I Spoke About You, W.

Personal

I got into a deep conversation with a new found friend. It’s ironic how the topic at hand was romantic relationships. I am a very guarded person these days, so I never intended for the conversation to go in this direction. Especially with someone new.

I had no intention of talking about you, why would I? But she got right into what I was trying so hard to dismiss. So I told her about you. Her final question? “If you had the ability, would you change your current romantic situation to include him again?”. I think she thought she knew the answer.

No. Because the fact is that everything I have been through has put me right where I am today, and I like where I am. That relationship taught me what I deserve, what I should stand for, and what I will not settle for. It showed me what I am willing to compromise on, how deeply and honestly I love, but it also showed me that love hurts and being vulnerable is scary. We weren’t growing together at that point, even though I wanted to. I really believed he was my forever, I was wrong. I was hurting almost everyday when he came back from being away, and he didn’t notice. He didn’t even seem to care. I felt alone. He was a stranger, not the guy I loved. And honestly, I would be betraying myself if I would just invite him back into my life again. I would be betraying my progress as a person. I would also be accepting all that he has done to me. If this was back in June, I would have taken him back in a heartbeat, but I’m not the same girl I was back then. She is gone. Destroyed by the past and I’ll never be that girl again. But that’s not entirely a bad thing. I am stronger. I am more resilient. I am more in-tune with myself. I am me, unapologetically and without reserve. Do I want him back in my life? Not in this moment, but I might consider future possibilities. But it would need to be a time where him and I could grow only through friendship. Starting a friendship now would be toxic, we would be like venom to each other. I still have moments when I resent him to be honest. What he did to me in October 2018 just confirmed my resentment. Yes, you heard that correctly..we ended in June/July 2018 and he reached out to me in October. He even told me he forgot my birthday…like really? That just put me back into that feeling of alone. How do you forget that? Did I really ever mean anything to him? What was once love is now just completely…questionable? I still care about him, but not to the degree I once did. The fact is, he choose someone else over me. He moved on extremely fast. It makes a person think. I thought I forgave him, but the reality is that I didn’t. I only told him that I forgave him so that he could continue to move forward without hurting. Why? I don’t know. I guess thats the type of person I am. I still put him ahead of my own self, but that has stopped. I just don’t trust him like I used to. But I trust me. And in this moment, I choose myself…

As soon as I finished my answer, she looked me dead in the eyes, and just said “Girl…You’re very self aware. You are so much stronger then you think you are. I’m being honest. Not a lot of people can go through what you did and handle it like you did. You’re a really strong person, Natalie, and that’s really admirable. I mean it. Like you are really inspiring and so strong. You deserve much more then that and I’m excited to see who comes your way. I’m just…wow”

In that instance, something changed. A sort of recognition. The past was in the past. Sure, I think about him sometimes. If I know him, and I think I do, he thinks about me as well, he might even miss me. Who knows, maybe I’m being conceded. But we have both moved on and that’s just how life goes.

Sometimes the pain is still there, but time will heal it completely. I remind myself that I love the memories and the idea of a person that just doesn’t exist anymore. I have forgotten the colour of his eyes the same way he has forgotten mine. My mind goes blank when I try to remember his smile or recall his laugh. He is fading. The most important part? I can taste freedom

Gym Time

Health

Alright so I have been to the gym the past few days because I got bored of exercising at home. To be honest, I didn’t think I would miss the gym as much as I did! There’s so much to do, new exercises to try out, and you get to meet so many people too. Also, I love the fact that I get to go with my friend as opposed to going by myself.

As mentioned in a previous post, cardio is my favourite thing. I know, I know, why?! The truth is, I’m not too sure why. I feel my best when I’m walking, jogging, or running on the treadmill. When I run, I can only listen to certain songs, weird right? My music puts me in certain mind frames, which I think goes for most people. If my music is light and soft, I want to do something more at ease. But if my music is loud and intense, I’m more inclined to run. Songs like Back from the Dead by Skillet and MIC drop by BTS make me more inclined to run and it’s like I almost forget I’m running.

Yesterday I did a mix of cardio, legs, and machines that…well…help to shape your butt. I won’t do squats at the gym simply because I can do them at home, but theres this seemingly small machine that I’d rather do reps on while I’m there. If you’ve been to a gym you know which one I’m talking about, the one that you put your foot on, extend back, and you’re just lifting weights that help to shape your butt.

Needless to say, its the morning after and my legs are super sore, but its totally worth it. I had to crawl out of bed this morning because my legs just weren’t working. Stairs today are a bit of a nightmare, but hey that means progress!

