point, which probably attracted more of the little buggers. It was SO bad; I remember feeling like I was going insane. I was constantly swatting the air and plugging my ears, but I also had to use my hands during times and I wished I had thought about bringing ear plugs.

After we cleared the little wooded area, the mozzies calmed down and the next stretch involved hiking up rock piles and navigating around them. It was quite intense but knowing it was the final challenge instilled a dose of extra adrenaline into my veins.

Once we accomplished the rock pile climb, it was then a scramble to get to the summit of the ridge. All of us had to climb on all fours, cautiously scrambling in a staggered formation so none of us would accidentally knock rocks or boulders down onto someone’s head. My thighs burned and burned and I kept looking down, focusing on where I was grabbing and stumbling.

We then reached snow and had to scramble up quite a steep ascent to reach our destination.

When I stood on top and gazed around… I felt so liberated and so free. The toughest hikes are always the most rewarding. I was in awe. My eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing; nothing looked real. I LIVE here?! I actually live here. I felt so lucky, so blessed. This is what I live for. Climbing mountains, challenging myself and having these spectacular moments when you accomplish your adventure.

I stood still for a few minutes staring down at Garibaldi Lake. I watched the clouds make dark patterns over the blue water and I was in a state of euphoria.

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A pano from the top of Panorama Ridge

I don’t think I’ve ever had dinner with a view as magnificent as this. We sat on some rock ledges at the very top of the ridge and munched on more sandwiches and snacks. We had to refuel before beginning our descent, and choosing to eat at the top wasn’t a difficult decision.

I could’ve sat there longer, so much longer, but the others wanted to get moving.

We had two choices. Either go back down the way we came – trek down the snow and scramble down the rocks. OR we could do what we saw a few others doing: slide down a snowy part of the ridge on our butts.

… HECK YEAH we chose to butt-slide! Here’s a quick video of the end of our slide:

Sliding Vid

There was a sliding path already laid out ahead of us thanks to previous butt-sliders. All we had to do was make ourselves slide-able so that we could actually use our bodies as sleds. We saw some people with garbage bags. That would’ve been a smart idea but we didn’t even think of the possibility of sliding down the ridge.

I put on slushy pants I had in my pack and tucked my coat into the pants (no snow would ride up my back this way). The pants I wore had a “slippery” type of material, so I had a feeling I was going to go faster then anticipated. My backpack was secured to the front of me so I could fly smooth sailing down the mountain.

The only man in our group went first; of course we made him be the crash test dummy. At least, in my mind, this is how I remember it going down. But I also remember his girlfriend wanted him to stick with her because she was wearing shorts and the snow rode right up and gave her butt a nice freeze!

I was last. I remember catching up to everyone going down. At the halfway mark, I made my friend with the shorts move aside otherwise I’d collide into her. In the video I linked you to above, you can see how much quicker I slid down compared to my friend wearing shorts.

Let me tell you… this experience surpassed my expectations! Honestly, it felt like a wild, dangerous (and freezing cold) water slide.  I couldn’t see a thing; snow was splashing into my face causing me to shut or squint my eyes. My hands were numb as I flew down the mountain. The snow sneaked into my hiking boots and drenched my socks, thus also numbing my feet. The “slide” had hills and bumps on the way down and plenty of times I caught some air, igniting the adrenaline in me. Since I was curled into a ball (unless my legs were straight to use my feet as breaks), my body spun on the way down and I’d be backwards at times. So frighteningly fun. Do this next time you hike up to glacier areas of a mountain and don’t forget a garbage bag! Warning: for adrenaline junkies only. 😉

Our drenched clothing and numb limbs made the first quarter back very uncomfortable. That, plus my bladder was aching. I need to remind myself to buy one of those funnels for female hikers to use while standing before my next adventure.

It wasn’t until the meadows when I finally began feeling better physically. That didn’t last long, though, as the remainder of the hike took us on a lengthy descent. I wanted new knees. I wanted to collapse and take a nap. Unlike the Wedgemount hike, during this one I was able to keep up with the group on the way down. Conversations about almost everything kept me distracted until finally the parking lot was in sight. ALAS! Relief. We did it. I did it.

If I could hike 30kms in one day with barely any breaks, what ELSE could I hike? How much further am I able to push myself?

I’m still so curious as to what my physical limitations are. Sometimes I see photos of people climbing Everest and I wonder… could I do that one day?

 

 

I’ll make you smile – working retail

“I’m never going to work retail.”

I’ve said that for as long as I understood what employment (and that word) meant.

Since moving back from Whistler, though, my only “easy-to-get” jobs were in the restaurant business or retail. I applied to a few restaurants, hoping to hear back, and a few retail places, hoping to never hear back.

No restaurants contacted me (even though my entire resume is restaurant-related)… a lingerie/swimwear store contacted me instead.

Whenever I apply somewhere, I spy, first. I go in and pretend to shop while I scope out the employees and try to pick up on their vibes. After all, it’s all about who you’re working with that will make or break your experience.

The only place I picked up good vibes with ended up contacting me. Though it was retail, I was thrilled upon receiving the phone call. I had the option of being a cashier or a sales associate. Cash? Math? Nope. SELLING? Oh god, maybe. I picked sales associate, knowing I wouldn’t have to handle confusing transactions.

I’ve been there just over a month now and I’ve learned so much about myself… so although I hate that I’m selling clothing at 26, working here has actually been a blessing in disguise (and let me tell you why).

  • Apparently I am a people person. (I’m actually laughing out loud right now). I never, ever would consider myself one. If animals could speak, I’d never talk to humans again. BUT… Slowly transitioning from strangers to laughing with customers as if they are your friends is becoming my thing. I like it.
  • I give off good energy. Yes! I really do. This is all I ever hope to do! Nothing negative, ever (if possible). When you approach a customer, you have to make sure they aren’t already being helped by a coworker of yours because then you’d be “stealing” their sale. I was chatting to a lady one time and afterwards asked if she was already being helped. She replied, “yes, I am… but to be honest, I’d rather have you help me. I just like talking to you. You know? You know when you just connect with some people better than others?” and so, I helped her. She wanted me to. That is simply not my fault and I did not steal a sale… rather, my coworker lost a sale.
  • One of my passions is making others happy/brightening others’ days. I think I already knew this upon finishing my summer camp jobs for kids/adults with physical/intellectual disabilities. But, having working in a completely different environment, this passion was tested. It still remains. I absolutely LOVE making people I don’t even know laugh or smile, especially when they come in completely upset and discouraged. I made their day and in turn, I made mine.
  • Selling is more important than connecting with customers. Money is more important than happiness. It’s all about the money. How much did we sell after each shift? I think I’ve only checked three times. I don’t even care. How much did I sell? Well how many people left the store smiling because of a great customer experience!? To me, happiness is more important than money. I may not have the best advice when it comes to what bra styles fit the shape of your boobs but at least you can leave the store laughing and smiling, knowing people like me are out there who really do CARE about your HAPPINESS.

Anyway, it’s just past 2 am and I have a 9 hour shift tomorrow. I will probably have a goal of $1000 to sell. But if I don’t make it, at least I know I’ll be ending my shift making at LEAST one person’s day!

So, essentially, this job has made me realize I am a people pleaser. I want people to be happy and to enjoy life. I’ve started a vision board so I can organize my passions and what I really want to do with my life. Knowing that I can make someone’s day with a simple five minute conversation really allowed me to discover who I am. Also, I never, ever have a conversation with someone because I feel I need to. I do it because I want them to have an uplifting experience. I want to see them smile. What is it that I can do in life to have others parting with me, smiling?

 

’til next time!

love & light,

Nadia