Event Recap: Jeff Zentner, Susin Nielsen, and Danielle Younge-Ullman

I haven’t wanted to go to a book-related event in a while. (Kind of been enjoying the break from having to be “book blogger Michelle” all the time). But I told myself there were a handful of authors I’d 100% go see if given the chance. People I could not miss. So when Jeff Zentner was announced to come to Brampton, I marked off my calendar and started counting the days.

I arrived at my personal favourite bookstore, ordered a green tea frap, sat down near the Starbucks fireplace and cracked open Zentner’s new novel, Goodbye Days, to get ready. As people started to show up, I grabbed a seat in front of the panel table and got ready to see three amazing authors. Some context: I’ve read Susin Nielsen’s We Are All Made of Molecules and loved it. 5 stars. I’ve read Jeff Zentner’s Serpent King and it is one of my favourite books of all time. I’ve never read any of Danielle Younge-Ullman’s work, but I was very excited to purchase Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined. The three authors took the stage after greeting some familiar faces, and the panel began.

Each of the authors took their turn in front of the mic to talk a bit about their new books, and then read a small excerpt. As each author took centre stage, I could immediately feel their personality all the way from the second row. Susin, Danielle, and Jeff were all incredibly down-to-earth and were having just as much fun at the event as the people who came to see them, which made it all the more enjoyable.

Then it was time for audience questions, where each author took their turn discussing fan-prompted topics such as their writing process, how they come up with their characters, and why they all chose to write novels dealing with grief and coping with loss. It was very clear that Susin, Danielle and Jeff were answering the questions and discussing their writing as sincerely as possible. I’m not a fan of listening to authors who very obviously have answered questions so many times that they just recite answers from memory, and I was very captivated listening to this group.

Once there were no more audience questions, it was time for the book signing! When it was my turn, I first approached Susin, who asked if I was an optimist or a pessimist (a la her newest protagonist), and said that I must be an optimist if I was a blogger. (I am definitely not). (I’m an anxious little bean). (Optimists die first). Anyway! It was such a delight to talk to her.

Next I met Danielle. At the beginning of the event, she was introduced as having dabbled in the Toronto theatre scene, and for the rest of the afternoon I was trying to figure out why she looked familiar. (Some of you may recall my obsession with theatre). I’m very excited to be able to read Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined, and hopefully report back to all of you how amazing it is!

And finally, I got my chance to talk to Jeff. This was his first signing outside of the States (!!) which made it all the more exciting. He signed my books and told me he liked my “no day but today” tattoo, and I got to tell him how much I loved The Serpent King. So you can imagine, I left the bookstore feeling quite dazed.

This Chapters is the one I grew up with. It’s the bookstore my friends and I have visited regularly since I was 11 years old, going for coffee dates and browsing the shelves as wee little book addicts. And now it’s the Chapters where I got to meet three fantastic authors and have my day made. It’s an afternoon I don’t think a book event will live up to for a while.

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Michelle Muses: March 2017

Well. This month was interesting to say the least. I’m a single lady now. Got a promotion at work that I’m super excited about. Lots of high highs and low lows. But I’m going to focus on the fun stuff, so here we go!

Paint Nite: Our last date before Luke decided to peace out of my life. But I try not to think of it that way. I had a nice time making this piece of art that is probably one of my favourite creations, so it was a win.

Tattoo: Yes! I had three goals for this year and a new tattoo was one of them. So now I can cross this off my list. The watercolour fireworks are so beautiful, I love the way it turned out!

Drinks with friends: Because that’s what you do when you need to vent about a stupid ex boy-person. My sister, my girl friends, everyone was inviting me out to get a drink and rant about boys. Which was awesome and super reassuring. I love my friends.

I guess this is a continuation of the prior point. My friends from work have been super awesome and supportive as well – getting me out of the house so I don’t have to sit and wallow. I’ve gotten a whole lot more social, and have been out with them a lot this month, meeting more people… having a good time and having them there to take care of me has been great, and does not go unappreciated.

Erika’s birthday: You guys my little sister turned 21 this month. It’s so weird to think that the girl who is perpetually 16 in my mind is in her twenties now. We went out dancing with my dad, which was a ton of fun and a great way to spend the night.

Simple Plan: This is the second time bestie and I have seen Simple Plan together. They always put on a great show, and it was so much fun to get to dance and scream along to our favourite tunes from our youth! I’ll be posting about the concert in more detail soon, so keep an eye out!

The Zolas: I’d literally never heard of this band before my friend asked me to go with him to the show, but I’m not one to say no to free shows and a night out. I had a great time getting to know the band and soaking up their music. Again, I’m going to post a more full blog post about the show later on!

St. Patrick’s Day: Guys, I’m 25 and I’ve never done anything for St. Paddy’s Day ever in my life. This was the first year I went to a party and had green Jell-O shots and did the whole thing. You can imagine how well that went. I didn’t make myself sick though, so I consider this a successful first St. Paddy’s.

You know when you start talking to someone and it’s just so easy, and you enjoy every minute with them, and you never get bored of being around them, so you just end up hanging out all the time?

Yeah.

Emo Night: Emo Night at Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto is literally my new favourite discovery (besides the Arkells. I’m still obsessed with the Arkells). But I dragged my friend out to go dancing to the tunes that have populated my iPod since 2006 and had suuuch a good time! Will definitely be going back.

Book of Mormon: My friend Rebecca and I tried our luck at the Book of Mormon lottery, and got front row centre tickets! We saw the show together the first time it was in Toronto a few years ago, and to be able to see it from the front row was so cool. We also sat right behind the conductor, so I spent like half the show watching the band, which was a new theatre experience for me.

I think I’m finally realizing that even though I’m shy, I’m actually an extrovert who thoroughly enjoys being around other people and gains my energy by socializing.

Things have been super hectic, but I love being busy and I can’t wait to do even more fun things in the months to come!

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Michelle Muses: February 2017

I was VERY busy this month, and I finally get to share with you all the awesome stuff I’ve been doing!

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Near the beginning of the month, I took my dad to see the Chili Peppers as part of his Christmas gift – and it was such a great show! To read more about the concert and the setlist, click the link.

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Arkells & Frank Turner: Again, I’ve already written about this concert, so if you’d like the whole post, click the link!  But honestly, I think Arkells & Frank Turner was probably in my Top 5 concerts of all time. It was so much fun and I can’t stop listening to them now.

Dad’s Birthday: Normally, my family isn’t too big on birthdays. We’ll go for lunch or give a small gift, but it’s more just about appreciating the person and letting them have a nice day. So this year for my dad we took it up a *little* bit. Me, Luke, my sister, my aunts, and my dad’s best friend all joined him for dinner and dancing. It was a lot of fun and I think we’re going to do something similar for my sister’s birthday coming up – because it was our kind of low-key fun.

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Valentine’s Day: My first Valentine’s Day with Luke was perfect. I’d rather celebrate an anniversary than a random day, but I’m still into all that cutesy shit. So what better way to spend Valentine’s than watching Netflix, eating KFC, and exchanging small, romantic gifts. (He got me candy and a stuffed dog). That is the ideal V-Day for me. And I can’t wait for our super romantic anniversary date night next month!

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Drinks with Frances: Me and one of my good friends, Frances, went for a girls’ night a couple weeks ago, and it was so much fun. We had drinks and caught up, and did a bit of planning for our 2017 vacation! I’ve never really been anywhere awesome (Chicago is very similar to Toronto. Florida was pretty cool – but never anywhere foreign, or outside of a city, or brand new). So we discussed some of the things we’re going to do in Iceland when we go later this year! That was fun.

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TO Light Fest: The Distillery District is currently filled with a bunch of beautiful glowing art installments, and I went with my sister and bestie. Click on the link to read more about the Toronto Light Fest!

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Long weekend: In Canada, we celebrate Family Day, so we get a long weekend in the usually dark months between Christmas and Easter. But this long weekend, the temperatures were in the mid-teens (Celcius) and it was BEAUTIFUL. I got to go for my first run of the year, and me and my friend Jacob took advantage of the sun and spent some time outside. It was really relaxing and gave me the peek at spring I needed to get through the rest of winter.

Pho with Sam: This past weekend, my friend Sam and I went to his favourite Pho place in the city, and that was delicious (because pho is literally my favourite food of all time). We hung around for a bit, ran some fun errands (which will be revealed on Saturday), and then went to Lush and I bought some amazing bubble bars that are my new favourite thing.

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Paint Nite: And last night, I went to Paint Nite with Luke. We’ve done a Paint Nite before as per my suggestion, and he actually really wanted to come back and do another one. So finally we were able to come back for round two! It’s always a lot of fun to have a drink, relax, and create something. Also, Luke ended up winning a contest for a free Paint Nite ticket, so we’re definitely going again!

February was a lot of fun, and March looks like it’s going to have even more lined up – concerts, birthdays, anniversaries – the excitement continues!

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Toronto Light Festival 2017

img_4608This long weekend, I headed downtown Toronto with my best friend and my sister to see the first Toronto Light Festival at the Distillery District to enjoy some beautiful art installments.

We got there at the perfect time, because the sun was just starting to go down. So we took a walk around and got a look at what the festival had to offer, while the sun was still up, and then stopped to grab a hot chocolate (which was actually delicious and totally worth the sort-of-ridiculous Distillery District pricing).  img_4599By the time we headed back to where we’d started our round, the sun had fully set and we were ready to see the art installments the way they were meant to be seen.

In hindsight, it probably wasn’t too smart to go on a weekend – the amount of people trying to file through the streets of the Distillery District was crazy. It was similar to the crowds at the Christmas Market in December. But people lined up decently to see the light pieces and it wasn’t as claustrophobic as I initially thought it would be.

img_4601The light installments themselves were incredible. They were beautiful and inspired art pieces, and I took my time enjoying them.
A couple of my favourites were the clearly ironic neon sign stating that “Nothing is so important that it needs to be made in six foot neon” (six-foot, no?), and the gorgeous angel pieces (pictured at the bottom of this post).

It was really just nice to walk around outside in the unseasonable warmth with a couple of my favourite people, enjoying the weather and taking in some of the inspiring art and culture in our city.

The TO Light Festival runs until March 12, so check it out if you have the chance!

Have you visited the TO Light Festival? What was your favourite installment?

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Arkells Hamilton Homecoming w/ Frank Turner

I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of the Arkells homecoming show in Hamilton, but this concert was just as much about Frank Turner for me as it was the Arkells. So I’m going to talk about both acts equally, and hopefully I don’t ramble.

Arkells with Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
When: February 10, 2017
Where: FirstOntario Centre – Hamilton, ON
Seats: General Admission – Floor

THE COMPANY

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My boyfriend’s friend actually said he was looking for someone to go with him to this concert, and I jumped at the opportunity. I was checking out the tickets online for a while but knew no one would want to go with me, so I’d kind of accepted that. But getting to see Frank Turner in person? Heck yes! We’re both concert lovers, so it was awesome to share the experience with someone who fully appreciated it – and we ended up having a blast!

 

THE PERFORMANCE

img_4427This show was nothing short of ‘wow’.

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls were incredible, as I’d expected. Turner is a fantastic performer who was able to draw in the whole crowd – even people who probably had never heard of him and were only there for the Arkells. He got everyone singing along to almost every song, and I have had “Photosynthesis” stuck in my head for days (“I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up – and most of all I will not grow up!”). Of course, when he played “Four Simple Words”, I lost my flippin’ mind, and everyone was bopping along like crazy. Frank Turner was everything I hoped he would be, and more.

img_4451By the time the Arkells came on stage I was so hyped. I’m not super familiar with their music, but I know more songs than I thought I did! They were incredible, and you could tell the band was pumped to be back home, because they put every ounce of energy they had into every song. I was just really happy that they played all of my favourite songs. I got to bop to “11:11” and sway along to “My Heart’s Always Yours”, and dance like no one was watching during “Dirty Blonde”. Then they pulled everyone closer to the stage as they finished up the set with “Leather Jacket”. It’s been three days since the show, and I’m still on a concert high because it was so much freakin’ fun.

THE AUDIENCE

The crowd was definitely a huge part as to why this concert was incredible. It was the Arkells homecoming show. Everyone was so excited! The entire venue was PACKED full of people. I look at the photos and just can’t believe there were that many people behind where we stood.

Photo from @arkellsmusic Twitter

Photo from @arkellsmusic Twitter: HAMILTON. Couldn’t have dreamt this up better. Thank you for giving us the best damn view in the world.

Also, I’ve never had floor seats to a show like that before – in such a large venue. I’ve been to general admission venues before, but nothing like this. Standing on the floor vs. standing in the seats are definitely two different concert experiences, and I totally prefer the former. You just get pulled into the music, and you’re dancing with hundreds of other people, sharing this show together. It’s impossible not to get completely immersed in the moment – which I was.

