Correspondence From the Past- Remembering my Father, and the Beauty Behind Letters.

As a mother of a 20- something year old I have to say that I was never the type to hang to too many memento’s of hers. I would keep the random cute drawing, a report card or too, and few baby items that I felt one day she may appreciate. As it stands right now, she has no interest in any of it- so therefore I am obliged to hang on to it until perhaps 10 years from now she still will have no interest in it.

I have moved so many times over the last 15 years that the opportunity to unload and let go of stuff has become customary. I often tell myself as I’m offloading this stuff that if I did not remember I even had it, I probably do not need to hang on to it. So basically I Marie Kondo the F*** out of my house on a monthly basis.

That was until I had my elderly mother move in with us.

When we moved into a much larger home you would think that after having moved her from British Columbia only a year before that she would have very limited belongings.

Wrong.

This woman has kept everything…as in she still has my reward for “Participation” ribbons. Mementos of my mediocre attempts at anything academic or athletics. My mother also loves to hang onto cards from anniversaries, birthdays, thank you’s…she has boxes of these cards. In addition, the family heirlooms and antique furniture that do hold value, however in the context of my own love for more contemporary décor, stick out like a sore thumb. But at the end of the day I tolerate it obligingly- my mom deserves to be surrounded by the familiar things she has grown to love and cherish.

More recently my mom decided to introduce a new desk into her room so that she could house more of her stuff and perhaps alphabetize her cards and categorize the bill statements she has hung onto since 1995. As she was going through her things she had come across some letters from my father when he had taken a job overseas in Tanzania. Read Here about those adventures! Part 1 and Part 2

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Mom and Dad- August 2011

Now if there was anything to ever hang on to this would be it. My father passed away in August of 2016 after a long battle with organ failure complicated by dementia. For about 10 years prior to his death, my father had deteriorated and what was left the man I had remembered had been long gone. So when my mom came across these letters to her, I was able to revisit a time when he was vibrant, humorous and the father that I had grew up with. I had long forgotten this side of him, as the decade prior to his passing was overshadowed by so much stress and worry while we advocated for placement and my mom was left as a caregiver.

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Dad on the Sailboat he built–1990
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University Graduation 2007

Before his health declined my father was a hard worker- in fact a workaholic. He was determined to provide for his family-despite some underlying mental health and addiction issues that I’ll save for another time. My father had served in the Canadian air force, taught college Electronics engineering, was a boat builder, woodworker, and avid fisherman. He worked all over the world, and one of his last jobs brought him to Tanzania as mentioned.

Here are some of the excerpts from his letters that I will hang onto without a doubt. Hope you enjoy!

Mgololo, Tanzania 1991
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Love You Dad- Miss You.

Relinquishing Independence and Inviting Interdependence: Understanding When its Safe to Let Go of Control.

Solo Vacation-Its a thing “Independent Women” Do.

This is a tough post to write because simply put, I’m pissed off. I never like to write when I’m upset because often my emotions at the best of times can be fleeting and reactive. And I am glad that I took the time to take a few days to cool off before publishing this post and took time the time to reflect upon what ignited my temper tantrum. You see, I feel more and more these days that my affinity for independence, has impeded on my ability to engage and trust in the idea of Interdependence- A term that up until recently seemed like a swear word.

To provide further insight to my inner workings, I am a deeply sensitive person, who has a history of being taken advantage of in previous romantic relationships, by friends, and family. Over the years I have become far more assertive in protecting my best interests, as these experiences have not only hurt but been a reminder that I often get tired of. These experiences have served only to reinforce the idea that the only person I can count on at the end of the day to protect my achievements, growth, and my value quite frankly is me. But what if this isn’t the case all the time?

