Sometimes The Best Way To Deal With Loss is Just to Smile

Every year at the end of August my family gets together and heads down to the Canadian National Exhibition, or The Ex. For those who don’t know it, it’s exactly what you’d expect to be; a huge exhibition with vendors, rides, games, shows, and food… TONS of it. Some of my best memories are trying out foods from the famous food building on site.

My family and I have made the Ex an annual tradition since I can remember. We’ve been going, I’d say, for at least 10 years. We’ve been going for so long that there were some years where I had to be wheeled in a wheelchair because I was dealing with my Crohn’s disease. It was a mission for me, but I wasn’t going to let a stupid disease ruin our family tradition. My dad always made sure I would never miss it.

That’s why I didn’t miss it today. Today is the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s passing from complications due to a bone marrow transplant. For those who don’t know the story, I wont get into detail because of those who do, but you can go to this link to read the story.

Though it’s the 2nd year I’ve lived without him in my life, today’s adventure was still lacking without him. Actually, a lot of things in my life have been lacking without him.

It was weird being president of my sorority without him cracking bad jokes about the position.

It was strange graduating from UWO this May without him there to clap as I walked across the stage.

It’s odd knowing I’m moving to NYC and getting my Masters at NYU without him telling me he’s proud of me.

It still upsets me knowing that I can’t sit down and talk with him about everything that’s going on in my life.

It’s been two years but I’m still not used to it.

Instead of sitting around and being sad, mopey, and depressing, I thought there was no better way to remember him than to go to our favourite event. We had fun, we laughed, we ate ridiculous food, and we spent time together as a family.

That’s all he would have wanted.

Miss you daddy <3

Sleep? What Is That?

I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in about a week and a half.

Last Monday, I was beyond busy not only packing to move out of my sorority house, but racing to finish writing my last essay. It was the end of my undergraduate career.

Though for most, emotions would run high, I didn’t even have a second to think about it. The next day I prepared to head to NYC to start preparing for my new life there in September.

On Wednesday, my mom and I went to the city to start setting up the basics. I met the director of my grad school program who gave me tons of useful information, informed me that I was 1 of 115 students for next year between the ages of 22-50+ [eek], helped me pick my classes for Sept, and happened to introduce me to the entire board of directors for the program…no big deal? Haha.

I also set up an American bank account, began to scout out locations for my new apartment, and of course, did a little shopping. This trip wasn’t all business, though, as my mom and I decided to see a show! We hadn’t bought tickets to anything, but had heard there were special ways to get discount tickets to shows. Actually, we ended up hearing about the “Wicked Lottery.”

This lottery was to win front row tickets to the sold out show of Wicked on Broadway, for a really cheap price. You had to put your name in a draw a few hours before the show began. When we got there, there were about 15 people waiting for the draw so I figured we had a chance. About 20 minutes later, it had grown to a crowd of about 120 people, each putting their name into the draw. At that point, I was certain we wouldn’t win; they were only picking 13 names. To my luck, they called my name for the second last pair they were giving away. I was beyond ecstatic to win, especially after seeing the phenomenal the show.

Of course my luck reached its peaked when it was time to fly back to Toronto. The weather was terrible, with gusting winds and pouring rain, but, at the time, I didn’t think much of it. I never expected that our plane would be delayed because it couldn’t fly in that weather. My mom and I flew with Porter airlines, which on the way there, was unbelievable. The company was all around friendly, it had a nice lounge with free coffee and snacks, and the plane itself had ample leg room. Unfortunately, this airline owns a fleet of small airplanes, meaning in weather that we were experiencing on our last day…, when all the other large planes are flying, Porter airplanes were grounded. My mother and I were delayed 7 hours. Instead of getting on our flight for 6:30pm, we ended up flying at 1am, landing at an airport an hour away, bussing to downtown Toronto, and cabbing from there. I got into my bed at 430am.

I barely had any time to catch up on the sleep that I had missed from that flight debacle before we had more things to do; a small luncheon event, unpacking, and Passover dinners.

I’m still trying to catch up on sleep.

Doesn’t look like I will be getting much more sleep this week, however, as I am currently preparing for my trip to EUROPE!

Yes, I am leaving this Sunday night to head to London, England, to begin my month long adventure around the continent.

My friend Josh and I are starting in London [so that we can see the royal wedding!], right before we head to Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence, Venice, Frankfurt, Geneva, and then we finish off our trip in Israel so we can visit family!

Though it seems like over the past little while that I travel like it’s my job, I have never actually been to Europe. Actually, I’ve also never travelled without a suitcase…

Oh yeah…I am in fact BACKPACKING around Europe.

[Haha I know, right, me, backpacking? This should be interesting…]

…Ok, well we’re staying in hotels, not hostels [we’re not hostel type people] but I will be carrying my clothing and necessities in a backpack for a month!

That counts, right?

The most interesting part of packing will be my ostomy supplies. I have planned to fill at least ¼ of my backpack with supplies so that I can bring about 2 months’ worth, just in case. I really don’t want to be stranded in some foreign country without supplies… that could get messy haha….ew.

While we’re there, we’ll be sight-seeing, partying, and taking in all the culture in these countries have to give us. I will be taking tons and tons of pictures, unfortunately, I’m not sure how much access I’ll have to internet… Hopefully, I’ll have access so I can blog during the adventure.

[Josh isssss bringing his iPad.. I just have to convince him to let me use it!]

This trip is a go with the flow kind of trip so I really have no idea what’s going to happen.

That being said- if anyoneeee has any tips for me, ostomy related or not, I would LOVE to hear them. I have never ever ever EVER done a trip so unplanned and so “go with the flow” that I would love to be as knowledgeable as possible. [You know, I'd like to return to Canada alive and well...]

So, to anyone reading this, please help me with information onnnn:

  • Traveling to Europe with an ostomy
  • Backpacking for a month with an ostomy
  • Good places to eat in these cities
  • Functional, yet cheap, places to stay in these countries
  • Sights we haveee to see
  • Anything else you have to share :D

Thanks so much guys, and wish me luck!

“Baby I Just Wanna Dance”

I love to dance.

Love love love it. Not like in-my-room-dancing-around-alone- to-loud-music  dancing, but real choreographed dancing.  I was an avid dancer as a younger child, but as I grew older, I fell sicker from my Crohn’s disease, and it became more difficult to drag myself to dance class. It was even more difficult to keep up with the moves with my low energy levels and pain and had I eventually to give it up.  After I had my ostomy surgery my pain was gone and my energy levels were back up but, unfortunately, I had a hard time finding opportunities to get back into dance classes.

That was until I joined my sorority, where dancing was apparently a crucial part of Greek philanthropic events. Who knew?

Over my university and sorority career, I made sure to participate in as many dance competitions as possible to fulfill my desire to shake it. With this year being my last of my undergrad career, and being unsure if I’d ever have the opportunity to dance again, I asked to participate in the biggest dance competition of the year.

The dance competition is part of a week of events called Derby Days hosted by the boys of the Sigma Chi fraternity. The week consists of not only a major dance performance, or “airbands,” but other fun events such as their coffee house, where every sorority has to bring as many girls and baked goods as possible, along with a mural painted for Sigma Chi as well as a pageant called Miss Greek where two girls are selected to represent each sorority and are judged based on their answers to questions, their talents, and their fashion sense.

Over my years at UWO I have baked many cookies, performed in many dances, and even represented my sorority for Miss Greek [back in my younger days…] While every year was a fun experience, this year was definitely the best.

This year we all came together in sisterhood spirit to bake as much as we could while taking breaks to make our awesome event tshirts for the coffee house.

This year, my sorority won Miss Greek for the first time because the hard work and preparation and of course, beauty of our amazing representatives Cassie and Chelsea.

To top the whole week off, this year, for the first time in my four years at UWO and participating in the airbands dance competition, we won.

Actually, we had won Derby Days as a whole.

In fact, our Derby Days win actually solidified our streak for winning 3 out of 3 Greek competitions this year along with the the FIJI Fashion Show and Pi Kappa Alpha’s Pike Bunny all raising money for great philanthropic endeavours.

This year, not only did my sorority contribute to helping out tons of different charities for great causes, but we have also become the number #1 sorority on campus. [#tri-winning]

Though I am extremely sad to be leaving my circle of sisters and the opportunities to participate in amazing events, I could not be happier than to have been president of this amazing group of, spirited, hardworking, and talented women.

Alpha Love <3

For those who want to see, below is the video of the dance performance we gave. The theme was “Last Friday Night” and followed 4 girls on their journey of a fun night supplemented by some amazing dances. If you want to look out for me, I walk on stage first for the first dance in a purple shirt and pop in and out of dances throughout the whole thing.

Enjoy :]

The “Lasts” of Things [And Happy Valentine's Day!]

Lasts of Things

It’s slowly becoming more and more real that the things I have become accustomed to are coming to an end.

