Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The things we don't talk about

As women we don't talk about a lot of things in our life. We dig deep, declare our broad shoulders, and cover up the things that we don't want the world to see. We discuss things that are only considered civilized, appropriate and polite, and this is our downfall.

I grew up in a family where there were things you just didn't discuss, such as money, religion and politics, but also a lot of things that maybe we should have talked about. I sometimes wonder if I would be a different person if we had talked about sex, about sexuality, about relationships with men, with food and body image. The amount of conscious effort that it takes for me to not focus solely on these things in day to day life is absolutely exhausting.

Please don't get me wrong. This isn't a pity party for myself, but for a society of women who hold it together despite the internal monologue that must be going through their heads. It can't be just me.

I know that some of us were raised with great body images, a healthy relationship with food, an understanding of relationships and sex and all of that, but I would be willing to place money on the fact that those are few and far between. I would bet that the greater majority of us appear to be solid as a rock, but that underneath all of that is a little girl, cowering in the corner and wondering what will become of us.

Behind all the professionalism that everyone sees, there is a girl who worries every day about ever calorie of food that crosses her lips to the point that in her twenties she develops a severe eating disorder, with no regard for the fact that the typical eating disorder appears in the teen years, because she feels so out of control. She feels like a failure every day that the scale climbs, or stays the same. She measures her worth by the size of her jeans.

Behind the soccer mom who is taking amazing care of her children, and holding the family together is a woman who is scared every day that she won't be able to satisfy her husband, and so she goes way beyond her comfort in bed with him, just to keep him from going somewhere else. She doesn't know that she has the right to say no when something makes her uncomfortable. She pretends that she loves it, just because she loves him, and when he goes to sleep, she has a shower to wash the dirty feeling off her.

Behind the lawyer in her power suit who takes command of the room as she enters is a woman who is showing a little cleavage to "keep the old boys in line" because no one ever told her that she doesn't have to use her body to get attention, and that attention doesn't equate to respect. She laughs and flirts and seems to love her job, but she goes home every night and works out for 3 hours because she is terrified that if she loses her looks, she's lost in this job and that she'll never move forward.

Now, I'm the first to admit that we can only blame how we were raised for our problems until a certain age. At some point, we become accountable as adults for our actions, however we, as women, do ourselves a great disservice by burying these issues. We don't talk about them with our best girlfriends, our mothers, or our daughters. We take a deep breath, put on a big smile, and take on the world with our best face forward.

I'm of the belief that if we talked about these things, if we knew we were all facing them, it would help us all to find greater peace. Maybe we wouldn't make the same mistakes the next time around. Perhaps we could help each other to be stronger, more confident, to know our limits and to feel better about ourselves in general. Maybe by knowing on a personal level that our sisters, mothers, daughters and friends face the same thing it would help us to all feel a little better and stop hurting ourselves, and subjecting ourselves to unnecessary hurt because we think that we're alone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More from the East Coast of Canada

Well, I have been on this road trip of the East Coast for 8 days now and I thought I would give you the highlights.

Thus far we have seen:

Riviere-Du-Loup, PQ - We missed the show here because of car trouble :(

Grand Falls, NB - Stopped here at a Walmart to pick up some groceries and get our bearings.

Plaster Rock, NB - Rocked out and had a great night in a hotel here. The owners were amazing and breakfast was great. I highly reccomend checking out this tiny town, and we hear that Pond Hockey is all the rage here in the winter thanks to Don Cherry.

St. John, NB - Great show here at a bar called Cougar's Lounge. It was a tiny venue, and The DGB stopped in for an open mic night. We enjoyed $23 Gallon Pitchers and the guys ended up rocking out on a stage in a park at 4:00 a.m. until the police showed up. They were super nice about it and we went back to the van and laughed until the sun was starting to show.

Black Beach, NB - Tiny little beach in the middle of nowhere, on the Bay of Fundy. Played some football on the beach and ate some lunch. The locals thought we were crazy and the water was freezing but it was a great time!

Blacks Harbour, NB - Dropped into a random bar on our day off, where the boys did an impromtu performance and sold a stack of CDs, and we drank a lot of rounds of free shots. We were going to leave and the bartender thought we needed drinks for the road, but of course she can't sell them to us, so she gave us a case out of her car! We ended up sitting in the harbour watching the tide with a guy from Halifax, and he crashed in the van at the end of the night with us.

