Monday, May 31, 2010

Dear Post Secret...

I love reading Post Secret and finding that other people have the same secrets as me...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The ugliest thing...

So last night lil' sis and I had a sleepover. We prepared a healthy spread of snacks and opted to stay in and watch a movie. (Finding a movie is always a difficult feat for us, because we never seem to agree on movie titles.) We ended up scouring the Video On Demand for about half an hour before settling on a documentary called America The Beautiful.

The film, by Darryl Roberts, is an indepth look at America's unhealthy obsession with beauty.

It was a worthwhile watch, in that it exposed the ugly truth behind our society's desire to achieve ultimate beauty. Granted it was nothing that I hadn't already seen and heard a thousand times before, but the premise was a good reminder none the less.

Sometimes I actually have to stop and shake my head when I realize the extent of how we are all constantly bombarded with images and expectations of what we are supposed to look like. I mean yes, most of these expectations are illogical, but somehow so many of us still buy into them.

I remember a few years ago I fell into the trap of trying to achieve perfect beauty. It started off innocent enough with a simple diet to shed the extra pounds I've held onto all of my life. However, my diet began to morph into an obsession to be thin; my methods changed from exercising, healthy eating and food moderation to starving, bingeing, purging and a whole lot of self-loathing.

Yes, I imagine this is an awkward post to read. (It' awkward to write as well. However, it's astounding just how many people have had, or do have, issues with body image and eating.)

I think I was motivated by a number of things; vanity? insecurity? a need for control in my life? low self esteem? -- I used to thrive on people's comments about how much weight I had lost (60+ pounds). For me, the validation of having others notice that I was shrinking was enough to continue with my destructive behaviour; at first it was a diet of salad no dressing, half an apple, a double-double from Tim Hortons, and between 15 to 30 laxatives. That was my daily intake. (Sometimes I would also indulge in diet jello, because it was five to ten calories a serving.) However, after a couple of months I couldn't sustain a starvation diet, and I went back to eating. I ate so much. I ate everything, and my secret weapon to keep the weight off was upping my laxative intake and self-induced vomiting.

My days centred around thinking about food, stepping on my scale, my secret, and hanging out in the washroom (as disgusting as that is.) I always had to lie, plan, or think of excuses not to eat with people (or excuses why I spent so much time in the washroom.) I was always in pain or discomfort, whether it was hunger pangs or cramps from all the laxatives. Yet, as sadistic as this sounds, I enjoyed the pain because it was a very physical and obvious indication to myself that my "diet" was working. I worked so much, a full-time and a part-time job, that I felt fortunate that I didn't have time to eat anyway.

It seems like a lifetime ago.

I'm embarrassed to admit all this now, and strangely, I'm not so much embarrassed to admit that I struggled with these issues and this lifestyle. Instead I am embarrassed to admit this because I failed at it; to look at me, you would never know that I was once thin. (I never even considered myself to be thin back then, it is only now when I look at the tiny clothes, tucked away in the back of my closet, that I realize how "successful" I was at my "diet.")

I don't even have pictures from my "glory days" because at that time I felt that I was too fat, and too ugly to pose for pictures. I kept holding off, waiting for one day when I would feel as though I was thin and pretty enough. But, that day never came because, luckily for me, my head gave out before my body did.

After two years of depriving myself, I finally lost it. (Literally lost it.) My secret, which wasn't actually a secret, became too much for me and everybody around me. I no longer had proper function of my bowels, my teeth had eroded drastically, I eventually gained all of the weight back, and perhaps worst of all, I wasn't even myself anymore. My lifestyle took a great toll, as I was both physically and mentally exhausted, and it seemed the more I starved and the more weight I lost, the more I segregated myself. My dream of being thin had turned into a nightmare. To put it bluntly; the ugliest thing I had ever done in my life was try to be beautiful...

I am not sure what I would call my situation; I am hesitant to call it an eating disorder, yet in some ways I guess it sort of was. My decision to stop that lifestyle was one that happened over a gradual period of time. I wasn't able to just stop over night. In fact, like any addict, I relapsed about a thousand times before I finally gave up. (As messed up as this sounds, I still fantasize about those days; the 'self control' and being thin. Though I never want to go back, I can't help but feel as though I failed. It's a weird feeling to explain.)

It makes me sad to think that so many people suffer from eating disorders and body image issues. It's truly tragic to watch people fall into the trap of allowing the media and society dictate how they are supposed to look and feel about themselves.

