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.
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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!

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.

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.

Bell Lets Talk Day 2021- CECE D. Walks the TALK.

What is #BellLetsTalk? Mental health campaign to raise awareness

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day- And unless you are some kind of superhuman, you are really feeling it right now. Feeling the isolation, loneliness and just overall weight of the world while everything hangs in uncertainty.

So Lets Talk. And let me remind those that you are not alone in how you feel.

I commonly get the statement from friends and peers that I always seem to come across like I have it together. And in all honesty I’m not really sure why, as I’m fairly transparent; I always assumed my brand of crazy came across pretty clearly. I cycle from being sometimes quite

You see, I have struggled with depression for the last 10 years. It wouldn’t be until the last 3 years that I was diagnosed with not only depression, but anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder and PTSD. And it would be only in the last 3 years that I have consistently remained on medication as well as accessed therapeutic supports to manage what I’m going to assume something I will need to treat for the remainder of my life. I used to go off medications when I had assumed I had gotten better, only to find myself rapidly deteriorate and in the same spot as before- the gutter. I had assumed that depression only needed to be treated when you were at your worst, and it was something you treated until you felt better or that you no longer needed medication. I couldn’t have been more wrong when it came to myself and what I needed to remain well and stable.

Let me also share that my health and wellness not only depends on medication, but therapy and a consistent awareness around advocating for self care and healthy boundaries. I rely on exercise, my family, and doing the things that keep me hopeful, busy and passionately engaged. With the current lock down here in Alberta and the frigid weather, my Mental Health- specifically my anxiety is through the damn roof. I’m not OKAY!

Time for some honesty…isn’t this what this is all about.

Last week my boyfriend had let the dog outside in the middle of the night to go pee. She has been doing thing lately where she comes to the door to come in, but then doesn’t want to come in, she wants you to come out and play. So she was doing this dance repeatedly and was refusing to come in despite multiple attempts. I was in bed, but for some reason started to become anxious about, what if she gets out of the yard, what if she eats something she shouldn’t be, what if someone comes and steals her. My boyfriend who was dealing with it saw me get up to get her in. I literally could not go to sleep until she was in. My boyfriend who “had it”, saw that I was circling and wanting to take control. He told me to back off and go to sleep. I simply could not. I went as far as making an excuse to go downstairs and make toast in the middle of the night so I could intervene and bring her in. Not surprisingly, she did the same to me and wouldn’t come in. Then I started a fight. I got so angry because I felt my boyfriend was impeding on my need to ease my anxiety and I felt powerless. We fought the next day about it until I told him what was happening for me. He understood and wished I had just shared what was going on. To be honest I was embarrassed that such a small thing caused me to loose all sense of reality and faith in him, not to mention my back yard is 100% safe.

Yesterday I had received a call at 5:15pm on one of my files and I knew that the following day would be a literal shit show. I was already anticipating the level of work that I’d be facing, and began to do the work in my head that could have waited. It snowballed from there. I became fidgety, then itchy, then completely restless as I could not settle myself into bed. I began to pace, went pee like 8 times, fumbled around for things that I was trying to organize for the next day. Then I couldn’t find my medication and began worrying that my dog ate it as I had found a rogue lid from prescriptions past. I began searching my car, purses, laundry, dogs mouth…this went on for an hour. I finally found it- it had fallen into my top drawer, clearly fumbling out of the bag I hold it in safely so that my dog can’t get a hold of it. But before I could actually honor the care I typically take around my dogs safety I was sure my dog was going to die- despite her totally normal behavior. This my friends is anxiety. It trumps any kind of confidence you have in yourself.

After this it would take almost the entirety of the night for my partner who now recognized the signs that I was spiraling. I would cry and release all of the worry, sharing things that were even alarming to myself. I would tell him that I was feeling like what is the purpose of living right now and that I felt like there is nothing that provides me hope that resolve or normalcy is near. I told him I was exhausted with staying positive and working so hard to keep it together. “Everyday feels the same,” I feel like everyday, and everyday I feel alone.” I feel alone at work when I go to an office that only allows one team member there at a time, so I don’t see my co-workers. I feel alone in all my meetings I hold as I meet with strangers from behind masks, and deal with serious issues, for me to deal with alone. I feel alone as I walk through a city, only seeing eyes that show no smiles or expression as they are protected behind masks. I feel invisible as others don’t see my smiles directed at them and ignored as they cannot see my desire to connect. I told him I feel like “I’m walking in a world of zombies.” I continued to scratch and rub my body and face as the energy released itself from my body. He would hold me tight me, keep me grounded in an embrace that was enough to lull me to sleep finally after 5 straight hours of this.

I woke up this morning tired obviously, but I bravely put one step in front of the other, had a shower, took my medication and reached out to a few friends. I shared that I was struggling, and they listened and told me they too were feeling the same way. I felt comforted that they too were “crazy” like me, and in fact not crazy at all but human.

I continue to hope the gyms open up, I need to move and I need to release this toxic energy in my body. As we await to hear whether things will open up I continue to consider other alternatives. I thought to myself, maybe I will take up a friends advise and go purchase a CBD pen to use before bed, or maybe I’d just go ahead and take an edible…at this rate I’m open to anything!

I hope you all can share your stories on Bell Let’s Talk Day so that we can continue to build a community of acceptance with normalizing Mental Health discussions.

A “Hand up Mentality” – Why Women Can Be So Darn Cruel.

I believe there was a time in not too long ago that my insecurity would have suggested that the lack of interest by fellow women to engage with my projects was personal. And perhaps still may be the case, however`oblivious to it I may be. I’m often blinded by my unrealistic Utopian expectations whereby women can sit cross legged and braid each others hair in the metaphorical sense. So you can imagine when there was a call to my fierce women posse to assist with building a network of culture and support I was equally as optimistic that they would flock to the opportunity.