Let me also just say before my loved ones read on and feel hurt by my unhinged thought processes, allow me to shine light on you first before I go any further. I do not want to minimize the people in my life that are amazing and loving supports who have been unwavering with their loyalty to me. Without them I would not be the reasonably sane person I am today. I feel like I belong and am important to those who show me love, kindness and thoughtfulness. They aspire me to continue being who I am in my most authentic form, and also why I’m writing this today. I believe it is my responsibility to address that no negative experiences from the past is going to discourage me from being who I love to be. They allow me the safety to love fearlessly- I’m in gratitude of that.

But as mentioned above sometimes I just get tired. You see, I have been indepedent for a very long time, long before I actually had developed the skills to actually carry that out sucessfully. I was a boarding school kid who’s parents lived on the other side of the world. For the longest time I had very little need for them and relied mostly on the company and guidance of my peers and teachers at the time. So when I ventured into the cold world of hard knocks, I was simply a lamb to the slaughter, naive to the dangers and cruelty that lay beyond the borders of my prestigious boarding school campus.

It would be through a series of really crappy life lessons learned that I’d finally figure out it that is was do or die if I did not do what was necessary in terms of creating some stability. Having a daughter at the age of 22 and being a single parent had a lot to do with motivating me to be my best ally in life. I had learned through some traumatic and life altering experiences that counting on people or believing in people was never a safe option- which in hindsight is really sad, and I don’t believe this to be true for everyone. I strongly believe that my mistrust is rooted in my own trauma, and am able to see examples of people who truly can be counted on. Read Here to Learn More.

When I consider examples of the term interdependence what comes to my mind is a few of my friends who are married/common-law. I would say “happily married,” but there are days I’m sure they’d disagree with that statement. I most certainly am not the one to make any judgements on marital bliss given my own track history. So I will stick with the topic and zero in on part of their marriages that is heavily rooted in their commitment to the partnership aspect of it. I percieve this like perhaps a running contract whereby they have developed some level dependability on the other person. As in, to know that if they fall, the other will catch them. If they loose their job, they will clothe and feed them. If they want to pursue their dreams, they will carry them until they succeed, or again…catch them if they fall. The freedom to raise their children as a stay at home mom or dad and know everything will be taken care of. And if I could be perfectly honest…the freedom to be a kept Woman/Man/preferred Pronouns* le sigh….one could always wish right? My dream would also include a nanny, a cook, a personal trainer and an on call therapist that also feeds me grapes while draped in fancy loungewear.

I digressed.

But as much as brood over this idea, I don’t actually believe I could ever be that woman. My experiences have defined me, and to be honest ruined me to ever accept a life of leisure. Underneath all that layered scar tissue lives a little twinkling light of wonder that glimmers with the thought of one day letting myself kick up my feet and letting Jesus take the wheel- but with Jesus being a man, I have my doubts even with the almighty…enough said.

As I dive deeper into my own self awareness on the subject, it is not independence that I’m flouting, it is Mistrust. The kind whereby I imagine I could make someone feel “not good enough” to take on the role of being my partner. Or perhaps giving the impression that the care I require from another could ever live up to the expectations I have set for myself. I also worry about my ability to live through another disappointment that at times in my life has almost annihilated me. Yet here I stand like a bronzed statue, weathered by the storms, blessed by the luck of the seagulls excrement; my placard almost illegible. Nobody knows what to think when they see a spectacle as grand and calamitous as this but maybe admire from a distance, maybe occasionally taking a photo with it. That pretty much sums up the bulk of why few have been brave enough to tackle exploring a partnership with me. They just don’t know where to start.

But like most good parties, pity parties too must come to an end. Just as I love to take care of the loved ones in my life, I need to allow others to take the opportunity to take care of me, even if I feel that they fall short at times. Not every man or woman is meant to be kept, just as every man or women is not meant to be keeper of others. Nor should I assume that the value behind the “keeping of each other” should be measured by the means that we often run too when we think of freedom, namely financial freedom. Although if I never had to work again, that it would sit okay with me!

According to Terry Gaspard, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, “Reliance on others can be healthy and affirming. The problem is that as children we weren’t always taught how to balance self-reliance with healthy interdependence.” Terry explains “On the surface, it’s wonderful to be independent, self-sufficient and resilient. But when you believe you must do everything for yourself, you create your own demise. It’s hard to let your partner in. It’s hard to give him/her room to come through for you. But if you are ever to enjoy the full nature of intimacy, you must. In small doses, self-reliance is positive. But when it pervades your approach to the world it can deprive you of true love, commitment and trust. To avoid this fate you must learn to reign in your self-reliance, to recognize when it prevents you from trusting in your partner, and to acknowledge when it denies your partner of everything you have to give.”

Dr. Willard Harley, a marriage counselor, defines interdependent behavior as activities of a spouse that are conceived and executed with the interests of both spouses in mind. He maintains that certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be beneficial and promote emotional closeness.

6 Steps to Achieving Interdependence

1. Take ownership if you are too self-reliant. If it’s extreme, pinpoint the source of it and examine your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.

2. Challenge your beliefs and attitudes about accepting nurturing and support from your partner. Resist the urge to be self-reliant around hot-button issues such as money, work, or family matters — like how you celebrate holidays or vacations.

3. Visualize yourself in an honest and open relationship and work toward allowing yourself to be more vulnerable with your partner — a critical aspect of intimacy.

4. Remind yourself daily that it’s healthy to accept help from others and a sign of strength rather than weakness. This might also apply to your work setting.

5. Develop a policy of joint agreement if you are in a relationship. This term, coined by Dr. Harley, describes an agreement couples make to resist making decisions without an enthusiastic agreement between them and their partner — especially important ones that impact both people.

6. Adopt a mindset that it’s good to count on your partner. Believe that you can share your deepest feelings with him/her and it will promote healthy attachment, trust and intimacy. You must let them in and embrace the idea that you don’t have to go through life alone.

Dependence is often seen as a dirty word in our culture. It conjures up images of weakness and insecurity. But certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be helpful and sustaining. Intimacy serves to help illuminate parts of oneself never truly realized. Healthy partnerships bring out the best in people, because when they feel safe and loved, they are free to grow and explore who they are as human beings. Instead of depending on a partner, we need to seek interdependence. We must believe that we do not have to go through life alone.

“Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”

― Erik H. Erikson

As I suspected, in being overly self-reliant, I must remember that by allowing myself to depend on others, I can help develop autonomy and strength. Revealing vulnerability with my partner, has never been the issue, its the “what’s next part” that has always scared me. What if they think I’m crazy, or what will they do with this info? Will they use this to hurt me or use against me? Will they magnify my weknesses and silence my strengths? Or alternatively will Letting go of control, fear and other intense emotions help to make my relationships more solid.

Only time can tell as I grow more secure in the idea that others love me,. To accept that independence and love do not need to exist on separate planes.

When you depend on others, you are at your strongest. I will take this forward with me as I relinquish some control and communicate faith in others ability to “Take Care of Me.”

Repeat After Me: I am allowed to look sexy, feel sexy, and be in love. I am worthy of all of those things. And so are you.

Me in all my Fluffy Fabulousness

I would have been around 7 or 8 years old when I recognized my body was built differently than the other girls my age. I had been in competitive figure skating from an early age, spending most of my mornings before school and after at the rink going between one lesson to another. I remember my favorite thing to do was go to the concession stand if my mom had given me some money and share an order of onion rings with my tiny friends. One of the sneaky things I used to do was comb the bottom of my fathers closet where change would fall from his pant pockets onto the floor. This would fund my concession trips on many occasions against my mother’s knowledge who was trying to mold her little Olympic Dream on skates. And as a result, treats were few and far between however and was always reminded that Onion Rings were not a “healthy option.” I didn’t understand why not, therefore given my personality felt more inclined to indulge in the forbidden every chance I could get.

