MIMM #9: Weekend Home

Early last week I started to miss my parents a lot. As beautiful as my residence room is, it still doesn’t feel like home. It’s not as though I haven’t made friends but our relationships naturally aren’t as close as those that I have back in Oakville. Thankfully the commute is only 2 hours and my mom was able to pick me up on Friday afternoon so that I could spend the weekend in my own bed.

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Coming home to parents who will cook you meals, clean up after you and chauffeur you around is pretty marvelous after living independently for 2 weeks. London is full of marvelous opportunities such as the Covent Garden Market but it is a bit of a trek to walk or bus everywhere and the rainy weather has discouraged me from venturing off of campus. IMG_8110

I had an incredibly marvelous weekend and it started out with some marvelous mail. Joyce knows my obsession with tea and owls too well which is probably she sent along this variety of David’s tea (there is an owl on the package). Joyce also wrote a beautiful card and enclosed it with Owl stickers and sticky notes. As well, I received my Vega One French Vanilla and Vega Sport Vanilla, Silver Drinking Straws from the Maine Drinking Straw Company and the book “Whole Foods to Thrive”. Charissa put so much work into hosting the Colourful Smoothie Contest and I am so thankful that I was able not only to participate but win a prize.IMG_8173

The marvelous-ness continued when my mom picking me up from Chemistry class. The fact that she didn’t make me walk up the Brescia hill was not kind but pretty good door-to-door service. We had so much to catch up on the drive flew by. I’m pretty sure I talked my mom’s ear off. IMG_8187

Marvelous is being given Moon Cakes to celebrate the Harvest Moon. Our neighbours, the same ones who gave us Lobster from P.E.I, surprised us with Moon Cakes on Friday evening. They are so generous and thoughtful.The flavour and texture is definitely acquired and I can’t say I’ve ever had anything quite like it before. The box they delivered the cakes in was beautiful.

554664_342894899179628_1807322675_nMarvelous is getting together with Chelsea because we seem to relate on so many levels. It’s pretty obvious Chelsea’s blog is one of my favourites so I never turn down an opportunity to meet with her. It’s also pretty evident that our preferred places to meet up include Kindfood and Whole foods so it should be no surprise that I tried my first quinWOW bowl and fell in love with the marvelous miso gravy.1234268_342894942512957_1400790597_n

Marvelous is also attending Yoga class with Chelsea. We wanted to add in an extra component to our usual lunch date but the weather forecast was not promising which ruled out our idea of apple picking, frequenting the farmer’s market or hiking. Thankfully Chelsea had heard Be Yoga and Wellness was celebrating their birthday by teaching free yoga classes. We weren’t sure how hard it would be so we decided to stick to Hatha 1, but neither of us were overly challenged so we agreed to try Aerial or a more difficult level next time. I could definitely tell that my Pilates workouts have helped strengthen my core because I found myself more balanced while holding the tree pose. I haven’t practiced yoga in ages which is probably why I woke up sore the next morning. Amanda, the instructor, had a beautiful voice and finished the class with a powerful chant. The class was accompanied by live music so you could really feel the energy waves and rhythm of the beat. I found it a bit distracting because I wanted to watch the drummer and singer, but it definitely made for a positive atmosphere.1260869_342894869179631_1096412141_n1239528_342894962512955_1285484907_n

Marvelous is also discovering new local bakers. Nourishing Nook was giving away free samples at BeYoga and Welless so I got to try my first Sweet Potato muffin. She had kale chips that I found to be quite good since they were had a bit of a spicy kick to their crunch. Chelsea and I each had a granola circle and tried to decipher the recipe but found ourselves finishing the last bite before we had identified all the ingredients. I guess that just means I’ll have to purchase some which is definitely not a complaint on my end since they were marvelous.1368914_342894759179642_443416321_n 1371409_342894762512975_659219238_n1375906_342894845846300_507576849_n

Marvelous is also meeting Caitlin for coffee or watching Lottie blow bubbles and giggle. It’s having my last ice cream cone of the summer and then huddling with a blanket because Fall is definitely not frozen dessert weather. It’s hugging Emma, seeing Nathan, getting advice from my Mom and grocery shopping with my Dad.  It’s waking up to the smell of breakfast food and a full stocked fridge and winding down the evening with a cup of tea and in the company of my family. It’s being given the opportunity to go to university and to study a subject I am so passionate about. It’s taking time for myself just to be and it’s finally catching up on blog reading after being so behind. It’s being able to participate in things such as Katie’s Marvelous in my Monday tradition. What was marvelous about your weekend? What is marvelous about this upcoming week?  ♥ Molly

