To Prospective MoveU’ers

Right now, many high school students are looking at their offers of acceptance and making big decisions. Part of that decision is considering what a university has to offer, lifestyle-wise (hey, university is more than just academics).

Staying active is crucial to your university experience. So to any of you prospective student readers out there, let me share with you some of the best aspects of U of T St. George campus.

The Athletic Centre
Ah, the good ol’AC. If you’re looking for a gym to work out in, or to take drop-in and registered classes that range from Parkour to Pilates, you’re covered. This place is legitimate — there is a dance studio (which I am currently taking ballet classes in), a 50-feet Olympic pool, field house, spinning room, weight room and various other rooms filled with brand new, and top of the art exercise equipment, you can spend days exploring this behemoth of a building.

Lo and behold, the Athletic Centre. VIA PHYSICAL.UTORONTO.CA

The Athletic Centre is also near another behemoth — the concrete peacock library of our time, Robarts. Need a break from studying to go work out, or vice versa? The buildings are about three minutes away from each other. How convenient to your academic and athletic career in university!

Does it not look like a peacock though? VIA SCE.LIBRARY.UTORONTO.CA

Hart House
Personally, the fact that you can be able to say to people that the gym you go to is in a castle-like building adds more cred to what Hart House is. People call this building Hogwarts for a reason: tons of stairs and arched windows. Although this gym isn’t as spacious as the Athletic Centre, it’s a gem on the U of T campus. I love the coziness of the small weight room, and the fact that the running track is just above the gymnasium, where many drop-in and registered classes take place. Most of all, it’s located at the heart of the U of T campus, and which makes it easy to travel to.

Ye olde Hart House. VIA HARTHOUSE.CA

MoveU Passport/Co-Curricular Record

The University of Toronto has introduced the co-curricular record, which is a transcript that keeps track of your activity and participation on campus. How can I build my CCR, you ask? Participate in extra-curriculars, work in jobs on campus, and take part of CCR-recognized events and programs, such as the MoveU Passport. The MoveU Passport, as I explained in my previous post, is an initiative where taking part in weekly MoveU events and getting active will count toward your CCR. Past events held by the MoveU Passport include Dance Conditioning, Table Tennis, and many more in this drop-in schedule! I don’t know about you, but having a flawless CCR is another reason worth going to the gym for!

The best part about all of these places and programs?
You’ll be able to meet people and make new friends through being healthy and active on campus.

Cheesy, but it’s true!

If you prospective students want to ask any questions about MoveU, feel free to ask away in the comment section!

—Amanda

 

On A Magic Bus

One of the great things about university is the endless opportunity to experience, learn, and engage with new perspectives and worldviews. Last Saturday I went on a Multi-Faith Centre hosted event, a Bus Tour of Houses of Worship in Toronto and the GTA. I saw a poster for it at Hart House a week ago. The tour visited a Sikh Gurdwara, an Islamic Mosque, and a Christian Presbyterian Church.

The bus tour left from Hart House at 10 am. Everyone had to register before hand, and as we boarded the bus, the organizer checked our names from the list. We were given name tags and encouraged to speak with the people sitting in front and behind us. The bus was packed.

I talked with an exchange student from Paris, France, who had been a little undecided whether to come to Canada or the United States for her term abroad, but she said she was enjoying her decision very much. She registered for the bus tour because it allowed her to explore Toronto and Canada in a safe and comfortable way and experience the variety of communities and cultures that live here.

We arrived at the Sikh Gurdwara first. The building reminded me of a library mixed with a gymnasium. It was very quiet and clean, and we had to remove our shoes and don shawls to cover our heads. Our Sikh guides, a young woman and an older man, gave us a tour of the different prayer rooms, and eventually led us to the cafeteria where they were offering lungar, a free meal to which all are welcome. On the floor, we ate vegetarian curry and naan bread and vegetables tossed in a special batter. It was delicious! The Sikh religion believes in inclusivity, equality, and good will to all of humanity.

We got back on the bus and drove a short ways and arrived at the Islamic Mosque. Welcomed by a very cheerful and entertaining volunteer, we discovered that the building was also a community outreach centre, a registered private school, and a place of worship. Inside the prayer room, I was surprised by the lack of symbols and images. The room was plain and undecorated. Our host explained that individual prayer is integral to Islam, and so they don’t have intermediary symbols and signs. The religion is largely about how to be a good person.

Our final destination was the Christian Presbyterian Church. I went to church when I was younger, and I recognized the smell of old wood, the dim light of stain glass windows, the Bibles on the backs of the pews. But I know very little about Christianity. For instance, I thought the Gospel was a song. Nope. The Church employee cleared that up, explaining that the Gospel is the triumph over evil, and that Church is the celebration of the Gospel. She also told us that the church is involved with local Toronto charities, offering Out of the Cold and ESL programs.

All in all, the Bus Tour of Houses of Worship brought to my attention the vastness of my own ignorance. But in a good way. I realized that the opportunity for understanding, and the potential to explore and learn is open to me, and to every student, here at U of T. We have such an unbelievably magnificent invitation to open our eyes and see the world beyond our own life-styles, beliefs, and understandings. It was a great day. Plus I got a free lunch!

‘Til next time, U of T, stay diamond.

- Stephen.

Cooking for yourself: A delicious adventure

We were greeted at the door by the server who was also the chef at the restaurant. He sat us down on the couch and told us to feel at home while he cooked our meal. On his way to the open concept kitchen, he told us we were also welcome to use the TV and the wireless internet.

The restaurant prides itself on dishes characterized by speed, taste, large quantities and value. The main entrees on the menu included mac n’ cheese with a side option of canned tuna, instant noodles and pizza pockets. Dessert offerings ranged from a spoonful of Nutella, instant pudding or a granola bar.

By the time the food arrived, we had already pulled out our laptops and were typing away our papers at the coffee table. We dined by the light of our monitors as we romanced our studies.

As time and money are limited resources for students, and so many would rather eat out cheaply or cook instant meals instead, this is what I would envision the dining experience to be like if traditional student cuisine was served in restaurants: instant meals in front of your work.

I often hear students talk about time spent on grocery shopping, cooking and eating as a waste. But I feel differently and I hope this article will change this popular opinion and perhaps instill in the reader a larger sense of appreciation for the experience of cooking for oneself.

Source: https://24.media.tumblr.com/af1e08fe9bfb326af011330ffd9a1346/tumblr_mtm5rxlGiE1ro9rq7o1_400.gif

Source: https://24.media.tumblr.com/af1e08fe9bfb326af011330ffd9a1346/tumblr_mtm5rxlGiE1ro9rq7o1_400.gif

Rather than being a waste of time and energy, think of  the time spent on grocery shopping, cooking and eating not only as a break from the books but also as an adventurous process whereby you’re gathering nutrients to fuel your body and  mind, combining them in interesting ways, and then enjoying your efforts on your own, or with a few friends.

Personally, I find cooking to be highly therapeutic. It teases the senses.  My sense of smell is  transformed by  odours of ingredients: the raw, fresh smell of a red pepper that turns fragrant and sweet when warmed. It stimulates touch: the roughness of a broccoli, the smooth and soft surface of a tomato. Visually, the colours of the ingredients can be so enticing. And, aurally: the knife rhythmically hitting the chopping board accompanied by the melody of a sizzling pan.

tumblr_mtjcznhUZF1shtkuio1_250

Cooking isn’t just a means to an end; it is so much more than that. For example, it is an outlet for creative expression, a venue for learning outside of the classroom and an opportunity for socializing. Cooking lets me combine and experiment with different flavours and ingredients from around the world. It has taught me patience (the 45 minutes it takes to bake a chicken turns into decades when I’m hungry and  can smell it from my bedroom) and perseverance (those eggs will stop getting stuck to the pan at some point!). I have also learnt a lot about nutrition through cooking my own food and choosing interesting recipes. Through cooking, my curiosity has been piqued and I make it a habit to read food labels and I challenge myself to  eat as healthy as possible most days.  Cooking has also allowed me to form special connections with my friends when we cook for one another, or sometimes even together.

So I urge you, however reluctant you are, to try and spend more time shopping and cooking instead of eating out. When you combine whole grains, colourful vegetables and fruits, and your favourite meat, fish or legumes, with an attitude of adventure, it’s can be an incredible process that nourishes your body and your mind. Give it a try!

If you aren’t too familiar with cooking yet, follow these nutritious and tasty recipes. If you’d like some company and engaging discussions while you cook, check out the Community Kitchens Program at Hart House!

What are your feelings on cooking? Do you know how to cook?  Who taught you? What’s your favourite dish to cook?

Gloria

Welcome Back: The Going To The Gym Edition

I get it. It’s cold outside, and walking for more than 15 minutes makes it feel like every drop of blood inside is freezing. So why bother leaving your place when you can just stay inside, right? The thing is, I know from years of bed-hogging and tv-marathoning experience that slugging around instead of going outside and being productive also makes you feel terrible. With this brutal weather, living a productive life can be a catch-22 for a university student. In the past, I’ve used bad weather as an excuse for being inactive. But now? Not even the frozen pathways of Queens Park were going to stop me from going to the gym (well, because I can just walk around the park instead of go through it…).

Slipping on ice? Ain’t nobody got time for that. VIA GIFRIFIC.COM

It’s just that ever since the holidays, I’ve only been able to exercise at my own place instead of in public. So keeping to my planned schedule, and pact to #tryitUofT, I went to the gym on Monday for the first time in the ever so “fresh” and “new” year of 2014.

Going to the Hart House gym for the first time since December 2013, my first initial thoughts were:

-“I am going to start back at ‘square one’
- ‘I’ll have to relearn everything.”
-“Everyone is going to be looking at me.”
- “The experience is going to be uncomfortable, just don’t go.”

It’s so easy to fall back into feeling insecure when you’ve had some time away. Yet, I was determined not to let anything stop me.

Not surprisingly, it was all in my head.

Instead, I just picked up where I left off. I was comfortable exercising in public. Once I got into Hart House and left the change room, I found myself naturally making a list in my head of what I wanted to do: stretches, strength, and cardio.

Naturally, I walked to the little hidden cove behind the stairs to do my stretches first, where I prepped and warmed myself up for where I was going next: the weight room. Last semester, visiting the weight room was very much a trial-and-error process but having my stretches complete, I felt confident going into the small room full of beautifully-toned weight lifters. And I didn’t compare myself to others around me with my five pound dumbbells. Instead, I just did my biceps and triceps reps, kept to my own, and moved on.

Next I went to the main gym area where I hit the elliptical machine for thirty minutes, and after a five-minute stretching rest, did fifteen minutes on the bike. By going to the gym frequently, I’ve realized what I like and what I don’t. For example, running on the track isn’t my favourite, but running on the machine is. Yet I hope to get more acquainted with the track this year, not specifically for running, but just to use it for walking. So I ended my gym-going experience with a nice, albeit brief, walk around the track to cool myself before going back to the change room.

In retrospect, the hardest part of going back to the gym was just getting ready to leave my place. But once I got back there, I realized that I underestimated my progress. Just going to the gym reassured me about my capabilities when it comes to reaching my goals. I haven’t fallen off the wagon. And my initial thoughts after my first 2014 gym visit?

“You’re still on the right track. Keep on going.”

My dear readers, care to share your experiences getting back to a certain routine?

—Amanda.

Fun Times at the UC Date Auction

At five minutes to eight pm, Sammy’s Pub at Hart House was bustling. There was a constant chatter coming from every table, as everyone talked and laughed waiting excitedly for the night’s entertainment. Last night I attended a University College organized Date Auction, the proceeds of which went to support the Toronto Humane Society and the UC Water Dragons.

The pub, in the lower level of Hart House, was already packed when I arrived. At the front of the room there was a line-up of eager students, all holding their 19+ I.D.’s to receive a free drink ticket. On the left side there was a round table of free catered food. Yep, all free!

Watching new people arrive, as they spotted friends and hunted for seats, I was filled with a really good feeling. It was the kind of event one would expect from a smaller arts college. But I suppose that’s exactly what it was, replete with college cheers, “Hey UC! Can I see you [ I probably can’t write this]“. There was a strong sense of school spirit, community and friendship, and I was glad to be there.

The hosts of the evening, Paige and Sarah, could be seen dancing on the stage, priming themselves for the task of guiding the show. The music, once it started, promptly changed several times in mid-song, but everyone was still smiling and laughing. There was a wonderful vibe of amateur, improvised style, which is exactly how a college event should feel. It’s about having fun, expressing oneself and being involved.

Once the music started, everyone settled into a seat (sometimes two per seat). That seems to be a universal signal that the show is about to begin. The “auctionees” had been clandestinely whisked away into the hall, the food platters were devoured, everyone had a free drink, and we were ready for the show!

