I’ve been trying to do more walks while I’m not at work to enjoy the last few weeks before it goes cold here, so enjoy!
I’ve been trying to do more walks while I’m not at work to enjoy the last few weeks before it goes cold here, so enjoy!
I know I haven’t been an active blogger recently and there has been a big reason why. And I am going to share it, as I feel like it’s something other people have faced or are facing. This has been one of the hardest posts I have written and rewritten; please be nice and sorry for my absence!
The ability to not accept a standard less than perfection.
A personality trait that is often characterized by a person’s strive for flawlessness. Along with the setting of high performance standards and often accompanied by highly critical self-evaluations.
The ultimate problem with perfection is that no matter how hard you try, 9 times out of 10 It is completely unobtainable. True, you can be the best at something, but that does not equate to perfection. So, having any issue with perfectionism ultimately creates the paradox of striving to be perfect but in doing so you become imperfect.
I was diagnosed with Perfectionism and OCD in my final year of university. At first, I did not take it that seriously; until I developed anxiety like symptoms and subsequently developed habits to try and counter them.
“Perfection is the enemy of the good”
The Lead Up
Before all this happened, I did have trouble with my self-esteem and confidence, as a consequence for being horrendously ill with a plethora of infections. I don’t want to delve into the heavy details on it now as it’s a good few months of my life I wish to forget, but the illnesses lead to some pretty nasty scars that I still have two years on. Over the summer of 2016 when this happened, I also struggled with trying to make myself less of the ill mess that I was and back to some form of attractiveness – something that is so stupid now I reflect on it. One of my main forms of income was with a Brand Ambassador company, I won’t mention the name, that were meticulous about appearance. The uniform included red lipstick, perfect hair, manicured nails and at least 2-inch heels. I was informed that as I did not upkeep my blonde hair regularly, I would have trouble finding gigs with them when I had roots showing, so I dyed my hair brunette. The jobs were not fantastic, it was mainly standing outside stores handing out flyers and encouraging customers to come into the store. But it paid very well for what it was, and quite frankly that summer I needed the money.
This was not the first not good enough feedback I got that summer. I was constantly reminded of this every time I caught my reflection. This took a negative turn on my opinion of myself, especially my appearance. When I had my blonde hair I had more confidence with myself and who I was, after being so very sick; so embracing the brunette change did not happen easily. Along with this change I convinced myself I needed to lose a lot of weight as I started to see myself as a fat dumpy girl with boring brown hair. No one would want that. I did start to miss days of eating and when I did eat it was once a day. I replaced food with coffee, anxiety for exhaustion day in day out. I started to sleep for only a few hours and night and wake up every day at 5am full of anxious energy. It was not good. I hit my lowest weight and dress size that summer, being 114lbs (52kg).
You can imagine my self-esteem and self-confidence was shattered.
Returning to Uni
I had to make the decision of going back to university to complete my degree, or abandon it completely. At this point, I was already £40,000 in debt to student loans, most of my peers had graduated and I had no faith in myself. I would be going back completely fresh. It sounds awesome now I look back at it, but unfortunately back then, I saw it that I was a failure in comparison to my peers. I would be the laughing stock for taking extra time to get that little piece of paper. I would be alone.
Registering to continue my studies meant I had to go with all the new first years to the main hall to manually register my courses and attendance. Something that I was definitely not ready for. I remember being so anxious that I ran up and down the stairs in the Arts Centre twelve times before going and registering. But I did it and I was going back to study.
Luckily, due to my involvement in clubs and societies, I did know a few people still knocking about at university, and actually made friends. I started to worry about having anxiety when I started to stop making myself run upstairs twelve times or clapping each hand twelve times. I caught myself doing it when in lectures when I missed something or during archery practise when I forgot part of my form. It was not the greatest of moments for me.
This vice was not sufficient for my written work. I found myself rewriting paragraphs in essay’s multiple times, and this perfection notion grew and grew until I just deleted the whole essay and started from scratch. Over and over. This would add hours onto my library sessions taking them to the small hours of the morning. I was overworking myself to the point I made myself have a sit-down talk to my personal tutor. I told him about the rewriting and the anxiety and I was referred to a university counsellor and was made to see a doctor.