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey 

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Fun with Fitness Friday

It has been a while since I posted about fitness. At the beginning of the summer I began swimming 4km of lengths most mornings but by mid-August my exercise regime was more or less non-existent as I was staying active in my everyday life and didn’t prioritize time for fitness. I’m not about to say that my leisurely swims in my backyard or nighttime walks were a replacement for the gym, but they were good enough for my standards. Just by looking at me you can easily tell I am not the gym type as dresses are skirts aren’t exactly athletic attire. In fact, the high membership prices and competitive natured individuals used to intimidate me out of even joining a club.1236506_341717389297379_1768538522_n 1305438_341709929298125_1728167817_n

Of course all of this changed when I  came to Western because within my tuition fees I was provided with access to aerobic classes, athletic courts, and a full range of equipment at the Mustang Recreational Centre on campus. The gym has offers televisions for entertainment but because it is a new facility it has floor to ceiling windows which is where I prefer to workout because the morning sunrise is much more motivating! Coincidentally my first week back I was also invited to be a SweatPink ambassador. I could not have asked for more perfect timing since I was already trying to incorporate a fitness component into 4-5 days per week. This was added incentive to stay committed. For those of you who do not know, SweatPink is a  movement, where tough and girly come together. Sweat Pink™ is all about sharing the joy that comes from living a healthy lifestyle. It’s a celebration of hard work and well-earned rewards. Our pink shoelaces are a proud demonstration of all we’ve achieved, and all we plan to become. 

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Although I have difficulty falling asleep, my body naturally awakens by 6:30 a.m.. Unfortunately at this time it is still in it’s “groggy” phase so exercising is the perfect way to get myself going. I am already noticing a positive correlation between productivity, mood and exercising in the morning. It feels good to be done a workout at 8:00 a.m. and it allows me to have minimal wait time for machines since not many students enjoy working out before class. I can’t even begin to explain how many machines Western has, from a rotating rock climbing wall to circulating ladders, rowing machines to stationary bikes, free weights, exercise bands, medicine balls, yoga mats and just about a machine to work every muscle in your body. It helps that the machines are well labelled with instructions as to which part of my body the machine targets and how to use the machine properly! I tried the manual treadmill for the first time which was neat (and hard) but my favourite remains the elliptical. I’ve also been enjoying the fitness classes my favourites being Spin, Sweat and Sculpt and Pilates. I find it motivating being around instructors especially when I am unfamiliar with certain movements. I never knew just how tough Pilates was but boy is it relaxing and fun! It keeps me coming back because each week builds upon the last. My core strength has noticeably improved since I started!1369179_341709919298126_449645190_n 1372868_341709932631458_1586076928_n

I know everyone has different outlooks on fitness, mine being everything in moderation, so I know that how I sweat might be extremely different from your preferences. If I am doing strength components I prefer to target upper and lower body on different days so that I am not working the same muscles two days in a row. If I do a high-intensity cardio class one day (Spin), I usually do a slower pace workout the following day (Pilates). I’m definitely not aspiring to be the next body builder or marathon runner, so I have learned to set attainable goals so that I feel accomplished when I achieve them. There is no sense in asking myself to run on the treadmill for 1 hour when recently I have only been doing 30 minutes. It feels much better to end on a good note than to push my body past it’s limits leaving me dreading returning the following day. I find that if I overwhelm myself or tire my body out too much, I am less likely to enjoy myself so I start seeing exercise as a chore versus self-care. After all that is really why I exercise. I don’t run so I can eat cake because I can (and will) eat cake even if I don’t run.  Of course my physique and appearance is somewhat important but exercising gives me time to step back and assess where I am in terms of my values of life. It allows me to do something for myself and I don’t feel guilty taking a break from studying because exercising is just a different form of productivity.1241276_341709922631459_1059657912_n 380290_10150833258448428_1958867863_n

Gyms can be intimidating because there are unconscious comparisons. We’ve all run beside someone who feels the need to consistently be at an increase of 0.1 in their speed, incline or time than you just so that they can be “better”. I’ve had unwanted advice from individuals who believed their tactics were more efficient than mine. Especially for females, gyms can be a place where one feels inadequate or worries others are watching their every move.  I’m learning that everyone is so invested in their own regime that they aren’t paying attention to your form and if they do happen to feel the desire to workout longer, faster or harder than you than that is a reflection of their own self-consciousness. I don’t compare myself to others because I do not know what they did before they came to the gym or what they will do after when they leave. It’s all about finding what is right for my body and being satisfied at the end of your workout. Rest days are said to be equally important for your body to repair and I find it gives me time to rejuvenate. I’ve never been interested in sports nutrition but I am starting to dabble into some readings so that I can perform my best during my sweat sessions.

