TW: Disordered eating
The beginning of the year is always so triggering for me, as I’m sure it is for many others. It seems every year at this time, in an effort to be their best and healthiest self and encourage others to do the same, the self-proclaimed nutritionists who got their degrees from WebMD once again make appearances all over social media. If you did not study nutrition in school or get your degree from a college or university, if you are not in the medical field or the food industry, I quite frankly do not care what you have to say, because I guarantee I read the same article from Google that you did.
As someone who has suffered from disordered eating, it is so triggering for me when I log onto social media and I see the DOs and DONTs of eating. And I see the GOOD and BAD foods. Say it with me everyone – ALL FOOD IS GOOD FOOD. Your body quite literally needs food and calories to survive.
Which brings me to my next point. I have literally been in situations where I have heard things like the following:
“I love carbs, I eat them every day”
“Oh well you’re still working out a lot, aren’t you?”
This is a trigger because now I am sitting here telling myself that I shouldn’t be eating carbs because all I do every day is sit at my desk in my childhood bedroom and stare at a medium sized screen from 8am to 5pm.
Why do you need to run or do any physical activity in order to eat carbs? The answer is you don’t. Carbs are a part of a healthy, balanced diet and to eliminate them from your diet just for the sake of eliminating them is unhealthy.
Elimination diets, or as well call them now, “lifestyle changes”, are STILL FAD DIETS. Change the name but it still doesn’t change the game; Call it what you want but it is still as negative as a diet. FAD DIETS ARE BAD FOR YOU. If you have an allergy or a medical reason for why you cannot eat certain foods then fine, different story. But if you don’t, eat the food. ALL FOOD IS GOOD FOOD.
On the topic of elimination diets, can someone explain “dry January” to me? I am fully understanding of the fact that alcohol is an addictive substance and it is not good for you or your body. But what good are you doing by giving it up for one month out of the year and then going right back to drinking excessive amounts of it as soon as February hits? I’d like to understand the point of it and maybe instead of practicing elimination suggest that we all practice moderation instead.
Moderation is a good segue into all those silly little tips I’ve been seeing lately on how to eat less. I’ve heard everything from “when you go out to eat and you want to stop yourself from eating, put your napkin over your plate and push it to the side so you aren’t tempted” to “fill up on water beforehand so you eat less”. WHAT? You paid for that meal, finish it. ALL FOOD IS GOOD FOOD.
And another thing, these meal replacement supplements. In my mind, the only thing you can replace a meal with is another meal. People swear that putting protein powder in your coffee is a great alternative to breakfast and keeps you full till lunch. AS IF! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and according to my Google nutrition degree, eating breakfast kickstarts your metabolism for the day. So, by skipping a meal, you’re slowing down your metabolism and your body will actually hold onto the fat because it does not know when it will eat next. I eat a full breakfast every morning and I’m still hungry again by noon. So if you can eat a scoop of protein powder for breakfast and call yourself full till lunch, I guess that is some sort of super power I don’t have.
I’m not a nutritionist and I am in no way trying to tell you how to live your life, I just know that this time of year can be really hard for me and if that’s the case for me that means someone else out there is struggling too. I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but it is okay to eat. ALL FOOD IS GOOD FOOD.
‘Twas the night before the Browns played the Chiefs,
and all through Browns Town
all of Cleveland was stirring
around the Dawg Pound.
The Bud Lights are chilling in the coolers with care
ready for kick off to be cracked open and cheer!
Browns fans are decked out in gear from toe to head.
As visions of Baker's touchdown dance fill their heads.
And Emily Mayfield in her custom jean jacket,
And Baker in his Browns beanie cap,
watched Cleveland go crazy and said “this city really slaps!”
Out in the media, they erupted with laughter,
The “Browns is the Browns” they claim we don’t matter.
Away to the field our team will fly like a flash.
Don’t forget Nick Chubb made history with a 92-yard dash! (2018)
The Browns are here to win, not just to put on a good show.
From cities all around you can hear “Go Browns! Go!”
