Let’s talk. (Bell Let’s Talk day)

Let’s Talk.

Today is Bell Let’s talk day. For readers who aren’t Canadian. Bell Let’s Talk Day is an event promoted by the Bell Company. The company promotes talking about mental illness and reducing the stigma associated with it. For every text and mention of the #BellLetsTalk on social media today, January 25th, Bell donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives.

Image result for bell let's talk

Photo belongs to Bell Company

I think this is a great project. For some reason though I’ve never participated before but I’m going to remedy that this year.

Now why is it important to talk about mental health? For many reasons, but the main one in my opinion is that it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. According to The Canadian Mental Health Association 20% of Canadians will experience mental health illness at some point in their life. There are 36,478,469 people in Canada (according to worldometers.com) which means, assuming the statistics are correct, that’s around 7,295,693 people in Canada alone who experience mental illness in some point in their lives.

That’s a significant number of people. Yet it’s still something that’s not discussed as much as it should be. How do I know this? In my life so far I have suffered from both OCD and anxiety yet I can tell you that only maybe 2 of my friends know about this. One is my lifelong friend that I’ve had since second grade and the other is someone who also suffers from anxiety (I guess the cats out of the bag now though…). Why don’t I mention it more often you might ask. If I think it’s nothing to be ashamed of why don’t I speak about it? The reason for this is the connotations that are still stuck to most mental illness. I might have OCD and anxiety but that it does not mean the same thing to me than it does to someone who has never experienced it. Not everyone is accepting of people with mental illness, most often because they don’t know all the information. Then there’s the fact that some people generalize mental illness by the things they do know.

I will explain this better with an example of one of my pet peeves. Keep in mind that this is one personal example of a pet-peeve/ reaction I get that’s associated with anxiety that gets on my nerves, but that everyone is different and the same things might not bother someone else.

On multiple occasions people who know about my anxiety (family, doctors, friends, bosses etc…) will respond this way when I have a problem (I’ve mostly seen this when I let someone know I am not feeling well). “Are you sure it’s not just anxiety?” “Don’t worry, you’re probably just anxious”

These people mean no harm. There honestly trying to help. But to me it sounds like “your exaggerating, what you’re feeling, it isn’t real, you need to calm down” and let me tell you be it anxiety or not what I feel is as real to me as it will ever be. I am fully aware that when I am sick or under stress anxiety can be a contributing factor, but I when I feel unwell and the only cause is anxiety I know the difference between being sick and anxious and feeling sick because I am anxious. I learnt how to tell the difference a while ago.

So when you tell someone are you sure it’s not just anxiety, know that that does not help. It kind of undermines what I am feeling and also what will it achieve? What do you think is going to happen? I am going to be like oh, wow I had no idea, thank you for telling me how I feel, I will now press this magical internal button and make it stop! It doesn’t work like that I wish it did but it doesn’t.

So what can you say instead? In my opinion these are some good ones:

· Hey I see you aren’t feeling well. Can I help with anything.

· You aren’t feeling well? Did anything bring this on.

· I know you have anxiety is this part of it? (if answer is no accept it and don’t push it! No matter what you think the real issue is)

The main thing in all of these questions is not assuming you know what is going on. If the person says they aren’t feeling well and you perceive things that point to it maybe being anxiety but when you ask they say no don’t push your opinion on the other person, listen, be supportive of whatever they are feeling and even if they continue to deny having anxiety, let them. Whether they are telling the truth or not, just being there and talking things through or supporting them in what their feeling helps immensely! (at least it does for me)

So that’s one of my personal experiences with anxiety and an example of the point above. Now going back to my main point being that mental illness has many different connotations. Every mental illness has some stereotypes while some have a bit of truth in them, you need to take into account that everyone is different and reacts and or copes with mental illness in different ways. This means that there’s not one size fits all when it comes to mental illness. The best way to find out what a person is dealing with is to talk about it.

