Scatter Brain

I haven’t updated my blog in a while. The truth is I have lacked inspiration. Many days I have opened up my laptop, ready to make a post and then… nothing. Nada. Zip. Even today as I write, I’m kind of just letting the words fall out where they lay. Safe to say, my thoughts will be very scattered here. My thoughts have been very scattered in general. So many things have been on my mind lately that I haven’t really thought of anything.  That sounds like a contradiction but it’s the best way I can explain my thought process.
Thought. It’s an interesting concept in itself. I was on the bus today and was thinking about what sets us humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. I mean some could say our personalities but I think a valid argument could be made claiming animals have personalities as well. I mean, cats have attitude (I hate them), dogs are like little kids, cheeky but lovable, etc. No, I think what sets us apart is the fact that we are aware. Aware of ourselves, of the world. I’m not talking about the fact that we know we are alive. Animals know that. That’s what sets them (us?) apart from plants and stuff; but humans, we are aware. We think. We think past how to survive, find a mate and reproduce. Past the current situation at hand. We think abstract. We philosophize. We dream.
It’s actually pretty beautiful. Humans are an amazing, remarkable species. The fact that we have this ability tells us that there’s more to life than the laws of physics and biology (there’s chemistry and math too, JK, but you know what I mean). Back to the whole abstract thinking thing, it’s such an overlooked phenomenon that makes us special. Almost perfect.
However, then you turn on the news and see, well, everything. The tears, violence, disease, hunger. Hate. It’s like out special ability has evolved into this grotesque thing that far from what it was intended to me. Our ability to dream has allowed us to discover more ways to hurt. But even despite it all, I think, no, I know that there’s still hope for us.
We are all redeemable. I truly believe that.
This is a really short post. I apologize. I’m not gonna put a song or a quote with it. Just some food for thought:

In this broken world, how can we possibly be redeemable?
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Letter to my Middle School Bullies

Hello.

How are you.

I’m good, thank you for asking.

So, here we are. Four years later. Six, from when you started—decided—that it would be fun to tear down the spirits of a twelve year old. I wish six grade me could see me now. Happy. Relatively well liked. Accepted. She dreamed of this day. She hoped that it would happen but each day she walked into Ms. M classroom, she began to believe that it would never come.
She never understood why you treated her the way you did. Why you called her the names you called. What she did to make you… hate her so much. She started the first day in that school a happy-go-lucky child. A—dare I say—confident, chatty person. She was always a social person. She had to be, the constant moving forced her to. She never had trouble making friends. She never had enemies, until you decided to make one out of her.

When looking back at grade 6, all I can remember is sitting in the girl’s washroom, crying. Bearing my soul to the empty tiles of the bathroom floor in the form of sobs.

Staring at the cold mirror, trying to wash the redness out of my eyes so you wouldn’t know just how sad you made me. I think the worst thing was knowing that it wasn’t anything that I had done that made you treat me this way, it was simply who I was. Because I wasn’t pretty enough, cool enough, rich enough…THIN enough, I wasn’t deserving of your… kindness. I wanted to tell someone but I couldn’t because if I did, they would tell my parents and they would pull me out of the school. It was a private school and I knew how much they were struggling to give me the best possible education they could afford, I couldn’t break their hearts by telling them that it was hurting me. So instead, I let my own heart break instead. And crumble it did. Until there was nothing left in me. Until the will to live started to diminish. How bad would I be if I died really? My parents would be relieved the financial burden of raising me. You guys, you would be forced to say nice things about—as is what we do when speaking of the deceased. It would almost be poetic. Somehow, I carried on. I woke up every day and walked into Ms. M class, choked down my lunch in the washroom, rinsed my face and repeat.


Eventually it stopped—you stopped. I wish I could say it was because you matured, but the truth is, it was because you found a new target. I think the worst thing is slowly, I became like you. I was thirteen, scared of you turning back on me so I joined you, but that’s no excuse. It’s one of my biggest regrets. And to the girl we talked about—I’m sorry, I truly am. Even then when you all claimed to be my friend, I knew you weren’t being completely honest. I still heard the unkind nicknames, the mean rumours, snark giggles. The only difference now was that these were done in whispers.


 It hurt more.

It hurt more because this time you were supposed to be my friends, but every time I turned my back to walk away, I saw your knives in my peripheral vision.
Now years have passed and I have moved on. The memories still remain, they always will. They have become a part of who I am and my story. And as I sit this cold February evening, now “officially” and adult, vulnerable, I have just one thing to tell you all:

I forgive you.
Sincerely,
Natalie Stravens
Song of the post: Mean by Taylor Swift

Quote of the Post: Sometimes bullies are your friends and very rarely do bullying prevention tips acknowledge this fact or what to do about it. -Rosalind Wiseman

Book Worm Love

I love reading, I really do and admittedly, I have fallen prey to many of the book fandom craziness that have swept the world. Hunger Games, read it (though in my defense it was when it was only mildly popular and way before the first movie.) Series of unfortunate events, Narnia, all read when I was 10-11. Alex Rider series. Percy Jackson. Divergent. Fault in our Stars. All of them and a bunch of other obscure series that no one’s really heard of (because I’m hipster like that). Didn’t do Harry Potter though, nothing against it just wasn’t allowed to read it when I was younger and by the time I was, the craze had died down and didn’t feel the need to, though one day I will. Twilight. No. Okay, my introduction to twilight was around the time the first movie came out. All my friends were reading it; I was in middle school so I thought, why not? Watched the first two movies, found it boring; read half of the first book, fell asleep. I just couldn’t get myself into it and Edward creeped me out with his stalking thing. I mean, I’d personally be like:

What I do remember doing is Wikipedia-ing the ending. Okay, was I the only person who thought it was weird, no, disturbing that Jacob fell in love with an infant? Sure she grew up fast and all but she was a BABY!!! Why are we seeing this glorification of pedophilia and just being like aww, it’s so sweet. They are imprinted forever.  That’s more of a nope moment.

I think the Youtuber, Alex Day also ruined it for me because of his series a couple years ago. That was also when any shred of respect for it completely left. I prefer to keep my brain cells, thank you very much and go read some… Shakespeare or something.
I know it sounds like I threw in Shakespeare as a random, well referenced author but I do legitimately like reading him, especially the comedies. (Favourite play is As You like It) His stories are humorous and clever and somehow relatable, all written in beautiful language—though admittedly, sometimes you need a little SparkNotes to appreciate that beauty. Now when I ask you for the name of a Shakespearean play, I’m sure one of the first ones you think about is Romeo and Juliet. That could possibly be the only one I absolutely hate that he wrote. Okay, he must have been slightly high when he wrote that. I think the thing I hate about it the most isn’t the plot itself, it’s more the fact that it has become the epiphany of what love is and that annoys me. Romeo and Juliet were just a bunch of hormonal teenagers who got so many people killed because they couldn’t wait.
 I mean let’s just analyze the ending, (*spoiler alert* but honestly if you don’t know how it ends, that is pretty sad because it’s been out for centuries and is a famous literary work.) Romeo finds Juliet ‘dead’ and kills himself in sorrow, she wakes up and sees him really dead and then kills herself in sorrow. Initial reaction: WTF? Okay, do you know how that story starts? Romeo was in love with some other random girl called Rosaline who wanted to be a nun so that couldn’t work. He met Juliet at a party his friend took him to so he could forget his troubles. Juliet is the freaking rebound girl. THE REBOUND GIRL.  Take that in. It took lover boy Romeo a whole afternoon to get over Rosaline. So if he had just used his common sense and been like, “oh Juliet’s dead. So sad. I’ll mourn her now but life goes on (and you know another girl could walk right in and I’ll ‘fall’ for her too).” Then Juliet would have woken up by now and it would be a happily ever after! Yay! But no, he had to be a stupid teenager. I mean he was what? 15? And Juliet was like 13? And let’s go back to the fact that it was THREE DAYS! Not even a week! Why are these people the romanticized image of love? I do not think at 13 or 15 you know what love is. You might know crush or infatuation or even lust but not love, at least not that kind.
Yeah, so that rant went off but it had to be made. My point is—I don’t even know anymore. Basically, Valentine’s Day is coming soon and I think the whole forever alone-ness moping part of me is creeping out. Anyway, love is… not something you find in 3 days at 13-15 years of age and is not some creepy guy watching you sleep. Also books are cool.
Yup, that was the point I was making. (It was probably gonna be some inspirational thing about the power of books and words but whatever).
Song of the Post: S.A.D. by Joseph Vincent
Quote of the Post:Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.-Albert Einstein

Survival of Fittest-er- all of us

First of all, I extend my utter most apologies for not updating in God knows how long. What’s worse is, I’m writing at the moment, not with a current theme or topic in mind but out of obligation. 
Ah, obligation… that word that reminds us that we have responsibilities. That other people depends on us or something we have to offer. Oh, what’s that? You have no responsibilities? No one really depends on you?
Lets take a second to analyse that concept. A lot of us live very selfish lives. “It’s all about me” right? It’s a “Dog eat dog” world, and you’re just looking out for yourselves and your loved ones. After all, it’s the way nature works..  survival of the fittest and all that.
Well, I disagree with that philosophy. I believe that the fact we can-if we choose to be- totally selfless and self sacrificing is what separates us from all the other animals.
Now back to the subject of obligations, as a human being, a universal duty you share with the rest of the species is your duty to the other. An ethicist, Immanuel Kant wrote about the concept of duty and it’s applications to a person’s search for a purpose. Another philosopher, Emmanuel (yes, I noticed the share a first name) Levinas went on to talk about a person’s responsibility to the other and the “face”-how simply seeing a person’s face can make a huge impact on ones conscience. Now I just threw at you two watered down major views on ethics; what I simply want you to get out of that Mambo jambo is that it’s our job to Take care of the less fortunate. It’s sad we don’t think like that. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when celebrities are applauded for their “charity work” while they live in an arbitrarily grandiose home and all the bells and whistles that come with It. Don’t talk to me about the 1 million dollars you gave to charity-which, lets be honest, was probably due to the tax breaks you’ll get and the good publicity- when you spend millions on a wedding for a marriage that only lasts 72 days-yes I’m looking at you Kim Kardashian. It’s actually disgusting to watch. 
Now, I’ll stop myself before this ranty  part gets out of hand. So, I bet some of  you are thinking something along the lines of “Natalie, you’re being unreasonable. They worked for their money-we all do- we should be able to spend it, achieved the American dream and all that.” 
Well, this brings me back to my original point, we all live selfish existences. Why is our life goals directly on getting a good job for ME. Finding MY true love. Getting MYSELF a good home, etc. Not to say that those are bad things, they’re great… if that’s what we truly want. But it’s not. Don’t lie, you want more. You don’t want a comfortable home, you want a mansion. A good economy care, no, a sports one or whatever. We are so consumed with us, we forget-or try to- the other. Why is it such a big deal to bring 2 cans of food to school for the poor families in your community. Or to pay $2-two Freaking bucks- for dress down day. Or why do we do Just the bare minimum. We need to move away from this culture of self and to us-or as Mark Kielburger would say, ME to WE. This is where our humanity lies. Not in a fat bank account or in the empty rooms of a house to big for your family, but in the face of your neighbour-even if that neighbour is In a hut in Namibia.
So let’s quit with this survival of the fittest nonsense, and move to the survival of all of us. 🙂

Song of the Post: We are the World by Michael Jackson (Cliche, I know)
 Quote of the Post:  “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.” and “When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time” 
― Rick Warren