Also, this gym seems to have members that are much more friendly compared to gyms that I have been to before. A lot of the members smile and say hi, especially if they’re taking a spot next to you. I’ve noticed that a lot of the girls tend to compliment each other, which is really nice to see. A lot of the guys tend to talk about their tattoos with each other, which is super cool. I complimented this guys piece on his arm and we had a discussion about tattoos as we were both on the treadmill. This type of environment makes me more inclined to do things that I normally wouldn’t do. It gives me the comfort and confidence to engage in difference exercises and put myself out there without feeling judged.

The moral of the story is that I fell in love with the gym again. I am so happy that I am making more progress towards how I treat my body and giving it the attention and care it deserves. The gym is also giving me a form of confidence that has been lost for some time now. I’m already looking forward to going back tomorrow night after class!

Fitspirations

Health

My fitspirations? Ryan and my cousin Daniela. I’ll note my progress near the end of this post!

So late last year I decided to change my eating habits because the reality was.. I hated how I felt. I didn’t feel healthy anymore. I was dealing with my emotions by overeating and I just didn’t like how I looked. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. This took a really big toll on my self-esteem and made me actually isolate myself for a little while. I have always been surrounded by very healthy people, and during this time, it just added to me feeling so negative about myself.

This started to change when I met Ryan. The thing is, he is a really attractive guy and that made me nervous. I didn’t think I could even compare to him. So when we first started talking I was very hard on myself. One day I decided to open up to him and just told him all of my insecurities. One of the best feelings in the world is when someone acknowledges how you feel and talks to you about your emotions as opposed to brushing them off.

Ryan offered his assistance on workout plans, and healthy alternatives, etc. and he has been my biggest support system since. He always ensures that I’m taking vitamins and that I’m getting all my calories in for the day and that I’m drinking enough water. And its nice to have someone that is constantly encouraging your progress, even when you cant see it yourself.

My cousin Daniela is probably the healthiest person I know. When I first started my little journey, she helped me out with meal plans and exercise options. From time to time she’ll check in on me and ensure that I’m okay and getting all my nutrients. I still remember the first thing she said to me when I told her that I wanted to go back to how I was on the earlier side of 2018; you do this for you and no one else. You don’t compare your progress to someone else’s progress. You go at your own pace. Let yourself indulge in something once in a while and don’t be too strict. You look good as you are, but if you want to do something I will help you get to where you want to be.

Initially, this was hard for me because I have always been prone to comparing myself to others. I never really incorporated a workout routine to my daily schedule because I was always busy running around for school and work. But lately, Ryan has inspired me to workout. He works out everyday and I just thought.. why not give it a go? So I started to do cardio again and just fell back in love with it.

But as time went on, I got into my own rhythm and just started to feel good again. I stopped paying attention to others and just looked at my own circumstances. I stopped eating unhealthy foods and just got back to my healthy routine. I started looking at my food, preparing it on my own, and looking at the nutritional value. I haven’t eating fast food in months and I truly feeling good inside.

My initial goal was to lose the weight I gained, which was approximately 10 pounds. As of this morning, I have officially lost 37.1 pounds. I do want to focus more on toning my physique, but for now, I am so happy with what I have been able to accomplish.

For those looking to make a change, I won’t lie to you. it can be really hard at first. But with the right mindset, you can do anything. The best thing I did, was surround myself with people that encourage me and support what I am trying to accomplish. I know that its difficult to not look at others and compare yourself to them, but try your best to keep in mind that everyone starts/started somewhere. You are on your own journey! Don’t be too busy reading someone else’s story and forget to read your own. Despite what others say, you’ve got this! You can do this! And most importantly, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Wishing all of you fantastic readers all the health and happiness in the world!

Are You Ready For It?

Personal

Back in December I was fortunate enough to complete my first official term in graduate school. A few days ago, I received my marks. But first, lets take a brief look at my Master of Psychology journey so far

My very first day was filled with undeniable fear. I distinctly remember walking into my first class thinking, do I belong here? Who are all of these people? Am I going to succeed or am I going to fail?  I was internally questioning my abilities, but I would never actually show that I was questioning my skill.Everyone always talks about graduate school as being highly competitive. I’ve even heard that your peers aren’t your friends, they’re your competition. Not only did this make me feel guarded, but I was very skeptical when people would approach me and start conversations.

The first few classes were a bit awkward because everyone was trying to figure out who they click with, who they would consider doing work with, and no one was truly comfortable with each other. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but it’s almost although overnight things changed. We started asking each other questions, people would ask me for help on assignments, we would make plans to go out and see each other, study groups were forming, personal things were shared, we were becoming a team.

It’s a nice feeling having people that you can turn to for guidance. I think there is still some underlying competition, but for the most part everyone is very well versed, skilled and knowledgeable. There is always something to learn from someone because we all come from different academic backgrounds, and in my opinion, that is a huge advantage for our school.

Two classes worried me the most this term: Quantitative Analysis 1 (statistics a.k.a math) and Interviewing and Alliance. Long story short, me and math do not have a good history. We had a test every time we had the class. Thankfully, this course didn’t occur every week but rather once a month. I found myself studying for the tests 2-3 weeks in advance to be able to know, understand, and apply the material to any circumstance. These aren’t your typical math tests that follow a “here’s the question, now use the formula”. This math class, psychology mathematics, used application as its poison. You didn’t have to know the formula, no calculations for the most part, but you needed to know when to apply what statistical applications and when. And you weren’t studying one or two quantitative measures…you were studying multiple outlined in mathematical jargon. You were presented case studies and research and you needed to dissect what was presented to you. It was tough.

The other course, Interviewing and Alliance, sounded complete fine until the professors teaching the course told us that we needed to conduct a live therapeutic interview in front of the whole class. So now not only were your professors judging your abilities for a grade, but your classmates were watching. Talk about anxiety provoking. The best part? There was no way to prepare for the interview because they choose the students at random. One therapist, one client, randomly selected. Each student got the chance to be the therapist, obviously, but it was even intimidating to be the client. Try having a student figuring out your vulnerabilities in front of your classmates, its hard. My heart dropped when they called my name to go up as the therapist. I never thought the sound of an iPhone alarm would make me so happy, but when that profs alarm went off to signal that my time was up I was ecstatic. I went up to one of the two professors after class ended that day and asked if she could provide me with any feedback. Her words? You did so well, it was a good interview. I was questioning if you were already in the field or not, thats how good you were. Keep practising because we can never get enough of that. But i don’t have any feedback really. You phrase your questions very well, you’re very attentive to your client. I put a start next to your name. You’re on the right track. You’re going to be great. Very well done, Natalie. To have that type of validation from a professor that has her doctrine, that has a practice, that is essentially living the type of life that I want to live one day, was so beyond validating. I felt all my worries fade away.

So what were my final marks? Pretty damn good if you ask me. I never anticipated these types of grades merely because I didn’t think I was capable of them. I got an A in both Quantitative and Interviewing, which was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I didn’t think I could do it to be honest. I was constantly comparing myself to my talents peers.

But at the same time, I was extremely dedicated to my school work this term. I have never pushed myself so hard academically, not even in my undergraduate degree. I went to work throughout the term as well. I was always busy. But school for me is something that can either make or break my future and my dreams.Graduate school requires attention, focus, and discipline. I need to do well now, especially if I want to go for my Doctor of Psychology in 2020, which I REALLY want to do. Why wouldn’t I want to be a doctor?

If anything, these marks act as proof that I am capable. These marks prove that I am my own worst critic but I can do this and I will do this. They act as a reminder that hard work pays off in the end. And despite your self doubt and self criticism, if you’re meant to do something… you will always find a way to make it happen.

But this did come at a cost. I experienced stressful moments. I definitely had times where I questioned if I was cutout for this type of profession because I found some things to be difficult. Fortunately, I had people to support me. My mom and dad were constantly encouraging me. So was my little brother, who would watch me highlight pages and pages of notes while telling me I was brave and my notes looked scary. Chantal, one of my new friends that I met through school, was always there if I needed help. She was also always there to tell me that I was being too hard on myself and that my work was excellent. Felicia, who just started her first term as an M. Psych student, was always giving me advice when I needed it most. Ryan, who stuck by me through the worst nights, was always in my corner. He gave me reassurance when no one else’s words would suffice. He comforted me on sleepless nights and stayed awake with me. His faith in me and my capabilities allowed me to have faith in myself.

Moral of the story? Stop doubting yourself. Give yourself a break. Don’t forget to breathe. Trust the process. Make room for selfcare. YOU GOT THIS.

Next Stop: America

Travel

Being in grad school means one thing: stress. My mind, body, and spirit deserve a bit of a break. I just finished my first term back in December and I have officially started my second term for the year a few days ago. Through my final grades, I’m starting to see how much effort I’ve put into school, but also how much I deserve a bit of a break because I am EXHAUSTED. Unfortunately, while my agenda is jam packed right now, I will be coming up to some free time in March. Me and my best friend were talking and we though, why not go on a mini vacation?!