First off, the hosts explained how the auction would work. They accepted all forms of payment, except human sacrifice, and the biddings would begin at twenty dollars. Then, in came the auctionees!

There were ten of them, a good group of brave, adorable souls. But they were more than pretty faces. Each one had prepared some talent or other to help encourage their bidders. Also, the dates were complemented with gift-cards to restaurants and bars, such as The Keg Steak House.

I stayed only for the first three rounds, but right from the start there was singing and sparkler-lit dancing. These auctionees wanted to be sold. And the audience didn’t disappoint. The first auctionee went for $170! People were throwing hands up all over. With a good cause, such as an adorable kitten, even starving university students can be charitable.

I have faith that the rest of the event went off without a hitch. I did hear, from someone or other, that Michael Mousa’s friend, Michelle, stole the show. You’re welcome.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great time. I was certainly laughing, which is all I ask for from any live show. There are many free and exciting events like this happening all over campus all the time. All you have to do is look for them and then #TryitUofT!

Stay Diamond,

Stephen!

Getting Back To Business

Last week was all about settling in to the new semester. This week, it’s all about bringing my game back. Now is the time to juggle school, extra-curriculars, and physical activity.
Being active during the holidays was admittedly easier. However, this semester with three new half courses added to my previous load, I need to start planning out when I going to exercise.

Trust me. VIA GIFS-FOR-THE-MASSES.TUMBLR.COM

During first semester, I would exercise on whim, but would still schedule in a registered class, like Pilates. Yet I’ve made a pact to crank up intensity when challenging myself. I know that organizing and planning workouts are the next step to achieving my new goals. Of course, I love being spontaneous like any other student at this university (does anyone consider 2:00AM food runs a normal way to bond with their friends now?). But when it comes to getting back on track, structure is crucial to realizing my goals. Over the past few days, I reviewed my schedule to see what exercise plan I can realistically commit to now that life is just getting busy again.

Monday
Ah, the start of the week. The overall beginning. Monday.
I only have two classes. My last one ends at 4PM. I don’t know about you, but whatever happens on the first day of the week seems to set the tone for the days that follow. So from now on, I am going to aim to make Monday a gym day, when I go to Hart House and use the elliptical and other machines and do not care about working out in front of peers and strangers. By starting the week with going to the gym, I hope that it sets a positive “you can do it!” type of attitude when trying to exercise on the other days.

Speaking of starting off with exercise, today is the first day to start on building the MoveU Passport that goes into your Co-Curricular Record! If you want to sign up, just bring your T-Card to the Athletic Centre main office, and from there you can get on going with attending free drop-in exercise classes and social activities on campus. For more information, check out the facebook event page for the program. Don’t forget to #tryitUofT.

Tuesday
Tuesdays are two-class days as well. However, I finish at 3PM Since I’ve picked up a heavy course load with dense readings, I will devote Tuesdays to one registered exercise class so that I can head on out to the library afterwards. I`ve got my eye on a Judo class-stay tuned!

Wednesday
I’m scared about Wednesdays. They are eight-hour class days this term. My last class ends at 6PM, so I still have the evening and night to myself, but I don’t want to end it by collapsing onto my bed.  Since hump days are stress-ridden days, then this shall be a day devoted to relaxation. I will unleash my stress by dancing in my room, doing yoga, or Pilates, and any stretching that will calm me down. How else will I keep up with my planking?

Thursday
Thursday is yet another two-class day. However, I plan to make this a rest day. I will recharge and not panic over whether I should go to the gym or not because Queens Park is too icy to cross through. I think it will be much needed. Of course, just because I’m not going to the gym, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be huddled up in my bed on a TV-watching marathon. I’ll nonetheless do my best to keep active during my “free” day.

Friday
Fridays are slack days! It’s the end of the week, and I’m practically free, except for one class that ends at 11:00AM. I plan to make this not only a gym day, but a day centred on walking all over campus. I don’t want to just leave my relaxation to the confines of my room and planking—I want to be able to calm down in a public setting as well while taking in the sights and exploring hidden gems around U of T. Most recently, I’ve wanted to get acquainted with Hart House. It’s more than just using it as a place for going to the gym. I’m planning to check out live shows playing at the theatre there—as inspired by fellow blogger, Stephen’s post on theatre-going.