Much to fans surprise someone appeared,
Kevin Stefanski out of his basement ready to coach in his gear.
Our team is ready. We’re lively and quick.
Fingers crossed they don’t give us more reasons to be screaming “oh shit!”
More rapid than eagles this big day has came,
Fans whistle and shout and prepare for the game!
Down Landry! Set Baker! Hike Hunt! And Garrett.
Fight for each down, leave nothing to regret!
This is for BELIEVELAND we can feel it in our core,
and all of Cleveland will be screaming “WE WANT MORE!”
I saw something recently that said “stop talking shit about people you don’t know personally”, and it really got me thinking.
I’m self aware enough to be able to look at myself and acknowledge the amount of times I have said something bad about a person that I don’t even know. But I took it a step further and applied it to something that I have felt very passionate about lately.
2020 has turned people ugly. The entire movement of 2020 has been about being inclusive of all kinds of people and being loving and caring and kind. But I don’t see a lot of kindness, I see a lot of judgement.
You don’t know why the mother and father of four children are pro abortion or maybe against abortion. You don’t know their reason or their story.
You don’t know the reason behind the photo of the woman and her much older, high risk father embracing during a pandemic. But I’m going to tell you so that you do know; her father was just sent home from the hospital to be on hospice care and he’s spending his last few days with his family.
How does that make you feel now?
The point I am trying to make here is that you don’t know the reason behind the post or behind the photo. For a society that claims to be so loving and caring and kind, I am just not seeing it. I am seeing a society of judgement and hatred and betrayal.
Part of an inclusive culture is being able to respect someone enough to find out the full reason and story behind why they are the way that they are. And if you can’t do that first then keep scrolling.
Kindness is all inclusive; race, gender, opinions and beliefs. And it’s cool to be kind.
I have gotten a lot of comments recently like "have you written anything lately?" "something is missing from my timeline...it’s your blog posts" "do you still have your blog?"
I have written a lot of things lately, I haven't shared them, I just renewed the rights to my blog back in August.
Over the course of quarantine, I have not felt super inspired to write in the way that I used to. If I'm being honest, sometimes I don't know what I'm allowed to say and what I'm not allowed to say. It seems that no matter what, someone gets offended and or someone just must share their unwanted opinion. Needless to say, inspiration has been lacking. A sentiment we can all relate to these days is looking in the pantry or fridge for something to jump out at you that you are interested in eating, but nothing does because you have been cooking and snacking at home for the past 7 months. Food isn’t even exciting anymore.
This time, the inspiration that I have been searching for did not jump out at me in the form of a snack I have been craving. It dawned on me as I was watching my coffee mug go around another time in the microwave and I looked down at my left wrist and saw the words “Love Yourself”.
A lot of people used this quarantine time to do something productive in the form of starting a small business, fulfilling a dream, discovering a new passion, excelling at work, writing a book… or just continuing their blog. For me, I decided to be productive in another way. I decided to be productive in the form of learning to love myself. This all started back in June when I purchased this little bracelet with those 2 simple words. Love Yourself. Easier said than done.
As soon as that little bracelet sat on my wrist, as hard as it was, I started putting myself first and making myself the main character of my life. I immediately began making decisions about my life for myself and to benefit myself. This included several things that I had never done before including ending a severely toxic relationship where I was constantly left with crippling anxiety always wondering if was good enough or going to even get a text back. Never being loved enough for who I was, never getting the love that I truly deserved, and constantly feeling like something was wrong with me. I knew that this was going to be difficult for me, as I have never ended a relationship on my own terms before, I looked at my sister and my closest friends the night before and I said “it isn’t going to be easy for me, but I’m going to do it and I’m going to need you guys to support me” and they did and they still do, they never left my side.
