E is for Expectations


That word, and the effects of that word, are soul crushers for me.

Do you want me to fail?
Do you want me to be upset?
Do you want me to judge myself harshly?

Expect me to do something. Expect me to be more.

Expectation is the root of all heartache. -William Shakespeare

One of my best traits is that I am a hard worker. When I open my life up to new avenues, whether it be a new position for work, or trying to conquer a weakness (like writing, ugh!), I do what needs to be done. I put in extra hours at work to overcome a learning curve, to get the science done, or try to catch up because I expected too much out of myself that week. I put in extra hours trying to think of words and how I could string those words into sentences so I could maybe, one day, write another article.

But when I feel like I am expected to put in the extra hours just because, I will under-preform. I will under-whelm.

There is a huge difference in results with the following pairs of statements:
1. I expect you to work 80 hours per week. (I will work 80 hours, but I will resent you.)
2. I expect you to get your work done. (I will work 80, 90, 100 hours, whatever it takes to get my work done.)

3. I expect myself to write an article a day. (Oh yeah! I’ll show you! … by never writing.)
4. I expect myself to write more than I usually do. (Easy-peasy. Writing one article is more than I usually write. But hey! I’m conquering something that is legitimately difficult for me.)

Is there such a thing as a negative and positive expectation? Because I feel that is what I just did there. In both pairs outlined above, the word “Expect” was front and center, but the outcomes were so vastly different.

Perhaps the difference, and the resentment, doesn’t stem from the word expect, but from the intention of that word. In the first scenario of both pairs, a rigid guide was established (you MUST do this in THIS timeline to be successful!) whereas in the second scenario, the guide was more fluid.


Maybe that is why I’m doing so much better … nay, so much more, when it comes to my fitness goals. I’m not expecting myself to exercise every single day. I’m not expecting myself to lose weight. Heck, I’m not even doing a “traditionally Nicole exercise routine” (you know, with weights and being hardcore and the like). I’m just expecting to have fun, and to move more, and maybe the weight will come off during the process.


Well, now my day has flipped completely around! Maybe I just needed to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening!


A is for Appetite ….. just kidding, it’s for Arnold Schwarzenegger

I am pretty excited to jump on this bandwagon, albeit a bit late. The premise? I’m not entirely sure it’s the same for everyone. There is an A to Z Challenge, where bloggers can subscribe and blog everyday of a month (i.e. using a letter of the alphabet every day) on a particular subject, such as April’s challenge on the subject of Survivor. My friend Rachel is also doing this challenge, and her blog (Under the Tapestry) is incredibly insightful. She got the idea from her friend Lara, who also makes themes for her challenges. Her latest one was “A Romantic Alphabet,” as Lara is a “romance author (with a scientific twist).”


Starting this challenge was a bit difficult. I wanted to pick something fantastic for the first letter of the alphabet; but, the more I thought about it, the more items I had to choose from. Do I write about my sister Amanda? My academic aptitude? How I was this close to joining the Army? So many choices for just one simple letter. Naturally, I decided not to do any of these, and instead focus on my appetite and how that brings me to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When I was younger, I was average build for a child. That is, until I was sent to live with my grandparents in Arizona when I was 6. It was then that my father, whom I was running from (long story that involves a lot of repressed memories …. that I am starting to remember), started telling me that my mother made me fat. I was 7.

This is me before being sent to live with my grandparents:
[From L-to-R: Reychl, Amanda, and Me …. we always dressed alike, whether we wanted to or not]

You see? Pretty average. I also had some straight hair at this age … which quickly changed by grade 4. But by grade 5, not only was I ‘fat’, I also made a friend who tamed my hair.

[Me, grade 5. Not fat and awesome hair. Is it bad that I think this is one of the best photos of me ever? I truly felt beautiful this day. Every boy in my class fell from their chairs when I walked in, and the girls stared and smiled. It was MY day and it was the BEST day.]

But, I say, what do you expect to happen when a child lives with grandparents? I missed my family, I was miles and miles away (seriously, I lived in Arizona and my family lived in Michigan), and I had no friends. So, I watched Top Gun every single day. Seriously. Every. Single. Day. I would even fall asleep next to a family portrait (of my aunts and uncles) staring at my mother. When the Easter Bunny came, he hid my Easter basket behind this portrait. He knew my sorrow. So, to recap, I missed everyone, I ate, and I sat on my butt watching Top Gun. Every day. …. until my sisters and mom joined me and we all caught chicken pox. It was beautiful misery.

But, I digress (did I mention the ADD thing?).

My dad was a pretty fit guy, and he was from ‘the old country’ (i.e. the former Czechoslovakia, the now Slovakia). When he lived there, he helped his family make marble caskets (which stayed above ground) and built many of the houses in the city (then village). He needed to stay fit just to survive his job; his life.

