An Open Letter To: My Best Friends

Dear best friends,

I know I've all but vanished off the earth completely, these past few months. I'm sorry. 

Apparently I'm sick. Like, actually sick. Believe it or not, this is just sinking in. I've been well aware for a long time that having a disability is real; it's something you can't will away or pray away or cure by eating vegetables and whole grains or exercising or practicing mindfulness. I know that. I'd never suggest to other people that their disability isn't serious, isn't real, is an excuse. 

But with myself? 

I'm so sure that I'm making excuses for myself. 'I'm not really tired. I just slept all day because I'm lazy and need to get my shit together'. Or, 'There's nothing wrong with my joints. They don't hurt that much. I'm complaining over nothing'. And worst of all, I'm afraid that you believe I'm making excuses because I'm too lazy or self-absorbed or... I don't even know what, to come see you, or even call you or text you.

Here's the thing: I'm not making excuses. My joints do feel like fire. I am so exhausted that I sometimes sleep for days and lose track of time. I am anxious and in pain and depressed. There's a reason I've barely left the house once a week (if at all) this winter.

I'm afraid that I'm pushing the world (and worst of all, you) away by choosing to be this way. But when I take a step back, consider whether I'd 'blame the victim' if she were anyone but me, if I'd tell someone with fibro and CFS and anxiety and SAD that she's making it up and being lazy and stupid and pathetic, I say, "Fuck no!". 

I'm empathetic. I'm kind. I'm a decent person, most importantly, so I realize that disability isn't a choice. Part of what makes a disability, a disability, is its horrible impact on a person's relationships and quality of life.

My quality of life has gone further down the drain with every new symptom. And it'll just get worse if I stay in denial. I need to go easier on myself, while pushing myself to give as much as I can to my loved ones and my business and myself. It's a fine line to walk, but maybe if I let you in, you'll help me.

I know you've always been here for me. Even when you didn't understand what I was going through, you were always there. When I had a crush on Alec Baldwin. When I said I dreamed of taking a bite out of every single chocolate in a box and you bought me one for Christmas the next year and said "have at it!". When I came out. When I was vegan. When I decided I wasn't vegan anymore. When I had Selective Mutism. When you switched schools. When I switched schools. When I obsessed over Freud, and Green Day, and potato buns, and Julianne Moore. 

So I know you'll be here for me through this too. I'm just sorry it's taken so long for me to let you in. I've never doubted you. I've doubted me.

Love always,

Ice: 1; Becca: 0

I keep dreaming of the day I'll be able to portray myself as this flawless, ever-confident business mogul who never cries, never fears, never 'gives in' to the way biology made her. Who never succumbs to fatigue, depression, or agoraphobia.

But that's not me. Right now I feel I couldn't be further from it.

This is what I was thinking about moments ago, when I ashamedly retreated to the house after 30 seconds outside. I was terrified of slipping on the ice which I hadn't realized had formed overnight. 

Most people dislike icy sidewalks, just like most people don't enjoy needles or spiders or colds; but then, most people's hearts don't start racing at the thought of these things, their hands going clammy, their chest feeling tight, their vision blurry, feeling they're dying.

Most people don't have phobias.

But what about those of us who do?

Maybe I should be content to bare all, even the parts that embarrass me, scare me or exhaust me (like my chronic illnesses). I try to be honest and open here, but sometimes it's hard. Sometimes I want to be perfect. Don't most people?

Spoonies vs Winter: A Love-Hate Relationship

I love winter. Fresh-baked gingerbread. Wearing slippers and sipping hot chocolate while I write, cats nestled by my side. Holiday dinners with family and friends. Christmas trees, menorahs, fluffy snow everywhere...

But I also hate winter. Daily panic attacks because of the weather. Scrubbing my hands until they're raw, because the person sitting next to me on the bus coughed. Fearing I can't pay the heating bill because I'm underemployed but still was turned down for disability. Icy fingers and toes (which is saying something, for an anemic). Being sad that I don't have the strength to toboggan or snowshoe like I used to.

Thus is life for a spoonie; things you once enjoyed, you can't as much (or at all); things you once paid no mind to, make life incredibly difficult. Winter also brings Seasonal Affective Disorder (or symptoms thereof), additional expenses, like heating, boots and warm clothes (difficult to afford if you're un- or under-employed thanks to a disability), and unfortunate run-ins with family members who don't 'get' the illness you're dealing with. And every day, you're forced to struggle with pain, fatigue and stigma on top of it all.

Do you have a love-hate relationship with winter? How do you cope?

Just keep fighting.

Every day, I pray my pain will go away and this dark, increasingly heavy cloud of fatigue over me will dissipate... but it doesn't. The more tired I am during the day, the more my insomnia plagues me at night, and I eventually pass out, sleeping all day. Then I can't fall asleep the next night. It's a never-ending cycle.
And yet, optimist that I am, I keep hoping my fatigue will magically go away, my doctors will find a cure for my pain, I'll 'snap out of' this, I'll drink a few cups of coffee or take an Advil and be totally fine.