Shortly after this incident I decided, after many years of struggling, to reach out to a doctor about my mental health. All those sleepless nights, the days when I could not pull myself out of bed, the days I could not make eye contact with friends, the countless amount of times I have been made to feel like something was wrong with me, finally made sense. After talking to my doctor for 10 minutes she could already tell that I was suffering from high-functioning anxiety. She prescribed me medicine, something that I was very hesitant to accept. But she explained it to me like this; “people with diabetes can’t just will their diabetes away, they need insulin to help. Anxiety is the same way, you can’t just will your anxiety away. You need to take this medication to get your serotonin levels up where they need to be and then we can start to ween you off the medication slowly. But you need to start before you hit rock bottom”.
Every day I remind myself to “Love Yourself” and take the little white pill. And every day that I do that, I am one step closer to getting better. I have truly never been happier.
My body and brain finally allow me to feel the feelings that I had previously been blocking out because they weren’t “comfortable” or “familiar” which would just cause periods of numbness. I have started putting my energy into relationships that are good for me as opposed to relationships that don’t deserve me. I’ve found a new love for the outdoors, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen, I’ve spent more time with friends and family in the form of monthly and weekly dinners. Because I can “feel” again, I have reconnected with my creative side, writing poetry again, creating videos, and I have even taken up film photography.
I choose to love myself every day so that I can be the best version of myself for the good people that I have in my life and so that I can continue to do the little things that bring me so much happiness. Maybe I haven’t been productive with writing [this blog] these past several months. But I have been very productive with learning to love myself… again.
It has been a strange couple of days.
I don’t know how much I'm allowed to say, or even if I'm allowed to talk about this. So I'll just leave it at the following; on Thursday my safety was completely threatened and I, along with all of the other people around me, were put at risk at work. This is something that you know happens, you hear about happening, but you never think that it is going to happen to you. Until it does.
But, everything is going to be fine they said.
Then, just a few days later, the news of Kobe Bryant's death breaks the internet. Someone who we all have viewed as indestructible is all of the sudden ripped from the earth and gone. Getting into that helicopter that day they probably thought that everything was going to be fine. Until it wasn’t.
This one hit me hard, like a brick wall. I didn't even know Kobe Bryant. I probably couldn’t even tell you any of his stats. But it was never about basketball for me. It was never about basketball for a lot of us.
It has always been about who he was as a person, a father, a husband, an idol, a visionary. It is about that video of him and his daughter that went viral just a few weeks ago. They were sitting at a basketball game and Kobe was explaining to her how to improve. It's about every video I've ever seen of his daughters running to his embrace after a game. Every picture I've ever seen of his family. It was about every time I'm in the kitchen at work and one of my male coworkers shoots something into the trash bin from across the room and yells "Kobe!" It is about how, in those last moments, we all know that Kobe did everything in his power to make Gigi feel comfortable and okay.
I'm not one for giving advice, since I'm as guilty as the rest of us complaining about having to wake up and go to work everyday. Waking up every day is a blessing. Having the opportunity to go into work everyday is a blessing. Getting to work safely is also a blessing.
Maybe things are going to be fine. But we should never just assume that it is going to be fine. We shouldn't assume we are going to get another week on earth or even another hour. For being as tough as it is, life is pretty damn fragile and we should live out every moment as if we don't know what could happen next.
I've never been stung by a bee, knock on wood. And for that reason I have what I would call a very rational fear of them, [what others might call "irrational] because I don't know if I am allergic. I'm not allergic to anything, except for cats and silicone, so I have 100% convinced myself that I am allergic to bees. Call me dramatic now if you want, but you haven't even read the rest of the story yet.
One day, a few months back, I walked into my bedroom and spotted something out of the ordinary just sitting on my hardwoods. I have really bad eyes, at the distance I was looking at it it could have been a piece of lint or it could have been a rock for all i know. I approached with caution, only to discover that it was in fact a wasp. I called to my roommates who came running from their room with wads of toilet paper, they scooped that sucker up, flushed him down the toilet and no one ever spoke of it again.
A few months later, around 2 am, I was laying in bed watching Netflix when I saw something out of the corner of my left eye. It crawled out of the blinds on my windows, flew over my head, and disappeared behind a frame on my wall. Another wasp. I flung my blankets off of me and sprung from my bed sprinting to my roommates room crying wasp again! We cautiously headed back to the scene where we searched for 20 minutes hitting things, moving things, making noise, trying to scare the guy out of his hiding place. But nothing.
