Words I Write | Sometimes You Just Need To Shut The Boogeyman Up

jenn and the city

Real life isn’t always the silly selfies you see online. Real life can be hard; real life can be exhausting.

There will be those days where you feel down and out; those days where you feel frustrated and angry.

When you feel alone and have that boogeyman inside your head telling you things you don’t need to hear.

Those days where you will just want (and maybe even need) to just shut out from everyone and everything…and that’s ok.

There is no harm or shame in taking a little time to yourself.

It’s a healthy thing to do – disconnect and just ~*LiVe*~ your life.

It’s become so easy to get preoccupied and swept up into this whole thing, this “online life” we live…but, take that step back every now and then.

After the rain, the sun will reappear. There is life. After the pain, the joy will still be here.

Recharge and refocus your energy.

But always remember that no matter how bad it seems, it will get better. I promise.

…ok, love you – bye. xx

Words I Write | A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self

Jenn and the city jennandthecity
Dear 16 year old Jenn Jenn,

I’m writing you to let you know that no matter how hard life seems right now – it will get better. I know you are frustrated, and that you feel alone. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin and unsure of what the future holds…but believe me when I say it’ll all be worth it.

Those kids making fun of you for being so skinny and not wearing make-up – ignore them. Because soon enough you will grow into a beautiful, independent woman who will be so strong-willed that you won’t take that kind of crap from anyone anymore.

You will know your worth, finally – and you won’t settle for anything less than you deserve.

Keep writing. Write down every thought and feeling that comes your way. Carry around a notepad because you will never know when inspiration will strike. It could be a sudden warm breeze that you feel through your hair on a summer evening that’ll inspire you to write about how free you feel, or it could be those late nights you spend lying in bed wide awake, mind racing, when you’ll be motivated to share your deepest secrets. These inspirational moments can strike at any time and you want to be prepared because that’s when the good stuff comes – when you least expect it.

Stay true to who you are. Don’t change your beliefs and your morals just to fit in. It’s ok to be different, it’s better that way. You see things, the world, in a different perspective.

Keep that optimism and faith in humanity, because lord knows we need more of that.

When it comes to dating and relationships – slow down. Slow down, and before you even begin to think about allowing someone else to love you – learn to love yourself.

Love yourself enough to know that your validation and worthiness does not stem from the attention you are so eagerly seeking. All these boys you think are ‘oh-so-cute,’ and are ‘in love’ with, trust me – there will be plenty of that in the years to come. And one day, you’ll find someone who makes you a better person; someone who will feel like home.

Love yourself enough to know that what you’re feeling is normal. It’s normal to be scared; it’s normal to question yourself. It’s also normal to have urges and desires. It’s normal to want to try different things – but never, ever let someone else pressure you into doing something you are not comfortable with or ready for.

Throughout life you will be faced with challenges and opportunities, and it is up to you to realize that the decisions you make today will affect your life from that point forward. No matter how insignificant they may seem at the time – they will, I promise you that.

Learn to forgive. I know you have been hurt. Things have happened to you that no child, or adult, should ever have to deal with. Never forget what has happened – but dig deep, really, really deep – and search for the strength to find forgiveness. Know that while there are some really horrible people out there – there are actually good ones too.

Not everyone is going to hurt you, but if you hold on to that anger, that disgust, you may be blocking off the chance to allow the good people in.

Those endless nights spent crying yourself to sleep, those nights where you’re too scared to go to sleep…scared of what comes to you in your dreams, and what wakes you as you lay in bed – those are the nights that are building you. They are making you a fighter; a survivor. I know you feel weak and powerless, I know you feel like giving up – but don’t. Know that deep down you will be a better, stronger person in the end.

Use your sensitivity as strength. You are kind and compassionate – never lose faith in yourself or humanity. Always try to find the good in people.

Every thing that happens to you, both the good and the bad, will contribute to making you who you are supposed to be. Take the lessons you learn from each situation and apply them to all aspects of your life. Find the strength to overcome the hardships because you can use your experiences to help others who are struggling to find that strength.

You are meant to do amazing things. You are meant to be a voice for people who feel as though they don’t have one of their own. You are meant to do amazing things – and you will, because you will overcome each and every one of these hardships. You’ll power through, strong and resilient, coming out better than you were before. It won’t be easy, and it’ll take time – but you will push through and find that strength. If not for any other reason than finally realizing that you can.