Considering we both just went to Europe not too long ago, which I have started to write about and will be dropping a post shortly, we want it to be somewhere relatively close…yet fun. As it stands, we will be venturing out to the United States unless we find an all inclusive vacation somewhere tropical. So here are our options:

  1. Las Vegas – although I have been to Vegas before, I have no issue going back. The atmosphere is extremely fun and the weather can be beautiful. The various forms of entertainment make every night an anticipated mystery. From magic shows, to Cirque du Sole, to the bars and even catching a Golden Knights game, Vegas seems like a perfect 3-5 day destination.
  2. New York – my heart longs to go back to NYC. While during the day the city reminds of home, the atmosphere that takes over at night is unparalleled. Theres always something to do and something to see. I also have family in the outskirts of New York that I would love to visit, even if its just for a little while.
  3. Denver- one of my closest friends is packing up and moving out to Denver in the weeks to come. Lucky for me, she has invited me to go visit her, so why not?! I have never been to Denver and honestly I wouldn’t mind going to not only see my friend, but to also see what its all about. This is a trip I would have to look into a little bit more, but I’m really considering this adventure. Maybe I’ll be seeing you soon Denver, Colorado.
  4. Chicago- everyone always ask me why I want to go to Chicago. The fact is, why not? Yes, I obviously want to see the Cloud Gate a.k.a “the bean”, but let’s be honest here, I want to try the deep dish pizza that everyone keeps raving about alongside visiting some famous Nutella store?? Thats an Italian’s dream. Oh and I want to watch a Black Hawks game…hello their Patrick Kane. On a serious note, Chicago holds the potential to be my future home for a few years. Nothing is solidified, but if I decide to complete my Psy.D (Doctor of Psychology), there is a school in Chicago that I would be applying to. Scary to think that I’ll be applying in a year and a half.
  5. Florida- give me some sun! Give me Disney! Give me Universal Studios! I mean really, how much more of an explanation do you need?!

As you can see, my list is rather short, so please give me some suggestions on where you think I should go! I’m open to any Canadian or American cities at this point. Thank you lovely readers!

When Strangers Turn into Friends

Personal

Objective of the week: complete a 4 day intensive graduate course with incoming students I have never met.

This week, I was placed in a room with 21 strangers. Imagine looking out into a sea of faces that are already all so familiar with each other and just feeling isolated. That was me on Monday. I thought to myself, these aren’t my regular classmates, and I’ll barely ever see them again, so do I really need to talk to these people? Just get through the week and you’ll be fine.

Looking back at it, those were premature thoughts that just projected my own insecurities. I didn’t give anyone a chance and made judgement calls right away. I automatically thought that because I was a semester ahead of these people, I wouldn’t be making or maintaining any friendships.

The fact is, this past week has granted me the opportunity to meet so many kind and generous souls. Due to confidentiality, I cannot go into depth about what events unfolded, but what I can tell you is that each and every person in this class has allowed me to see the world in different ways.

I was able to see the world through different cultural, creative, and professional lenses. I was enticed to self-reflect and see where I, as a person, can improve myself. But most importantly, I was given the opportunity to really know people- not their likes and dislikes- but rather their most guarded selves. This act alone is very intimate and sacred.

Being able to hear and see people be so vulnerable with each other is a gift. It’s not something that comes easy or is just expected, but it is something to be cherished when it occurs. I know that for me, being vulnerable is very rare and only happens with those I feel comfortable with. So when someone was vulnerable with me, I always tried to thank them for their bravery.

Earlier this week, we had to take a test that would indicate our own personal strengths. Mine included:

  • Kindness & generosity
  • Honesty, authenticity, & genuineness
  • Humour & playfulness
  • Social intelligene
  • Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty

Each student was expected to grab a large sheet of people and write down these strengths. After doing so, we were told to go around the room and sign everyones sheet. There was no particular way to sign, meaning we could either write our names or even add a little message. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest. Of course I made friendships, but I did’t expect anyone to write anything for someone that wasn’t going to be in their future classes. I was beyond surprised at the beautiful heartfelt messages that were left on my paper. I have never felt more appreciative for a group of people in my life, besides my own cohort. After reading their messages I realized.. not only did I see their true nature, but they also saw mine.

At the end of the four days, it was actually really difficult to leave these kind hearts and my new found friendships. I exchanged numbers and socials with a lot of people. I found out that a few students also live near me, and we all made plans to stay in touch and get together at times. It was so nice to hear people say how much they would miss me, or how much they wished I was in their class permanently.

The moral of the story? Try not to have preconceived notions about something. Sometimes having a judgement can really mess up great opportunities and friendships that would otherwise not reach their full potential. I am so happy that I was able to break out of my old thoughts and embrace all of those around me. Go into things with an open mind and endless positivity. The world can be a great place if you just be receptive to the good things around you. I can gladly say that I have easily made some good friends for life.

Although that class finished yesterday, I have an 8 a.m. course to get to this lovely Saturday morning. And even though I miss the group of new students, I can’t wait to see my own cohort. It’s been almost a month since I saw them last because of the holiday break. For my group, it’s like people who were once strangers in a crowded room waiting for their professional life to start, have now become a family.