I’m a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and Proud of It

Last week, after a receptionist told me that the clinic I had so desperately wanted to visit before closing time, had, indeed, closed, I cried. I cried until she said, “Let me see what I can do,” and I was brought in.

I should point out that I didn’t cry to get my own way. I just cry. A lot. I’m a big cry baby.  So much so that “Cry Baby” was my nickname growing up. Of course it would have been hella cooler to be called “Cry Baby” if it was in reference to that Johnny Depp movie, but it wasn’t. It was because I would burst into tears at the drop of a hat. All children cry when they’re being teased, but I would cry if I was in a large crowd, or while I watched Benji  stranded on top of that mountain or when words wouldn’t convey all THESE EMOTIONS.

I didn’t really know why I was the way I was until I was 22 and my acting teacher recommended I read a book called The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine N. Aron.

It changed my life.

For the first time I realized why I find myself crying for no reason. Why I can pick up on other people’s energy and feel it as if it were my own. Why the stimuli around me can affect me so deeply. It’s because I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) – an empath – and I am not alone. In fact, there are as many as one in five people possessing the trait.

If this sounds familiar, here are some other traits of an HSP:

1. Noise is super annoying. No one likes to hear a jackhammer pounding away outside, but to a HSP, annoying noises are super duper annoying. For me, especially when I was younger, it was going to clubs. I hated clubbing. HATED IT. The noise (OK, “music”), the people, all the touching (OK, the grinding). Within an hour of arriving, I was always like, “Get me outta here!” Of course my friends weren’t too impressed, but I couldn’t help it. HSPs are very sensitive to noise and general chaos because we tend to be overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much activity.

2. Violent movies are painful. I consider myself a movie buff, but there are certain movies I refuse to see (any gruesome war pics, excessively gratuitious horror flicks) because the violence becomes too visceral for me to handle. Ask my movie buds: anytime we watch a movie with even a little ol’ stabbing scene (you know, low-key stuff), I am in a ball, closing my eyes, because I FEEL too much.

3. We’re all cry babies. This was a relief for me to learn because I didn’t feel like I was the only one who cried over the “little things.” It became less embarrassing for me to cry over not getting that parking spot, or if I was in a confrontation with someone. Over time, through the support of friends and family, and just accepting who I am, I’ve been able to either control the tears, or let them flow – depending on the circumstances – shame-free.

4. Alone time – yes please! We HSPs loooove our alone time. We crave it and we need it to digest our day. We’re also more likely to work from home (um, hello!) and it’s also why we prefer exercising alone to joining team sports. It also explains why you might hate the gym. I used to belong to a gym, and though I would work out regularly, I hated the fact that there were people around me, and that, in a sense, my every move could be watched. Even when my friend asks me to go for a jog, we actually don’t jog together because it’s like, this is my time, I need my space. I work out from home now, and I just feel way more comfortable.

5. HSPs are really DEEP. I’m called “deep” a lot, and I used to think that was a bit of an insult. Like, I was either really serious or this hippie-dippie navel-gazer. But now I own it. As a HSP, I can’t help if I process things on a deeper level, or that I’m highly intuitive. Also, as a HSP, we are way more empathetic creatures. We take things on when reacting to an external event or even when a friend is relating their grief to us. If your friend has a problem, you most likely feel that problem before they even say a word, or feel their pain as they’re experiencing it. That’s probably why you’re the friend who everyone comes to for advice.

If any of the above sounds familiar, and you think you’re a HSP, you should definitely take Aron’s test to find out.

There’s a ton of info on how to handle being a HSP (besides her book, of course). I recommend smudging ‘cause it’s meditative (and smells therapeutic), forgiveness ‘cause you need to let go and let love in, being around animals ‘cause what better reason is there to snuggle your cat (again), and just fucking crying it out, you big cry baby.

For real tho. 🚹🚺👽👽

Forever Young: The Trouble With Looking (and Sounding) Younger Than You Are

The other day I was asked for ID at the LCBO. I acted thrilled because I’m 31 and being asked for your ID at my age is (supposedly) one of life’s little blessings.

“Really? You want to see MY ID?!” I asked, feigning surprise, while handing over my driver’s license.

The clerk looked at my license and then at me. “Are you telling me this is the first time you’ve been asked for your ID?” He asked, not buying my incredulous ‘tude.


The truth is I’ve been asked for my ID boatloads of times since becoming the age of majority, (which was 14 years ago) because I look a great deal younger than my actual age. I’ll refrain from calling myself “baby faced,” though, due to the lack of people pulling at my cheeks, and because I think the people who are called “baby faced” actually have a face that should belong on a baby; I have a face that belongs to someone between the ages of 18-26 (so I’ve been told).