All round I have really enjoyed my exercise regime and I hope I can keep it up throughout the year.  I have downloaded a Western iPhone app that reminds me of the gym hours, fitness classes, pool lengths,  intramural or sports games, and neat events that are happening on a daily basis such as free health seminars. The variety of classes offered or different machines available should help to prevent me from getting bored! What is your favourite form of exercising? Do you prefer weight lifting or cardio? Are you biased towards indoor or outdoor activities? ♥ Molly

“I just don’t think that Brooke could’ve done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. ” – Legally Blonde 

Apples

We often hear the old wise tale that “An apple a day will keep the doctor away” but do any of us stop to think about why this may or may not be true? Apple 4 Apple 3

Last weekend I returned home under some unfortunate circumstances but was delighted to have a fun opportunity presented my way. My Dad and I go apple picking at least once a year and welcomed the idea of my Mom, Caitlin, Aaron and Lottie joining us for a new tradition. We frequented “Willis Family Fruit Farm” which is in the outskirts of Oakville also know as Milton, Ontario! What I love about the farm is that it is family owned and those selling the apples are the same individuals that look after the apple trees throughout the year. It’s rewarding to show your appreciation for Ontario Farmers by supporting local produce. Ironically this week I was assigned to read a nutrition article that stated that individuals forget that food doesn’t just come from restaurants or supermarkets and instead comes from land and the sea. It’s so true that many of us pay little attention to our roots.Apple 1

By no means is apple picking any cheaper (quite the contrary) than purchasing apples at the grocery store but it makes for a fun excursion that provides plenty of fresh air, fitness and photo taking opportunities. Lottie got to measure herself with their “How Tall This Fall” board and she was just over 2 feet tall. It generously measured me at 5’3”! Willis Family Fruit Farm is one of the few farms in my area that doesn’t have an entrance charge plus they let you try samples of apples so that you can find your preferences. It’s nice that they have such a selection of apples from Sparten to Jonagold, Wealthy to Empire and of course the common Golden and Red Delicious. Typically I am a Royal Gala girl but this year I found the Honeycrisp and Gingergold to be equally enjoyable. Of course had I had time to make applesauce or apple crisp, I would have chosen softer varieties such as Mutsu, Macoun and McIntosh.Apple 10

So could an apple a day really keep the doctor away? I had a pretty bad cold last week and after eating 10 small apples in one week I am feeling better, but I don’t think that is enough proof to have the saying verified. What I can tell you is that apples are low in calories, free of fat, sodium and cholesterol and are an excellent source of fibre. Apples are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B6, Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Folate, Vitamin K, Niacin and Vitamin C. Many of these nutrients are found in the peel of an apple. Apples also contain Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and even trace amounts of Iron. As well, apples are high in antioxidants (phytochemicals) which makes them effective in fighting various diseases. Antioxidants strengthen the body’s ability to shield off free radicals that are side products of chemical reactions within your body. These free radicals are what are known to trigger various illnesses. Apple 2

There have been so many studies done to…

  • Prove that chewing an apple reduces tooth decay because it stimulates the production of saliva in one’s mouth which wards off bacteria
  • Link the consumption of apple juice with a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s since apple juice fight the effects of aging (study involving mice)
  • Correlate the antioxidants found in apples with an added protection against Parkinson’s
  • Show that the flavanols in apples can reduce one’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer and that the apple peel helps with anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast.
  • Study whether women who eat at least one apple a day are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
  • Assess how the phenolic compound found in apple skin prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery wallsApple 9

So many people fear apples because like most fruit, they contain a high amount sugar. However these sugars are natural and paired with the high-fibre content of apples, the sugar is released into the bloodstream slower which helps to keep blood sugar levels steady.Apple 6