But chronic pain and fatigue don't just disappear.

It's a daily struggle to walk the very thin line between accepting we have an ever-present disability, and allowing that admission to derail our attempts to live a fulfilling, happy, meaningful life. 

I know the struggle is worth it, deep down. Even on days like today, when I've been up for almost 40 hours or when my joints ache so much I sob or when I can't stop pulling my hair out.

Just keep fighting.

How I'm Celebrating Turning 22

Since I just celebrated my birthday on the 3rd, I'm really excited to share a project I'm working on. Inspired by this story and The Birthday Project, in honour of my 22nd birthday, I pledge to perform 22 acts of kindness, throughout this month and this year. Items that have been struck out have been completed.

Here's what I have planned:

1 Help cats at an animal shelter
2 Get involved with No More/Joyful Heart Foundation
3 Help my mom with her new business venture
4 Compliment a stranger
5 Create another freebie for The Selectively Silent Child
6 Get involved with the Trichotillomania Learning Foundation
7 Write for/about a cause I believe in
8 Donate to Scarleteen
9 Go out of my way to hold the door for someone
10 Buy and flaunt a Cat Tee Mission shirt
11 Send letters to friends I don't talk to often enough
12 Buy a stranger breakfast
13 Slip inspirational quotes written on post-its into library books
14 Sign the HAES pledge
15 Take part in Starbucks Come Together
16 Give a fellow Greyhound passenger reading material and snacks for her trip
17 Explain Health At Every Size to someone who is (unintentionally) not being body posi
18 Learn more (and speak up about) more intersectional feminist issues
19 Leave friendly comments on a bunch of other bloggers' Instagrams
20 Return all the carts at TJ Maxx
21 Contribute to The Birthday Project
22 Host a giveaway at Polish and Sparkle (keep an eye out for it!)

Have you done a similar project? What are your plans for your birthday?

(photo source: PhotosByKim on Etsy)

I shed people like snakes shed skin. I'm not proud of it.

I'm so tired. All the time. I can't keep up with the people in my life, and I'm afraid they'll decide they don't want to be part of it anymore. Sometimes that's exactly what happens.

Days feel like weeks until I finally fall asleep. Then I sleep the week away, and find everyone's moved on with their lives but me. I'm stuck in a constant fight between insomnia and fatigue, too exhausted to do anything at all.

Relationships take work, and I'm willing to put in the time and effort. I'm just not (always) able to. My nearest and dearest understand, but I feel like an awful person when I'm not able to give them that.

There's a very thin line between cutting yourself slack and indulging in self care, versus using your illness as an excuse to eschew responsibility. Illness is a reason for falling behind, not an excuse to stay there. I know you know that. I know I know that. And I know we're careful not to cross that line.

How do you pick up the pieces after an especially tough couple weeks of unrelenting fatigue?

(note) Title inspired by two lines of It's Love by The Jane Austen Argument.

The easiest way to dress up your outfit this autumn

Cute, cozy scarves make a casual outfit chic. Here are my top picks for this autumn (product info here):


What's your favourite way to accessorize with a scarf?

10 Fun Things To Do This Fall (Whether You Have Fibro or Not!)

My pain has been really bad for the past few weeks, so I've been down in the dumps (hence my not writing as often as usual). Fortunately, Autumn is here; the new season is an excellent opportunity to renew enthusiasm for the little things in life. Goodness knows that in coping with chronic illness, a little positivity goes a long way.

So this Fall, why don't you...

1 Take a hike. Tread on crisp, crunchy leaves and admire the foliage's breathtaking colour.

2 If your body can't take a 10k, just get outside. A leisurely nature walk or sitting in a park may be more your speed (I know it's mine-- at least for now!).

3 Head to an apple orchard. Few things say Fall like hot apple pie and picking your very own Granny Smiths.

4 Make nature-inspired crafts. Try leaf rubbings, carving pumpkins or painting with fall colours.

5 Flaunt Fall nail art. Head to your favourite manicurist, or try a DIY mani. Ideas: Oxblood polish, black cats or cozy plaid.

6 Exercise outside. Since I have fibromyalgia, my doctor recommends I do stretches daily. I plan to take advantage of crisp Autumn mornings by taking my workout outside.

7 Upgrade your fall wardrobe with chunky knits, tall boots and fuzzy socks.

8 Donate non-perishables to a local food bank. Sometimes when your own pain is bad, helping a stranger can help you feel better. And since Thanksgiving is coming, food banks need all the help they can get.

9 Embrace an Autumn beauty trend, like the smoky eye (a classic), or black lipstick (for the daring).

10 Bake cookies. Bonus if they're shaped like cats, leaves or pumpkins!

Do you have anything exciting planned this Fall?

