Sunday, June 28, 2020

Summer Vacation

Hiya! Emeraude here. This past week I graduated grade 8, which means this weekend is the first weekend (for me anyway) of summer vacation. I figured that today I would write about summer vacation.

Personally I start counting down to summer vacation the first week of May. This summer is looking like a rather unorthodox one, so why don't I bring you all for a walk down summertime memory lane. 

A few summers ago, Alyssa and I had a crazy obsession with the pool. I remember we used to meet at the community pool and swim from 6pm to 8pm, and that was aside from the swimming lessons we'd take during the afternoon. I remember it feeling like the best way to spend time during vacation. And when I say we went every night I'm serious. We swam in the rain, if it was freezing we didn't care, we'd swim Monday threw Saturday and complain that it was closed Sundays. From beginning of July to late August we were always there. 

Living in a small town, you can walk anywhere within 20 minutes and biking gets you places nearly instantly. The summer before last, our activity of choice was definitively biking. Something I missed a lot last summer (since Alyssa had already moved away) was jumping on my bike and meeting her for slushies "down town". Most of the time all our friends would meet us as well and once we had our slushies or ice cream we would bike around to chose a spot to enjoy them. Sometimes we'd go to the dock or the park beside it, other times we'd go to the beach. We ended up in my backyard sometimes. The main part of our excursions were generally the same: meet up on our bikes, get a refreshment, bike around as a group.

My favorite summer activity is bonfires. In the last month of school last year, I was already hosting them in my backyard during the warmer evenings. I would prepare a tray for s'more making, pour our favorite chips in my party serving bowls, and create a suitable playlist. Generally I would only have a few people over at my house, because I'm not a fan of big groups. We would have a blast. I always keep a stock of sparklers for those nights. I have so many pictures of my friends and I running around my back yard with sparklers in our hands. Even just sitting around the fire, roasting marshmallows are some of  the best memories to me. 

I distinctly remember one crazy night. Alyssa and one of our other close friends had come over for a bonfire, and my mom had a wonderful idea. She took out the badminton set we had for the beach. Just to put this into perspective, the net was meant for sand, and we shove it into the hard grass covered ground behind my fence. I had the window open and the music playing as I prepared my s'mores tray. Alyssa and our other friend were outside playing badminton. At some point I heard a lot more shouting than usually and glance up to see them chasing each other around the net, rackets in hand. I was laughing until one of them ran straight into the net. The net was history and the game was over. 

Last summer was very difficult for both Alyssa and I, but I think more so Alyssa. She had to adjust to a whole new place, and all new people. I'm sure she will write about it in the future. Safe to say the both of us were a little lonely, missing each other. I continued advancing in my swimming lessons, and going to the pool with other friends, but it wasn't really the same. We were all missing Alyssa and our old routine. 

We all made the best of it though. I babysat most of the summer, when I could I went on road trips with my mom, I continued horse back riding practice throughout the summer. My mom and I went on fun camping trips. I spent afternoons with one of my other friends just enjoying nature and taking long walks. It was still a blast. 

I learnt something very important through this experience. It isn't so much about what you spend your time doing, but rather who you spend your time with. This summer may be very different, but knowing that principal will help me make meaningful plans and still have many great memories. Keep your eye out for an upcoming post about Alyssa and I's long distance summer plans and how we are spending our vacation this year. 

Before I leave here is my question for Alyssa "What is your favorite  summer activity?" I've already explained mine and I'm eager to hear what you have to say. Have a great day, and I will see you all next Sunday. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Dealing with Stress


Hiya! Emeraude here, wishing you a wonderful Wednesday. Do people even use the word stupendous? The next time I'm talking with somebody I'm going to use it as much as possible, just to see their reaction. Before we get into a discussion about teenagers and stress, I should answer Alyssa's question from last week. Her question was "What is your slushie order?" her's is interesting, mine is very simple! I like a medium blue-raspberry slushie on a hot summer day. 