“Imperfection and perfection go so hand in hand, and our dark and our light are so intertwined, that by trying to push the darkness or the so-called negative aspects of our life to the side… we are preventing ourselves from the fullness of life.”
– Jeff Bridges
People say that talking is the best therapy, and I concur with this, just not with my first counsellor. The doctor I initially saw before Counsellor No.1 offered me medication for anxiety, in which I refused as I didn’t want to be taking any more pills. The doctor diagnosed me with a perfectionism-based OCD and referred me to No.1. Before this, I have had no interaction of experience with counselling, but was definitely not ready for the first few sessions. The very first thing the counsellor said to me, after knowing had issues with perfectionism and my image, was “You can never be perfect”. That was that. I disregarded everything he said afterwards as he clearly did not understand. He also asked weird questions about my family that had no relevance to the matter at hand which gave me good reason to just stop the counselling right there.
Instead I saw a counsellor from the university who got me to talk about situations that made me anxious and just confront them without using my vices and see what happened. Seemed completely insane to me. How can I just walk into a building I’ve never been to before without counting to 12 in my head? The craziest of notions, but I started doing that and also taking elevators to avoid the whole running up and down stairs issue. After a while it got a bit better, until I had an incident with my roommate. (Another topic that I will write about in a different blog post). I rewrote the 14000 words 12 times. But that has been the last thing I’ve rewritten 12 times.
Counselling didn’t help with the concept of my body image now that was something I needed to fix on my own accord and not by over or under eating. (Again thats something I will cover more on in a different post.)
Not everything about the perfectionism was doom and gloom and here’s a quick summary of the best bits:
*I say this as a positive, but I did go up to 178lbs… so maybe too less caring.
Well it’s now been almost 2 years that I was told of my perfectionism and OCD, and well some things are better. I don’t do the stair thing nearly as much and can happily go into new buildings without hesitation. Of course some days are worse than others. That is just how the cookie crumbles for me.
Wow that was really hard to write as I have not told many people about this or the diagnosis and said it was anxiety as that seems to be more prevalent and accepted in society. Having perfectionism is a positive curse for me as it has led me to flourish and achieve my dreams while counting to twelve alot….
Please feel free to comment, like share or even ask me anything about this. I’m putting myself out there so you don’t have to.
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Photography composition takes a beautiful photo and makes it great. It also makes you slow down the snapping and get you to think about the subject and also what you are trying to convey. After all, photography is a form of art, and a great work of art does indeed take time. That is part of the beauty of it.
The only things that should ever be kept landscape is phone pictures and video. Then again these are just unspoken rules, but vines would have looked so much better if people just turned their phone 90 degrees to fill the screen.
Using a Vertical format for a landscape image does something magical to a subject.
We are drawn to balance. This is what makes patterns and symmetry so powerful in any form of art, whether it is written word, traditional art, photography or even music. Patterns can be found in anything from manmade materials such as fences, buildings and pathways or naturally occurring such as plants, landscape and skylines.
In this example of the pier in Llandudno the use of leading lines only emphasises the symmetry of the pier. What makes me really happy about this photo is the colour palette of muted blue and grey that balances the symmetrical properties. (Of course this is just an individual opinion and some may not like the balance and colours of this image, but of course art is individual and the artist does indeed know best 90% of the time.
Negative space can be anything from a plain blue sky to a low aperture mush of colour. It is space that is not filled. We want to focus on a single subject the majority of time so use this to your advantage. Arguably you can use patterns as a negative space element, so long as it does not detract from the main visual, you’re good.
Let things get in the way once in a while. Sometimes not having a “clear shot” is more interesting. While trawling the internet for examples of frame shots its always pictures of people in doorways and windows and I feel thats not a natural frame. Sure it looks cool and creates a frame in the photo, but it is not the kinda image that challenges the artist to get.
Where is the focus at? Are you concentrating on something close up or far away, and if so what levels of depth does your potential subject have? In this instance, take off the auto focus on your lens and really get in tune with what you want to capture.