Apples have always been my favourite year round fruit. I’ll never forget how my grade 1 teacher could twist an apple in half using only the strength in her hands and arms! In my opinion apples are great snacks and I enjoy eating them whole or sliced, heated with cinnamon, baked into a pie or cooked into oatmeal. I typically choose apples that look firm, are well coloured and have a smooth skin free of bruises. Apples have a long expiration period so they store well either in the fridge or in a fruit bowl on the counter for up to 90 or so days. The only unappealing part about apples is when their inside is exposed to air since it oxidizes to a brown colour. One tip is to dip cut apples into 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts water! Apparently orange and apple juice works just as well if you don’t like the taste of lemons.Apple 8

All round Apples are a fun food.  Does anyone else feel obligated to eat an Apple as they play the  game Apples to Apples? Easy to pick and even easier to eat, apples are nutritious and delicious. It’s been a while since I posted, let alone posted about healthy eating so I’m happy to be back with a fresh fall fruit. William Family Fruit Farm also sells pumpkins so I hope to visit the patch later in September. Fall definitely has its perks! What is your favourite apple variety? Do you enjoy the skin of an apple or do you peel it away? Do you believe in old wise tales? ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: The apple tree originated in Central Asia and today China is the leading producer of apples.

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

MIMM #8: Orientation Week

Without pain happiness is not nearly as special. Joy is so much more enjoyable in comparison to grief. It’s sad to say that it sometimes takes a tragedy to open our eyes to how marvelous life really is. Last week is a bit of a blur. There were definitely moments of happiness amongst the tears and sadness, but many of the memories were clouded by confusion and tiredness.

I am glad that I had already done Orientation Week once because I did miss out on a few key components such as the “Can I Kiss you Speech” which talks about building trusting and healthy relationships, “One Love Rally” which brings in influential speakers to discuss controversial topics in hopes of building respect and equality within Western’s campus, Jacob Deng who is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and even “Foundress Day” which was a blessing of the Dining Pavillion an event unique to Brescia University. I also was unable to participate in Shinerama, which is one of the biggest fundraisers for Cystic Fibrosis, but I am happy to have donated regardless and to be able to participate in the Terry Fox Run next weekend.

Thankfully even without the preceding opportunities there were plenty of other events to attend and motivational performers to listen to. The week was rather marvelous as Katie would say.MiMM

Marvelous is tie-dyeing bandanas to wear to opening ceremonies. It wasn’t exactly marvelous to get blue tie-dye on my purple dress but my mom is a miracle worker and managed to get it out even after it had set for 5 days.4 5

Marvelous is attending opening ceremonies and cheering your lungs out. I am beginning to lose my voice and I woke up with a throbbing throat. Everyone frosh student learns a dance for their faculty and or residence and has the opportunity to perform it during opening ceremonies. Some of the cheers are pretty impressive, Brescia residence included. Opening ceremonies was also fun because the Emcees were entertaining, I got to meet the President of Western University and Student Council, the music was loud, the crowd was louder and there was a hypnotist as a closing act.1234094_336746163127835_122455623_n 1

Marvelous is beginning to cook a feast at 11:00 p.m and eating until 1:00 a.m. The orientation week schedule was so crammed that events went until 2:00 a.m. each morning. There was “Around the world cooking” where about 30 frosh students and 10 soph leaders cooked Butter Chicken, Poutine, Tabouleh, Guacamole, Fresh Rolls and even Vanilla Cake! My stomach asn’t too thrilled about the assortment but each dish was so intricately prepared I couldn’t pass any down!212 19

Marvelous is making an appearance at the school’s carnival. It’s getting a henna tattoo, popping for powdered donuts, spinning wheels for prizes, jumping in a castle and just pretending to be a kid again in general!10 6 12

Other marvelous events were listening to MJ speak about her “Rethink” Breast Cancer campaign, participating in a campus wide scavenger hunt, attending a mock lecture and meeting some of my professors within an open house, winning free Brescia apparel such as a lanyard, shirt, bell and some bows, throwing Thursday (The orientation theme is “Kicking it Old School”) back while watching Clueless and Fresh Prince of Belair, attending toolkit seminars to learn tactics for test taking and bussing it to Fleetway for rock climbing, glow in the dark mini putting and bowling.14 16 17