At this point, I'm starting to panic. I'm panicking because what if I sleep in my room tonight and the wasp comes out of hiding and stings me? Nobody believed I had a wasp in my room so they wouldn't hear me gasping for air and I would die. Or what if I just took too much Melatonin and I hallucinated seeing the wasp? I decided to sleep on the couch that night, but I didn't get much sleep. As I laid my head down and covered myself with a blanket, I heard a buzzing in my right ear. It couldn't be what I thought it was, could it? The wasps were in my room, I was safe down here. Or so I thought.
The next day I woke up and my roommates were going to Niagara Falls, leaving me in, what I had convinced myself to be, a wasp infested house. Before they left we made sure to check all of the windows in my room. I've had wasps before, back before we got our windows redone I had a wasp nest in my window. We checked them all, but found nothing.
I avoided the house and my room as much as I could that day, I was still in shock from the unwanted friend who flew over my head the night before, and was very unprepared to see another one. Despite my fears, I ran into my unwanted friend once again. Only this time, he was on my hardwoods, in the same exact spot that I found the other wasp a few months back.
Now I was freaked out, but I had to get this wasp out of my room while he was already down, before I could start playing Nancy Drew. I worked up the courage to scoop him up for probably a solid 7 minutes and used a whole roll of toilet paper to do it, but I did it. I faced my fears and killed the wasp, I'm single.
Things were starting to make sense to me now. I had found 2 wasps in my room. I had also noticed a silhouette of what looked like some sort of bug in between my blinds and my windows. It had been there for a few weeks, the cleaning ladies apparently missed it on multiple occasions. I pulled back my blinds cautiously only to reveal the body of, you guessed it, a dead wasp.
I checked both of my windows again to ensure that there were no wasp nests in either one of them. There was nothing. Either there was a hole somewhere and that's how they were getting into my room, or the nest was in the walls. I shared both theories with my roommates, they still didn't believe me, but they got up on the later outside anyway only to discover a swarm of hundreds of wasps near the area where our house meets the extension of our house which just so happened to be connected to my room and the family room.
We had discovered the root of the problem, but the wasp saga did not end there. The exterminator came out at least 3 times and sprayed multiple times and multiple rooms. I swear, every day for the month of September and even into October we found a new wasp or 2 just flying around. I tried to convince my roommates to just burn the place down and start over completely.
The wasps were really angry at this point too, they fought really hard to live this long after we tried to kill them multiple times, now they were out for revenge. One day I came home and entered my bedroom after a few days of quiet, I thought the war was over, but I heard the loudest buzzing I had heard and I knew one had returned. I called for help and I stayed in my room with my eyes on the prize. But before help could arrive I lost sight of him and I didn't hear him anymore. Maybe he had overexerted himself and died, maybe we were safe, so I called off the guards.
But then I looked up, only to see the largest wasp I had ever seen crawling on my wall like he owned the place. I shouted again and help came running, pushing me out of the room and into the hallway to safety. This wasp put up a fight, he was flying all over and buzzing and wasn't giving up. After a long, hard battle, we stomped the shit out of him and flushed him down the toilet with the rest of that exterminators career.
After the battle, we completely tore apart my room. The exterminator had come out and sprayed 3 times but we were still finding wasps, there had to be something else. Sure enough, we filled in 3 additional holes that day and I haven't seen a wasp in my room since.
Since the wasp incident, I haven't really slept well. I have very vivid dreams of wasps flying at my head, I'm probably just making it up in my mind. But every now and then I will hear some buzzing and think they're back or I'll see something out of the corner of my eye and my whole body will freeze, taking me back to that first night when the wasp crawled out of my blinds and flew above my head.
Nothing like some early twenties trauma, amiright? At least I'll go down in history as the girl who cried wasp... and was right about it.
When I first met Elysse..... where do I even begin? she was this bubbly red head, much like she is now, living at the end of the hallway on floor 11 of Calhoun.
