5 Favourite Things Friday

Thank goodness it is Friday! I cannot wait until 8:30 p.m. when I have finished my first midterm of the year! It’s calculus so think positive math-y thoughts this evening for me! Despite this week flying by since I’ve been absorbed in studying course material, I’ve managed to participate in some extracurricular activities and better my relationship with my floor mates. For example…1368740_347525048716613_591684650_n


Western Student Services offers workshops to promote healthy living so I took advantage of their drop-in mindfulness meditation class yesterday morning. It surprised me that I was the only female student (The instructor was female) that attended. We did 3 ten-minute tapes (Jon Kabat Zinn), one that focused on awareness of breath, one that focused on awareness of external noise, and one that focused on awareness of body as a whole. I personally prefer to lay down but it was meant to be a sitting session. What I took from it is that unwelcome thoughts will inevitably work their way into your mind. Rather than becoming frustrated or trying to control your thinking, acknowledge your worries and let them go until a later time when you can figure out their deeper meaning.1370293_347525055383279_1680521912_n

Study Session

I’ve always thought that I studied better individually but this week I was finding my concentration to be off in my room or in the library so I decided to study with a friend in our floor’s study room! I was reminded how beneficial it is to talk out loud about what you are learning or how a solution is reinforced if you teach a friend your method. Our RA also held a discussion where we talked about study tips, which offered suggestions for calming anxiety and staying on top of course material before and during the exam.1374700_347525052049946_1663818256_n


I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I love getting mail! This week my mom sent me a card with some stickers and a friend, Laura, sent me a homemade postcard. Simple gestures, or random acts of kindness, can really make a difference in your day! I found them to be extremely uplifting.1372919_347525042049947_1277531894_n


As if the 5 flights of stairs in my residence isn’t enough, I’ve been going to the gym about 4 times a week! I’m realizing how much more I enjoy weight lifting and strength training as opposed to cardiovascular activity. I typically do a 15-minute elliptical warm up followed by a Pilates or a Sweat and Sculpt class. If not, then I stick to a 20-30 minute elliptical session followed by some weight machines, a 5 minute plank and some other abdominal exercises.1371470_347525045383280_1660948070_n


I’ve officially completed two chemistry quizzes and tonight I’ll have also finished one calculus midterm. Test taking has always been anxiety provoking but I’ve felt surprisingly calm these past few days. With the help of my sister’s advice, I’m learning to set small attainable goals and move on when I complete them. I find that over studying can actually confuse me to a point where my confidence lowers.1379167_347525038716614_1541801768_n

What five things stood out in your week? Do you practise guided meditation? Do you have any techniques for studying? Have a great weekend! ♥ Molly

Fun Fact Friday: Did you know that 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 is equal to 12,345,678,987,654,321 !!

Life’s A Balance Act

University is a big adjustment to say the least. It’s kind of scary to think that I’ve only had 2 days of classes and yet am already a bit overwhelmed. My first midterm exam is October 4th, which is less than a month away, and I have several following the week after!

It’s not so much the course material that I am having trouble understanding, but rather how to juggle the amount of work. I’m learning that I am not the best at deciphering between relevant and irrelevant facts, which is resulting in some pretty slow reading, long notes, and a tired brain from memorizing every bit of information. I suppose it’s a learning curve and I have been out of school so it’s only expected that I need to re-find my groove. I’ve found it particularly helpful to chat with my professors independently after class to get a sense of their exam layout so that I can start basing my studying habits on their advice. My chemistry professor informed us that for every hour spent in class you should invest 3-4 hours into your homework. Subtract my 20 hours or so lecture time and my 60-80 hours spent reviewing and I’m left with 68-88 hours in my week for sleeping, eating, exercising and hopefully blogging.1

Thankfully I am pretty good at managing my time but I do get a bit anxious when I start to number crunch! Thinking far ahead is only so beneficial. Dates in the distant future, such as exams I have in April, definitely do not need to be stressed about yet, if ever! In short what this all means is that I am forced to prioritize which can result in my wants and needs to conflict.