This may seem like a stupid point, but I can not implore how important it is to f*ck up once in a while. If you don’t then how do you know you have grown or improved? There needs to be the balance of amazing yourself at what you can do as well as having the ability to review your work and realise what you can do better or what needs to be improved on.
One can not begin to explain how excited one is now the hellish cold of winter has thawed and the promise of summer is heating our frozen souls…. So why not celebrate with all the photoshoots around the beautiful city of Ottawa! I am very lucky to have a great model friend to join me on my escapades, so big thanks to Adriana for your stunning face and patience of a saint.
Perhaps one of my favourite parts of the city now is just behind the Chateau, above the locks due to the big sky, the Gatineau hills in the background and of course the consistency of the lines and style.
Something I wanted to try out was playing with a figure on stairs. After being constantly inspired by Rodchenko’s work from the age of 15, it is time for me to actually try it out for myself. In this case using the organic lines of my model in contrast to the consistent solid lines that are created with the architecture of the stairs.
Another thing about spring and summer is the warmth of light and the depth of shadows that are created.
Safe to say I’ll be using the lines the city has to offer a lot more this season, as there are so many opportunities I can not say no too.
Stay tuned for more!
And so the saga continues. After being introduced to various aspects of coffee in Europe, see back to my Café and the Continent Post, I thought it may be good to share my thoughts on the Canada Coffee culture as its certainly…. different.
Ordering Coffee – The Fast Food Coffee
(Not sure if this is just an anxiously awkward me thing or something others have faced as fearful foreigners.)
Ordering coffee is a simple transaction. This statement has been challenging to me for a few months of being in Canada. Some uniquely Canadian thing, you can not escape from is the Double Double. What is a Double Double? It happens to be a coffee served with 2 cream and 2 sugar. Logical, if you understand the ordering system in this country. I wondered for a while why people would perpetually give me the funny look when I just wanted coffee.
What I did not know is that in most places in Canada that do the coffee put the milk or cream and sugar in while they make it for you. This is madness. As someone who is used to getting the coffee and faffing about with sugar packets its completely mind blowing. More words to say at the cashier?! Outrageous.
However, I understand the reasoning behind the order the sugar and milk; it does save the individual the faffing time… yet it is still a concept I need to get used to. And admittedly it does stop the days where you accidentally pour the sugar in the bin, and the paper into your coffee. This does happen more often than I would like to admit…
Roll Up the Rim Season
I mentioned this briefly in my previous post and I don’t understand the hype behind it. It’s all about the chance of winning – winning a doughnut, a coffee of a Honda Civic on a years lease. As I don’t understand it I asked my Canadian friends their thoughts…
“Roll up the rim is a Canadian classic, a Canadian pass time and overall a gamble to begin your day. Even though the coffee may be anywhere from weak coffee like water to week old cigarette butts juice the gamble of getting another coffee or pastry keeps us going.” – Mirre
I am like the wrong person to ask haha I hate Tim Horton’s! Even when I go and its roll up the rim I still get cold drinks. But I think people like it because it is cheap and good (I guess). And People love Roll up cause its like the chance to win on something you would probably buy anyway. It’s like if tampons came with a prize people would be like – This makes buying these more enjoyable hahaha – Maggie
I tried this phenomenon and did not win anything. Plus the whole concept of rim rolling is confusing and not easy to do if you haven’t heard of it before. Where is this hidden message? How do I unravel the secrets of the cup? One should not overthink these things.
The Rival $1 Coffee
So what I noticed while this whole rolling rim shenanigans is going on, across the road in McDonalds, there is a $1 coffee promotion. Coffee for $1. Thats basically 55p. Why would you go in for a roll lot of disappointment when you can have a large $1 coffee that actually tastes nice? Additionally you can collect the stickers on the cups so when the season is over you have copious amounts of free coffee. Thats a win win situation!
I’m not sure if this is just an Algonquin College thing, but it kinda blew my mind. So there is a large variety of flavoured coffee. Not like vanilla lattes and caramel macchiatos… Nay, as in its flavoured coffee beans and that is something I’m not used to seeing regularly. I’m sure it exists elsewhere in the world but not as open as this.