And it’s not only how I look, it’s how I sound, too. A guy recently tried to pick me up in a Starbucks because of my “cute” voice. In my opinion, I sound like a subdued Canadian cross between Mindy Kaling and Alexis Bledel (a.k.a. Rory Gilmore) – you know, girly, choosy, the kind of voice you’d expect in a Pixar movie.

You’re probably rolling your eyes and guffawing at my so-called “problem” of being mistaken for a 20-year-old, especially since we live in a society that consistently tells us how aging is bad and not sexy and everything is “anti-aging” this, “anti-aging” that, but reverse ageism is a real thing too, people!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been dismissed, underestimated or not taken seriously because of my Benjamin Button-like exterior.  I get a lot of “kiddos” thrown at me, as well as “you’ll understand when you’re older.” Someone even had the audacity to ask me “what’s the 411 on Hunter Hayes?” and I was like, “Who the fuck?!”

Prospective employers have patronized me in job interviews with “We’re looking at someone with a fair amount of experience” before bothering even to glance at my chockful-of-experience resume. Bartenders have eagerly poured drinks for my friends before turning to me and demanding to see an ID. Vendors often give me a hard time whenever I ask to buy a lottery ticket.

Then there was the time when I was at a wedding and one of my parents’ friends said to me, “Don’t worry. Sally waited until she was 27 to get married. You’ve got plenty of time.” I was 30.

But the absolute worst happened a few days ago. I was at my parents’ house and I answered their landline and upon hearing my “Hello?” the telemarketer promptly asked if either of my parents were home. WTF. I’m a grown-ass woman – I could have a mortgage! I could have a landline! I could do some lame-ass survey! But, oh no. My age says “adult” but my voice says, “My Mommy’s not home right now. Can I take a message?”

(OK, maybe I can give a pass to the telemarketer since he didn’t actually see me. I’d like to think that maybe if he had, then he would have said instead, “Madame of the house, I presume?”)

More often than not, I don’t mind looking a little younger. I’ve enjoyed friendships with people of all ages, I can get away with wearing denim shorts and tight pants without looking like I’m trying too hard to be “hip” and, a few years from now, when my peers are getting Botox and trout pouts, I’ll be like Cindy Crawford (have you seen Cindy lately? The woman does NOT age).

But I would be lying if I said that looking younger, and occasionally being infantilized because of my appearance, does not make me a tad bit insecure. Sometimes it causes me to act less confidently and become hyper aware of others’ reactions to me. Other times it causes me to be defensive and then I try to put on a weird, deeper, more “adult” voice, which hurts my throat and makes me sound like Meryl Streep in August: Osage County, and it’s really not a good scene. I know this insecurity is my issue, though, and one that I need to embrace more because this is me, and this is how I be, so I might as well walk with assuredness and believe in my aptitude for professionalism.

Besides, according to science, if you look young for your age, then you’ll probably live longer, too. So, if you look young, too, then drink up, my friend, because we’ve truly found the Fountain of Youth.

This article originally appeared on She Does The City

20 Summers of Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz returns to the big screen on July 18 with Sex Tape, a raunchy comedy about a married couple who wake up to discover that the wild sex tape they made the night before has gone missing, leading to madcap search around town for its whereabouts. The movie not only reunites Diaz with her Bad Teacherco-star (Jason Segel) and director (Jake Kasdan), but also with the genre – the screwball comedy — that made Diaz a household name twenty years ago. 20!

Indeed, it was twenty summers ago when Diaz made Jim Carrey’s eye pop out of his head in her film debut, 1994’s The Mask, and we’ve been transfixed with the former model ever since. Sure, Diaz may have had her share of summer flops (Knight & Day, anyone?), but, for the most part, the California native has owned the summer movie house with an array of box office hits and a fair bit of critical acclaim. Here are five of her hottest summer movies.

The Mask (1994)

 The role of the vivacious Tina Carlyle, the gangster moll who Jim Carrey’s Stanley Ipkiss is besotted with, seemed tailor-made for Diaz. She was both funny and sexy and real, basically the perfect combination of the girl-next-door, all attributes that have continued to serve her well during her cinematic career. It’s almost hard to believe the role was her movie debut (and even harder to believe that Diaz never took an acting class until after she was cast) but, not really, when you consider Diaz’s star wattage was apparent the moment she first appeared onscreen (and, especially, during that fantastic dance number with Carrey). AsRoger Ebert fatefully, and prophetically, said in his review of the film, Diaz “is a true discovery in the film, a genuine sex bomb with a gorgeous face, a wonderful smile, and a gift of comic timing. This is her first movie role…It will not be her last.”

 My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) 

 The romantic comedy was seen as a comeback vehicle for star Julia Roberts, who was nearly 30, had suffered a string of flops (Mary ReillyMichael Collins) and had finally returned to her flowing, red locks. But, (besides a stellar Rupert Everett), it was Diaz who stole the show. Who else could make an agonizing karaoke rendition of “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” not only tolerable, but also adorable? And let’s not forget the scene in which Diaz confronts Roberts in a woman’s public washroom, calling her a “two-faced, big-haired critic,” proving to Roberts’ Julianne that she was more than a perky girl but a force to be reckoned with. It was truly one of those “art imitating life” moments.

There’s Something About Mary (1998)

 Basically, the movie should have been retitled “There’s Something About Cameron.” Yes, it was Ben Stiller’s movie, but Diaz, with her effortless charm and comedic timing, made us believe that there really was something about Mary. As Rolling Stone said, Diaz “plays Mary with the beaming sexiness and sharp comic timing of a born star.” Rolling with the gross depravity the Farrelly brothers are known for, Diaz proved she was game for anything, and just “one of the guys,” exuding the tomboy trait that’s followed her career since then. Raking in almost $400 million at the box office, along with her ability to hold her own against Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon, the comedy flick solidified Diaz as a big box office star. And we never looked at hair gel the same way ever again.

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

 The revamped film adaptation of the ‘70s hit TV show was an infectious, raucous riot, led by Drew BarrymoreLucy Liu and Diaz. As test pilot/P.I. Natalie Cook, Diaz plays against her sexiness and instead plays up the ditzy, blonde archetype to solid comic effect in the role. Also, how can we resist a good Diaz dance scene? There’s a couple in this one. First, there’s the one in her undies (not bad) but her gifted gawkiness (and mad dance skills) are solidly put on displayed as she bumps and grinds to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” Diaz, with her kung-fu and cool ‘tude, proves she’s a true “Independent Woman” in the flick, and she majorly kicks ass.

Shrek (2001)

 It says a lot about a star when her most successful film (franchise) is one in which she doesn’t even appear onscreen. And in which her character is an ugly green ogre. But Diaz’s Princess Fiona, both fiery and funny, exemplifies the very best of Diaz. It’s not surprising, then, that of all her characters, it’s Fiona that Diaz is most recognized for. When asked by the New York Times if it took extra convincing for her to produce the bodily noises that Fiona is asked to produce, Diaz said that it was easy for her because she’s “basically a 14-year-old boy in my heart, in my spirit,” which sums up how she’s been able to make us laugh (and buy tickets to her movies) for the past twenty summers.

This article originally appeared on Cineplex.com

Playlist: My Soundtrack of Summers Past

It’s that time of year again: Song of the Summer time. Summer songs are big deals. And I’m not talking about the one (the ubiquitously driving-us-nuts-since-April pop ditty) that Billboard Magazine inevitably crowns “Song of the Summer” – I’m talking about our own personal song of the summer. The song which immediately transports you back to that particular summer in your life, including the sights, the smells, the friends, the heartbreaks—an entire cinematic-like memory montage—with just a click of a Songza shuffle.

If I were to create a playlist of summers past, this is what a snippet of mine would sound like.

1985 – “How Will I Know” (Whitney Houston) – Two years old. OK, so I don’t really remember this song when it debuted, and I also don’t remember that I attended Whitney’s concert at the Ex that summer (which sucks because, according to Mom and Dad, she was in full-out “arriving two hours late” diva mode), but this song stuck with me throughout my childhood. It has a danceable beat, Whitney’s pipes are flawless, and it was my first glimpse into what love actually feels like: sleepless nights wondering if the guy you love actually loves you back, taking every “Does He Like Me?” web quiz and reading every “21 Signs That He Likes You” article until you’re satisfied that he might kinda like like you back, causing your heart to soar to the clouds above.

1991 – “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” (Bryan Adams) – Eight years old. Kevin Costner’s handsome mug and messy, blond locks in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” stirred something new inside of me (E.L. James would most likely deem it my “inner goddess” awakening), and his butt shot in the flick definitely clinched it: never mind that he was older than my dad, I wanted Kevin Costner baaaad. This song brings back memories of ripping out Kevin Costner pics in People Magazine, pasting them on my bedroom walls, and reenacting his kissing scene with Maid Marion over and over again. Bryan Adams’ heart-wrenching ballad was also a staple at the pre-teen dances held at my local rec-centre, but pre-pubescent boys and their zits and scratchy voices were nothing in comparison to the godliness of Kevin Costner. Bring on the Electra complex!

1994 – “Mr. Jones” (Counting Crows) – Eleven years old. This was my first summer at camp, and my first summer completely on my own, away from my family. My camp counselors, Jory and Meg, pretty, tanned and adorned in tons of DIY bracelets, would blare this song almost every morning to wake up our cabin. Adam Duritz and crew were my first introduction into what “cool teens from Toronto” were listening to, a.k.a. people who were much cooler than me, a shy kid from the suburbs. Camp was the place where I transformed from wallflower to baller; I returned home from camp to the ‘burbs as this totally confident and independent young woman – the kind of girl that Beyoncé would love to sing songs about. So, whenever I hear this song, it always makes me want to get up and dance, and embrace the moment when I realized it’s OK to wave your freak flag high and be all, “I woke up like this” (even if I still don’t know who Mr. Jones is).

1999 – “Livin’ La Vida Loca” (Ricky Martin) – Sixteen years old. 1999 was an awesome summer for music (even BuzzFeed says so), but I chose this one because a) I danced to it with my school crush at prom and it made my night/life (for a few weeks anyway). And OK, maybe it was a group dance session, but we held hands and physical contact is what muscle memories are made from.

b) It reminds me of taking my mom’s Suzuki Sidekick for joy rides with my friends, the windows rolled down, the tunes blaring, ending up in random destinations like…Uxbridge. I also travelled to Paris that summer where I’d experienced grown-up formalities that I (mis)took as luxuries (grocery shopping, booze, a flexible bedtime), and it was also where I went to a Ricky Martin autograph session and nearly died, so I was flying high with the feeling that my emerging life, like the song (and Ricky), was colourful, loud and loca.

2003 – “Crazy in Love” (Beyoncé) – Twenty years old. Bey’s and Jay’s song dropped during my first-ever summer job as a grass cutter for my hometown. The summer of the Bunny Massacre, in which I killed (accidentally!) a family of unsuspecting bunnies with a weed wacker. The summer in which Brianne Almost Died From Consuming a Mickey of Canadian Club Within 30 Minutes. ‘Twas the summer of blood, barf and Beyoncé, and I never forgot it.

There are so many songs that sing “summer” to me, so I compiled a playlist of ‘em. Happy listening!

This article originally appeared on She Does The City.

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5 Things

Here are the five things I am most grateful for this week: 

1. The Good Wife - When everything “cool” and “Emmy-worthy” is now on cable or Netflix, it’s so refreshing/relieving that there is a network drama that is, to say the least, awesome. Awesome acting, awesome writing, directing, etc. I’m finally catching up on Season 5 (almost done!) and it’s just solid television. Definitely one of the best dramas on TV. Explain yourself, Emmys!

2. "Why I Quit a Dream Job For My Real Job" - This is the title of an article I wrote for The Frisky just over a year ago when I quit my full-time editorial position. I went back to it as a sort of a reminder/kick in in the ass about the choices I’ve made over the last 12 months and whether I am living up to my goals and expectations. I also had the inclination (intuition?) to re-post the article on SheWrites, and I’m so happy I did. My one-year-old post has been going strong in that community and I’ve been receiving boatloads of support from across the globe. My little post is inspiring others, which, in turn, is inspiring me, and it’s been the reminder that I needed - I love writing, and I did make the best decision last year. 

3. The Desire Map - I am in LOVE with Danielle Laporte - even before Shailene Woodley put her on the pop culture map. I just think she’s cool, sexy and rad. I finally purchased her book, The Desire Map, and I am so excited to get touch with all my GOOD feelings and strive for my goals with SOUL. 

4. The Toronto Fringe Festival - I went to a Fringe play yesterday, my first of the season (tragically). I’ve been a part of multiple play festivals, including one Fringe, and it’s so important to support local artists. Putting on a play is hard work. HAAAARRRDDD. And these artists only want to share their talents and gifts with us, so luckily, there are fringe festivals to help them do that. So, pay the $12 or whatever, and support.  

5. Synchronicity - It’s real, it’s awesome and when you recognize it working in your life, everything starts to feel magical and starts making a little more sense. 

What are you most grateful for in your life this week?

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10 Ways to Cool Down This Summer in Toronto

Along with perfect warm summer days and summer nights, comes the dreadful yet inevitable “H” word: humidity. When you’re in the midst of the dog days of summer, Toronto is often long, hot and sticky without any relief in sight. Never fear: here are ten ways to cool down in Toronto this summer that don’t include cranking up your air conditioner (or the utility bill).


The Four Seasons’ Mist Garden
If you’re wandering around Yorkville during a heat wave and stumble upon the Mist Garden outside of the Four Seasons Hotel, don’t worry — that is not a mirage. The garden, with its Alice and Wonderland-like winding pathway and shrubbery, features a beautiful rose wall where translucent mist is released from a grate below every 10 minutes, floating out towards the rest of the garden. It’s refreshing, it’s beautiful, it’s basically Toronto’s oasis. The garden is open to the public and mistings last until 11 p.m.
Map & Address

Frozen Beer
There’s nothing like a cold beer in the summer, but what about a frozen beer? That sounds even better. The frozen brewskie is an ice cold beer topped off with a frozen version of the beer that is similar to soft serve ice cream. The topping comes out at -5 degrees Celsius and will help keep your beer chilly for about 20 minutes. Frozen beer can be found at the following Toronto spots:

Also seen inBest Boozy Slushies

Chill Ice House
For those rare summer days and nights when you long for the Ice Storm of yesteryear, head over to the brand new Chill Ice House. Opening in July, the lounge (which is basically an igloo) is the largest permanent Ice House in North America, always set at -5 C. Parkas and gloves are given upon entry, which will come in handy while sitting on the ice booths. The place is family-friendly from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., but transforms into an adult-only hang-out with a DJ pumping tunes and drinks served in glasses made of ice. For those who long for something less chilly, there is a “normal temperature” room in the back.
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Cabana Pool Bar
If you prefer the pool to the lake, and enjoy the atmosphere of Miami over Muskoka, then Cabana Pool Bar is the perfect place for you to cool off. The “day to night” party spot has enough space, including cabanas and daybeds available for reservation, to keep 2,500 sun worshippers happy. Along with beautiful views of the Toronto skyline, there’s dining on hand, as well as a tuck shop. Entrance is free Tuesday to Friday, $10 for pool access. For Saturdays and Sundays, entrance is $20, and pool access is $20.
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Cava’s Ceviche
Cava’s Spanish Mackerel ceviche verde, created by chef Chris McDonald, is a standout for its refreshing zest and citrus-y taste. Paired with tortilla chips and frisee salad, it’s the perfect cool-down dish for a hot day (especially if you pair it with a cool Margarita).
Map & Address
Also check out: Best Margaritas in Toronto

Bathurst Car Wash
Hose your car – and yourself – down at the Bathurst Car Wash. Not only does your car probably need it after our harsh winter, but washing your car is the sort of job that won’t have you melting in the heat. Make good use of the hose and soapy buckets of water. Pssst! It’s only $6.
Map & Address

Toronto Hiking 
For those who don’t mind to do a bit of exercise in the heat, you might want to check out the hiking trails featured on Toronto Hiking. The website, a resource providing trail info, maps and hiking ideas for Torontonians, features a Downtown Toronto Water Features Walk, which highlights the water fountains and waterfalls found around the city. It’s the perfect way to stay cool, while taking in the sights.
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Boozy Slushies at the Drake One Fifty
The Drake One Fifty is offering a range of refreshing  ‘Boozy Slushies’ this summer to quench your thirst and beat the heat. There’s the Chartreuse Swizzle, a mix of green chartreuse, wray & nephew white overproof, falernum, lime and pineapple juices, as well as the Coconut-Washed Basil Smash (a mix of coconut-washed gin, lemon, simple syrup and basil) and the Mai Tai. Grown-up slushies in the summertime? Sounds like a really cool night.
Map & Address
Best Boozy Slushies in Toronto
Best Summer Cocktails
Creative Cocktails in Toronto

The Swimming Pool at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King
For the first time ever, the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King is opening their hotel pool to the public. The rooftop pool, which has spectacular sights of the city, is open from June 6 until the end of the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 14), offering all types of potential star-gazing. Non-guests of the hotel can obtain a day pass for $39  (plus tax) for use of the pool area from Thursday to Sunday. There’s limited capacity, so reservations are strongly recommended.
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More Toronto Hotel Pools Open to the Public

IMAX at the Ontario Science Centre 
The promise of cool-blasting A/C should be enough to drag you to the movie theatre to enjoy a matinee or late-night movie. But, when the movie is called Under the Sea and it’s in IMAX, it’s safe to say that there is no place you’d rather be. The doc takes you under water to the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Triangle; you’ll be wondering why you’re so water-logged after the flick. Under the Sea runs all summer long.
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Movies & Showtimes

 The original article was published on toronto.com

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