It’s Gonna Be a Good Life

2011 is coming to an end, so I thought I would blog about the year that has come to pass.

For the first time in a number of years I can look back at the past year of my life and smile and I can think about the future and be hopeful for what is ahead.

I cannot think of anything notable that happened in the first six months of 2011, but the second half of the year has proven to drastically alter the life I was leading.

On July 6th, I wrote two blog posts, one of which was 27. I was on the precipice of turning another year older. I was reflecting on the state of my life in comparison to the life I’d imagined I’d be leading in my mid to late 20s. I was nearly 27 and my life was not really my own and was nothing as I had imagined. I was determined to make a change, though fearful that I would make this pledge and still not be able to hold true to it and make changes in my life to find some form of happiness.

My first step towards getting what I wanted was to get out there and make an effort. For several years past, due to circumstances I’d resigned to a life of solitude. I rarely left my house (sad I know), never met new people, rarely talked to friends who were living their lives across the province, country and globe. In short I didn’t get out much and I’d made myself a bit of a social outcast and I did not like that version of myself a whole lot.

For at least a year I’d been saying I’d start going to #gdldn and I’d always managed to come up with excuses of why not to, mostly I didn’t have a car or money to get there, which while true, I probably could have found a way around. So on June 6th, the date of my 27 blog I attended my first geek dinner and stretch my comfort zone and attempted to re-engage with the world around me and (relatively) local community. I decided to put real people to the tweeps I’d been following for months and in some cases years.

I have to say I’m really glad that I ventured out to #gdldn that first time, so glad that I have gone back every month since. I have met great people and started to (I would argue) form decent acquaintances and maybe even friendships. A lot of the people I have met inspire me, intimidate me and challenge me to really strive to be the person I want to be. At the same time while these people inspire, intimidate and challenge me, they also make me realize that we all face our own challenges and that no one’s life is perfect and it is okay to not have everything figured out all of the time. So to all of the #gdldn crowd, thank you for making me feel like a part of something good.

That may not be the turning point of the year, but I think it definitely played a part. The other turning point of the year also happened in July. I had been furiously applying for jobs, determined to find something before or shortly after my 27th birthday. There were probably about 6 jobs that I thought might be a good fit. After two strong (in my mind) interviews, I was offered the position of Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre and before the end of July I was in signing my contract ready to start my new job.

Starting August 15th, I was (and am) the Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre. I always said I wanted to find a job that felt right that I could say I love. I’d walked away from a couple of job opportunities because it just hadn’t felt right to me. I wanted a job that I loved, surrounded by good people, because for me that is when I do my best work and am challenged to be my best. After 4 months, I think it is safe to say I have found a job that I love, surrounded by a great team. I remember in previous jobs I’d hit that afternoon wall at about 2pm and be stuck watching the minutes slowly tick by, and that rarely ever happens in this job. I enjoy what I am doing and always have work to be done. I feel like the people I work with value my thoughts and the work that I do and they actually look to me for ideas and answers, which is a great feeling. I look forward to getting up every morning and going to work and that is really all I ever wanted in those three miserable years of job hunting. I wanted a job that I looked forward to going to every day and a job that interested and challenged me. A number of people at work have commented on the fact that I am always smiling or that I always seem to be smiling and I have to say it is easy to smile when you are truly happy in your life and doing something that you love.

I love what am doing at work, but I also love the people who I work with and I say that sincerely. I have made great friendships with a number of people and I would trade my staff for anything. It is easy to do good work when you are having fun and I think we are often having a lot of fun with each other and when we’re not, I think we’re quite good at supporting each other through hard days, or difficult times, which is really nice. I cannot thank my two girls enough for keeping me from being a sobbing mess in the days after I found out someone I’d known years ago had passed away far too young.

I have met a lot of great people this year. My geek crowd, I cannot even begin to name all of you who make me smile each an every month and all the tweets in between. My coworkers, who I would argue in a number of cases are more than just coworkers.

None of these new people though replace the old friends who hold permanent places in my heart, like my best friend. As I write this I’m thinking, was it only this summer he got engaged? I think so! Man seems so long ago. This was great news and I was so happy for him and for his fiancée. Typically I dread weddings (sorry Matt), but the way life has been going, I’m actually kind of looking forward to a wedding (not my own … and oh ya I’m assuming I’m invited!).