I know that when it comes to eating disorders, the issue is so much more complex than just food and being thin. However, perhaps society's role in dictating what defines beauty is a catalyst for this disease for many people.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Office Attire Chronicles...

Every morning I struggle to find an outfit worthy of being called office attire. (Anyone who knows me know that I am a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal, so having to wear office attire five days a week has been a challenge.)

None the less, I have started to chronicle my outfits (not 100 per cent sure why) So I figured that I would blog about my wardrobe for the first two weeks of work. -- Keep in mind there have been some mornings that I haven't had time to take pictures, so these aren't all of my outfits...

Oh, and I should note that I am running out of clothes, so I need to start getting creative with my mix and matching skills...

P.S. Don't mind the mess in the background, sometimes I try on a million outfits before I find 'the one'...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Helping Harvest Help Others...

My niece Kennedy, the youngest Harvest volunteer, when she was four months old, 2008.

Winnipeg Harvest is in dire need of money and non-perishable food items. Harvest, the main vein for food assistance in Manitoba, is tapped out and they need our help to ensure that they can assist the over 40,000 people -- with half of them being kids under the age of 18 -- that rely on them each month. (A note of interest for people who may not be familliar with Harvest: They operate independent of government funding! Yep, pretty astounding when you think that they feed so many people...)

Please drop off your non-perishables to the following locations:

Winnipeg Harvest: 1065 Winnipeg Avenue
Any Safeway Location: Safeway will match all food donations!
Boston Pizza:
Rona: Top up your bill, or bring in some food!

Or, if I know you, call me and I will glady come and pick up the food and drop it off for you!

Harvest needs us! (Remember folks, when you need them they will be there for you regardless, so now that they they need us it's time to give back!)

Above: Me and my Harvest Homeboy's David Northcott & Gary McGhee (Volunteer Coordinator) at the 2008 Manitoba Lotteries Volunteer Recognition Night.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


A few days ago human remains were discovered in a bush near Ste. Anne Manitoba. -- A skull, among other bones...I can't imagine what the families of all the missing women and men are thinking right now; bracing themselves for the worst, yet perhaps hoping to finally have some answers about their loved one?

I can only imagine the waiting game that these people are forced to endure.

There is a lot of speculation that these bones could belong to Christine Jack, the mother of two who went missing in 1988. (Her husband Brian Jack was tried for murder three times, but was eventually let go by the Supreme Court of Canada.) Jack's body has never been found, but based on witness sightings of her car in that area in 1988, search efforts were concentrated near Ste. Anne, where these bones were recently discovered.

It is possible that these bones could have surfaced from an old burial ground, or that they belong to someone other than Jack. Perhaps the autopsy that was performed yesterday will come up inconclusive, and the bones will never be identified.

Right now they are only bones, and they have no name.

I feel horrible for the families that have to sit and wait, wondering if their loved one has finally been found. I truly can't imagine how it must feel. I think the only solace in this kind of tragedy would be to finally know where your loved one is, and to be able to lay them to rest respectfully.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these victims today, and with the victims themselves.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I can't sleep. (I'm tired, but I can't seem to fall asleep) So I decided to come online and research old media clippings of some missing Manitoba women. -- I am about to embark on a year-long project about missing Aboriginal women, so I figured since I couldn't sleep, I might try to gather as much information as I can...

It's haunting; the deeper I got into my google searches, the more I fully realize that this issue is not limited to just a handful of women. -- I mean yes, I know the stats. However, knowing the stats, and seeing the seemingly endless supply of photos and names of these missing women are two completely different things.

And in many cases, the media was not kind. In a number of articles I read, the media made it a point to emphasize the lifestyles of these women, as opposed to simply just mentioning it or highlighting it. They may as well have said: "This woman is missing. She's a hooker. She's addicted to drugs."

I mean don't get me wrong, I suppose lifestyle is an important factor in these cases (or, at lease for some of them) but the major emphasis that the media takes serves to devalue the women as people. -- By focusing on the troubles of the missing woman, we don't/can't empathize and perhaps even care, because we're not addicted to drugs, and we've never sold our bodies for sex. No, we'd never end up in this situation... (In case you're wondering, I am being sarcastic.)

It's frustrating.

Perhaps if the public was allowed a different perspective into who these women are, and the impact that their disappearances have had on their families, they would actually start to give a shit.

