ENGAGED!!

Well the title sorta gave it away huh? Guess I coulda come up with a more vague one… Nah, big news can be abrupt!

Ryan and I are engaaaaaaged!

I thought maybe it might be fun to put up some blog posts now and then through the wedding planning process that has now arisen! But before that I should prooooooobably share the engagement story! (*Spoiler alert, it’s super cute)

So Ryan and I had a hike planned in the Whiteshell Provincial Park for Saturday March 11. The park is about an hour and a half away but we like to go out there when we can to do some hikes and had been trying to get a winter hike in since like January, but I don’t get many Saturdays off work. We’d also just gone two weeks ago to hike around a different area, so heading out there didn’t seem suspicious to me at the time!

We’d planned ahead where we wanted to go hike because it’s a large park and I later discovered that last Sunday Ryan had secretly gone out with his dad (never hike alone kids!) to scope the area out and pick his spot! So on Saturday we’re driving through the park and we pass a sign for one of the lakes and Ryan says, “Oh I think McGillivray Falls is just after this lake, can you keep an eye out for the sign?” (sneaky sneaky sir, you were there less then a week ago…) so we spot the area and go to turn in. Well the parking lot isn’t plowed and in a Manitoba winter if the parking lot isn’t plowed you’re not parking in the parking lot so Ryan’s going, do you think it’s fine to park on the shoulder here? Should we drive down and see if there’s somewhere to park? and I’m like, nah, shoulder is fine, we’re out of the way, it’s not busy, we goooood (He’d parked in the exact same place less than a week ago, sneaky sneaaaaky…)

So we kind of casually make our way through the hike, up alongside the frozen waterfall and Ryan is somehow subliminally directing me to his spot (I had no idea he was guiding me there haha I thought I was choosing our turns!!). So we arrive at this very pretty vantage point where you have a view out over the lake and can see the frozen falls down to the side and the trees lining the banks and it’s all pretty and snowy and everything and Ryan (who was standing behind me) says, “Look, someone’s initials are carved in this tree!”

I turned and looked and sure enough RW and BW are carved very clearly into the side of the tree we’re beside. So I was like, aww cute! (And in my head am thinking those could be ouuurrrr initials one day!  What a funny coincidence! Yes, I can take a while for things to click) But I didn’t say aloud that they would be our initials because I didn’t want to seem presumptuous, I mean, I’m a lady! Ryan says, “Like Ryan Watson and Becca Watson…” and something in his face or his voice checked me and it suddenly clicked what was happening and then he started getting down on one knee and then he propooosedddd to meeeeeeee!

And, of course, I said yes!

So there we are, our planned adventure for the day became an adventure for a lifetime!

 

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The Need of Internet

I don’t need the Internet anymore.

Now there are a couple things in this sentence you could confront me on, first, need – who needs the Internet? But also anymore – so I did need it then? And what changed?

I’m reading a book for my Media and Society class right now called The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships and it’s sort of freaking me out a tad but I think I’m also learning lots. It talks about Internet addiction and how it affects our brains and how we function and how it changes our relationships (for better and for worse, it’s not a doomsday book, they acknowledge that there are benefits!) but it’s making me consider how much I use the Internet and social media and why.

I began using the Internet more and more starting from around age seventeen. A friend introduced me to the vlogger (video-blogger) side of Youtube and within a few months I was vlogging myself. At this time I was in grade twelve and slowly giving into minor depression as I grew increasingly afraid of my unknown future and saw my friends all drifting into the great unknown. I felt that I was losing my friends, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, didn’t like my part time job at a grocery store post-grad (I would “entertain” myself by seeing how far into a shift I could get without talking to someone. I clearly wasn’t a cashier!) and wasn’t pushing into God and building my faith thus allowing that to drift away too. I was lonely.

And the Internet, oh the Internet! The Internet helped me find friends, find friends fast and who had common interests and fun hobbies. I had Facebook, and now Youtube, next was Twitter and Tumblr, more and more ways to connect with my new friends. Now I’m not bashing this because it actually served a purpose in where I was at because as I somewhat dissolved into “living in” the Internet, it also helped bring me back out. I went to a convention in California, meeting friends I’d only previously known online. I’ve since gone on a second trip to DisneyWorld with them. I began organizing meet ups in Winnipeg a couple times a year for other people who were fans of some of the same Youtubers as I was.

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2012

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2012

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2013

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2013

The Internet sucked me in, yes. I became too reliant on it, yes. But it also helped me grow, a lot. I planned my portion of two trips out of the country and then travelled there alone. I organized meet-ups with people I’d never met before and spent time getting to know them. As I found solace online I began to gain more confidence in my real life outside of the Internet. I made friends with coworkers, I reconnected with high school friends, I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. As I gained a few subscribers on Youtube I began to value my voice and think about what I was saying more and through vlogging I actually developed an interest and some practical skill in video making, an aspect of what I hope my future career will involve.

Lately the Internet hasn’t been very fulfilling though. It’s no longer serving the purpose it once did and I think perhaps I’ve outgrown it. It’s not that I don’t value the friendships I made while regularly vlogging or even regularly watching Youtube videos – I do, very much, I would consider many of them to now be friends, but I no longer solely need the Internet to feel that I am connecting with people and being heard. I begin to find it tiresome, Internet connections cannot interact the same way as people in real life. I have friends and hobbies and goals and a life that extends past the limitations of my laptop and my wifi. I can appreciate the ability to stay connected using social media and the like, but I prefer to see friends in person and actually go out and to things and build relationships in that sense. And that’s a big change for me. There was a time when I would Facebook message you instead of trying to get together in person. Now, well… now I’ll do both 😉

I suppose over the last five years I’ve been able to mature and get to know myself better. I’ve experienced life online, and it’s fun for a time and serves its purpose, but I’ve discovered it’s crucially important to maintain a solid foundation in the real world. To be able connect with people in person is something that cannot be replaced and it is only through the challenges and bumps that we face along the road that we can grow, and those are rarely found within the safe walls we build up for ourselves online. Online is a place to hide from challenges and bumps, however, in the sage words of The Sound of Music‘s Reverend Mother, “These walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.”

-B

Good Neighbours

As terrorism attacks have increased over the past few years, retaliating hate crimes have increased too. The Masjid al-Salaam mosque in Petersborough, Ont was sunject to an arson attack on November 14 that caused an estimated $80,000 of damage.

A neighbouring synagogue has stepped in to help. Beth Israel Synagogue’s board of directors voted unanimously to open their doors to their fellow Canadians and allow them to conduct their worship services in their building. Larry Gillman the President of the board extended the invitation to Kenzu Abdella, the president of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association which has begun a bit of a partnership between the two leaders.

“At the end of the day,” Gillman says, “it’s a house of God.” (x)

Pornified Culture

Pornography.

Chances are that word made you recoil a bit. There are plenty of stigmas, judgements, and emotions that come along with the discussion of pornography and those reactions are not frequently discussed openly by the church. They may be discussed in one-on-one mentoring or during prayer times but there are rarely seminars in the church, or sermons covering this issue.

On October 27, 2015 Julia Beazley of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada came into to give a guest lecture at my university on the topic of Pornified Culture. The lecture was well-attended by students and faculty as well as a number of attendees who were not directly connected with the school. Packing out the main Lecture Theatre, where chairs had been added in the back to create more rows, Beazley explained the dangers of Pornography not merely from a Biblical stand point but also from a political stand point.

Through her talk in the morning Beazley explained that pornography is the dehumanization of predominantly women, girls, and boys, and this objectification of people cannot help but spill over, affecting the real-lives and relationships of porn users. Porn teaches that sex is not about intimacy, love, or a relationship with your sexual partner, instead it teaches that women like to be dominated. This translates into a society that views violence against women and children as being “sexy,” directly leading to the “rape culture” we struggle with today where “no” is no longer accepted as meaning no.

As Christians the fight against pornography involves rescuing those who are abused and trafficked for it as well as provided support and a safe space for people to come when they are ready to break the addiction. Pornography is an addiction just the same way as drugs or alcohol can be, in fact, Beazley mentioned studies in her lecture that have proven this fact, it is the same reward centres in the brain that are being stimulated with porn as it is with drug addiction or alcoholism.

There are ways that pornography can be fought however and in her afternoon discussion Beazley mentioned a number of ways the team she is on is trying to fight against it including branding pornography as a public health crisis. I found this a fascinating point. Pornography affects an astronomical amount of people, making up about 25% of all online searches. It is a health issue, starting with the actors on the sets all the way down to the users who are slowly destroying their relationships because you can’t help but damage relationships when porn is brought into play. It’s not real but it can create dissatisfaction with the real.

I’ll close with two quotes that Beazley opened her lectures with, both from speaker Matt Fradd,

“We were made by love, to love, for love. Love is our origin, our vocation, and our density.”

“Christianity is not about the annihilation of sexual desire, but about the orientation of it for the sake of love.”

#22on22

Today was my twenty-second birthday.

Twenty-second birthdays have become a bit of a phenomenon thanks to Taylor Swift’s popular song, 22 (x). It becomes an excuse to send links for this song to friends, to play it on repeat all day, to randomly break into song and sing it in public places, in a way one might say it brings people together.

When you say you’re turning twenty-two, often the first thing to pop into someone’s mind it that it’s your “Taylor Swift” birthday. For example, this morning one of my friends wished me a happy birthday like this,

My birthday is now directly related to Taylor Swift and between this person (be it friend, acquaintance, or stranger) and me there now exists a bond in the form of this song. We now have a conversation topic to break the ice, or a common passion to be excited about.

My birthday this year had a little extra T-Swizzle in it because you see, I was born on the 22nd. I turned 22 on the 22nd. I may have started using my own hashtag that some friends were then using when wishing me a happy birthday… #22on22 At one point are you celebrating your own birthday too much, you might ask? Well another question for another post…

Mayday, Carpool Down!

I commute to school. Now commuting has benefits, I get to have a forty minutes adjustments period to allow my mind to slowly realize it’s awake and needing to function before actually being in class. I can study in the car. I can socialize with my friends. However, there are some downfalls when it comes to carpooling. If the driver is down, chances are the carpool is too, and if you don’t go to school in the same city, other modes of transport aren’t really an option.

Carpoolers rely as much on each other as they do on their vehicles. By saving the environment one less car at a time, they strengthen their bond of trust that they have each others’ backs, that they’ll get to school on time for their classes.

Turns out I have an unplanned day off tomorrow. Good thing I already brought home my textbooks to study for my midterm on Friday.

Theatre’s Final Curtain Call

Today my university closed its theatre program.

I mean, officially it was closed before this year started, no classes were offered, no department existed, but there was still the Theatre Room.

As you entered the building you couldn’t help but pass it, there on the left, the old cafeteria turned theatre classroom. A heavy curtain created a partition part-way across the room, hiding reams of props, set pieces, and random pieces of furniture. Further in was the costume room filled with a treasure trove of outfits from a range of eras. Though there was no department, there was still the Theatre Room. It represented the possibility of a resurgence, that theatre might yet make its underdog comeback just like in the movies.

But it didn’t.

This morning we arrived at school to find set pieces outside waiting to be thrown away. Fake palm trees huddled together, drooping over each other while they waited their turn to enter the dumpster. It was a sign of the end. Theatre would not return.

This afternoon the call went out, the costume room was being emptied. Everything was fair game. We rushed downstairs. Soon a dozen or so people were browsing the overflowing racks of costumes, filling garbages bags with their new found loot. First-come, first-serve.

The theatre program is gone now, ransacked and thrown away. It’s sad, but as always, parting is such sweet sorrow… because now I own some pretty epic costumes that I got for free. There’s always a silver lining.