7 days in…. And I’m feeling it.

A good friend of mine Liz is fasting to raise money to visit and aid children in Haiti. This isn’t her first trip or fast she’s done and I’m sure it’s not going to be her last. She’s powering through 4 weeks of fasting and plans on keeping everyone up to date. Here’s one of her posts.

My Blog

Today is day 7 of my Fasting to Feed. Initially, despite the hunger, being ‘hangry’ (hungry + cranky), and tired I was still feeling pretty good. I still had energy, and was able to continue with my day as if I was eating normally.

Lately however, I am not feeling that way. Since Wednesday I have been tired, not having the energy to go about my day regularly. One night I slept for 12 hours and still didn’t feel like it was enough. The headaches began on Tuesday and have continued. Mix that with the dizziness and it is not a good feeling.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining whatsoever. It is SO exciting knowing that I have made it though a week of fasting, and only have 3 weeks to go. It also is a wonderful reminder of how blessed we truly are in Canada. If I…

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Who do you want to be?

Hello to all of Justin’s friends and supporters! I’m Jules, one of Justin’s long-time friends and colleagues.

I’ve been invited by Justin as a guest blogger and my topic of discussion today is something I don’t just feel but AM…creativity! It’s a burnt out opinion that not everyone can be creative and I fully intend on shattering that perception as long as I have breath in my body. EVERYBODY and I mean absolutely everyone is creative. Humans are a curious species by nature and we are all capable of taking something we think or feel on the inside and turning that outwards into a tangible item whether it be something you’ve written, said, painted, sculpted or engineered.

Art is more than just technique. It’s about feeling. It’s about expression. It’s about taking something that is purely YOU and getting it out into the world for other people to look at, interpret, and appreciate. I grew up in a small town of 3000 people in Southern Ontario and at age 6 my dad discovered my talent for drawing things to scale. We traveled to Florida a lot for summer vacations as a child and my thing was to get postcards and then bring them home and enlarge them on my sketching paper. At age 6 I could take a postcard of Mickey Mouse and the gang and enlarge it to the size of an 8×10 or larger purely from vision. I could figure out angles and measurement without the need of a ruler or protractor (something that doesn’t come easily to everyone). My father decided to put me into art classes outside of schooling. Naturally, I was totally averted to the idea as I was a REALLY timid child. But to art classes I went and surprisingly enough to me I stuck with it for 7 years. Art class became kind of “my special time”. I didn’t have the perfect childhood. Times at home could be very rough on me emotionally and art class was an hour and a half a week that I could just go and be with other artists to get away from it all. No talking was necessary. I just needed that time to go inside my own head and let whatever it was that I was thinking about or feeling come through those firing neurons down into my hand and out of my pencil or paint brush. Art for me was therapeutic, as is for a lot of other people. It’s a chance to express yourself freely without judgement or fear, and that is why it is so important to me to spread of the word, nay beauty, of art!

As I got older, teachers wanted an answer… “What do you want to be when you grow up Miss Monk?” My father pushed me to find something to do with my art. I can remember at 12 years old telling my father “Dad you can’t make any money being an artist”. Now I think, “how sad that the world we live in doesn’t encourage artists to believe in the importance and value of what they’re creating”. I sincerely did not believe I could ever have a life making art. I thought it was just something I was good at that didn’t matter. The years rolled on and I continued growing my knowledge and technique taking art in high school and finally venturing away from realism and into the surreal. Abstract. Wow! It was something new and completely different for me. For the past 5 years or so I’ve been focused on integrating my realist technique with portraits INTO an abstract kind of background or scenario for the character and my goodness what a challenge it has been. I’ve never had more fun than when I don’t know what I’m doing. It just goes to show you that in life, whether it’s creating a piece of artwork, or applying for a new job or a promotion at work, or going out of your comfort zone dating someone new…you HAVE to push yourself to attempt the unknown….you never know how you might surprise yourself and find something new that you absolutely LOVE that you didn’t think was possible or could ever happen to you.

