Where Did I Go?

Hey readers. Whether you are someone who has followed my blog from the beginning, or this is your first time, I’m so glad that you decided to take five minutes out of your day to read something that a teenage (almost adult) girl wrote somewhere.

You may have noticed that I have appeared to drop off the face of the planet. For the past 6 months or so, I have stopped writing and posting anything on the Simply Smiles blog. I would like to thank my readers who have continued to put counts on my posts and keep the blog up and running. ❤ Basically the last 6 months have been a crazy time. And I feel like I owe you an explanation.

I didn’t just withdraw from this blog, but I seemed to withdraw from life. I stopped filming videos for my YouTube channel, I gave up on the things I liked to do. I stopped pushing myself to learn guitar and I begrudgingly pushed myself out of bed every morning to go to classes and work. I even pushed away a lot of my friends, and the ones I didn’t push away… well, I kept them at a distance. Needless to say, it was a pretty tough time. I went through therapy, in and out of doctors offices, counselling sessions, medication. It was a roller-coaster to say the least and it felt like I had went to the sun three times and back again.

And it’s insane, because how could someone who writes a motivational blog be so lost and need so much motivation herself? Don’t ask me. It’s so easy for me to pull out my heart and give you all my love, care, and support. But I couldn’t do that for me. I can write about 10 reasons to keep holding on, but the truth is, I couldn’t follow that advice myself.

Honestly, I’m still not through that time of life right now. I’m still not better. I still feel like crawling into bed sometimes and never coming out. I still feel like I’m worthless sometimes, a failure; I still am too hard on myself about my looks and my grades but through all of this I’m still me. I’m still the person that I was a year ago and I will continue to be that person. Because the thought that keeps me alive and strong is what I have around me. I have great friends who care about me, I have an extremely loving boyfriend by my side, and I have family to support me. I have a purpose. I will go to bed every night and gladly wake up again in the morning if it means that somewhere, somehow in the world, I have positively affected someone.

I’m not going to lie. It’s not easy. But if I can get through it, then you can too. You can get through anything that you want to, and you are never alone on anything. I was there. I’m still here, and I always will be.

So keep at your beautiful lives readers, and keep smiling. 🙂

Why Go To University (Video)

Why Am I Going To University?: http://youtu.be/9NfgF-UvoeA

So I have recently started a YouTube channel because in about a week I will be entering first year university! Hopefully all of you will continue to read the Simply Smiles blog as well as subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow what university life is like! I will be posting and giving real advice as I experience it myself too! I’m going to use it to document my university experience for not only you and all my viewers but also myself. I can’t wait to look back and see how I’ve changed and grown as a person.

University is a scary time, but so is change in general. Perhaps you’re going into university like me, perhaps you’re starting at a new job, and perhaps you’re going into high school or even moving to a new city. All of these new changes bring about fear, excitement, anxiety, happiness, and confusion. But change is totally a great thing, think about all the amazing experiences that you had just because something changed.

Time To Say Goodbye

*Disclaimer* 

I often use writing as a way to express my thoughts and emotions, and I figured that I would share this with this month’s readers but also as a way to talk about August and what is exactly going on with this crazy month. This blog post will be talking about death, and therefore is an extremely sensitive topic. I will be sharing my experiences as well as talking about the topic in general so I’m sincerely sorry if reading this post brings up memories and emotions. If you are not comfortable reading about this chosen topic, please do not continue. Be strong readers, I know we can together. 

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Growing up, I didn’t quite accept the idea of death. I knew that life began and life ended, I knew that all things grew up, got old, and eventually died. The closest I had experienced death were my dead fish and my hamster when it passed away. Then again, I had practically no emotional connection to these animals and therefore their deaths were not very traumatic for me. I also knew growing up that sometimes things happen that cause people to die unexpectedly. Whether this be a car accident, an illness such as cancer, or the choice to take their own life, the idea of death is a far broader topic than any of us can truly comprehend. However, the idea was still totally distant, and also so terrifying that I refused to think about it. 

When someone passes away, everything suddenly changes. You find yourself struggling to figure out things for the funeral arrangements, pronouns suddenly shift to pass tense; he “was”, she “was”, they “were”. Whether it takes you seconds or months to realize, someday you suddenly recognize that the individual can never come back, no matter how much you and everyone else misses them. You realize that you won’t see them again in this life, you will never hear their laugh or feel their presence. This is probably the hardest thing to accept. 

