Reunion…20 years in the making. #YMCCommunity

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20year reunion 20 years ago, I finally broke free from the prison that was high school.

Those five years of secondary education were probably the most uncomfortable years of my life. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

I spent a good chunk of those years trying to fly below the radar only to surface on occasion where I was the target of ridicule from a few of my peers. Most of us veered off into cliques where we made new friends and turned on our old ones. Unfortunate, but that’s how the teenage mind works and it’s a form of survival to make it through until the end of high school.


I was fortunate enough to get out of Dodge early. I had enough credits to graduate early, so there was no reason for me to hang around any longer. But because I did, I missed out on all of the graduation events that occurred from then until the end of the school year. It wasn’t likely that I would partake in any of the festivities, but to be completely unaware of what events were happening, goes to show how little I was missed.

Fast forward 10 years. Not much had changed for me. I was in a newish relationship, but not married, no kids and no career to brag about. I was aware of a 10 year reunion being put on, but when I saw the RSVP list, I decided against going. In my eyes, 10 years wasn’t long enough for people to either have an established career, get married, have kids or better yet “grow up”.

No one revealed their secret crush on me from high school.

No one revealed their secret crush on me from high school.

Between those last 10 years up until now, I have come to terms with the memories that haunted me. I forgave those who treated me poorly. I now know why they did and said what they did and hope that the things that made them feel the need to be cruel to others back then, have gone away or improved and made them stronger people on the inside.

Facebook has allowed me to connect with people that I would have never considered a friend back then. I have seen snippits of their lives and allowed them to see mine. Maybe creating a better understanding of how each other gets along in this world. I have even connected with people who I knew from my first elementary school (which I only attended for 2 years), but was reacquainted with when our schools merged in grade 11. They had no idea who I was, but I remembered them.

Browns Socialhouse

Browns Socialhouse

Browns Socialhouse in Lynn Valley was the venue for our event, where we were treated to an array of delicious nibblies that would make your mouth water. The atmosphere was great and I would definitely come back for lunch, dinner or just drinks and appies with some friends. The extra bonus is, I went to school with the owners, so supporting some old school mates is definitely on my “Pay It Forward” list. Browns Socialhouse has 29 locations in Canada and Scotty Browns can be found in 3 locations in Washington State.


Seeing the faces at our 20 year reunion, was a flashback indeed. Some people were a little unrecognizable, some looked the same, but everyone looked older. Some of the guys acted like their younger selves when they got together, old flames chatted about the past, former school chums reconnected and had a laugh, but more importantly, those of us who were intimidated by our past, were able to actually converse with people they would never have dreamed of talking to.


Throughout the night, we ate, drank and were merry. I arranged for imageCube Photobooth and Videobooth to set up a photobooth so that we could capture some great memories of the night. This was such an awesome idea! They brought along props for us to wear and we had so much fun taking pictures! I highly suggest that for your next event you hire imageCube Photbooth and Videobooth. You and your guests will have so much fun and it saves you from having to spend the night as the event photographer.

Clowning around with a few friends...and maybe an old boyfriend ;)

Clowning around with a few friends…and maybe an old boyfriend 😉

I also worked my way around snapping shots of the alumni, so that we could share the evening with the grads that were unable to attend. I’m hoping for another reunion in 5-10 years, so that those that couldn’t attend or were unaware of the reunion, can come out and reconnect and relive the old days.

A roaming photographer to capture more candid pics of the alumni and a group shot for prosperity, are definitely on my list of “Must Haves” for the next one. And just to bring us back in time, we need to have the top tunes from 1994 playing in the background.

Me and my dearest, oldest friend.

Me and my dearest, oldest friend.

Have you attended or will you attend your high school reunion?

Adolescence…had to figure that one out on my own. #GDayforGirls #YMCCommunity

Entering the realm of adolescence was a scary journey for me.

I was never given “the talk”, but instead learned everything about the Birds and the Bees from the sex ed teacher that showed up one day when I was in grade 7.

We watched the 1970’s graphic video (they had converted it from the movie projector reel, by now) about what happens to your body and emotions when you hit puberty. The room was full of “Ew!”‘s, giggles, notes being passed and at the end, the obvious question that “anonymous” asks during the Q & A part of the discussion. “What’s a…?”

Once I entered high school, I immediately became quite shy. There were kids feeding in from a few different elementary schools and it terrified me. I had intended on taking drama classes, but opted for art classes because of pressure from my family. In elementary school, I was involved in school plays, choir, band, a lip sync contest, I even wrote a play based on the teachers and principal and cast my fellow classmates to portray them. I wouldn’t consider myself part of the popular group, nor the kids that got picked on…badly. I pretty much flew under the radar, but was the butt of ridicule more times than I care to remember.

I was overweight, still learning how to do my hair and make-up, and VERY self conscious. One boy even announced loudly in class one day, that I “had more chins than the Chinese phonebook” and another time, a girl wanted to see what size overalls I was wearing, so that she knew which size she should buy for herself, so she grabbed onto the back of my pants in front of a crowd and tried to look down as I spun around trying to loosen her death grip.


First Year of High School. Grade 8, circa 1989.

I had enrolled in a cooking class, but when I saw who my fellow classmates were, I immediately transferred out and took PE.

Once in an art class that I was taking, we had to apply pieces of plaster casting to our faces and make a mask that we were to paint. I froze in terror when the teacher had us begin our project. I couldn’t let anyone see me without my makeup! I discreetly told her of my fear, and she suggested that I come in early the next day before classes started and she would apply it for me and I could put my make up on before anyone saw. I will NEVER forget this teacher, as she seemed to be the only person that was sympathetic to my plight.

I remember getting my first period at school one day in grade 8. Fortunately it was at the end of the day, so I wadded up some toilet paper and made it home before it became a problem.

My Mum had a supply of pads in our bathroom cupboard, so I just used hers. I think afterwards, my sister got some for me.

The following month, I was visiting my Dad when my period returned. Fortunately, I was also visiting my aunt, so she took me to get some pads. But while I was with my Dad, I couldn’t even throw the pads in his garbage, I wrapped them up, put them in my suitcase and took them home with me to throw out.

Being a teenager wasn’t too bad, but it also wasn’t smooth sailing. I was never able to eat in front of strangers or peers until I was 30 years old.

This year is my 20 year high school reunion and a small part of me is fearful of seeing the people that weren’t very kind to me.

High School Graduation 1994

High School Graduation 1994

I graduated early because I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. I went to my graduation ceremony, but did not attend any grad events or the grad dinner itself. I’m certain that I wasn’t missed. I also did not go to my 10 year reunion because I felt that 10 years wasn’t long enough for people to “grow up” and I hadn’t found myself yet.

I never want my children to feel the sadness, embarrassment or fears that I did. I will do my best to make them strong individuals, who are able to stand up for what they believe in, but at the same time be sensitive to others and appreciate who they are and what they have.

The kids & I

The kids & I

Funny though, the ugly ducklings tend to grow into swans when they get older. Not only in their appearance, but they grow up to have empathy for the new generation of ugly ducklings and they’re the ones who give strength to the underdogs. They see people for who they are beyond their outer layers and they’re the first ones to weed out the bad seeds when they see peoples true sides.

G Day is a new global social movement anchored by day-long events that celebrate and empower girls aged 10-12 as they transition into adolescence. Conceived by Lunapads Co-Founder Madeleine Shaw, the first G Day will take place Monday, April 28, 2014 at the Villa Amato Ballroom (3rd floor, 88 E. 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC V5T 1A1). Tickets are $75 and the event is limited to 300 girls.

To find out more or to get involved visit: and follow the hashtags #gdayforgirls and #gdaystories.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Au Naturel vs. Make-up

I started wearing make-up back in Elementary school.

The start of becoming a woman.

The start of becoming a woman.

Not because I needed it, but because the tween magazines back then were very popular amongst the girls in my school and they contained “How-To’s” for putting on make-up and which colours suited your eyes, etc.

One of my best friends would always get the coolest gifts for her Birthday and Christmas, usually which consisted of a multi-colour make-up compact complete with everything required to put on a full face of make-up.

We would go in to the girls bathroom with her make-up and the tween magazines and try to re-create what we saw on the pages and for the most part (at least in our 11-12 year old minds) we looked good. What pre-pubescent boy wouldn’t take interest and want to sneak in a kiss behind the bushes after school?

Magazines from the 80's.

Magazines from the 80’s.

This was my introduction in to the world of cosmetics.

Upon entering the institution of high school, I noticed that more girls were wearing make-up and had their hair done nicely. These were the popular girls. I wanted to be one of them. I would get up early everyday and make sure that my make-up was perfect and the not a strand of hair was out of place. It didn’t make me popular, but I felt that it kept me in the “neutral zone”, so that I wouldn’t get picked on. I still got picked on, but not because I was “ugly”, but because I was overweight.

Getting picked on.

Teenagers can be so cruel.

I remember being in grade 9 and a cute boy asked me to be his girlfriend. He was a nice guy and I really liked him. He would come to my school after class and wait by my locker for me. The popular girls couldn’t believe it and even tried to convince him that they’d be better off with them instead of me. He didn’t fall for it. I thank him for that to this day.

Jumping ahead a couple of years to grade 11, I was in an art class and the project that we were doing was to take plaster cast material and make a mask of our face to later paint. I was mortified and on the verge of tears. I would have to be make-upless in front of my classmates and one of the most popular guys, that picked on me, was in my class!!! After everyone started, I went up to my teacher, discretely, and expressed my fear. She sympathized with me and suggested that I come in before school started the following day and she would do it for me and I would have enough time to put my face back on before anyone saw me.

Great teacher!

Great teacher!

If anyone asked me who my most memorable teacher was, I’d definitely have to say her because she was the most kind and helpful woman to me during my most trying years. This is also the teacher who suggested that I take a Make-up Artistry Program once I graduated. Which I did. Funny enough, I didn’t take the course because of fashion make-up, it was because I wanted to do the Special Effects Make-up. Now THAT is my passion.

So after completing the Make-up Program, I managed to get a few jobs, but they were VERY boring ones. Subsequently, this led to the demise of my Make-Up Artist career path. I did not want to work at a cosmetics counter.

Makeup Artist at work.

Makeup Artist at work.

Jump ahead 19 years, and the idea of being a MUA gets rekindled. I have spent all these years perfecting MY look, so I am familiar with day make-up as well as evening looks. But cosmetics have come a long way since I finished school and the techniques and cosmetics themselves have evolved and I am standing here unfamiliar and overwhelmed. The investment in starting up a Make-up Artistry business is a pretty big one because there are so many different skin types and skin colours, that your kit would be massive to accommodate all your clients. I think for the time being, I’ll stick to being my own make-up artist.

Do you go au naturel or would you not be caught dead going out without “putting your face on”?