Marvelous is also returning home for the weekend. I hadn’t expected to return to Oakville so soon but it was kind of nice to reunite with my family and friends, pick up some items I had forgotten and even take Lottie on her first apple picking excursion. Friday and Saturday were very low key so it was nice to do something fun as a family on Sunday. Caitlin, Aaron, Lottie, My parents and I all went to the Willis Family Fruit Farm for some apple picking and picture taking. Afterwards we headed to Starbucks to catch up some more. Don’t you love when Starbucks accidentally makes you a smaller size and compensates you with a free bigger beverage and lets you keep the one they mistakenly made? I had no complaints about drinking a tall and a grande non-fat Americano misto. Yum!3

Overall my week was very marvelous and it is only continuing into today since September 9th marks the first day of classes! Marvelous is so many things including learning, living, loving and even squeezing in blog writing and reading between the gym, class and studying! I find myself having to remind myself to slow down and take time to reflect on all that life has to offer. I worked hard to be back at school and although it was a tragedy to lose a friend, I have to remember that my needs are equally important and I can’t let my health fall by the wayside. At first I felt a bit guilty for enjoying myself but Brock would have wanted me to make the most out of my university experience. Thank you to all whom privately messaged me as extra support. None of those comments went unnoticed. ♥ Molly

“Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Life is Good

Some people are special in the sense that whenever you think of them you can only remember them spreading joy. Brock embodied a happy personality and kind charismatic soul day in and day out for 70 000 odd some days.

We joke that Brock was the only man who had 36 hours in his day because he accomplished far more than anyone else could in 20 years. His spontaneity and ability to laugh at himself left him fearless, ambitious and most of all inspirational.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I knew Brock from elementary and middle school. His big ears, quirky smile, lanky arms and spiky hair demanded attention from the moment you saw him but his captivating laugh and pun-intended jokes were what truly held you captivated for hours on end as he re-told stories over and over and over again. I’m sure you loved seeing us all sign your casket Brock, with tales you once told us or formed by our side.

They say grief is the price we pay for love and boy is Brock ever loved. I have never seen so many flowers at a visitation, or attendees at a funeral. From past teachers to present friends, babysitters to neighbours, distant friends of friends to close family members, over 350 people flooded the funeral home to pay their respect to Brock. Brock has always been the one that brings people together and he continues to do so as we support one another through this hard time. Even under these tragic circumstances, it was incredible to be reunited with elementary school friends. By sharing memories, revisiting photographs and distracting ourselves with hugs, I found myself receiving a bit of closure on the situation. It was heart wrenching for me to see Brock’s girlfriend, one of my good friends, but I am proud of her for staying so strong. Brock would not have wanted her or anyone for that matter to feel upset which is how Brock’s entire family managed to remain fairly composed. I on the other hand, was a complete mess and even managed to smear waterproof mascara on several occasions.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Losing Brock was an incredible lesson to value the little things in life. While his passing was a reminder that we are not invincible and should always wear our seatbelts, it also taught us to never take opportunities for granted. His final words on Facebook were oh so fitting in remarking “Life is Good”. As mentioned in a speech yesterday, life is good but Brock is incredible.

Brock was one of the few people that would text you in the middle of the night to ask how you were doing. He was one of a kind in the sense that he’d never be too tired to go out, never be too busy to offer advice and never be too poor to shower you with gifts and generosity. He was a daredevil to say the least which is why he’d end up with nose bleeds during cross country skiing, or two broken arms at the same time. It didn’t matter if you hadn’t seen Brock in a couple months; your conversation with him was picked up where you left off. Appearance and intelligence didn’t matter, his love was unconditional regardless unless of course he wanted me to edit his paper, which became a habitual request this past year during his university education.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maya Angelou once quoted that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Brock made me amongst many others, feel so special. He truly made the world a happier and better place. Brock continues to inspire me to be the best version of myself. He has pushed me out of my comfort zone and his passing was a final reminder to live my life to it’s full potential. There is no excuse, believe in yourself and get it done. A man never truly dies until he is forgotten. Looking back I cannot remember a time when Brock was upset or angry, but there are far too many memories of him grinning to not recall. My fondest memories are of my grade 7 and 8 Brock-o-li but seeing you at cottages and getting together with you as I grew older was very much appreciated as well. Brock, you will continue to touch so many people as you live on in stories. You are already so missed. Celebrating your life isn’t the same without you in it. ♥ Molly

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Forever in My Prayers

Grieving feels as though I got punched in the stomach. It’s as if I ran into a brick wall and am forever winded. I wouldn’t say I’m afraid or worried, but I feel extremely frustrated, scared, confused, angry, alone and inevitably hopeless. I just feel off, like something is missing and find myself asking why too frequently. I’m restless, I’m zoned out, I’m numb, I’ve cried a lot, and I can’t seem to nap or fall asleep.