Arrgh, I'm frustrated. I should try and go back to bed. (This topic is far too big for me to even explore right now...)

Project Elmwood: Success!

Yesterday I got to help HOT 103 collect toys (and other kids items) for their Project Elmwood campaign. I was super excited to be a part of this project, because this is the kind of stuff that I live for!

I started the morning off by trading cars with my sister for the day (She has a Honda Element, and I have a two-door Chevy Cobalt; it's cute, but not functional for this kind of work!) and before I could even think about this project, I had to stop for my morning coffee. (I love you coffee...) I knew that it was going to be a long day, but I had no clue just how long... (Winnipeggers, you amazed me with your piles and piles of donations!)

I began my commute around the city at 9:30 am. With my notes and directions that I copied from google maps, I spent the morning picking up donations by myself. Heather, my sister, was going to come with me, but her husband was golfing and we didn't want to lug her two-year old daughter along for the ride. (That wouldn't have been enjoyable for poor Kennedy!) I honestly didn't mind doing it alone though; I cranked the music and sang really loud, and I made a pile of videos with my camera that I was going to edit into a vlog post. (I've scrapped that idea though, because my imovie editing skills are poor...) When it came to doing the pickups, I didn't find any of the items too heavy, or too big to load. I was fine.

It was really neat to see how Ace Burpee can rally a crowd to do something like this. (I respect that man for all of the charity work he does!)

At about 11:00 am I dropped off my first load of donations to the storage locker that the daycare rented. Our first haul was awesome, and Lucille (the woman who runs the daycare) was extremely humbled by the outpouring of support.

It was getting hot, and I decided to take a little break before venturing into St James and Charleswood. I went to Starbucks to get a shaken passion fruit lemonade. While I was there, I got a call from my friend Lee; he said that he had just finished golfing and he wanted to to know if I still needed help. Of course I took him up on his offer, as the pick-ups were taking me a lot longer than I originally thought they would, and I knew that two people would be better than one.

I met up with Lee, unloaded the items I had in the back into his car, and we ventured out into Sunny St. James and Charleswood. (I have to note that both of us are not overly familiar with that part of town, so we did our best to navigate our pickups based on the notes I made. We got lost about a thousand times, and we did a lot of back-tracking, but it was fun!)

At one point my friend Caitlin called me and told me about a charity garage sale on Portage, that had offered to donate a ton of stuff to us if we could get down there right away. Lee and I couldn't believe it, because we had just made a stop a block away from that garage sale, so it was like fate! We got into the Element, and made it there in about two minutes. The volunteers at the garage sale and Caitlin and her friends helped rummage through the items, and we got three or four huge boxes full of kids stuff! (When I offered to make a monetary donation to the garage sale, the woman declined. She told me that they were glad to help the Elmwood Daycare get back on their feet!)

It was truly astounding: charities helping charities.

All in all, Project Elmwood took about eight or nine hours to complete. (It might have been less time if I had better navigation skills...) But, we had a great time. We collected so many toys and kids items, that we almost filled the entire storage locker from top to bottom. Lucille and Dennis were thrilled with the outpouring of generosity from Winnipeggers, who gave stuff like TV's, bikes, tables, books, etc. -- It was truly touching to be a part of.

I am still getting calls and messages from people wanting to donate. -- If you are one of those people, email me at and I will get you in touch with Lucille!

This day wouldn't have been as successful without the help of Lee McCarthy and Caitlin MacGregor, thank you guys!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Help Ace Burpee change the world!

Ace Burpee is at it again; the morning show host from HOT 103 FM has started a campaign to collect children's items for the Elmwood Day Nursery, which burned down Sunday night.

If you, or anyone you know has any children's items that you no longer use, or need, please contact Ace at

Check out Ace's blog (or below) to find out more.

Project Elmwood is rolling!!!

Tue, 2010-05-11 16:13.
Ace Burpee
Project Elmwood is going to be massive. As CEO of Project Elmwood, I'd like to thank everyone who has stepped up so far. The plan is to fully re-stock the Elmwood Day Nursery which was torched Sunday night. We're going to do it all this weekend, Giveaway Weekend. It looks like I'll have a couple of vans lined up, now we just need you. If you weren't planning on participating in Giveaway Weekend, perhaps Project Elmwood will change your mind. What do you have that you could give away that may help in the re-stocking of a day care? Keep in mind they're starting with nothing, so everything is welcome. Little chairs, tables, books, toys, sporting equipment... you name it... we'll take it. E-mail me with details on what you've got, where you're at, and why you're awesome. The last part you can leave out. You qualify as awesome simply by helping out the Elmwood Day Nursery. My e-mail is PROJECT ELMWOOD 2010. Because we can, and will.