Everyone is stressed about something, that's just life. But do you know the actual definition of stress? I didn't, I wasn't even really sure what the difference between stress and anxiety was. That's why today I decided to write about dealing with stress. 

I wanted to start by making sure I had a clear understanding on what was stress in my life and what was anxiety, because I think a common mistake I make when discussing these issues (which are equally important in my mind) is confusing the two terms. I'd also like to point out that I'm not a professional and am just speaking from experience. 

A quick google search explained this "In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure)" and this was taken directly from an article on the matter by medicinenet.com. With my question answered, let's get into stress management. 


The first thing I want to stress (pun intended) is that it helps immensely to have an awareness of why you are stressed and whats on you're plate. Right now I think we all have extra stress in our life at the moment, but regardless it's still very important to identify what is going on in you're head. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you that I would suggest hooking your head up to a stress detecting machine (is that a thing? I don't believe it is) and making a four page report on why you are a little on edge. What I do when I'm stressed or overwhelmed is write a list of all the things that are going on, the tasks I have to complete, the school work I am thinking about, the projects I have to complete, things I want to get done, etc and go from there. Once I have done this I tend to see what needs to be a priority and follow up by crossing out anything that I don't need to worry about (please don't cross out that 2000 word essay that's due this Monday and you haven't started yet). 

Good, now that we know why we are stressed we can better deal with it. 

The best tool I have for managing life in general (stress included) is journaling. I have so. many. journals. They are such a great "dump zone" for worries, they never repeat what they're told, and often when I'm writing in my journal I work through problems I'm having and solve them just simply by reflecting. When I am stressed I will simply write about why I am feeling stressed to start. After that I read through my entry as if I was trying to help a friend with a stressful situation to try and come up with helpful notes on how to deal with it. Other times I just go on rants and vent, which is really soothing. It's also the perfect place to write that list I was telling you about, you know the one to help you identify what's freaking you out? Yeah, that one!

Something else that is really important even if you aren't stressed out is time management. When you have a lot on your plate (which is a very common reason people get stressed) and you try to just keep it all straight in your head a few things are bound to happen. 1. You will most likely forget about something you needed to do, 2. You are exhausting you're brain power worrying about not forgetting that you told Suzzie you'd call her at three and that before that you need to get x, y and z done, 3. Your going to be way less productive because you can't give any task your undivided attention. Get what I'm saying? 

Time management is something I have often struggled with (in part because I have tried to only keep things organized in my head, which I learnt the hard way is a recipe for disaster)and if you are in the same boat, do not worry my friend, that's why I am writing this post. There are so many tools to aid in time management and organization. If you are an app kind of human then I would suggest to use Google Tasks because its free, and simple and doesn't have a bunch of bells and whistles to distract you. It can also link to your google calendar super easily if that's something you use. There are many apps out there, I would suggest to try a couple and see which one has features that work for you. 

I'm a pen and paper kind of girl however, so no matter how many apps I tried I always end up finding them more annoying than anything. This comes back to the journal tool I mentioned. I usually make a list of things I want to get done during the week in my journal and then transfer them to a simple planner I got at the book store. Sometimes I decorate these, but lately I have found it a lot more soothing to my stress and anxiety to use a couple different colored pens and just use the lines provided. Less chaos for my eyes = easier for my to take in. But not everyone works the same, some people need the motivation of cute decor to help them go back to their list and want to check the tasks off. 

If journals, and notebooks and such sounds like too much to you, and you aren't really an app person I understand, sometimes you just really need simplicity, especially if you are already stressed and overwhelmed about a lot going on. In this case I would suggest getting your hands on a notepad you can keep on your desk and use for the things I suggested (notes and lists and such) it work just as well and is often a lot less time consuming. 

I know many people enjoy coffee, and I understand because I also enjoy it a lot. However if you are stressed I would highly suggest that you try to cut down on the amount you consume. The reason being that the caffeine in coffee increases stress and anxiety. According to an article by health.com The natural effects of caffeine stimulate a host of sensations, such as your heart beating faster, your body heating up, your breathing rate increasing—all things that mimic anxiety,” they go on to explain that you're brain gets confused and just thinks it's regular anxiety. 

I'm not suggesting never drinking coffee again, what I would suggest is drinking fewer cups if you're already stressed out. Another option is to drink decaffeinated coffee to hold you over. 

Assuming you are really stressed (maybe balancing school is really hard, or you just feel like you have too much on your plate) there is still some solutions to manage it. 

Something I find really helpful is sports. It's a way to decompress, let out frustrations and distract your brain from what's going on. I know right now team sports aren't really an option due to a lot of things being canceled and closed, which can be very frustrating. If you want to decompress at home there are tons of at home workouts you can find online. I tend to prefer dance ones because they are really fun, but there are plenty to chose from. 

On a similar note to exercise, I love taking walks around my neighborhood (when weather permits) to calm down. Fresh air helps a lot. Depending where you live there may even be nature trails you can explore. 

I know this is probably something people don't want to hear if they feel like they already don't have enough time to do things, but it can help. Sleep. If you aren't getting enough sleep it can worsen your situation. When you are tired you are less productive, less alert and overall aren't going to be able to tackle the day in the same way as if you were well rested. The Mayo Clinic suggest 8-10 hours of sleep for teens and 7-9 hours for adults. This is something that could greatly improve your stress management.

Finally, if you are really struggling with stress (and/or anxiety), it's significantly effecting your everyday life and you are having too much trouble managing it, you should probably talk to your doctor about it. If it isn't at that point yet, I would suggest talking to a friend or family member about it. Sometimes all you need to feel a little less stressed is to talk to someone. 

I hope some of these ideas were helpful, and that you're hanging in there during these crazy times. I want to leave with a question for Alyssa (as per usual) "What do you do to manage stress?" Have a magnificent day 



Monday, June 8, 2020

Black Lives Matter

We have held off posting for the past week in solidarity to support the Black Lives Matter movement. We want to stress that this is important, the systemic racism embedded in our culture needs to be reformed. We also want to remind everyone that this is  not a trend. This isn't important because the hashtag is trending, or everyone is posting about it, it isn't an aesthetic or a challenge. This is more than a political issue, this is bigger than "a few bad apples". So today we would like to remind you of some ways you can also support this fight. We must not stay silent, if you are staying "indifferent" you are part of the problem. Please be part of the solution. Here are some links to ways you can help. 
Sign a Petition 
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
                                                                                            -Martin Luther King, Jr 
 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Summer Biking

Hello it's Alyssa, I hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday! Before I start on today's topic I wanted to answer Emeraude's question from the last post. The question was, "What is your favorite way to stay in touch with friends and family?". My favorite way is definitely writing letters and video calling.  

Happy world bicycle day! In honor of today I wanted to write about all the nights Emeraude and I spent biking around with our friends. 

In the spring, summer and fall (basically whenever there was no snow) we would meet up with all our friends downtown and get slushies. During the hotter months we would get ice cream but that's besides the point. 

Once everyone got their slushies we would bike down to the community dock and we would hang out there for a while, maybe go to the beach later. I don't think we ever went swimming at the beach because it gets kind of cold at night and the water would be freezing. 

After finishing our drinks(unless you're me, in which case you would still be drinking yours), we would all go bike around town and have so much fun just being together with friends.

These nights were a lot of fun and I have some of my best memories because of them. Sadly, we can't really do that anymore because our friend group kind of split up after I left but we still have fun even if we have to hang out separately.

Before I go I wanted to ask Emeraude this question, "What is you slushy order?" My slushy order is a medium cherry and lemon lime slushy with one shocker. Shocker is sour flavoring.

Thanks for reading!