In a perfect world I would blog for an hour every night but lately I’ve found myself feeling under the weather (head cold) so I just want to fall asleep! I suppose I could take a break for “me time” but it’s hard to justify writing a blog post when I could be getting ahead. You know? I could substitute exercising in the morning for blogging but I’ve been enjoying my fitness routine and it wakes me up! I understand that I am blogging for myself, and that blogging is more about quality than quantity but I can’t wait until I get settled and have a better routine. I’ve said this for a few weeks now but my life, though enjoyable, has been pretty frantic! I have so many ideas and thoughts to share so hopefully I can pre-write some of my posts this weekend. I admire bloggers that can keep up with regular posts but I have to realize that this blogging realm is new to me and having infrequent posts isn’t the end of the world. I definitely don’t want blogging to become another “all or nothing” topic and as everyone has expressed before, it’s okay to take breaks once and a while.3

Speaking of taking pauses in life, did anyone remember that yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day? If not I challenge you to take a moment today to reassess your mental health and to check that your brain is just as healthy as other organs within their body. Your thinking should be inline with the rest of your values, goals and knowledge. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem but in a moment of hopelessness, helpless or desperateness it often seems like the only option. In reality, suicide is not a fix and as much as I hate to associate it with shame or guilt, it has a lasting effect on anyone around you which isn’t at all fair. Too many lives are lost to suicide, in fact more than one million die by suicide worldwide every year and it does not discriminate based on gender, age or race so everyone is eligible. Yet even though suicide is so common it is rarely talked about. Please take today to make sure that your teacher, student, neighbour, friend, sibling, parent or even self isn’t hiding behind a smile. We all deserve happiness and it is possible for each and everyone of us to experience joy in our lives. Reflect on what it is that your life may be missing or why exactly you aren’t feeling yourself.   Asking for help is not weak, in fact it is an act of bravery. I myself know that therapy can be life changing if you find that right connection so don’t hesitate to seek out additional support. Even if it is just talking to a colleague about what is troubling you, reading a self-help book or picking up a pamphlet about a possible treatment, it is a step in the right direction. Each and every one of us cannot be replaced which is why it is important to diminish the stigma attached to Mental Health in hopes of inspiring others to seek support before it is too late.

I can’t stress how important it is to find a balance. You need to focus on a healthy goal and be satisfied once you achieve it. There is no sense in comparing yourself to others because they may have completely different circumstances than you. Once you commit to maintaining your values I can guarantee that your actions and behaviours will realign leaving you with more energy and a positive mood. ♥ Molly4

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” – Thomas A. Edison

Admitting the Truth

I have trouble admitting that I suffer from an eating disorder. No, not for the reasons you are probably thinking. Yes it bothers me that after admitting I have a disordered relationship with food people automatically watch me eat, judge my portions and feel that it is socially acceptable to critic my choices or body weight, but that’s not the reason that I was thinking of. Ultimately, it’s because of the stigma associated with eating disorders.

Like many, it took my family doctor a while to diagnose me with Anorexia Nervosa. While my weight was enough of an indicator, my mind was in complete denial so even I didn’t see the signs that I was struggling from a mental illness. When I was first diagnosed, I just thought of myself as “different”. I thought I was flawed, I was embarrassed and I still thought that mental illnesses were personal choices. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that we all have mental health. Even if it doesn’t necessarily affect us in a way that it inhibits our productivity or well being, it is still very much present.

It’s much easier for me to express my anxiety about school work than it is to talk about my food rituals or fear foods. People can sympathize with nervousness before a test or speech, and depression is relatable since individuals go through moments of sadness, but unless you have experienced an eating disorder, it’s hard for you to imagine why individuals in recovery can’t just eat. I’ve never been vain, shallow or crazy for that matter, but those are the assumptions one often has about an “anorexic” which is why many never thought I was susceptible for developing an eating disorder. No in fact, in the eyes of most I was much too logical to stop eating because that could kill me and I valued good health more than my appearance.  Looking back I can acknowledge that I possessed all of the characteristics that many with eating disorders typically have; I still am Type-A personality and I will always strive to be the best version of myself (but now in moderation). The fact of the matter is though, eating disorders aren’t about food nor are they a conscious choice. My restriction didn’t happen overnight the way some might think because of my drastic weight loss, and at the beginning of it all I didn’t have body dysmophic disorder and knew my appearance was much too hollow. Eating disorders are just a coping mechanism for dealing with life. I didn’t stop eating because I didn’t like food and I can’t say that I purposefully restricted my intake as a means to gain control. Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, EDNOS are all addictions just like alcoholism or gambling. The only difference between most addictions and eating disorders is that you can eliminate playing poker (cards, slot machines, race horses), alcohol or drugs permanently from your life, but you need food to survive. That isn’t to say one is easier or harder to recover from.

