Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What I Learned from Getting Bullied

I suppose, in a sense, I was lucky. I was not bullied aggressively or physically. The kind of bullying I went through in elementary school was bullying by exclusion. From grade one to three, I had a good group of friends, but after that, they changed schools and that changed my life. At that point, no one liked me. No one from school asked me to hang out. I remember the last time in elementary school someone did ask me. The only reason they did was because they were new and didn’t know they weren't supposed to like me. When it came to the grade eight trip, the teacher had to call a meeting with all the girls to convince three of them to give up one night to room with me. I don’t have good memories from that time. However, I learned some important things.

1.       Good friends are a blessing.

The thing about not having friends for the longest time is that when you do have good friends, they hold an extra special place in your heart. I’ve written about the importance of friendship before, and my opinion has not changed whatsoever since then. I consider myself so lucky to have the most amazing friends right now. I also know what a good friend looks like. I have standards when it comes to my friends, and I have room for only the best type of friend. I spent too long around toxic people, and I don’t tolerate that in my life now. I don't let myself take my friends for granted. I do whatever I can to let them know how much I care about them and love them because they are a beacon in my life.

Deanna: Instagram - Twitter - Blog

2.       It is okay to get help at any age.

I mentioned before about the first time I started counselling was in elementary school, and this is the major reason why. I had no idea that I could even reach out for this kind of help, and my mom led me in this direction. It felt odd to be going to counselling at a young age. I didn’t know it was possible. In a way, it made me feel even more alienated. However, it became a big reason that I was able to stick it out. Starting counselling then let me know that is was always a viable option in the future. It opened me up to getting help in the future when I need it.

3.       Negative events in your life impact the good relationships.

I think the worst part of this time was the way it affected my family. I would act out against my parents and put a strain on the relationship with them. It also affected the way my sister saw me. She told me later about how much I scared her back then. I can say that I now deal with my feelings in a healthier way, but I realize how much daily things affect the big things. I now know to get help before it affects the good relationships in my life. I would never dream of jeopardizing those relationships.

Ashley: Instagram - Twitter

4.       It takes bravery to do things on your own.

In elementary school, I was the kid that read books at recess or found any opportunity to stay inside because that was better than going outside. I applaud my little self from back then because that is not what anyone wants. I recognize my own bravery in doing things on my own. Even better than that, when I went from elementary school to high school, I did it alone. I didn’t have a group of friends to help me deal with the first day. So, I introduced myself to people. I made my own friends. I hung out with all new people, and I expanded my horizons. It is so difficult to do that, but that now comes with ease and helped me even more when I transitioned to university and my study abroad.

I won’t go so far as to say I’m glad it happened. It was a dark time in my life, and it made some harsh scars on life today. However, I’m glad that I learned from it. I wouldn’t take back these lessons for anything. I can say I came out on top, and I would also say that I’m stronger for it. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but I know most people go through bullying at some stage in their life. I invite you to share your story. What have you learned from it?


Saturday, April 9, 2016


Last week, Matt and I got away for what we called a mid-week weekend. York has been on the “to see in England” list for a while now. We booked a hotel a couple months ago, and we could hardly sleep Tuesday night in excitement! York is an absolutely stunning city. It is old, but the newer parts are built right into the old parts. A wall runs through the city centre, and some buildings are actually built into the walls. We packed a ton of activities into two days, and I’ve been looking forward to sharing this post.

Wednesday morning, we woke up early (ugh) to catch a train. Our first stop was the National Railway Museum. The museum has a great presentation of the evolution of trains over time. There’s an example of the first train ever made as well as the Japanese bullet train. We were lucky because we got to see The Flying Scotsman (pictured below) which is famous for breaking speed records. It has been on world tours and still runs every so often for additional touring. The best part for me was The Warehouse which is rows upon rows of various train-related things that aren’t on display but are still there for us to view. It includes things like signs, maps, models, and seats.

After that, we went on a mini train to reach our next destination which was the Yorkshire Museum. This wasn’t free, and it wasn’t worth what we paid. It lays out the history of York and how it was developed over time. This knowledge did come in handy when we went to the York Minster. Outside the museum were some beautiful ruins which I chose to include here.

We wandered around and dropped our stuff off in our room before we went to York Minster. This was the best part of the day. Both the interior and exterior of the building are clearly stunning.

Part of the experience of the Minster is climbing up to the top. There are 275 spiral steps that get thinner, and it certainly feels like more than 275! However, the views from the top are breathtaking. We took it easy on our legs before we called it a night and enjoyed some chip (fries) from Drake’s Fish and Chips as an appetizer. Needless to say, we slept well!

Thursday morning, we started off by walking down the city walls as far as we could. Like I said, the old walls currently surround the city centre, but they were once a fortress.

We went to Clifford’s Tower which is the only surviving tower from a castle built by William the Conqueror. You could also walk up along the edge of the tower. The views are also beautiful from the top, and you could see remnants of fireplaces and living spaces within the tower.

Across the street is the Castle Museum which was the best stop of the trip. They had different rooms from different time periods. They also had a Victorian street set up inside with all the little shops. They even had the lights dim and brighten to simulate the times of day. We went into an old fashioned sweet shop and the guy in there told us about the history of Terry’s sweets. We also walked outside to look at the millhouse and sit on a bench by the river. The Castle Museum was the best attraction by far.

Afterwards, we walked around the Shambles which is a famous street in York. At the end, the buildings are about a metre apart at the top. We went into a sweet shop and got some old fashioned hard boiled candy that is probably going to last us for months!

For the rest of the day, we decided to give our weary legs a rest and went on a boat tour. We got to see some nice riverside homes and learn about the history of York and how the river was utilized.

All in all, this is my favourite trip so far. We stayed at Best Western Monkbar Hotel (not sponsored) which was less than five minutes to the city walls. It was on the pricier side, but it’s definitely worth it for the location; we could see the city walls from our room and vice versa! This trip was unforgettable. We managed to pack so much into two days, and I definitely suggest you do the same if you’re in York – including the exhausting climb up the Minster!

Have you ever been to York? 


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How Expectations Affect Your Life

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that having expectations can be dangerous. Expectations come in many forms and apply to many situations, but the one thing that is the same about all expectations – they limit your way of thinking. There’s a funny thing that happens when you go into an interaction or experience with an expectation: you look for ways to support that idea. You’ve heard that a certain person is rude and awful to have a conversation with, and when you meet them, you look for the ways they interrupt or force opinions on you. You heard that a presentation is boring, so you go in expecting it to be boring. Similarly, people have told you how amazing a place is, so you are amped for a cool adventure. What is really happening when you’re placing these expectations on situations is that you’re allowing your mind to believe there is only one outcome.

The thing is, having large expectations can lead to disappointments. You expect someone to react a certain way to big news, but they react in a negative way. You place the same expectations on all of your friends, and you’re disappointed when one of them doesn’t meet those standards. Negative expectations can, of course, lead to pleasant surprises as well, but I find that having negative expectations most likely leads to negative outcomes. A few years ago, I decided to change the way I formulate expectations. I stopped listening to what other people say. Essentially, I stopped having expectations. I didn’t go into things with any preconceived notion of how things were going to turn out. Since then, I’ve found myself feeling freer about choices I’ve made and opinions I’ve created. I’ve been able to take things at face value and accept them as they come without having an idea of how I should be taking it.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to people. What I’ve done is listened to them and then filed their information in the back of my head. Another thing to consider is that there are certain expectations that are healthy for you. For example, you should expect yourself to be successful, but it’s placing an exact value on what that means. It’s like my opinion of five year plans – it’s better to have a framework to lead your life rather than specific expectations of what your life should look like in five years. Expectations can drive you to push yourself to reach new heights, but you need to create a healthy balance of what your expectations are and what the ideal outcome will be.  Letting your mind free of expectations opens your mind, which is something I always put in my lessons learned posts. I urge you to try it and see how your experience of life changes.

When is the last time you let go of expectations?


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Rother Valley

Here begins my attempt at travel posts. I’m going to preface this by saying I’m not an expert traveller. To be honest, I don’t even like travelling; rather, I don’t like the process of travelling. I have a great time once I’m there, but transportation makes me sleepy and grumpy at the same time. However, I’m in England and the convenience of travelling is too easy to ignore. I’ll admit, I haven’t been taking advantage of the ease of travel. I went to Harrogate for a day in September, London last October, and then Bath, Stonehenge and Lacock as a weekend trip in November. I was in Sheffield over Christmas, but it wasn’t for tourist purposes. Over the Easter weekend, I was back in Sheffield, and I got to explore Rother Valley with Matt.

The walk itself took about three hours. The walk around the lake took just over an hour. It’s deceivingly long – especially since you can see one end from another!

The lake was full of swans and ducks, and we wandered our way around and found a little petting zoo! I got to pet a four day old lamb, and it made my day.

In the middle of the path around the lake, there are some old buildings that now house a craft shop and cafĂ©. It was a cute little place, but we didn’t want to stick around for long in case it started raining.

Part of our walk was along the Trans-Penine Trail. This was my favourite part of the walk because it used to be a railway. In the picture below, I’m walking on what used to be the train platform. I love little moments of history like that; it’s so fascinating.

On Easter Sunday, we were waiting for our train when a gorgeous rainbow showed up. It was the perfect end to an amazing weekend.

It was a short trip, but I loved doing it. As a side note, I’ve been walking a lot more lately, and I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be. So take it from me: walking definitely increases your health. Anyway, Matt guesses that out of all the exchange students in and around both Leeds and Sheffield, about only a handful have seen Rother Valley. It’s certainly not a place I would ever venture to, or even know about, on my own. It was nice to go with Matt who has stories about getting drunk on the grass at the end of the school year or the clapping at people rolling down the path on Segways. If you’re ever around Sheffield and in want of a walk, I definitely suggest looking up Rother Valley. With the mini train-track and petting zoo, it would be a great place for kids too!

Have you ever discovered a place that you never would have if you weren’t with a local?