To put it into context further, I was the kid who had the homemade fruit leather and vegetable filled pitas in my lunch, which as an adult I would not complain about this at all. Especially considering my breakfast, lunches and sometimes dinner looks more like a reheated Triple Skinny Latte most of the time. But for myself all I wanted was the fruit roll ups I could stick on my finger like the rest of the kids and chew on its artificially sweetened chemically saturated nectar. Hot Dog days at school were especially difficult- I’d salivate over the Orange Drink and smells of boiled mystery meat and mustard. Walking home from school I was advised to not go to the corner store with friends, but my dads closet floor would always pull through and I’d have enough to buy a bag of O’Ryans Sour Cream and Onion chips, with its savory thick powder coating. The walk home would allow me enough time to eat it, and dispose of the evidence just in time.

By no means do I intend on framing my mother as restrictive or intentionally harmful with regards to the relationship I have with food. You see she knew all too well what I’d face growing up with regards to my weight and sense of self image because she too struggled. She grew up in a time when body positivity was not a “thing” and if you were overweight you would shield your imperfections from the world as to not offend anyone. She would sometimes tell me my clothes were too tight, as a way f trying to protect me from potential mean comments or stares she had endured. I remember her telling me that she would wear big earrings to draw attention to her face and away from her body. I too often use this jokingly when I simply need an excuse to wear big gaudy earrings that only I could appreciate. My mom knew the world could be cruel to me and did not want to see me endure the same kind of judgement she had been through.

So when I could be seen in comparison to the other tiny ice nymphs it was clear I was going to be a bull within the china shop. At that time my favorite Figure Skater at that time was Serina Bonnelly, a muscular powerhouse of fierce athleticism. I wanted to be her. In fact I’d attack my jumps and spins with the same kind of ferocity I imagined she did. Fearlessly I’d approach my set ups with a crazed adrenaline determined that could out-do any element of grace required to stick a landing. I wanted to go into them fast and hard, like a kamikaze pilot raging into battle. As a result I’d often fall just as hard, getting up each time to try it 30-40 more times. I wasn’t concerned though about the falls because I loved the feeling of taking flight with the robust capabilities that my body gifted me with.

As my skating career continued I had begun Precision Skating with a group of 20 other girls, which is now known s synchronized skating now. I remember being fitted for my costume, it was an Annie themed routine, and I wore an electric red body suit with a little white collar. There I was with my oddly shaped 7 year old body, you know the one, round bellied sprinkled with hints of puberty. My legs were strong and I was a powerful skater with a tooshie to match. I loved Precision skating as it was so unique to work with a team as opposed to being alone on the ice. We had gone to a competition with our Annie program and we had taken team photos after winning first place in our category beaming with delight. I’d get the long awaited photo and pull it from its envelope and look for myself in the photo, and it didn’t take long as I stood out appearing like a brown haired chubby cherub in a red body suit. I no longer wanted to be Serina Bonnelly, I wanted to be skinny and tiny like the rest of the girls.

My heart breaks for my 7 year old self with that statement.

Similar situations like the Precision Team picture would occur into my adolescence. I continued to be powerful, strong and heavy into sports like Rowing and Field Hockey which I would excel in. Lazy I was not and loved competing and enjoying the thrills of being an athlete. But sure enough, with every team I was on, there I would be, standing out in photos, with my bottom heavy thick legs and thighs among the petit bodies that I wanted so much to be like. I remember hitting grade 11 and had decided I’d drop some weight going from 136 lbs. to 120 lbs. Weekends we would order pizza to our dorm and I’d savor my allowed portion by eating the slice in layers, starting with the cheese, then the soft dough, moving down to the bare bones of the crust.

I actually still eat pizza this way now, except I eat 4 pieces with ranch and hot sauce.

During that time in high school I had heavy training related to my sports teams, but additionally I’d spend my nights in the weight room working out on my own when everyone else was hanging out. I thought maybe if I could get “skinny” things would get better for me. Maybe I’d be more desired by the popular boys, maybe the cool girls would want to closer to me as a friend, maybe teachers would pay attention to me or even maybe I’d be noticed more for my accomplishments like the skinny girls were. What I wanted was to be seen and appreciated. It seemed like this happened so effortlessly for the skinny girls. This was the message the world was giving me at this time. It was reinforced by the early warnings of my mother who had shared similar experiences of being treated differently feeling that society did not value fat people. In my experience the ridicule came in the form of feeling often invisible in the crowd and achievements unacknowledged despite my efforts, dedication and performance.

