New Road, New Journey

“Starting today, I need to forget what’s gone. Appreciate what still remains and look forward to what’s coming next.”

Every one of us is going through a difficult time right now, and our stories of brokenness may vary quite a bit. However, one concept that unites all of our broken hearts is that of optimism. So many people, including myself, focus on the negatives of our situation, re-living past nightmares and fumbling over emotions of anger and frustration. Due to this, we fail to understand that these emotions are actually doing us more bad than good – they do not help us move forward.

Yesterday, I made a probable life-changing decision to look beyond my past and to move forward.
A  f r e s h  b e g i n n i n g.
No more pondering about who’s hurt me, who’s left me, what’s happened, or any other negative thinking.
Instead, I am training myself to ignore my current circumstances. I am becoming more hopeful and faithful that this hardship is just temporary and that I will conquer it.
It has only been 2 days since I’ve started on this new ‘journey,’ yet this attitude of positivity and self-love actually made me break into a song this morning. Without my knowledge, I was singing “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield – a song about breaking free and independence. When I realized that I was singing this song, I almost wanted to shriek in utter shock and joy.
It is then that I realized how much of an impact 2 days of a ‘new day, new me’ attitude has had on me.

It took me many days of tears and loneliness to finally decide that I was no longer going to continue trekking on a beaten-up road, rekindling negative emotions and thoughts.
I am now on the pursuit of happiness. Though it may be a long road, I am confident that I will finally become whom I always dreamt of being – strong, peaceful, and h a p p y.

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Where the Truth Lies

In today’s world of glamorization and exaggeration, in which truth is concealed, it is easy to feel like you are the only person struggling in life. In reality, though, all of Earth’s 7.3 billion people are currently going through something difficult in their lives  – whether it be related to family, money, food, or even clean air.

Whether we are speaking of industrialized countries or Third World nations, humans have learned to put a brave face forward that somewhat translates into ‘I am all right.’ To illustrate this, let us imagine having an aerial view of New York City’s streets on a Monday morning. You would notice the elderly, men, women and children bustling and scurrying from one place to another. Rarely would these pedestrians expect to be stopped by someone and be asked how their morning is going. Even if such an exceptional incident took place, one would be bewildered and immediately judge the kind person to be bizarre. Why is it frowned upon if you express a warm smile to a stranger walking past you on the sidewalk? Or why do people seem surprised if a youngster gives their seat up to a pregnant woman on the subway? The sole purpose of such kind acts is to induce familiarity and comfort into a rather cold and sheltered world.

We wonder why peace and genuine kindness are fading from our society, but what we fail to realize is that we ourselves are the perpetrators of this. We are constantly advocating for truth in all affairs, yet we ourselves are pressuring one another to conceal the truth. Oh, the irony that lives in us!

The main point of society teaching us to present a false representation of reality, is so that every one of us can develop a sense of belonging. For example, if you pretend that your relationship is not rocky, you are the average happy couple. If you pretend that your significant other and children are perfect, then you are the average All-American family living the American dream. if you pretend that you immediately received a job offer after college, then you are a successful post-graduate. These are all labels that we feel compelled to belong to: happy family, happy marriage, happy couple, happy graduate … just happy all the time. This is simply incorrect. If there is one thing that we have learned from the years we’ve lived, it is that life is not intended to be bump-free. It’s the crashing waves, tumultuous peaks, and thorny bushes that will ultimately direct us towards the road of peace. Nirvana.

In short, when we say that society is teaching us to filter and glamorize the truth, we need to realize that we are the society. Hence, a change must come from within ourselves. If one soul decides to break free from this culture of homogeneity, that free spirit will be contagious. Soon enough, a ripple of change will pervade the whole sea. 

It’s okay to cry from all of life’s stress – no one will judge you. In fact, every one of us is yearning for someone to show vulnerability, because that is what life is about. If you glamorize your life, you are not creating a sense of ‘fitting in,’ but rather, are building a cold wall around you that no other person can relate to. On that note,
when life presents you with lemons, don’t make lemonade, but show their pure acidity to the world.