Don't Wish You Could Stay At Home

I'm an optimist. I'm usually all glitter and kittens and rainbows and smiles. I usually think positive about my disability. But even the most optimistic of us have bad days, pessimistic days, 'can-this-possibly-get-any-worse' days. Sometimes, having a chronic illness is downright miserable. 

"I work two jobs and go to school full-time and help raise my little sister. What do you do?"

"You work from home. Can't you like, spend most of your time in bed?". 

"Chronic Fatigue? You're just tired. Everyone gets tired!"

"Well maybe if you took better care of yourself you wouldn't feel so bad".

"I work full time and clean the house and cook most nights. I have an illness too, but I don't have the luxury of staying home and doing nothing like you do".

Most of the time, I brush these comments off. Or I argue my side of the situation ("I'm the one experiencing this. You can't tell me my experiences are wrong, that I don't understand what I'm going through"). But sometimes they hurt, and make me feel awful about myself. I wonder, could I live a normal life if I just push myself? Am I making a choice when it comes to staying home as often as I do? 

Rationally, I know the truth: I push myself to exercise and eat healthy and be productive. I've read all the studies and take all my meds and see doctors regularly. I am doing the best I can. Sometimes rational thoughts (read: the truth) just don't register.

All I can do on days like today is practice Radical Self Care and tell myself tomorrow will be better. Because it will be.

Things I Love Friday // 26.7.2013

Weekly wrap-up:

♥ To be completely honest... The past few weeks have mainly been about staying afloat. Sometimes it's especially hard to balance chronic illness with career and social obligations. Having said that...

♥ I had a great time in Niagara and Buffalo! We walked across the Rainbow Bridge to get from Niagara Falls, ON to Niagara Falls, NY. I've never been in two countries at once before! That was pretty cool. And the view of the falls was breathtaking. Afterwards, I went swimming, did a bit of shopping and hung out with Maman and David (who drove all the way from OH to see us :). Oh, and final note about this trip: the Fairfield Inn in Cheektowaga has the comfiest beds EVER.

Super mega love for:

♥ Brunch with Vivian. ♥ Magnum ice cream. Now I get what the fuss was all about! ♥ Putting together a shelf for my office and feeling like a total rockstar for doing it all by myself. ♥ Glitter nail polish. It's a party in a bottle! ♥ Dreaming big. Reeeeally big. And then working to make those dreams come true! ♥ Huge, ice cold bottles of water when it's hot out. ♥ Not worrying about cellulite even though it's swimsuit season. (Fuck that, we're gorgeous!). ♥ (I love reading about Disney!). ♥ Beth Ditto and Kristin Ogata got married! Beth wore Gaultier (and looked gorgeous, obvs). ♥

How was your week?

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 19.7.2013

Gratitude is a vital part of healing, mental health and wellness. Once a week, we compose a list of things we're most grateful for. You're invited to share yours in the comments below.

Weekly highlights:

♥ I'm on my way to Niagara Falls and Buffalo for the weekend. Little getaways are always fun!

♥ Sick Puppies' new album is out, and it's amazing.

Super mega love for:

Pagoda ♥ Ice cream sandwiches. ♥ Rewatching Glee. ♥ Chevron maxi skirts. ♥ Chocolate cupcakes. ♥ Cheap Starbucks drinks. Iced passionfruit tea with a pump of raspberry? Yum! ♥ Buying new lipstick (little indulgences!). ♥

Link Love:

♥ Having trouble accomplishing an overwhelmingly huge task? Make the job smaller.

♥ How do you feel about Rag & Bone's first ever menswear campaign? It stars Michael Pitt so I love it.

21 things that just aren't fair, so you might as well get over them. I thought #9 and #21 really rang true.

What was the highlight of your week?

Travel Affordably With HostelBookers

When it comes to travel destinations, New York City is tops. Unfortunately, staying in the Big Apple can have a Big Price Tag. That's why I was thrilled to find HostelBookers.

Offering a wide variety of accommodations around the world at incredible prices, HostelBookers is a vital site for travellers to have bookmarked. Why pay top dollar for accommodations when you could save a few bucks for Broadway shows, world class dining and legendary shopping-- while still staying at a quality hotel?

Last time I was in New York, I stayed at Hotel Vetiver*, a charming boutique hotel in Long Island City, Queens. It received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence this year and is less than a 5 minute walk from the metro, with easy access to the N & Q trains.

When I compared the price for 1 night's stay at Hotel Vetiver booked through HostelBookers to Expedia to the hotel's own website, I was amazed. HostelBookers isn't just cheaper-- it's exponentially cheaper. Literally half the price. And that's not even the best part!

Long Island City is a safe, multicultural area, and I love that it's easily accessible from the other boroughs-- perfect if you want to have brunch in Brooklyn, shop in Manhattan, and return to Queens for the evening-- but also has its own distinct flavour.

A couple other perks include friendly staff (always nice!) and a free breakfast (the bagels were delicious!). Adjacent to the lobby is a lounge that serves tapas and imported wine and beer.

The rooms themselves are beautiful and spacious, offering views of Manhattan, free wifi, iPod docks, complimentary imported vetiver soap and 32" screen TVs. The beds are ridiculously comfy and the decor is modern and chic.

For excellent customer service and safe, comfortable, affordably priced hostels and hotels to choose from, book your next vacation with HostelBookers. Try hostels for female travellers or vegetarian hostels and hotels to find the perfect accomodations for you.

*I stayed at Hotel Vetiver courtesy of HostelBookers in exchange for checking out HostelBookers' services and writing this article. All opinions are my own.

Why I'm Heartbroken About Cory Monteith's Passing

Cory was just a 'normal' young, handsome guy who worked so hard to break into the 'biz'. finally did it, inspired so many people to follow their dreams and do what they're passionate about and embrace music as a healing, fun, powerful way to connect with others. 

Fans later found out there was another layer to the story: Cory was battling addiction. He was so brave about it. He admitted he had a problem and sought help

But now he's gone. 

I hope he isn't merely remembered as "that kid from Glee" or "the singing Canadian with the drug addiction", or worse, "just another dumb star who did enough drugs to kill himself". I hope his legacy is love and song and the courage to face your problems (especially with mental health) head-on.

Rest in peace, Cory. We love you. & Monteith fans, don't stop believing.

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 12.7.2013

Gratitude is a vital part of healing, mental health and wellness. Once a week, we compose a list of things we're most grateful for. You're invited to share yours in the comments below.

Best of the week:

♥ Realizing that, despite an immense amount of fatigue and pain and feeling discouraged, my persistence and ambition never falter. That feels amazing.

♥ Beach day! Chana, Tush, Abbi & I went to Woodbine Beach last weekend. Few things make me happier than swimming in the lake, especially with such great company.

Little things which made me smile:

♥ I ordered one of these stickers. Yay, Hillary! ♥ Ravioli. ♥ Swimsuits that make you say, "wow, I'm hot!". ♥ Ellen Page is a feminist. ♥ Not getting a sunburn. ♥ Midnight blue manicures with lots of glitter. ♥ Sick Puppies' new album is coming out this week! ♥ The ginger cat who keeps coming to my backyard, sitting on a lawn chair and meowing. Too cute. ♥ Michael Pitt. ♥

Link Love:

Marimekko offers a free downloadable monthly desktop calendar. This month, it features a cute black cat!

Make your own maxi skirt!

How Cynthia Rowley Built Her Fashion Dynasty.

I mentioned in an interview that my dream was to design Band-Aids for adults. A few weeks later, someone from Johnson & Johnson called. I tell all my employees: If you want something, put it out there as loudly as possible.

14 books to read before they hit the big screen.

Matilda stars reunite after 17 years.

19 Disney characters that could have looked completely different.

Have a great weekend!

Image: Naya Rivera

3.5 Days in Cleveland, Ohio // Snapshots

Cleveland was absolutely fantastic. I'm amazed we were able to fit so many fun things into 3 and a half days.

Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll

Well.. actually only the latter (and an amazing veggie burger in the cafe). Cleveland is home to the official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-- the world's only museum dedicated to rock music. It's 7 floors of multimedia displays including authentic memorabilia from the greats (Elvis' car! Michael Jackson's glove! Johnny Cash's tour bus!) to illustrate rock music's long history and profound effect on society. What I loved most about the museum was its ability to mix early music with modern, metal with rockabilly, and to keep visitors engaged for hours on end. After an entire day at the museum (minus lunch in the cafe), we still managed to only see a few floors.

Highlights of the Hall, as shown in the photos above: seeing original posters from concerts like Patsy Cline and Bill Haley; visiting Johnny Cash's tour bus; posing with Run-DMC.

Shopping & Dining

Whenever I'm in the States, I love to hit up the stores and restaurants we don't have back home in Canada. I also love to experience quirky places and gorgeous arcitecture, so Tower City Center-- a mall within a skyscraper-- was the perfect venue for shopping and dining. I love the dollar store (aptly named A Dollar), which had nifty craft supplies, trinkets and stationary. We also hit Caribou Coffee (which I'd never been to, but does have 14 locations in Ohio). I had an Iced Mint Condition White Mocha, which was delicious (though disappointingly not as minty as I expected).

And of course, my mom and I had to have lunch at Cracker Barrel. It is our favourite, after all!

Ladies in the Sky

The International Women's Air and Space Museum is a must-see for anyone remotely interested in flying, space or feminism. Located in Burke Lakefront Airport, the museum is a collection of photos, articles and textiles relating to the history of women in aviation and space, from Amelia Earhart to Ohio's homegrown contributions to the field. Bonus: Admission is free!

On the Road Again

After a great trip, we headed to the Greyhound Station to catch a bus home. I wrote a little, played Connect 4 on my iPhone and listened to Johnny Cash. My mom had a cat nap, wrapped in pashminas. Which reminds me-- always pack a pashmina in your carry on! You never know when you'll need a scarf/wrap/pillow/blanket.

Which snapshot is your favourite? Have you ever visited Cleveland?

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 28.6.2013

Gratitude is a vital part of healing, mental health and wellness. Once a week, we compose a list of things we're most grateful for. You're invited to share yours in the comments below.

Best of the week:

♥ Heading to Ohio! By the time you read this, I should already be in Cleveland. I'm going for the long weekend, to shop, check out museums and spend time with my mom and a family friend. Should be awesome!

♥ Tush and I went to an advance screening of Despicable Me 2 on Wednesday night. Fun! I really want a minion of my own.

♥ Slowly starting to hit my blogging stride (again).

The Socialexis website is up! I'm thrilled to celebrate my first anniversary of being part of such an incredible team of freelancers, founded by Innovator-in-Chief (and all-around awesome person) Alexis Grant.

Super-mega love for:

♥ Friends who postpone beach trips when you're out of town, so that you'll be able to go too. I love you, Chana! :) ♥ Good hair days. ♥ Looking forward to Canada Day. ♥ Cherries. ♥ Using a new lipstick for the first time! ♥ 'Killer Queen'. ♥ Amazing news for LGBTQ Americans! ♥ Feeling inspired. ♥ Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars. Where have these been all my life?! So good! ♥ New, super comfortable sandals. Bonus: they were insanely cheap. Seriously, don't rule out Walmart's footwear-- sometimes it's amazing quality, especially for the price. ♥ Ke$ha. ♥ Wendy Davis' bravery, resilience and cute pink sneakers. ♥

Link Love:

Hillary Clinton being a boss is one of the best YouTube videos in existence.

I'm not impressed with Facebook's addition of hashtags. Neither is The Hairpin. (#thissucks #sobad #amirite)

Kimye leaked a fake baby picture. Brilliant and sneaky!

Lastly: Over at The Teacher and the Traveller, Lin and I blogged about 6 Frugal Ways To Celebrate Canada Day & Fab Summer Frocks Under $75.

Enjoy your weekend!

In Favor of Angry Feminists

I sometimes wonder whether it's worth it to be as outspoken as I am (especially on the internet). Is it worth it to make enemies because I feel the need to discuss my life, my feminism, my stance on abortion?

But nights like tonight make things crystal clear.

Here's what went down:

There’s this bill that they are trying to pass in Texas that would make it illegal to get any abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would make it very difficult for abortion centers [even general health centers that happen to offer abortion-related services] to continue doing what they do. Governor Rick Perry has already said that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will sign it. And Wendy Davis said fuck no that is not happening.

So she’s filibustering it. That means she asked to talk on the subject at 11:18 this morning, and if she can continue talking about abortion until 11:59 tonight, the bill won’t reach Governor Perry, and they would have to start all over with the bill next time they meet- 2 years from now.

But Wendy has to keep talking. She can’t pause for even a minute, not for food or a sip of water or to go to the bathroom or sit down. She can’t even lean up against anything, or she’s out [source].

Senator Davis had to speak for hours on end about a woman's right to bodily autonomy, following the rules to a 'T'-- until the Republicans decided to vote at the last minute. After midnight. Illegally.

They claim they began voting before the stroke of 12, but the 170,000+ people watching know that's not true.

And then protestors were arrested. Forcefully.

So following the rules only applies if you're not a white, straight, cis-gender, Republican man? Interesting.

This is about more than abortion. It's about more than Texas. It's about more than America. 

This is about women's rights. This is about human rights. 

I can't stay silent. I won't stay silent.

Senator Davis, you are a superhero. My fellow angry feminists on tumblr (with whom I've been speaking all night), I love you.

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 21.6.2013

Gratitude is a vital part of healing, mental health and wellness. Once a week, we compose a list of things we're most grateful for. You're invited to share yours in the comments below.

Best of the week:

♥ My mom had a week and a half off work, and it's been great having extra time to spend with her.

♥ Coffee with my best friends is always the highlight of my week.

♥ Getting excited about attending an advance screening of Despicable Me 2. It's not just for kids, y'know! :)

Little things which made me smile:

♥ This photo of Ellen and Portia's shoe closet ♥ Apparently it's weird to have a favourite verb tense. (Mine is subjunctive, by the way). ♥ Sunny summer days. ♥ Nectarines. ♥ Demi. ♥ I'm not sure if this is real, but it made me laugh. ♥

Link Love:

Alexandra Franzen is the best, and this recent article of hers is no different: How to get what you want (and earn karmic bonus points!).

Whenever you open your mouth — or place your fingers on the keyboard — you have an opportunity to add to the love in the world, or subtract from it.

This oven has a 'dedicated pizza drawer'. I think I need it.

5 restaurants with cheap wine in Toronto.

This made me laugh.

DIY satin cord bracelets are chic and look easy to make.