“If we make self-love or body acceptance conditional, the truth is, we will never be happy with ourselves. The reality is that our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never remain exactly the same. If we base our self-worth on something as ever-changing as our bodies, we will forever be on the emotional roller coaster of body obsession and shame.”

— Chrissy King

By graduation, I was tiny, and I looked phenomenal catching the eye of those who underestimated this newly blonde and bodacious bombshell. I worked that form fitting Latin inspired dress like a rockstar…it was my night to shine and it felt so good to be looked at for once. I remember my father continued to comment on how amazing I looked and how everybody was staring at his gorgeous daughter.

I felt seen finally!

It was like a drug for a girl that felt so invisible.

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Grade 12
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1997-ish

After high school I’d venture into a world that was far more forgiving, team photos a distant past and tucked away in a box. My inner desire to feel the urge to compare and regulate my body weight would be fleeting depending on where I was at emotionally. Having my daughter would push me over the 200 lb. mark and keep me there 20 years later. I’ve fluctuated since then losing 10, gaining 20, losing 30, gaining 10. The game continues today. I’ve done weight watchers, Keto, G.I. diet, HCG, and gone vegetarian all with great results. I remember in June this year I’d lose 25 lbs on a quick and restrictive calorie deficit diet, feeling like I had hit the jackpot finally on my quest to feel good in the body I was given. I had been anticipating a night out with friends and planned an outfit that would show off my newly smaller frame. I’d put this outfit on and immediately hated how my body looked in it. Parts of my figure that I loved before no longer were accentuated in ways that made me unique from the pack. I looked like a deflated and more invisible version of myself than ever before. This was not the kind of reinforcement I had hoped for in the quest to continue my journey to be more visible and accepted in the world. And wouldn’t you know, within months I’d go back to the fluffier and more filled out version of myself.

I cannot win, but I’m okay with it.

Let me just say this, the happiest I’ve been with regards to my how I feel about my body is when I can work out 5 days a week and eat what I want. During my most gym dedicated times as my commitment often varies, did I ever lose any significant weight, but my body would change as did my confidence. Do I get “Skinny” by doing this, absolutely not as you can see. What does change though is my confidence and acceptance of how my body looks and more importantly what I can do with it. I continue to try and free myself from the chains of a scale and the displayed numbers that are not necessarily a determinant with regards to measuring the contentment within myself. In addition I’m so pleased to see how society and women especially have embraced the body positive movement, and that plus size models are no longer seen as the other or niche market. On social media you can see women of all shapes and sizes celebrated for their beauty and unique figures, all sporting a sense of renewed confidence that is refreshing for a woman like me who has been welcoming this moment since she was 7 years old.

I recognize that body augmentation remains to be highly sought after with women desiring to attain fuller curves and minimized waists. It mimics the same patterns I felt in my early years looking to be noticed in the hopes to have access to the same recognition and opportunities that appeared to come so easily to the skinnies. And do not get me wrong, I am not against any form of augmentation that a woman desires to get, as long as she feels good about herself and does not risk her health in doing so. What I do caution though within my experience of sharing that sense of wanting to belong and be seen is to not expect that in doing so doors will open or life will get easier. Life remains the same and is contingent on the ambition and confidence you have within- You Cannot Fake It. If cosmetic and plastic surgery opens the door for confidence to root its seeds deep within you then its a win in my eyes. To each their own whichever road you choose.