The more I write this, the more I realize that it is not going to flow or necessarily make any sense. So I’m getting involved more, attending #gdldn, joined Emerging Leaders (finally only been cyberstalking for three years) and I have found an amazing job with fantastic people!

So what could be better?

Oh ya! Music! First off, I love the John Labatt Centre and Chris Campbell you rock!

Looking back at this year in music I have had the opportunity to attend 7 concerts.

First concert was Soundgarden. JLC gave away a bunch of tickets on Social Media Day and it was fantastic. Took my oldest friend along with me for the ride.

Shortly after that I won tickets for Owl City, but unfortunately could not make it to Toronto Mid-week to attend.

After that I wont tickets to see U2 Live at Rogers Centre on MY BIRTHDAY! Seeing U2 Live was a bucket list item for both me and my sister, so of course I now have the title of best sister ever because I took my big sister with me to see U2 live on my 27th birthday! Can I just say wow?! It was phenomenal. I took a bunch of videos, I believe I posted them on my (under utilized) Google+ account. It was a PHENOMENAL concert.

After that I was selected as a #JLCreviewer for Josh Groban. Unfortunately I came down with a horrible flu bug or something of a similar nature and was unable to attend. Hoping I get another opportunity to be a #JLCreviewer. I was campaigning to be a reviewer for Simple Plan on Feb 20th, but keep reading and you’ll see why I may not need to be rewarded that opportunity and those tickets.

Right after that I found out I’d won front row tickets for the Moody Blues at the JLC. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but as my Dad was/is a huge fan and it was right before his birthday, they made a fantastic present. The concert was in September and while my Mom wasn’t thrilled being front Row my Dad had an Amazing night! So thank you Live Nation Ontario who made that happen!

After winning those tickets and before that concert, the JLC made another dream come true and myself with two friends and my sister with two of her friends … two single gals and four Mom’s went to see NKOTBSB and O.M.G. that was a show to never forget, I mean, I know it is apples and oranges, but the entertainment value of that show rivalled the U2 show that  was just out of this world. I would hazard to say that Donny Wahlberg’s body help to elevate that show to that level. It was music of my childhood and youth and I shared it with my sister and one of my oldest friends and four others. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much, though I’m pretty sure that will change in the coming months.

And now here is the BIGGEST Music news for 2011.

That’s right, I entered a contest to see Marianas Trench live on a lark. Figured what did I have to lose and heck if I won that would be pretty freakin amazing. I didn’t think I stood the snowballest of chances. In fact, I’d forgotten that I’d entered the contest and that there was even a contest. Forgotten until my phone started vibrating the night of Dec 21st and it was a message from a rep at 604 records saying I’d won two tickets to see Marianas Trench stage side and hang out with the guys! O.M.G.! Ya right! I’ve watched the above video about 100 times just to make sure that I didn’t dream it. Now I haven’t talked to the rep yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be at the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, which is featuring Marianas Trench and I will be stage side for the show hanging out with the guys of Marianas Trench, which will be unreal and I sincerely hope I can keep my crush on Mike Ayley under control. As I was saying before I may not need the #JLCreviewer opportunity for this concert, but please keep my name in the running until I hear for sure that that is the show I will be attending. Oh and I will still be reviewing that concert if I am there, likely from stage side and hopefully they will let me take pictures!

So lets see, social life, heading in the right direction, job, is excellent, my 2011 concert going experiences have rocked and I have Hedley and Matt Nathanson (ok Kelly Clarkson, but he is opening for her) already set in 2012. And maybe (que long ramble of a run on blog sentence), possibly, there may be a guy in my future, maybe, who knows, there is a possibility of one, we will see, that is all I will say.

2011 has gone my way and 27 has certainly started to transform my life into everything I expected it to be by my late 20s. I still have 7 months left of 27 and I am determined to make the most of them. 27 is going to be my year, the started to everything I ever wanted!

So here’s to all that 2011 gave me and here is to everything 2012 has in store, I cannot wait to see it all unfold!

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Back to School Nostalgia

It’s that time of year again, do you feel it kicking in?

Kids are heading back to school and I am feeling old and nostalgic.

Here is why I am feeling old.

22 years ago I started Kindergarten (we didn’t have J/K back then, at least not in my school)

13 years ago I started high school

9 years ago I started at Brock University

4 years ago I started at Fanshawe College

This year my niece, who was born in my fourth year at Brock, is starting grade 1!

Where did time go?

 

I always loved going back to school. I as a geek and/or a nerd, even back then. I loved learning, I still do, so school was a lot of fun for me. I was the kid that my Mom had to basically tie me down on days that I was sick so that I would stay home (yes I was a very weird child).

What I loved the most about school though looking back was all of the friends that I had. I think that is why this time of year makes me so nostalgic. A lot of those friends that I have now have lives of their own that aren’t intertwined with my own. I get it people grow up, move on and grow apart and that is part of life. At this time of year though I become nostalgic for those various moments in time and begin to miss the people who helped the memories that I treasure.

In elementary school there was a group of six of us. Four girls, my best friend Courtney, our friends Kathryn and Julie and myself who all started Kindergarten together and graduated from Grade 8 together. In grade one we added Kyle to the fold and in grade three Gerry joined our group when he moved to our school from a school in London. The six of us were incredibly close and throughout elementary school we did most things together. During the school year it was the six of us and during the summer it was me and the two boys, which sounds incredibly wrong, but it wasn’t I played on a boys baseball team most summers growing up. Looking back with rose-coloured glasses we were a group of friends like those you see on TV. We did everything together; we looked out for each other. Outside of that group of six though, was one of my absolutely favourite people. His name was Dave, my parents called him David Penpal, because of his last name. He was a year older than me, but because I always ended up in the higher split and he was always in the lower split, we were always in the same classes from my grade 1 to my grade 6. He was one of my best friends, he always made me smile.

These are the people who I think about when I look back on elementary school, along with some others, but these are the main six I remember fondly. Dave is now married, living in another city and we have largely lost touch, other than the occasional message on Facebook. Kyle is now a father and we haven’t really spoken since grade 8, I see his Mom though on occasion because I shop where she works. Gerry, I hear about on occasion, along with Kathryn and Julie, but we all lost touch either after elementary school or high school. Courtney and I though are still friends. We lost touch through part of high school and through University and College, but we have reconnected and are still good friends today. It’s great to have her to talk to when I’m nostalgic, like today when I said, “Can you believe we started Kindergarten 22 years ago?”

 

High school, since I went to a different school than almost everyone else, meant an entirely new group of friends, or several groups of friends rather. I was an odd kid in high school. Grade 9 was the only year I took all of my classes in the appropriate grade. In grade 10 I started taking grade 11 glasses, in grade 11 I took grade 12 and OAC class and in grade 12 I took OAC classes and in OAC, well I started University.

I had a number of friends but the one I think about most is my former best friend. Veronica, or Vee as most called her. We became best friends in grade 11, well she was a year older and in grade 12, but I was in grade 11. We were really good friends for four years, two in high school and two in University (despite going to different schools). We so much fun together, we just clicked, and got each other. She was someone I thought would be in my life for the long haul, but that hasn’t happened. We stopped talking around 3 year university. I’m not sure why or what happened, but I know exactly when I gave up. When my world came crashing down around me when my Grandpa died after a brief battle with Lung Cancer and my best friend was nowhere to be found, I was done. I was going through the worst time in my life and I did get a call, an email, a letter, a visit, anything from the person that was supposed to be my best friend. She had spent time with me and my grandparents, she knew how important my Grandpa was to me and how it would break me to lose him and still when he died, I heard nothing from her and I haven’t since either. Vee is now living not far from me, she is married, with a 2-year-old son and another child to be born on September 18th, according to Facebook. I still keep an eye on her life as much as I can through social media, but our friendship is part of our past at this point and I’m not ever sure it will get a second chance; I’m not sure I could give it a second chance, but I miss that girl who was my best friend.

 

University brought a lot of people into my life. Some have stayed, some have only passed through, some are harder and harder to stay connected with.

I am lucky in that I have a number of great friends who I know that no matter how long we go without speaking, we are always able to pick up where we left off.

I have so many stories about so many different people, I cannot begin to tell them all, as I would forget a lot of people and a lot of stories.

But when I think of University I think of these people.

I think of D’Arcy, this kind, sweet, geek who looked after me the first semester of first year. He was one of my closest friends and like family to me. We’ve grown and changed over the years and have grown apart, but I will always remember that sweet boy I met  those first four months of first year.

Then there is Chris, man I adored that guy. I absolutely loved spending time with him. We always had so much fun together, watching movies, going on ghost tours and playing volleyball. He is married now, and I am horrible, I missed his wedding and I feel so bad about that. Hopefully some day I can make that up to him.