Accepting help is brave no matter what illness you have been diagnosed with. There is so much stigma attached to mental health which used to make me feel shameful or weak.  Without even realizing it so many of us attach unnecessary stigma to mental health. Just as you wouldn’t call an individual with cancer “cancer”, I believe we shouldn’t call someone  struggling from anorexia nervosa “anorexic”. Try to avoid saying someone “committed” suicide, and rather use a sentence similar to “died by suicide”. So I guess I am sharing part of my story yet again because one day, I would love, for us all to view mental health the same way we view our physical health. Someone once told me that when we go to the doctor to make sure that we don’t have asthma, or that our blood pressure isn’t too high, we should also be asking the doctor to make sure that our mind is okay too. She was absolutely right because our brain is as equal (or more important) of an organ as our lungs and our heart. ♥ Molly

“Your past is just a story and once you realize this it has no power over you.”  – Chuck Palahniuk

The Truth Is…

The blogging community has been so honest lately, that I feel compelled to share a glimpse of my story. The reality is, I don’t live a perfect life. I am learning, like so many of us, and in order to succeed, I must first fail several times. I was given my life because I am strong enough to handle it, but that doesn’t mean everything has been successful from the start.

This past decade has not been easy. I’ve had many positive experiences, but also frequent moments of sadness. I’ve made lasting friendships, but also lost loved ones. Sometimes I wake up motivated to make the most out of my day, but on several accounts I have slept in, as a way to avoid my anxiety about the day awaiting me.

I used to think my struggles weren’t fair. I didn’t ask to be dealt “a bad hand”, so why did I have to play my cards strategically? I wanted to live a normal childhood life, free of worry and obsession. I should have been enjoying social activities, but instead I found myself sitting through appointment after appointment.

The reality is, experiences happen for a reason. Although I can’t always quite understand why things don’t adhere to my plans, I am coming to terms with the fact that I don’t always have to be in control.  My struggles have definitely made me stronger, and I have matured in a way I don’t think would have been possible, had my eyes not been exposed to truth. There is so much more suffering in the world than what any of us can grasp, but we are also all given tools so that we won’t give up. I will never understand what others are feeling, because as similar as situations may be, they aren’t identical.

My anxiety can be paralyzing even though it is self-imposed. A smile can be deceiving, and for a while, nobody knew the worries I faced within. I have finally developed the skills to make peace with my internal fear, by acknowledging it, and then letting it go. From academic achievements to my food intake, I have controlled so many aspects of my life as a way to deal with my insecurities and emotions. I have put my family through so many hard times, and they’ve only repaid me with unconditional love and assistance.

Today, I do not look back and feel sorry for myself because my experiences have shaped me into a better person. I may have missed out on many opportunities, but I am okay with that, because I have reclaimed my life and I have more life to live than what has passed. We all go through difficult times, and I am not here to say that my life was any more sad than others, but I am also not here to belittle my obstacles, as they weren’t easy hurdles to overcome. Instead, today, I try and be more grateful for what I now have because I never know what my future entails. I am now blessed with a forgiving body, good health and great healthcare, nutrition, a supportive family, amazing friends, a beautiful home and proper education. Each day I awake to a peaceful community, the freedom of speech, endless means of technology, and much much more. I am thankful for what others went through to achieve the lifestyle I am able to experience on a daily basis. Just like a flower, we must all grow through dirt.

Everyday I might have to consciously choose happiness, choose to nourish my body physically and choose to take care of my mind and spirituality, but it doesn’t matter that it’s not yet a habit as long as I am continuing to choose life. So even though I still have my setbacks, and even though each day I ask myself how I can step outside of my comfort zone, I am finally living a life that I am proud of. ♥ Molly

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau