Archive | July, 2013

Birthday Card to my Niece

31 Jul


Yesterday I wrote a happy birthday card to my almost 2 year old niece.


It is so interesting to think that she is just starting out her life.


All the experiences I have had of playing soccer at recess, learning about how to colour, having a best friend, dressing up, being an outcast in Junior High, studying for exams in high school, applying for university, creating myself in university.


All of these experiences she has just begun to experience.


I think about how my Grandpa’s family moved from Germany to Canada so that he could have a better life. And my Grandpa was working hard in Saskatoon so that they would not have to work on the farm and could get an education in the city. I thought about how my mother was the first one to go to university and how hard she worked so that I could have a better life.


And here I am applying for a Masters, living in Toronto, and enjoying my life.


I can feel all these foundations before me, supporting me so that I can have the best life possible.


And I too want to become wise, and solve certain mysteries of success so that I can pass that on to my child.


I hope my child will be open to learning and I hope that I will have the words to share to create the difference.

Advice I wish I had in University

24 Jul
Page by Mallory Bader

Page by Mallory Bader

July 2013

1. Take a Stats Course in your Second Year/any hard courses you need to do. I know it sucks and stats will not be easy. But so many masters programs want you to have stats in order for you to get in. Thus, you can take a stats course in your second year, it will not affect your GPA because masters programs only look at your last two years. (Or last ten courses). And by chance you find out that you actually don’t need a stats course to get into a program that you want, well at least you opened a lot of doors by taking it early.

2. Make Relationships with your Professor. Keep your eye out for three professors that you could get along with. Take their courses, talk to them after class, as for help on the course subject, ask them if they know of any interesting courses, or job opportunities, they are a wealth of knowledge! And when you graduate you can be able to ask them to be a reference, in which they can write a glowing report about you because they actually know you which will help you get into your desired program.

3. Get help on your Assignments from Professors: This is THE BEST way to get a better mark on any of your assignments. Bring your assignment to your teacher and ask them, am I going in the right direction? That way they know that you are interested in learning, you are interested in doing good work, you have started early, and they can give you advice about what they would like to see. Not many people take advantage of the teacher’s office hours- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! You could write something, that in your mind is the best essay ever, that you spent weeks on, but if it is not in the direction or format that the teacher wants- you will not get a good mark. And you will not know what the teacher wants unless you ask.

4. Have Fun! Go on as many adventures as you can. Stay up late having conversations with your friends. Go on that midnight hike. Plan that road trip across Canada. Make lasting memories. College is one of the few times you could have fun on everyday of the week and sleep in on every day of the week if you want to. Skip a class, no harm done, skip a day of work, and you will be punished. Once you start work your bed time will be 10 or 11, and your wake up time will be 6 or 7.  The whole time you are at work you will be wishing that you could take a nap, you might even try to take a snooze in the bathroom. So go have adventures now! And lots of them to keep you smiling when thinking back on the good old days.

5. Take Afternoon Naps: That’s another thing. Take afternoon naps. It’s a wonderful thing that should be mandatory in all countries.

6. Know your Self Worth: I am all for having lots or relationships and getting to know people but one thing I see time and time again (myself included) is that we (women) don’t value ourselves and we expect that value to come from our partner. We believe that if we have a great partner who values us, then we are valuable and that is bullsh*t. You know why?

Because the moment that your boyfriend starts to not like you, the moment he starts saying you should lose weight, the moment you think you are going to break up- you lose yourself. You try to change everything about yourself in order to be good for him, because if you are not with him you will not be valuable and thus you are scared. Even though you know that he is not the right person for you- you are scared of the thought that you will be worthless without him.

And honey- let me tell you something- you are sitting on a pot of gold, begging for pennies and you don’t even realize it. Find your self worth, believe in yourself, and set your standards. There are many guys out there that will say ANYTHING in order to get with a lovely lady such as yourself. And getting with you is should be an honor, so unless they measure up, don’t waste your time. Plus, having confidence in your self-worth is one sexy thing.

And for the guys, it is about connecting your self worth with the job you have. Just in general try not to connect your self worth to something external.

7. Do a Study Abroad. Do two study abroads, do as many study abroads as you can. Why are study abroad so great? Well first of all, have you ever tried to get a working visa in another country? Almost impossible, and a lot of work.

Have you ever wanted to receive money to go travel to another country?  With study abroad programs there are a lot of opportunities to get scholarships.

Have you ever wanted to learn another language? Best way to do it is by immersing yourself in the country. Have you ever wanted to be with a great group of people who are adventurous and exciting? Some of the best friends I have met are people I have done a study abroad with. The picture in this article is with three of my friends before we ran a marathon in Italy.

Do you need a break from university but still want to get credit for courses? Study abroad teachers know that you are here on exchange, you are here to experience the country, thus I feel they mark more easily upon you, and you get good grades. Or at least I did. Plus you get to take really interesting courses that you could not take in University. I had one course where our final project was to be a tour guide for a section of a museum. AMAZING.

8.  Do Co-Op, Work or Volunteer in Some Department on Campus. I am talking about career centers, international centers, safe walk, etc. Having experience is one of the most important things on a resume. This will be great for getting a job on campus after you graduate, because we all know having a BA will get you nowhere in the job market. Once you graduate it is really hard to stay connected to information/jobs that are happening on campus, thus get your foot in there… make connections… and don’t be afraid to ask for possible work opportunities.

9. Contribute to a Project. Be a part of a project that is bigger than yourself. When I was at university I was able to coordinate one day conference with 30 different organizations, and 4 speakers all talking about how you can help the environment. IT WAS AMAZING!

You get to make great connections, be proud of what you have accomplished and know that at one time you made a difference. Once you leave university you will be hard pressed to find a group that has the passion and time that university students have. This is the time, create something amazing.

10. Calculate Student Loans: Don’t waste all of your student loans on beer and for goodness sake learn how to save money. Talk to your local banker and ask them about how to budget, what a tax free savings account is, and how much interest you will have to pay if you paid back your loan in five years. That number will make any happy person depressed.

Best of luck with everything and hope you enjoy your time as much as I did!

Becoming an Adult

18 Jul


July 2013

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” Lao Tzu

It is funny how we have these stages in our lives where we grow from baby to child from child to teenager from teenager to university student from university student to “adult”.

And along the way we have transitions, points in time where we are not a baby anymore but not yet a child, and how do we decide how to act, what we should do, what is right and what is wrong.

Can you remember those stages, remembering when we reached the next level?

How many times have we decided where our next step was going to be?

What type of person would we become?

What habits would we continue or let go?

So often I find myself drifting, drifting into a mould of myself for the sense of convenience. This is the easiest way to live, sure I have some flaws and things to improve but that takes work and I am ok with what my life is right now.

But I have found that drifting attitude has gotten me to a wall, where the ways I used to act as a university student are prohibiting me from moving forward. Where I want to excel at life, but I have to work on these years of bad habits and lack of direction in order to create a path I am proud of.

I can tell the difference between my adult self and my university self. I hear the voice instead my head, the irritability, the selfishness arise and then the adult self takes a breathe looks how this action would affect everyone and the consequences and decides what would be the most honourable thing to do.

It is funny to think that we have two selves inside our one being. But doesn’t that make the most sense, if we are always transforming. Something we need to let go of and something we need to advance to.

Micheangelo always said that there was a sculpture within the marble even before he started, and the only thing he needed to do was to let it free. Chipping bit by bit of the unusable rock away before the statue showed itself to him.

And maybe that is what it is like growing up, chipping away at all the nonsense that used to hold you back, and becoming your true self.

Best of luck to all of those who are trying. I know I am.

Slow Dance

11 Jul


Have you ever watched kids

on a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain

slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down

Don’t dance so fast

Time is short

The music won’t last

Do you run through each day

On the fly

When you ask “How are you?”

Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,

do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores

running through your head?

You’d better slow down

Don’t dance so fast

Time is short

The music won’t last

Ever told your child,

We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,

not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,

Let a good friendship die

‘Cause you never had time

To call and say “Hi”?

You’d better slow down

Don’t dance so fast

Time is short

The music won’t last

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift….Thrown away…

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music.

Before the song is over.



With Eyes Squinted

11 Jul


July 2006

I recently discovered an answer to a question that baffled me for quite some time.

Now this is not a scientific conclusion,  but rather a moment of enlightenment. I always wondered why sharks ate their babies. Was it because they were accidentally made without the gene that allows compassion or a more simple answer, they were really hungry. Although after reasoning, neither of these are correct.

The reason why sharks eat their babies does not stem from hate but rather from love. Love that their babies will learn how to survive against a force greater than themselves.

It is a big ocean out there and sharks have to endure a lot to become the great and powerful animals that they are. Difficult obstacles are not hard so that a person will fail- difficult obstacles are there to make a person stronger.

As travelers, as people, we all encounter hardships, however, during these struggles remember that life is hard in order for you to become.

I wonder if when the vivacious shark comes thrashing towards the new born if it takes a second, squints, and thinks “bring it.”

Thoughts in Portugal

11 Jul


November 2008

Those who work all the time and think that money makes them happy have no time to find delights in the little delight in life- they walk over a flower in the crack with their Prada heel.

Funny how in the winter time you can’t think about wearing any other colour than black and any other weight but warm, but slowly the weather does change and with it- you.

Sometimes I forget where I am. I can walk a whole block and not even realize it, I can pass many things before I stop and take a deep breath and ask, where am I, I am here not there in my thoughts or in that place. I look around and think ok, I am present.

While I was in Italy I felt as though the streets and buildings were concrete and there I was, all my atoms together in a foreign world like oil in water, but when in Portugal I felt as though my hair was the wind, my feet planted through the grass, my body the sea, and I blended into the city.

There was a boy next to me and we were friends, I could take his ear plugs and listen to his music like we had been friend travelling our daily route together. Through joking seriousness we ran through conversations, honesty met with a joyful twinkle of a little kid, playful are they that live by the sea- I will remember them well.

Don’t you just love it when you are smiling and you look over and someone is looking and smiling at you like a mom does when they look at their sleeping child, caring, wondering, and you both laugh and look down or away as if embarrassed of this intense moment but still like the lingering taste of garlic, the warm feeling of the smile resides.

Lisbon is the place for– I sink into it like a foot print in the mud, the perfect fit, the earthy feel, childish action- I can’t help but smile.

Even the poor, weighed down with her black torn shawls and sweaters, wrinkly face, thickened skin from nights in the cold was enjoying a chocolate pudding.


11 Jul


July 2006

What I love about travelling is that you notice how many different ways there are to living and you find all these weird people that make you feel normal.

Everyone says this over and over again but few people actually follow it “Just be yourself.” When you travel you realize it doesn’t matter who you are, just as long as you are you.

Because there are billions of people in the world who are being something for someone else, and when you find those few who are built for the means to be themselves. You can’t help but want to find out their secret.

In the Café Farm

11 Jul


July 2006

Today I worked in the café field with the men.

At first I followed this teenage girl carrying a bundle of café plants to the field, then after about thirty minutes of walking I was pared up with this one man, who is one of the head officers, my guess because he kept track of all the people working. Who did what, where and how much.

I was brought down to the café plants and planted about 20 plants. After that we headed off to two men planting a row of water plants on the side of a hill so that when it rains the water won’t rip out the café plants.

We talked and laughed and I felt joyous. I am feeling a lot better now and see people as friends rather than just another person. What was interesting is that while I was walking with the owner person, I realized my encounter with him had been solely about work and solemn. I then proceeded to fill myself with joy and curiosity towards him, there was a moment where he looked back and paused for a moment, only one slight moment, but in that time he felt my joy.

About two minutes later he offered me a banana, as a subconscious thank you for being joyful.

One of my favourite things to do while working is ask myself what do I get to think about today.

For the reasons that I have so many interesting things to think about, my face lightens up with a smile from a secret treasure I found. I thought about the future and how I always think about the future and how the future will come when it comes.

Why ruin the moments of now with the moments of later? Why miss the opportunities of the present? So instead I thought about the earth in my hands and how I wouldn’t like to plant trees all summer, I thought about who is the new president of Mexico and I asked one of the men I was working with if he knew and he looked at me in a way stating “Why does it matter?”

Why does it matter is the question we should all ask ourselves.


8 Jul


October 2008

You know what’s really cool is that I am taking control of my life.

There is a quote that goes “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don’t blame them on your mother, the ecology or the president. You can realize that you control your own destiny.” Albert Ellis.

I’ve had this quote for a while, but I never wanted to accept it until now. Now I feel as though I have the maturity and the capability to see a problem and fix it. As well, I keep in mind that hard problems are never fixed instantly and just because I failed to fix a problem on the first try doesn’t mean it won’t be fixed later on. I have a goal in sight and through my failures I have learned how to get closer to that goal.

I have also learned that if something isn’t working, try something new, create a new plan to see if that works. And to not be afraid of failure because the most successful people are the best failures. I have a hard time though, with keeping people out of my head and ring to decide for myself, trying to believe in myself, trying to dust off my knees and decide where to start climbing again.

As if I am trying to listen to my music on a bus and everyone else is talking so loud that I can’t hear my own beat.

But if I focus in, the beat gets louder, that’s just a muscle I will learn to flex.

Part of me wonders what if I never reach my goals, what if I always fall, just to get up over and over again. But on second thought, what other choice do I have? If I don’t fall and get up, I just fall.

I choose to fight.


8 Jul


May 2006

“What I know is that everything comes in waves” Graham said. “Whatever goes up must come down and whatever is down is bound to go up.”

This thought rolled around in my head. Instead of being caught in the wave, look at it from a far and realize that it is really a broad straight line.

That this is our constant, this is our plateau and to be ok with that. But not ok in the complacent couch potato who is ok with riding life out on his bum.

But as the curious scientist, always experimenting with the machinery of the ride. In order to see where improvements can be made, a softer fall, a faster rise, in order to understand what works and what doesn’t.

I give up my title of being the expert, of being the best, I give that to all that is around me and they can have that reward. Instead I choose to frolic in the curiosity of my mind. Lifting every rock to see what is underneath, keeping my ears open to the lessons the birds sing, my heart open to the cleansing salty wind and my mind open to dwell in the possibilities. Now let the journey begin.