Fredericton, NB
- Had a great time here. The show was an open mic again at the Capitol. We ended up staying at Catherine's house (yup, we just met her) She looked after us well though. Gave us a place to crash and an amazing breakfast. We basically <3 her. :D Miramachi, NB - The DGB played a show at O'Donoghues, which is a 175 year old bar in the Irish Capital of Canada. It was a very cool and the panfried fish and chips was absolutely amazing. I turned in for an early night because I'm a party pooper like that sometimes. I was exhausted, but woke up refreshed for our next day in Moncton.

Parlee Beach, NB - Stopped in for a dip in the ocean. Probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen and we enjoyed the shallows before venturing out for a proper swim. The boys played football in the ocean again while we all dodged the jellyfish. I didn't even know we had these in Canada but they were plentiful and very cool to look at.

Moncton, NB - had a great time in Moncton. The boys did a show there and it was fantastic as always. Interesting characters and invites to crash, but we decided that we were safest in the van with the door locked.

St. George, NB - Stopped in to see Jamie's family where we'll be staying for the next couple of days. They're about the sweetest people you'd ever want to meet and have beds and burgers ready for us upon our return.

St. Andrews, NB - the boys are currently playing a set at The Red Herring and I'm writing this. Sounds great, and I'm thinking that we're going to have to come here for some dinner tomorrow too. $7.99 lobster dinner just haulled in off a boat is too good to pass up I think.

Clearly, that's a lot of travelling for 8 days! Not only have we seen these places, but everywhere in between because the guys I'm travelling with have tour dates for their band booked in no particular order all over New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and then back to Quebec!

The cool thing about this trip is that we're not doing the Mapquest and go directions. We are actually using maps and atlases to find our way, picking out random destinations along the way and attempting to stick towards the coastline whenever possible. As four kids from the interior of Canada, any occasion to breath in salt air is a good excuse.

The people out here truly are as hospitable and welcoming as you hear. I could hardly believe it. The guys are being absolutely fantastic about me tagging along with them and it's been a hell of an amazing vacation for me, and about as cheap as a vacation could come.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the road again

Well... I'm at it again. I've jumped into another crazy adventure without thinking it through and have found myself touring the east coast of Canada with a friend's band.

So, in the past few days I've seen Grand Falls, Plaster Rock, St. John, Blacks Beach, Black Harbour and Fredericton. It's been absolutely beautiful and the randomness has been astounding. We've had car troubles, bar troubles, and just about every other type of troubles you could think of but it has been fantastic overall.

I'm really enjoying the whole experience, and we're here until June 28th so I expect to see a fair bit more of the country. The one thing I can tell you about it, after being here is that we don't appreciate what we have. Specifically, I don't appreciate what I have. The world is beautiful, Canada especially. Some of the sights I have seen make me ashamed that I went to the UK rather than exploring more of Canada.

The other side of this is that I can understand why people say you can find peace out here. There is an overwhelming stillness to the world when you're standing on the beach watching the tide.

Gotta go -- the band has a show in a few minutes. I'll write more later but I hope that you can find peace like that which I've felt in the past few days.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Leap of Faith

A Leap of Faith: An act or instance of accepting or trusting in something that cannot be readily seen or proven (dictionary.com)

Now, we're not discussing a leap of faith involving huge financial risk, or those that risk of life or limb.

For some people, taking a leap of faith is like rolling out of bed in the morning, it just happens naturally. These people have faith in humanity, faith in people's intention, and faith in their ability to recover from a disappointment if their leap of faith does not work out in their favour.

For others, a leap of faith is an exceptionally hard thing to commit to. They either can't accept the disappointment, have lost faith in people, or just don't want to take the chance.

At some point in your life you'll have to decide whether or not to take a leap of faith. You may not know it at the time and the moment might pass you by without you realizing the opportunity to take one, or you may decide to avoid it, but the problem with that decision is the missed opportunities, chances to really know people, to experience something new, or to find something out about yourself.

I think it really comes down to this:

To avoid a leap of faith is to do so out of fear of consequence. You gain nothing and lose what could have been an amazing opportunity.

To take a leap of faith is an act of good will. You risk little more than a bruised ego, and you have the opportunity to gain everything, and to greatly enrich your life.