They say time heals wounds but right now it feels impossible to recover after hearing the news that a longtime friend whom I love passed away Monday morning. I was shielded from his death until Tuesday afternoon, probably for my own best interest since I was embarking on the transition into University.

I don’t really know how grief eventually gets better and becomes less intense because right now even the smallest of connections reminds me of his passing. Yesterday the motivational speaker talked about how so many frosh students lose a loved one but I never expected it to be me, or at least not in my first week back on campus. The back of my Brescia shirt says “My life was flipped turned upside down” which rings true to my current emotions, but again that isn’t what it was intended for (90s theme).

While I don’t blame myself, it’s hard not to live in regret and wish that I could reverse time. He was a nice guy. Anyone who knew him knew he was entertaining and full of joy. In fact, looking back the only memories I have were all positive. We weren’t best friends but we kept in touch despite attending different high schools. I remember when he came and watched me sew pants during a fashion competition. I associate coming in second place with his positive energy and big smile. He really did cheer me on and I enjoyed re-connecting with him over a pasta dinner that night.

A few weeks ago he was in the area and asked me to go for coffee with him. I turned him down and boy do I wish I hadn’t. It’s hard but I have to move on from feeling guilty because I know he would rather us all be happy than mourning.

I’m headed home for a celebration of his life this weekend. Knowing him was a gift and he will continue to live on in stories, pictures and fond memories. By no means was I his best friend, but it hurts just the same. I remember being in his company at cottages, him teasing me for being an overachiever, and up until recently, knowing a lot about what was going on in his life through text messages.

My condolences go out to his family and all of those who knew him. I am so blessed to have such nice friends here at Western to support me. Thank you again for the kind words, hugs and even snacks. It will be nice to return to Oakville so that I can remember his achievements alongside our mutual friends. Being only 20, he was taken from our lives much too soon and will forever be missed.

Words cannot describe how much you continue to mean to so many people. You will always make the world a better place. This post does not give your life justice at all. You are so loved. Rest in Peace. Heaven has gained an incredible Angel. ♥ Molly

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II

The Beginning Of It All

I’m all moved in and boy what a change is residence from two years ago. I went from being in Ursuline Hall, an old, less air-conditioned residence with twin size beds and common bathrooms, to Clare Hall which is brand new, has an abundance of storage, queen size beds and offers semi-private washrooms. While the Ursuline Hall had character, I can’t say I don’t enjoy living in a more modern style room.IMG_6996 IMG_6989 IMG_6986 IMG_6988I left Oakville around 10:00 a.m. Monday morning and arrived in London just before noon the same day. Like Huron and Kings, Brescia is an affiliate college within the University of Western Ontario, the only difference being that it is all girls as opposed to co-ed. In the end I graduate with a Western Diploma but I chose to be part of the Food and Nutrition program, which is specialized and only offered at Brescia’s campus. The downside is that many of my science classes are on main campus, which is a bit of a hike since Brescia is at the top of a half-mile hill! The advantage is that Brescia’s classes are around 30 students in size as opposed to 500 like my lectures on Main campus!3 4

Despite barely lifting a finger since males from Huron and Kings helped Brescia Sophs (Upper year orientation leaders) move first year students like myself into their rooms, I was still extremely exhausted by the time I reached my room on fifth floor! The “movers” must have been exhausted by the end of the day because I wasn’t the only one who brought their entire wardrobe and a large selection of room décor. Thank goodness for the floor to ceiling built in storage cupboards! I am definitely going to need a step ladder since I can’t exactly reach all of the drawers and shelves.IMG_7004 IMG_7006With just my luck I am on the top floor, which is both good because I don’t hear noise from above and bad since the elevators haven’t been installed yet since there was a strike. I guess I won’t be gaining the freshmen fifteen since I’ll be climbing stairs and walking uphill everyday! The good news is my bathroom-mate shares a similar personality so we get along well.

10 9Some highlights of my time here in residence so far include Tie-Dying, Human Scavenger Hunt, Residence Mixer, Baking brownies and Brescia’s Opening ceremonies. I’ve learned many cheers and dances and I am working on remembering the names of many new faces. I also had the privilege of hearing a motivational speaker, Andy, who reinforced that University is what you make of it so don’t be afraid to answer questions, ask questions and most importantly volunteer. He agrees that University is 50% learning in class and 50% learning outside of class and you should never be afraid of putting yourself out there because equally passionate and academic students surround you.2 1

I ended yesterday evening by attending the opening Western Mustang Football game against Carleston. My phone died or else I would have taken more photos but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the cowgirl ride around the track on a Mustang (Horse), watching the cheerleaders perform, screaming with every winning touchdown and dressing head to toe in purple.2 3I must say I am pretty tired but every event is too fun to pass up. I did skip out on “Yoga dance” which was glow in the dark because I am trying to get into the habit of going to sleep earlier. Despite the comfortable mattress, morning sweat sessions and receiving plenty of fresh air, all of which should tire me out, I’m having difficulty falling asleep. I guess all of the excitement is keeping me wired!IMG_6980 IMG_6983 IMG_7003IMG_6981

Can’t wait to share some of my cafeteria experiences in tomorrow’s post. I feel busy as a Brescia Bee so I am sorry in advance if my posts aren’t as frequently spaced as usual. ♥ Molly

September Favourites

Happy September! By now you are used to my monthly favourites and with today being move-in day to Brescia, there’s no surprise that the theme is back-to-school.

I was assigned a start-time of noon and since London is only a 2 hour commute I don’t have to leave until 9:30 or so. This leaves me ample of time to blog since the vehicle was packed up last night thanks to my Dad. I’m not quite sure how he managed to fit everything in while leaving room for four passengers. Saying I over pack is an understatement, which is precisely why I’m too embarrassed to post a photo of my load after the addition of clothing, technology and last minute room decor. Panicking that I forgot something is oh so common for me but it’s better to be over prepared right? I neglected to mention my suitcase was 10 lbs overweight when traveling to and from Myrtle Beach but lucky for me I was let through with no charge! Whoops. September Favourites

1. Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie 2. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 3. Kate Spade Le Pavillion Laptop Sleeve 4. Swingline Colour Bright Staples 5. Roots Mini Alex Pack 6. Swingline Red Stapler 7. Studio Oh! 2014 Live Simply Agenda 8. Wilson Jones Heavy Sheet Protectors 9. Pier One Sticky Note Pad Set with Owls 10. Quartet Screamers Dry-Erase Markers

But since today is the beginning of a new month not only is it time to post items I look forward to purchasing, I’ll also be taking the opportunity to outline some goals. I’m adding in a school category because I think those objectives should be kept separate from personal ambitions.

Blog

  • Reconnect: I took a lot of time off from blog writing and reading during my vacation to Myrtle Beach. While I am not about to dwell that my posts weren’t published to my standards (weekend posts, lack of consistency and weird timing), I do miss the friendships I was starting to build as I left comments on other blogs, or kept track of what other bloggers were pursuing. With school work fast approaching and homework soon accumulating it is unrealistic to think I will be able to dedicate more than an hour to the blog world each day. My goal is to become a more concise writer and really start to utilize organizational tools so that I can read blogs more effectively (blog updates).
  • Layout: My blog appearance still isn’t where I’d like it to be. I’m questioning whether I want to become self-hosted or even splurge for a customizable domain. Regardless I want to sit down and really learn what is available in terms of font sizes, colours, gadgets and widgets.
  • Subject Matter: Since I have a prepaid meal plan that I need to use, I don’t plan on cooking for myself very often. While I hope to create a recipe at least once a month either on a weekend home or using the oven provided in our lounge room, I am going to have to become more creative with my blog posts. While my blog isn’t necessarily a food blog, I have trouble coming up with equally interesting topics to write about (apart from food). If you have any suggestions just let me know!

Personal

  • Nutrition: I’ve been having a lot of allergic reactions recently, especially after being stung by a jelly fish in Myrtle Beach. Earlier in the week my arm swelled up and we aren’t sure if it is because of the sting or because I was around nuts. Usually I am not that sensitive but it’s really the only explanation since my sting wasn’t infected! I’m going to have to be extremely cautious about reading cafeteria food ingredients and asking how items were prepared. I’m also going to be extremely aware of fueling my body and brain since I have a tendency of eating less when I am busy with school work. Nutrition is so important for my concentration and with a history of restrictive eating I don’t have room for a slip because it could easily turn into a spiral.
  • Appointments: Come September 9th I will be having a lot of appointments. Right now many of them seem unnecessary but I know that they are in place for a reason and I need to stay accountable. I need to manage my time so that I don’t feel like they are taking away from study sessions.
  • Friendships: While I am open to meeting new people, I also don’t want to lose touch with my friends back at home. I am hoping to find a balance between my school and social work without one overpowering the other.

