LIFESTYLE // Foregoing the spotlight

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Everyone just calm down, alright? I’m not pregnant.

I did, however, get secretly married this weekend. & because I didn’t have time to think of anything other than saying “I do” (which wasn’t actually as scary as I thought it might be), I wrote my column about it.

There was no special treatment, no people trying to give us advice and no cold feet. I didn’t manage to lose ten pounds in 15 days, but that didn’t matter.

Instead, I got to spill barbeque sauce on my dress and wipe my nose on my dad’s flannel shirt. I got to fist pump a la Judd Nelson before the ceremony was over. I got to change into blue jeans, fill both my cheeks with M&M’s and we got to cut our first dance short because we didn’t remember music won’t stream in the middle of nowhere.  What mattered was that we got to enjoy it.

You can read the full column HERE.

Much love & extra happiness,

XOYW1

LIFESTYLE // Llama Drama, Striped Dresses, & other reasons the world needs forgiving this week

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Honestly, not that you guys care or anything, that picture was totally of a white and gold dress.

This week, North Americans were clearly in need of some escapism. We were latching onto anything and everything that had the potential to transport us out of our current reality. Yep, even llamas.

That’s OK, though. Every once and a while we need a little viral distraction, and not in the form of illnesses. This week, my InfoNews column is all about why we don’t need to be ashamed.

You can read it HERE.

XOYW1

 

 

 

FEEDBACK FRIDAY// A Response to my Oscars Opinion . . .

oscars_2793223bMy dear friends Scott from Scotland (real name, real location) commented on my recent Oscars post the other day by saying “[this is] the first time I’m offended by your writing. I’ll sit quietly over here and tut insistently at you for several of your remarks.”

Immediately I was like “you’re a liar,” because there’s no way that anyone who has known me for as long as Scott has is only JUST becoming offended by something I’ve said. But then I was like, you know what, I’m going to encourage this — because I’m not afraid.

So I told him to write a rebuttal and that I would post it, no questions asked.

I do have a question — how is it even possible that the rest of the world doesn’t hold Leo in the same regard as I do? But I will also absolutely post it. Because it’s awesome. Because he took the time to write it. & because he’s completely and 100 per cent correct in his own opinions.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Scott.

Scott

“Last night I was a little intrigued to see an article written by my dear friend Andria begrudging the Academy Awards. Now, that is not surprising, it was not the first I had seen (see the other 500 articles/think pieces written each year dismissing the much heralded annual film awards).

Firstly, when talking about film I refuse to trust anyone who thinks Leonardo DiCaprio is a god amongst actors (I’m looking at you Andria) and the fact he has never won an Oscar is by no means a valid reason for dismissing the Academy Awards. I shall briefly address this detail now by declaring outright that Leonardo DiCaprio has NEVER deserved to win an Oscar and we all need to stop falling over ourselves at how fantastic/amazing/wonderful/ he allegedly is. He is fine. I could go on but that is for another time (or because I have berated too many people with this lecture before, for which I am both sorry and not sorry in equal measure).

I shall state at this point that this is not going to be a defense of the Academy Awards, even though I find there to be a lot to commend in regards to their value upon the film industry. Quite honestly there are countless valuable reasons to frown upon their questionable choices throughout the years; I mean nobody should trust a voting body that is 94% Caucasian, 77% male and with an average age of 64 years old as a relevant means of judging today’s cinematic output. And for full disclosure I shall state that I gave the most guttural wretch when it was announced that ‘Birdman’ had won Best Picture over this year’s definitive masterpiece ‘Boyhood’.

It was actually in further reading of Andria’s article that I found what was truly shocking to me: I don’t think she truly understands the value of film itself, a realization that had me throwing my hands to my face, gobsmacked that a friend of mine was so readily letting the power of cinema escape them.

Yes, isn’t it a wonderful feeling when a film can make you feel so giddily happy that you just want to do a hundred cartwheels in a row to physically demonstrate that euphoric joy! But, isn’t it a wonderful feeling when a film can make you feel so deeply that it brings you to tears, or even to uncontrollable rage? I understand that its hard to take these two responses and assimilate them as one overarching appreciation for film, but the power to evoke honest emotion so passionately is a testament to great craft. We should never shy away from an emotional experience, because it is those moments in life that stick with and inspire us. Sure it is great to watch something light and cheerful when the mood calls for it, but once in a while allow something that might take a little more time to take you on an evocative and beautifully recognized journey.

I struggle when people choose to compare artistic mediums when their delivery and content is so vastly different. Literature offers so much in the way of rich, textured use of language and potent ideas for the mind to illustrate for itself. Film takes the artistic expression to a collaborative level by presenting one vision fully realized before the viewer, with countless elements combined to create one artistic package. Each can offer so much to its consumer that nobody should limit themselves to one or the other for particular value. Film is now of course a far more accessible medium than the likes of a novel, in that a film need only take a few hours of an individual’s time, yet can allow them to be placed within the world of another, gaining empathy and insight through a fully realized vision.

I did say I wasn’t going to write a defense for the Academy Awards, but now I’m going to go back on my word a little bit to suggest why we need that glorified night of Hollywood ass kissing. As glorious as the red carpets and single use evening wear are, that isn’t the important part. It’s what that shiny little golden man stands for in lieu of the current cinematic climate. As big studios focus their money grabbing energy into the international (most notably Chinese) expenditure, where so much is compromised on behalf of unspeakable explosive extravaganza; awards season, as contrived as it can be, still creates a breeding ground for prestige film-making. Awards create a good means of selling films to the audiences, so as long as the platform is there for recognizing great film making (even with frequently peculiar choices) we are always going to have a plethora of great film to see each and every year. Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t get great films year round that are out of the conversation entirely. The cinematic landscape is vast and ever changing, but the Oscars provide a climactic point to get everyone excited and talking about what they have seen within their film going year.

‘Entertainment’ and exactly what that means shall never be the same from person to person, but I shall stand firm on the fact that it is not limited to something for you to ‘enjoy’ in the simplistic sense or to make you ‘happy’ in the simplistic sense either. Though who am I to point the finger at people who approach film differently from me, of course everyone is entitled to find what works for them and enjoy the cinematic experience in their own way. It is opinion that shapes conversation after all. But, who would I be if i didn’t shine a light upon all the value that great film making can bring to the world. There is so much endless wonder to be discovered in film and for many it might just take stepping outside of that comfortable familiarity once in a while and challenging yourself to discover something amazing.

So Andria, next time I have the pleasure of seeing you perhaps we need to take some time to overcome your underlying film anxieties and take a trip with our beloved Meryl Streep to find out just why it was that Sophie had to make that choice.”

XOYW1

 

 

P.S. Are you outrageously offended by something I have said in the past? Are you offended by my existence in general? Your rebuttals are always welcome. Except to my existence. My mom would probably get a kick out of them, but I think that’s mean.

LIFESTYLE // Why the Oscars Make Me a Grouch

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Once again I tried to watch all the best picture nominees and once again I failed miserably.

I made it through the trailer of Theory of Everything but I was so emotionally distraught afterwords I had to cancel all of my Saturday night plans and just stroke a hot water bottle for an hour. Yeah, I’m weird, but still.

I did, however, wait until the winner was announced on Sunday night and then turn on Birdman. It wasn’t a joy ride or anything, but as my new InfoNews column discusses, just because I’m entertained by most of the crap I put on my television doesn’t mean that’s the intention of all art. Sometimes we’re meant to be profoundly challeneged by it — and that’s OK.

You can read it here.

XOYW1

 

 

 

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LIFESTYLE // The Massage is the Message

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Have you ever gotten a back tickle before and been so obsessed with the idea that it would end you didn’t even really get to enjoy all the goose bumps?

That’s what I write about in this week’s InfoNews column. It’s a little bit about manicures, too.

Most, it’s about living in the present moment and how FA-REAKING hard that is.

I also quote Marshall McLuhan. Because smart.

You can read it HERE.

XOYW1

 

 

 

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TRANSFORMATION // How to Re-set your Body in 3 Steps

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See that girl up there? The one in the yellow? The one blowing the bubble instead of werkin’ the bubble?

That’s me, most days of my life.

Change is hard, man. And the older you get, the more you need it. Not just “I really need a new pair of sling backs” need, either. I’m talking the “I really need to get my blood pressure down” need. At some point, whether you think you look good or not, you realize that your body isn’t going to run itself. More over, if you don’t start running it, and doing so intentionally, it’s going to start running you.

