Mar 19, 2012

How to change your life forever: change what you think you are capable of.

I'd like to say that ALL OF YOU ARE INCREDIBLE.

Your messages of support for my crazy dream of flying to space have been overwhelming.

So many have told me that they believe in me, that they are telling everyone they know to vote and that they themselves are "voting the crap out of my page." (Many thanks to ABFTS for making me laugh really hard at that!)

But still others have written to thank me. Several people have told me how they or someone close to them are going through their own struggles with depression, anxiety, or both. They say my writing has helped, touched and inspired them.

I'm sorry for those of you who are still struggling. :( My heart is with you, and I only wish I could do something more to help. If I could, I would give you all an enormous hug.

And I am incredibly grateful. Because even if the ONLY thing I accomplished by entering this contest was to help someone, somewhere, just a little, it was totally worth it.

Knowing that I've helped people gives me an absolutely wonderful feeling inside. (I imagine it's similar to the feeling of visiting space. Probably even better!) =']

So where am I at? At time of writing my entry has received almost 1000 votes. This is way more than I anticipated and I am extremely touched. Out of over a THOUSAND entries, I am in the top sixty. This is incredible!

Is it enough to win by next Monday? I'll be honest: probably not. Am I going to give up? HECK NO.

So I'm setting a goal. A realistic goal, I think, but one that will require me to keep putting everything I have into this. That was my plan - all or nothing. I would love to make it into the top 20.

At time of writing, 5000 votes would put me there... but other people will be getting more votes too. Of course, since everyone can vote ten times a day, it's more like "500 votes." Right? =P

If you have a blog and want to support the cause, would you consider putting this button on your site? (Just for a week?) The code is all right here in the box; simply copy-paste it into an html widget. (The bottom image links to the voting page, and the top image links to the post where I explain it all.)

Help send a blogger to space!
Click here to vote 10x daily!

(If you do, THANK YOU FOREVER in advance! You are WONDERFUL!)

Win or lose, just entering this contest has already been the best decision I've made in a while. I already find myself looking at new challenges and opportunities differently. I have plans in the next month to pursue two new (slightly more realistic =P) goals despite how much they scare me. If I was capable of overcoming my doubts and entering this contest, well... how much more am I capable of?

A whole CRAPLOAD, that's what!

Thank you times a million to everyone who has supported me in this and who continues to support me. I'll keep bugging you for one more week. Just seven days! I'll post something of my more usual fare later this week. =)

Lots of love,

Mar 15, 2012

One Batcrap-Crazy Girl, Looking Up. (UPDATED)

One year ago, I was just beginning to recover from depression.

I've alluded to it, lightheartedly, in my first real post. But I haven't talked about it.

My freshman year of university was the lowest point in my life. Left reeling for months after the abrupt end of a turbulent relationship, I lost my main emotional support and "core membership" in the group of friends who had anchored me for six years. I frequently felt left out, excluded, and forgotten: an afterthought, if I was thought of at all.

A growing uncertainty in everything I once believed in took its toll. Feelings of inadequacy and failure were the norm... I saw myself giving up on so much without trying, and I felt even worse.

My own depression was not the worst of it. At the same time, a close family member was suffering from delusional mental illness. My family life was fraught with fear and paranoia, and the colossal chaos of it all was overwhelming.

I am grateful for some things. I was never suicidal. I had two friends who I could always turn to. I somehow managed to make it through my classes.

And with time came healing. Unexpected people helped in unexpected ways. Counselling sessions were abandoned, first because I found a job and later because I didn't need them anymore.

Life was looking up.

Around this time, I started writing my Bucket List.

This List is rather eclectic. To date I have accomplished a whopping three and a half items. But sandwiched between "hold a Harry Potter movie marathon" and "make it through university debt-free" is this:
  1. Visit space and experience weightlessness
    (long shot, maybe, but I’d love to.)
I was fascinated by astronomy when I was younger (still am, in fact.) But this was ridiculous. Unrealistic. Just a crazy dream. Balderdash. Bullpoo. Batcrap. So why is it on my Bucket List?

It's there because if I could do absolutely anything, I'd want to do it.

So what do you do when you're presented with a chance... even the TINIEST SMALLEST chance... to make your craziest dreams come true? DUH. YOU TAKE IT.

Last week I discovered that Metro News International is holding a contest. The winner will be one of the first-ever civilians to experience spaceflight.

I nearly went into shock. I've been thinking about this almost constantly ever since, but I haven't told anyone.

I am paralyzed by fear of failure.

The regional finalists are determined by votes. If I had an enormous horde of loyal followers, maybe I'd stand a chance. But I'm not Allie Brosh. I'm not Jenny Lawson. I'm Ellen. Just Ellen, a girl who would rather give up without trying if I think I might fail.

It's sadly laughable. If this were some random iPad contest: "OMG-like-us-on-Facebook-for-a-one-in-a-million-chance-to-win!!1!!11!!!" I'd have entered, no problem.

When you are:
a) facing a contest for something that would really matter to you, and
b) sick to your stomach with anxiety whenever you think about entering

...sometimes you can't help but ask: "What is wrong with me?"

I have nothing to lose but my fear.

I've lost count of all the things I've been too shy, too scared, or too unsure to do. The worst of it was last year, but it's an ongoing trend. I'll get SUPER-excited about something, have second thoughts, doubts, and then decide to forget it entirely. I've had my fair share of times where I've tried something crazy and failed dismally, which doesn't help.

I want to change this, this view I have of myself and the limitations I continually self-impose. Why not now?

But I can't let myself pull off a half-arsed attempt and say: "Ha! There. I entered and no one voted for me; big surprise. So much for that crap!"

And that is why I am sharing this EVERYWHERE, starting now. Here on my blog, Facebook, twitter, and with all the friends and family I can reach. It will mean the world to me if you click here and vote for my submission.

UPDATED: You can actually vote TEN TIMES every day; please do! If you spread the word and tell other people to vote, that would be Even-MORE-Amazing.

(If you believe in me that much, well... I wish I could send you flowers!!! I'll think of something.)

The simplest things in the world are often the hardest to do.

Today's post is the toughest thing I have ever written. This sounds dumb, but it's true.

Will I publish it? There's still time. No one knows about this. I can forget it and move on with my practical life. That's what's comfortable, natural and perfectly reasonable... but empty.

Because sometimes it doesn't matter if your chances of success are one in seven hundred...

...or one in seven BILLION.

As cliché as is sounds, sometimes trying is the scariest part.

Mar 9, 2012

How To Inject your Travel Photos with 300% More Awesome

Most people over-share their travel photos.

When I see your blog post with twenty, thirty, fifty random pictures of some random place that you visited and thought was amazing, I try REALLY hard to stay interested! I really do!

But it doesn't happen. At best, I might skim through half the list. :(

Some say that photos of people are more interesting. This might be true... but unless I know you really well, do you really think your random pictures of random places will be improved by adding faces of random people?

...yeahhhhhhhh — No.

A Week in Montreal, Quebec

I was recently lucky enough to spend a week visiting a close friend, terrorizing Montreal together and exuding general awesomeness. It was a fantastic trip and I'd like to share some of it... ideally, without boring any readers to tears.

Thing 1. Of the eight hundred pictures I took, I am sharing only seven.

Thing 2. Fish-People! (If this one needs explaining, scroll down.)

So without further ado, here are seven "photos" of my week-long reign of terror in Montreal.

Godzilla ain't got nothin' on this!


...why aren't you running? Why are you looking at me with disdain and impunity? Do you expect me to speak French? Oh. Right... you do. Darn Quebecers!


Monkeying around

I have no idea what building I'm climbing, but this is my King Kong impression. It could use a few more screaming people... and some explosions. Everything becomes more epic with random explosions!

When yoooou wish upoonn a staaaar...

The awe-inspiring interior of the Notre Dame Basilica. Is it just me or does it look a LOT like the Disney castle? I'm expecting Tinker Bell to fly out and shower me with glitter any moment now...

We watched a Sound and Light show here, presented in French and narrated by the maniacal "ghost" of the Basilica. MWAHAHAHA!!!

Let it snow!

Every winter Montreal creates a "Snow Village." It includes a restaurant, ice bar, arctic spas, igloos, an ice hotel, and overnight accommodations for 300! (YOU CAN ACTUALLY SLEEP IN AN IGLOO, PEOPLE.)

I'm standing in front of the "ice chapel," which can be booked for winter weddings. (Hope no one gets cold feet! *cue groans*)

Giant aspirations

Olympic-sized me, posing with Montreal's Olympic Tower! We didn't go inside though. There were more important things to do... like looking at penguins.

Nerd alert: Buckyballs!

My favourite building in all of Montreal! This dome-thing (currently a water ecosystems museum) was designed by architect R. Buckminster Fuller. Scientists would later name carbon nanospheres (fullerenes) after him because they looked like his designs.

TRIVIA: The metal dome structure was originally covered in acrylic panels, but in 1976 a massive fire destroyed the entire acrylic covering in 30 minutes! Epic old-time video footage here.

With a cherry on top

Last but not least, I can't talk about Montreal without mentioning the culinary scene! We visited a great little restaurant called Juliette & Chocolat, where I ate an ENORMOUS crêpe. Ice cream, whipped cream, strawberries, raspberry syrup... and chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate, their drinks menu alone had over twenty different types of hot chocolate. The fancier fare were described like fine wines... each claiming a subtle flavour infused into the cocoa from the dirt itself. The typical fare was there too. Mint hot chocolate? Got it. Peanut butter hot chocolate? Definitely. Fairy tears and angel dust hot chocolate? If such a thing exists, they're hoarding it in a back room somewhere.

And selling it on the black market, most likely. =P

*Translation: RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! I WILL CRUSH YOU BENEATH MY FOOT! (Also, I have no real prejudice towards French-Québécois. Amour et licornes à tous!) ♥

A question for all my fellow doodle-bloggers and blogger-illustrators: have you ever drawn yourself into a photo?
If you decide to try it, please link up in the comments! :D
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