This discussion needs to go both ways. People with mental illness need to speak up and stop being afraid of what others might think. People who know of someone with mental illness have to create a welcoming environment where it’s OK and accepted that others have different ways to deal with things or that their battling something that no one else can “see” but themselves.

I admit I am scared of what others will think if I let my history with mental illness slip. It’s hard to know how they will react. But for change to happen, people on both sides need to speak out so that in the future our courage to talk about the subject will permit others to talk more freely and stop people from suffering alone for no reason. There’s no reason to be ashamed. My past of OCD and my present with anxiety is a part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me or what I can do. The more people speak up and discuss the subject, the more people will understand it better and the more people will be able to see that while it can sometimes suck (because honestly I’m not going to lie, living in past with OCD or anxiety currently is no a walk in the park or bring fond memories) it’s not a determinant on a person’s character or what they can do. It’s matter of trying to understand what they’re going through.

So what are we waiting for? We got some talking to do. Because I don’t know about you but while I know a fair bit about OCD and anxiety (which this blog post barely scratched the surface of), having experienced both, I know next to nothing on the multiple other mental health problems out there. So let’s all be journalists and uncover the true story on what people are living with. Let’s open a discussion and reduce the stigma on mental illness, and in the process create some understanding and acceptance in a world that is in desperate need of it.

Women’s March-Ottawa

So today I went to the Ottawa’s Women’s March in support of the one in Washington DC. We had 10,000 people show up, which I’m told is pretty freaking great for Ottawa. But in other places the numbers where even higher. I read that there were 750,000 in Los Angeles and another 500,000 in Washington.

Photo of the March in Ottawa

Now let’s start by talking about those numbers. This Women’s March was present in 7 continents, 600 marches across the world, with 30 in Canada alone. This says something big. It means people across the world are standing together in protest of certain ideals and actions that have become more prevalent or noticeable following Trump becoming president.

I marched for human rights, for understanding and unity among people. In my opinion your skin colour, sexual orientation, sex, ethnicity, religion, etc. doesn’t matter. What matters is how we deal with issues in our world, how we come together and work on making the world a better place for everyone no matter who they are. The way to do this is by promoting understanding among all the groups mentioned above and the countless others trying to get there voice heard. The more this is done, the more people can work together and not against each other to work on main issues the world faces as a whole; for example, climate change. I’m not naïve. I know some people might never get along and that some have contradicting ideas and values, but the key word is respect.By learning about various world views and trying to understand them and why diverse groups feel the way they do, I feel violence would decrease in a significant way.

Starting place of the March. Human rights monument Ottawa.

Starting place of the March. Human rights monument Ottawa.

So that’s why I marched, for everyone that is unfairly treated and I can tell you the experience was one I won’t soon forget. It wasn’t like in the movies or in the stories where I got there and I was filled with a sense of moral requirement and fate and new bitter determination. No, it was something that was a bit more indescribable. I always knew I wanted to help others but, marching with those thousands of people, I saw how I wasn’t alone in that idea, far from it. There are so many great people in the world, the news tends to show us the bad things, the violence and the bombs, but I would like to see the everyday heroes, the everyday bravery, I know it’s out there, I always knew it was, but today was a wakeup call, it’s all around me, I just have to look more closely. I also know it’s in me too, like in all those other people everywhere around the world. Because of this I know I can no longer just sit quietly. If all the people marching today did an effort every day or every chance they get to make positive change in the world, imagine the impact! You don’t need to be in position of power to make change, every little act of kindness helps in the big picture, which in my mind means a powered crowd of people aiming to create good in the world is needed now more than ever and has the ability to create a substantial impact.

Poster carried by a man with a young baby girl in his arms.

“Raising out Daughter to tear down walls” Poster carried by a man with a young baby girl in his arms.

Through this event I also saw some things that I think were not acceptable, which motivated me that much more to make some change. For example, some peoples comments in response to the Women’s March which where racist, sexist, and outright rude (rude is actually too nice of a word) were a great example of how understanding and respect need to be promoted.

