Jesus and Religion and Love and the Ocean and Moving On.

Explaining Jesus is never a problem for me, because it’s easy – Jesus is love. I love Love.

Explaining religion, specifically Christianity, isn’t as easy. To me religion has always been rules, dress codes, and people being praised for closed eyes and raised hands. Writing this blog post has been increasingly difficult as I battle to let go of the sour taste in my mouth Private Christian School has left and increasingly discover who Jesus is in contrast with what I was told religion was.

I was told Jesus didn’t like shoulders – so keep them covered. Leggings would make a man’s mind wander, so they didn’t count as pants. I was taught fear and respect were the same thing. I was taught the church looked like perfection, smiles and lunch afterwards. Literal awards for people who best displayed the character of Paul, John and Jesus. Pleasing your husband meant you couldn’t be a leader – principals and presidents should be men. I was taught a woman could be “damaged goods”.  In all of my time in school, nobody ever taught me who Jesus was. I only ever learned what Christianity was.

Jesus is love. He’s equal parts justice and patience. He is compassionate and giving. He is every character equally. But the name of Jesus can be interchanged with the word “love”. Jesus is love.

I don’t like to align with denomination or Christian religion, because it was through religion I discovered depression and what it felt like to be at my lowest point. It was when I was quickly asked “what was I wearing?” instead of being told “this was wrong and I will protect you”. It was by religion I was laughed at. It was by religion I slept all the time and it was by religion I got lost. It was religion that sat with me in an office and told me coldly I should move on.

It was by love I found out how to get out of that depression. It was by love I learned how to love myself again. It was by love I show my shoulders and it is by love that I laughed again.

As someone who was broken by religion, but saved through Love I want to extend all of my positive vibes to people who were the same as me. People who were laughed at, people who were forgotten about and people hurt by religion – Love will find you. Whether that’s in kisses, or the ocean or something else. Love finds you.

Don’t give up yet. Do what you need to do but don’t give up. And just love everyone until eventually love loves you back.

*To clarify, not everything that came out of the school was negative. I met my best friend there, I found my passion for English and writing, and I experienced Jesus’ love through many different students and teachers. I had the best foundation from kindergarten to grade six and although I do struggle with it and disassociate myself from it, there is always beauty in the broken – which extends mostly to people, but also to schools.

50 Lessons I have Learned.

#1. Having a dog makes life a lot better.

#2. There is a limit to how many tacos you should eat.

#3. Nobody cares about how much you weigh, except you.

#4. Nobody wants to hear about yoga yesterday.

#5. The first day is always the hardest. It’s okay to be nervous.

#6. It’s okay to walk out on a date when you know you don’t want it to go anywhere.

#7. It’s okay to be picky when it comes to clothes you wear, food you eat and partners you date.

#8. Making out is fun and not something you should feel bad about.

#9. It’s okay to wave at dogs as they walk by.

#10. Be nice to everyone, even if they are mean.

#11. If you feel someone went to far, report it. Whether it be to a friend, a teacher or the authorities. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life wondering if someone could have paid for their actions.

#12. What other people did to you, isn’t your fault.

#13. What you do to other people, is your fault.

#14. Sometimes it’s good to quit things. If quitting your extra curricular activities mean saving your sanity – do it and don’t look back.

#15. Loving yourself is hard. Find someone that will love you enough for the both of you (in a nonromantic way). Of course it’s nice to have someone to kiss the bruises better, but a night of Chinese food with your best friend will heal even deepest hurts.

#16. Have a friend you are platonically in love with.

#17. Find a person that will cuddle you after you eat garlic fingers and caesar salad.

#18. High school ends. College Ends. The best year of your life is the year you are in.

#19. Listen to shitty music and watch cheesy movies.

#20. Never tell someone their music tastes are bad.

#21. Never make fun of the way someone talks, smells or eats.

#22. When you are sad you will want to make other people sad. It’s best to put yourself away for a while, be alone and realize that the sadness will pass.

#23. Never talk bad about your best friend, not even if you’re mad.

#24. Point tourists in the right direction if they are looking lost.

#25. Try it once.

#26. If you hate the job, quit. Hating a job everyday and crying every day isn’t normal and is toxic to your happiness.

#27. Always answer a call at two in the morning.

#28. Never tell a graduate “high school was the best time of your life”. You don’t know the battles they fought – life gets increasingly better after high school.

#29. Tell people you love them.

#30. Wear comfortable shoes 95% of the time.

#31. When being introduced to your partners family and friends, assume they already love you by extension.

#32. Never judge someone else’s personal life. What another person does in their spare time probably doesn’t affect you.

#33. Keep your appointments.

#34. Tell yourself you aren’t as annoying to other people as you are to yourself.

#35. Stop looking up your enemies on Instagram and comparing your life to theirs.

#36. You are always marketing yourself and every person you meet is a potential contact for a job or reference.

#37. Always squat when using public washrooms. Or do what your mom used to do for you and cover the seat in toilet paper.

#38. Half birthdays are a real thing and you deserve half of a cake.

#39. Love what you do. Life is too short for jobs you don’t like and friends who make you feel guilty about eating Pizza Hut after nine o’clock.

#40. If a stranger asks you to take a picture of them, take a picture of yourself first on selfie mode.

#41. Always take pictures for strangers.

#42. Girls should stick together (in life and in public washrooms). We should see each other as an inspiration not as competition. Help other women as often as you can.

#43. Be a feminist.

#44. Don’t be an asshole.

#45. Even if you are set in your religion, search other ones to stretch your mind. Try and understand why people believe what they do. It’s okay to accept other people’s beliefs and mix them with your own.

#46. If a man makes a joke – you don’t have to laugh.

#47. It’s okay to tell people their thinking is problematic, but it’s not okay to force your beliefs on them. Everyone, at one time, has problematic thinking (including you).

#48. Learning to love yourself is one of the hardest things to do in life but it’s worth it. Sometimes it looks like being alone and eating ice cream and some days it’s finally wearing a bikini to the beach.

#49. Don’t apologize for the car you drive or the people you love.

#50. Drop grade 12 Chemistry – you will never need to recite the Periodic Table in order after high school.

I included this photo so you would click on the link. Every click I get the equivalent of .500th of a dollar. Just trying to pay those college bills.
I included this photo so you would click on the link. Every click I get the equivalent of .500th of a dollar. Just trying to pay those college bills. Also – let’s talk about how cute that dog is.

People Are (Usually) Nice. And Other Lessons

You Don’t Automatically Know What To Do

The way you envision your first kiss with someone (or any other first you share with them) is never the way you think it would be. You think kissing someone is simple until you have to really think about it – what do you do with your hands or your face, or really anything.

Hollywood never shows you accidentally kicking them in the jaw, or getting lettuce stuck in your teeth or what to do when you accidentally use all the toilet paper at their house.

I never held hands with a boy until I was 19 – let alone kiss him or tell him “I love him” or eat garlic food with him in a confined space.

Having now met someone I can eat garlic food with, the deepest connection you can have, I can say that all the awkward stories make it worth it. How many Hollywood movies have a story line where the girl breaks both of their bathrooms while possibly locking a dog/another human being in there? Not many but mine does.

College Is Not What The Movies Tell You.

College is basically a lot of mediocre looking people trying to pass LuLu Lemons as dress pants. College is girls trying to avoid the person they matched with on Tinder last night, while someone wrote “boobs” on the whiteboard in the Marketing Lab. College is where you pay $150 for a parking pass – even though you still have to park on the road.

If college is anything though, it’s watching Netflix while writing a thesis at 2 a.m. and crying because you don’t understand why Rachel chose Ross on the last episode of Friends.

People Are (Usually) Nice.

As a former private school kid, I used to think public school kids just drank alcohol constantly and smoked cigars. Having never met a person my age who smoked cigars or who drinks pure alcohol all hours of the day – my perception of people is much different than when I was twelve.

It’s okay to assume people are genuinely nice when you first meet them. You can change your assumption later if you need to.

Say Yes.

Unless you mean no, then say no.

But trying to learn how to throw a frisbee won’t kill you and going to a concert might actually be fun. You don’t have to get in the kayak – but you should. It’s okay to wear a skirt that’s higher than your knees, even in December, if that’s what you want. Eat Chinese food and order the extra egg roll, stop living like you’re a size 0 and embrace your size 10 pants.

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Stand Up For Yourself.

If it’s to the kid who bullies you in the yearbook class, or the friend who makes fun of you shoes, or the teacher who keeps giving you 70’s instead of the 80 you deserve – stand up for yourself.

Also know when it’s time to sit down.

Embrace that Embarrassing Things Happen to Everyone.

I don’t know how many times I can emphasize this in a blog post (actually until someone validates me), but everyone pees their pants past the time it is socially acceptable. Everyone wonders if the weird smell is them and everyone accidentally tells a customer “I love you” instead “have a good day” at some point.

I’m not sure if everyone does those things but I have, so let’s just roll with it.

Looking for Love? Nanny can fix that.

My grandmother is 80, active on twitter and Facebook, and has been known to try and set me up with strangers online.

Worried that her (yet young) granddaughter wouldn’t find love, Nanny Elly took the problem into her own hands. So, if you were a male on Facebook circa 2013 who looked like you might not murder me (the only requirement), please disregard any notes you got from a lady desperately trying to find her granddaughter a little friend.

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This boy was a lobster fisherman, so she thought he was a great catch (you know, money). After many failed attempts on her part, we asked that she stop messaging boys on Facebook solely based off of their profile picture and the fact they are from Montague.

My grandmother taught me a number of important life lessons like “just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you have to look it” and “if your legs look that good, wear short shorts”. The most important lesson is probably “there’s always coupons for KFC if you look hard enough”. 

Nevertheless, as Valentine’s Day approaches I made a list of qualities your someone should have, when you find that person. Because you shouldn’t just date the first guy (or girl) your grandmother messages randomly, unless you want to – then you maybe still shouldn’t, but you can.

Date someone who laughs at your jokes. Maybe you’re not as funny as you think you are, but if they don’t laugh at your jokes on the first date they won’t laugh on the second. And when you tell their family, at your first family barbecue, that you are only dating him for his money – he will laugh. Nobody else will, which is painfully awkward for you.

For the love of God, Jenny, STOP TELLING THAT JOKE.

Date someone when you love yourself. Loving yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Someday someone will come along that doesn’t mind you don’t have a thigh gap or that your forehead is too big for bangs – it’s important that those things don’t bother you either. Learning to love yourself may be the hardest thing you have ever done, but I promise it is worth it.

Date someone who is different than you. If they spend their Friday nights blogging while streaming FRIENDS just like you, you would never have gone to that concert you still don’t understand. (Good for you, getting out of the house and doing things.)

Date whoever you want. If they make you better and you love them, that’s all the requirements you need. If they make you laugh and don’t get mad at you when you make them leave the movie an hour in, you should date them. You’re smart, trust yourself.

If it all fails, come visit my grandmother who will tell you straight up if she thinks it will work out for you. And if you’re ready to mingle, she would probably look up singles in your area for you.

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And remember – if this person doesn’t work out, there’s always another bus coming down the line.

Follow my Nanny Elly on Twitter: @nanny_elly

Yes, all tweets are 100% her.

Confessions of Two Dairy Bar Scoopers.

I was a dairy bar scooper for four years, my sister scooped for seven. A combined 11 years of scooping ice creams makes us experts as well as a force to be reckoned with when you want to argue what the difference is between Udderly Divine and Hoof Prints. (Hint: one has peanut better, the other does not.)

I shoveled goat poop from the parking lot, scrubbed the floors with a literal toothbrush, and watched as your kid wiped their snot across my recently Pledged glass.

I continually swatted the flies away from the chocolate fudge and picked out the bubble gum pieces from your kids ice cream because they absolutely wanted blue ice cream but couldn’t eat the chunks. I watched as your son cried because you wouldn’t buy him the .30 waffle cone, and I watched as you screamed at your daughter for spilling her ice cream on the floor. I cleaned it up, gave her a new cone, and told her spills were no big deal. I even added some sprinkles.

I watched your first date go horribly wrong as he got diarrhea in the bathroom and you had to call your best friend to pick you up. I made sure the right kinds of G2 were stocked on Friday nights for your mix. I wore a hairnet every day, even when the entire baseball team came in.

On the hottest days of summer, I came in an hour early to fix the soft serve machine so you could have a flurry on your way back from the beach. When you told your kids to get out of the house, I let them hang around and I dug into my tip jar to pay for the bag of chips they didn’t have enough quarters for. I even let them park their dirt bikes in the loading lane, and gave them ice chips before they drove home.