And finally there was Matt. He moved into D’Arcy’s room in second semester when Darc went to Ottawa for a Co-op placement. Matt and I had been in almost all of the same classes together all year and we’d never really talked. We became great friends. We took most of the same classes throughout our degree and we graduated together. I wasn’t really close with anyone in my program, so having Matt was great, it was a friend in all of my classes. I loved hanging out with him, he made me laugh and smile. He was a really cool guy. I miss him a lot, but on occasion we will take the time to catch up, which is nice.

First year had a lot of other people, most who I’ve lost touch with, but have never forgotten. The ladies of  the 300’s mallard, made my first year incredibly memorable. From being flashed, to looking after them when they returned home from the bar, I loved those ladies.

Second year was my roommates Erin and Sayward. I love those girls and the best thing about them is that we can not talk for a period of time, but to this point have always been able to pick up where we left off. These girls were amazing. We supported each other through a lot of stuff. I loved scaring the crap out of them though, Sayward by far was the easiest mark I will ever come across. I wish these ladies were in the same city as me, we’d have so much fun. Through Erin, I gained a couple other friends, a mutual friend, also named Erin, who I’d lived in Rez with the previous year and their two friends Andrea and Lisa. Thanks to them, I had my first experience in a strip club. Oh memories of second year, some of which are scarring.

Third year, was probably the hardest year of my life. My grandpa died, and my best friend from high school dropped out of my life. Add to that I was a 3rd year student trying to get the marks I needed for fourth year and I was a Don, who was on call 24/7. I basically lost two people I was really close with in one shot. I got lucky though. Move in day of 3rd year, before my world came crashing down, I met a boy. From the moment I met him, I knew I’d met him for a reason; he was meant to be in my life in some way. His name is Matt and for the last seven years he has been my best friend, he is like family to me. We have been through a lot of good and a lot of bad together and we’ve always made it out the other side stronger than ever. He is the person in my life that I can tell pretty much anything and everything. He is the person I want to talk to when something bad happens and the first I want to talk to when anything good happens. No matter what I always know he has my back. He is my biggest supporter and biggest cheerleader. We live in separate cities, rarely gets to see each other and as life gets increasingly hectic, it’s hard to find time to talk to each other. I am so thankful for social media, because without tweets and pokes we wouldn’t be able to keep track of each other. We both have busy jobs now and he is busy planning his wedding, which is in T-22 months. I know as we get older and have more responsibilities we won’t get to talk as much as we once did, but he is my best friends and I miss him terribly when we don’t get to talk. I hate feeling like we don’t know what is going on in each others lives. I hate feeling disconnected. But I am so glad that I have him in my life because I know that no matter what he is there for me and we will always be able to pick up right where we left off.

Fourth year brought my girls. I always had a lot of guy friends, but fourth year brought a lot of good female friends. Friends who unfortunately are spread out not only across the province, but the globe. Again thank goodness for Twitter, or else I’d have no idea what was happening with Mel (@mellyboo) or Kate (@Kiwi_KateClarke). There are a number of others I’ve lost touch with like, Cat, Lauren and Michele (who loved my sexy man voice).

I could go on and on, but it is getting late. I have had so many great friends over the years and am lucky to have a number of them still in my life, even if it is only through technology. This time of year always makes me wish geography wasn’t so vast. I wish I could drive someone and see all of my friends, but that is not possible.

I have a number of great people still in my life, and number of great memories of people I have lost touch with. This time of year always brings back all of the memories and feelings tied to the people I have met over the years.

With memories like these, feeling old isn’t so bad.

 

 

Memories from Brock University – Friends

Today marks the 5th anniversary of my graduation from Brock.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I was going to blog some of my best memories from Brock.

While Brock was four amazing years, they were also four incredibly hard years. Each of the four years, there was a death in my family, in addition to a lot of health issues and scares.

In first year my paternal Grandpa passed away on January 16th.  I did what I call a drive by funeral. I left school late one night, drove home for the funeral the next morning and drove back to school that afternoon.

Shortly after my maternal Grandpa had a triple bi-pass surgery and was lucky to make it off the table.

In second year, my Dad’s Uncle, who when I was little I mistakenly called Grandpa, died from heart failure.

The summer before third year my Grandpa was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He died on October 16th.

In the winter of my third year my maternal Grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.

The following summer my Grandma had hip replacement surgery.

That spring we found out my sister was pregnant.

Sometime around the beginning of fourth year, my Dad’s Aunt (my previously mentioned uncle’s wife) also passed away from a heart problems.

In the fall of my fourth year, my sister went into premature labour and my niece was born on October 7th, approximately a month early (I believe it was). She was immediately taken to NICU and spent the first part of her life there.

 

I’ve always been a fighter. I am typically a strong person, who holds it together for everyone else (which I did through all of this). But when I was back on campus, where no one needed me to hold it together, I needed the strength of my friends.

First year it was a group of guys who helped when things were hard. D’Arcy was my go to guy, he was probably my best friend first year. I injured my right (dominant) hand early in the year, skinning several layers off of the palm, but he helped me bandage and take care of it (because doing it with one hand was a bit difficult). He was also there to talk and listen when things were challenging, just like Colin, Saj and Matt, who were there to talk, listen and distract me when I needed it.

Second year until now I have had a group of strong female friends. I met Erin S. my first year, but I didn’t really get to know her that well until second year when I was roomed with a good friend of hers, Erin K. Erin K. and I had another roommate Sayward. This trio, while I may not talk to them all the time, are people who no matter how long we go without talking, we are able to pick up right where we left off. They helped me through a lot, and were there for a lot of really good times too.

Third year was my hardest year. That was the year that my grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer and ultimately succumb to it. That year I was a Don (Resident Advisor) and a third year student who was trying to get the grades to get into fourth year honours. So it was a challenging year to begin with, but when my Grandpa passed away, the bottom fell out. While I was able to hold it together a fair amount of times, there would be time where I just couldn’t anymore. I remember when I got the call, I held it together long enough to get through the phone call. Then I crumpled on to the floor into a puddle of tears. My roommate Erin S. heard me from her room and came to find me curled up into a sobbing ball. Erin just sat with me while I processed the news. She called my co-worker and friend Mike, along with my former roommates and friends Erin and Sayward. Sayward came over to my place with a stack of homework that she needed to do, but she spent the day in my room just talking and listening to me, as I packed a weeks worth of clothes for home. My roommates (past and present) got me through that day, probably the hardest of my life.

That day though, the day I lost my Grandpa, I gained the person I consider my best friend, Matt. I had met a guy who was working security on move in day. I found him sitting outside of my court at 7:30 a.m. There was something about him, I had this gut feeling when I met him that I’d met him for a reason. The day my grandpa died I ran into him at a residence dance that my roommate had dragged me to. We talked briefly, but when I went home I added him to MSN. When he accepted and logged on, I asked him to do me a favour. I told him I was going to be away for the next couple of days, maybe a week, and I asked him to make sure he and his security co-workers kept an extra eye on my court (not that my court ended up needing it, they were fantastic while I was gone, and a great support to me). Anyways, he asked me why I was going to be away and I explained the situation. From that point on, for the rest of the year we spoke nearly every day, for most of the day. We spent a lot of time together and almost every time he worked a security shift on my side of campus he would stop by and give me a hug. He barely knew me when I lost my Grandpa, but he became someone I could talk to about anything and everything. He was someone who could make me laugh, and who instinctively knew how to deal with me when I was stressed out or having a meltdown. In the 7 years since we met, Matt and I have been through a lot, but he is probably my biggest cheerleader. When something good happens to either one of us, we text or message each other. When something goes wrong, we text or message each other. We may not talk as much as we used to, but not matter what I know he is there for me if I need him.

Last but not least, is my favourite Scotian, Kate. I met Kate my fourth year, when we were both on RAC (residence action council). We immediately clicked. Kate is someone who could always make me laugh. We spent a lot of time together, including a lot of meals (which I cooked). We did homework together, despite having two different majors, being in two different years (2nd and 4th) and taking completely different classes, you could often find the two of us in my room working on school work or RAC work.

I now live in a different city than all of my friends and I rarely get to see them, but I love my friends. We may not talk all the time, but I know no matter what they are there for me and I will be there for them. They have been a great source of support and encouragement in my life. They have also been a great inspiration to me. They have all had a hand in shaping the person I am and I know that if it weren’t for each of these individuals, I wouldn’t have enjoyed (and maybe survived) university as much as I did.

I may not always remember the things that I learned in my classes (and sometimes I may not understand what I learned), but I know I will never forget the people who I met at Brock.