F: First day jitters...

Yes I'm nerdy enough to take a picture of myself in my first day of work professional attire...
Don't judge! -- Thanks to Heather for letting me wear her pears. (Totally classed me up!)

Today I start my summer gig in Communications at MLC. (I'm debating on whether I should have written my employers name. -- Although, I am not a consistent blogger lately, so I can't imagine more than two people will actually see this post. Still...)

Anyhow, I got a gig in communications, and today is my first day. I'm semi-nervous (But not overly.) I know many people from the MLC family -- Heck, I am part of the MLC family -- so that softens the panic a little bit.

My biggest concern today is office attire.

I have lots of office attire, but I have been living off the CreComm diet for a year already, so anything (and everything) I wear is extra "snug." (And not in the good way...) But, I guess if that's the biggest concern I have this morning, I'm not doing too badly.

I should go get ready, it would be REALLY bad to be late on my first day.

Wish me luck!

Silent No More

Here's a video I made from some pictures I took at the Women's Memorial March. (I also found some pictures of missing Aboriginal women and girls that I put in as well...)

The song: Silent No More by Little Hawk

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Women's Memorial March, 2010

Today, for Mothers Day, I took part in the Women's Memorial March to honour and remember missing and murdered (Aboriginal) women.

It was a profound experience, walking from the St. Regis Hotel (downtown) to the Forks Market, behind a group of Aboriginal drum singers. There were hundreds of us, and we marched into the streets, while holding or wearing butterfly-shaped signs with a missing or murdered woman's name and picture on it. We took over Winnipeg's centre, if only for a minute, to make sure these women are not forgotten.

When I arrived at the St. Regis Hotel parking lot at ten to one, I was handed a purple cardboard butterfly with the name and picture of Tianne Bell on it. In pen, scrawled under Bell's image, was the word located. -- At first I was a little confused as to why I would be carrying Bell's butterfly since she was no longer missing, but then I realized that in a sea of butterflies with lost souls, Bell had been found and therefore represented a small victory for this cause.

As I walked around the parking lot before the march got underway, I saw a woman on a bike wearing a blue butterfly with the name Carla Caldwell on it. My heart sank; that name was a familiar one of a girl that had become embroidered into my childhood. Caldwell, a 13-year old girl who was killed along with her little brother Jamie in 1991 by their father Carl, was a kid I grew up with. We went to school and Brownies together, and until her murder, she was just another one of us, who lived in the Doncaster subsidized housing development.

It was stunning, after all these years, to see her name laid out in front of me. Those haunted moments of my childhood, where many of us lost trust in our own parents and our young minds struggled to understand how and why her own father could murder her, came flooding back to me. It was sobering, yet comforting to see that Carla's memory was still etched in the minds of people who'd probably never met her before.

At that moment this walk became more personal to me, as I was no longer an oblivious stranger who was walking for people I had never met. At that moment, I too understood what it felt like to know that horrifying moment of violence and loss.

To the chant of the Aboriginal drummers, a procession of us marched down Portage Avenue, and then Main Street. People in their cars and on the sidewalks watched and listened, some raising their arms or honking their horns as a sign of solidarity, as we paid respect to the lost sisters. Some of the onlookers seemed interested or curious, while others simply looked oblivious or annoyed at being tied up in traffic on the sunny Sunday afternoon.

In the helplessness of losing a loved one, family members and friends of the missing and murdered women did the only thing they could do; never let them be forgotten.

When we made it to the Forks, we sat around the Odeena Circle behind the Johnston Terminal. We placed the butterflies around the circle, and listened to speakers and performers pay tribute to these women and this cause. Some family members of the victims spoke, offering insight into what it's like to live knowing that their mother, sister, daughter, niece, friend is lost.

The day wrapped up with a promise of more marches, and a commitment to continue the efforts to bring the lost sisters home. Organizers collected the cardboard butterflies, putting them back into rubber crates until next time, and marchers dispersed into the Forks.

Today is Mothers Day, and even if the lost mothers, or the lost girls that might have been mothers couldn't be with the ones they love, we made sure to celebrate them.