‘I’ Conquered ‘I’

As the morning sun glistens and the early birds’ harmonious chirps fill the air,
I pull the bed cover over my pallid face, dreading leaving my lair.

As the kettle hoots and the phone vibrates, punctuating a busy day ahead,
I try to remain fearless, only succumbing to the voices in my head.

As the subway passengers scurry, and as the train times echo from the loudspeaker,
I begin to feel claustrophobic, my body feeling weaker.

As my colleagues burst with pride while sharing their recent promotions,
I eat my lunch in solitude, remembering that I was a failure in motion.

As parents rush through their groceries, with toddlers intertwined around their legs,
I leave the store believing that my hunger would be eased with just eggs.

As the emptiness in the house resonates, and the silence becomes deafening,
I begin to weep, allowing loneliness to stun me like lightening.

As the nighttime wind breezes in, and as the shooting stars increase,
I slip my fragile self into bed, praying that tomorrow will greet me with peace.

As my body loosens to sleep, and as my mind dozes off from reality,
I dream of the day when I will have conquered the ghosts of depression and anxiety.

The_Scream

The Neglected Brain

The longest relationship we will ever have in our life is that with ourselves – our body, mind and soul. As we get older, we come to realize this truth and begin to build and invest in a clean, healthy lifestyle. However, In the midst of building up our cardiovascular strength or toning our muscles, one organ that we often ignore is our brain.

Our brain is the motor of our existence. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste and feel all involve the brain. Everything we think about, dream about and hope for also involve the brain. We over-use our brain so much on a daily basis, yet we never think about giving it some tender love and care. One of the most pressing matters that go unnoticed by our present-day society is mental health.

As soon as someone utters the words “mental health,” unconscious darkness and silence fill the room. Why is there such a hush-hush stigma associated with mental health? Do we not rush to the doctor for help when we notice our ears ringing? Or when our ankle is hurt during our jog? Or when our vision begins to blur? But why is it that when one of the antennas in our brain switches off or begins to lose signal, we hide in a cocoon and suppress the ache – hoping for it to resolve on its own? Why can we not bravely step out in public and boldly declare: “Hey, I need some mental help.” We are forgetting that Our brain is an organ too. It deserves just as much attention as our physical flesh. What concerns me more than the existing lack of awareness behind mental health is the ignorant population that voices its opinion on mental illnesses. “Stop thinking like that” and “just try and control it” are two of the most selfish pieces of advice when trying to help someone with mental issues. Would we “just deal with it” if our arm was bleeding profusely from an injury? Of course not. What needs to be dealt with are this ignorance and stigma behind mental health.

We all go through trials in life – both physical and mental. Some more than others in either or respect. It is beautiful to see communities banding together in unity to help support physical illnesses, such as cancer. However, what would be overwhelmingly heart-warming to see would be our society giving a round of applause when someone steps out and says:

“Hey.

My Brain Is Hurting.”

Just One Look

A look speaks more truth than what our mouths desire to say.

It was one sunny October afternoon, as I was lazily waiting at a bus stand and aimlessly gazing at all the cars that whizzed past me. I couldn’t help but notice a young woman also waiting at a bus stand parallel to where I was standing. Her head hung low, allowing her pretty brown hair to fall against her cheeks. Unlike me, the busy streets around her did not seem to budge or interest her at all. A few minutes later, a young man was walking toward her bus stop. He also had his head bowed down, busily tapping away on his phone. He then looked up and noticed the young woman, and immediately, he started to adjust his scarf around his neck. I chuckled. It was one look, and only one, and this young man wanted to make a good impression in front of the young woman. As the man neared the stand, the girl looked up and noticed the handsome fellow. She then straightened her back, pushed back her shoulders and fixed the collars on her leather jacket. I chuckled again – I was getting excited, merely because you don’t get to witness a connection like this at a bus stop in a busy city. Imagine explaining to your kids: “and that is how I met your dad, sweetie – we shared a look at a bus stand, and I knew he was the one right then and there.” All jokes aside – as this cheesy scene was playing in front of my eyes, I couldn’t help but be awed by the fact that two complete strangers can feel compelled to leave a lasting impression on each other, even if they may never see each other again. It only took one look.