She was loud and friendly and everything my freshman year self wanted no part of, but desperately needed. I had a hard time making girl friends in college, until the day Elysse walked into my life. I prayed and prayed she wouldn’t talk to me, but she did. She invited me into her small 4 x 4 box dorm where she lived by herself and she offered for me to sit on her bed and she sat on her desk chair.
We talked about everything. everything that a college freshman could possibly know or think they know about life. Our past boyfriends, we realized we shared a common crush, his name was Alex and he was running for Calhoun Hall President and we both offered to work on his campaign because we thought he was so cute (he is still in our lives today, shout out to Alex who is currently working out in Guatemala to begin a trade school), we talked about our passions, our hobbies, our families, and the most important part of the conversation to me was when we talked about our values and morals.
I called my mom later that night and I told her I finally met someone in college that has the same values and morals as I do and I said, “I think we are going to be good friends”. Little did I know, in that moment, I would get to do something that some can only dream of. I would stand by her 6 years later on her wedding day. But from that moment on we were inseparable.
Elysse became a sister to me. But we all know with siblings, relationships aren’t always easy. Our friendship wasn’t always perfect but one of my favorite parts of this whole story, though not an easy part, is she became a sister to my very own sister, sophomore year of college when Nick walked into our lives.
I can’t count the amount of times the three of us all sat around that small Usquare apartment and hashed out Elysse and Nick’s relationship. We would watch her cry and see her heartbroken and we would tell her the old cliche “let him go, he isn’t worth it. If he comes back, it’s meant to be”.
She knew something we didn’t, because she never did let him go and I believe it was always meant to be.
When I realized how serious this was, I figured it was time to get to know Nick for myself and so that’s exactly what I did. What I came to find is that Nick is genuinely good. Not the kind of genuinely good you come by often. When he heard me crying and heartbroken, and Elysse fell asleep, he took her phone and talked to me through the night.
He loves so hard and so well, not just Elysse but also those who love Elysse, and he does it almost effortlessly. Since Elysse can’t be with me, because I’m not her type, there is no one else I’d pick for her other than Nick.
So far in the story, Elysse has cried, I’ve cried, but oh how the tables turned on the day of their wedding when Nick saw Elysse for the first time, a little birdie told me that he cried too.
Elysse and Nick, I cry writing this the same way I’ve been crying since the day nick told me he was going to propose. I am not one who runs out of words often, but you two and your love leave me speechless. I’ll never forget when Elysse told Nick that he is going to be her boyfriend because “it’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames”. If you couldn’t tell by now, it’s gonna be forever.
She really locked him in, when 10 minutes before the ceremony she requested that the preacher change “till death do us part” to “forever and ever”.
Congratulations, best wishes, here’s to Elysse and Nick’s forever and EVER!
There is a place in Canada that looks otherworldly, I’m sure you’ve seen it on Instagram. An influencer is perfectly posed in a canoe, on water as flat and clear as glass, with mountains in the background and cool blue skies. She probably doesn’t have a hair out of place, her outfit doesn’t have an ounce of dirt on it, and her hat is completely secured on her head.
We’ve all seen this photo and we have all wanted to go. And so, I did. [To be fair, I’ve been wanting to go since before I saw it on Instagram, but that’s neither here nor there.]
We did our research, we booked our hotel, secured our flights and our shuttle and off we went.
1. July is peak season in Banff. It is supposed to be their "summer" and it is the time of year when most tourists are in the park. Keep this in mind when booking your trip, that with peak season comes peak prices. It was almost impossible to find a direct flight so we had a 12 hour travel day in an odd order, but we got there eventually and it didn’t break the bank. Also keep in mind that you can't fly in to Alberta. You have to fly into Calgary and then take a 2 hour shuttle trip into Banff National Park to where you are staying. You will have to book your shuttle in advance of your arrival date because you need to have a reservation. I would recommend using the Brewster Express.