And to be fully transparent I would love to get a few things nipped, tucked and sucked! I’m 42 and I have at least another 5-6 years of pool parties in me- I wanna go out with a Bang before Menopause hits and I have hair growing out of my chest and bouts of lunacy. If I wasn’t so darn practical and lets admit…peasant poor… I’m sure I would have already dove head first into it. In addition I feel like I have some heavy work to do before taking the easy the way out. I’ve been saying to myself, first get healthy and super fit, see where you land in terms of results then go from there. Lets see if this materializes, don’t hold your breath y’all!

Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.   

Gloria Steinem

  

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Confidence Starts on the Inside- Do I look worried about you think?
If Unbothered was a Swimsuit….

I believe I’m not the only one in this revolving door of wavering confidence mixed with good intentions and intermittent self discipline as it pertains to managing weight. And I don’t believe us full figured women are the only ones that can get consumed with the numbers on the scale. I’ve often heard my slender beauty’s say that there is an element of competition and scale number comparison’s among themselves. They’ve told me other women will ask them how much they weigh and from there put themselves into a frenzy to keep up and out-do that number. I was extremely uncomfortable learning that those kind of conversations even exist. I assure you in the fluffy girl world we do not discuss numbers let alone divulge them in conversation! That’s a no go zone!

But it does not surprise me either.

Shamelessly I admit I’ve been binge watching the Kardashians and on countless occasions the opening scenes start with “Oh my god your so skinny.” Whether its that Jonathon Chaban “Food God” or one the sisters, I cannot believe that is an acceptable way to either greet someone or say hello. What baffles me even more is how this guy eats the way he does and stays looking like Skeletor, I swear the man two finger diets his way through life. Its cringe worthy every time I hear them say it on the show, I just want to jump into the TV and give their necks a choke. I miss fluffy Khloe by the way!

This way of being extends itself to the world outside of the Kardashians whereby other women will refer to other women as “those skinny bitches.” I’m sure you have either been guilty of it or heard it from someone. I challenge you to think about how you felt in that moment and ask yourself what did I mean when I said that to someone?

Did I mean I think they are beautiful?

Did I mean I think they look like they have been working really hard at getting healthy and toning up?

Why did I not just say something more specific with regards to what I admire about them?

I think often our own insecurities become disguised in our admiration of others and can be damaging to them. It’s essentially role reversal body shaming and its not a good look either. Again I think it boils down to the perceived idea that being thin carries the illusion that life must be easier as a result of the smaller number on the scale. Thin, thick, in the middle, we all have the same struggles, that being the journey to love thy damn self and the vessel that god gave you. It has taken me a long time to come full circle with regards to not allowing my value and self worth to be dictated by the failures of the sliding numbers on the scale. As long as body positivity continues to trend and we begin to see a larger array of women being celebrated in various media platforms I think we can begin to close the divide of misconceptions. Taking the initial steps to be kind within ourselves will open the doors to consider being kind to others, being authentic in our admirations of others, and opening the door for dialogue, understanding and acceptance.

“So the question is, which boulder are you going to choose to roll? The ‘must lose weight’ boulder or the ‘fuck you I will boldly, defiantly accept the body I’ve got and LIVE IN IT’ boulder?”

— Kate Harding

We are all Beautiful!

GirlsTrip: Why Canadian Girls Just Do it Better

I have been going to Banff for little Weekend Trips for years since I moved to Alberta. For many who are not sure where Banff is, it’s approximately an hour and smidge if you take Highway 1 West from Calgary. The town itself is an Aspen like oasis that sits smack in the middle of Banff National Park and has numerous mountains within close driving range.

 In summer Banff and its surrounding area is fit for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, you get the picture. It’s a non stop adventure park for the weekend warriors we all aspire to be. Winter time boasts some amazing Ski/Snowboarding, snow shoeing, sleigh rides, dog sledding and snow mobiling (which us locals also call Sledding but can be confusing if you think of it in the traditional sense).