On another day, I was sitting in the waiting room of a clinic. Children’s toys were strewn everywhere, toddlers were running around half-naked, and babies were crying restlessly. There was one child who was particularly playful and loud – I wasn’t bothered one bit, but several other adults threw irritated glances at the child’s mother. Even though I have no children of my own, I felt sympathetic towards the mother – just because a child is having fun doesn’t mean that he is misbehaving or that is being poorly disciplined. Hence, to show empathy, I looked at the mother and expressed a warm smile, with a small nod. In human definition, it means “don’t worry, you’re not a bad parent.” Immediately, the mother’s face lightened up and she returned a thankful smile. It only took one meaningful look and an encouraging smile to show empathy and love to a stranger that needed it.

A look can change everything – it can heal people, transform situations, allow relationships to blossom, and turn a frown into a smile.

All it takes is just one look.

The Duvet

“Never judge a book by its cover.”

We have all been taught this infamous phrase by our loved ones at some point in time, whether it be by our parents, grand-parents, or friends. However, even though we have been equipped with this advice ever since our adolescence, it is only much later on in life does one truly grasp the meaning and essence of that life lesson. It is only much later on that one is able to distinguish a book from its cover, and truly understand that what the cover portrays is not what the book’s tale narrates .

What is a ‘cover?’ In simple terms, a cover is a mass or means of protecting one’s raw self from a foreign world. A cover can be anything, vaguely varying from a duvet to a pseudonym. Using a duvet as an example, the literal use of this comforting white fabric is to protect one’s bare skin and body from the cold’s icy, unbearable grip. Ultimately, a duvet tenderly nestles the naked skin in a safe haven.

We presently live in a world and age in which we have learned to use a duvet beyond its intended purpose. Ultimately, every one of us has woven a personal duvet to clothe ourselves with to shield us from the cold energy present in this world. Every morning, we carefully put on our invisible duvet before stepping out of our home to enter into the world. After our worldly tasks and responsibilities are completed, we head back to our home and breathe a sigh of relief as we take off our duvet for the day.

This duvet, while it may protect one from perceived harm, cannot depict the beautiful life story of every human being who dons it.

More heartbreaking than this is the fact that we live in a world where it is customary to judge a person by their invisible duvet. Many walk past each other, plastering labels on one another based on the duvets they are donning. We live in a time in which it is considered to be bizarre if a stranger offers a heartwarming smile as you briskly make your way through a crowd. We have made it a habit, or a rule, to be uniform. Silent.

However, there are a few who comprehend the ‘duvet.’ These brave souls walk through the crowd and care to peak through our duvet cover to hear the life story we are silently dying to tell.

I long and hope for a day when we all, as a society, can fling our fictional duvets into non-existence. A day when we can celebrate our raw naked selves. A day when we can sit around a campfire, recount our trials and triumphs, and show each other our battle scars. A day when the concept of imperfection is accepted.

I dream for a day when, finally, a book is no longer confined to its cover, and steps out into the world to narrate its beautiful story fearlessly.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

“It’s raining cats and dogs.”

This popular idiom is often used to refer to a rainy weather, where the raindrops pouring from up above provide the city’s pedestrians with a unique shower experience.

However, seeing as how Mother Nature is presently gifting Montreal with approximately 45 centimetres of snow, I believe one would now describe the city’s weather as “It’s snowing cats and dogs.”

Yesterday night, I was mentally and physically prepared to face the snowstorm that would hit our city the next day. Everyone had warned me: “Bundle up,” “Dress well,” “Just stay home,” “Don’t drive around,” and all the other warnings that implied the same message: Stay warm and just sleep in. Nevertheless, as I woke up today morning, I couldn’t help but gasp as I looked out my bedroom window.

Snow.

Snow everywhere.

I couldn’t even see the colourful tops of cars that were parked on the streets, the tree branches weren’t visible and the sidewalks were incognito. I stared some more out my window, and a revelation dawned upon me.

Yes, this snowstorm is harsh. Yet, its harshness is overshadowed by the majesty and innocence it portrays through its pure white composition. The snow blankets the entire city smoothly with its crystal white granules, covering every nook and corner of every alley and road. Though its grace is undeniable, it succeeds by suppressing the population from going about their daily lives. This snow was beautiful, yet sly. A dangerous combination.

