I hate this week

The three white walls, with the hideous flowered curtain making a fourth, stare back at me silently, mocking me at every turn.  The smell of disinfectant and sickness make me nauseous and I want to cry, I want to scream. The beeping of the machines telling me something, but I am not sure what, is increasing the pressure in my head.  I am back in the hospital.  My father is ill, how ill, I don’t yet know, but the blood stained walls and floors at my house tell me something can’t be right.

Wednesday was a long day for me bloggers.  My father called me at work (always a key sign something is wrong – seriously wrong), by the time I got home he was dizzy and lying on the floor.  911 was called immediately.  It turns out a bleeding ulcer, is just that – it bleeds and causes quite the mess in your system (and my home).  The nurses and doctors made him comfortable after he was taken to Scarborough General Hospital and a blood bag was brought in for an infusion.  He’s had three more since then. 

Having donated blood numerous times in the past (being denied last time in April because of my tattoo) I have never been so grateful to those who take their time to donate their fresh clean blood.  It stabilized my father; it has saved my brother’s life in the past and countless others.  I will be donating again as soon as possible, and I hope – and pray – that everyone reading this will take time out this weekend or next to attend a donation centre – it doesn’t take long and the reward (saving lives) is priceless. 

My dad is doing better – they have scoped his stomach and we are waiting for the results.  Every minute and hour that passes by where he is okay brings me hope that he will come home soon and be back where he belongs.  Those who know me know my father is the most important person in my life.  He is my support, my hero, my daddy.  The house, without him in it, is empty, quiet and unfamiliar.  I don’t like it.  His creaking floor boards are a soothing sound, now I just lie in bed, trying to control my panic, my anxiety knowing that I have to keep my mind and body stress free.  Things are changing in my life, drastic changes.  This website – soon will be coming to an end, another taking its place.  More details to come, I promise. 

For now, I must stand up straight, be brave and strong and get through the next few days. 

XOXO Nikilee

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And now for something a little different

Very rarely do I post a blog related to my work, because that is SO NOT what this blog is about and could be considered a conflict of interest, but I have been thinking lately about volunteering and how so many people (of all ages) do not do it and yet complain like crazy when they can’t get work because they have no relevant or recent experience. 

Now I am not talking about my client’s because that would be a huge breach of trust, I am talking more about the young people I know personally – outside of work who are required to get volunteer hours in to complete high school and who don’t put any kind of thought into it – or worse yet expect their parents to tell them where to volunteer and get them to arrange everything.  How in the world are these children supposed to take care of themselves and fend for themselves, if they can’t possibly think outside the box and volunteer to build skills for change?  

Surprisingly THIS makes my blood boil.  As an employment case worker I am well aware of the stats of high school grads getting jobs (it sucks – big time) and those that have put in an effort to volunteer regularly, not just the required 40 hours have a MUCH higher percentage of finding stable, lasting work. 

Who should be at blame here?  The kids?  The parents?  The school?  Everyone wants to blame the schools – it’s always the government’s fault, parents have no responsibility right?  WRONG!  A parent’s only job in life is to prepare their children to survive on their own, if they fail at that – they have failed as parents, at least in my humble opinion.  Schools, play their role – believe me!  However, they only have your kids for 5-8 hours a day and usually they are running around trying to make sure the kids have been successful with the education piece they will require to get a job in the future. 

Why would a company care about someone who volunteers????

There are no dumb questions here (well maybe), but I’ll answer anyway…

Volunteering gives you skills you just can’t get from sitting at home playing video games, swimming at the beach or chilling with your friends!  Skills such as leadership, problem solving, conflict resolution, communication, punctuality, adaptability, time-management and team work.  These are just a few of the skills and qualifications MANY high-quality employers are not only looking for on the resume, but desire in an ideal candidate. And they want demonstrated experience here people, not just a statement on the resume. 

I was on LinkedIn the other day looking through different people s LinkedIn pages (always creeping) and almost all of the PROFESSIONALS had one things in common on their page – they had volunteering listed.  They may not volunteer now, many of these people, like me, are in their 30’s and 40’s and have full-time jobs, families and other responsibilities, but they did volunteer for hundreds of hours, many years and for countless non-profit organizations.  

I am asking, begging, pleading with you to not forget those that need our help.  Volunteer, get involved, and help out where it’s needed.  Your resume and your career will thank you – trust me!

XOXO Nikilee

While some things change – I guess some things never will

In high school, I was incredibly confidant for my age and gender.  Teenage girls are by theory, insecure, naive and immature.  I wasn’t.  I mean don’t get me wrong, I know I had my moments – but I really didn’t care too much what others thought of me and I had a close group of friends that I felt were equals – that I wasn’t competing for attention or trust or loyalty. 

Once I moved to Peterborough for University though, something happened – something changed, I changed.  Now maybe my environment was too overwhelming – Peterborough is as opposite as Scarborough as you can get in both good and bad ways, but I lost myself, I lost my faith in me, I lost those close friends who had been my confidants and for the first time in years, I had to make new friends – I didn’t think it would be so hard considering I am known as the social butterfly by nature.  However, I constantly felt like I was competing for friendships, like I wasn’t good enough or cool enough or special enough to be cared about on a consistent basis.  Through my four years at Trent, I always felt on edge, my anxiety really starting to overtake the best parts of me.  I was paranoid constantly, stuttering through my words and actions and my grades suffered because of it.  The people I was closest to in University would never call me “smart” or a “good student”.  But I was – in high school at least!?  So what changed?  

I don’t know, I still don’t. 

Coming home after graduation, I had to pick up the pieces of my life, figure out where I belonged, what life I wanted for myself.  When Filipino boy and I broke up – I was heartbroken, but not surprised at all because I had changed and so had he.  We would have hated each other if we had stayed together, resentment would have grown.

After almost ten years since graduating Trent, I have changed again to be a more confidant, self-assured woman, sure of who I am, what I say and what I mean.  I am more of the me in high school – with better decision-making capabilities (cause my decision-making skills seriously lacked through 99% of  Cedarbrae). 

And then I have dinner with my Trent friends and I’m thrown back ten years – just like that. 

I had dinner on Saturday night with B, his fiancé, N and her husband.  Now B and N were two people I was probably closest to at the end of it all even though I had suffered many ups and downs, teasing and playing with them throughout my four years with Trent.  I see B regularly as he lives closest to me, but N I haven’t seen since 06, maybe 07.  The whole evening was great, we had a great meal, talked a lot about the “good ol’ days” and what’s current in our lives, but I found myself sounding “dumber ” than I actually am.  I found myself stumbling through my words and ganged up on again.  I am sure it was all in my head, I know we are all mature(ish) adults who have all made names for ourselves in our respected industries, with friends and with family, but with a knock on the door, I was 20 years old fighting for attention, hoping they would still like me.  

How stupid?!  I know – trust me…sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I shake my head whenever that other me – the old me – shows her face.  And other times, I smile knowing that at the end of the day – I love who I am, who I have become and all the stuff I have had to go through in between, is just that – stuff, stuff that disappears with maturity and years.  And with this chapter of my life slowly coming to an end, a new one about to begin (more details later) I must be as strong as I can!

XOXO Nikilee

Love is in the air…

Oh wedding season, here we come! First my cousin’s, then my dear friend A’s and now my old roommate Brendo’s.  Wow, three weddings in as many months and I am so excited for all of them. 

You know how some people really love weddings and some people really loathe them?  Well I am the former.  I am genuinely happy when people get married!  

My cousin has been with his girlfriend for EON’s and it’s about time they finally make that trip down the aisle, I bought a new hot pink dress for the occasion and I can’t wait to dance the night away with Agi.  Yes I am bringing my GIRL friend because at the time of my invite I was single, still am single and have doubt as to whether my artist would want to join me to a family wedding – that’s asking a lot – of course if he wants to come, I would relish his company and dance the night away with him!  Either way!!!  

A’s wedding will be in September and I cannot wait to see her and her hubby’s little girl all dressed up as mommy and daddy tie the knot!  I have no date for that wedding because GBF will be attending and well that could get awkward so I will probably go up with him and hang out with him for the wedding!  I have admired A for being her own person as long as I’ve known her and I SO GLAD she finally gets her wedding day!  I still need to decide what to wear…dum da dum dum daaaaaaa 

Now with Brendo – he is a funny story.  He met his fiancée years ago and they were friends and then more than friends and than friends on and off for a long time.  I bet him $100.00 that at some point they would get married!  He took the bet – probably because he assumed she’d kick his ass to the curb a long time ago, but alas, he proposed in Florida and they are getting married Thanksgiving weekend!  I, again, am so happy for them both.  They are genuinely amazing people who deserve the world and I can’t wait to toast to their happiness.  Because it will be fall, I’ll probably wear a darker colour – maybe ask him if I can wear a LBD (little black dress)??  

Either way the next few months are going to be full of love and laughter and smiles as I congratulate friends and family on taking the next step in their journey…opening new doors, starting new chapters, taking a risk…

XOXO Nikilee

Did I lie – not technically??

I have boasted numerous times throughout my blog that I am a city girl, that I love Toronto and I can go on and on about my city – the city I love. 

In reality, very rarely do I make it to “Toronto”.  You see, I live on the outskirts of what people from Toronto call Toronto.  I was actually born and raised in Scarborough.  A decade or so ago, the municipalities amalgamated and we became the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) so Scarborough disappeared and Toronto resurfaced bigger and better (?) than ever before.  But, when push comes to shove, I am from Scarborough. This is my home, and I am much more comfortable walking the streets of this city, than I am downtown Toronto. 