Re-evaluating Imagination

I don’t think I’m going to do the whole Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy—well, maybe her—with my kids… if I have any. You must be flabbergasted at that statement. Why would I deprive my future kids of their childhood? Well, why would I encourage some fantasy to my kids that I’m just going destroy and devastate them later on in life? I know that sounds weird—like I’m talking in terms of an adult not a kid, but I never believed in Santa or the Easter Bunny. Nobody told me they weren’t real, I just was a logical child about stuff like that. The only one that got me was the tooth fairy because ‘she’ visited me at a friend’s house and it baffled me how even when I wasn’t home, I still got money.
However, I still had a great childhood. In a way, knowing that it was my parents who put those presents under the tree or hid the chocolate eggs at Easter was better. I mean, even when times were hard and I knew my parents were struggling financially, there would still be gifts on the best day of the year. You can’t help but feel loved. I mean if I wanted say—an iPad—for Christmas, but my parents couldn’t afford it but they get me a bunch of clothes and smaller gifts instead, you know how much they care and the gifts mean so much more. If I believed in Santa, I would feel terrible because…c’mon, it’s SANTA, he’s loaded, where’s my iPad? Being a child, I would be so broken hearted, maybe even throw a tantrum. It’s just not worth the supposed ‘magic’ of believing.
Why should I believe in a mythical creature anyway? What is this magic you speak of? So I believe in a fat old man and his little helpers, or a bunny that somehow has loads of eggs to give—where does he even get the eggs from? He’s like some master thief or something—I digress. Is the magic of the holidays what they represent? Christmas and the gift God gave us, Easter and the Sacrifice He made? Why don’t we encourage this part of the holidays? Why isn’t generosity—‘tis better to give than to receive—, love, joy, thankfulness, etc promoted instead?
Anyway, back to my childhood. I was a happy child. I grew up normally. I know I said I was logical and all, but I also had an imagination. Remember pretending the ground was lava—I still do that—or building a fort/cave thingy-ma-bob out of pillows and couch cushions? That was my thing! I remember pretending to be a spy, a princess, a mum, an animal with my friends. I loved the game of make-believe. I need to be LIED to by my parents in order to have a great childhood.
The long and short of it is, I’m pretend Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc are real. I’ll tell them about it, I mean, they still have to watch great movies like The Santa Claus; Elf; Rise of the Guardians, etc, but just for fun, for enjoyment.
Or maybe I’m being overly logical.
Quote of the Post: Imagination is more important than knowledge… Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.—Albert Einstein

Happiness for Sale

What does it mean to be happy?
Is it smiling and laughing all the time?
Is it having dozens of friends?
Is it owning hundreds of things?
Everyone’s always saying, “money can’t buy happiness,” so why do all the pictures of rich people have smiles and the ones of poor kids in Africa have tears?
I don’t want to be happy.
That’s a weird statement, probably one you wouldn’t expect me to say, but here it is –I don’t want to be happy. Why? Well, let me just clarify what I mean by being happy:
Happiness is an emotion –temporary
Happiness is a series of chemical reactions in your brain –temporary
Happiness can be changed easily by circumstances –temporary
Happiness is temporary
Do you see where I’m going with this? Every day, we are bombarded with images of happiness and products that can give us that so called euphoria –but they don’t work. Sure, getting a new pair of shoes can make me happy for a while, then I have an argument with my dad and then suddenly –it’s gone.
What do things have to be with being happy anyways? I live in a place where we’re all supposed to be happy because we have everything, as far as food and things go; yet in North America, the third leading cause of death in teens is suicide. That’s a crazy statistic. If we have so much, then why are we all so sad?
I, personally, have had the opportunity to see the ‘other side of the world’ many times, and the picture I get there is completely different. Yes, there’s poverty and all that. People have next to nothing –but they are some of the happiest people I have ever met. I would meet a kid who doesn’t even own a pair of pants yet still shows off his toothy grin in a smile every time I saw him. How is that contrast even possible? It doesn’t make any sense.
Going back to my original statement, “I don’t want to be happy.” I neglected to say the second part, “I want to find joy.” Now you may be thinking, “What’s the difference? It’s simple really:
Happiness is temporary, joy is permanent.
Happiness is an emotion, joy is a lifestyle
How do you even achieve joy? Well, I’ve found that the first way is by choosing to be happy, despite the bad days, sad days and mad days –that came out way cheesier than I intended. Joy is choosing to be content. Now I must clarify, contentment is not complacency. Being complacent is choosing to be a doormat and not doing anything to change that, just accepting your fate in an almost bitter nature. Being content is knowing your circumstance and accepting it, while still allowing a possibility to grow.
The next step on the ‘road to joy’ is the elimination of self on the brain. When one is depressed, sad, etc, it’s often due to them concentrating on themselves and their problems and flaws. Have you ever done that thing where you sit by yourself, alone in your room and contemplate your existence?  Next thing you know, you’re rocking on the floor in fetal position, crying in despair. I feel that when we get out of that habit on thing of ourselves and focus more on others, that feeling despair goes. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually happiest when I’m helping others. Volunteering could possibly be the best form of therapy. This is not to say that it’s easy. I would be lying if I told you that you could switch on a button and be content and generous and happy. It’s a process, but it’s one you have to force yourself to start.
Anyway, this went on a lot longer than I wanted it to go –again. I should probably apologize for taking long to update as well, life’s been getting in the way. I’ll just leave you with my new found philosophy:

I don’t want to be happy, I want to find joy.
Natz
Song of the Post:  All Star By Smash Mouth

Quote of the Post: “Be content because that makes you automatically awesome.” –Quote developed by my friend, Miriam R., and I

Soul Searching Encounter

Hello people of the internet. So, I know it’s been a while since my last update, mainly because I’m a major procrastinator. In this post, I’m going to do something a little bit different. In my Writer’s Craft class, we have this exercise where we get a couple minutes of free writing in which my teacher gives us a topic and we write whatever comes to mind. Unfiltered thoughts and expression. I’d like to share with you my latest one which turned out a lot better than I expected. It was one of those bursts of inspiration that couldn’t stop flowing. So here it is- keep in mind this is unedited and uncensored (there is no inappropriateness, just my thoughts are kind of all over the place)

The topic was “A chance encounter which changes a person’s life”

Have you ever walked in a crowd and still felt so alone? Even when you’re with your friends, you sometimes feel isolated. Have you ever considered though, “maybe it’s my own fault? Maybe the only reason I feel lonely is because I’m not opening up to people”
Opening up to people is hard though, when you know them- when you value their friendship. Maybe they will think you’re weird, maybe you’ll lose that relationship. Sometimes, the best way to open up and get all that’s bothering you off your chest is by talking about it to a stranger. With this, you have nothing to lose, so why not?

So you go, into the world looking for a onetime confidante. A friendship only meant to last a moment. You find yourself in a park on the other side of town; one you have never visited. There is a solitary bench under an oak tree already changing colours for fall. You sit.

Another person sits next to you. You don’t look up to see who it is. You don’t even know if it is a man or woman. You start to speak. “Can I talk to you” you say, “just about what’s going on with me right now?”

The person doesn’t speak, but makes no move so you take that as an approval.

You begin to tell your story. Where you were born, your family-whom you feel are weird, your beliefs –that you’re unsure of, your plans for the future-which scare you. You confide with this stranger about your problems and your fears, your dreams and your interest, even your secrets that only you know. You even tell them what you had for breakfast this morning.

You tell them the story of you.

All through it, not a word is spoken by this unknown individual. No reaction is made, whether positive or negative. They simply listen. They simply accept.

You, comfortable in this atmosphere of accepting facts as they are, have a chance to stop on contemplate the last few moments. You’ve never had a chance to really lay yourself right out there. By telling this stranger about you, you’ve also explained part of you to yourself. For the first time, you feel like you can understand yourself just a little bit more.

You inhale, taking a deep breath as your eyes close instinctively. You feel a strange sense of peace, as if a burden has been lifted off you. You realize one has, for the first time, you were completely honest with yourself. 

You exhale.

You tell the stranger thank you. You and the hidden person get up and head in opposite directions. Your paths never intertwine again.

You are content with this fact.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So that’s it. I honestly don’t know what to make about this journal yet for some weird reason, I felt it was something worth sharing.

Song of the Post: Somewhere Only We Know by Keane
Quote of the Post: “We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky