A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Grace,                                                                                                          July 14th 2015

You have hoped for this letter on multiple trips to your realm of imagination as you wondered about the endless possibilities of the future. You just woke up from a dream that felt too real and you will later remember it on a lazy Saturday morning years down the road. It will make more sense then. First of all, I want you to know that you will be nothing close to what you expect, and that is ok. I want this letter to prepare you for what is yet to come but not to change the outcome of our story. Your cuts and bruises are battle scars; every fall is a rough hand moulding you into the person you are today.

You will move to a foreign land, one you will learn to call home. As you grow out of the place you are in, it will feel like an old favourite sweater that could never fit right. You will hold onto it only for the sentimental value. In going back, you will wish for the child-like wonder you once held for that place. The truth is not always beautiful, but eye opening. Speaking of the truth, there is something I want you to know, though nothing can truly prepare you for it. Someone you hold dear will betray you. Learn to forgive him and to let him go. Enjoy the days you had spent with the idea of him for he will be the biggest and most cherished scar of all. Take pictures of moments you shared, like the time he carried you on his shoulders with pride or when you thought he was magic. You will find these pictures in the attic years later and they will feel like broken promises as genuine as the families that come with picture frames.  You will cry and lament the child that was. When you are alone you will stare at them for hours trying to relive simpler times. As you are out getting a haircut for your first day of school, he will build a chain to keep the door locked. It is then that you will experience true heartbreak. Your chest will be ripped open and your heart stomped on over and over and over again. You will knock, kick, and scream with no avail. Your family will decrease in size but not in spirit.

You will go through a period of homelessness and it will be the best time of your life. It is then that you reach your lowest point where there is no way but up.  These experiences will make you stronger, more driven, and you will embrace them. You will remember the rubber handles of the drawer you shared with three others and how excited you were to be sleeping in a bunk bed. You will also remember seeing your mom completely breakdown in tears as you eat chicken from the tray the shelter staff prepared, hoping no one would see (you were not yet vegan, but that is another story). After that experience, you will live in a motel for a few months and years down the road find yourself volunteering at a women’s shelter very close to it, the feeling will be bittersweet. Nonetheless, the kids you meet will have a lasting impact and you will regret leaving, but will cherish the lessons you learned together.

You will discover what a terrorist is for the first time in sixth grade, it will be the mirror your peers hold with a reflection of you.  You will scrub away your colours like lightening cream until your echo is foreign.  You were too different, too much like ‘them’ for their liking. The media dear is a brainwashing machine that you will learn to fight and avoid. After moving three schools you will learn that the third time is not always the charm. The third time will be the gut wrenching experience that you will have nightmares about. As a group of boys pin you to the walls of the playground examining every inch of your body to ensure its authenticity, you will learn that your body is not a given right but rather a fight to be won.

Ok. Before you shy away in tears and start your early mourning I want you to know that I have yet to get to the good part. They often say that you should leave the best for last and that is one cliché I would like to abide by. Remember the times you went around with pen and paper noting strangers’ every move trying to predict their thought and temperaments? Well, you will do something close to this when you are older. It is then that you will find your calling and meet wonderful people that will provide you with the opportunities you need to grow. This will give you the sense of fulfilment you’ve been searching for.  You will love and be loved. Your life is a book, some people will stay for a page, some for a chapter, and others are still around today. Learn to see the value in every page but remember that turning back the pages won’t change the outcome. You will be your own best friend, the person always around for the journey. When it gets tough you will write inspiring letters to yourself and always be in awe of your eloquence.

See, I want you to learn of your struggles for they are the most important aspects of you. I am proud of all that went wrong for without it nothing would be right. The thing is, there will always be moments of hardship, your life is a fight, and your existence a struggle. You are a storm; your presence is standing. Easy is not a term you know well. You will know success by the sweat on your brow and the ache in your back. You are fierce; you are fire with endless flame. You will fight, you will win, and you will not have it any other way.

With love,
You

Vegan Pancake Recipe (3 ingredients)

First I would like to start by saying that I love me some pancakes, always have and always will!   atbbdgmrc

After deciding to go vegan I was excited to experiment and create a number of different recipes. I have always loved cooking and veganism has truly contributed to rekindling my creativity in the kitchen. 

I know many people wonder what vegans eat and worry about trying a vegan lifestyle due to the assumption of lacking options but let me assure you that is not the case. From my experience I have found cooking to be much quicker and easier after turning vegan. Hopefully in sharing a bunch of my favourite recipes you too will feel the same!

 
So here are the few items you will need:

  1. A blender (any blender will do) I use the ninja single serve system.
  2. A cup
  3. A non-stick pan

The 3 magic ingredients:

  1. Oatmeal  ( 1 cup)
  2. Soy milk or almond milk ( I use chocolate soy milk, I love me some chocolate! )  (2 cups)
  3. Non-refined sugar ( 4 – 5 tablespoons)

Vegan tidbit: refined sugar, which is the regular sugar many people consume actually contains bone char, which is pretty much the burned bones of animals – yes, even sugar contains animal products.

Extra ingredients that I like to add:

  • 1 whole banana
  • 4 almonds
  • Dark chocolate pieces

How to get these babies started:

  1. Pre-heat the pan, place it on medium to high heat cause ain’t nobody got time to wait
  2. Place the soy or almond milk into the blender, then add the oatmeal, the sugar, and whatever ingredients you may also like and blend them up!

You will end up with 6 – 8 pancakes pieces to devour 

Vegan tidbit #2: shred some almonds on top and add some maple syrup – trust me, you’ll thank me!

Voila!!!! A 3 ingredient vegan pancake recipe to help you kick-start your day right!

 

 

How to Cope

Grow up in a bubble of concerns that occupy your time, let them take you away from the larger issues at hand that might be too much for you to handle. You are just one person after all, so to deal with existentialism engulf yourself with reader’s digest, learn about the largest breed of dogs, the best vacation destinations you will never visit, and how to be more fuckable. Try to keep all this information down even if it makes you sick. Care about what people think, the way you dress, how your body can be moulded into unrealistic ideals, stretch it thin and colour it white. Try to reach the unreachable. Most importantly, do not look up.

Stress about assignments, exams, and the future. Let your GPA be the scale you use to measure your self-esteem and self-worth. Call yourself a failure if you don’t get the 4.0 GPA and acquire exceptional experience at the same time. Who cares if you had to work to pay your way through school and if there was trouble at home, there is no section in the graduate school application that covers that. It’s a privilege to get a higher education, not a right . . . right? Again, do not look up.

Do not let the prison bars of student loans hold you back from taking part in consumerism. Buy things you don’t need and will never use, simply to fill a void and act as distraction. Need love and affection, order a pizza and post a picture on social media. Not feeling good about yourself? Dress up in the new outfit that you never wore and doll up. Take a dozen photos, find one you like, edit the heck out of it, and post it online to be showered with compliments from people you barely see anymore. Take the clothes and makeup off and watch some YouTube videos. It is best not to look up.

Fall in love hard, let it blind you from the truth and engulf you in its furry. Its best to fall in love with the wrong person, it keeps things interesting. Despite its toxicity, fight to keep it alive, and watch as they slowly fade away and blame you for saying goodbye. Take the easy road afterwards . . . let others fall in love with you but never love them back, occupy your time with petty arguments and plans for the future, for eventually you will fool yourself enough to believe its true. Soon they too will fade but this time it wont hurt the same. You will cry more for self-pity than lost love. Do not look up.

It’s a sunny day though and the sky is a perfect blue, so you gaze away from the darkness of your apartment and you look up. You are touched by the vastness and livelihood of this planet. You realize that there is no one in the world looking at your view from this particular angel and vantage point, but you wonder how many people are looking at the sky at the same moment you are, and what brought them to look up? There is so much beauty and yet so little time to experience it all . . . how small we are on the continuum of existence yet how infinite that moment seems. You feel a sense of urgency to take action and all the thoughts hidden in your sub-consciousness arise like flames. You are too contingent, the only permanence is in words, so you rush to write something meaningful in hope that you may live through the end and survive within these pages. Look up!

TOT Cat Cafe

As a cat lover, I was extremely excited to have heard that Toronto will be opening its first cat cafe and as a cat lover does I have been to the TOT cat cafe a countless number of times, so much so that I landed myself on the picture board located right by the entrance. This was something I was proud of until I began to notice the lack of care and impaired health of these small and fragile animals. During my visits, I first noticed the lack of food and water in the bowls, the dirty water left for the cats to drink, and the litter boxes overflown with urine and feces. Keep in mind that they only have 2 litter boxes for 3 – 6 cats, when the recommended number is usually 1-2 boxes per cat. On one visit many of the cats were licking the condensation off the large glass enclosure in order to hydrate themselves, at first I thought this was just silly cat behaviour but after deeper thought and observation I was very disgusted and saddened to see that they had no other water source available. Many of the cats also had a runny nose and were sneezing continuously, which are all strong indicators of a respiratory infection, something very common but also very dangerous if not treated. Not to mention that the continuous exposure to people and stress induced by constant petting are not conducive to healing.

There are also no regulations about hand sanitization before or after meeting the cats, exposing the cats and visitors to a number of bacteria. Many of the cats had a lot of discharge around their eyes prohibiting their ability to open them fully, if you ask the people I went with they will tell you that I spent most of my time cleaning their eyes and expressing concern regarding their condition. I spoke to the owner and one of the staff members about a particular cat that had a pink eye and looked extremely weak, while further expressing concern about their general care. After this talk I decided not to visit the TOT cat cafe again and after the article below was posted my concerns were confirmed.

I should have seen the signs sooner and listened to my intuition. I regret having supported this place but I urge you to reconsider visiting and if you do visit please keep a keen and critical eye and report your concerns. Everyone deserves appropriate care, love, and support and non-human animals are no exception.

Please read the article below for more information:

http://www.blogto.com/city/2016/05/humane_society_removes_cats_from_toronto_cat_cafe/