Many of my trips to Banff  were weekend girl’s trips. Just like “Saturdays are for the boys,” well weekends are for the girls! Banff can get pricey but if you can get a gang together its best to stay somewhere you can fit 4-6 comfortably. I’ve stayed at Hidden Ridge Resort on almost a dozen occasion. It’s not swanky, but you get the real “lodgey” kind of feel, and their lofts have a variety of room/bed options.  They have fire places and old DVD players where you can go borrow movies as well as games from the front desk. All have a well equipped kitchen where you have everything you need. The best part of this place is their hot pools and sauna, and has a beautiful fire Hearth at the center of the pool deck. In addition to the hearth, you have a spectacular view of the valley and surrounding mountains which in all seasons is breath-taking.  The average amount to stay at Hidden Ridge can go from anywhere between $175.00 to $300.00 CAD which is a steal for Banff pricing.

Now let me say this now, a romantic Banff experience is a completely different set of instructions boys and girls. Boys, please do not bring your girlfriend with 6 of your Bros… Go for the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel minus the Bro-skies.

Because it has a kitchen, we typically bring a big Lasagna, Charcuterie, snacks and booze up there. I suggest shopping in Calgary first as their grocery stores are pretty overpriced and close early. While there is plenty of restaurants to eat at, there are no late night spots open, so drunk you will love you at 3am when you mow down on that left over lasagna.

If you want to opt out of being a thrifty Sisty…I encourage you to check out The Grizzly House. Its super Kitschy and straight out of the 70’s. Each table has a phone as well if you are interested in calling another table and saying hello, as this used to be a swingers restaurant. Nothing says lets get naked with some total strangers than the meat sweats after dining on Meat and Cheese Fondue. I feel like the 70’s was definitely a different time entirely as now I’d have to diet, shave, powder my crotch, and roofie my own drink before I’d consider lifting a ringing phone. And what would one say….”Hey baby, if you like meat I got a whole Bison sausage waiting for you?”

The Grizzly House Banff Alberta

I give an honorable mention as well to The Balkan, where they have some very tasty Greek cuisine and its just above the Dancing Sasquatch, The waiters will bring you to the front of the line as well and hook it up for you nicely; if you don ‘t like waiting in a line full of Seasonal Aussie workers. But if you like them young, cute and poor then waiting in line may be right up your alley.

Banff Ave

If you want to just sip and enjoy delicious Craft Cocktails with the gals, Park Distillery is where you want to go. They are right on Banff Ave and within walking distance to everything. There you can sip on 100% hand made, in house cocktails, such as my favorite the “OBSERVATION PEAK”-Park Glacier Rye, Appleton Rum, Amaro Montenegro, cherry liqueur, Park orange bitters, smoked cedar square. They also offer a wide variety of food which they call their campfire favorites. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that was hot dogs and marshmallows. Clearly I’ve been doing this campfire thing all wrong, Which could be also why I hate camping.

The nightlife in Banff is super refreshing for us Calgarians who get a bit tired of the local clubs and hipster watering holes. Let’s face it, I’ll drink and go out anywhere as long as I have a solid crew with me. I love hitting up the Dancing Sasquatch when I’m in Banff for a night. The music and vibe is always cool there and you’ll be sure to dance all night long. The Sasquatch look is also inevitable if you are as big of a hot mess as I am by the end of good night.

There are lots of cab and shuttle options so there is no need to drink and drive there…not like that should ever be an option? I typically like to pre-book for the way home so that if its winter you are not freezing your Kahuna’s off. The locals can pick out the Calgary girls simply by the clothes they go out in there, and that’s just fine with me. However be smart ladies, opened toed heels with frost bite are never cute. I can’t even lie I have definitely checked my coat and winter boots, swapping into my stylish dancing shoes.

If your not too hung the next day, heading to the hot springs or Kananskis Nordic Lodge for the day to enjoy the hot pools is always and epic way to end your weekend and detox the liver.

The Beautiful Truth: The Bewitching Qualities Behind the Filters

Let me start with being perfectly honest since the title of the post has the word Truth in it. I use filters ALOT in my social media postings. In fact I deleted Snap Chat a few years ago after finding myself somewhat addicted to the pretty filter…you all know the one. The one that gave you symmetric noses, perfectly big bright and centered eyes, and flawless angelic skin. For me my break up with Pretty Face came swiftly and with no warning. It occurred when I was amidst an internal chat with myself where this voice appeared and said “I hated how my pictures looked.” I was like who’s this bitch and who invited her insecure ass to the party in my head? I didn’t recognize that human inside me that was being so terribly cruel to a girl just trying to love herself no matter what. I had to make a decision to either get rid of that shitty uninvited insecure biaaatch or the filter, so in true CeCe style, I got rid of both the beasts. I’m aware this topic has been discussed time and time again yet here we all are, using some level of photo modification at any given time. I’m not oblivious to how products are marketed, and people are products themselves when they are selling beauty. We are no different than the products in commercials with Glistening Hamburger Patties that are actually painted with acrylics and high gloss epoxy glue’s to appear more Juicy and Appealing to the customer. If you have no impulse control like me, one may find themselves driving on over to Fat Burger at the speed of light. But we know damn well that Burger is not nearly going to look as perfect as it was in the commercial, but all in all, still pretty damn satisfying when it touches your lips. Different visual, but same sensation of pleasure depending on how Hangry you were.

That’s kind of how I feel without camera filters. I’m still a delightful meal, and my ingredients haven’t changed. I still come with the lettuce, tomato, onion, all the sauce and 1/4 lb patty flame broiled. Substance wise- What you See is What You Get and More if you look real close by opening the symbolic bun up more.

Are you hungry yet? I am.

You see sometimes what one person finds appetizing another may not. The Vegans reading this right now are probably gagging on my imagery as we speak. And how would you know what qualities that others admire unless you take off the veil from time to time. You see, I’ve often admired beauty within the physical sense in many smaller and more peculiar aspects of a person’s face. Such as the slight curl of a lip, or how their cheeks ball into little tight chestnuts when they smile. I’ll notice the little cute freckle under their eyes that gives them a sexy yet playful air of mischievousness. Even skin tones where the richness and texture of their skin, can be so inviting to the visual sense. The little goose bumps on their chest or arms that tell a story of their current emotion- all sadly get blended into one boring and consistent hue behind a filter. Tousled beachy hair that is carelessly flipped about that perhaps is on day 6 needing a good wash yet looks Sexy AF. MUAH! I love it all!

I think the textures, contrasts, variations of color in life are what ignite the senses far more than a “pretty” and uniformly symmetric picture. Consider how many magazines we have flipped through, or social media timelines, and I imagine if you are like me I cannot remember one face or specific image. I do follow quite a few artists and photographers that do capture the raw beauty that I find mesmeric. Suitcase Joe did a series on L.A.’s Skid Row and found beauty that was intoxicating and memorable.

Photos By: Suitcase Joe. Skid Row street photography. Downtown, Los Angeles California.
suitcase-joe-captures-the-unfiltered-beauty-of-skid-row
Photos By: Suitcase Joe. Skid Row street photography. Downtown, Los Angeles California.

Beauty Filter Nemesis Cosmopolitan Magazine even did a feature on body positive photographers to watch out for and follow. Very noble of them considering! The photographer coined as “BODY-POSITIVITY CRUSADERS” are seemingly redefining ‘BEAUTY’ by portraying women of different shapes and sizes through an inclusive lens. And while I love and subscribe to the body positive/self image movement its still often only viewed as art. In which you are a subject of someone’s “Art” or shared in an artistic platform with the hashtag #bodypositive the simplicity of the beauty is often missed.

Four Body-Positive Photographers Who Are Redefining Beauty

1.Roshini Kumar @rosh93 (All photographs are from her series BARE)
Photos by Roshini Kumar @rosh93
Four Body-Positive Photographers Who Are Redefining Beauty

In conclusion I urge you to take some time to admire all the ravishing intricacies that you have within your unique beauty and share it courageously like I did below!