Author Archives: Danielle

A Chat About Confidence

Confidence is always a touchy subject. I myself have always been uncomfortable with talking about it because I was so unfamiliar with it and so afraid of it. However, earlier this year right before I turned 20 I decided I wanted to get more comfortable with the topic of confidence, so let’s talk about it!

Looking back at my teenage self (ah yes-a mere 6 months ago) I think I was under the misconception that confidence was always physical. And sure, confidence is partly physical, but there is so much more to it.

I think I started to question what confidence meant when I was constantly stressed about what my boyfriend was doing and who he was with (sorry Ty). We would get really frustrated with each other because I always had so many questions and he didn’t understand why they were always so important to me. I started to realize that maybe he had a point, I didn’t really understand why I was asking them myself, and why I cared as much as I did.

As I pondered my own feelings more, I started to realize that it maybe it wasn’t him I was worried about, but myself. I had no confidence in myself and it came out through my mistrust in him. I was worried he would lie to me or cheat on me because I didn’t think I deserved anything more. I didn’t see my own worth, and couldn’t convince myself why I would be good enough for a genuine, trusting relationship. 

This realization started to change my mindset about a lot of things. I wasn’t mad at my friends when I didn’t get invited out. I didn’t think they were bad people. Rather, I was mad at myself for not being likeable enough to go out with them. It also started to explain why I had hung on to so many friendships for so long that really were not healthy. I didn’t see my worth, I wasn’t proud of myself, I didn’t test my capabilities, I settled. I settled because I had such a negative perception of what I deserved.

Looking back, I think I was a lot angrier of a person than I would have liked. I don’t tend to come across that way, it normally comes across as sadness, but I think it did affect some of my friendships. I tended to be upset with people and situations that were a product of my own lack of confidence. I took everything so personally. I was always worried people were mad at me, I took criticism so hard, and I didn’t do well with people upset with me. I relied on other people to build me back up because I couldn’t do it myself.

Fast forward 6 months.

Moving away from home has given me time to reflect on who I am, and who I want to be. Stepping away from my entire support system, all I had left to rely on was myself and I’ve had to get pretty comfortable listening to my own feelings and emotions. 

The most rewarding thing that has come out of my move is that I can look at my life and say “I did this myself”. Watching myself move out on my own, do well in school, hold down two jobs, and make new friends has allowed me to gain the confidence I lacked for so many years. For the first time since elementary school, I have genuinely felt proud of myself. I know that I can do more than I give myself credit for. I know I am capable and smart and too hard on myself, and it makes me sad that I didn’t let myself feel those feelings for so long. 

I’ve wanted to write this out for myself for a while to remember when I’m having a bad day, or when those feeling of self-doubt starts creeping in around exam season. However, I still had a moment of hesitation. I can feel my self-growth and I am aware and present with my feelings. But honestly, life has been pretty good. I haven’t had a lot of things to challenge my confidence or my pride. I worried the second I said, “I feel confident in who I am,” it could get torn down again.

But then, it happened. It didn’t happen in the way I thought, a bad grade or fight with my boyfriend, but no, it was Facebook. It’s 2018, and I got called out on Facebook. Classic. 

My friends that were with me would attest to the colour draining out of my face and the immediate confusion I felt. “But this isn’t even close to the truth” was the first thing I said. My point is not what was said, how it was said, or who said it, but it was how it made me feel. I automatically went into my self-destructive hole of, I must be really awful if someone is going out of their way to ensure I have a bad day. I’ll admit, I was sad, it got to me. Yet, after a few minutes, something new happened.

I started to feel bad for the person who tried to hurt me. My second thought was, wow they must be really upset and insecure with themselves if trying to hurt me helps them feel better. I was sad for them. I related to them and sympathized with them. I was like that too. I got mad at my friends and boyfriend because I always was threatened by the idea of not being good enough. I felt bad they didn’t feel strong enough to have a direct conversation with me about their feelings. I felt sad they were hurting and were insecure. 

It’s a weird feeling being on the other side of it now. I understand why people are mean. I get why petty fights are started. But I’ve also come to understand that the reason is not my lack or my misdoing. The fact that I automatically sympathized with them, and didn’t take it personally reaffirmed how much I have grown. People can say rude things, but it doesn’t define me, because at the end of the day I am aware of my own truth. I know who I am and I am still proud of myself. 

So alas, here I am talking about confidence because we need to talk about it. I am so proud of where I’ve come, but also recognize my privilege of being self-aware. To know that there are people my age still burdened by their own self-doubt makes me sad. It makes me sad not only for them but the other people they are able to affect. 

Confidence is not just physical, it is about believing in your values, believing in your abilities, and not letting the little things threaten it. 

I finally reached my bump in the road, I was challenged and vulnerable. But I am okay. I am proud of myself. And I am confident and happy with the person I know I am.

I hope you enjoyed my confidence talk and I am always willing to talk to because sometimes it will take others helping you and giving you a good foundation before you can start building yourself back up.

Cheers,

Dani

My Advice For University

Today is a big day. Sorta.

It’s my last day of second-year university, and I’ve been waiting for this day all semester. I had some rough classes this semester, and a few dry pre-requisites I had to get out of the way. So, I am genuinely very glad to be sitting here with only one final exam left.

Today is also significant because it means I’m halfway there. Ok so maybe I’m not at EXACTLY 60 credits (halfway to your degree at SFU), but I’m close.

Beyond being proud of myself for academically getting this far, I’ve also been reflecting on all the lessons I’ve learned during my 4 semesters at SFU. I’ve had some younger friends and co-workers recently ask me about my university experience, as they are nervous about beginning theirs. I guess at this point I am slightly qualified to offer my advice on a few things that have gotten me through my first 2 years.

Most of the things I’ve learned I wish I would have been told during my first semester. Thus, I hope that through my own struggles, I will help someone else out.

With that said, here are 10 of the most important things I’ve learned in during my 2 years in university.

1. If you do not have a coffee addiction, do not start one 🙂

I made this mistake almost immediately. I used to drink coffee socially, and although I liked it, never depended on it. So, when I started university with this mindset, I did not realize the implications that coffee would one day have on me. During my first semester, I drank coffee for fun. If I was with a friend or had some time before class, it was nice to have. However, too many early mornings led to a routine, and you guessed it, a dependency. At this point, I needed coffee every day to actually get through the whole day without needing a nap. 2 years in, I now need the coffee, and still need that nap. Last summer, I was on a first name basis with Starbucks employees at 2 different locations. The key word here is summer. I wasn’t in school, seldom had early mornings, yet still depended on coffee to get me through the day. My wallet is permanently mad at me.

2. If they’re really your friend, they will stick around

In talking to my friends who are starting university in the fall, a lot of them seem worried about losing their friends. I too had this fear when graduated, but was always told that if they are really my friends, they’ll stick around. This has totally been the case. Anyone who I genuinely was close to and trusted in high school, I am still close to today. The one thing I will admit that has changed is time. Especially when everyone is in school and working, it can be hard to see your friends regularly. However, this is what social media and texting are for. I still keep up with my friends, and we start right where we left off when we are able to get together.

3. Don’t stress over your readings

Don’t stress is not the same as don’t do them. Do your readings. However, I was in tears countless times my first month of university because I wasn’t used to the super intimidating scholarly tone of academic writing. I thought I had to understand every word, which I definitely did not, and would take pages and pages of notes trying to figure it all out. I quickly learned that there are only a few key concepts per reading for the most part. Don’t stress about the little details, and try to look at the bigger picture. Although most profs tell you to read before class, I often do my readings after because my lecture notes help me identify the key themes.

4. That one assignment isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things

Again, this does not mean don’t do your assignments, do your assignments. However, in my first year, I took my assignments too seriously. I lost my social life, and kind of hid away in the dark writing papers 6 days a week. Essentially, you have to find your balance. Yes, take assignments seriously, but don’t be afraid to step back. I still have to tell myself this a lot, but school isn’t everything. Sometimes its good to go out and experience the world a little more. For instance, this reading break I took a trip to Ontario and across the US (see my travel vlogs here). I really wanted to go, but I was stressed about taking a week off school in the middle of the semester. Yet, I told myself the experience would be worth it, and I don’t have a single regret. Although I did not so great on a paper I had when I got back, its one paper. The memories I gained will last a lifetime, and the opportunity to see more of the world is priceless. This one paper won’t make or break me.

5. Go to tutorial

There is so much freedom in university, and it can definitely be tempting. During my first semester, it was the first time in my life I could skip class and not get a phone call home. So guess what I did… Well, profs expect this for the most part which is why so many give attendance marks. Unfortunately for little Dani, these little attendance marks made or broke my grade. I was the kid who got an 84.4%. With even 0.1% more, I would have gone from a B to an A. Just take a snack and suffer through the hour or two for the easy marks. I’m still bitter about the 84.4.

6. Parking is not so simple

I was one of the spoiled kids who lived across the street from my high school, so things like commuting, nonetheless parking, ever occurred to me. Therefore, I was the kid who always got there right on time, but was 25 minutes late for class. Parking in university is no joke. There are probably 10% of parking spots as there are students, and people are ruthless when it comes to stealing the spot you are waiting for. If you plan on driving, give yourself some extra time. Also, get to know the various lots, and which ones seem to fill up first. It will save you time in the long run.

7. Transit sucks

Sorry TransLink, but you could do better. If you want to avoid the parking nightmare and be more eco-friendly, transit is always an option. However, from my experience, it tends to be pretty unreliable. If a singular snowflake falls, forget it. Skytrains stuck in the middle of the track also aren’t the most fun. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been suspended 50 ft in the air on a skytrain that is not moving, as I watch the minutes go by that I’m supposed to be in class. In conclusion, commuting to school gives you a bit of a reality check. Always give yourself a few extra minutes just in case.

8. Planners are great

Elementary schools are onto something. I was always the person who got their planner on the first day of school and never saw it after that. However, I’ve grown a huge appreciation for planners, and regret how I mistreated them in the past. It’s so hard to keep up with everything in university, and it is so easy to get your deadlines confused. I try to write everything down in my planner the first 2 weeks of school so I have my entire semester ahead laid out in front of me. Although it can look overwhelming at first, it’s also super satisfying to cross everything off.

9. Most profs and TAs actually care

Although all your teaching teams say this, its true. At first, I rolled my eyes when they said it. All of high school I was told that no one cares about you in university. After all, there are 300 kids in most first-year classes. Despite so, I’ve actually had so many profs who have genuinely put time into helping me. From what I’ve heard, people rarely actually attend an instructor’s office hours. When I have gone for help, its always been beneficial and increased my experience with the course. I highly recommend reaching out when you need it, either in person or through email

10. Rate My Prof is your new best friend

Although what I just said about profs in TAs tends to be true for the most part, there’s always a few bad apples. Lucky for us, there has been many before us who have already found the bad ones, and have put out a PSA. Ratemyprof is super useful when choosing classes to see what different instructors are like. Not everything is malicious, and sometimes it is also helpful just to see how various people teach the course, so you can match up your courses with your own learning style.

I hope that these few tricks either are relatable or help someone out in their first year. I’m sure ill look back at this list after 4th year and have a ton more to add.

Cheers!

Dani

The Best Places in Vancouver

So I feel a little bad about my last post, explaining all the reasons I want to leave Vancouver.

Although Vancouver is very expensive, there is a reason for it. The city has some of the most beautiful destinations in North America. The bustle of the city means there is always something new to see and do. I was born and raised in BC, yet know that there is still so much more to explore.

I try to explore new places and try something different each time I go downtown. Yet, I’ll admit, some of my favourites are quite popular. Despite so, I want to share the places I have fallen in love with across Vancouver. I hope my small list will represent different price ranges, and be flexible across different seasons and forecasts. After all, let’s be honest, half of our favourite activities as Vancouverites are only enjoyable for 6 weeks of the year when it’s not raining.

The Aquarium

Despite being a little pricey, the aquarium is one of my favourite places. I know some aquariums can be controversial, but Vancouver’s is incredible. They are non-profit and are dedicated to rehabilitating animals, as well as research. There are both indoor and outdoor parts to the aquarium, so it is nice in the summer, but can also be fun any time of year. It is fun for all ages, and you can get some really good pictures.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park is the most touristy it gets. Yet, I won’t skip over this one because I think there are so many aspects of the park that may get overlooked. The infamous seawall does deserve its reputation. One of my favourite summer activities is to rent a bike and go around the whole thing. But, there are also so many other great parts of the park. The rose garden is another place I love to visit, but it seems to get less attention. The best time to go is in spring when the flowers are in full bloom. Hopefully, we will be lucky enough to get a spring in Vancouver this year.

Gastown

Yes, there is a steam clock. But really, it’s just a clock!! To be quite honest I’ve never found the clock that great. Instead, I like Gastown for the small town feel in the middle of the city. I love the feel of the buildings, and how it feels antique yet homes some of the most modern places. I enjoy the local coffee shops that you can’t find anywhere else. There is also a few small boutiques that I’ve wandered into that are very unique. It feels every time I go there that there is a new place to explore. I also just love supporting smaller businesses.

VanDusen Gardens

Sorry, but this is another expensive destination, and it is only enjoyable outside. I’ve gotten to go a few times, and it looks so different during each season. The garden is beautiful at Christmas time when they light up the whole park with Christmas lights. It is one of my favourite holiday festivities. However, it is still beautiful at all times of the year, and you can walk away with some really great photos.

Granville Street’s Night Life

I am a bit of a grandma. I am not super keen on going out, and when I do I always want to stay close to home. As I live about an hour outside of Vancouver, going downtown is a process. That being said, what I love about our city is that once you go downtown, everything is so close. The proximity almost makes it worth it. Granville street at night has so many options, all within a few blocks. There is also a few food places that stay open all night, which also makes my night more enjoyable.

Being a tourist in your own city can be fun, and I’d love to find some new places to visit this summer. Hopefully, my list will grow, and I’ll be able to find a few more hidden away places to share.

Cheers!

Dani

Being Active With An Injury

In July of 2016, I started having back pain after work. After going to the clinic, I was diagnosed with a pulled muscle and sent to physiotherapy for 6 weeks. Although physiotherapy took away some of my symptoms, it was more of a surface cure, as I didn’t realize the extent of my injury.

Three months after having a “pulled muscle,” the pain increased. I stopped working out, stopped stretching, and lost a lot of my stamina. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know what. I was active all of high school with dance, and never really got seriously injured.

4 months after my initial injury I got sent for an x-ray. They found that when I got injured something happened with my discs in my spine. Long story short, after a CT scan it was determined that I have a herniated disc and 4 bulging discs in my lower back. Essentially this means that the gel in between my vertebrae is constantly under pressure. When the gel leaks or bursts the disc becomes herniated, and it can cause nerve damage.

The only thing that can be done to reinflate my discs was surgery or spinal decompression. Surgery was out of the question due to my age and the complications that can result. So, I tried spinal decompression 3 times a week where my back was stretched out on a table by a machine. Unfortunately, I had little results. For 6 months I went through constant physio and chiro to try to make me more comfortable; again I had little success.

In May of 2017, 10 months after I was injured, I finally started laser therapy. I had never been recommended it but decided it couldn’t hurt. It’s administered by a chiropractor and is painless. Miraculously, it worked and reduced my pain significantly. Although my discs are still bulging, I am so much more comfortable.

That being said, when I was diagnosed I was told I’d never be able to hike, carry anything heavy, or basically do anything where I would be straining my back. At only 18 it was devastating to know I would be restricted for the rest of my life. Despite this news, after my laser therapy, I really wanted to go back to the gym. I think in this day and age it was especially hard because social media is filled with fit girls and fitness accounts. It was really hard to compare myself to my friends and know that I would never be able to work out the way they do and see the same results.

Yet, at 18 there was no way I would just let my young body go to waste, so I started researching. I found there was little out there regarding ways to modify workouts for an injury. However, after some of my own trial and error and lengthy research, I found somethings that work for me that I’d like to share. These are simple ways that I got my body active again, and ways I try to incorporate a normal fitness routine. I think its important to talk about people with injuries because I feel like we are a population who are always forgotten in the fitness world.

1. Stretch: Stretching just loosens everything up, and allows for more mobility. When your muscles are loose, you strain yourself less. I always start any workout with a full body stretch, and then specifically target my back with a cool down stretch at the end. I also try to workout at home even if I’m not working out, just to strength my back and get my muscles moving a bit.

2. Walk: Before I could start heading to the gym, I walked. It was a good way to get me up and moving to get some stamina back. Although walking can be high-impact, taking it slowly reduces the risks. I did not walk far but made sure I got out a few times a day to keep the blood flowing.

3. Voltaren: Voltaren I think is what has really allowed me to be active again. It is an anti-inflammatory gel that really helps to relax muscles and eliminate any soreness or tightness. I’ve forgotten to put it on a few times before any physical activity, and I really noticed the difference. It lets me stretch more, and I feel less strain after the gym. It is also super great for at home when I am in more pain than normal. It soothes pain almost instantly.

4. LowImpact Cardio: Pre-injury my main exercises at the gym were all cardio, as it was what my body was the most accustomed to, and showed the most results. However, running and stairs can put a lot of pressure on your body from the weight of your body. Instead, I try to focus on biking and the elliptical. Yes, biking is boring, but for back injuries, it is great because it targets the right areas while allowing your upper body and back to relax. The elliptical is a little more advanced as your whole body is engaged, but as your feet stay planted it doesn’t put as much strain on your body.

5. Resistance Bands: The worst part about my injury has been seeing fitness girls on Instagram showing off all their weight exercises. Good for them, heartbreaking for me. Instead, to modify workouts I have fell in love with resistance bands. They can be ordered in packs with multiple levels of resistance, so you can customize it your particular needs. It makes my workouts more challenging but again is less traumatic than weights on my body.

I think the biggest thing to remember with an injury is just to listen to your body. It is so easy to compare yourself to others, but self-growth is the most important.

If anyone has any further suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Cheers,

Dani

If You Get The Chance, Dance

When I was 8 I took one hip-hop class, hated it, and dropped out. I never considered dance after that, until I was 12 and started going to a music studio where my brother took guitar lessons. The studio also taught dance, I found myself captivated by the jazz class that rehearsed at the same time. I decided that perhaps I’d tried the wrong style of dance and I should give it another try. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made going into my teenage years.

I started out at the same studio, White Rock School of Music and Dance. I was definitely insecure at first, as I was already 12 and a little late to the game. However, I fell in love with dancing, and was much more comfortable in a jazz class. Although I was in recreational dance, it was separated by levels and I quickly advanced to the senior class. I stayed there for 4 years and branched out to lyrical dance as well. By grade 11, my 5th year of dance, I was ready to move on as our senior class had fallen apart after many of my teammates graduated. I moved to Essence, where I finished out my last 2 years of dance before I graduated myself. Here, I also started contemporary dance.

Grade 11 is also when I started dancing at school. I can’t say why I didn’t join earlier, but perhaps I figured I should be more academic as I already danced outside of school. However, I am really grateful that I joined, as Sullidance opened me up to even more experiences. Not only was I able to improve in my preferred genres of dance, but it opened me up to even more styles, including hip-hop. It turned out that at 16 I still disliked it as much as I did at 8, but it was definitely good to diversify myself and try something new.

My dance communities at both school and the studio were amazing. I was surrounded by positive and encouraging teammates, regardless of the class or style. I was always worried about embarrassing myself, and it definitely did happen, yet everyone laughed with me rather than at me.

I found dance rewarding as I got to see the full process from the chaos of the first day of choreography to placing at competition. I love looking back at old videos where I can see the first few rough pieces and then the finished product on stage. My outbreak video above was a finished product that placed first, while the clip below is a different piece where this was a messier first on-stage run through. These are both from my school dance group, choreographed by Kate Law. Unfortunately I can’t share any videos from my studio due to copyright reasons.

Although it’s been nearly 2 year since I’ve performed or competed, I’m still aware of the personal growth my time in dance allowed for. Even more so, I’m now realizing how good dance was at keeping me in shape.

My experience with working out at the gym is very beginner, because throughout high school I never had to. I danced 5 days a week my last year of high school, sometimes twice a day, when I had dance at school and then the studio. It was a great full body workout, yet I was less aware of it at the time.

Dance is not only really good for cardio, but from lifts to handstands and a little acro in Contemporary, it definitely requires strength. I did lots of conditioning, especially through ab workouts. At my studio, we also had specific dreadful days specifically devoted to conditioning various parts of our bodies. Evidently, dance is also super important for flexibility. My muscles never got super tight, and I think this genuinely helped my posture and my body feel more relaxed.

In my opinion, dance is one of the most fun and rewarding ways to stay in shape. I made so many friends and found a really supportive community. If you have ever questioned whether to join a dance team, I strongly recommend it. Even if it doesn’t go well, or you hate it like 8 year old Dani, at least you’ll never wonder “what if”. My biggest regret is not trying dance earlier, and joining my school team as late as I did. Whether you are looking for new friends, a fun way to workout, or are just genuinely curious about dance, it is definitely worth looking into.

I hope this inspires you to think of new ways to stay fit beyond the gym, even if dance isn’t your forte.

Cheers!

Dani

California Roadtrip (Vlog)

During my reading break adventure I got to visit California. We went on a little road trip from Arizona to meet my aunt and uncle (if you want to see our story click here). Although I’d visited the LA area once before, I was 9 and didn’t remember much.

I’ve heard time and time again how busy LA is but I honestly didn’t realize the full extent of it until I was sitting in a parking lot which was supposedly a ‘highway’, mid-afternoon on a Sunday.

Despite the traffic, the liveliness of LA was remarkable. There was so much to see and do, yet I couldn’t accomplish everything during my 2 day trip. I spent most of my time in Long Beach, where I stayed right near the ocean. It was the nicer part of town that had beautiful views and several restaurants and shops on the water. There always seemed to be music on the streets, and some event or sidewalk store to explore.

I also took a short day trip to Santa Monica to see the famous pier and Venice Beach. After renting bikes to travel the shoreline, the experience reminded me a bit of the Seawall in Vancouver, yet with a little more going on and less fresh air (if you’ve been here you know what I’m referring to). I loved riding the coast before walking back through the shops and getting a feel for the culture. The tourists shops almost reminded me of Mexico, yet I was in the middle of the US’s west coast.

As I’d heard, California has endless places to explore. Here are few clips from my time in California that better capture my experience.

Where I’m Headed

Vancouver’s mountains are beautiful, yet they only go so far when gas is $1.50.

Although I was born in and still reside in Vancouver, my favourite city is Toronto. I consider myself raised in both cities, despite spending most of my time in BC.

This is not necessarily a tourist post, but I intend to express my love for Toronto for my own reflection and to share some of the city’s highlights. 

What sparked my love for this city is my family history. My brother, two cousins and I are the only ones on either side of my family who were born outside of Ontario. My mom’s side comes from Toronto, while my Dad from Ottawa. Being especially close with my mom’s family, Toronto is full of family stories and memories. I’ve spent almost every summer and a couple winters here. I have come to love the busy hustle of the city, kindness of neighbours, and the rich character of the older cities.

Over reading break, I was in Toronto to have a quick visit with my grandparents and to see UofT where I was recently accepted. Surprise! I don’t intend to stay in Vancouver. Although I don’t think UofT will be the place for me, my trip reminded me of all the things I love about Toronto and what I am excited for.

I see my future in Toronto. For a small person barely 5 feet I have huge aspirations. As a communications student, my opportunities lay in the headquarters of Toronto’s skyline. It is where my family is (who aren’t getting any younger) and where my roots are. Despite these overarching feelings, I am continuously asked “but why Toronto?” Vancouver is a huge city and is full of beautiful places and experiences.

Although I am so grateful for where I have grown up, here are just a few of the reasons I find myself being pulled east.

  1. My grandparents: Living on the other side of the country from my grandparents my entire life has been financially and emotionally hard. I feel like I’ve missed out as I only get to see them twice a year. They’re also getting older, and as they need more help I’d feel much more comfortable being nearby. I want to be able to keep an eye on them and help out whenever possible.
  2. Special occasions: On both sides of my family, I’ve seldom been able to attend family functions, from weddings to reunions. I miss everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries, as I can only celebrate though a card or Skype. I have a large family but I’ve never really been apart of their activities. While everyone is healthy and while I still have young cousins, I want to be there for all the special moments.
  3. The cost of living: I want 4 kids. This is definitely not possible in Vancouver where a townhouse is over $600,000. I don’t want to rent forever, I want to be able to save up and buy my own single family home by the time I’m 25. I feel like in Vancouver I’d get a small suite for the same price as a monthly mortgage payment.
  4. The cost of owning a car: Vancouver has the highest cost of insurance and highest gas prices in North America. My small little Mazda is a constant money hole. I want to live comfortably and not have to go to another country to fill up my tank.
  5. My family history: I feel a lot more connected to myself and family in Ontario when I can visit and see where I came from. None of my family is buried here and every place my parents talk about from their childhood is in Toronto or Ottawa. This summer I actually got to walk through the house my Nana (my great-grandmother) was born. It was a surreal experience as I don’t have these kinds of connections in Vancouver.
  6. Laura Secord: If you are truly from the west and don’t know what this is, go visit Ontario. We don’t get them in BC.
  7. The transit system: It is so easy to go anywhere, anytime in Toronto between the go-trains, light rail, buses, and the subway. I have rarely ever spend time waiting around. Further, because of their winter conditions you can get almost anywhere downtown through the Path, without having to step on a street corner.
  8. The snow: I love the snow. I’d much rather shovel snow every morning in the sunshine than have it rain and be grey for a month. It is only problematic here because we can’t handle it! We don’t have the resources for snow removal and people aren’t used to driving in it. Ontario however is accustomed to the conditions. I love the look of the snow and the winter activities it brings.
  9. Future jobs: Most of the jobs I’ve looked at during my Co-op experience have been centred in Toronto. Although Vancouver is also up and coming, Toronto is the biggest hub for media and headquarters. The city seems to have the most opportunities for my future and therefore the place I will find the most successful.

Whatever city life leads me to in the next few years I know I will grow and learn from. However, I’m hoping Toronto ends up being my home.

Cheers!

Dani

 

Growing Up A Veggie

Unfortunately, I am not literally a vegetable. However, people seem to think that is all I am made up of. Seriously, please strop trying to give me salad.

On social media, its appears veganism/vegetarianism is on the rise within the past few years. I think that is part of the reason so many people are shocked when I tell them I have been a vegetarian my whole life. No I have never had meat, even bacon, or a McDonald’s burger. There is such a stigma around vegans and vegetarians, and it has turned into a huge political debate. I don’t intend to force my views on anyone, I am just here to share my experience and dispel a few myths.

To the people who wonder if its hard to go vegetarian, I can’t help you. I commend your efforts and would love to offer my tips and tricks, but I have never had to cut meat out of my diet. My mom is a bit of a tree hugger (sorry mom), she is all for saving the earth, recycling, and has a huge love of animals. When she turned 30, she cut out meat cold turkey (ha). I was born after her 30th birthday, so I was raised vegetarian. There was never any meat in my house, so I have no idea how to cook it or the different between chicken and beef, seriously. I grew up having tofurkey for thanksgiving, and eating cheese and apple butter sandwiches.

Although I am older and able to make my own choices I’ve decided to stay vegetarian because it is what I am most comfortable with, I also respect the values my mom has instilled in me. Without getting too political, I do believe being vegetarian is more animal-friendly, because of the inhumane way animals are treated in big meat producing companies. Further, meat is expensive, and from what I’ve heard, can make you sick if it isn’t cooked properly. SFU takes most of my money, and I have really bad luck so it isn’t a gamble I am willing to take. Also, because I’ve never had meat, my body isn’t used to it and may not be able to digest it properly. I could get sick and it would be a huge adjustment for my body. I’d just rather not.

The biggest question I get is “so… what do you eat?” You might be genuinely curious, but to us its the same as if we asked the question to someone with meat in their diet. The answer I like to give is “well… whatever I want.” My dad’s answer on the other hand is, “she will eat anything without a face,” and to his credit, both are true. Anything is customizable, and can be adapted. Although I will not eat a steak, any pasta can be made vegetarian, there are veggie burgers, wraps, and you can even make homemade vegetarian chilli. The options are endless. When I was younger it was a little more tricky to eat out, but I am finding that more and more places are incorporating veggie symbols on their menus, or having an entirely different menu for only vegetarian options.

Another thing I hear a lot and have actually gotten to my face, is that being vegetarian is unhealthy. Yet, I am a living, breathing, intellectually capable human being of a healthy weight so… please rethink this. I think one of the main arguments is that vegetarians don’t get enough protein or iron in their diet. Again, it all comes down to being educated. There are many sources of protein such as dairy products, eggs and beans, while iron can be found in things such as spinach and various types of peas. However, I also take daily vitamin supplements just to ensure that I am getting the proper amount of nutrients. Vitamins are such an easy step, and mine are even in gummy form. I recommend these, which you can get for women or men. Eating as a vegetarian is all about just making sure you’re aware of your nutrition, but this should be the case for everyone, regardless of their diet.

I am not much of a cooker, actually I am awful at cooking, but I will make an effort to share some of my vegetarian snacks and the occasional meal. Any suggestions are welcome, and I’d love to answer any follow up questions or concerns about being on a vegetarian diet.

Even if you don’t agree with my choices, or find politicized vegans on Instagram annoying, please remember everyone has their own preferences. Never force your values on to someone else, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the person next to you is eating. The important thing is to focus on yourself, and your health.

Happy snacking,

Dani

Tea Review: Vanilla Matcha Tea

During my 3 week holiday break from University, I only had one cup of coffee. I was amazed that here I was, functional, happy and lively despite no caffeine. Yet, the first week back to class hit me hard. The early mornings and need for a long attention span lead me to reconsidered this whole caffeine-free thing. Coffee was not optional, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to my exam-season-three-cups-a-day routine.

I had heard about matcha tea from friends, and online ads. However, when I asked my friends if they had tried matcha, they all said no, despite hearing “really good things about it.” I decided to do some of my own research, and found that matcha, while being packed with caffeine, has tons of health benefits. It comes from the same plant as green tea, yet has 10x the amount of antioxidants. I read that these antioxidants help prevent against disease and reduces cell damage. Although I am not super familiar with the body and nutrients, I knew after my crazy coffee habits my body could use a little extra help. It has also been said that matcha tea can enhance mood and help boost concentration. It all sounded like a great alternative to me. Besides, matcha tea has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, which allows me to continue on with my coffee-free 2018. For a full list of the benefits of matcha tea, i recommend this website.

On my lunch break I ended up at David’s Tea. I settled on a vanilla matcha tea, hoping that if I hated it the vanilla would compensate. It is made from coconut nectar, matcha green tea, and natural vanilla flavouring. It comes in a powder, for a whopping $20 per 100g. I ended up paying $25 for half of a small bag, and at that price, I convinced myself  I was going to love it. Spoiler, I did not.

When I first tried it, it tasted like warm seaweed. I don’t think any description or any comparison will do it justice. It also did not help that the colour was swamp water green (see picture). The vanilla made it sweet, but the matcha itself seemed bitter. It is not a mild tea whatsoever, it is very flavourful and has a kick to it. I now had $25 of this stuff and there was no way a broke University kid like myself was going to waste my money, and then find other means of caffeine on top of that.

By the time I finished my mug full, I didn’t half hate it. I think my dissatisfaction was brought on by the initial shock of the strength of the tea, and the unfamiliar flavours. I drank the tea again the next morning and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the taste. Was it self talk or the actual flavour that drew me to it? Probably the self talk, but that’s not the point. I told myself all the healthy things I was putting in my body, and quickly the matcha became my new morning coffee.

At the end of the first week, I really felt the benefits matcha tea claimed to have. I felt more motivated, more awake and more focused. It was like 6 espresso shots without the shaking or the bulging eyes. I can’t tell what it did to my insides, but on the outside I felt so energized. It wasn’t the same feeling as a caffeine high either, it genuinely felt like waking up from restful, long winter’s nap.

When I have gotten my friends to try it, it hasn’t been a winner. Its one of those things that is an acquired taste, and it definitely takes time getting used to. However, the payoff is definitely worth it. Some people take much worse tasting things in the morning for their health (ever tried oil of oregano?), and with matcha you are getting both the benefits and the caffeine. I really recommend trying matcha tea if you are trying to control your coffee habits, but maybe head to the local grocery store for a cheaper alternative. I’ll update if I find any other brands I like.

Happy tea drinking,

Dani