I wish there was something I could say, something I could do, to make it all better. 

 

Recently someone very close to me passed away, and though the individual had been very ill for some time, it was still a shock. Just the day before, I was sitting across from them, playing my guitar and singing Edelweiss. Just like that, life can be taken away, gone. You go through all the stages. Shock, numbness, sadness, anger, confusion, and then deep sorrow. You may be angry at the world for taking away someone so important, someone so young, someone with so much potential and life left. I know I was. But shaking my fist at the universe was pointless… Nothing could bring back what I missed most. The only thing left to do was grieve by living life the way they would want me to.
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About a week ago I had the opportunity to attend a leadership conference, where I had some life changing experiences. In one session we were asked to rate the top 10 most important things in our lives. My number one was health, both mental and physical, because those are the two biggest factors to death and loss. Without that health, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, how much fame, how many memories and things to look forward to. You really have nothing. So let’s think back to May and June.. How important is mental and physical health? My second most important thing is today. What I mean is that now matter what moment you are in, today is the most important. Today is the day that you’re living in, today is right now. Today has so much potential. Of course there’s things to look forward to, there’s past events to mentally relive and reminisce about. But today is a day you’ll never ever get back. So today is important. I want to live each day to the absolute fullest. It means that every second I want to be doing something I love or I feel is benefitting me. I’m learning to look forward to everything as well as how to balance myself and my life. I want you to do the same. Take a look at all the things you want to accomplish, are you proud of how you’re living your day?

What I’ve learned from all of this is that life is fragile, and that it can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. You never know, and that’s the scary part. Honestly the idea of death terrifies me and always has. But what I’ve learned is to not anticipate death, but to spend each moment loving and embracing life. After a very scary situation last year regarding physical health I realized that each day is precious. But we can embrace it and live it to the fullest because each is a day we shall never have back.

Mirrors

In every horror movie, there is always a scene where someone looks in a mirror and sees something that shouldn’t be there. Perhaps their reflection is distorted, perhaps their reflection moves when it shouldn’t. Or perhaps there is no reflection at all. Why is the idea of your reflection so important? Why do mirrors have the abilities to completely destroy self confidence as well as self image? image

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see your beauty? Or do you see your flaws and imperfections? Do you see something you wished weren’t there? How often do you look at yourself and flinch a little, seeing something that you wished you could change?

You probably only see yourself for less than 10 minutes every day. The rest of the time, you exist in the eyes of others. Think about all the things that you don’t see. You spend your entire life looking at everyone else, only to glimpse at yourself for a few moments when you pass by something that holds your reflection. Sure, cameras capture your image, but only for that one moment. You will never see yourself as how others see you. You won’t see the way your crooked smile lights up a room. You won’t see your eyes light up as they look at your girlfriend or boyfriend. You won’t see how delicately you dance ballet or how gracefully you swim. You won’t see your determination as you finish an essay and you won’t see the way you chew your pencil as you write your exam. You won’t get to see your tongue stick out when you ice a cake and you won’t get to see how that necklace brings out your eyes. There are so many precious things about you that you are showing to the rest of the world that you will never get the chance to see.

Let’s change gears for a second, and picture living in a world where you never see your own reflection. You live your entire life not knowing what you look like, only seeing the image of everyone else. Do you look like them, you wonder. Or do you look completely different? Would you have a greater self-confidence, never being able to point out your flaws? You would be defined by what is on the inside, not what you see on the outside. Our bodies are simply a vessel for carrying around our incredible personalities, our hopes, dreams, and interests.

Although we’ve probably all heard about these tips before, I’m going to restate them because they are entirely important and necessary. To feel better about your body and your self-image you need to start by changing your actions and lifestyle to allow yourself to feel better about your physical appearance.

  1. Exercise more. Exercise can not only be used to tone body fat, build muscle, and help with strength and endurance, but exercise can make you feel amazing as well. Exercising for thirty minutes can release endorphins in your brain; which are positive feel-good chemicals that will give you a greater sense of well-being. Exercise can also help bring you to your ideal body and physical appearance. It doesn’t always mean doing sit-ups and jogging, but it’s about finding exercise that is fun and suitable for you. This could mean doing weight lifting, swimming, rock climbing, yoga, dance, or tossing a frisbee with your friends.
  2. Eat healthy. We all know that certain foods are fattening and unhealthy for us. However, these foods also weigh us down and build additional bulk. The chemicals in some foods can show down neurotransmitters in our brains, meaning our physiological thought process is actually slower. Again, it doesn’t mean you have to munch on raw celery for the rest of your life. Eating healthy is also about finding foods that you enjoy eating and eating a balanced diet of many nutrients.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people. I can’t stress how important this is. We all have those people in our lives that seem to be negative all of the time; all they do is complain or stress and it brings you down to be around them as well. These are people that you should spend less time with. Be around positive people that make you feel good about yourself, your image, and the kind of person you are. Being around positive people that make you smile will make you a more happy and positive person as well. Also, being around people who have a positive body image will pass onto this as well. The human mind is easily impressionable, and the opinions and mindsets of others can easily be transferred to you.

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So next time you look at yourself in the mirror, smile. Because you are an incredible, beautiful, fantastic person and I 100% believe in you. Find your positives, maybe you can see ten million, or maybe you can only see one. However big or small it is, focus on that the next time you think about yourself and your self-image. Instead of saying “my feet are too big”, tell yourself “I love my green eyes”. Instead of saying “I wish I were taller”, tell yourself “I love the way my hair looks.” Focus on the positive readers. And always… keep smiling. 🙂

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Different reflection photo from http://www.npr.org.

Reflection #2: Tips

So Team Courage recently participated in relay for life which was quite an incredible event! Through Zumba, karaoke, and fundraising we had an amazing time throughout the night. Not sleeping that night was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a while, but honestly it was too cold to sleep anyway! Haha, I would like to thank all of you for your incredible support. It means so much to all of us, and we couldn’t have done it without knowing our readers were behind us.

Relay for life acted as a reminder that life is extremely fragile, and that physical health is so important to have. Without it, we have nothing really. We need to take care of our health and take care of our bodies because its really the only thing we have carrying us around on this planet.

I am thinking of filling this blog post with a few cheesy inspirational quotes because we all need a few of these every once in a while. I have a whole album on my phone with just motivational and honestly it’s pretty bad. But exams start tomorrow and I think we are all desperately in need of some quick motivation. With exams coming up it was even more important to follow the three little tips to staying physically active. I made sure to get a good sleep every night, and to drink water and eat healthy. Drinking water actually helps your brain better function and make connections. Also… Sleeping allows your brain to solidify everything that you learned and encountered during the day. So getting a good nights rest is important, especially during exam time.

A cool tip for sleep to allow you to get an amazing nigEwajc2eXZr0How to wake up feeling great: The 90 minute rule: http://youtu.be/Ewajc2eXZr0
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Hannah: The most important challenge for me was the water. I mean, I know how important it is to drink water but I definitely do not drink enough on a daily basis. I like to think of water as a “miracle drug.” Do you ever wake up in the night with huge headaches? I do sometimes and it usually goes away after I drink a glass of water. But in terms of physical health I think that the exercise is the most important. It’s really important to get moving! A little bit of exercise can make your body feel great! Another thing that I think is really good for physical health is to walk. Not even just for exercise purposes. If you can get places with your feet, do it. I walk to my school most every day. I have even been known to walk an hour and a half to get places I need to go in my city. Walking is great. It gets your body in motion and helps you get the fresh air your body needs!

Jeremiah: For me, I know I already exercise frequently and sleep deprivation doesn’t seem to bother me too much, so the water drinking was the most important. I find I often realize at given times in the day that I haven’t been drinking any water and am super parched, so I have to drink like 3-4 cups all at once. Staying hydrated honestly makes me feel more awake and all around healthier. I think its easier to eat food after drinking lots of water too, otherwise your esophagus can get all clogged and that’s no fun at all. Honestly… Eating healthy really makes things better. If you try to cut as much unhealthy food from your diet as you can, you start feeling more awake, alert and all around have more energy and are happier and more satisfied with yourself. It feels so good, the temptation definitely dwindles after the first couple weeks too because it just doesn’t seem as appetizing anymore to eat unhealthy food. Eating healthy takes some discipline but is so so so worth it. I dare y’all to try it.

Kyndra: I know for me personally, the idea of sleep is really important. I’m not the best at making sure that I get the appropriate amount of sleep, so forcing myself too sleep and sleep in a multiple of 90 minutes really made a difference. You feel more energized and prepared for your day. I felt less fatigued and sick as per usual, I even felt less stressed, which for me is a pretty big deal. I think sleep is essential to your physical health as without it you can’t move forward, you can’t make any other progress toward being physically healthy. It is also important that you deal with your emotions in order to have a healthy body. Healthy mind equals a healthy body. If you have a negative mind set it will affect your body and how it feels. So if anything remember that everything is intertwined and aim for balance!

Nathan: To me, drinking the right amount of water daily is super important. I have always tried to drink above and beyond that 8 glasses a day recommendation, probably drinking closer to 12 or so (not to brag or anything). I just feel it’s really important. Simply drinking water can help you be and feel healthier in so many ways. It’s the basis of your life, it really is. You can’t go exercising if you aren’t drinking water to replace it. Eating healthy doesn’t mean much if you’re dehydrated. So yes, drink water. Looking for another health tip? Then have a good laugh. Ever heard the saying “Laughter is the best medicine”? Well, it’s on to something. Laughter has an insane amount of health benefits that you probably didn’t even know could be a health benefit. I wondered why the ball kept getting bigger, then it hit me!
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Reflection #1: Pyramids

Hello there readers. Did you miss the rest of Team Courage? Well it’s all good because we’re back! All of us! A lot of you have been asking what has been going on in our lives lately, well I can give you the brief outline that we have all been insanely incredibly busy. Our senior prom was a little while ago and that was pretty amazing. Also, team courage is going in relay for life and we have almost raised $800 for it so far! We have been selling awareness bracelets and we are having a garage sale tomorrow to try and fundraise some more to bring up our funds to around $900! This month is all about physical health, so we have made the effort to try and be as healthy as possible. We start this month by reflecting on our eating habits and how that could change.

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Nathan: I have to admit I may like my grains a little too much. Bread, rice, pasta, cereal, bagels, crackers; you name it, I love it. I am lacking in my dairy intake however. I mean, I love milk and yogurt and whatnot, but I always find myself drifting towards the lasagna instead of the cottage cheese (does anyone actually eat that stuff?). Healthy eating isn’t always about eating the “right” food (though a big part of it is), it’s a lot about eating the right amount of foods too.You can eat the exact right variety of foods, but if you’re inhaling carrots by the dozen, it’s not all that healthy. Yes, eating the right kinds of foods, avoiding junk food where possible, and ensuring you have a balanced diet is important, but quantity is just as important, and it’s often overlooked in this discussion. Weight control, increased energy, improved mood, protection from disease, and ultimately, extended life. With the proper nutrients, your body functions the way it wants to, and as you can probably guess, you’re the healthiest when your body functions properly.

Kyndra: To me eating healthy is usually pretty important because my body depends on a specific amount of certain beneficial parts of food. For example, if I don’t eat enough protein I become very nauseous, dizzy/lightheaded, and grumpy. I also find that healthy eating helps me with my fatigue, the better I eat, the less tired I am. I think healthy eating is listening to your body and knowing what’s best for it. For example, two years ago I finally listened to my body and I learned I was allergic to gluten, turns out I had been poisoning myself for 15 years. I think it is essential that you find what healthy eating means to you and stick to it! Eating healthy can help fight diseases which can be incredibly helpful in life. It can fight against heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. All of these can lead to serious symptoms and crucial, life changing effects. It can also help with diabetes, depression, arthritis and many other illnesses. It is highly important that one maintains a healthy diet to have a healthy body.

Hannah: The food group that I get the most of is probably grains. I am a big lover of pasta and I eat cereal pretty much every morning. But I happen to be lacking in every other aspect. The only nutrient I get enough of on a daily basis is sodium. I know that this is bad, deficiencies can have a lot of bad effects so hopefully this will change soon. I think that eating healthy is important because it really gets the body going and keeps you super awake. I like to actually be awake in the mornings when my alarm goes off, but this doesn’t usually happen because I don’t eat properly. Eating healthy is just all-around good. Building off of last month, healthy foods will actually improve your mood as well! Do you ever find that if you don’t eat you get really moody? Well try eating healthier… You may find yourself in a better mood most of the time!

Jeremiah: I love eating fruit, it’s cool because i just find it so delicious and easy but it’s also good for you so that’s a rare combination. Grains less so, I don’t have those too much, I like bread but I don’t put it in a lot of my meals. To me, eating healthy is pretty important. I just like staying as fit and in shape as possible so I enjoy not eating things that I feel will slow me down. I do this thing every July where I eat no unhealthy food the entire month, and at the end of each month I find I’m much happier and have a lot more energy. Unhealthy food honestly tastes kind of disgusting after not eating it for so long, so after a little while going off it it’s not as hard as you’d think. I think an awesome health benefit is how it effects your overall mood. Switching to eating healthier can just make you feel more awake, alive and turn a good mood into a great one. Lately I’ve been slipping a bit and giving into a tad more junk than usual, so I should try to pick it up soon.

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Pyramids photo from https://simplysmiles59.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/1b687-pyramids.jpg.

What’s Up With June

Well hello readers. We are approaching the halfway bump of June and can you believe how far Project Courage has come? Please continue to send us messages and comments because we love hearing from you. We apologize that we can’t answer them all because there are so many, but you guys are so special to us! 2014 has been an insane but amazing year so far, think about how far we have come. We have explored ourselves and who we are. We have challenged ourselves to become better friends and faced true courage in many different forms. We made time for our inner child and last month we dedicated to exploring mental health awareness.
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So here we are, segueing from mental health into June, the month of physical health. I chose to have this theme for June in particular because of Relay for Life. For those of you who don’t know, Relay for Life is a 12 hour event that goes overnight, where participants can make teams and walk a track to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The money raised goes towards the Canadian Cancer Society, which is an amazing cause. We have registered as Team Courage, and we hope our readers register as well. Cancer affects all of us, whether direct or indirect. We 

To fundraise for relay, we are selling these bracelets around our community. We chose lavender because its a colour for general mental health as well as cancer awareness, and the words “it’s possible” have become our motto for this project. The words have so much hope and potential behind them. It’s possible to get through anything, it’s possible to overcome mental illness, to beat cancer. It’s possible to find love again, to have hope, to accomplish your wildest dreams and reach new heights. It’s possible to make a difference, and it’s possible to create the change.

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June is all about how to stay healthy, and yes you will be getting challenges and reflections back this month! So you will be hearing from Team Courage yet again, as we all know how much you’ve missed them haha. It can’t be just me ranting all of the time.

So here it is.. Challenge 1.
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CHALLENGE #1: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

The first step to being physically health is eating healthy. Now I won’t get into the complex details about biological molecules and the importance of various nutrients and how they are used in the body, but just trust me on this. A balanced diet is extremely important to maintaining physical health. Let’s talk about the food groups for a second. Grains are important for dietary fiber and b vitamins! They can help with weight management if consumed correctly and also reduce the risk of heart disease. Fruits and vegetables provide basically every nutrient you could possibly need, and essentially have no downfall except for the acidity of some citrus fruits but anyways! Dairy products provide an essential source of calcium, but also frozen yogurt is delicious. Finally, we have meat and alternatives. Now protein is kind of necessary, but eat too much and it quickly becomes fat and bulk that you do not want. But each too little and it can damage your blood cells and muscles. Therefore, it is essential to learn about eating healthy!
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The challenge for this week is to record everything you are eating for two days. It can be two days in a row or two random days of this week. But you are going to write down everything that you ate from the moment you woke up to the moment you went to bed. Now there are some really good smart phone apps for this but you can always use the old pencil and paper. Be specific about quantities as well as ingredients! Then, highlight the foods based on the food groups and look at what you eat and where you need to eat less and where you should eat more.

Being reflective about what you eat and being consciously aware of your food choices can be greatly beneficial to your health. Making healthy eating choices is extremely important, and Team Courage challenges you to use the data you collected and challenge yourself to eat healthier!

And finally! To go with the theme of eating I’m going to challenge you all to watch this unrelated video essentially because I found out hilarious and it never gets old.

How Animals Eat Their Food | MisterEpicMann: http://youtu.be/qnydFmqHuVo
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June word clip art from http://blog.3bscientific.com/science_education_insight/2013/06/june-an-inventive-month.html. Healthy heart from http://blogs.bu.edu/sargentchoice/2012/01/18/eating-healthy-isnt-all-or-nothing/