The House that Built Me

img_5871

In 2004, I moved into a quaint little farmhouse in Jordan, Ontario. Jordan was small, but the house was smaller. It was 200 years old, and sat on a property with rolling hills, a big red barn, and beautiful hiking trails. My parents, brothers and I were sandwiched into this little house, with our two dogs, who often were caught sneaking butter off the table, or a pork chop off the plate of an unsuspecting family member. While I lived in many houses before this one, it was the first home I’d ever had. Thinking about it now, I can still recall some of my childhood memories, in the most vivid of colours, despite how much time has passed, and how many things have changed. I said goodbye to my dog in that house, battled snakes in that house, did my homework in that house, grew up in that house. Two years later, construction began on what would become my new home. The same 200 year old rolling hills and big red barn, but with a new home sprouting from the earth. We built a house that had everything we could have ever wanted; and then that house became a home.

I’ve been there for twelve years now. In those twelve years, I became terribly attached to it all. To the pond in the back yard, and the huge willow tree that hung above it. To the nearby streams and the frogs that you’d hear at night. I became so terribly attached to the brick and stone, to the tall ceilings and book shelves that when I heard we were moving I felt as though a part of my heart had been torn out.

img_4335

I spent twelve years making memories in that house. I still remember the surprise party I threw for my best friend in that house. I remember how terrified I was of my secret room, that I had to take the door off. I remember riding my bike down the driveway and scraping my knees when I fell. I remember the country as the snow fell, and the Christmas tree standing tall in my living room, with presents nestled below. I remember where my guinea pig is buried, and where I found the baby bird that I nursed back to health. When you spend most of your life jumping one from house to the next, having so many memories in one place seems sort of surreal.

As I grew up, the farm out in Jordan remained a big part of my life. I explored more of the nearby trails. Found a quiet place to watch the water rush over the Upper Falls. Began appreciating nature in a new light. When my parents got divorced, I dug my feet even deeper into the silky clay soil, to stay as solid as I possibly could. When I left for college, I was called back to the rolling hills; desperate for the quietness of a summer’s night, or a sky untouched by the pollution of the city, that would silently fill with stars as the darkness crept in. I returned home four years ago and picked up right where I had left off – making memories and finding peace.

img_4912

Not long ago, I began to look at the future. I saw myself growing old there, with a family of my own. I had hoped to someday purchase it from my mom, so that I could watch as my children scraped their knees on the driveway and make memories of their own. Four months ago, the vision that I had created in my mind slipped away, and reality set in.

My boyfriend and I had been living together for four months. We had made a home out of the fruit shed that sat on the other side of the driveway. Years before it had been turned into an apartment for my brothers, and as they grew up, their girlfriends moved in, and eventually they all moved out. It became a sort of stepping stone, as you prepared to move on bigger and better things. I never wanted to move onto bigger and better things; I wanted to grow and plant roots where I was. On Sunday, my boyfriend and I take the same step as my brothers before me, and move on to bigger and better things; leaving behind a house that became a home some twelve years ago.

I write this not for sympathy or to change the path that life has so thoughtfully laid out for me, but only to say goodbye to the house that built me. To remember the house that taught me how to take risks, to love, to appreciate, to breathe. To remember the house that taught me it’s okay to plant roots. To say finally say goodbye to the house that taught me to remember the past but look forward to the future.

I am forever grateful for the twelve years I was lucky enough to spend within those walls, surrounded by that beauty. I hope whoever finds themselves sitting beneath the old willow tree will love my home as much as I did.

 

Advertisements

The Story of Sam

When I was twelve, I had a dog named Henry. He was the most lovable bundle of happiness that you’d ever met. When our dog Arnold passed away, Henry was devastated. For two years, he had lost his spark to depression. That was when I decided that we needed another dog.

After begging my parents to consider, we drove down the street to the convenience store. Rifling through the classifieds on the drive back up the street, I saw an ad for a three-month-old puppy. We called the number, and found out there were two little puppies, one being claimed later that day, one up for grabs. I grabbed my coat, dragged my mom and dad to the car, and we made our way to an old run-down townhouse in St. Catharines.

The house reeked of urine, so strong you could smell in on the porch. Garbage was piled up all over the front lawn. We knocked on the door, to be greeted by a nasty man.

He said we could have our pick. So off he went to retrieve the puppies from inside the house. He dragged them from the bathroom, cowering.

That’s when I met Sam. She was yellow and orange. A little girl with wonky eyes and her tail between her legs. She had a sister, who was blind in both eyes.

It was clear that those scumbags who called themselves human had abused these poor dogs. Sam couldn’t even have her head pet without ducking away. Her legs didn’t quite work and her eyes strayed. And that strange yellow colour? Yeah, that was actually pee stained fur from being locked in a bathroom for three months.

We took her home, cleaned her up, fed her and gave her a nice soft bed.

It took some time, but over the years she began to trust people again. She greeted you with kisses and you could pet her and play with her without scaring her half to death.

The next ten years I spent making memories with my little Sam. She hated the water, but absolutely loved to get dirty. She would do anything for a car ride or a bone. She rode a jet ski like a pro. Was a notorious moocher, and stole food off the plate right in front of you. She loved Jake and Henry, despite her lack of enthusiasm when tormented during nap time. She protected me and stood by me in my darkest hours. I did everything I could to give her the life she deserved. I would have given her the world if I could.

Today, I had to say goodbye to my little princess. I had to say goodbye to a dog who changed my life.

Ten years ago, we took a helpless dog away from the pain and the abuse and gave her the life she deserved. One where she could be free and happy. One where she could play and eat and sleep in comfort, surrounded by people who loved her.

But ten years ago, she really saved me. In all those years, she taught me to be strong. She taught me to trust, even after you’ve had ever reason not to trust again. She taught me to love unconditionally. She taught me to fight.

I hope she knows that she made so many people happy. I hope she knows that she was loved. I hope she knows that she made the world a brighter place. But most of all, I hope she knows that she saved my life.

I am going to miss my little girl with all my heart. I will never forget her.

 

Happy Beginnings, Middles and Ends

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.43.25 PM

100 days; 2400 hours; 144,000 minutes; how is it possible to be happy for that amount of time. Compare that to the 7665 days; 183,960 hours; 11,037,600 minutes I’ve already lived? Doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

Today is the 100th day in my quest to live 100 happy days in a row. It is not the first time I’ve done it, but it has left a mark on my life just as deep.

I realized that even within 100 days, there are beginnings, middles and end. No matter how short a period of time, a journey still exists within.

Happy Beginnings

My 100 day journey began with a shit storm. Pardon my French, but it’s true. I came home from Europe and within a week I was ready to go back. With health problems popping up at every corner, stress levels going through the roof and some major post-travel wanderlust, I was about ready to pack up and move to Austria. But looking back, it really wasn’t all that bad. I started an amazing contract position at the LCHS. I began to better appreciate what I have. I realized how lucky I was to be alive.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.52.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.44.27 PM

Happy Middles

As I reached the half-way mark, things were looking up. I was sick for three solid weeks with a nasty cold and I was preparing for unemployment that was soon approaching. Despite the lingering stress, I was happy. I had had an amazing summer, I met a new boy on day 48 and on day 52, I got hired. I received a phone call from my alma mater, offering me a contract position as their New Media Coordinator.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.46.36 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.48.05 PM

Happy Ends

After that, I can’t recall an unhappy day. Some may say that that’s because life really was good. I mean, it was, it is. I had a new job that was absolutely perfect, I fell in love and everyone around me was happy. My life really was great. But an absence of unhappy days wasn’t what made me happy. What made me happy was the bad days, and the good ones. The bad days still had their moment in the sun, but with so much positivity and love, they became but passing hours, hours that made me better appreciate the good ones.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.49.16 PM   Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.50.08 PM

Although this is not ‘The End’, it is the end of my 100 happy day journey. Looking back I am able to see that everyday moments click together to become an adventure; filled with twists and turns, ups and down, troll bridges and yellow brick roads.

All The Words I Could Not Say On Your Wedding Day

IMG_7348

Yesterday my brother got married. They stood outside in the pouring rain, flanked by bridesmaids and groomsmen, as they promised to always be there for each other. I cried. Like, I literally cried the whole day. It will likely be held against me for years to come. That’s how much I cried. When it came time to say speeches, I cried again. As I stood in front of friends and family, I had so much to say but I couldn’t get the words out, for fear of reaching critical mass and starting a tsunami of tears that no one could stop.

Now that the tears have subsided, I wanted to share with you what I wanted to say on his wedding day.

When I was a kid, my brothers tormented me, like all brothers do. They would dress up as seaweed monsters and chase me down the beach. They would tie me up in a blanket and call themselves the dog nappers. But I was their little sister which meant I had my own way of tormenting them back. I tattled on them when they threw house parties. I would follow them around whenever they had friends over. I was annoying to say the least. Despite the give and take of torment, what my brothers and I had with each other was constant love and support. When you moved as much as we did, family was all you had. I could go to them whenever I needed something, anything. It was the type of brother-sister bond that rarely happens. We were there for each other, no matter what. While I stood there yesterday, as the rain poured down on us, surrounded by friends and family, my heart was warmer than ever. I was proud, happy, filled with love. Hearing them say I do was something I knew would happen one day but when that day finally came it was hard to put to words how amazing it was. My brother deserves Whitney. He deserves someone who has a love for the earth, someone who is passionate, someone who can love a Fowler (it’s tough, let me tell you). He deserves Whitney because she has the same unyielding heart that he has. Whitney deserves him too. She deserves someone who will care and love and support you in even your darkest days. She deserves someone who will make her laugh. She deserves Jordan because if there is one person on this earth who will stand by your side no matter what, he’s your guy. Jordan and Whitney found each other for a reason and I know in my heart it is a love for a lifetime.

Although I may not have been able to say these words, at least not the way I intended, I know that everyone there yesterday knew how I felt, because they felt it too. We were all there for a reason; we were there to support a couple that shows us, everyday, what true love looks like.

IMG_7341 IMG_7350 IMG_7340

IMG_7346 IMG_7344

IMG_7345 IMG_7349 IMG_7343

IMG_7342

Congratulations to Jordan and Whitney, who just like Kyle and Trish, proved to me that love exists, love can survive and love is all we need.

IMG_7339

Let Go & Breathe

IMG_6628

Last week, my dad sent me this video from Hot Mom’s Club. It showed some very beautiful women sharing their beautiful advice to young women as they tackle this crazy world. It was precisely what I needed as a world full of possibilities swam around my head and what stood behind the chaos was unknown.

I finished school in the spring and since then, I’d been given the incredible opportunity to work at the humane society for the summer. Each day, I was surrounded by passionate people and lovable animals. I was happy.

As September drew closer and closer, I knew my time there was running out, and soon I’d be out on the hunt for my next big career move…or my first career move…or just a move. In my head I envisioned my dreams being put on hold while I waitressed my life away. At least I did always want to try my had at waitressing. I immediately began sending out resumés, talking to everyone I know and actively searching for what to do next.

That’s when my dad came in to save the day and sent me that amazing video.

There is so much pressure in the world these days. Pressure to find someone, be successful, be perfect. I fell claim to those pressures and found myself worrying that failure is more easily come by than success.

So… I took the advice of some very wise women and I let go. I let go of the worry that even if I try, I’ll fail (it doesn’t work like that by the way, our parents were right). After that, I began trying because I wanted to. I wanted to be passionate about the work I do, the life I live.

Days later, on what is my last day at the humane society, I leave with great sadness. Leaving behind a place that filled me with passion, inspiration and drive. But tomorrow, ah tomorrow, I begin a new journey as a step onto the grounds of a place I called home for eight years; no longer as a student, but as an employee. I don’t know how long I’ll be there, but I know that it will help shape who I am, in some way or another.

As I sit here reflecting, I’ve realized something. All the time I spent worrying, of mindlessly putting out resumés and applying for jobs that looked amazing but my heart wasn’t in, was time wasted. It was time where my passion had long been lost and forgotten. When the worry was gone, and I let go, all my passion came flooding back and I remembered why I’m here in the first place; what inspired me to be who I am.

Sometimes, letting go means gaining back what you lost. Be it a part of yourself or something else all together.

Take it from me… let go.

This Is Not Okay

IMG_4784

I try my very best to be positive whenever I can. It’s a big reason I’m where I am today. Focusing on the good and not the bad.

But today, I am livid.

Not angry, not upset, but livid.

I just read the most offensive, ridiculous and unnecessary article to ever grace the internet and the world of mental health. Even though it was posted a year ago, it’s catching fire once again.

This completely inappropriate article is titled “9 Signs Your Mental Illness Is Made Up For Attention” on ThoughtCatalog.

It lays out the 9 signs that people living with a mental illness use it to get attention, as an excuse and among other things, a way to seem above everyone else.

You know it has to be offensive when the article is flagged as abusive by those who have read it.

Yes, some people exaggerate… throw terms around when they don’t truly know what they even mean. But there are people in this world who live and struggle every single day of their life.

1 in 5 Canadians alone suffer from a DIAGNOSED mental illness. I highly doubt that many people are faking it. This isn’t the cold you faked to get out of 6th grade gym class.

It isn’t okay to make claims about those suffering with a mental illness when you’ve never experienced a panic attack, or felt the crippling effects of depression. This article was clearly written from someone who has never felt such pain.

I have felt this pain. It doesn’t make me better than any one else. It isn’t an excuse to get out of plans or stay in bed. I don’t share my stories for attention or sympathy. I am no different than anyone else.

People making these claims and assumptions are the reasons those suffering with a mental illness face judgement in so many aspects of their lives. It is the reason why progress isn’t progressing quite like it should.

I needed to get that out, needed to do my part to fight back against those with such a negative view of so many in this world.

But now that that’s out of my system, I do have some positivity to share.

The comments.

205 comments.

Some of which side with the foolish slander typed on a computer screen.

But many of which display true courage and compassion when facing people who refuse to accept that which they don’t understand.

It is the people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, for what they feel, what they know to be true, that I gain my strength from. These people fighting back inspire me.

To all those standing up. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Stay strong, stay beautiful,

Kenzie

Happiness Can Be Found In Even The Darkest Days

IMG_4493

This could just be the caffeine talking (4 shots of espresso in my 5’2″ frame is a little much, thanks Starbucks) but I am positively, absolutely, happy to be alive.

Ever since I came home from Europe, reality has been dealing me an awful hand of cards.

While in Europe, I was hospitalized for a “lung infection.” When I came home, I found out it may not have been bronchitis but something a bit more serious. My doctor was concerned I had a blood clot.

Appointment after appointment, and the doctors found nothing. In the clear, right?

Wrong.

On Monday, I had what was supposed to be my final appointment to clear me… only thing is, I didn’t get cleared. They found blood clots in both my legs.

A few hours later I was filling a prescription for blood thinners and frantically searching WebMD while fielding phone call after phone call from concerned family and friends.

Blood clots can be life threatening if not treated, so to say I was a little shaken up is an understatement.

Two days later and I’m feeling happier than I have been in a long time. But why? I mean, I have a good chance of needing blood thinners for life, my entire lifestyle needs to change and dealing with this all on my own has been stressful.

But happiness doesn’t depend on your situation… it depends on your outlook.

Sure, Monday was a bad day, and life might be a little more complicated now, but I choose to be happy. I’m lucky that they found them before it was too late. I’m grateful for the love and support from my family, friends and even strangers. I’m strong enough to get through whatever life throws at me.

For these reasons, I have no reason to be anything but happy.

I am proven time and time again that sometimes the worst days show you how beautiful life really is, and how lucky we are to be alive.

I guess I wanted to share with you my story, not as a lesson, but as inspiration. That remind you that sometimes you need to just step back and look at life from a different angle to see the beauty.

Stay strong, stay beautiful.

Kenzie