Sunday, May 31, 2020

How to Stay in Touch with Friends

Hiya! Emeraude here,  I hope you're having a spectacular Sunday, unless it isn't Sunday when you are reading this in which case my entire greeting falls apart. I digress. Today I thought I'd talk about staying in touch with friends when apart, I think it's safe to say more people have to be apart from their friends.

Before we jump into all that, I want to answer Alyssa's question to me from her last post. Her question was "Whats your happiest memory with friends?" this is hard! I'm lucky to have so many fantastic memories with friends. I'd have to say that my favorite memory is when Alyssa and I rode our bikes in our town's annual 5k in support of cancer research. We biked to the point where volunteers were handing out water and made Inukshuks (little people shaped statues made from rocks to mark having been somewhere - from Inuit culture) on the beach before hopping back on our bikes to bike back to the BBQ. We had burgers and spent the rest of the day biking around and hanging out. Funny how the simplest things can be the best!  

Alyssa and I stay in touch in many ways, texting and calling (video calling, more fun than audio only!) of course, but that's not all! Since she moved we've been writing and sending each other letters as often as we can. You might think that it sounds old fashioned, or say to yourself "Have they heard of email? Text messaging? Are they aware of which century it is?" and yes we know all these things, but hear me out. 

Emails are faster a "modern" way of sending a letter, but it isn't the same as old fashioned snail mail. We prefer writing physical letter for many reasons, which I elaborated on in the rest of this post, but that's not to say we communicate solely through letters that take at least to weeks to reach each other.

When school got really busy and we both had a lot going on, we would call while getting other things done. Sometimes we'd call while brushing our teeth and getting ready for bed because we were to busy the rest of the day. Other times I'd send Alyssa an email because I was on my laptop anyway and still wanted to tell her about my week but didn't have time to write a nice letter with colored pens. 

I guess my point is that if you're separated from close friends and/or family there are many ways to stay in touch, even if you have to get a little creative. However, I'm a big believer that more people should still write letters so buckle in kids, I'm about to convince you that letter writing is the thing you've been missing all of your life. 

First of all, writing a letter is like freezing a moment in time (that sounded less dramatic in my head) and then sending it off to the recipient (presumably a friend in this case). 

Second of all, It's nice to get something (like a letter) that has thought and effort put into it, complete with the scribbled out mistakes that give it personality. 

When you write on paper, you're personality comes out way more than if you typed up a quick text or sent a spell checked email. Did I point out yet that auto correct won't rudely attack your message on paper? 

Let's say I have convinced you to pick up a pen (or fine tip marker, I'm not here to judge you're life decisions) I will provide you with some fun ideas to spice up your letters. 

When we (Alyssa and I) write each other letters we almost always use colored pens and chose a pattern to go with. Now, unless you have all day I would suggest to change colors every few lines and not every word. But hey, it's your letter go crazy! 

Something I love doing (granted I'm using a standard sheet of paper and have folded it in thirds) is write the recipients name and give it some pzazz. For example, let's say I wrote a letter to Alyssa, well on the front of the letter I would write her name in block letters and fill in the empty space with doodles and designs. 

The world is your ouster... write your friend a letter about it!

If theres one thing you take away from this (other than the fact that I'm a huge letter-writing nerd) I hope it's that if you can't see those who are closest to you, reach out, say hi, stay connected. Even a short text to let someone know you're thinking of then goes a long way! My question to Alyssa this time is "What is your favorite way to stay in touch with friends and family?" at this point I think it's clear I'm team letter writing. 

Until next time!

Emeraude



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Moving

Hello, it's Alyssa. I hope that you are having a wonderful Wednesday! Today I want to talk about moving, but first I'm going to answer Emeraude's question from the last post.

Okay, so the question was, "What is the funniest thing that has happened when when you were with your friend?" Oh gosh, that's a hard question! One of the funniest things that has happened would be when we were at one of our school dances. At the dance Emeraude was scream-singing to a song that was playing then suddenly the music stopped and she didn't notice so she continued singing at the top of her lungs. I was laughing so hard because everyone in the gym was so confused. It was the best.

Continuing on with the topic for today, moving has been something that is a huge part of my life. In October 2018 I learnt that I would be moving 10 hours away from my family and friends. I was terrified because my small town was were I grew up. It was my whole life, all my best friends live there (including Emeraude). After I told my friends that I would be moving we decided we should make the most of our last year together. I can remember hanging out every day and having countless sleepovers together. It was great.

June 2019 came and I graduated from grade 8. The dreaded day finally arrived when I had to drive 10 hours to my new home. 

It was very difficult for me and my summer was very lonely. I didn't really want to talk to anyone or go out and do anything. I slept in a lot and went outside to distract myself. Thankfully, I am doing much better and I have made new friends here. I still keep in touch with all of my friends and occasionally we even drive down to visit with them. I love those visits so much because not only do I get to see my friends but also my family which is very important to me. 

I sometimes still can't believe I have moved away from my small town so I wanted to ask Emeraude this question, "What is your happiest memory with a friend?" I'm excited to see what she says because I feel like we have so many happy memories with all our friends that it will be hard to decide.

Have an amazing day,

Alyssa


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Our Friendship Volume I


Hiya! Emeraude here, wishing you a stupendous Sunday. Today I'm writing about Alyssa and I's friendship, and we'll hear her input this Wednesday.

We have known each other since kindergarten having grown up in a small town, but got really close when I was in 6th Grade and she was in 7th Grade. I think we bonded first over our mutual love of swimming. I remember a summer where I would call her every night and we'd meet at the community pool and swim from opening to closing. We have never been interested in the popular crew, I believe that's part of the reason that we get along.

Somehow we always end up loving the same things. Even when we don't plan to. We both love Sabrina Carpenter (a pop musician if you weren't aware, highly recommended) and watched her on the show "Girl Meets World" before we even really started hanging out. When the Netflix show "Lost in Space" came out we both watched it with our family's at the same time and found out later. We both love reading, we both love nature, both cat people, both love tea, both a little awkward... you get the idea. 

Do you ever just meet a friend and think "I don't think I can go through life without this person." or "Wow, we're the same kind of weird!" well that's kind of what Alyssa and I are like (especially the last one). Don't get me wrong, we argue like nobodies business, silent treatment and all, but we always figure things out. 

We spent so much time together in grade 7/8 (middle school) and when I say a lot I mean every weekend, every day after school, and if we weren't together we were on the phone... I don't think I've ever used a land line so much in my life. Sleepovers are a story for another time, but lets just say there were many.

But every good story has a dun dun dunnnn moment, right? Yeppers! Ours was when Alyssa's family decided to move. Now people moving out of our small town isn't rare, it's a great place and I love it, but there's a lot of reasons for people to move away. When we found out about this we had an entire school year to make memories, hence all the hanging out and sleepovers. At the same time, we wanted to start something that we could continue when she left. This is why we started a shared journal, and let me tell you. Best decision ever. 

Now we hang out on google duo calls. Thank goodness for modern technology. But having a journal where not only can we write each other letters but we can catch up and vent is really nice. For lack of a better format here is a bullet list of some of Alyssa and I's favorite things:
  • swimming
  • creativity 
  • nature
  • tea (chai specifically)
  • journaling
  • reading
  • pop music
  • cats 
  • skating
  • have I named enough yet?
There are so many things about our friendship we both want to write about, which is one of the reasons we started this blog. I hope this was relatable to some of you! I'd like to leave with the question for you all and Alyssa "What is the funniest thing that has happened when you were with your friends?" I'm eager to hear what Alyssa says because she's been present for most of my embarrassing moments (there are oh so many to chose from). 

Have a stupendous day!

Emeraude