2. You don’t need to stay in the fanciest hotel. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even want to if you really knew how far away they were from everything. The Fairmount Banff Springs is about a 15 minute, uphill walk from downtown Banff, or you can wait to take the shuttle up there. The Fairmount Chateau at lake Louise is over an hour shuttle ride outside of downtown Banff. Of course, you’d be staying on lake Louise so what more do you need. The Banff Ptarmigan Inn is the perfect spot to stay. It’s reasonably priced, in the heart of Downtown Banff, located right next to Good Earth Coffee house and right across from a shuttle hub stop (more about the shuttle later). The Banff Ptarmigan Inn gives you that at home feel when you’ve come back cold and tired from a long day of hiking. That’s all you really need when you’re thousands of miles from home.
Again, I will say that peak season comes with peak prices and not a lot of hospitality options. Before we found the Banff Ptarmigan Inn the most reasonably priced option was an RV parked in the RV area of the park that someone was renting out as an AirBnB. Consider that your warning to book quickly and early.
3. The girls you see on Instagram all done up look great, but they must have a lot of confidence because literally nobody else looks like that. I mean there is a little bit of everything but most people are in hiking apparel and its not exactly what you would call "mountain chic". It’s fine and great to want to look your best, but just as you dress for the season, not the weather, I’d recommend you dress for the location and not your Instagram feed.
4. There are 17 hours of daylight in Banff. The sun rises at about 5 AM and sets around 9:40PM. Be prepared to eat at odd hours of the day and drink a lot of coffee or tea.
5. Pack a rain coat. And probably a winter coat. But you also might want to pack shorts, tank tops, and short sleeve shirts.
6. Take a lot of photos, but also make sure to appreciate the beauty of the world through your own eyes and not solely through your phone screen.
7. Be prepared for bears, moose, and mountain lions. Going to the mountains is like going into the ocean. You are a guest in their home, and the wildlife is always home. Respect that and respect them.
8. That being said, don't hike alone. Actually, most of the trails are recommended that you are with a group of 4 or more. And other trails its mandatory that you are with a group of 4 or more, or you will be fined. The trails near downtown Banff are easy and welcoming for all hiking levels, but the further you get into the National Park, continue with caution. Someone once told me, when I was at the peak in the Smokey Mountains, that "this is the safest you will ever be." And I believed that, and still do, because at the top, a lot of things can’t get to you. But it’s good to keep in mind that the mountain lions can see you, you just cant see them.
9. Public Transportation is a must. Banff utilizes a transport system called Roam. When we first chose this location for our adventure we assumed that everything would be in walking distance, but we were wrong. We had to utilize the Roam shuttle almost every day. It is free and easy to use especially because when booking at the Banff Ptarmigan Inn they provide you with your own bus pass for the entirety of your stay.
10. As with all trips, do your research so you know what you are getting yourself into but also go in with an open mind. Not all trips go as according to plan.
I have been counting down the days until July 19th since it was announced that The Lion King live action film would be released that day. Out of all the Disney movies that I know and love, The Lion King has always been my all time favorite and will always hold that special place in my heart.
Growing up I never had a pet but I always had an unconditional love for animals. So much so that I had imaginary pet friends, I had so many stuffed animals on my bed that you could hardly see me, and I spent most of my time crawling around the floor putting holes in my jeans pretending to be a dog, or of course, a lion. My parents took me to the doctor because they thought something was wrong with me, but the doctor said I just have a really active imagination.
Kids and imaginations go hand in hand. When you're young you're carefree, worry free, you're pure and it feels like nothing can touch you. And nothing really can because your parents, older siblings, family friends, etc. , whoever those important people were in your life, they will protect you from it…or try their best to.
At a very young age I learned that you can't always be protected from some things, heartbreak. My mom was out of town on business one weekend and my dad was left to take care of, and entertain, two little girls, my sister and I. He and my uncle thought it would be a great idea to go to an Indians game, of course. Now that you know a little bit about me as a child, you know that I loved stuffed animals. I took one with me everywhere I go. One particular stuffed animal, Simba.
Simba and I were inseparable, I took him everywhere. He was my favorite stuffed animal and good friend, I loved him more than I loved crawling around on the ground pretending to be just like him. I held him tight all the time, and every time I gave him a little squeeze, he would make a little squeaky growling noise. That weekend my mom was away was no different. If I was going to the Indians game, Simba was going too. My dad asked me "Do you really want to bring him in?" but I couldn’t say no and leave him in the car. He had to come with and so he did.
This even occurred years back when the stadium still had that kids section with food courts, a play area, and picnic tables. I don’t really know if that still exists because now when I go to games I spend most of my time at the bar. But that’s neither here nor there. So, we went to the kids area to grab food and enjoy the game.
When you go to the Indians games the food lines are always long and seating is limited, so we wanted to reserve a spot while we waited in line for food. My dad said something along the lines of "Why don't you leave Simba at the table so he can save our spot for us?" and we headed to the line to get food.
When you're young, your imagination is active, everything is exciting and overwhelming, the smallest things seem like the biggest and you have the best time wherever you go. We had the best day at the Indians game that day. Until we got back to the car, my dad was buckling me in the seat, and I realized that Simba did not make it back to the car with us. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw him, but it was the minute that I left him on the picnic table.
My dad tried to go back to the stadium and track down Simba while I sat back in the car broken hearted, feeling completely defeated. I think we all knew that I would never seem him again. To this day, this story still breaks my parent's hearts. And it breaks mine. It's even still difficult to type, though I've written it many times before for every college entrance essay ever.
The search for Simba never ended. I wished for years, every Christmas, that he would be under my tree. But he never was.
It wasn't until we went to Disney World for the first time, when I was 12, that we got close to finding him. My parent's went in to every store that sold plush and told them the story. The Cast Members would take us to the back and we would search through pages and pages of plush Simba's, but to no avail. We found a few, but they just weren't the same.
I went back to Disney World when I was 20 and was working as a Park Operations Intern in the Disney College Program. I wasn’t there looking for Simba this time, I was looking for something more than that. I had hit a rough patch in my life, once again experiencing a lot of heart break, I was constantly surrounded by toxic people and I was failing classes, treating my body like crap, and struggling to pull myself out of this rut.
Disney saved me, in a way. I made friends that I still consider my best friends to this day. I learned what it means to work hard, to fail, and to succeed. I learned what it means to love. To love yourself, to love others, to love your life.
One night, close to the end of my program, I was hanging out in Magic Kingdom with my best friend. We were in some of the shops in FantasyLand when I came across the cutest Simba. He was so soft and just looking at him made me smile. It was near park close and we decided we weren't going to buy anything so we headed back towards the front entrance of the park. Somewhere along Main Street I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at my friend and said "we have to go back, I can't leave without Simba".
We ran, as fast as we could, with bookbags on and everything, back to that store because this time, I was not getting into a car without Simba.
Heartbreak sucks, it never gets easier. But I learned a lot from Simba. Things change in the blink of an eye. People are here one day and gone the next. We have to cherish every moment we have, treat others with love all the time, live every moment to the fullest, because you never know when it could be your last moment here or your last time seeing someone. No one can ever replace the person you love and miss or the memories you made and love, but you can find someone and something that you love just as much.
So on July 19th, try not to need me because I will be sitting in a movie theatre, (not really because I will actually be exploring the Canadian Rockies) watching my favorite movie and my favorite character that taught me so much about life and love.
The other day at work I said something along the lines of “I can’t figure this out, I’m so stupid” and my friend looked at me and said “Don’t talk about my friend like that”.
I started thinking about how often I hear people in my life say negative things about themselves.
“I’m so fat”
“I hate my body”
“I drink too much and I hate myself in the morning”
“I have a shitty personality”
“I’m losing my hair”
“I hate that I'm dependent”
“I hate the sound of my voice”
“I hate that I care so much about what other people think of me”
“I hate that I take things so personally”
I could keep going but I won’t, I'll just leave you with this; I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but if other people can love us for the same things that we hate about ourselves, I think that we can try to learn to love ourselves too.