Why do we not have this back in the UK; and when we can get it, why is it so expensive?! I don’t know exactly what is in french vanilla, except for the vanilla of course, but it is pretty much a hot drink that rivals the godly status of hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. I suggest to anyone who like sweet things to go out of their way to try french vanilla as they will not be disappointed.
I am an avid coffee drinker, and these weird Canadian coffee credentials seem to make the experience smoother and more enjoyable so I don’t think I can complain too much!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the nice weather before 6th winter comes!
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After getting positive feedback on my potty post, I thought I would continue my series of awkward britishness abroad and bring you the second of the series…..
So I found a definition of precipitants on the Met Office website and now am slightly alarmed:
The definition of precipitation is any form of water – liquid or solid – falling from the sky. It includes rain, sleet, snow, hail and drizzle plus a few less common occurrences such as ice pellets, diamond dust and freezing rain.
Weather is weather right? Wrong. From my experience as a seasoned British person I can confirm the weather stereotypes are true. Having issues with engaging conversation? Talk about the weather. Need something to complain about? Talk about the weather. Need an excuse for something? The weather. See the unfurling trend?
The average annual rainfall is apparently around 133 days for the whole of the UK which amounts to around 36% of days are rainy. But this indeed varies from area to area, for instance Wales sees 167 days∧ (45%) of rain, and that is when the sea doesn’t want to be part of our world.
I can safely say I know rain, hail, sleet and snow as the staple precipitants. And sea water if you want to talk about coastal living, but again that is a different kettle of fish. So why do I find Canadian precipitants weird? Well. Buckle up because I just experienced my first Canadian Winter. And survived. (edit: I apparently it’s not over yet…)
The most magical of precipitants. We all know the drill in the UK that a small white dot falls from the sky masquerading as snow and the whole country gets its knickers in a twist and literally shuts down. Panic Stations everyone, its started again. Bring on more snow and it’s just a mess. There are bread shortages and crisis after crisis, people put milk in their tea before the water; generally not a good thing.
As a younger human I did enjoy the idea of snow and doing the snow things as school would be cancelled, like tobogganing and snowball fights. A snow day was a magical thing that came out of the blue. Well the grey.
BUT snow is not the same in Canada and people just carry on with their lives as they muscle their way through 20 ft of snow on the sidewalk as they need their Timmy’s as its roll up the rim season. I should also mention that when it snows here in Ottawa, it is not bad as other places in Canada.
My issue with snow is that it is deceiving and tricky. After settling being all nice and fresh and dusty the temperature will drop, freeze your eyelashes together and turn the snow into a nightmarish hell. It looks so innocent, being all untouched and bright but do not be deceived by its siren like appearance as that sh*t hurts when you do the slip and land in it. AND the snowbanks. Yes the Canada is efficient at clearing the roads and sorting out the sidewalks and doing the grit thing but it mounts up to a wall between cars and people. Crossing the road doesn’t get tougher than this.
Then there’s the snow removal. Just overnight teams just clear up the snow into big trucks and it disappears. Where does it go? Is it recycled as icebergs? Do they sacrifice it for a milder winter? I am sure there is a rational explanation that I am not asking the right people for…
One last thing about snow. When it goes to the blue sky sunny days the snow blinds you. If you don’t have sunglasses you might as well be staring into the abyss of hell as it freezes over.
I was warned about freezing rain and I merely laughed it off. My relationship with rain and complaining about the rain made me believe I could handle anything rainlike coming out the sky. Until I got caught in freezing rain. At first it was just like rain, refreshing, wet and very much rainlike. And then it changed. It disguises itself as normal raindrops until it lands. Then it reveals its true icy form as it changes roads and paths into skating rinks and physically freezes your clothes in place.
The best way to describe freezing rain to people who have never had the horror of experiencing it, would be to say it’s backwards hail. Hail comes down as ice and melts when it hits the ground. It does sting a bit but it just leaves places damp. Freezing rain is the opposite. It comes down damp and freezes everything it touches.
What is the best bit about freezing rain? It ruins lives. That may seem a dramatic response, but it does form icicles in a blink of an eye weighing down trees and plants and powerlines. Something that can be potentially dangerous. And it doesn’t runoff like water. Once it hits the ground, it sits there. And as its ice and not snow, plowing does little to tame the behaviour of it.
I thought I had a good understanding and relationship with rain, but now I doubt going outside when the heavens have opened. What if it’s that fake rain malarky again?
I could quite happily talk about the weather for another 1000 words. Maybe I should have gone in meteorology…
Until next time friends, make sure you make the most of the sunshine!
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Seriously been struggling with a writing block currently so forgive the ranty quality of the post!
It’s now approaching the 6 months of living in Ottawa and I’ve started to get used to the vocabulary and the way things go but there are still things that continuously catch me off guard. I was initially planning on writing out one long blog post but I feel that some of the things that perturb me so need a whole post to themselves.
AKA the Washroom. It feels wrong referring to it as anything other than the washroom now. So apart from the name, there are many things about the Canadian washroom that causes the “anxiewees”.
In the UKadia, the bathrooms vary in style but the general overall toilet is a cubicle of its own accord, sometimes being a small room that silences the rest of the world, or its at least a cubicle with almost total privacy.
In France, I don’t know if others have been warned about their public bathrooms, they have what my family refer to as “suicide loos” that often are just a porcelain hole in the ground you have to kinda stand and pray you don’t slip and fall into the poop filled hell that is through the dark gaping vortex below. Hence the aptly given connotation from the family.
I’ve even encountered the weird German toilets that are designed so you basically have to look at what you’ve created before it flushes, something that deserves a whole post of its own I’m sure, but this post unfortunately is not about German toilets today.
Enter the Canadian answer to the humble washroom….
Bathroom, Toilet, WC, I can get behind those names for the place designated to the defecation. Washroom is one I am willing to get behind IF it was specifically a place for you to wash. Alas, it is where you do the business and the only washing that happens really is of the hands. There are no showers or baths or bidets, there are sinks and toilets. If it was a washroom then there would be more than a sink. It is a sink room with bonus toilets.
The doors are almost always shut, regardless of its vacancy status. This leads to the awkward creeping up and pushing on the doors, and praying people know how to lock doors if they are occupied. And if it so happens to be the most awkward of encounters of the door swinging lethargically open and displaying someone who is engrossed in their business, what do you do? What do you say? (I am aware this can happen in multiple scenarios across the pond but this has happened to me the most in Canada.)
On approaching the cubicles, the first thing I notice is the vast gap between bottom of the door and floor. You can’t see anything but feet and what’s on the floor which is nice, but you also only want to see one pair of feet in the cubicle. Thankfully I’ve not been in the awkward situation when there has been that time where more than one pair has existed in one cubicle, but you never know.
This is not my only qualm with the doors. The second is the height of the doors. A good majority of the time I am taller than the doors. And with the, sides of the cubicle. I want to say I am bordering on the tall scale at 5ft9″ish (on a good day) and many of my friends here are much the same when it comes to vertical measurements… It makes things awkward in a way that you have to keep your eyes forward at all times, just in case you somehow make eye contact at the neighbouring cubicle.
Once you make it to the stage of being in the cubicle, locking the door and then getting ready to do the thing you do, there is one last weird thing about the doors that is consistent to ALL washrooms I have encountered. The centimetre gap on either side of the door. Why is it there?! Is it to make extra sure you will make awkward eye contact in the slit of the cubicle with the people outside? Is it to make you extra anxious about doing the do? As it did (I confess) make me so incredibly aware and embarrassed about the whole public bathroom thing, for at least a couple of months.
Usually you enter a public washroom with a disdain as you know it is going to be a mess. There’s going to be some disgusting stuff and it’s something you have to accept. Every other time I’ve used the facilities there has been a cleaner there. There is always toilet paper and it’s pretty much always clean and I’m definitely okay with that. The sinks are spotless and the soap is never out. You don’t even have to flush most of the time as most of the places I’ve been to are automatic. So spot on Canada. 10/10.