School

  • Readings: I am writing this as a personal reminder to stay on top of my homework. I’ve never been one to procrastinate but I do worry when deadlines approach. Not having enough time is a big stress for me. Being ahead of the course material is definitely better than being behind since lectures serve as a review as opposed to being an unfamiliar lesson.
  • Extra Help: I’m not very good at asking questions because I worry others will think I am stupid. This is an irrational fear and the bottom line is that if I don’t understand something I need to ask for clarification. Chances are someone else is thinking a similar thought. Western, especially Brescia’s campus offers so many clinics or help sessions and I should try to utlize them for all that they are worth.
  • Have fun: I truly love learning but when grades come in to play I often put too much pressure on myself which takes away from education being fun. My goal is to take this year as a learning curve and chances are if I am less stressed I will perform better. I also want to engage in extra curricular activities without taking on too many commitments. Volunteer work and involvement is equally important for getting the most out of your University experience and it does enhance a resume for purposes.

I’m both excited and nervous for school to begin. I’m excited to be reunited with friends in London but I am sad to leave my family (and other friends) behind. I never realized that I am actually kind of a homebody! Thank goodness for Skype and Facetime or else I might not recognize Lottie when I come home in 3 weeks. I’m only kidding but she is growing and learning at a fast pace. Luckily I have a week to settle in before classes begin which allows me to re-familiarize myself with campus and a sleeping routine. Can’t wait to share photos from my new room with you. Take care. ♥ Molly

31 Days Later

31 days ago I committed to drinking at least one smoothie a day for the month of August. I’ll admit that I was primarily motivated by Charissa’s Colourful Smoothie contest. I wasn’t even sure I’d be stick to my goal because I was going away for 11 days and blenders aren’t exactly easy to pack in a suitcase, but after just a few short days of drinking colourful smoothies I found myself craving these produce creations. The challenge quickly turned from hoping to win prizes to wanting to improve my eating habits such as incorporating bigger breakfasts into my diet. I can tell a difference in my energy levels, sugar balance and overall well-being since starting to drink liquid nutrition.Colourful-Smoothie-August-2013-Challenge-Copy-510x253While smoothies can easy pack in unnecessary calories or added sugars, if you stick to a 40:60 ratio of greens to fruit you’ll be sure to have a nutrient dense and tasty beverage. If you ever find spinach to be overpowering, add a banana, more milk or chocolate to mask the flavour! I found myself drinking smoothies for breakfasts and snacks because those were the times I needed to prepare meals that were not only easy to make but quick to clean up. What’s great about smoothies is that they can keep in a refrigerator for up to 3 days so you can make them in advance for times when you are hungry but in a pinch. When I wasn’t in the kitchen I opted to snack on a Starbuck’s Strawberry Vivanno (1/2 the protein, non-fat milk) or the Raspberry Rapture blend from Booster Juice. Charissa also had a lot of low-sugar variations, my favourites being the Wild Blueberry Shake, Lemon Meringue Smoothie and Dark Chocolate Protein Shake.Smoothies 1Most of my combinations included a banana, spinach, skim milk, vanilla protein powder, ice and another fruit such as strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango, orange or kiwi! I enjoyed switching it up with the addition of frozen cucumber/peaches instead of ice, cinnamon, cacao powder, shredded coconut, instant coffee granules, vanilla, cottage cheese, silken tofu or even tea (chai or green). For “how-to” breakdown of making smoothies be sure to check out my WIAW: Smoothie Edition post.

Smoothies 3So even though I learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work (complimenting flavours, the ripeness of fruit and blending techniques) I still haven’t quite mastered photographing my creations. Even nice bowls or unique garnishes (fruit sections, oats, cereal, seeds) don’t mask the weird colours created using the most flavourful combinations.

Smoothies 2I really enjoyed this challenge and I hope Charissa makes it an annual event. I can only imagine how much work Charissa put into tracking everyone’s consumption and for that I am truly grateful. ♥ Molly

“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley