Forever a Daddy's Girl

Dear Daddy,

Growing up, I knew how lucky I was to have you as my Dad, but now, as an adult, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that you are the best Dad that a girl could ever hope for, and I am the luckiest girl in the entire world.

As I go through the most trying of times, I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for your endless love, support and sacrifice. I’m tearing up as I write this, because I truly have no idea where I would be if it weren’t for you. You are giving and generous with everyone you love, and while some may not truly appreciate all you do or have done for them, I will always, always be grateful for all that you do. And you do a lot!

I’m definitely an emotional wreck at times (HA!), but no matter what, you always listen and help me through it. There is nobody else who can make me cry by just simply asking me how I’m doing. Not to worry though, this is a good thing; it means that I know I’m in a safe place and the flood gates can open.

I may not be the daughter that inherited your humour and incredibly quick wit, but I did inherit your love of taking photos and capturing life’s moments. Think about all the countless hours we’ve spent over the years looking through our photo collection...now in boxes that are way too heavy to carry! So many memories!

If it weren’t for you, Rio and I would not have the love and appreciation for music that we do. I think I speak for both of when I say that, we could not even imagine growing up in an environment that didn’t always have music playing. One day, if I am fortunate enough to find my forever love, I so look forward to dancing to “our song” at my wedding. Speaking of marriage, any man who chooses to spend their life with me, will also be the luckiest dude to have you as their father-in-law!

I want to make sure that you know how loved and appreciated you are, not just today, but every day. Thank you for being you, and thank you for always being there for me and taking care of our family.

I am so proud to be your daughter!

I love you.

Xoxo

 

Dear Mom

I originally published this blog post in 2016, but everything I wrote is as true today as it was two years ago, so I thought that I would share it again.

I know I don’t say this often enough, or maybe even ever, but from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for always, always, always being there for me the way no person ever has been or ever will be. You have been right by my side through the very worst of times, and the very best.

Thank you for listening to me talk a situation to death for hours on end with no judgement or criticism, but with compassion and empathy, like only a mother can. You have never stopped believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I will forever associate the saying, “You go girl!” with you.

Thank you for always being honest with me. I may not want to hear it, but you know it’s what I need to hear. I might even act like a total brat at times, raise my voice and take my frustrations out on you, and for that I am sorry, but perhaps it’s easier for me to do that because I know that no matter what, you love me unconditionally.

You are the most selfless, caring, hardworking, kind and (one of the) funniest people I know. I know how much you and dad have sacrificed in order to give Rio and I the best life possible.

Mom, you are my best friend. Thank you for your continuous support throughout whatever life throws at me (a lot of hard balls in recent years), and for never hindering my growth and for giving me wings to fly. I can only hope that one day I will be the kind of mother you are.

Thank you for everything you do. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.

 

 

Let's Talk About Workplace Bullying

I’ve been struggling with writing this blog for the past week. It’s not unusual for me to talk about the fact that I suffer from anxiety, even though I still have people around me who will say to never let people know. Therein lies the problem. We need to talk about mental health, not hide it in fear for being judged from lack of understanding on the topic. I’ve been warned that a potential new workplace can never know that I have anxiety or what I have experienced in a previous workplace, or I will never get hired. For that fear alone, I have kept my mouth shut. But, I don’t want to anymore.

The reason that I am choosing to share my story now is because last week, I experienced what I can only describe as PTSD symptoms. I was doing research on a company when I came across an online review that triggered me. My reaction to this online review of a previous employee describing their terrible experience, shook me to my core. My anxiety came out in full force; I became lightheaded, had body shakes, became ice cold and couldn’t focus on anything other than this feeling for several hours. This episode drained my energy for the remainder of the day. I have had anxiety for many years, but this was the first time that I actually experienced something like this by simply reading about someone else’s experience.

With that being said, here’s my story:

Years ago, after moving into a new role within a company, I reported to someone who seemed to make it their mission to make me feel as small and stupid as humanly possible. According to them, every single thing I said or did was wrong. Also, according to them, I was never prepared. Of course, this was not actually true, but it didn’t matter. I was the chosen target. My colleagues were not having the same experience with this person, but they did witness the things that were happening to me and knew it wasn’t fair.

Eventually, the excitement that I used to have going into work every day turned to absolute dread. I would start my day with anxiety attacks as I wondered what I was going to experience that day. It got to the point where I couldn’t hide what was happening to me anymore. People would find me in the washroom crying, or see my quietly sniffling and wiping my eyes at my desk, all while pretending not to notice. I know, it’s super awkward, and I feel ashamed that people had to see me in that state. NOBODY should EVER feel like this! I am grateful that I did have a couple of trusted colleagues who would take me out of the situation by going for a walk around the block, or just to Starbucks. (Friendly tip: tea and a cookie will almost always help calm me down).

One day, during a 1:1, I decided that it was time to talk to this person about how they were making me feel. Needless to say, I didn’t get an acknowledgement of their treatment towards me, or an apology. I will never forget that their only response was to picture them as a fuzzy bunny. As in they were as harmless as a cute fuzzy bunny.

It wasn’t long after that conversation, that I knew I had to take this one step further and go to HR. That was not an easy decision by any means, nor something I took lightly. I did not like that it had to come to that, but it did. This treatment had to stop. I wanted to be treated as equally as my fellow colleagues and to have the opportunity to continue to learn and grow within my role. Did I have improvements to make? Absolutely. I’m not perfect, and will never claim to be. But, if I was going to be successful in my role, I needed to try and fix this situation. Here’s a common misconception, just because someone may suffer from anxiety, it does not make them a weak person. I am a pretty damn strong person, and that’s something my superior had to learn the hard way.

I had my meeting with HR, backed up pages of notes and dates of specific incidents, which I did keep track of. The HR person was very empathetic to the situation. They asked me how I wanted to move forward. I could either just report this to them and it would go on record, or I could try and work it out. Needless to say, I chose the latter. Once the big boss found out about my bullying complaint, I was called into their office, where I was yelled at and told that I was the only one on my team who felt this way, as if to say that makes my claims invalid. At that point, they turned the tables on me, to make me the bad guy. I was presented with claims against me that were outright lies. I wasn’t allowed to defend myself. Those lies were taken at face value. I was called unprofessional. I had to apologize, which I did, because, I am a professional. In the end, I had a meeting with my superior and we did settle the situation, and I did get my apology.

Not long after, I had a new superior, who was hands down one of the best people to work for. Working in a supportive and encouraging environment, where people want to see you succeed is incredible. I was very grateful to be given the opportunity to continue in my role and prove myself on an equal playing field.

However, it’s clear from my PTSD episode last week, that there are serious long-term effects to experiencing bullying in the workplace. It makes me so sad to imagine anyone else going through what I went through, and I know that there are so many people worse off than me out there. We need to have these conversations, we need to be open about workplace bullying, or nothing will ever change.

You may be thinking that it’s not possible to experience PTSD from workplace bullying, but it’s important to note that no matter how big or small, trauma is still trauma. According to a 2013 study in the journal Occupational Medicine, it states that at some point or another in ones life, we may develop reactions from PTSD. However, in many cases, no medical intervention will be necessary, as the stressors will subside over time. Thankfully, I was back to myself after a good nights sleep.

As with any challenges or obstacles that we face in life, I think it’s important to always try and see the positive or even just the lessons we’ve learned. I would like to think that I came out of this workplace bullying situation much stronger and smarter. I learned a lot about myself and my strength. I know that I am a strong person, but this surely tested that. I think that it certainly did make me an even better employee. I learned what I am willing to accept in a workplace, and the kind of culture that I choose to work in. I know this is eyeroll inducing, but everything really does happen for a reason, but it’s up to us to figure out what that reason is and what we do with that information.

I can tell you that if I did not go through this situation, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog. Writing is a love that got away from me for a while, and anti-bullying and mental health are two topics that I am extremely passionate about. I guess what I’m saying, is that I am right where I'm supposed to be.

 

Photo by Riley Briggs on Unsplash

That's a Wrap on 2017

There's a lot of things I could say about 2017, but I think I'm just going to say that 2017 was one hell of a ride! Okay, maybe it was more like a continuous loopty-loop roller coaster, but I digress.

For me, 2017 was probably my most transformative year yet. I know we’re always changing and learning, but I feel that now as I am approaching my mid-thirties, I’m truly discovering the direction that I am supposed to go in this crazy world. I’ve never really strayed from what my loves and passions are, but now, after nearly a year of self-reflection, it’s become clear what my next step is.

The hurdle that I had to overcome to get to this place, was accepting that I am just not like everyone else, and I had to stop comparing myself. I’ve known since I was little that I was not like the "cool kids", but I've still had this completely human feeling in me to want to be like everyone else from time to time, and to simply fit in. That’s just not my reality though, and I have completely accepted it. Finally.

What’s important is that, I have the most amazing and incredibly supportive family there is. I seriously don’t know what I do without them! I also have some of the most kind, smart, beautiful, funny, and amazingly talented friends that a girl could ever ask for.

You won’t find me making silly New Year’s resolutions here. The clock striking midnight does not magically signify a new you. What I am going to do, is continue into 2018 in the exact headspace that I’m currently in and continue along the same path that I’m on now, with the same goals and ambitions.

Cheers!

That Time I Took a Mental Health Break

Sometimes you just need a break. I’m not talking about a simple weeklong vacation to somewhere tropical, although that’s awesome and sometimes the only time away that we’re able to take. What I’m talking about is, just completely peacing out of your everyday routine for as long as you need to; which is exactly what I did in 2017.

Earlier this year, my life changed in a way that it needed to for quite some time. I had been trying to make that change myself, but when I was unsuccessful in that mission, the universe took over and made it happen with the swift kick in the behind that I needed, and just like that, I was free! (Insert high five emoji here)

After only a few days, it was clear that I needed some serious time to myself. I needed to recover from the stress that my body and mind had been put through for so long and to just calm the f down.

With that being said, here is a list of some of the things I did during my mental health break:

·       Traveled to Las Vegas, New York City, Boston and Vancouver - some of those solo

·       Spent quality time with family and friends

·       Upped my exercise routine

·       Caught up on reading

·       Spent time outside by the lake on every nice summer day

·       Made some major life decisions

·       Woke up without an alarm

This time to myself was so essential to my well-being. I was no longer a shell of myself. I was back to being the Scerina I was before the wind was taken from my sails. I was once again the Scerina with fire in my belly and determination in my eyes.

I know that we have so much constantly going on in our lives. We’re on 24/7, glued to our phones. Working long stressful hours, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, making sure the kids get to all their after-school activities, putting in effort with our social and personal lives, etc. Moreover, we have a seemingly never-ending news cycle of stressful world events, which has definitely taken a toll on us. 

I know that it can be challenging to take some time for yourself, but I promise you that if you are in need of a mental health break, you and everyone else in your life will benefit from it. The fact of the matter is, if we don’t have our health, what do we really have?

Do you know what the best part about my mental health break was? Doing whatever I damn well pleased, WITHOUT feeling guilty!

 

I Am

I am a girl with small town values and big city dreams.

I am always going to put my family first.

I am a daughter and a sister. 

I am a dreamer and a doer.

I am quiet and observant.

I am not for everyone.

I am a little bit weird.

I am a good listener.

I am a good friend.

I am kind hearted.

I am an explorer.

I am stubborn.

I am anxious.

I am unique.

I am driven.

I am silly.

I am shy.

I am me.

A Different Kind of Heartbreak

Earlier this year, I experienced a heartbreak. Now, this was not your typical heartbreak; meaning a silly boy did not break my heart (as one usually has to date for that to happen), it was because I didn't get my dream job. I’ve never been heartbroken over a job before, so this was all new. But, as the saying goes, there is a first time for everything.

When I first spoke to the fabulous female CEO of this particular company, something just clicked. A spark was ignited and it took me by complete surprise. I didn't even know that the mission of this company was something I was even that passionate about. Until I was. That may not make sense to you. It hardly does to me, but that's just the way it is.

You see, I am sad to admit that I lost the burning fire inside of me about 2 years ago. The fire that kept me going for all those years while I chased my big dreams and made me always say ‘I'll show them!’ was gone. The reason I lost that fire? That’s a story for another day.

I find that when we experience a heartbreak of any kind, a loss or a big disappointment, that while it completely sucks at time, there is a growth to be had or a lesson to be learned. In this case, it was a huge relief to me that I found my passion again. I’m also a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason and if something didn’t work out, it was for the best and something even better for you will come along and you’ll know why it didn’t work out to begin with.

So for now, it's on to the next.

Originally written July 2017.