Honestly did not believe I could write almost 1000 words on bathrooms of all topics! Thanks for sticking with me this long and I hope to get more weird rantyness out there in the near future! As always, have an excellent day!
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Back at it again, sharing my walks as the weather is getting colder…
(**Shout out to all you OC Transpo users! Seriously though I have encountered this everywhere not just Ottawa…stay safe**)
I think buses will be the death of me. Specifically the bus I take to and from college. And to clarify, I don’t mean being hit by a bus Mean Girls style. I mean actually getting on them, hanging on for dear life, or avoiding a slow and steady decapitation from various other bus occupants. This also goes for when you’re standing in the high velocity sardine tin and fear for being squished by the other sardines…
Buses have never been my friend, but like a friend going on a night out, they are always late. And this is not the fashionably late kinda late. This is the miserable, of course it is raining and there isn’t a bus shelter kinda late. Lets also not comment on the walk to and from the bus stops. In Ottawa I enjoy my walk through the city on pavements to the bus stop, it’s a refreshing way to start the morning. And you get rewarded for your toilsome walk with heated bus shelters. Heated. Bus. Shelters.
Lets move onto the real downside of the bus life….
Buses seem to bring out the worst of people. They are the definition of a free for all. Sure there are notices that say you should move to the back of the bus and give priority to certain people, but let’s be honest here, has that ever really happened without passive aggressive noises and gestures from over bus occupants or the driver? If there is by some luck an unoccupied seat, assertiveness, and willful brutality is the way forward if you are to win the seat from the wave of passengers entering the bus from all angles. In a sense getting the bus in the morning is a bit like the game that’s popular at children’s parties, musical chairs. But there isn’t any music, and there will be some injuries.
If perchance you get the seat and the bus isn’t crowded to the point that the driver just breezes past stops, you are subjected to the second reason of why buses bring out the worst in people. The judgement.
People watching is a fun casual pastime I and many others partake in. The usual setting is in a coffee shop window watching the people pass, but the bus scenario hikes up the casual level to extreme. Given a choice of seats, people will generally go for empty seats or sit next to the smallest people. I’ve seen people stand to avoid sitting next to certain people… I am guilty as charged. Staring also seems to be a common predicament on buses, whether it is just idle zoning out of passengers or the fact that any social norms are left at the bus stop. Just not comfortable for anyone.
Now the one things that disturbs me greatly on buses are the people who can just drift off to sleep. The only time I’ve ever fallen asleep on public transport was the tube in London. Of course it ended up in a swift awakening as the train stopped and my head connected with the not soft rail of the circle line… The thought of falling asleep on a bus just worries me to the point of not sleeping. Seeing people dropping off beside you, it’s an awkward situation to be in. How do you politely say “please refrain from leaning and dribbling on me while you power nap on your way to work?” It’s just too awkward for me. (#britishproblems)
Leading on from the disturbing napping bus people, comes the next species, the ones who are transfixed for the whole journey on their cellular device. I have so little qualms with people reading or using their mobiles (cells)… the only issue I have is when people are so engrossed in their tiny computers that they are unaware of anything around them. The music that is being played so loud you feel sorry that their brain has to endure that level of noise. They don’t see the frantic waving or pushing of fellow bus people as they try to leave only to be stopped by the electronic infused enthusiast. Infuriating.
This may seem very negative now I reflect… But the buses aren’t always that bad…
Public Transport actually opens up the city for me. If I don’t fancy walking there is sure to be a bus going the same way as me. Yes, I may have to wait and I’m not guaranteed luxurious comfort, but public transport is public transport, and I am very sure that there are worse companies out there than OC Transpo….
Thanks for reading, sorry for the ranty read, and have an excellent week!
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Over the weekend I went to Toronto for the weekend. Being a short 4ish hour drive form Ottawa, what’s not to lose?
I’ve been trying to stylise my pictures for a unique look and the G7 lets me play with colour so much more than my Canon 6d. All the edits are made in Lightroom on RAW files and exported as Jpegs.