Soulmates.

I was out, but at a computer, missing the Artist. I was studying for a midterm, and of course full of stress and anxiety about it. I am waiting to hear if I got into the MA program I applied to and interviewed for, and I am really stressed about that too. Stressed if I don’t get it, yet anxious if I do. If I don’t get in, that is a lot of hard work applying (and applying for a scholarship) that didn’t pay off, and my plans will have to change. But if I do get in, that is 2 more years of what I know will be really hard work. I want to take on the challenge, but still, I know that lots of hard work would be in my future. Not to mention the stresses of daily life, trying to find time to do laundry and cook and all that.

I had been feeling particularly stressed at that moment, my body feeling restless and anxious, and I was yearning (and still am) to take a vacation with the Artist. We took an amazing week long vacation to the Dominican Republic in 2010, and we went to Chicago for a few days exploring in 2015, but that is it. We have bee talking about wanting a vacation together for so long, even just a few nights away somewhere within driving distance where there is a cheap motel where we can watch a “movie on TV” and order all kinds of takeout and junk food for a few days while we enjoy an outdoor pool, restaurants, sightseeing, a beach, etc. Even that seems impossible when you are broke AF, let alone going somewhere tropical or otherwise expensive like NYC or Florida.

But, my number one way to redirect my anxious thoughts it to think about my love, and how we get to share our lives together, no matter what. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we get to be together. Master’s program or no Master’s program, vacation or no vacation, money or no money, we will make it. We will figure it out. And then I checked my email. The Artist sent me an email with nothing in the body or subject line, just a link to a video. The video was of a car commercial, and the song of that car commercial has become associated with our lives. I was just saying that every time I hear that commercial, I think back to last summer. We had just moved, it was a hard, hard move with lots of obstacles. We were even more broke than we are now. I had classes start the day after we moved in, I didn’t know my way around and had no phone to use GPS, on top of the nerves of just going back to school after 5 years off. The summer was spent in a realm of anxiety and stress, with boxes everywhere as we tried to balance school, job searching, and unpacking. I was so stressed that I had no appetite and didn’t sleep well, and if you know me, you know that this is VERY unlike me. And somehow, with that commercial always coming on, the song somehow became associated with that period of our lives.

But now, the song is a reminder that no matter how stressful life gets, I have this guy by my side making me laugh, supporting me, and enriching my life on a daily basis. He sees beauty in such ordinary things that I never would have noticed before, and it reminds me to stop and smell the roses. So we would stop the craziness for a few hours, go exploring in our new city, and have some laughs.

I teared up watching this video, it was like he knew exactly my stress levels and that I was thinking of him, and sent this video to let me know he was also thinking of me, and that whatever happens, we will find a way to flourish, together ‚̧

No, I don’t want to buy your $5 per serving shake/meal replacement/smoothie/whatever you are selling.

Has anyone else noticed that everyone is becoming a representative of some sort of product lately? Skin care, food, kitchen supplies, make up, etc., but the most common thing I keep getting asked to buy and become a part of, is shakes. But the most common thing seems to be shakes and meal replacements, but for me, the answer is no. I get it, though. It is a REALLY tough economy right now and everyone is scrambling to find income and survive. And kudos to all the awesome people in my life that these things work for, who are on a journey of health and wellness and have created a business they love. But please understand, this is not for me. Here is why.

When I tell you I can’t afford it, I really can’t. When you say things like “you are worth the investment”, I appreciate it, and I know that that my health is important and worth a lot of effort an attention. But that doesn’t change my ability to afford it. I use my campus food bank, I budget like crazy, and there are still nights that I have gone to bed without dinner, simply because pay day was around the corner and I had no food because it all went to rent or another crucial bill. This is not the norm every night, though, so don’t worry. I still manage to eat healthy foods on a $100 or less budget per week, in Toronto, for two adult powerlifters with big appetites. We both have smoothies for breakfast that cost $1-2 per person. Mine packs about 40g protein, 10g fiber, 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, lots of fat and carbs, and an array of vitamins and minerals. Sometimes I even eat an orange or kiwi on the side which will up the vitamins and fiber too. These are dietary requirements that are specific to my needs, and meal replacements generally do not meet these needs. Also, I can’t have gluten, which is surprisingly in a lot of that stuff, and I choose not to eat much soy, because it is bad for, and aggravates, all of my weird bodily conditions.