Spend more time with your family. Right now you feel as though they will always be there, but they won’t. Right now you feel as though your time would be better spent out with your friends, but it won’t. These friends may come and go – but your family is there for life. Sit down and have genuine conversations – and actually listen. Ask to hear about their childhood; their teen years. Learn and soak in everything you can about your family’s past.

Finally – laugh, a lot. Laugh a lot and laugh often. Embrace your loud, infectious laugh – and laugh as often as you possibly can.

Keep happiness in your heart and continue doing what you can to spread that happiness with those around you.

And please, no matter how difficult it may get – please know that it will always get better.

How To Help A Friend In A Mental Health Crisis, From Someone Who’s Been There

semicolon tattoo

I have never been one to shy away from talking about mental health, my battle with mental illness, nor my suicide attempt.

I strongly believe in talking and sharing these stories, because if it helps even one person feel a little less alone – it’s worth it.

In light of the tragic loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I was asked to write a piece for 29Secrets.com about how to help a friend in a mental health crisis.

Let’s just get right to it. Mental illness does not discriminate. The recent sudden shocking deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are proof. On paper, and to the outside eye, these two had it all: money, fame, power, success, family…yet these two lives were tragically lost to mental illness.

 

At any given time, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness. And according to Suicide Prevention Canada, approximately 11 people will end their lives by suicide in Canada today, while approximately 210 others will attempt to end their lives. These numbers have been steadily rising: suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: it’s about time the stigma surrounding mental illness is removed and we realize that mental health is health, and needs to be treated as such.

…I offer up my advice, as someone who’s been there.

You can continue reading the article HERE

If you, or someone you know, is struggling and experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out to Suicide Prevention Canada. This link will direct you to local crisis centres in your area.

Mental Health Is Health And You Are Not Alone

The Lifeline Twitter

p/c: The Lifeline Twitter

The shocking and sad news about Kate Spade’s suicide is a reminder that just because someone’s life may appear to be “perfect” – you never really know what they are going through.

Rich or poor – doesn’t matter.

Mental health is a disease that can affect anyone.

Be aware of the signs. Get help if you need it. Keep fighting.

Your happiness is worth the fight and I promise, you’re strong enough to keep going…even when you feel as though you aren’t.

Mental health is health. If you are struggling or in crisis – you are not weak. You are sick. You need to seek help.

Just keep fighting – one day at a time.

Happiness is out there for you, no matter what the boogeyman in your head tells you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

As someone who has survived a suicide attempt, my heart aches every time I see a notice of another life lost.

My heart breaks for the family and friends left behind.

But my heart also breaks for the life lost. I know the pain they were feeling. I know the feeling of giving up.

I know how easily one can spiral out and I know how easily the boogeyman in your head can tighten his grip on your thoughts.

I beg of you, if you are struggling or in crisis – reach out to someone for help.
It’s out there – I PROMISE.

…and if you know someone who battles any form of mental health, please – reach out to them. A simple, “Hi. How are you?” could save a life. Trust me.

One more thing.

If the news of Kate Spade’s passing is triggering you in any way – take care of yourself.

Get offline. Mute words. Call a crisis hotline. Go to a therapy session or a meeting.

Do something to take care of YOU.

You matter. You are important. You are not alone.

If you are in crisis, here is a link to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Rants and Rambles | Sometimes You Just Have To Yell “DO OVER!” To The Universe

jenn and the city new month do over

There’s something to be said of new beginnings. Of fresh starts. Of do-overs, if you will.

Today is June 1st. A brand new month, and let me tell you – I sure am glad to see May over and done with.

When I think back to the month of May, and really – the majority of the first half of 2018 thus far, the Friends theme song pops into my head. Not the whole thing, just a certain part…

“It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear. When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year…”

 *sigh*

But, as you all know, I’m a generally optimistic person. So, I’m going to get up, brush myself off and take on the rest of 2018 with a gusto!

There’s a lot going on. There are a lot of things for me to look forward to and plan for in the upcoming months, so I’m choosing to focus my energy on the good in my life.

jenn and the city

It’s easy to get swept away into a spiral of negativity…especially for someone who is battling depression and anxiety. One negative thought will manifest into a neverending negative thought process and next thing you know, you’re left sitting there wondering if there was *really* ever any good in your life to begin with.

*double sigh*

But like I said, I’m going to pull myself together and start appreciating the good going on. I’m gonna tell, “DO OVER!” to the universe and start anew!

So bye-bye Downer JennJenn, new month – who dis?

And to end this little ramble off, here’s a picture of some gorgeous flowers that I saw on my way to work this morning. Because you know what? Sometimes you just need to slow down, and stop to smell the flowers (not just the roses). Literally.

jenn and the city big pink flowers

The Night The Bitter Cold Air Was A Wake Up Call

It was a windy Thursday night. The kind of wind that hurts your face. I could feel it as I rushed along Queen St West, pivoting around the crowds of people. The sun that was shining throughout the day was false advertising of warmer weather. It was definitely still winter in the city, and much like many others, I was feeling “the blues.”

But, my “blues” were anything but, and I knew it

The anxiety and depression I have been battling for as long as I could remember had taken over. The boogeyman in my head had tightened his grip over my thoughts and actions

I needed to break free.

Just like any other day – my mind was racing. How many times have I walked down this street before? How many times had I rushed through the crowds to get to an event that I was running late for? Remembering the times where within the 7 days of the week, I was out at likely 16 events over the course of 6 days. Remembering how easy it all seemed back then.

Well, how easy I made it seem. There was a lot of pretending everything was ok when in actuality – it was not.

…it was exhausting

Things were quite different now, though. I moved in (north of Bloor St. and if you are from Toronto – you’ll understand why this matters) with Mike and now it would take a whole lot more convincing to get me out and about

At first, I would blame my lack of presence at events on “exclusivity.” Which was, in fact, part of it. I didn’t WANT to be everywhere any more. But in all actuality – it was more so my anxiety. I COULDN’T be everywhere anymore

The anxiety that would come from going out was overwhelming. It wasn’t even just being out anymore. The thought of going out starting inducing panic attacks. I can’t tell you how many times I was on my way out when the fear and panic would take over, so much so that I’d either tell my uber to turn around or I’d have to get off of the public transit because it felt as though I was going to be sick

“Take a deep breath, Jenn. It’s going to be ok,” I mumbled to myself as I hopped over the streetcar track – narrowly missing getting my heel stuck.

I secluded myself. I isolated myself from people and places and things. I would stay home, and as I would scroll through my feeds, I would feel a sudden pang of FOMO. I’d see everyone out there with the smiles and the cocktails and the laughter and I would feel as though I was missing out. But that feeling only lasted a moment…then the overwhelming sense of relief would take over.

I knew that by isolating myself though, that I was actually doing more harm than good. I needed to make changes. I needed to feel better. I needed to be the best version of myself, for me and those around me.

So, what changes did I have to make?

I knew I had to start eating better. I knew that my steady diet of wine and chicken fingers and pizza was no bueno. I mean, it was delicious – but I knew I needed more.

I knew I had to start working out again. I knew that I needed to get those feel-good endorphins flowing. The hardest part of going to the gym is LITERALLY going to the gym, so I knew I had to get over that hurdle.

I knew I had to reconnect with some friends, and distance myself from some others. I knew that I had to be selfish and put my needs first and remove some toxicness from my life. I knew that I had to hope that it wasn’t too late with some people and that they would be understanding of my isolation.

I knew I had to start saying yes again. I knew I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and start saying yes to events and plans again. I knew that getting out there again – socializing as opposed to simply scrolling my feeds, was a good idea

So, I started making some small changes. I started meal prepping my lunches. I launched a motivational month with some followers where we encouraged each other daily. I started going to sleep earlier, and leaving my phone on the bedside table as opposed to scrolling in bed. I started getting up earlier and going to the gym. Those early morning feel good endorphins became EvErYtHiNg to me. They’re amazing!

And I even started saying yes to events and plans again.

“Take a deep breath, Jenn. It’s going to be ok,” I said to myself as I took the 15-second elevator (which felt more like an hour) ride up to the event space.

I had RSVP’d yes to this particular event, and gone solo. Double whammy. I thought that by coming solo I could plot my quick escape, if need be.

As I reached for a glass of wine from the waiter, I caught sight of a grin being shot my way that so big it lit the room and was greeted with a hug so heartfelt I immediately started to feel at ease.

“See, a familiar face. You’re good, Jenn.” I thought to myself as I saw Casie approaching.

The distraction of our conversation helped briefly ease my anxiety. From talking about recent travel to our outfits to the industry…and everything in between – the distraction made the whole situation started to become more manageable.

Distractions are great, until they’re gone – am I right?

Now that my anxiety was easing off, I was able to focus and listen to the amazing panel. Which was great because it became motivation. Hearing the panelists stories, and those from the people in the audience who decided to speak up or ask questions – was that extra butt kick of motivation I needed to make more changes.

I left the event and decided to grab a cocktail on my own. I needed to decompress after the whole evening, and just wanted to gather my thoughts a bit.

It was only after the event that it really hit me how bad my anxiety was throughout the night. And really, how much my anxiety had gotten out of hand and had taken over. As I sipped my cocktail, I knew what I had to do.

I walked outside, and as the bitter cold air smacked my face like the wakeup call I so desperately needed, I made my first therapy appointment.

Happy New Year! Also – Benylin Isn’t That Bad.

jenn and the city happy new year

HAPPY NEW YEAR, MOFOS!

I hope that 2018 brings you nothing but happiness and success because you are amazing and you deserve the best.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “JJ – you’ve done lost your damn mind! It’s February!”

RELAX.

Let’s be honest – I had a bit of a rough go in January. I’m not going to sit here and list off all the things that went wrong or brought stress my way. (Not again, at least. Ha.)

I will, however, tell you that I’m writing this post from home, sick as heck and on a mix of penicillin and Benylin…just like I have been all week. And basically all of January.

But you know what, I’ve decided to take control of my happiness.

So, once February 1st rolled around, I yelled “DO OVER!” to the universe and decided to start 2018 all over again.

What?? It’s my life, I can do as I please.

So, basically – all I’m saying is that it’s your life, and you have to decide to take control over your happiness. Have faith in the universe and good things will happen.

Also, this Benylin is actually starting to taste not bad…that’s probably not a good thing.

…I’m going back to bed. Ok, love you – bye.

Seems Like A Good Time For A Month Of Motivation!

jenn and the city Month Of Motivation

Hi everyone! Just your friendly neighbourhood blogger here with a fun idea for a month of motivation!

Time for some hard truth. I currently weigh the most I have ever weighed in my entire life. I get gassed just walking up the three flights of stairs to our apartment after walking Dusty. I am so uncomfortable in my own body – it’s ridiculous. And it’s my own fault. I choose to eat the pizza and wings and not workout nearly as much as I should… if at all.

I know it’s my fault, and I also know that I need to stop making excuses.

It’s time for change.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to making healthier decisions – I need some motivation. I mean, sure – I’ll grudgingly choose a banana over the donut that I really want in the morning…but, come on – that’s not enough. I work better when I’m being held accountable for something, and a little motivation can go a long way!

jenn and the city health and fitness Month Of Motivation

I’ve teased about this on social media for a little while now, but it’s time to put the plan in action! It’s time for a month Of motivation! I’m going to be forming a little motivational group for the month of February, and who knows, if it goes well and you guys love it – maybe we’ll keep it going beyond that.

First, let me preface this whole thing by saying:

I AM IN NO WAY A FITNESS PROFESSIONAL

What I am though, is an eager and bubbly person who is excited to make some changes and start living a healthier, happier life. Because, in the end – that’s what matters most, right?

So, here’s the deal – every Monday morning for the month of February, I’ll be sending out a newsletter with tips and tricks from myself, and some of my more qualified friends in the health, fitness, and food world.

jenn and the city health and fitness Month Of Motivation

Whether you workout at home or in the gym – I’ll be sharing some tips from my ridiculously fit and healthy and beautiful friend Mia of Body Morphology.

Need a friendly reminder to drink that water? Need a gentle push to put down the candy bar and pick up that apple? I got you covered.

Stuck in a rut of bad food meal after meal? Crunched for time when making dinner so relying on the drive-thru far too often? Not for long!

Did you know that ginger may help reduce muscle pain and soreness? Did you know that reducing sugar can create a stable mood and energy levels? Get ready for more valuable info like this!

It’s ok to not always be ok, you know. Sometimes we all need a gentle reminder that we’re not alone in this crazy thing called life. I want to help with that.

Next step?

Easy – just sign up by via the form below, or by leaving a comment and get ready to get a little healthier and a whole lot happier!

If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the form or the comments below too!

We’re all going to help each other – so if you’re comfortable, introduce yourself and let everyone know why your joining. If you’d rather remain anonymous – that’s cool too. Whatever works for you!

Now, who’s excited to get started on a month of motivation?!

When Life Hands You Lemons, You Make Lemonade…Unless You’re So Sick That You Can’t Drink Lemonade, Which In That Case – Just Stay In Bed For Days

jenn and the city

Well, hey there. How are YOU? I’m writing this post from bed, while under the covers and just ate for the first time in 48 hours…but more on that later.

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram – you will know that I haven’t had the best of luck this week.

I went out for tacos and margaritas with an old friend on Thursday night. I was in a great mood because I had had an awesome day at work and was excited to catch up with an old friend…plus, I thought I looked super cute, so that always helps. (Judge me if you will.) After our catch up sesh, I decided to stop at the grocery store because I only ordered ONE taco at the restaurant. I know, I know – who am I!?!?

That was my first mistake…obviously.

So anyways, I went to the grocery store across the street with my brand new Google Pixel 2 XL in my hand (where it normally is <was>) feeling happy as could be; smile on my face as I perused the chip aisle. I had a hankering for good old fashioned All Dressed which was in display right at the front of the store, but I thought, “Hey, let’s see if anything else pops out at me in the aisle.”

Mistake number two.

While admiring some of my faves, like Cool Ranch Doritos and Cheetos, I placed my phone in my pocket to allow for more bags of chips in my arms. Logical, right? Anyways, shortly after – a couple struck up conversation with me.

Mistake number three.*

It was about the most random thing, and to be honest – I can’t even remember what our conversation was about now. But I do remember the young lady and I chatting, and her partner casually walking away, presumably to continue shopping. Little did I know it was actually a diversion and just like that – my phone was gone.

panic jenn and the city

I didn’t even realize my phone was gone until a few minutes after I left the store when I reached for it to text Mike. Then, full panic mode commenced. I retraced my steps. I reviewed video footage. I scoured through the streets in the rain, even spoke with security and an officer. There really wasn’t anything anyone could do. I could try calling my phone in hopes that whoever took it felt some sort of pity and decided to return it. (LOL!) So, when THAT didn’t happen – I had to contact Rogers and a) suspend my account, and b) blacklist the phone so if they did try using it – they wouldn’t be able to. Now those @$$#&%* not so nice people will simply have another paperweight.

On the plus side, one of the many great things about the Google Pixel XL 2 phone is that it automatically backed up ALL of my images and videos to Google Photos – so I didn’t lose any of those.

THANK GOODNESS. #TeamPixel for the win!

Anyways, it is what it is and like my friend said – it could have been a lot worse. Thankfully I wasn’t mugged or hurt in any way. I can replace a phone. I mean, of course it’s still frustrating AS SHIT and I was PISSED…but, I’m letting that anger go and am going to leave it in the hands of the Universe. She’ll do what she has to do and karma will take care of the rest.

Like I said at the beginning of this post – I haven’t eaten in 48+ hours. I’ve been TERRIBLY sick since Saturday morning. Like, stuck in bed, unable to eat or drink…feeling utterly weak and exhausted. At first I thought it was food poisoning, then I started to think it was the flu…now I have no idea. What I do know is that I couldn’t eat anything from about noon on Saturday until noon today (on Monday), at which point I ate a piece of toast. So, small victories?

*deepest of deep sighs*

On the plus side – I’ve had unlimited cuddles Dusty and Seven, so – yay!

Anywho – I just wanted to check in with y’all, and let you know what’s been going on. There’s been some other stuff which I’ll share about in time. I’m going to talk more about my mental health (duh) and what I’m going through, and I’m also going to launch a group motivation thing for February, where you’ll sign up and we’ll all support and motivate each other to be healthy and active. I’m in no way a certified professional, but I know we all could use a little extra motivation and encouragement! I’m also going to be in the kitchen even more thanks to my friends at Hamilton Beach, but that’ll have to wait until I have an appetite again. LOL

My blog is my diary, and while I share quite a bit on social (Twitter especially) – I miss writing here, so expect to see a lot more!

*I don’t actually consider being friendly and conversing a mistake. I am a friendly and nice person, and quite talkative. So I’m not going to change who I am because of this unfortunate incident. I refuse to let these people break me and make me think all people are as terrible as they are.

Rants And Rambles And Chilli And Bowling And OMG Why Do I Think The Way I Do?!

It’s Tuesday morning, and all I want to be doing is sitting back on the beach in Jamaica with Mike, but instead I’m stuck at work and very much disliking reality right now. I mean, it’s not all that bad…I guess. But it’s not ‘pina coloadas for breakfast followed by copious amounts of sun and booze all day while laying on the beach with the love of my life’ good. You know?

…you don’t need to save me, but would you run away with me?

A post shared by Jenn and the City (@thejennandthecity) on

On Sunday, I made a ridiculously big batch of chilli because a) we love chilli, and b) we had a couple of friends coming over to watch Survior Series. The chilli came out ahhhhmazing, but my anxiety was so bad all day. Like, if you don’t have anxiety – you may not understand this next part. Feel free to skip ahead. If you do have anxiety, you can skip ahead too if you want…I mean, do whatever you want. Anyways – back to what I was saying.

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