I don’t have many photos of my dad, but this is one of them.
[My dad and me, probably in 1982, which made him 32 years old. With all of those muscles.]

I keep talking about my dad like he isn’t here anymore, and that’s true. He died in 1998 (I was 16), and it still weighs on me. I still cry. So … call it “daddy issues” or whatever else, but Arnold Schwarzenegger reminds me of my dad. The accents aren’t entirely the same, but the humour is. And those muscles.

Arnold was completely driven from a young age; he wanted to make it to America and he knew bodybuilding was his ticket. My dad didn’t want to be in the military, he fled, and he ended up in Canada. Close enough.

I miss my dad. I miss him so much. Sometimes I wonder if it’s silly or unfounded because of my past, but I can’t help it. I miss him and I love him and I would give anything just to see him again and tell him those things. But I can’t.

So …….. it became a goal of mine to own every single Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Don’t laugh. I’m being serious. Plus, laughing would be mean, and I just poured my heart out. I have most of them; Arnold is credited for 54 titles, in which two are announced (hello, Triplets anyone?!), one is post-production (Terminator, YES!), and one is completed, making it 50 titles that are available. Some of the 50 titles also include television appearances, etc, so there aren’t really 50 movies. I need less tan 10 to complete my collection!


So, there you have it. I feel strange getting some of this off my chest (if you will), but hey, maybe this blog will be therapeutic.

I look forward to letting you all get to know me.

Um, excuse me? The colour of WHAT?!

I am part of a team of graduate students who are jointly teaching a Biochemistry class. It’s pretty cool, and I got this opportunity because I was 1 in 4 people who won a Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (MMoD) training grant. The other 3 MMoD candidates plus an additional graduate student make up this team and together, we are doing our best to teach sophomores scientific analysis and technical writing (the un-official name of this special topics course).

I own a lot of raggedy clothes, with lots of holes in my t-shirts, food stains all over the boob area, and pants with the crotch half gone (hey, it happens when you wear the same pants over and over again, and when your thighs touch.) Usually, I don’t care what I look like. When I am teaching a lecture/discussion based class, it turns out, I do care because I want to be taken seriously. This is when Kristi REJOICES because she can finally take me shopping (something I don’t like to do) and buy me new things. This is just another thing she loves and I don’t love (for more reference, I wrote an article on this here).

We have a coupon for $50 off a $100+ purchase at Younkers, so we go there first. I like Younkers because this store is the only store in the mall that sells the brand of pants I just love. What greets me when I enter the store? This kiosk:


The colour of skinny. That’s right, you didn’t mis-read that sign. You will notice at the very bottom of picture, some black jeans. Some very uncolourful, black jeans. The largest size on that table? A whooping 4. This kiosk was placed in the part of the store that does not sell “women’s” sizes (ugh, don’t get me started on this sub-classification). There was another kiosk next to this one saying “Dangerous curves ahead” (I couldn’t get a picture of this one because there were people standing in front of it.) This second kiosk also rubbed me the wrong way.

I wish, for once, that size was left out of marketing. If we are a size 4, we will find our way to the size 4 pants; and if we are a size 18, we will find our way to the size 18 pants. People are not stupid. But signs like this can hurt anyone.

I have to admit, at first, I kind of liked these signs. Until, I started thinking about who they were targeting and who they were excluding. We have the skinny table and the curvy table … but not the skinny with curves table or the skinny as a rail with no curves table or … you get the drift (I hope).

I put this out of my mind as we made it to “the fat section” as I like to call it. The section of the store I can call home and the section of the store I always hate. Why can’t I have the same prints and designs as the “skinny section”? Instead, my section of the store is usually filled with animal prints (because every heavy person wants to wear zebra print) or sweaters with cutesy animal embroidery on them (just like my mom wears). (No offense mom! She is seriously adorable in those sweaters.) But, lo and behold! I see fashionable, if I can be a judge of fashion, clothing this time! I grab a few shirts and head to the dressing room to see if I can tolerate anything this nice on me.

What is that? What do I see staring at me in the dressing room? THIS!

“WARDROBE MUST HAVES” …. an advert for full-body SPANX! What is spanx? They are modern corsets, and are worn to make you look slimmer.  Only, it seems that people never question where the fat goes. It goes in, folks. As in, into all of your precious organs, thereby placing an enormous burden on tissues such as your bladder and your lungs. Spanx are used to hold all of you in, so you don’t bulge out of your shirt/dress/pants/etc.

Needless to say, I felt like crap after shopping here. Kristi does a great job cheering me up, we even went to buy some tea from Teavana!

Younkers, you get an A+ for making me feel poopy. I just don’t understand why fat is the worst thing you can be. I agree with J.K. Rowling.

Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil, or cruel? Not to me.
-J.K. Rowling