Two weekends ago I attended my fourth and final sorority parent ball. It’s a big event that the sorority throws to invite parents into our special circle to see what it’s all about. The first ball I went to was the chance for me to convince my parents that a sorority wasn’t all the media represented it to be. I made them meet every parent possible, ask questions, and meet the girls. I wanted them to feel the sisterhood that I had felt in my short time in Alpha Gamma Delta. To my luck, the event had convinced my parents that the sorority was a great new part of my life.

My parents then came to my second parent ball with bells on. It was a very special ball because it was the last my father was able to attend before he passed away in 2009.

My third parent ball was strange because it was the first time I had really felt like a single-parent child. People felt awkward about talking about the “parent” ball it in front of me, and I was awkward back. My mom, who loved AGD just as much as I did, still wanted to come and I was more than happy to have her be my date. It was a tough night for both of us, but we did have a great time.

These feelings of sisterhood and coming to terms with losing my father were felt more than ever at this last parent ball. It was the same as always- parents, girls in dresses, food, and dancing. It was great to finally be the girl that convinced other parents about how amazing AGD is, which I did through my presidential address. It was also special because my mom was the one who gave the customary “father of the president” speech. Though still slightly strange being there with only one parent, having started these events with two, you could feel the love of the sisterhood and their parents when they applauded both mine and my mother’s speeches.

It was a strange feeling, it being the last parent ball, but it certainly was a wonderful last experience.

This past Saturday, I had another last experience- Crush.

Twice a year, AGD throws a Crush party where girls invite boys to a semi-formal. This was my 8th and last Crush. Though it was strange being older and more mature then many of the younger newbies, it was still fun to get dressed up and dance the night away. It also helped that I had a great date.

On Sunday, I had again, another last experience- Composite Pictures

Sunday morning, I got all dolled up to take my 4th and final composite picture for the sorority composite. I put in extra effort than I had in years past because this year, my picture was going to be in the top middle with “President” underneath. Never in my past composites had I ever thought that was where I would be.

These “lasts” of sorority things are both sad and scary as they just keep reminding me that every day I get a little bit closer to entering the real world. Soon, I will be leaving the comfort of this circle of girls to enter a world full of bills, stress, and life.

Though I have severely hated these “lasts,” there was one in particular today that I could not have been happier about:

Today was the last time I ever hated Valentine’s day.

Since I can remember, I have always loathed VDay like most single girls- mainly because I’ve been single for every Feb 14th since my birth.

It wasn’t just because I was single, but was a combination of being left out of getting valentines cards in elementary school, the “your my valentine” cards from my mom attached to the box of chocolate I would engorge out of self-loathing, and getting the “pity” vday cards from my highschool friends because they were all dating each other and I was the odd one out. It was never a good day and I’ve always hated it.

Today, however, was the last day I could ever say I hated Valentine’s day because I was given my own special Vday surprise.

While cooking dinner in a sea of bitterness, I had a special somebody appear in the doorway of the kitchen with this special Valentine’s present for me.

For the first time in my life, someone other than my friends with their pity cards, or my mom with her chocolates, actually thought I was special enough for a gift.

While I agree that the whole day is simply a commercial interest for corporations all over the world, it’s still really nice to know someone cares.

I hope everyone else was able to have a special day.

If not, you will

It took 21 years for me :]

How the Years Fly By

Once again, I forgot about my bag-aversary.

As of yesterday, I have had my ostomy for 8 years.

I guess it’s a good thing that I keep forgetting about this day because my ostomy is just another part of my body. I don’t have a day to celebrate my middle finger or my left ear, so why celebrate the day that saved my life?

…Ok, well maybe there’s some reason to celebrate…

Even though I had forgotten to commemorate this special day, it didn’t matter because the day had consisted of simple everyday activities that used to seem impossible while I was suffering with Crohn’s disease.

I had spent the day cleaning my room and doing laundry, activities that are difficult to do when the pain is too much to get out of bed. Later that evening, I had a lovely movie night with my sisters Megan [the new AGD president] and Amy. Though this is such a common activity for others my age, it is especially significant for me. I had spent so much time isolated and alone in the hospital that spending any amount of time with friends is meaningful. To top the night off, I had a visit from the ice cream fairy, who dropped off a tub of cookie dough ice cream on my doorstep. I had been complaining to someone earlier that evening that I was craving it and, surely enough, he had dropped some off for me. This was not only super sweet, but made my night complete. I was able to stuff my face with this amazing dessert that I was once not allowed to eat because of my disease.

Every day I am reminded of how far I have come all because of this surgery.  Today, I was reminded through an email I received from my university. This email informed me of the date I was to register for graduation; the time to tell the university I had completed all my requirements and was ready to become an adult.

As of this May, I will be a graduate of the University of Western Ontario.

Though I am not sure what will happen at this time, whether I get into the graduate schools I’ve applied to or will be working full-time, I can be thankful that I have made it this far. 8 years ago I would have never dreamed I’d be preparing for this time of my life.

I know it’s been 8 years and this whole positive outlook seems so repetitive. I keep going on and on about how amazing things are now that I no longer suffer from Crohn’s disease because of my ostomy.

Well, it should be repetitive because it never stops being true.

May the New Year Bring Only Joy

I’m back from a wonderful vacation in Jamaica with my mother and brother, and currently heading to London to spend New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend. It is this time of year that you must spend with the ones you love because you never know when the opportunity will disappear.

Over the past few years I have become very aware of this, with my grandmother and my father’s passing, but as of last night, the point was reiterated yet again.

Myself and my sorority sisters found out late yesterday evening that one of our graduated members had passed away. She was only 22.

This girl had been around during my first year in the sorority and then became one of my roommates when I lived in the sorority house in my second year. We had many great memories together.

Last year, we grew apart because she left the sorority and I was busy dealing with the loss of my father, school, and everything else a normal person my age has to deal with. I posted on her facebook wall but I never got around to actually seeing her. I always figured I had time.

Though I never make New Year’s resolutions, I decided that this year would be an exception. I have always know that I have difficulty keeping in touch with the friends I have made over the years. I always just expect to see them again in a certain situation, which I usually do, and it’s like old times. I realize that I can no longer make this assumption and must make the effort to stay in touch.

My new year’s resolution is to actively reach out to those that I have made friendships with so that I will never miss the opportunity to show them what they’ve meant to me.

Happy New Years, and may 2011 only bring good things.

————-

Video from my Jamaican vacation will be coming soon, keep checking.

Snow Dayyyy x3

Today marks the second of a three day snowday at the University of Western Ontario.

It has been a momentous occasion as apparently over the past 100 years Western has only had like 3 snow days!

In the past 36 hours, London Ontario has gotten over 60cm of snow, with more to come.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this much snow in my life! It’s up to my knees!

It’s been pretty awesome though. Today, all my assignments were DONE for the semester, meaning I could lounge around and be a big pile of lazy. I spent a good portion of my day hanging out with my wonderful boyfriend, watching tv, and well… doing a little bit of work. We couldn’t waste the entire day. When he left, a bunch of my sisters and I decided to go out and make snow forts and have snowballs fights on what used to be the front lawn. After that, we gathered in the living room to play a board game, which I lost very very badly.

Overall, today was an amazing day. Thanks snow :]

The Holiday Season

Oh the holiday season.

I guess for me, this season will always bring the good and the not-so-good emotions.

This time of year is a mix of emotions between enjoying time with the loved ones in your life but is also about remembering those who are no longer with you.

This weekend when I was home in Toronto I celebrated Channukah with both sides of my family. We went to my Bubbie’s house [My father’s mother] for our usual Friday night dinner. This time though, it was accompanied by latkas [the traditional jewish food during this holiday] and gifts. Saturday  too, included latkas and gifts with my mother’s side of the family.

I hadn’t really been around my family for a few months since I had moved back to school, so it was a nice change. I missed everyone and enjoyed spending quality time with them.

Even though it has been a while since his passing, it has still been hard celebrating the holidays without my dad. I don’t really know how to put it into words, and I don’t know if I can, but it was hard.

To top it all off, yesterday, I received an email from a family with a picture attached. The mother of the family had emailed me explaining  how she had met my father. Apparently, the family had met my dad at Princess Margaret Hospital when my he was in for weekly blood transfusions and their daughter was in for treatments. The mother had told me how much fun my dad had been and what a great person he was. Attached to the email, was a picture of an ornament they had made of my father to put on their special “angel” tree. This tree has 12 ornaments of people they had met and who had passed over the past two years who they consider heroes.

I guess I didn’t really realize how much I missed my dad during the holidays until I received the email, last night, during my sorority holiday potluck dinner. I read the email as it came to my blackberry while sitting at a table with a bunch of my sisters. The email was so touching that I actually cried at the table. Luckily, I was able to hide it. However, in an instant my tears were quickly turned to laughs when a sister made a joke. The laughs reminded me of the love within my circle of friends and reminded me to cherish the time I had with them.

Last night was definitely a great moment during this holiday season. Of course I had an amazing time with my family back at home, but last night was special as well. At 6pm yesterday evening, our house began to fill with girls and food as we all prepared to feast for our holiday potluck. There were almost 50 girls present, each with a separate dish in hand. There was tons of food and laughter, and I had a great time.

Though this is really only the beginning of the holiday season, I have already experienced an overwhelming amount of joy and love. I am so lucky to have such special people in my life and I couldn’t be happier.

This holiday season, please appreciate the loved ones around you.

<3

Perks of Presidency

When I was elected president of my sorority, I was excited to be in charge of an amazing group of girls and to have the opportunity to help make this a great year.

It never really crossed my mind that being president also had its fun little perks.

This past Thursday and yesterday night, two sororities held big events that put fraternities against each other in order to raise money for charity.

Alpha Phi ran their annual Mr. Greek on Thursday, also known as their male beauty pageant. The participants were judged on their answers during the question period, their skills during the talent portion, and… well, a few other things I can’t go into detail about! Kappa Alpha Theta, last night, ran their event called “Airbands,” where the fraternities send a group of guys, usually their new members, to put on a dance performance for the crowd.

Being president, I was asked to judge these competitions with the president’s from the 4 other sororities on campus. We had front row seats and everything!

Both events were a lot of fun, especially because this year it seemed as though the fraternities put in an amazing amount of effort. I mean, I’ve been around for 4 years, I’ve seen these events before. This year was the year everyone went all out.

The winner of the 2010 Mr. Greek was a guy from Pi Kappa Alpha, who not only won over the crowd with his charm and good looks, but with his skilful rendition of the “Bed Intruder Song” for the talent portion. It was a close competition though, because everyone had amazing talent. The guy from Lambda Chi Alpha sang “I’m yours” by Jason Mraz, which is one of my all-time favourite songs, the guy from Phi Gamma Delta did an amazing breakdance number, and the guy from Alpha Epsilon Pi actually brought me up on stage and serenaded me. It was a tough call because they all did an amazing job.

Airbands was also an extremely tough competition. It seemed as if every fraternity had been practicing for this competition for weeks. Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi looked like they had been working on their performance for a while. I know Lambda Chi Alpha had been, for sure, since they were reigning champions and wanted to keep the title. They put on an amazing performance that included a set from “Glee,” one of my favourite shows. Unfortunately, they lost the title, in a close race to Phi Gamma Delta who did a musical performance of the movie “The Hangover.” Someone posted the video online so I thought I’d add it to give you a feel of the event.

It was a really close race and because everyone had worked so hard.

This just raises the bar for us girls when, next semester, Sigma Chi and Pi Kappa Alpha run their events that we’ll have to compete in. Guess we better start practicing now!

I Haven’t Disappeared on You!

I think it’s that time of year when I’ve reached the stage of total mental block.

I have sat at my computer and rewritten this blog post 4 times.

I started out apologizing for my absence for the past week due to the amount of homework I’ve had paired with the concussion I had last Wednesday. [I may have fallen down some stairs after my legs gave out…]

Then I realized I write/whine about that too often, so I changed it. I began writing about the semi-formal “Crush” event my sorority is holding tonight that I will be getting fancied up for. That wasn’t cutting it either.

I was then going to write…well complain about the drama in my love life… but then I realized I can’t even figure out if I am even a part of my own love life or I’m just a bystander watching it all happen around me. At the moment, I don’t even care. I’m happy as a clam.

I’m halfway [I suppose] through the blog I was going to write and it seems just as disorganized and confusing as my brain is right now. It’s too full of this thing I have to plan and this assignment I have to do and this thing I have to say to someone…. I feel like I have so many thoughts, that they are spewing from my ears.

I’d like to attribute this to just being a stressed out university student. It doesn’t happen when I become an adult does it?

Don’t answer that.

Ok, enough of my rambling. At least you all know that I’m alive now and haven’t disappeared off the face of the planet. Yay.

I’ve got tons more things happening in the next few weeks and I PROMISE I will sit down and tell you all about it. In the meantime, if you have anything you want me to talk about [I already have one suggestion lined up] then let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

OH, PS: If anyone is in the London Ontario, I will be speaking at an event for the London and District Ostomy Association on Nov 18th. If you’re around, come see me speak :]