If you have pets, this is required reading: How to keep your furkids safe this summer. Plus, check out the adorable pictures.

Lastly: in adorable news, this cat saved a Japanese train station.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Fat Girl Takes On the Mall

Summer is the perfect time to rock a cute crop top or fun short shorts that show off your great legs. I always look forward to this season of barbecues and beach days and (fashionable) fun in the sun.

But this year has started out a little different.

"My shorts don't fit."
"Neither does this pair."
"All my skirts are too small,"

I complained to my mom, tossing item after item out of my closet. That's when I realized it: my endocrinologist had said PCOS can cause continued weight gain, even during treatment. I'm still gaining weight. Fuck!

Don't get me wrong: I love being fat. I love my body. And I consider myself a fat activist. Learning to love myself means accepting myself at any size, whether it's a 2 or a 32. But growing out of your clothes at a rate that feels unhealthy and puts a dent in your (already half-empty) wallet? It's hard to cope.

So off I go to the mall. The biggest mall in the biggest city in Canada. I have limited funds, since my disability means I can't work as much as I'd like to, but I'm sure I'll find something.


With multiple floors and hundreds of stores, you'd think there'd be at least a hundred that carry sizes over 16.

Nope. Not even 10.

Let's count them:
1 Forever 21
2 Reitmans
3 Sears

Three stores. In an entire mall. The scary thing is that I have more luck at the Eaton Centre than I do at other malls in Toronto.

I'm fortunate that I can sometimes fit into a 16 or XXL, the largest straight size available, so stores like Old Navy and the Disney Store are not entirely off limits. Still, who wants to squeeze into t-shirts and cotton dresses, crying "I'm so lucky this blouse is cut big!"? And as a fat woman, I'm already not taken seriously in the office, so do I really want Tinkerbell's face on everything I own?

I'm glad the three fatshion- friendly stores above exist. But... why aren't their plus sizes mixed in with their "normal" clothes? Why is the fabric quality superb in straight sizes and so-so at best, ghastly at worst in plus? Why should fat girls wear low quality clothes that cost more, just because they're bigger? And why are the few stores in Canada that specialize in plus sizes extravagantly priced and rarely in malls?

We're being punished for our size. We're being punished for eating 'too much', for having illnesses like PCOS, for our genetics, for happening to have double chins.

Do I begrudge my slenderer friends their fast fashion, their hundreds of stores, the breeze that shopping is for them? Not at all. I just want my experience to be as good as theirs.

Image source: Reitmans (one of the few stores at Eaton Centre which caters to plus size shoppers).

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 14.6.2013

Happy Friday!

Gratitude is a vital part of healing, mental health and wellness. Once a week, we compose a list of things we're most grateful for. You're invited to share yours in the comments below.

Best of the week:

Lots of family stuff is my highlight this week. I feel very fortunate.

♥ Dinner with my Dad.
♥ My little brother won a prestigious athletic award. What a way to finish high school!
♥ My mom has a week and a half off, so we've been working on our side hustles, sipping frappucinos while reading magazines, and just enjoying each other's company.

Little things which made me smile:

♥ Rebel Wilson's photo spread in Glamour UK. I especially adore the photo at the top of this post! ♥ This happened. Isn't my mom the cutest?! ♥ Purple nail polish ♥ Grapes, cherries and peaches. They taste like summer! ♥ This ♥ Sweet texts from friends. ♥ Listening to the Tangled and Lilo and Stitch soundtracks on repeat ♥ Jack McBrayer ♥ My freshly steam cleaned- living room. ♥ Cherry cola lip gloss. Smooch! ♥ 'Veronica Sawyer Smokes' (flawless song! flawless). ♥ I bought this dress & can't wait to wear it! ♥

Link Love:

Ever wondered what your favourite Shakespeare play says about you? Flavorwire has you covered! I found this accurate. You?

This is interesting: Mashable lists the top 10 things millennials ask the internet.

DIY animal jar tops are so cute, you'll want to make them yourself!

This Free Self-Love Kit is adorable! (Thanks for the link, Maman!).

Enjoy your weekend!

Image: Rebel Wilson in Glamour UK

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 7.6.2013

Hey, sugar! How was your week?

Mine was pretty good, so TILF time? I think so! (and then scroll down for this week's best reads!). 

Gratitude is a vital part of healing, mental health and wellness. Once a week, we compose a list of things we're most grateful for. You're invited to share yours in the comments below.

Best of the week:

♥ Lunch with Tush, who's so much fun to be with and the best listener ever.
♥ My mom noticed that I've been doing little things to make her feel better, like making dinner as soon as she gets home, always asking how she's feeling and running errands. That makes me feel good.
Sick Puppies' music video for There's No Going Back just came out, and it's absolutely amazing.

Little things which made me smile:

♥ Listening to Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts on repeat all morning. ♥ Hot chocolate. Yum. ♥ One of my favourite books, Le Petit Prince, is about to become an animated movie. Crossing my fingers, because I hope it's incredible. ♥ Looking forward to summer street festivals in Toronto this summer! Read about some of them here. ♥ Reading about Miami and the Florida Keys. ♥ Hawaiian pizza. ♥

Link Love:

How do you feel about this list of the top 10 fictional boyfriends? I've always loved Ron Weasley...

You've gotta love Gob Bluth and his $3000 suits... Come on!

Fellow Twitter nerds, you'll enjoy these posts from Thought Catalog: If Twitter Bios Told the Truth & Your Twitter Timeline Probably.

I was happy to discover an article about Torontonian musician Lights in a local newspaper (and you can read it online).
“There’s so many things that I feel like I’ve already done. It’s frustrating, but I just have to rediscover myself once again, and then triumph.”
Have a wonderful weekend!

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Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 31.5.2013

Gratitude is a vital part of healing, mental health and wellness. Once a week, we compose a list of things we're most grateful for. You're invited to share yours in the comments below.

Hi, darling! I've had an excellent couple of weeks! (Hope you did, too).

♥ Two weekends ago, I had a sleepover with my longtime best friends, Chana, Tush and Shu. We made delicious pasta with cream sauce and broccoli and cheese, stayed up late chatting and sat on the porch swing to enjoy the warm weather.

♥ Last weekend, my mom and I stayed over at my Aunt Suzie's. We stayed up late and made crafts, looked at old photos and chatted about makeup and travel and magazines.

♥ Getting back in the swing of things! I'm rekindling my motivation, writing a lot and working on Facebook marketing. It feels good. 

Little things which made me smile:

♥ Slushies! Cherry mixed with Pepsi is ah-mazing! Chatting with my new friend, Kathryn American chocolate bars candy bars ♥ Arrested Development. It's just so good! (Gob is my favourite character. Who's yours?) ♥ This quote. Writing! ♥

Great Reads, Fun Stuff & Invaluable Resources:

You should wear red to work, says Levo League.

Carrot tea cake with cream cheese frosting sounds ah-mazing! The recipe is at the source.

Classic books annotated by famous authors. Readers come in two editions: those who write in their books, and those who don’t.

And if you're as stoked as I am about Arrested Development's triumphant return, you'll enjoy these 25 immortal season 4 gifs.

Have a wonderful weekend!

What I Learned At Trichotillomania Learning Center's Annual Conference

It's been over a month since the Trichotillomania Learning Center's annual conference, but I'm still digesting all the invaluable lessons I learned. Even if you didn't get the chance to attend, these ideas might help you, too.

Don't compare your problems to others'. Who's to say pulling is worse than picking, or vice versa? Besides, comparing issues is a waste of time that could be spent working toward a solution.

Even the people you look up to struggle sometimes. I met some incredible, accomplished, well-respected people. They're doing amazing things, living inspiring lives and they look put-together and flawless while they're at it. You'd never guess they secretly struggle with BFRBs. Hearing about their experiences, and learning that they lead fulfilling lives in spite of them is exactly the motivation I need to stay on the path to recovery.

Relapse happens, and that's okay. Some days, I pull a lot. Some days, I can't stop chewing my lip or biting my nails or picking my skin. And that's okay. Recovery isn't a destination; it's a journey, and it takes time. We all slip up. It's okay.
Being open about your struggle is brave, healthy and can help both you and others. Don't be ashamed of your illness; be proud of how hard you fight it every single day.

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 17-18.5.2013

I've missed you, gorgeous! Thanks to some really painful complications from PCOS, I've been MIA for a little while, but I'm slowly getting back on track. That's something I'm incredibly thankful for. What are you most excited about this week?
Little things which made me smile: 

♥ 30 Rock marathons ♥ Connecting with new people on Twitter ♥ Learning lots from Alexis' webinar on Twitter for Go-Getters. Plus, you can sign up for Lexi's next free webinar here! ♥ Re-reading The Help ♥ Lana Del Rey's Fashion Magazine cover ♥ Working on new content for The Teacher and the Traveller ♥ Electric blue nail polish ♥ New music from two excellent but very different artists: Demi Lovato & HIM ♥

I'm desperate to visit this cat cafe in Budapest!

These Scrabble cookies are adorable.

Lastly, here's a travel piece I wrote with Lin: Mars on Earth: Visit the Cheltenham Badlands.

Have a wonderful weekend!

How To Get the Most Out of a Conference

Having just come back from TLC's annual trichotillomania conference, I have conferences on my mind! Having been to quite a few, I have some advice for getting the most from this unique learning and networking experience.

Bring a notebook and pen. You never know when you'll want to jot down an important piece of information or contact details. Plus, furiously scribbling notes (or 'notes') is sure to make the speaker feel good!

Don't forget your business cards. I swapped cards with a few fellow attendees and some presenters at the conference, and am looking so forward to keeping in touch! Network, network, network.