When you say that if I join the business, it will help with my money problems, please understand that I am a full time university student with multiple part-time jobs that I enjoy- I barely have time to shower in a day, let alone participate in the constant social media presence involved in these things. I do enjoy social media, but not for posting every meal and workout I do in a day. And my part-time jobs are ones that are enhancing my life in some way, and I enjoy them.

When you say that I won’t have to step foot in the gym or cook dinners, because all workouts are done from home and dinners are a shake (for example), this does not sound appealing to me. I LOVE going to the gym and cooking. Mostly, I love eating home cooked meals. I do powerlifting, which requires a gym, unless you have your own gym, which would be incredible lol! When you say that I can get weights and modify the workouts to include them, the answer is no. I do powerlifting, it is not the same as getting some dumb bells and following a video.

So I ask that you understand that I have different interests than you, and that is ok. I am excited for you that have a business you love and are healthy and enjoy what you do. I also enjoy what I do, it just happens to be something different. I am so proud of you for working hard towards your health goals! I am also proud of myself. My goals are a little different, and that is also ok. I am looking to gain muscle mass and intense strength, which requires intense workouts at the gym and lots of calories consumed. Hence, low calorie shakes are not suited for me, and meals that cut calories are out of the question. My basal metabolic rate, which is just to maintain my body, muscle, organs, etc. at rest is a little over 1600 cal per day. Add in a workout that burns probably 700 cal AT LEAST, plus add in additional calories to create a surplus for muscle building…that is a lot of food.

So all in all, these shakes and meal replacements just do not suit my life, my goals, or my interests. They may suit yours, which again, is ok. Lets focus on encouraging one another to strive towards our goals, no matter what they are ūüôā

The 27 year old undergrad.

It has been a busy, stressful summer. ¬†I started classes the day after moving into our new Toronto apartment and we still aren’t completely unpacked and set up. ¬†We have been frequently thrift shops looking for furniture, but haven’t had any luck. ¬†Things are slowly coming together back up in the great white north!

My summer semester was definitely hard, it is such a shock going from the working world back into school full time. ¬†But I made it, and with decent grades. ¬†The biggest shock of all, however, was the fact that I am at a completely different life stage them most of my classmates. ¬†Being a 27 year old in undergrad classes, I am 8 years older then some of my peers. ¬†Although that really isn’t much when you consider one’s lifespan, it is quite a difference in what “phase” of life is happening.

I am 27, will be celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary with the Artist at the end of this month, I have lived on my own and with the Artist for many years and in turn have many bills to pay, and my favourite pass times include reading, watching films, listening to CBC radio, cooking (well, I am the assistant- the Artist is the actual cook!), relaxing while listening to our record collection, getting crafty, and powerlifting. ¬†Through conversation with other students around campus, it seems, as it should when you are 19, that going to bars and hanging out with friends are what the kids are doing these days. ¬†I wish I was saying that I was declining invitations to go out to the bar because I just wanted to go home and relax, but it must be obvious that I am an old lady. ¬†Either that, or I come across as an unapproachable person. ¬†Its probably both. ¬†Chandler from Friends articulates it perfectly…

Chandler Bing

I also feel like I am one of the last people to be fit the “starving student” archetype. ¬†I feel like I am surrounded by people who can afford all kinds of travelling and vacations, Mac laptops to bring to class for note taking, take-out food whenever they want, and no problems paying tuition or rent. ¬†Meanwhile, I am doing my laundry in my bathtub, using the campus food bank, sharing a laptop with the Artist (we need a computer equally for our own livelihoods) as well as a cell phone, and taking notes in class with a notebook that my parents bought for me and a pen I took from their ¬†house. ¬†I filled that notebook completely, so lets hope they buy me a new one for the upcoming term, LOL. ¬†I also have no idea how I will be paying my tuition that is due at then end of this month, not to mention bills, and I continuously sew together the same few clothing items that keep gaining new holes or tears.

It is all very weird, being in undergrad classes at 27.  When I was 19, I thought for sure that at 27 I would have the best job that ever existed and been done school with a prestigious degree(s) and have my dream home and life all figured out.  Well, I have come to the conclusion that you never really figure life out.  It is an ongoing journey with changing goals and aspirations along the way- so you might as well enjoy things, one day at a time.

Today I enjoyed bacon, egg and veggie scramble, and hash browns for lunch.  I enjoyed grocery shopping and still having about $10 left over for any other food needs that might arise this week.  I am going to workout later with the Artist, and despite my current sciatic pain, I will enjoy that too.  I will enjoy watching the Olympics tonight snuggled up with my love, and I will enjoy how beautifully gloomy and rainy it is this afternoon.

To see more photos of me enjoying the simple things in life, check me out on instagram @capitaineflash

As much as I would LOVE to travel and take a vacation, not have to worry about how I will pay tuition, or go shopping for new clothes and shoes whenever I feel like, I am sharing my life with someone who makes me smile and laugh every day, who shows me unconditional love, supports me, and inspires me….and that is more important than anything.

Suddenly, the mangled and torn insoles of my shoes seem so insignificant ‚̧

All you need is love <3

Some people go through the processes of life seamlessly.  They progress through post-secondary school and graduate studies with no problems, and come out with no debts and even get a perfect job right away.  They somehow make and/or have a lot of money.  They have children.  They own a home.  They have pets.  They have nice, reliable cars, and more then 1 for the entire household.  They never have a single medical issue.

Not me.

I have completed undergraduate work, with mounds of debt. ¬†Not just student debt, but personal debt with family, and with credit cards. ¬†Student loans only cover so much, and I have to eat and pay the rent. ¬†When we don’t have our heat on and live in a crappy apartment and use our credit card to buy only essential groceries, it is those purchases that add up to our credit cards. ¬†But what is the alternative? ¬†We already don’t have heat on, no cell phones, no cable, our bills are minimal and only essentials. ¬†I have been trying to go to grad school, but I can’t afford tuition and am not eligible for student loans in the states because I am Canadian, and there is so little funding and scholarships for social work studies it is ridiculous. ¬†And you can forget about stipends for social work graduate studies, they don’t exist. ¬†Yet, social work strives for change for the greater good of society, so you would think it’s extremely crucial to get well trained individuals up and running….but it is impossible to get trained without funding. ¬†Getting the perfect job after graduation? ¬†Well there aren’t many social work jobs because of cutbacks, which reiterates my point above. ¬†And the jobs are usually not in the high-paying category….but then how do you pay off the massive debts your have from just getting the education to get that job in the first place? ¬†It seems I am always broke. ¬†The Artist and I do not have children, unlike most of our peers right now. ¬†How on earth could we afford to feed a child when we can hardly feed ourselves? ¬†We do hope to be fortunate enough that in the future, having children will be possible. ¬†We do not own a home. ¬†Obviously because we can’t afford it, but we aren’t even sure if we would want to. ¬†I think we would have children well before we owned a house. ¬†And we like weird places, like lofts with concrete floors and brick walls, or warehouse space, etc., not necessarily a house, unless the house meets our weirdo-style- haha. ¬†We do not have pets. ¬†We are reallllly wanting a dog, we love dogs. ¬†We have only 1 car between the 2 of us, and it is quite old and has seen a lot of mileage. ¬†The Artist has had it for years, it is the first car he ever bought and it is still hanging in there. ¬†Just 1 car between us is most inconvenient. ¬†And I have a crazy thyroid issue, as talked about here:¬†https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/under-active-thyroid/

So I have been navigating through life much less then seamlessly. ¬†There is always some ridiculous barrier happening to cause us more struggle. ¬†It is exhausting. ¬†It tests our patience. ¬†It tests our faith that it will all come together in the end. ¬†But, we can always find a way to get around the roadblocks, and we never lose sight of what we want in education, careers, and our ultimate goals. ¬†We are hanging in there, and not giving up on them. ¬†I can only do my very best at everything I embark on, and sometimes, after that, things are out of my hands. ¬†I did my very best on my scholarship application and sent it in, now it is up to others to decide if I get it. I can’t control what others think and do, so I try not to worry myself with it. ¬†I concern myself with putting my best effort forth, which is something I can control, and avoid concerning myself with things beyond my control.

Yes, this is stressful. ¬†Yes, I want to get paid to work and not just volunteer. ¬†Yes, I want to go back to school but can’t afford it. ¬†But at the end of the day, I have a loving family, and a great husband. ¬†When I lay my head on the Artist’s shoulder as we get into bed, and he wraps his big arms around me- that is all I need.

I believe in the butterfly effect, that if I changed even 1 thing I wouldn’t be where I am today. ¬†If I didn’t choose to attend Georgian College I never would had met my Artist, for example. ¬†So if I had to go through some craziness to get here today, then so be it- because happiness and love are priceless. ¬†And if the Artist and I have to continue through more craziness to reach our goals, then fine- why should we settle for anything less then exactly what we want?

I may not have much aside from struggle and debt, but I do have the most important things- great love, and indescribable happiness. ¬†And without that, everything else seems pointless. ¬†‚̧

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