Though the snow’s immeasurable beauty caught my attention in the beginning, I hate to admit that its elegance slowly withered away from my mind as I started to wonder how I would leave the house. I picked up my phone, ready to cancel the plans I had made for the day, but then I stalled. I suddenly realized that this is what the magic of winter is all about.

I started to reminisce about my childhood winters. Born in Montreal, most of those unforgettable, joyous memories include school cancellations due to severe snowstorms and creating snow angels in heaps of snow that reached my knees. Moreover, I can still vividly remember the severe ice storm of 1998 that affected multiple provinces of Canada, even bordering along some states of the U.S.A. Of course, how can I forget the bulky, multicoloured snowsuits I had to wear during the winter? Unfortunately, for the past one or two years, Montreal’s winters have not been as glamorous as they used to be: A couple of centimetres of snow here and there, followed by short periods of freezing rain and hail. Consequently, I noticed fewer snowmen being built in my neighbourhood, fewer snow angels being drawn out in the snow, and fewer school cancellations.

But today, our outlook of this year’s winter season has changed. It’s the winter that us Montrealers know of and are accustomed to. The fact that Montreal is deeply blanketed in snow is what clearly defines the city.

As I stepped outside to go about my day, I saw people helping others by pushing their cars that were stuck in the snow, a man helping a woman who had just slipped, and many more generous acts. This really touched my heart: To see that snow can unite Montreal’s population is definitely worthy of mention.

To be honest, I’m glad I get to experience what the real deal is when it comes to living in Montreal during the winter season.

I can only hope that our kids get to experience what we’ve seen, and understand how something simple as snow can trigger kindness amongst our population like a ripple effect.

Let it snow!

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GALLERY

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Another New Day, Another New Year

It’s that time of year again.

Not Christmas.

Well, yes Christmas is right around the corner – in fact, there are only 6 days left! However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. As we near the end of the year of 2012, we are all bound to ask ourselves the very well-known question “It’s December already?!”, followed by a bunch of sighs and groans and the infamous “time flies by fast” phrase.

However, not only is this the time of the year when we’re busily Christmas shopping for our loved ones as the cold wind blows by, but what’s really special is this – It’s the time when we reflect upon the year that has passed by.

We reflect upon the year that has passed so blissfully before our eyes; hours turned into days, which turned into months. They all passed by so fast like how we would hurriedly flip through the many pages of an encyclopedia.

As I’m typing this, I remember the New Year’s resolutions I made, the new friends I met, and the few friends I lost. I’ve lost some stuff along the way, while gaining invaluable experience and lifelong lessons. I also remember the days spent moping around, feeling moody, and the days when everything was so perfect I didn’t want the feeling to fade away. I remember the amazing opportunities that came by me, as well as the sacrifices I had to make. I remember the deep, amazing conversations I’ve had with my loved ones, and the arguments I got into as well. All in all, yes, life does come with ups and downs. I wish I could be the type of young woman who would not let anything negative get to her – but I’m not (trying though). In fact, I think we’re all programmed to at least care a bit when life gives us a little jab in the back.

Though we are prone to have our hearts ache a bit when pain strikes us, I believe our reaction is what differentiates each and every one of us. In other words, do you want to dwell on the pain, or would you like to brush your knees, get up from the pit, and move on? 

I honestly believe everything happens for a reason. So, you’ve lost something that was meaningful to you? Give thanks and move on.

If you don’t and you’re still sitting in that pit of despair, then you won’t see the great opportunities that come looming over you nor the people who want to be a part of your life. This brings us to another realization: we, ourselves, are one of the main reasons why good things take a long time to come by. Some of us, including myself, are so focused on the negative, that unfortunately, we ignorantly miss all the great chances and people we could be happy with. Hence, it’s only when we do shift our eyes from the pit to the sky, that we begin to see ‘the good.’

So, concerning this year of 2012, I’m reminding myself that it’s not just ‘another year that has passed by.’ It’s a year during which I’ve lost some and gained much, making me that much more wiser and happier.

Bring it, 2013