So take a deep breath, decide if you're man, or mouse, and then jump.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Things I learned on the road...

So, after a few days to recuperate from my trip, I thought I would discuss some of the lessons I learned along the way.

  1. Be flexible - Plans will change, flights will be delayed or missed, you'll meet people and want to stay an extra day somewhere. Develop the ability to just roll with it.
  2. Book flights in advance - Flights are more expensive at the last minute through discount airlines like Ryanair, BMI and Aerlingus so if you want to book a cheap flight, do it in advance.
  3. Book all other travel once you're at you destination - The Internet is a great resource, but it is not the be-all, end-all of travel information. A lot of the time you will be able to find cheaper transport by asking around, booking through the offices at the train station, etc. The people there are probably used to backpackers and are more than willing to help you out if you are willing to smile, be patient, and say thank you.
  4. Do not take the night bus - A baby will cry all night, the person sitting beside you will snore or want to chat with you, the bus will be cold or break down. On the up-side, the night bus is usually cheap.
  5. If you ARE taking the night bus pack earplugs and take a sedative - You will also want to book an extra day at your destination because you will lose at least one day to "bus-lag."
  6. Trains are usually comparably priced to buses - For the couple of dollars difference, if you can afford it, take the train. It is much more comfortable, faster, and they don't hassle you about your luggage. If you can carry it onto the train under your own power, you can bring it. Buses sometimes have baggage limits.
  7. Trust the hostel reviews online - This does not mean you are bound to only staying at hostels with 90% ratings, but when places are described as damp, dirty or cold you should probably at least take that into consideration. Location is not everything, so if you're on a tight budget, take a hostel with a less central location rather than damp, dirty or cold.
  8. Hostel chains are a totally different experience than privately run hostels - Chains will generally be more organized, checkout times will be firm, they will have luggage store and usually free guided tours, pub crawls and recommendations for what to see and do. Privately run hostels are generally trying to build a reputation and are very eager to please, but because you're generally paying less, expect a little less in terms of amenities. I spent about half my time at each type and have likes and dislikes for both.
  9. You are not required to see everything that everyone recommends - See what is going to make you happy, see family if there is any in the area, and catch a few of the major sites. It's your trip, so do it your way.
  10. Do not book certain things into certain days unless an exhibit is closing - You will, without a doubt, meet some fellow travellers who want to hook up and see certain things and you might want to tag along. That's part of the experience, so do it. The London Tower has been there for a long time, it can wait until tomorrow, but your new friends might be moving on to another city tomorrow.
  11. Pub crawls and having a few drinks is fun - flying, riding a train or bus, however, is not fun with a hangover, so keep that in mind. Also, different countries have different alcohol contents in their drinks, so the beer may be stronger or weaker than you are used to. I noticed in England, liquor is served in 35ml shots rather than 27ml shots at home. It doesn't sound like much but after a few drinks that adds up rather quickly. Keep that in mind.
  12. Take lots of pictures - This means bring lots of batteries, and a few extra memory cards. They are generally expensive on location, and you don't want to run out just as you see the most amazing ________ ever. Also, always take photos at the highest quality your camera can produce. I would rather have 1000 excellent pictures than 10,000 pictures that can never be turned into prints.
  13. Post some photos to a website while you're away - This lets everyone know that you're still alive, what sites you're seeing and that you're enjoying yourself. Some people like Facebook, but keep in mind that they then hold the rights to your photos and the quality will be greatly reduced.
  14. Remember to eat reasonably - Yes, you're on vacation or backpacking or whatever. Yes there is lots of new food to try. This does not mean that you shouldn't eat a vegetable every now and again.
  15. Some tours are worth going on - If you want to see a remote area and you have a limited amount of time, or if you're not sure how to get there, ask at the hostel. If they recommend a tour rather than trying to get out there on your own, there is a reason. Take the tour.
  16. Not all tours are worth going on - If you are at a museum, site, in a castle, etc, it may be in your best interest to get the audio guide, or the book, rather than hooking up with a tour. You get to see the things you want to see, get some information, and if you want to stop and take photos etc then you won't have a thousand other people in your way.
  17. It is cheap to travel once you are outside of North America - So book a longer trip than you normally would because once you're there you are not going to want to come home after 10 days.
That's all I've got time for just now but I'll update later.