Downtown, to me, is a special place to go.  I don’t do it very often, because like me, most of my friends are more comfortable staying in Scarborough then venturing downtown to visit.  However, Saturday I did just this – alone.  *cue scary music now* 

I headed to the subway and took the subway to Bloor, transferring to the Yonge St line to get to Dundas which leads right into the Eaton Centre.  Ms. J’s mom (also J) works at L’attitude hair salon and I had an appointment to finally get my mop coloured and trimmed.  Because being downtown makes me feel fancy, I went to Starbucks instead of Tim Hortons and got a cold refreshing drink to cool down because Saturday was SO hot (me, on a subway sweating with a hundred other sweaty people was gross and I missed my car, but I was being a true Torontonian so I was having fun underground). 

An hour and half later, I came out looking and feeling like a million bucks and I had zero desire to go home.  I decided to meet up with GBF who was working downtown and we had drinks and lunch at the Real Sports Bar across from the Air Canada Centre.  While this place is crazy expensive, the atmosphere was great (the Toronto Blue Jays were playing) and the food and drinks were awesome so I was not complaining.  GBF and I always have a great time together so we had fun, but he had to go back to work, so I called the one friend I knew was downtown – crazy cat lady. 

Her auntie lives in a condo at Yonge and Bloor, so after confirming plans, I hopped back on the subway (seriously $3.00 a ride is ridiculous) and met CCL for a relaxing afternoon with her sweet auntie. 

Around 6:00 they went for dinner and I took the subway home (after eating at the Sports Bar I was stuffed silly).  I was happy to be back in Scarborough, in my car, driving me to my home, but I had so much fun downtown, I really do want to spend more time exploring this city – this MEGACITY that I love.

 XOXO Nikilee

A little more personal…

Hi eyes were a blue that hypnotized me when I first saw them again on social media, piercing blue, penetrating eyes that felt as if they were staring into my soul.  My heart beat a little faster that day – remembering how I felt so many years ago when we were teenagers – history seeming to repeat itself.  

Social Media is a funny thing.  With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram taking over the way we see people  everyone has a chance to reconnect like never before.  Soul Mates are brought together, families are re-uniting, it is changing the way we, as a society, interact. 

When I first saw him on Instagram, I realized this man, whom I had first met in high school had changed.  I could tell from his photos he was a creative artist bringing to life inanimate objects and telling a story without uttering a single word.  But would this man even remember me?  It had been over a decade since we had last spoken and even then we were never close.  Our social circles barely interacted with each other and other than a brief stint as his best friends girlfriend; I really didn’t talk to him much.  However I knew him, I knew instantly he was the boy from my teenage dreams.  That one guy that you never actually got to date, but wanted to…that you wished you had the guts to talk to…that was this man for me.  

To my complete shock and surprise, he remembered me.  Not only that but he connected with me on Social Media and would “like” my pictures, comments etc.  It was juvenile; I had no hopes of actually meeting up with him.  Our worlds were completely different as they should be since we had graduated high school 13 years ago.  But one day I got the Facebook message that yes indeed he wanted to meet with me. 

With one simple statement I was in high school all over again, judging myself, criticizing everything from my weight gain, to my job, to my hobbies and interests.  I didn’t go to my high school reunion because it was back when GBF and I had broken up and I was a hot mess – a complete disaster of a person, depressed and anxiety ridden who had no desire to meet up with people who knew me as the cute, bubbly girl from secondary school.  But now, in 2013, I am confidant and love myself and my friends and my family and my job so while there are numerous things I am not exactly proud of, I wanted to show this man who I was, what I had become and I wanted to see him.  If for nothing else, then at least to spend time alone with him – time I never got so many years ago. 

Toronto has some of the most beautiful, inspiring beaches in the country.  I wasn’t surprised when my artist wanted to meet there.  I was happily delighted that he wanted my assistance with a video he would be creating.  I am not really a creative person, but when I get the opportunity to use my artistic side, I’ll always jump at the chance. 

When he arrived, dressed in white and looking even sexier than I remembered, I fell into his arms.  He – being the gentleman he is – held me like his life depended on it. The best hug, the most comfortable I had felt in a long time.  Catching up and walking along the most beautiful beach I was hooked.  Those feelings – which had left YEARS ago, came flooding back and I wanted nothing more than to stay on that beach, to listen to his voice and stare into those sky blue eyes. 

We spent the entire evening together, catching up and inspiring each other with our tales of while and woe from the past decade.  This was a man I wanted to get to know. 

We continued chatting through text and online, meeting up a few more times…but as with most high school stories, it’s a tough time and place for us both – will anything become of our story?  Will it continue and flourish?  I don’t know.  Feeling important and cared for is very important to me right now if I am going to pursue anything serious and that’s not what either of us really have time for, so who knows…but damn that man…I feel awake again for the first time in over a year and if just for that, I am grateful to reconnect with the boy who got away.

XOXO Nikilee