I asked how your soccer practices went, I kept track of your wins and losses and I still hold resentment toward that kid who tripped you during the playoff game. When I found out you had a health scare, I googled your name every day of the off season just to make sure you were okay and that I could still look forward to seeing you on opening day the next year.

Every summer you would come up from the southern States and buy 3 lbs of fudge –it was always assorted flavours, it always took a minimum of 45 minutes and you always left a $5 tip. Your name was Mongo and I would love to know what you’re up to now.

I have so many fond memories of regular customers and the lessons they taught me. I learned that sprinkles are called “millions” in England, that older people love Grapenut because it was one of the cool flavours when they were kids, and that there are truly kind people out there who will change their order because you’re struggling to scoop that rock-hard peanut butter fudge crunch into their cone.

Sometimes I see you around town and I still remember what flavours were your favourite and that you preferred it in a dish with the cone placed on top. I smile and wave and am reminded that for a few summers I got to be a part of your life, even if just in a miniscule way.

Years later, I see you tugging your dad’s jacket and saying, “I think that’s the ice cream lady.”

It’s funny how these wonderful memories are so easily overshadowed by the bad ones. There were nights that I went home crying because you yelled at me. There were times I was too embarrassed to function because you questioned my capabilities. There were times that I wondered how anyone could possibly be as mean as you had just been to me.

Stop trying to smuggle the plants home in your dress and putting your own hair in the ice cream for a free cone.

Please remember that the girl behind the counter is seventeen and is (basically) running a small business. She is probably underappreciated – her boss has no interest in knowing that she worked from open to close because someone didn’t show up for their shift or that she’s gotten so good at scooping ice cream that customers request her by name.

When you feel like throwing your ice cream on the ground because you think it was too expensive or you ask to complain to the boss because the employee forgot to stamp your loyalty card, please remember that she is working a minimum wage job and she is on hour 7 of non-stop smiling.

She’s seventeen. She’s wearing a hair net and an unflattering t-shirt and she’s working for the 10 cent tip you left.

This is her summer, every summer. Next time you think about yelling at that customer service kid – think about minimum wage and hot summers and goat poop. Maybe drop a nickel in the tip jar.

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Also, stop feeding the goats ice cream.
Stop.

Follow Alyssa on twitter: @alyssawool

Tinder. A Saga Of Bad Dates.

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After telling him I didn’t want to have sex with him, he still asked me out for a second date. Out of loneliness (or complete stupidity) – I agreed.

The second date was at a local pub. He was waiting – eating bar nuts, half way through a beer and wearing a Liberal party t-shirt. Before saying hello or even settling in, he said this (and I swear, it’s true):

“Jenny, I know you don’t want to sleep with me. I like you, so I found a girl who wants to just hook up. This way you don’t have to worry about taking care of me.”

How kind. A true scholar and a sir, he was. Without saying another word, I picked up my jacket and left.

I would like to say that was the last time I talked to him. However, following a breast reduction I messaged him (very much under the influence of morphine) and said, “hahahaha, new boobs.” Then a selfie of my face, which was enough reason for him to never text back.

* Dating when you’re in your 20’s (or ever, probably) is rough. Meeting someone, going out with them, trying to figure out who should settle the bill – kissing, not kissing. Trying to get out of the date, one minute in. Good guys (and girls) are out there. He exists, but you have to get through 300 swipe-left’s first. And probably a lot of boys looking to see your boobs. These are all stories from boys I met on Tinder.

One guy talked the whole date about how everyone should have access to guns. He then showed me a video of him shooting a deer, beheading it and the barbecue after. I then continued to fake vomit.

The date ended with me saying, “I don’t think anyone should have access to guns.” Things went quiet – I got the tab and I don’t know what ever happened to him.

The third date was with a guy who had scheduled a Tinder date before me and another one after me. He was a serial Tinder dater. He knew how to handle it though. He opened by offering me a drink – I declined. I always pay for myself on the first date (and preferably always). He asked me about school and work and if I had ever traveled. He listened to me, he talked but never gave any personal opinion. He later texted to tell me, “the best way to get laid on a date is to listen, never give an opinion and always say she’s right.”

He also said that one minute in he knew I wasn’t going to sleep with him, so he texted another girl to meet him later that night.

I deleted my Tinder for a while and reactivated it in late February. Knowing I wouldn’t get a relationship, let alone a date, out of it – I uploaded my picture in hopes of writing a blog post about how Tinder worked.

I wanted to know how many boys were looking for a hook up, a simple picture of my boobs (which I never did) and how many were looking for an actual date.

You’ll be happy to know only 40 boys asked for pictures of my boobs, 24 asked to hook-up, and 7 asked for a date.

I never intended to respond to any of them – the plan was to keep it for a week and delete after getting the numbers.

I did respond to one guy. We met at Starbucks – I showed up early, bought my own drink, and waited while “casually” checking my makeup in my laptop screen.

He introduced himself and brought back a tea. We talked about the weather and mutual friends (which we had both obviously looked up on Facebook). He talked about his moms chicken lasagna and his cat. We talked for a few hours – neither of us made up excuses to leave. (He also never brought up guns or politics, bonus points for him.)

And we never stopped going on dates.

I couldn’t post my Tinder stories, mostly because I became the .05% that found love on Tinder.

The moral of the story is – go on lots of dates if you want to. Most of them are probably going to be people you never want to (or should) go on a second date with. Or Maybe you’ll find one who is kind and lets you change all the radio pre-sets on his car on the third date.

Good luck out there.

Bonus*

I once matched with a boy on Tinder who looked familiar. After talking for a few minutes, he mentioned he was at a family function. He sent me a Snapchat of the party.

His family function was with my family.

I accidentally matched with my second cousin. We never talked again.

To my future daughter. Or son. Or dog(s).

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To my future daughter. Or son. Or dog.

You’re beautiful (to me anyway) and probably naïve (like me). I hope you have inherited my eyes and my quick wit, and hopefully you haven’t inherited my constant need for affirmation and Burger King.

I made you a list of lessons, live by them. Hopefully I’ll be around to tell them to you in person, if not – I’ll be right back, I’m probably just watching reruns of Parks and Recreation.

1. There is no shame in eating a donut. Or two donuts. Don’t tell anyone about the third. Make fun of the fourth. When you make fun of your own shortcomings, you own them.

2.  Never let anyone walk on you – emotionally or physically. (Basically, you don’t know where their feet have been and sometimes people look like they weigh less than they actually do).

3. When someone asks you how much you weigh – smile, look them in the eye and say, “not enough”. Pull out a pack of Oreos and don’t offer them any.

4. Don’t just give yourself to anyone. This includes your time, money, love, affection, body, and chicken nuggets. All of these things are precious and should be treated as such.

5. Be where you are. But if you are somewhere you don’t want to be, call me and I’ll pick you up. Or pretend to text someone really important.

6. Don’t let a boy (or girl) dictate your happiness. You dictate your happiness. Follow your joy – whether that’s religion, or love, or the ocean. Follow it.

7. We all pee our pants past the age of fifteen. I think. It happens to everyone. I think.

8. If you are anything like me, you talk faster than your brain can think. Know the right time to be talking about hot topics like marriage equality, and feminism and the store Hot Topic.

9. Know your strengths – build on them. Know your weaknesses – work on them. Know your way back home – to me. Know your future is bright – so bright you can’t even quite see where it’s headed yet.

10. Smile when you’re happy. Frown when you’re sad. Scream when you’re mad. Feel what you are feeling, you don’t have to pretend you are okay.

11. Fall in-love with yourself first. Someday someone else will come along that falls for you – I want you to understand why. In order to let them properly love you, you need to love yourself. Love yourself like Kanye loves Kanye.

12. It’s okay to be skinny, it’s okay to be chunky. It’s okay to be quiet and it’s okay to be loud. It’s not okay to be an asshole.

13. Lastly, and most importantly, know that your mother didn’t know anything at the age of 20 (and neither do you). These are just guidelines, as thought up by someone who doesn’t really have her shit together. Someday, when I meet you, I probably will still be wrong about a lot of things. A few things I know I’m not wrong about: I love you. I love me. Fall is the best season. Nick Jonas is the hottest Jonas Brother. Everyone cries to Coldplay.

(I’m actually not sure that Nick is the hottest. So, I guess I don’t know a lot of things for sure.)

Love always,

Your mother.