THE WEEKEND!

 

The past. I think. VIA GIFRIFIC.COM

 

Saturday
Freedom at last? Only temporarily. Depending on my workload and what’s due the week after, I will devote my weekends to either exercising or doing homework. After all, with no academic classes, why not take advantage of drop-in classes? Last semester, I was able to do a few drop-in cycling classes that my friend taught, and I plan to do the same for this time around as well.

Sunday
As for Sunday… well that’s a different story. Even though it’s the last day of the weekend, I think it’s best to admit that Sundays are truly Mondays. The pangs of guilt for procrastinating on readings all? And then spending all day catching up? Grudgingly completing rudimental chores? Worrying about the tests and assignments due in the upcoming week? For all of that, I’m leaving Sundays as a day for spontaneity. I could make time to hang out with my friends, go shopping, read a book outside of the curriculum, discover a parkette, and more!

I mean, I’m a university student after all; I still need some rebellion from my daily schedule.

So with all this fussing over trying to be organized how I’ll fit in my exercise, I could use some helpful hints. Tell me readers, how do you squeeze in staying active!

New Year, New Resolutions.

It’s 2014. Second semester has already started and I’m still trying to settle in. Along with my two full-year courses, I’ve got three new half-year courses, so my schedule has completely changed. And speaking of change, my schedule isn’t the only thing getting an overhaul. My goals have changed too. I know, it’s typical for everyone to make a few resolutions at the beginning of the year, and also to drop them after a few weeks, but this year I’m a little more hopeful.

My reaction to every new years resolution making before 2014. – VIA BILLBOARD.TUMBLR.COM

During the holidays, I took some time to reflect on my last semester and my attempts to establish a healthier lifestyle. I made a jumpstart on my aspiration to make a total 180 by getting out there and being active.I signed up for a Pilates class at the Athletic Centre. I made a pact to go to the gym at least once a week, and conquered the ever-so-despised plank. That was only the beginning. With the new year, I’ve come prepared with new, yet realistic, goals that I hope to achieve by the end of the semester. My goals for 2014 are as follows:

1) Try out a new exercise class.
With the second semester starting and all, I’ve been a bit inspired by the #tryitUofT campaign celebrating January as the month to get into new clubs and events. When it comes to exercise, I am craving a new approach. I’ve always stuck to slow, relaxation exercises, like yoga and Pilates. I think it’s now time to try something new. Now that doesn’t mean that I will quit Pilates— I mean, that whole semester spent doing planks wasn’t all for naught. I plan to keep up my relaxation exercises, along with my crazy dancing when I’m in my dorm, and in the gym.

I’ve been looking into martial arts, to even quirky classes like archery. Oh the many options that Hart House and the Athletic Centre at U of T has to offer!

2) Eat healthier
First semester was all about getting off my butt and moving my body. Second semester is still going to be about that, but it will also be about finding balance with the meals that nourish and energize my body. This is especially important after workouts, when I need my muscles to recover. I’ve realized how important eating healthy is; I find it affects my stamina when I have to move around all day. If I want to achieve my new goals, I need to start treating myself better.

Most of all, I don’t want to have a mid-day slump. I want to be able to be energized going into the gym and relaxed going out of it.

For inspiration, I took a look at fellow Student Life, and Health & Wellness, blogger Gloria’s post on mindful eating.

3) Go to the gym three times a week
Last semester was all about getting rid of the fear of going to the gym alone and exercising in public, and honestly, even though there are some days when I find myself slipping back to those thoughts, I’ve never once regretted going to the gym. Now it’s time to bump it up from going to the gym casually to making my commitment official.

4) No More Sleeping In
Oh my, sleep is a wonderful thing. Sleeping in is even better. But it’s a time-costing luxury that gets in the way of doing my work, and being an active person. Just like eating healthy, sleeping well is another goal that isn’t directly connected to being more active, but plays a huge role in the quality of exercise I get. So I want to be able to get to sleep earlier, and wake up earlier. I don’t want to go to the gym in the evenings, but instead, I want to start off my day by going to the gym first! That old expression, “you snooze, you lose” has never been this relevant!

What I used to think about sleeping. – VIA THETEENAGEGENTLEMAN.TUMBLR.COM

So far, these are my “healthy” goals for this semester.

Care to share your resolutions for 2014?

Who Needs Haunted Houses? We’ve Got U of T Grades

When I was 15, I fought off a troll. It was charging at my legs, determined to drag me back into a dark cave where I would never see my family or friends again… So my legs and arms instinctively swung at its chest.

pirates trolls

Trolls are terrifying. Let’s be real. (via giphy.com)

Perhaps I should have mentioned that this was in a haunted house. And that the ‘troll’ was just a man with a terrifying mask. It was one of those haunted houses that you had to walk through; none of this “sit here in this cart that will bring you past all the scary things and safely to the exit”. So I had been terrified for the last 10 minutes leading up to the troll battling as I was pushed through the endless halls by friends.

(I basically react the way Amy does in a haunted house.)

While I’m not proud of having been young and foolish enough to not know the difference between a ‘troll’ and a mask, I am reassured to know that I have excellent reflexes. Some have the flight response; I decidedly have the fight response. Let this be a warning to any real trolls out there.

troll battling

via giphy.com

Being scared and scaring others seems to be an integral part of Halloween. And I like Halloween, I really do: the free candy, the excuse to dress up and the subway rides full of monsters, goblins and scantily-clad-professionals.

But I don’t get the appeal of haunted houses. Every day life can be scary enough (just wait until you get your midterm grades). Though, true, it can be hilarious to see people react to scary things.

colbert scared

via giphy.com

SNL scared

via giphy.com

scared

via giphy.com

(The Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, ON has some priceless reactions to their haunted house.)

My distaste for haunted houses may be problematic as I have agreed to go with friends to the Hart House of Horrors Halloween Party on Oct. 31st. I’m going because I know there will be fun things like a DJ in the Great Hall, a costume contest and horror movies. But I am really, really hoping there are no trolls.

harry potter troll

I’m hoping my Halloween doesn’t turn out like this… (via giphy.com)

- Kay

The Jolly Season of Midterms

Oh midterm season, that dreadful time of year when everyone hides in their rooms or at the library, with their heads buried in their textbooks, forgetting that they ever had a social life. As a second-year student, I know the drill now. But nonetheless, I’m still worried because each year, the work becomes harder. This time around I don’t have any exams, which I am glad about, but I have two papers and two presentations to complete. At U of T, no one escapes midterm season scot-free; there is always something to study for.

The thing is, I know that I won’t get anything done when I’m stressed out; I put things off until the eleventh hour. And even though I’m probably going to leave one of those assignments for the classic do-it-all-in-one-night style (hey, it’s a student tradition), I still want to be, and to feel, at the top of my game. So, at the start of the week, I made a list of goals to keep my head in check:

1. Go to the gym at least once alone and once with a friend (maybe this is how I can be social again).
2. Keep attending Pilates classes.
3. Between reading a chapter, or writing a paragraph, stop and stretch for relaxation.
4. Take time to do the much appreciated “treat yo’self.” Seriously.

Parks and Recreation had this right all along. –VIA SPIFFYPOP.TUMBLR.COM

When it came to actually completing my to-do list, I was running short on energy, but still managed to reach these goals.

1. Gym?
I was aiming to be one of those “I-wake-up-at-6:00AM-to-go-to-the-gym”-types of people, but this week was devoted to night time exercising. Also, it was easier to go with a friend at night since we both had an evening class together. Even though I wasn’t active during my planned time, I was still being active nonetheless. After all, the most important part was that after returning back to my room, I was calm enough to be able to sit down and focus on my readings.

2. + 3. Doing Pilates + Practicing my stretches
I attended my Pilates class, but it was a struggle. I fell behind on practicing my planking, which I’d made a pact to perfect since last week. The night before Pilates class, I stayed up until 4:00AM doing readings and editing a paper. I woke up early  all groggy and exhausted. In retrospect, staying up so late (or early, if you’re a grim thinker) wasn’t the best decision, but I didn’t want that mistake let me skip my Pilates class, and cause a chain reaction for the rest of the week. So I went!

And you know what? When I left the AC after class, I felt revived. I was still drained from the lack of sleep, but I was calmer, and had more patience to carry on with the rest of the day. Also, I did manage to slip in some time to practice the plank afterwards.

Don’t pull an all-nighter. Your eyes will punish you for it. —VIA GIFGARAGE.COM

4. Time off + Motivation
Also I did manage to take time to achieve number four on my list, that “treat yo’self” task that I promised I would do. After completing my first presentation, I decided to take a hike to a cute café in Kensington Market. There I lounged around while sipping some blueberry honey tea. It didn’t hurt that the café made a great place for me to study at the same time.

And another thing that’s helping me to get through midterms that didn’t make my list? Making plans to join in on fun events. I realized that I needed some extra motivation to push through my never-ending pile of assignments. Most of all, I need the balance that being social brings. There’s an upcoming MoveU event coming up, Scary Skate, on October 31st. Also, it’s free, as in free to attend, with free refreshments, and free skate rentals—as a university student, I am shameless to say that free is my favourite word. Although I guess in this case, free comes with a cost, since I have a fear of skating. But I’m curious to try it out. And if I can survive midterms, then I’m confident that I’ll survive giving ice-skating another chance.

Even this goat can skate better than me. –VIA 4GIFS.COM

So now, it’s your turn to tell me dear readers. What have you been doing to keep active (and survive) this midterm season?

What Comes After Pain?

Forgiveness Project 1

The F Word: The Forgiveness Project Exhibition in Hart House’s main hall.

In the peaceful main hallway at Hart House, there hangs a series of panels that depict murderers, mothers, former gang members and an archbishop. This seemingly eclectic collection of photos and stories seeks to “explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can be used to impact positively on people’s lives.” As part of the Wounds into Wisdom series of tri-campus events this year, The F Word: The Forgiveness Project Exhibition highlights exceptional stories of what comes after pain.

There were many different, including some very surprising, reactions to the idea of what comes after pain and whether forgiveness, or otherwise, was an appropriate response. One perpetrator felt asking for forgiveness added “insult to injury” to the relatives and family member. Robi Damelin, whose son was killed while serving in the Israeli army, urged the army not to take revenge in the name of her son upon hearing the news of his death.

Mariane Pearl whose husband, the American journalist Daniel Pearl, was “murdered by a militant Islamic fundamentalist group” said that she had no reason to forgive her husband’s killer, that forgiveness was “too lame an answer for extreme situations”. She instead has chosen “to win some sort of victory over the people who have hurt [her]” by continuing to live and value life.

Conversely, Azim Khamisa found what was called for was forgiveness, and then some. Azim offered a job to his son’s murderer at the foundation Azim had set up in his son’s name after he realized that “there were victims at both ends of the gun.”

Walking through the exhibit, I found it to be more moving that I thought it would be. After all, these sorts of conflicts are things I have studied for the last four years as part of my Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies program. But many of these stories and reactions to the conflicts were deeply personal and certainly beyond what I had expected to find while wandering the halls on campus.

Stories like the ones in the exhibit reminded me of a great quote from journalist Nahlah Ayed in her book, A Thousand Farewells:

“People are not quotes or clips, used to illustrate stories about war and conflict. People are the story, always.”

Particularly when we’re immersed in theoretical academia, this sentiment can be an easy thing to forget.

Forgiveness, on a day-to-day basis, can also be easily forgotten. One of favourite stories of everyday forgiveness comes from a friend who saw her wallet being stolen out of her bag while she was giving a presentation in class. Instead of calling the thief out (as I likely would have done), Toronto-based poet and artist Paloma wrote a poem called “to the man who stole my wallet”, part of which is excerpted below.

i am not so angry

as you expect

me to be.

 

those sixty-one dollars,

i am happy to

give you.

 

please buy yourself something

that makes you happy

and something that makes

you full.

 

the quarter with the triangle of turquoise

I was keeping,

for my sister who collects coins.

 

maybe your sister

collects coins.

The ability to see the person within the perpetrator is what humbles me both in this poem and in The F Word exhibit. It is something for us all to keep in mind as we navigate what comes after pain.

-Kay

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The Forgiveness Project was founded by journalist Marina Cantacuzino, with photos taken by Brian Moody. The University of Toronto version is a joint collaboration between Hart House, the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office, Hillel of Toronto (U of T), Ask Big Questions and the Multi-Faith Centre. Exhibits can be seen from Sept. 20th – Oct. 16th at Hart House (main hall) with additional panels at Hillel of Toronto, the Multi-Faith Centre, First Nations House and in the lobby of 215 Huron St. Further information for the exhibit, along with info for the related movie screenings and conflict resolution workshops may be found here.