After high school I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. My family thought medical would be a good idea. It’s a good job, with good pay and I was caring enough to be able to handle the stresses and responsibilities of nursing….yet I wasn’t convinced. I applied for a double major at the University of my Nearby City of Windsor and got it. Visual arts and communications…I wasn’t excited. It just felt like “the NEXT step”, you know? It was like I was following the succession of events that society has shoved down my throat as the normal thing to do. Go to school, get a job, find a husband, buy a house, have some kids…and then, well you know. I continued pondering what my life would be like. “Would I ever leave this area?” A lot of people would go to school and eventually follow those same successions of events and NEVER leave. That couldn’t be me. I thirsted for more. One day while lying in bed and watching “Whatever happened to?” it dawned on me, “It would be so cool to work in the movies”. A few hours later I had googled every school I think in nation for film. The next day would change my life’s path.

I got a call from my adviser at The Vancouver Film School asking if I’d like to be a part of their student body in the following terms. I told them I had thought about it maybe after 4 years of schooling at home in Windsor. They proceeded to ask me why not do it now? I couldn’t for the life of me think of a good enough reason to say no. I applied and got in. Then came the inevitable question…”how am I going to afford this?” It just so happens they had a scholarship for a FULL ride to their school. So I applied. It was an essay based off a few key questions like “Who inspires you the most? Who are you? And where do you want to be in 5 years”? I thought of all the b.s bluster they might WANT to hear and then thought…”I’m going to write it from the heart, because if they don’t like that then they don’t like me and I don’t need to go to school there”. Out of hundreds of applicants, myself and 2 others won. I would be going to school in Vancouver, for film, completely free. I couldn’t believe it. If it had not been for that curiosity provoked inside me to search for something more, to keep it creative…then I wouldn’t be writing to you today.

After school I came back to Ontario to work. That’s where I met Justin. I was his supervisor for the AM800 A team (a broadcast promotions team in the Windsor-Essex County region). We made friends immediately and began a friendship lasting well over 3 years now. Justin and I both have the same view of helping others around us whether it be locals in Windsor or all the way in Haiti, which is where we traveled next. As many of you know Justin traveled to Haiti for six months to live with Emily Hime, at Maison Ke Kontan Orphanage, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. What many of you might not know is that I filmed it. Justin and I spent about a year of our friendship fundraising and working for the orphanage in Haiti to try and make a small difference. After being in Haiti my thirst for travelling became even more insatiable and my next stint would become working as an international photographer on the high seas. For six months I traveled Alaska, Central and South America working as a photographer for a cruise line. I have a blog about it that I will post at the bottom.

Arriving back in Canada, just two weeks ago, I’ve been experiencing an array of emotions but mainly just being very thankful for this colourful life I’ve been living. One of my mantras is that “No one will fix your situation but yourself” and “If you are not trying to fix your situation, then you have no right to complain”. Before leaving for life at sea I was feeling stagnant and depressed. Living in isolation for six months has given me a profound appreciation for such things like driving my car, or watching a movie with friends which may seem mundane to the people who experience that on a daily basis but I promise you, every little thing you experience in this life is a blessing and do not forget it.

My life’s message and purpose, I’ve discovered, is to share my knowledge and creativity with the world and to inspire others to not become stagnant or unchallenged by life. So my challenge to you, whoever you are that is reading this, is to get out there and try something new. Apply to something you didn’t think you could get, try something you’ve always wanted to but were too scared to, go out and meet some new people, share some interesting conversation with a stranger, try new food, create something that is completely you whether it’s a song or a painting or a piece of furniture! If I can get one thing across to you it is that this life is short, it’s unpredictable and it’s both horrible and awesome at the same time so live life for the quiet moments you took for granted, don’t settle for a less than remarkable life and lead a life that will have you remembered long after you’re gone.

Peace and love,

J.

Please visit my photography website at www.jlynnphotographyart.com if you’d like to see what I do for a living and book a photo session. Capture those moments in life and have a tangible keepsake for years to come!

You can also check out more of my artworks and talks at my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/jlynnphotographyart and my blog: julialynnmonk.wordpress.com/!
There’s ALSO my youtube.com/julialynnmonk and my twitters at twitter.com/julesmonk and twitter.com/jlynnphotoarts.

Please do like, share and tweet my stuff if you enjoy my work as an artist. Help me to inspire others to keep dreaming and making those dreams a reality!

To Those We Love

First off today is a major me day, I’ve been working hard from work to schooling and even language training. 

I feel great as I have a fantastic job and work with great people and just the individuals around me have been so lovely.

In my last post I said I would kind of explain about the “failed connection” I guess you could call it. Things did seem pretty great for a while but the entire time there was something not there, something that tugged at me that I couldn’t quite grasp at despite things seeming to be great… I felt it but chose to ignore it because it was so miniscule. One day we were chatting and maybe I said the wrong thing and suddenly we were “on different pages”; I have to say I was pretty torn up that morning after the dissolution of the friendship. I worked on the things that were making me happy in life and my day really turned around. I stepped back to what I’ve always told myself “never regret a thing in life“. Even when you do dumb things or have a terrible break up like I had 2 years ago, you have to be happy for the times you had; the good and even more so the bad. Look at it this way: if you never went through hurt, paint, or heart-break would you really be the person you are today? I think not. Anyway that’s kind of what happened and I’m glad for the small moments of joy I had.

Enough of this girly talk; I’ve been growing my beard for 2 months now and it’s getting pretty thick as it once was in Haiti, the only difference is it’s getting cold where I’m living now and my face is nice and warm! At work I’ve had many people come by just to tell me I have an awesome beard, or ‘many people can’t pull off a good beard but you sir can!“. It’s really cool to have people come by and compliment it… honestly I’m just growing my beard for me not to impress people but hey I’ll take it, keep the compliments coming 😉 good genetics I guess!

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Haiti Beard

 

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Canada Beard

In late October I sold 4 phones at work in one day and made a hefty commission from it which is great for me… puts me on track for comfortable living. I’ve been getting compliments from “upper managementfor my accomplishments as a newbie which is super cool, but I keep telling everyone ‘honestly I’m just doing my job“. Oh Nov 1st I kicked off the month with selling another 4 phones putting our store at 7 and #1 in BC East for the start of the month. I also keep getting told by my customers I have a very mellow/ calm demeanour and that they like that… none threatening pressure.

I’ve had a great workout sitting on my computer for over a year now and haven’t really gotten around to setting up a schedule to use it… well I finally sat down and spent at least an hour setting up my workout routine. The whole process will be over six to eight months but it’s finally started and I’m super pumped to get my beach bod! (that last statement really made me chuckle)

Still Working on Form

Still Working on Form

Some other things I’ve been up to lately me having enrolled in psychology classes online (free) that offers a diploma but it isn’t accredited… fine with me I’ll still hang the diploma. On top of that I’ve been listening to psych lectures from Yale which happen to be very fun for me to listen to. I have to say that I actually already knew a lot that is being taught on those lectures; in a sense it’s very reassuring that I find Yale lectures “easy to listen to”. Some other learning I’ve been doing but kind of slowed down on it since I’ve taken up so many other things and work 5 days a week is learning new languages. I have Rosetta Stone on my computer and I have taken up Arabic. I think it would be a neat language to learn… I mean I grew up with so many Lebanese people and always wished I knew what they were saying… I have also set out a goal to know at least 7 languages in the next 5 years and I’m already at 3.

So Halloween just went by and maybe some of you went out with your kids or by yourself, and some of you may have handed out candy… ready for a surprise I actually went out “clubbing”, yeah I know it’s def. not my scene but I was convinced to go out and have a night for myself and I’m glad I did. The night was filled with good company and well mediocre to good music haha.

I didn’t get a chance to record a Vlog this week but I’ll try to get one posted in the next few days if not tonight. 

So at the beginning of the blog I talked about how today was a ME day; last night was the first night I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night in over 3 months… maybe it had to do with me being really tired or the fact I was talking to a pretty great person last night… I’m going to stick with the latter. This morning I was blessed with a photo of my girls from Haiti… my heart bled because I miss them so much. As I reminisced on the old photo’s and the newest one with their huge smiles I couldn’t help but cry. I was getting ready to write my blog as I waited for my bath to cool down but I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I had to lay on my bed and take it in… I love the kids so much and they will always hold a piece of my heart <3.

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Newest photo

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Lily and I

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Twins and I napping

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There’s one of my real smiles ❤

 

"Enjoy every moment in life; it's the hard times that show you the good, the better, and the best!" ~ Me

“Enjoy every moment in life; it’s the hard times that show you the good, the better, and the best!” 

“Everything is the way it is because it got that way” ~ Gerald Weinberg

Maintained

The past two weeks have been up and down to say the least. I lost most of my motivation to blog the past little while, whether it was from just being tired or busy.

Some days I’m extremely busy and can barely find a moment to do anything and other days I don’t know what to do with myself.

My Home <3

My Home ❤

It’s been a tough time lately as I’m practically scraping pennies out of my pocket to pay for things, but I keep my head up and work with what I have. Earlier this week my shelves and fridge were bare other than some bread milk and cheese. I have to admit I was a little scared about buying food and just surviving.

The reason I’ve been so tight on cash is the company I’ve been working for “can’t” advance my pay until the following pay because I made a mistake on my banking info. Despite it being my error I did resolve it but the employer is still saying I have to wait until the 30th to be paid (2 weeks after I was supposed to be!). I have to say at first I was pretty frustrated with this as I needed the money, the person I was corresponding with did everything in her power but she’s not head office. I ended up doing some research and found out that it’s actually illegal to withhold pay directly or indirectly 8 days after the end of a pay period. I made my contact aware of this but didn’t want to escalate anything.

So if you’re wondering ‘how are you eating and staying healthy?’ For one I’m buying things at the bulk barn which is saving me money and is actually pretty healthy. I’ve also had some great people around me from my mom to my Hostel neighbour-mates. I try to stay positive even though things are tough… you kind of have to. Its been almost a surprise everyday of generosity, someone invites me over for dinner or offers me leftovers, or just straight up gives me stuff out of their cupboard just out of their good heart.

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Thanks to awesome friends

It’s starting to get much colder out and I haven’t felt COLD in almost a year seeing as I spent pretty much the whole Winter in Haiti… oh do I ever miss it and the kids <3.

Our outdoor theater has been moved/ taken down due to the cold as well the nights are getting very chilly so we’ve moved back to the driveway hang out or just go into someone living space since it’s nice and warm :).

Our cozy bonfire

Our cozy bonfire

Theatre night

Theatre night

Speaking of warm I finally turned on my heater because this cold nonsense is not my cup o’ tea.

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Our new neighbour apologizing for not making it to one of the theatre nights ❤ such awesome people here

This past weekend I was invited to Fandango which is like a mini festival gathering that later turns into a “dance party”. Earlier in the day around 3pm there was what I believe is called an Earth Dance, this is where everyone in the world had set a day just to dance universally share the love and compassion of the world. The few of us who intended on going to it didn’t make it that early 😦 but we did happen to make it to the Pot Luck around 6 which was super yummy and 99% of the stuff was natural and healthy… I don’t think I even saw pop or chips.

The night at Fandango was fantastic I met so many amazing people who touched my heart to meet and hope to continue to grow with them all.

So overall everything is tough but manageable and on the right track… I’m getting there slowly! But still getting there ^_^. Oh yeah I had these Bison sausages the other night they were so good… I suggest you try them sometime.

My hostel mates and I still hang out a lot during the day when we are free and continue to be creative through song, creating events as well as painting and many other endeavours. I have to say I’ve got a pretty darn great group here. I’m keeping in my prayers I can stay here for a long time and make rent easier by starting a job soon. (Prayers and positive thoughts please… not just for me but everyone facing tough times… and even those who aren’t)

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Brenford being creative

I received a letter from my sponsor child in Romania… well my friend in Edmonton did since World Vision didn’t change my address in time. The letter is super cute and I can’t wait to correspond more often with her.

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From Maria… melts my heart

I feel like I had a lot more to post but this will have to do for now I hope you have had a great week and past weekend so far. If you haven’t the weekend is coming and you know what’s coming before the weekend… a fresh new day, tomorrow is another adventure in my life and in yours makes it worthwhile.

Before I close out today’s blog I want to suggest a movie/ documentary to everyone it’s called “I Am” directed & narrated by Tom Shadyac. It’s a acceptance of death and meaning of living story from that the producer of Ace Venture, Patch Adams, Bruce All Mighty etc… What he talks about was/ is very touching to me and I think it would be to many others as well.

“Tomorrow’s just another day… ENJOY IT!”

Steady Visit

I don’t expect this blog post to be too long… but that’s what I usually expect.

I’ve being doing pretty well getting back to “normal” life back in Canada, I’m not going to lie though I still feel like I’m visiting. I’m starting to make future plans on what I’m going to do down the road, of course going back to Haiti is in the plans and I think it always will be but not immediately.

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I’ve come to realize my next adventure won’t be for a while, I’m still looking for work and have had a few hopeful situations but they wouldn’t start until later in the summer and may require travel… hmm did I just say travel I think I like that word! Anyway I’ll indulge you into some of my future plans and this is all in the works no concrete plans; I find if you set specific dates… this is for most people not all, but if you set specific dates for life goals you tend to bring yourself down and stress out too much when the time comes closer and closer so I’m being very liberal and understanding that it will take a few years to get my jet off the ground… unless I land it rich or someone wants to give me lots and lots of money… I prefer the latter :P.

My original plan was to save up for a visit to ex-Siam… Thailand :), I’ve always been fascinated by their culture and their way of life and I’d want to be visiting none touristy area’s. After doing much research and talking to many people who’ve been there it is rather cheap to live there day by day close to $14 USD for full meals and lodging. As most of my plans are like a living being it’s ever evolving, originally I had decided after Thailand I would purchase a house and rent it out. Now I’m planning on getting a house first then travelling to Thailand once I get the landlord thing down and eventually breaking even or even making a bit of a profit. The idea for this is if I start travelling more I don’t want to come home and have to work for 2 years then go travel and work for 2 year again… it seems like such a waste, I’d rather take the extra time to secure myself and then live “freely” before I settle down.

I finally got my iMac back up and running but ran into an issue when I went to Bootcamp it to run Windows now it will only run that… guess I have to bring it in for another fixin’ but at least I know everything is backed up!

I’ve been thinking lately about changing the name of my blog since I won’t be working specifically on Haiti especially in my blogs, more so about my life and travels. I’ll still have my Facebook Page for Haiti but I feel like I need a name change on the blog and was wondering what everyone else thought? I may start-up a poll with some names, if you guys have any idea’s feel free to comment new names or email me at Justinparkinson@hotmail.com

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Recently I went to DEMF which this year was named Movement Electronic Music Festival… MEMF not as easy to say as the old name but change is bound to happen! It was fun despite all the rain and cold, but I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the Urban Festivals, it draws a lot of “not fun” crowds. I much prefer Big fests like Electric Forest or Feel Good, Waka etc… it’s more of a family/ Hippie group, everyone loves one another and will take care of you if you need it… even being a stranger.

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Anyway I just wanted to shoot this off real quick to update everyone yes I’m still in Canada I didn’t jet off to Haiti again… Yet haha just kidding. I’ve got to get back to writing my  book. Don’t forget to think of names for my blog and make suggestions!


 

“Changes happens roll with it”

Adjustments

It’s been about a month since my last blog, it’s been a crazy month and bare with me as I try and remember it all.

The last week of April The Boom Booms were in Haiti doing stuff like planting tree’s and playing a few shows, and I managed to tag along with the Canadian group and help where I could. They guys were a blast to be around really down to earth and generally all around nice guys, a thanks goes out to Alex Genis who helped coordinate and bring them to Haiti.

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Along with hanging out with The Boom Booms I got to know some people from Haiti Communitere (formerly Grassroots utd.). The last week I spent in Haiti was a pretty busy one, running from meetings to people for a last time before I go. There really didn’t seem  like there was enough time in a day.

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April 23rd was my birthday and yes I spent it in Haiti and the Jazz lounge we went to let The Boom Booms play a bit… they were once again amazing, it kind of made my birthday, actually hanging out with awesome people and great music.

I’m sure most of you have figured it out by now from reading if you hadn’t already heard it from word of mouth I’m back in Canada. It’s been a slow transition and yes there were a lot of things to get used to… one thing was, getting used to seeing so many white people, and forgetting I can speak solely English and most people will understand. There were other minor things like putting on a seat belt I needed to get used to.

The first week I was back I got extremely ill, honestly I think it was a combination of catching something in Haiti as well as getting used to the preservative packed foods. It lasted for a little more than a week thankfully I’m all better now :)!

It’s nice to have my car back now and able to travel from place to place when and where I want, although now I have to pay for my own gas which I guess is the big switch over. I’m still looking for work at the moment I have a few hopefuls but still nothing.

I’ve been trying to get more in touch with friends instead of being stuck inside all the time, I’ve recently gotten into longboarding and I find it rather relaxing.

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It’s tough to pick and choose which friends you want to spend time with and finding ones that want to commute the time to hang out, but it’s helpful in seeing who’s really interested in hanging out with me. Haiti has really put a separation between me and a lot of people and it’s sort of neat to see who’s willing to make that stretch to re-connect.

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I picked up Emily from the airport  the other day and she stayed in Chatham for a day or 2 then surprised her mother for mother’s day which was a fun treat!

I wanted to post a lot of pictures onto the Facebook Page but as most people know my computer crashed and is in the shop for the next few weeks… I guess you’ll have to wait.

Stay posted for my crazy life to slowly unravel back in Canada see how my Haitian experiences have changed me for the first world.

“Time doesn’t separate people, people separate people.”

Heated

The past few weeks and the next few to come have been and will be Heated, not just from the warming sun and humidity but emotions as well… for example I just wrote this whole blog and it closed on me and didn’t save at all!

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Emily and I have been really cracking down on getting things in order from paper work to the kids doing their duties. I think we’re both starting to get a little wound because we’re both taking off soon and leaving (temporarily) behind a place we love with all our hearts. Knowing that I have return date to  Canada makes things harder for me and I think that’s adding to why I’m feeling more upset when the kids don’t respect the rules and I feel disrespected. This morning I went around picking up all the toys left around the yard, and when the kids came home from school I brought them over and dumped it out in front of them. I gave them their final warning as Emily has already given them a heads up ‘If your toys are left out they will be given to kids who want them and respect them’. They had a bit of a shocked and ashamed look. Next I pulled out a bag of garbage (no I didn’t dump in out). I told them they need to start picking up the garbage when they see it and that respecting the house is of utmost importance. Needless to say they will be spending the next few hours doing clean up. Everything from the kids, government politic, to staff issues seems to have multiplied ten fold over night.529339_10152729453410022_1151837900_n

Not all things have been “bad” Emily and I did get to go Scuba diving, which I’ve really missed since I was in the Cayman Islands… and even in the cold Sarnia, Ontario waters. I managed to get pretty deep as far as my current license “allows” me and I saw some really neat rainbow fish and coral! The deeper I went the cooler it got (no pun intended).

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I have mixed emotions going home because I love it here despite all the craziness  but at the same time I’m excited to head home to catch up with friends (Don’t let Em fool you when she says I have no friends :P). I am also super excited for Electric Forest Festival 2013! I’ve worked EF for the past few years and this will be the first year I’m not part of the Work Exchange. Everyone there is like family 30,000+ people as one big family… I’ve met some of the best people there. I started making bracelets for myself and friends, picking up a new hobby for EF 2013 maybe make a buck or two selling some “bling” :). I’ve made so many I started to get blisters!

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The other day I managed to go visit a friend who runs Respire Haiti, we’d been trying to connect since I first got to Haiti approx 6 months ago… we finally got together and I had the chance to see the amazing place she’s built up.

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The days are flying by now that I have a confirmed return date. Once that day comes the job hunt begins and I start saving for my next adventure “across the pond

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Until next time: Keep your head up, push one foot forward and you’ve already begun your next journey

Don’t forget to Smile!