Another thing that made me think in relation to the Women’s March is portrayal. The media is really a powerful tool and I’ve noticed that many channels and news networks have a certain political agenda (even if it’s very subtle). Some channels boasted over 3-4 million people participating in these women marches across the world, while some said thousands of people participated. The vast difference between thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions is significant and can lead to think that about what people saying 3-4 million and the people saying thousands are trying to communicate.

On that note here are two stories circulating the net. I just mentioned media agency so who knows what’s real or fake but either way these two stories packed a punch and sparked some musings.

#1 It seems some Canadians were turned away at the US border when telling the officers that they were on the way to the Women’s March. The article (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/01/21/brit-and-canadian-trying-to-attend-womens-march-on-washington-turned-away-at-us-border.html) goes on to mention how they didn’t give a valid reason for turning them away. I of course don’t know the full story but I read another article from another newspaper that recounts this story happening to two or three other sets of people. The borders comment that they “admit one million people into the U.S. every day and only turn away about 600” seems odd since there are multiple stories of this happening to people attending the march. I won’t speculate on what this means because I don’t know enough. But I shared this so that you can make your own conclusions.

#2 A member of Trumps political group, Sean Spicer, told the press that the pictures of Trumps inauguration, the one where you see the small crowd for trumps inaugural day, and the much larger one for Obama’s day were faked. I mean come on! This is complete BS. I’ve read countless accounts on how the turnout for Trump was much less than Obama, then there’s the fact that Trump did not win the popular vote while Obama did (correct me if I’m wrong). Then, to top all this off, look at the millions of people marching in protests the day after he is elected. So really the fact that they are trying to pretend that the turnout to the Trumps inaugural day had this amazing turnout seems a tad flawed. The fact that Sean Spicer goes on and says and I quote “It is shameful and wrong” to lessen Trump’s inauguration is utterly ridiculous. I mean if it was a successful inauguration you wouldn’t need to police peoples opinion on the amount of people who showed up. Just a thought …

womens march pink

Photo found on Nymag.com which credit – Photo: Courtesy of Twitter/kylesingerrr

So to close, I am not from the United States. I am Canadian and proud. But Trumps election can impact more than just the US. It can impact many people in many different ways (economy, policies, violence, racism. etc.). The harmful ideals that are becoming associated with him cannot become the norm. Today’s march wasn’t in my opinion about Trump, even thought it was sparked by his election. It’s about so much more. People need to stand together and work towards a better future( I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true). I know if everyone comes together like today’s marches show is possible, anything can be achieved. Let’s use this power we have to create good.

Halloween act of Kindness

Hello everyone,

This post is a bit late but better late than never. 🙂

As mentioned in my previous post on acts of kindness. Every month or two months I am going to do one bigger act of kindness.

This month I decided on a Halloween theme.

I started to think on possible ideas and somehow the idea came to me that, boy, I missed going out there and coming back home with a bunch of candy(I have a big sweet tooth). Which got me to thinking of the parents following their children out there all night going from house to house and freezing their butts off, because dear readers where I live in Canada most years you need a coat under your costume or a turtle next and two sweaters. That’s when the idea came to me, I was going to do something for the parents. I settled on handing out hot chocolate to all the parents who wanted some in order for them to warm up a bit for their night of walking in the cold with their children.

I got hot chocolate packets from the dollar store, cups from the dollar store and mini marshmallows from yet again the dollar store. Then I set up a little table and added some Halloween decorations I already owned plugged in my kettle with an extension cord and voila!


As you can see from the picture it turned out pretty well and parents where all really happy to have it, even those who passed on the hot chocolate walked away saying wow that’s a great idea and had a smile on their face.

Another big bonus is that I actually got to talk and get to know my neighbors some more. While some I know and see often there’s many that I’ve only seen passing by. It’s sad that in this day and age you might wave and say hi when you walk by but you don’t really get to know most of your neighbors. In the past neighbors while not always the best of friends where like a community you knew who was who by name and you sometimes got together, with the modern age of technology I feel many people have forgotten how to just walk up to someone be friendly and start a conversation or it now feels more awkward. I have more to say about this to prove and develop this idea but I’m going to save it for another post as not to get too off track.

All in all I am happy with how this act of kindness turned out. It made others happy and made my day much better too.  I was so upset when I got back home from my university classes(it’s a long story I won’t go into it) that I felt there was no way I would do it. But I pushed myself to follow through with my plan and in minutes I was happy and smiling, my worries weighing less on me.

I encourage others who celebrate Halloween to give it a try next year. Get to know your neighbors, spread some kindness and happiness and have a more enjoyable Halloween night in the process.

Until next time


Acts of Kindness-1

Hello everyone,

Here is my first post for my acts of Kindness series. If you want more information on it please check my previous post here.

The other day I went to the Museum of Art for a class I am taking. I was a bit upset as I had to take time out of my very busy week to take an extra 20 minutes bus ride which would make my bus ride home over 1h10 minutes just to fill out 5 questions on a piece of paper. Then on the way there I took the wrong bus and had to make a big detour. I got there shoulders aching from my too heavy backpack and went in none too happy.

Then I walked in and my mood got a little brighter. Memories of my countless trips there from my days in the specialized visual arts program in high school came back to me. And I realized I was being silly to be so unhappy. Determined to turn it around I greeted everyone I saw with a big smile.

It’s amazing what a positive attitude and a smile can do. It changed the whole course of my day and everyone around me seemed to cheer up a bit too.

Which brings me to my acts of kindness. Now they will seem small but part of documenting these acts of kindness is to see that it doesn’t take much effort to be kind and just seeing someone smile and be happy because of you is worth it.

1. Be kind to the guards.

I don’t know about other art museums but In the one in my home town security officers are stationed a bit everywhere in the exposition halls. I feel that it must be boring standing there all day watching people passing you like you don’t exist. I have always been scared to make eye contact or even smile to these the guards scared I would be distracting them,bothering them or that they would think a smile meant I was up to something. That day however I started with a simple small smile. The reaction? The guard was not angry at me or looking at me disapprovingly he just, smiled back.

And that made me happy. I then brought it to the next level and tried just saying hi to a guard,then asking them directions. Every time they would be super helpful and kind and would reward me with a big smile.

By the end of my brief trip to fill out my questionnaire I said goodbye and they all seemed more happy then when I walked in and I was happier too for I had proven to myself that a happy mood is contagious and that making someone smile is not hard,definitely worth it and that it also made me happy to have triggered that smile.

2. Fill out the survey

As I was walking out a smile on my face and a women at a desk asked me if I was done my visit I said yes and she asked me if I could take a minute to fill out a survey.

My first thought was no. I never like filling those things out and I was thaught to be wary of people trying to cell stuff or of those people calling to ask you to answer some questions. But this girl seemed nice and it struck me that it must be a hard job to ask people all day long to fill out a survey with none too kind responses or no thank yous being the main response.

So I hesitantly said yes depending on the questions and it ended up being a great decision. The survey was anonymous and just asked basic questions about satisfaction. It was short and demanded very little effort and through this I got to learn that this girl at the desk had taken a class with the same professor that I was doing the museum assignment with. We talked a bit and I left  having made yet another person happy.

There are the two simple acts of kindness I made on my museum visit. The main thing I learned is that attitude is key. As soon as I looked at the positive side and tried spreading some kindness and happiness the day ended up being a great one. I left 20 times happier than when I came in and I made at least 5 people a bit happier even if it was for a brief moment.

For me that was definitely worth it. Try it out you may find that being kind in even the simple ways mentioned above can change your day completely around.

Until next time


Women History Month

Hello Everyone,

I don’t know if you’ve heard but this months is Women’s History Month. There’s a great trend on twitter with the hashtag #becauseofher. People are tweeting about women who have influenced their lives or the course history.

Gender equality is real problem there is many stereotypes and expectations for both sexes. This causes many problems like self esteem issues,discrimination, unrealistic expectations(I.e the ideal of the perfect women body image) etc…  I won’t go into it too much in this post as I have a more detailed post on this issue planned.

The important thing is that it is important for girls of all ages to have positive role models, to let them know they can achieve whatever they want and they deserve the same respect as everyone else does.

And because of this I will be sharing some of my favorite posts from this hashtag every week through October and hopefully give you  some inspiration.

Here’s are this weeks picks:


Wow, to have done this as a woman in the 1800’s.


In the first Olympic Games that women could compete, Ethel Catherwood won an gold medal in high jump.


We thank Canadian women for demonstrating to the world the true capabilities of women everywhere


“women are physically too fragile to stand the pace of university”?

 *** Go check this last one for a great video of someone discussing the quote above.

What did you think of this weeks picks? Do you have any stories of a women who has changed your life or of a role model you adore? Let me know in the comments and get involved in the #becauseofher on Twitter!

More of my favorites will be posted next week!

Thanks for reading.

Acts of Kindness Introduction

Hello everyone,

I mentioned earlier in my first post that I would be doing posts on acts of kindness.

Here is more about that!

Have you ever had someone open the door for you or let you ahead of them in line. It made you smile right? These are simply acts that can bring happiness or smiles really easily. And not only does it make the person receiving the kindness happy but it also makes the person giving the out kindness happy.

So why is it not done very often by everyone. I mean it seems like a win win situation isn’t it?

My thought is that most people are often too much into personal issues and don’t see those opportunities of kindness pass them by. Everyone is guilty of this at one point or another including me. Sometimes I am on the bus texting a friend and don’t realize that there is someone who is struggling to stand in a moving bus right beside me. If I took the time to take in my surroundings I would have seen the opportunity to be kind and offer her or him my seat.

The other main reason I hear from people for not doing acts of kindness is that they are too time consuming or difficult.

So this is where my acts of kindness initiative comes in. Every week I will be doing 2-4 acts of kindness and reporting them on the blog. This is will show that being kind is beneficial to yourself and others and that it doesn’t always need to take a lot of effort There are so many different possibilities for acts of kindness that vary in length and difficulty that there’s something everyone can do. I will also report on how looking for the opportunity to be kind will hopefully make me be more observant of the people and events around be and in the process make me learn new things.049

Hopefully these Acts of Kindness posts will encourage you dear readers to join in and start spreading some kindness and happiness of your own.

If you do let me know in the comments or use #PoweredCrowd on twitter

To conclude in the words of a famous talk show host “See you soon and be kind to one another”

Welcome and What this blog is all about

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog!

I am so happy that you decided to stop by!

Are you wondering why I started this blog? What the blog is about? What is it’s purpose? Well those are a very good questions (You’re all very smart readers I can tell). Let’s jump into it right now!

*** Just so you know this will be a longer post that usual, I really want to give you the full picture of what this blog is all about. If you want to skip the backstory go to paragraph 7. ; )

I have always wanted to help others. The first example of this that I can remember is when I was very young, probably around 10. I read a story in one of those “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books about a child fundraising money to send to people in need in Africa. It inspired me to make posters and try to get some friends involved. I remember having a small clipboard with all kind of notes and plans. Unfortunately it never progressed much more than that. Since then, I did lots of volunteering and other such things but not much beyond that, though that dream to make a difference and create positive change for people suffering in the world was always there.

Last year I was in class at University and someone came in, talking about volunteering experiences abroad to help those in need. I thought to myself, I am in good enough health to go, I have a whole year to fund raise money, I’ve always wanted to do this, so why not now? A year of research, saving money and preparations later I found myself in Cambodia for a most amazing two weeks of volunteering.

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Then a week after my return to Canada, I went to work for the whole summer in an all girls summer camp, where girl empowerment was a topic often talked about. Needless to say all this stirred my inner self that has always wanted to do change.

But then University started up again, I felt like my life consisted of work, homework, class and sleeping. I wanted to do something, not sit all day in class! I had made big plans to start making positive change since last year and now I felt like school was a chore. It was really bringing me down. Every time I thought about class or homework I felt anxious. I guess I felt like I had to put things on hold until I finished my studies and that made me sad. I was conflicted, I know how education is a privilege not everyone has and how lucky I am to be in University, but I also knew that I couldn’t wait to graduate and start learning the way I learn best, by doing, by having discussions, by interacting (more on learning styles in another post). I could tell if I didn’t get out of this funk my grades would suffer, BIG time.

Now let’s back up a bit Months ago I heard of this thing called “One Young World” where young leaders from 196 countries who want to make a positive impact gather somewhere in the world for a four day conference. This year it was in my home town. I thought yes! This is what I want to do, it’s perfect! How do I get the chance to participate? Then I saw that you needed to apply and get accepted based on your impact in your community or in other initiatives. I immediately thought, well I haven’t done enough for that and the idea was sadly pushed aside.

Image result for one young world

Now you might be thinking, well goodness Maya you have wrote us this long story, how does all this come together? This is how it all started clicking into place. First someone I knew got the amazing opportunity to be an observer at the conference. Then I had the biggest low about school work and walked out of my class, that day or a day later I tuned into the opening ceremony for the conference online to see if I could see that person I knew on the podcast and, as I was falling asleep, I got the idea for this blog.

As I started developing my idea, it was like a domino effect. I realized, hey, I might not have a brilliant idea today on how to make a big positive change but what I can do is start something today, start doing my best to help others and bit by bit grow a movement. I also realized that I can do school work and all of that stuff I find hard while pursuing something I’ve wanted to do my entire life, something that makes me happy. (seriously is there a better feeling that doing good for someone and seeing them smile?) The best part is, I have already noticed that starting this blog and project is making me appreciate school more, it’s encouraging me to get my school work done so I can have more time to work on this blog and most of all its making me happier because I am FINALLY!!! doing what I have always wanted to do. I’m not delusional I now this is going to be hard work, lots of ups and downs, but the point is I am starting somewhere.

And so can you, this blog will not only cover my journey to making a positive change but hopefully encourage you to join me in doing some good in this world, to spread some kindness and encourage happiness. You can expect some posts on me doing random acts of kindness, guest posts from people dedicated to positive change, my progress in building a platform to help the most people I can, inspiring initiatives from around the world, ways you can help in your community, and more.

I also want to make this as interactive as I can. Have you had someone be kind to you? Have you done a good deed you think other people can be inspired by? Do you have a cause for positive change that you want to share (gender equality, mental health, the right to clean water, etc..)? Let me know in the comments, tweet it with the hashtag #poweredcrowd and look out for more ways to spread kindness initiatives around the world in the Get Involved page, which will be updated often.

Most things start small but can become big. I am a visual person so I see it like this, imagine taking a handful of snow, you form a ball you look around and see nothing but white, you don’t know where to start you want but know you want to get rid of as much of that white expanse of nothingness as possible so you take your tiny ball and start rolling it, you suddenly see a little patch of happy green grass and as you roll the snow ball gets bigger and starts collecting more and more snow, letting more and more of that green grass shine through and before you know it the ball is so big that a friend comes and helps to push it, and then another friend joins in, and another ,and finally, together, the ball is so big that you’ve cleared the whole white expanse of snow and see the grass.

If we all commit to spreading kindness and being part of a powered crowd dedicated to positive change we can and will create this snowball effect and help change the world. We just need to start somewhere to make that ball and push see how much good be can create.

Let’s end this post with one last question.

Are you up to changing the world and be a part of this powered crowd?