And as someone who turns really red when she starts exercising again for the first time in months, I can assure you, the later ain’t very pretty.

I’ve been a long time advocate of the “oh, I don’t work out” lifestyle. Why? Because I don’t work out. Because I’d rather be shopping. Or drinking coffee. Or eating croissants. Or watching re-runs of Gossip Girl. Or scrolling through blogs. Or moving apartments. Or anything else. Because up until this point in my life, my body has been doing a fine job running itself. On the outside, anyway.

Things are starting to fall apart a little bit, though.

For example, it takes me like, 7 months to lose 2 pounds. I’m getting headaches. I can no longer do the splits the middle way. It’s horrible. I feel like I’m losing control of the body I’m living in. It’s an awful feeling. Just because my pants still fit doesn’t mean I’m doing it right.

So, the age old question: how does one go from being a basically sedentary pizza and wine addict to being a babe — on the inside, and out? 

I have a pretty good idea . . .

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1 // Start.

But actually, not just “duh.”

I had a really off day on Tuesday. It was long (11 hours at the office long), I was multi-tasking in a way that actually made me feel counter-productive, I had forgotten my lunch (and breakfast, and dinner) so had devoured like, 42 chocolate-mint Girl Guide cookies, and I had spent way too much time slouching over a computer screen. I wasn’t feeling well. In fact, I was feeling down-right horrible. I scoured Pinterest and Insta and Facebook (FYI, Facebook should never make the cut when you’re trying to distract yourself from feeling gross), and eventually even Tumblr trying to find some advice.

After looking at enough “inspiring” Nike ads, I sucked up the cold, hard truth. Sure, I could wait until tomorrow to start “fresh” — but I could also stop making terrible choices right now. This very moment. I could pour out my 7PM coffee and make some green tea. I could walk part way home instead of taking transit. I could smile in the face of stress, & when I [finally] got home, I could have a long, hot shower and go to bed nice and early so I was ready to wake up at 6 to go for that jog I was regretting missing.

You don’t have to wait until tomorrow to start. You can, however small, start right this very second.

2 // Follow through.

When I set my alarm for 5:45am I was happy about it.

Not happy because I’m sick in the head, but happy because if I did manage to follow through, I’d be pleased with myself. Because Wednesday would immediately be better than Tuesday. Now — I’m only human — I hit snooze twice. But at 6:45am, which is much more reasonable anyway, I got up. I got dressed. I didn’t bother brushing my teeth — because you’re a liar if you say you do that before going for your morning work out — and I followed through with what I said I was going to do yesterday.

When I got home, I felt amazing. It was 7:30am, I had already sweat my butt off, and I had already Instagramed. I didn’t care what else happened that day, I was on top of it.

When you follow through with the promises you make yourself, you begin to feel more in control of your life.

3 // Follow up.

Just because you did it once doesn’t make you a pro.

Trust me, all you need to do is ask some select girlfriends of mine how well I parallel park to know that even though I’ve done it once or twice, doesn’t mean I can always nail it. In fact, 95% of the time I do every single thing except nail it. Just because I ran today — just because I drank a lot of water, ate 12 fewer Girl Guide cookies, was kind to myself and didn’t over do the espresso — doesn’t mean I don’t have to do it again tomorrow. The more we do these things, the better we’ll feel. Imagine how you’d feel in a month! In a year!

Your body isn’t a one hit wonder — it’s Elton John. Keep it coming.

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I’m not going to go from zero to hero in a matter of seconds — if only it were that easy!

But by changing the way I see success, by taking pleasure in the journey, by being kind to myself when I fall off the wagon and — heaven forbid — sleep in until 7:30am, I’ll get there. And so will you.

Where do you need to make changes in your life? Can you use the same steps?

Answer: yes, yes you can.

Start. Follow through. Follow up. Repeat.

XOYW1

 

 

SUNDAY CONFESSIONAL // Trust me, you’re not the biggest creep in your apartment building

I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of an exhibitionist.

I mean, I would never go into the adult entertainment industry or join a colony, but if I was a celebrity I would be all over the Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball stuff. Nakedness has just never been a thing for me.

Now, don’t start with the whole “well I don’t like how I look” garbage. Ceasing to care about being naked has nothing to do with what you look like without Spanx on — it has to do with freedom, which is what we’re all about over here if you hadn’t noticed.

The necessary step is not pulling a Rumor Willis and exercising your right to bare tits all over Manhattan, the ingredient I’m looking for is the ability to stand in front of a mirror and say “I feel good” (not “I look good”) and continue on with your dish washing. Which is exactly what I was doing when I remembered that my curtains were open, it was 10PM and my apartment was bow-shaped.

“I told you to wear pants!” Steve messaged me, “We’re not the only creeps in the building!”

It’s become a favorite pastime of ours to shut off the lights and spy on the neighbors. Seriously — if you’re one of them, I’m sorry, but you provide way better entertainment than Kourtney & Khloe take the Hamptons. Sometimes we’ll make up conversations you’re having. Sometimes we’ll create entire life stories — which you honestly make it really easy to do when at 9pm every evening you turn on Pink Floyd laser-show lights in your 200 square foot living room and leave them on for the entire evening with the shades up.

My sole intent is to catch people doing it a la that Sex and the City episode where Samantha invites the girls over for popcorn and wine to spy on her neighbors who just can’t get enough of each other.

Yes, I’m weird. Maybe even illegal — I’m not sure of the repercussions of telling you all this — but what I am sure of is that Steve was right. We are not the only creeps in the building.

There I was, minding my own business, in the process of some seriously delicious and empowering naked me-time when out of the corner of my eye, I saw him.

Just standing there, glass in hand, looking at me.

I immediately followed the proper protocol for encountering a bear (as opposed to a peeping Tom) — I yelled for Steve, who wasn’t there. I then said “Oh, shoot,” — in other, more explicit words. I told myself he could smell fear, so I had to continue to be confident, & then I slowly and [hopefully] inconspicuously started to back away from the window.

I made the one fatal mistake of looking directly at him, which he responded to by jumping and turning off his light.

Gross.

I finally made the call to just fake a fainting spell an slither to the floor, where I crawled into the bedroom (where the curtains were shut, because #privacymatters) and remained for the rest of the night.

At least I got to bed early.

I remember reading a book called “The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want” a million years ago. One of the things it stated as being a “seriously bad girl move” was to dance around wearing nothing with the curtains up. At the time, I didn’t have my own apartment so dancing around naked made for quite a few awkward family moments, but when I did finally move out I was way more concerned about landing an episode of Criminal Minds written about my untimely and nude murder than I was about being a bad girl.

Over time, however, after one becomes experienced in the ways of both apartment living and living alone, you kind of forget that your windows are two-way.

Which is actually why I was doing the dishes that way in the first place. Who likes pants?

When I woke up this morning, I had forgotten all about the late-night rendevouz I had just hours before with corner unit, floor 12 guy. I walked to the washroom (in clothes). I showered. I got out of the shower . . . only to realize that my towel was back in the bedroom. I booked it — a total of 20 feet if I’m being generous towards the size of my place — straight into my towel.

As I plodded my way back to the washroom I couldn’t help but look out my windows into the units across from me. Some of them had curtains drawn, but most of them were wide open. I saw a girl eating breakfast (I almost typed Cheerios but realized that was taking my creative liberty too far), I saw a man looking out over the ocean, and as I finally let my eyes drift towards corner unit, floor 12 guy I prepared myself to come face-to-face with him.

Instead, I saw him where I’ve seen him every moment I’ve peered over there since I moved in (often, obviously). Seated in front of his television, playing Call of Duty (not artistic liberty. I can see the little people on the screen).

He wasn’t sitting there staring across at me, waiting for my next blunder. He wasn’t searching the skies for the next naked person. He had just gone right on living.

Which is exactly what I should have done when I noticed him in the first place.

Living in close quarters with strangers does incredible things for your psyche. It shows you you’re normal. It shows you you’re not normal. It exercises this little muscle inside called trust that is defined as “that thing you do in silence that assures people in the elevator you aren’t going to bring up what you saw them doing last night.” It makes you feel excruciatingly alone — but also really on public display. It reminds you — often — that you are not special, and that this is a good thing.

Because you’re never going to be the first naked person in the window.

You aren’t going to be the last.

& you’re never going to be the only creep in your apartment building.

XOYW1

photo by Saga Sig