If you have ever had the pleasure of being in a women’s washroom at a wine festival, you will understand the energy and spirit I am trying to harness. There is such a genuine expression of love, appreciation and unbridled desire to build one another up within the confines of this little sink space empowerment. I’m sure many women can attest to entering the public washroom of a Wine fest, head hanging low with regret, then leaving this magical space tall, proud, and ready to conquer the world. I ask myself why is this so hard to recreate on a website platform or in real life, surely we are also kind and supportive humans sober too?

So I began to do a little bit of research into this and found that there isn’t any simple answers. Gender related topics can be a challenging and slippery slope to tackle as the term “Gender” becomes more fluid in society and negates many of the explanations I came across. However, I’m never one to back down from considering certain components and came across a few worth exploring.

I came across this book Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business which aims to decode the male business culture and show women how to break patterns of behavior that put them at a disadvantage. Initially I had to put my feminist pride aside so that I could revert back to 1952 whereby my “femaleness” was the problem that required change so that I could consider what it was Pat Heim and colleagues were trying to teach me about gender. I went to the website where they hail to be “The Gender Experts.”

I’ll save challenging this for another day…or perhaps never.

However, the book claims that there is a natural law in the female “culture” that allegedly shapes how women interact with other women at work and in their personal lives. They call this the “power dead-even rule.”

It claims that this is a subconcous process whereby the rule governs relationships, power and self esteem.

” For a healthy relationship to be possible between women, the self-esteem and power of one must be, in the eyes of each woman, similar in weight to the self-esteem and power of the other. In other words, these key elements must be kept “dead-even.” When the power balance gets disrupted (such as a woman rising in status above other women), women may talk behind her back, ostracize her from the group or belittle her. These behaviors are to preserve the dead-even power relationship that women have grown up with their entire lives. “

How did Alanis Morissette not include a phrase from this rule in her hit song “Hand in my Pocket”?

As Jagged of a pill that this is to swallow, I can’t say I disagree with some aspects of this. However, I feel like this suggestion falls short as it considers that all women were born with vagina’s, therefore all had the same experiences growing up that shaped this governing rule. If this may be the case how do we account for trans, non-binary, gender fluid population and the space they hold in the world of power inequality?

Feeling unsatisfied with that explanation I moved onto the concept that relates to our emotional intelligence (EQ). In my quest for answers, I came across an article by Dr. Shawn Andrews who brought up the book The Power of Perception, which states “that women at higher leadership levels tend to display more male-specific EQ competencies, such as assertiveness and confidence, and leverage less female-specific EQ competencies, such as interpersonal relationships and empathy. ” The book goes on to state that if a female leaders put less of a premium on the value of relationships, that she may not spend the time necessary to cultivate relationships with junior women.

“This is also called the Queen Bee Syndrome, when women behave in ways more typical of men to display toughness and fit in. For women at the very top, part of their success is convincing men that they aren’t like other women.”

I’m sorry, in my world there is only one Queen Bee and she goes by Beyonce!

Dr. Shawn Andrews, who wrote another article for Forbes called “Leadership, Gender and the Power of In-Group Bias.” explaining the third reason. To summarize, Dr. Shawn explained that when the competition for “spots” in favored in-groups increases, women are less inclined to bring other women along. This can happen when there are few females in an organization or few females in leadership roles.

They go on to say a fourth reason is that because of obstacles women face in their career and corporate environments, and the achievement of hard-fought success, their attitude toward other women is “I figured it out, you should too.” Executive women are often overly encumbered with daily duties and responsibilities and don’t take the time to mentor and support young women.

I’m sorry…. I’ve watched women in my field of social work be extremely “overly encumbered” by duties before, during and after hours and take on mentor roles.

Poppycock!

However in that fourth statement, it speaks directly to the reasoning to why my Feature Friday was created. There is a reason why there were “Men’s Only Clubs” that sought to foster wealth from within a privileged group. If you have ever stepped foot into the Petroleum Club in Calgary you’ll understand even though it members are welcomed from both men and women. However historically membership was help by high ranking oil and gas executives which were positions typically held by men. I myself have witnessed the undying culture of brotherhood called “The Old Boys” within my private school of Shawnigan Lake School. I had arrived only 2 years after they went Co-Ed so I understand this concept well. I’ve watched them publicly grope and make the young girls serving them uncomfortable at times on Alumni weekends with nothing said to prevent it from occurring. I’m guilty as well of participating as I said nothing and just glared feeling somewhat powerless in a room full of Old Boys who were “Just having fun.”

Who was I to spoil that?

*Cringe

But within that moment of regret, I also remember better times when one of the first girls to attend the historically all boys school became Head of School in her grade 12 year. I was privileged to be surrounded by a Kaleidoscope of brilliant young women who worked collectively to navigate within this old patriarchal system and go on to take their place at the top. When I look at what the formula was for this success, it was really quite simple. A unified and loyal sense of sisterhood whereby we were only as strong as the weakest link and if one of us was floundering, we all surrounded her to rebuild and carry her to the finish line. Shout Out to all my School House Gang! Woop Woop!

With that being said, perhaps my motivation is based in nostalgia, or perhaps a deeper desire to debunk the hard truths discussed above. The whole preface of my blog platform is to spread and celebrate women’s energy. I identified within my own frustrations and experiences a huge void that needs to be filled for women to begin supporting one another in business. I continue to urge my colleagues, readers and blogging community to apply for the next Feature Friday so we can celebrate you and inspire others alike! Blogging strategy is often based on building higher Blog traffic in order to allow typically invisible small businesses to be brought to the forefront of Search Engine Optimization. So Share, Share, Share!

If you like what you have read and want to read more articles alike please see my other blogging and social media sites.