Speaking of which, practice your elevator pitch. Find articles that might help here and here.

Make friends. Even if you're shy and/or an introvert, it's worth it to psych yourself up and introduce yourself to someone. You never know; you could make a lifelong friend, connect with a new business contact or, at the very least, prove to yourself that you're capable of getting out of your shell in this kind of environment.

Dress appropriately. Whatever the conference, it's wise to consider the dress code. Keep comfort in mind, too. Is it a casual event? Wear dark wash jeans or leggings with a nice top. Professional? Try a blazer with slacks or a pencil skirt paired with power flats or low heels.

How do you make the most of events?

Inspiring Imagery: Queens, New York

With the growing popularity of Tumblr, Pinterest and IMGfave, today's blog post is a little something different. This is a collection of inspiring images (this time, of Queens, NY!) I've found around the web (sources included when possible). Explore other Inspiring Imagery posts here.

 Hydrangeas in Queens

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Things I Love Friday // Link Love // 19.4.2013

Hi gorgeous! I'm in Newark, NJ for a conference, so here's a quick TILF and a whole bunch of fun links to keep you busy. Have fun!

Highlights of my week:

♥ Working like a busy bee.
♥ Looking forward to a couple days in NYC this week coming.

Little things which made me smile:

♥ Listening to Carrie Underwood's Blown Away and dreaming of the south ♥ Tumblr ♥ Early morning snuggles with Edward ♥ Brownies ♥ Remembering this. ♥ Giving fellow Trich survivors pep talks on Twitter ♥ Vanilla bean frapuccinos in Midtown Manhattan ♥ Manhattans! ♥ Law and Order SVU marathons ♥ Veggie dogs ♥ Team Canada hoodies ♥ Cherry red manicures ♥ Shopping at New Jersey's largest outlet mall (and buying an adorable tiered lace mini skirt) ♥ Breakfast for dinner ♥ Long bus rides ♥

Check out Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi's home. Apparently Ellen has a "passion for decorating".

Wouldn't you just love to visit South America? How beautiful!


Beating Panic Disorder: Stop Giving Into the 'Shoulds'

We have so many shoulds in our lives-- from who we should be right down to how our days should go. But when you have an anxiety disorder, things don't always go to plan.

Tuesday morning, I get on the bus expecting an uneventful ride, but there's a guy picking his nose and wiping it on the back of a chair, then coughing. A germaphobe's nightmare. So I get anxious.

Then I walk from the coffee shop to the grocery store, and it's hot out compared to the temperature inside, and I have a slight headache. Instead of thinking the weather's wonky today, I think "I'm sick, I'm gonna panic, and I'm gonna die". It's irrational, but it's often the anxious person's thought process.
And I feel so small. I had a panic attack today! That's pathetic. I'm pathetic.

But... If we stop giving into the shoulds and start embracing how far we've come, how many panic attacks we haven't had today, we'd be a lot healthier and happier.

I think I'll give that a try. Will you?

Hello, Spring!

Spring is a time of newness and rebirth-- both in nature and in the lives of those with seasonal depression. Most of us with SAD experience this change in mood in the winter, and begin to feel better as spring comes.

Set yourself up for success this spring by taking these steps:

Take it slow. Don't expect all your energy to return the moment it gets warmer.

Be optimistic.

Try new things. What have you never done before, that you'd like to try? Yoga? Sushi? Planting a garden? Now's the time to do it!

Update your wardrobe. Bright colours! On-trend patterns and cuts. A gorgeous dress or sexy slacks that fit just right.

Get a support network in place for next year. Join a meetup for people with depression, see if a local hospital offers CBT groups or create your own circle of friends who 'get it'.

Enjoy yourself!

Image Source

Things I Love Friday & Link Love 5-6.4.2013: Rainbow Sprinkle Cake, Office Makeovers & Justin Timberlake

Hey darling! So, I'm considering condensing Things I Love Friday and Link Love into one post every week, instead of two. Y'all seem to like it better that way (I got a few emails about it-- thanks!) and the content fits nicely together. Let me know if you feel the same this week. Afterall, Polish and Sparkle is as much yours as it is mine!

♥ Getting excited about my trip to Newark and New York!!

♥ Writing a review of Hot & Heavy (an amazing anthology for fabulous fat women).

♥ Looking forward to seeing my friends, Chana and Tush.

Little things which made me smile:

♥ Feeling inspired ♥ "You do not have to trade for Dunkaroos. You can buy your own Dunkaroos. And then you will control the world" [source] ♥ Immaculately groomed eyebrows ♥ Cherry Italian soda ♥ Reviving old projects (and making them better than ever!) ♥ Push-up bras. Va va voom, I feel like Mae West! ♥ Christina Hendricks in Flare Magazine

And now, on to Link Love!
Justin Timberlake's brilliant marketing strategy sold 980,000 copies of his latest album. Giving away free content really does boost sales.

This rainbow sprinkle cake is amazing.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
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