And I needed to be immersed. I needed a night to forget the bad and celebrate the good and have a shit ton of fun with a cool human. It was just the right music at the right time in my life. I would see them again in a heartbeat.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls:

  1. I Still Believe ♥
  2. The Next Storm
  3. Photosynthesis ♥
  4. The Way I Tend to Be ♥
  5. Dan’s Song
  6. The Sand in the Gears
  7. Recovery ♥
  8. Get Better
  9. Four Simple Words ♥

Arkells:

  1. A Little Rain (A Song for Pete) ♥
  2. Michigan Left
  3. Come to Light ♥
  4. Ballad of Hugo Chavez
  5. Hung Up
  6. Passenger Seat
  7. Never Thought That This Would Happen ♥
  8. 11:11 ♥
  9. And Then Some ♥
  10. Oh, the Boss is Coming!
  11. Pullin’ Punches ♥
  12. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher (Jackie Wilson cover, with Frank Turner)
  13. I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover, with Frank Turner) ♥
  14. My Girl (The Temptations cover, with Frank Turner)
  15. Drake’s Dad
  16. Agent Zero ♥
  17. Kiss Cam ♥
  18. Savannah
  19. My Heart’s Always Yours ♥
  20. Book Club ♥
  21. On Paper
  22. Dirty Blonde ♥
  23. Private School (with Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls) ♥

Encore
24. Whistleblower
25. Cynical Bastards ♥
26. Leather Jacket ♥

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Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Getaway Tour

I’ve got quite the list of 2017 concerts building up, so I’ve decided I’m going to write about them! And to me, concerts are about three things, so I’m going to focus on each of these aspects in my reviews: who I went with and the time we had, the band’s performance, and the feel of the audience.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway Tour
When: February 4, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Balcony level, Row 13

The Company

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So I went to see the Chili Peppers with my dad. He’s a huge fan, and after struggling to get my hand on a pair of tickets in the presale, I knew he would probably appreciate them the most. And he did. We had a great time together! Even though we way up in the balcony of the Air Canada Centre, we had a great view of the stage and rocked out to the awesome show.

The Performance

Jack Irons and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue were the opening acts for the Chili Peppers. Irons captivated the entire audience with his insane drum skills, and my dad and I left the show saying we wanted to buy a Trombone Shorty album – what a band! They had everyone on their feet dancing before the main act even came on.

But everyone was there for the Chili Peppers, and let me tell you, I don’t think anyone left disappointed. They were SO energetic and threw themselves into every song. There were moments between songs where the band just jammed for a bit, creating more of a build up than a lull, as they left the audience hanging on to hear the next hit. I was just incredibly happy to hear “By the Way” and “Snow”, and okay, I have had “Go Robot” stuck in my head since that night.

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And the show itself was so visually impressive. Even when they started playing a new song I didn’t know as well, the gorgeous light show that changed with every new tune was mesmerizing. The hanging lights did a wave and would dance over the audience in various colours and movements. I couldn’t look away.

The Audience

Like I said earlier: I had a hard time getting my hand on tickets in presale because they were selling like CRAZY. So you can imagine that everyone in the room was extremely stoked to be at the show. And they were. I have been at shows at the ACC where people in the balcony level stay seated and bop along to the band, and that upsets me because I enjoy dancing at shows. As soon as the Chili Peppers got on stage, everyone in the venue got to their feet and showed their enthusiasm.

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And it was great to hear the first few notes of “Give It Away”, or “Otherside”, and have the band almost get drowned out by the crowd of fans screaming the lyrics along. That’s probably my favourite moment at a show, and it happened a few times at this one.

It was probably one of my top 10 concerts, and if they ever come back, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to get more tickets.

Complete setlist:

  1. Intro Jam
  2. Around the World
  3. Otherside ♥
  4. Snow (Hey Oh) ♥
  5. Dark Necessities ♥
  6. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie ♥
  7. Right on Time
  8. Go Robot ♥
  9. Emit Remmus
  10. Sick Love
  11. I Like Dirt
  12. Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
  13. The Getaway
  14. Soul to Squeeze ♥
  15. By the Way ♥

Encore
16. Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin – tease)
17. Goodbye Angels
18. Give It Away ♥

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Michelle Muses: January 2017

You know how this goes by now – here’s all the stuff I’ve been up to this past month!

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Mini-putt: Early in the new year, Luke and I went on a glow-in-the-dark mini-putt double date with our friends which was super fun! I haven’t gone in a while, and still managed to not suck.

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Skating: I went skating with a friend from work – another activity that I managed to not suck at. Which is quite surprising because I did the math, and I haven’t put on a pair of skates in 10 years. Crazy! But it’s sort of like riding a bike, and once I got on the ice, it took a couple laps of the rink before I was feeling more confident in my abilities!

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Couple-y stuff: Things with Luke have been going pretty awesome, and not to get too personal, but I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. We’ve been talking about future plans together and our anniversary is coming up; it’s just been making me Image result for heart eyes emojiImage result for heart eyes emojiImage result for heart eyes emoji a whole lot recently. Life is beginning! It’s getting exciting!

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Dinner date with bestie: I have a few besties, but it’s safe to say Sam is my oldest friend. I don’t have a lot of friends from elementary school, but me and Sam have always stuck together whether it be to play Pokemon at recess, or complain about adult life over a cup of coffee. But I haven’t seen him in forever, so finally getting to do a dinner at our favourite Toronto diner meant a lot. Also, we went shopping afterwards, and he introduced me to Lush Cosmetics – so safe to say my life is ruined now.

I feel like January was so busy, but not a lot “happened”. Well, I’m pretty stoked because February begins the fun stuff and I’ll have a couple of concerts and other fun activities to share with you in my next Michelle Muses!

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Michelle Muses: December 2016

This is going to be a fun one, because December was an honest-to-god shitshow. I was so sick I was bed-ridden for a week before Christmas. I had other family things going on. But I’m trying to focus on the good, so here are the things that went down in December that put a smile on my face.

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Christmas Market: Luke and I went to a smaller, local Christmas market, and it was so nice to be able to take a stroll around the booths. There was a carousel and Christmas music, and we went for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage which was the highlight of my night. It was very sweet and got me feeling more in a Christmasy mood for the year.

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Penguin Christmas Market: I already wrote a post about this one, so I won’t go into too much detail – but Penguin Random House Canada hosted a holiday party, and it was so much fun. There was a photo booth and stations around the room that held various activities. If you want to read more, the full post is here.

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Distillery Christmas Market: I also wrote a post about this night (found here). But my friend Nikki and I went to the huge Toronto Christmas Market held at the Distillery District and wow. The tree was gorgeous. So many lights and fresh sweets and photo opportunities – it definitely set the Christmas mood.

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Hairspray Sing-Along: The Lower Ossington Theatre hosts a variety of “Brew & View” events throughout the year where you go see a movie (99% of the time, it’s a musical), you get a glass of wine or beer, hang out with your friends, and everyone drunkenly sings along to the movie. It’s always a good time. I’ve seen Grease, RENT, Mamma Mia, Moulin Rouge – and they’ve all been a good time. But my sister and Nikki are both HUGE Hairspray fans, so when we heard about this one, I bought tickets immediately. It was so fun to have a glass of wine and belt out You Can’t Stop the Beat!

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Rogue One: Luke and I saw Rogue One on opening night, and I am a fan. I don’t normally see movies in theatres and I’ve seen this one twice already. Throughout the movie, Luke kept turning to me to continuously reiterate how awesome the movie was so far. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you need to see this movie.

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Christmas Day: I don’t remember if I’ve said this on the blog before – but I’m not a fan of Christmas, normally. It just creates too much stress and everyone is always very high-strung, and I don’t ever remember a time where Christmas was totally laid back and actually a nice vacation with family. Well, this year I finally got it. It was perfect.

I spent Christmas Eve with my mom and her boyfriend, and my grandparents who I barely see anymore. We sat around and listened to Christmas music and chatted about life. Then we made gingerbread men and devoured a delicious dinner. I was still recovering from being sick, so I couldn’t eat that much, but what I did have was yummy!

Christmas morning we did presents with mom’s side, and then I headed over to see Luke’s family – a second family I question if I deserve. They are the most wonderful group of people, and I always feel so incredibly welcome. So I got to spend some time with them, and then Luke and I went to see my dad’s side of the family and do dinner and presents with all my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. which went very well and I had a great time.

The day ended with me, my dad and sister sitting around our Charlie Brown tree opening gifts and enjoying our time together. It was lovely.

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New Year’s Eve: I’ve never actually been to a New Year’s Eve party before. Growing up, I always spent the night with my grandparents, but then I got to an age where I’d go to a friend’s house and we’d count down then go to bed. This year I got invited to join Luke’s group of friends in hanging out, drinking, playing games, laughing a lot… Then I got to have a kiss at midnight and toast to the new year with everyone. I’m extremely grateful I got to have this experience with this awesome group.

Happy New Year to all of my readers! Thank you for supporting me throughout 2016, and here’s to 2017 being an amazing year ahead!

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Ten Things I Learned in 2016

I feel like this hasn’t really been a good year for a lot of people. But it’s almost over! And although 2016 has been one of the most emotionally and mentally stressful for me, I’ve also learned quite a bit about myself and how I want to conduct the rest of my life. So here we go.

1. Take chances. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself.

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We had to find an internship for my final semester of school, and I was terrified I’d be the only one without an internship. But I found one! And it went okay. Did some networking, got some social media experience for my resume. I didn’t think I could do it, but pushed myself, and ended up in the perfect internship for me.

2. Put 110% effort in… not everything you do.

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I’m the kind of person that puts all of my effort into everything. Anything I do is Michelle certified 10/10 effort. But this year I got burnt out to the point of mental exhaustion. One of my teachers sat me down and actually told me, “if you redo this assignment so you can get higher than an 80%, I will be mad at you. Go home, relax. Like, don’t do any homework. Don’t do chores. Don’t worry. Just relax. Do nothing.” So now I kind of take that advice and apply it to other things in my life. It’s okay to take a mental break – watch TV, play video games, veg out in bed. Meditation and learning how to chill out has been a huge breakthrough for me.

3. Broken hearts fucking suck.

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I’ve never been heart-broken before. I mean, I’ve liked people who never liked me back, but there was some acceptance there. This was a case of “You’re with someone who you shouldn’t be with, and yes you love him but you need to get out of this so you can grow as a person –  thank me later”. It hurt a lot. I’ve never been that depressed before. I’m fine now, but at the time, I didn’t want to see how I could be okay without my best friend. It’s given me a new appreciation for being hurt – and trying extra hard not to hurt other people.

4. Adventure is fun, but being reckless is stupid.

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After the break-up, I was reckless. I wanted to adventure and try new things. But at the time, that meant going out until 4am with my friends, not remembering how I got back to her house, or going on dates with people just to get out of the house and keep my mind off things. It took me meeting the right boy at the right time to realize that I should be respected and respect myself, as well. I deserve to make relationships and friendships with people, and that in itself was sort of a great adventure. Now my adventures are cultivating friendships and trying new things that don’t hurt me.

5. The best things are worth waiting for.

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Look at this guy. My beautiful boy. I can’t even. I’ll give you the cliffnotes version: Luke and I grew up down the street from each other. Same grammar school, same high school. I always knew who he was, always thought he was such a cute dork. Never spoke to him. We met on Tinder after this year’s rough break-up when I was trying to meet new people and get a fresh start, and he was the nicest person. No boy has ever been so respectful and kind and gentlemanly to me. Neither of us wanted a “relationship” at our first encounter, but we fell pretty hard and it’ was downhill from there. I sort of believe in fate now, I don’t know. But we didn’t rush into anything, and now I am the happiest I have ever been in a partnership. ❤

6. Act confident and you’ll be confident.

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Fun fact: the girl who runs this blog hates herself most of the time. It’s something I’ve been working on fixing this year. It’s also been helpful to have friends and a partner in my life now who are supportive. I got hired on full-time at my student job, and was given a lot more responsibilities and that one thing sort of made me feel like a superstar. It’s a desk job, nothing fancy shmancy – but I acted the confident part of someone who deserved the job and now I have this job I love, and am actually pretty good at.

I also overthrew the girl in my head who said I couldn’t do anything athletic and ran a 5k this year, so that was pretty awesome. I’m going to keep this confident streak up through 2017 because it opens a lot more doors than when you hate on yourself all the time.

7. Friend and family bonds must  be cared for, not assumed.

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I don’t care what people say about friendships and family relationships being “meant to be” or “if you’re related to them, you have to love them”. If I’ve learned one thing this year, this may be the most important one. Do not force friendships with people who clearly don’t want to be your friend. Do not feel tied to family members who mentally and emotionally bring you down. If they’re not supportive, find yourself a “family” that is – even if that family is a group of friends.

I’ve spent this year nurturing the friendships with the few people I do appreciate and love. I’ve also spent this year re-connecting with old friends and strengthening those bonds, or talking to new people who have grown to be some of my best friends. Find people you can rely on, blood relative or not, and surround yourself with them – I’ve been a lot less insecure this year, and it’s because I put my trust in people who I can actually rely on.

8. I’m an adult.

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Guys, I  turned 25 this year. I graduated college. I got a full-time job. I’m looking at apartments now. Like. I’m a full-blown adult. I’m adulting all over the place and can’t hide behind the “I’m still a kid” thing anymore. This year was the first time I’ve thought about the independence of adult life and not felt super sick and anxious. I feel like I can do it. It’s very exciting.

9. Feeling beautiful on the outside doesn’t make you vain.

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I grew up being told that girls who were into makeup and clothes were dumb and trying to fill voids in their life with lipstick and shoes. That was a mix between teen girl movies making all the “bad guys” look like the Plastics from Mean Girls, and my family knowing I’m a weirdo who had no friends, so they tried to comfort me with: “You’re better than those girls, you don’t need them”. Well. 2016 was the year I embraced my femininity and really got into things like fashion and makeup as a form of expression, and let me tell you, it is not dumb on this side. I can be smart and nerdy and still like dresses and shoes. It’s been a fun and eye-opening discovery, to say the least. The fact that I judge people less makes me feel like I’m being judged less. Funny how that works, huh?

10. Live like there is “no day but today”.

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I got my first tattoo this year! In January, the words from RENT’s “Another Day” got etched into my arm as a double reminder: don’t put off until tomorrow what could be said  today, but also, remembering to take things one day at a time and to move at my own pace.

I went on a roller coaster this year even though I was terrified. I went dancing a few times even though it was later than I’d like to be downtown. I met new people and tried a lot of new things just by saying yes when I wasn’t entirely up for an outing. At the same time, I’ve taken a lot of days to myself, staying in bed playing games and saying no to people when I need to take a mental break. “No day but today” is a reminder to live in the moment, but also to take care of myself.

Maybe 2016 wasn’t entirely terrible. A lot of crazy good things happened, and I’ve kind of been inspired to start my own life.

So that’s a huge step for me. How was your year? What are some positives you’re taking into 2017?

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Toronto Christmas Market 2016

I’ve never been to the Toronto Christmas Market before. And I live here. But this year, I’m trying to make Christmas about spending quality time with the people I love and not getting caught up in the stress of finding the perfect gifts, and honestly it’s just been so much better. So one of my besties, Nikki, suggested for our Christmas, we go to the Toronto Christmas Market. And my god, it’s so beautiful.

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The market is set up in the Distillery District, which is one of my favourite spots in the city. It’s so artsy and the architecture is so traditional – it’s the perfect place to set up a cozy Christmas scene and have it look like it’s a small town. There are tons of booths set up around the District, as well as food vendors, carnival rides, and of course, the giant Christmas tree. (You can sort of see my shadow, but that tree is gigantic!)

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It wouldn’t be a trip to the Distillery if you didn’t get your photo with the heart! There are a number of art installations that are always in the Distillery, and it’s sort of tradition to take your photo under the heart. But there are pretty pink Christmas trees in the background because of the Market setup!

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I don’t know what this says about me, but my favourite part of the entire market was the donuts. Uncle Betty’s diner had a booth selling various flavours of mini donuts, so we tried their maple bacon donuts. And let me just tell you – those are the best things I’ve ever eaten. The salty and sweet flavours worked perfectly together, and the donut itself was so fluffy that it just melted in your mouth. I would go back just for the donuts.

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It was pretty busy for a Wednesday night, though, and I can’t imagine how busy it is on weekends, or closer to Christmas. I’d say check it out on a weeknight, if possible. (Note: It runs until Dec. 22nd and is not open on Mondays).

Have you stopped by the Christmas Market this year? What were your favourite parts? Did you pick up any fun Christmas swag or try any fun dishes?

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