Let’s Talk

On January 31st Canadians will come together to share their battles with mental health issues or to show their support for others. In today’s post I wanted to open up more about my own struggles. Bare with me as this isn’t easy and I’m trying to convince myself not to just highlight this whole thing and hit delete.

I’ve always thrown my support to others. I’m the one (and proudly so) that people come to when they need to talk, vent, laugh. However as I’ve been the support it’s not always easy to be the one to ask for help. I’ve tried counseling a few times but it was never the right fit. The last time I went the person said “well you seem really well adjusted” I didn’t disagree but that made me feel so much worse. I’m good at faking it until I make it, clearly so well that I fooled a professional. After that session I didn’t go back figured like everything else in my life I’d have to just suck it up and deal. And that’s what I’ve been doing. A few close friends I’ve confided in know some of the struggle I go through but like most people they got their own shit to deal with so I tend not to want to bother anyone.

I’m stubborn and most people who are close to me know I rarely will ask for help, I just figure out how to do something on my own or I just don’t do it and I’m always ok with that. For anything dealing with me I tend just not to care. For example, right now my hair could use a cut but going to hair dressers gives me anxiety so I don’t go. Friends have suggested people who would be awesome but I hate calling places and talking on the phone so I just don’t do it. I think I get this attitude from my mom who despite what people said about her was not that strong of a person as they thought. As soon as she could she gave up that control said “fuck it”and I was left to be the adult. This was many years before her stroke which again really enforced the role reversal.

The idea of mental health and well being is something I strive to understand. Is it a Nature vs. Nurture thing? Is it really all about brain chemistry or is it about genetics? I imagine it’s a combination of all of those things. How can I who has seen some shit, been constantly made to feel inferior by society able to continue putting one foot in front of the other yet someone who is loved by all has had no traumatic events suddenly not able to get of bed?

We all tend to handle stress differently. The fact that I have people depending on me is a huge motivator, it gets me out of the house and on to the dreaded city bus. Helping others is oddly satisfying, I’ve been volunteering for the past 15 years as it gives me a sense of purpose. Although I don’t have an actual service dog (yet) I can say that the three crazy pups I share my life with also help. Something I’ve been doing since childhood that unconsciously I think may help may also be something akin to self harm. Before I continue I’ve never ever before mentioned this to anyone. My sister knows because she lives with me and I know she wishes I would stop but I’m not sure how. Also before I continue it’s not as bad as you are imagining I don’t cut myself. What I have done and still do is pick, I pick at scabs, I pick at cuts, when those don’t exist I pick my nails, or the skin around my finger nails or mostly my toe nails cause it’s easier to hide. I tend to go until they bleed, my sister would ask if it hurts and oddly it’s a different kind of pain. I can’t really describe it, it does hurt but it’s not painful. Am I embarrassed that I just admitted this? Yep, but I’m keeping this in here because I believe I might be able to help someone else, someone else who may have found a creative self harm method that they feel ashamed of or that makes them feel less of a human being.

Below are two pictures which show an example of what I do. They aren’t really gross but viewer discretion is advised.

How do you manage your stress, how do you deal with the crazy, can’t ever unsee things you’ve been thrown? I’m really a “fake it until I make it” when it comes to those I care about I will give more than I have, but when it comes to myself I could care less.

As we look ahead to January 31st remember to be the shoulder someone’s needs or to reach out if you need help. January 31st I will be tweeting up a storm on Twitter so please follow me @PLoker or just say hi to someone, smile, do a random act of kindness.

There is so much darkness in the world be the light someone needs.

Tokyo Treats a taste test blog

I’ve been excited to do this weeks blog because I love trying new and amazing things from all over the world. Today I’m trying items from the Tokyo Treat box. It’s filled with things I’ve never before seen. Here in Waterloo we have access to some great Asian supermarkets but even there I haven’t seen these items.

The box is a vibrant orange with cute little drawings and writing. Typically with these types of subscriptions a little booklet is included which tells you exactly what you are eating; this one not so much. Had to visit their website to get all the details since I know ZERO Japanese. In no particular order here are the items.

This one was a bit odd. I was expecting a chewy texture and for a flavourful sour candy. Sadly this one was underwhelming. The texture was okay but I’d be ok never having this again. The packaging was the highlight of this one.

The packaging really ropes you in. It’s cute and I noticed that it’s from Ban Dai which here in Canada they are known for toys NOT candy. This one is grape flavour and as soon as you open it you smell the fake grape scent. I’m not a fan of grape flavoured things so I wasn’t expecting to like it. To my surprise I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it but if someone handed me some in the future I’d eat it.

These came in individual bags of what I thought were going to be cookies but turned out to be another item made out of rice. The flavouring was all on the one side so as soon as you put it in your mouth it was WHOOP there I am! It had a mild yet kinda of salty tinge to it. Not bad but not that great either.

Yep…potato chips. Will say the chips here in Canada are better. These were pretty bland with an odd after taste that I couldn’t place. But I will probably finish the bag off because they were horrible and I hate to see an okay chip go to waste.

Things seem to be made out of corn or rice. This hollow tube snack packed all the flavour on the outside. The texture is odd as they seem to puff the corn leaving the majority of this snack without much going for it. This was the first time I tried and I didn’t hate it but I’d be okay never having this again.

These were one of my favourite items from this box. Good crunch and packed with tons of smoky BBQ flavour. They are shaped like Cheetos and are similar to the crunchy Cheetos. Although a while after filming the Vlog I’m still burning the flavour of these …. so there’s that.

These were the dark horse for me. I’m not a fan of kimchi but these were surprisingly really good. They have this cute tiny shape which means I can pop them in to my mouth without any issues. They didn’t remind me of kimchi which is most likely the reason why I liked them.

I was expecting to like these since strawberries are my top of the list fruits. Sadly these were a giant let down for me. They got this odd wet texture to them which is hard to describe I het the act of chewing will make anything wet but this was beyond that. It had a horrible fake strawberry toasted that really didn’t help their cause. I will say this they smelled okay.

After having all of these unique treats ending with a gum was a good idea. If it was any other gum that would have worked. It started out ok. The mint was a different mint than what I’m used to but I wasn’t mad at that, it quickly turned to be mad at me with this nasty flavour that just punched me and made me actually spit it out. I’m trying to figure out how it enhances memory.

I didn’t try these as they are big and would be hard to talk while eating. But pretty sure they will be good.

I love the DIY candy kits. This one remains undone but maybe I will post a video of me doing some various DIY candies in the future.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to head over to my YouTube channel (Taste test) to watch my gut reactions as I ate these.

If you’d like more info on Tokyo Treats check them out on their site: https://tokyotreat.com

Check-in: still single

It’s been just over two years since I went head first in to the world of online dating. If you’ve read my post from that time you will already know what a colossal fail that was for me. It might come as a shock to some of you but I’m still single! I will say thanks to an awesome coworker I gathered the courage to try Tinder for a little bit however it produced zero results. I did get one guy who chatted with me for a tiny bit but he was only interested in coming over and tickling me… the world can be a strange place some days. I don’t judge, just wasn’t my thing and we just ended our conversation. I’m thrilled to report that I wasn’t the recipient of any harassment or negative comments like last time. I was however ignored; again nothing new to me here.

My views on relationships haven’t changed. My views on online dating for me haven’t changed. Only difference is I’m two years older and still haven’t really made any meaningful connections. I’m still a hopeless romantic that hopes that aspect of my life blossoms like it does in all those romantic comedies.

I know in order to make those types of connections one must venture out and put ones self out there however being a full time care giver really makes it that much harder. In a group I’m a member of within Facebook this topic hasn’t recently been talked about. Specifically on how it relates to having a facial difference. For me it’s heartwarming and encouraging that so many members of the facial difference community have connected with the loves of their lives or have just dated. It was also kind of comforting to see many facing the same struggles as I do, to be able to see I’m not alone.

One of the reoccurring thoughts I have in my head is that I’m ugly. That despite my bubbly, witty, and sarcastic personality I won’t find someone simply because of the way I look. Why would a guy choose a short girl with an odd face with a great personality when they can have a tall amazingly beautiful woman with an equally awesome personality? These thoughts tend to spiral and I think that maybe this is why I’m not further ahead in my career…

It’s an odd feeling to be alone when you crave companionship. This is an ongoing story in my life so stay tuned as I continue to navigate this thing called love in life.

As always I’d welcome your stories and thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment. Check out the companion video to this on y YouTube channel.


EDIT: I’m tired when writing posting this. In the video I elude to my online dating thing happening last year forgot it was TWO years ago. Wow time flies!

Nice to meet you!

For today’s post I’d thought I’d talk a little bit more about myself. My name is Penny Lynn and I was born on September 16th, 1981; which after a quick search on Google I find it was a Wednesday. I could probably use Google to tell me what the weather was like but figured that might be over the top.

I was born in Kitchener Ontario Canada, at the time of my birth my family consisted of my mom Marian, my dad Allan, and my two older sisters Pam and Crystal. I don’t really recall where exactly we were living but I’m pretty sure it was in a little area in town known as Centreville, pretty sure we lived in a townhouse complex.

I’m currently 36 years young and not quite sure how that happened. Time just kind of flew by; it’s odd that with the passage of time it feels as if it goes faster the older you get. Would you agree?

I was born with two craniofacial conditions called Goldenhar Syndrome & Left Hemiofacial Microsomia. I’m not sure if my parents knew ahead of time that I was going to be born this way. I have memories where I thought we talked about how it was a shock but I don’t always trust my memories. I spent a good amount of time at my local hospital KW hospital now known as Grand River Hospital before being all packed up and flown by helicopter to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. I’m ptretty sure based on limited information I have I spent the first year of my life or near it in Hospital. When I was born I weighed about 2.04kg (4.5 pounds) and I was born at full term.

Sadly I don’t have any pictures of me as a baby so I can only imagine what I looked liked. The two conditions I was born with impact the bone and soft tissue formation in the face and typically impact only one side (but not always). For me my left side was just missing a good chunk of the structures. I was born with no bottom left side jaw bone, no left cheek bone, the bridge of my nose was not present, half of my left eye lid was missing, my esophagus slants at an odd angle to the left and my top jaw was in two pieces. I also had a number of skin tags just randomly placed although I’m not sure how many. Must have been quite a few as this is the tissue they used to reconstruct the missing half of an eyelid.

I’m not sure if NG tubes or feeding tubes directly in the stomach were widely used in the 80’s or even trachs but I didn’t have any of those. My mom told me that to feed me she used an eye dropper. Can you imagine how long that would have taken? I know had I been born in the 2000’s I’d most like have been tube fed.

In addition to my eyelid being fixed my palate was sewn together however to this day my top jaw is still technically in two pieces it remains what’s is called as an un-repaired midline cleft. It does make a difference that I can tell but I do know that the roof of my mouth is more like the top of a pyramid and not rounded like yours most likely is. This is probably why I can’t whistle, blow bubbles from bubble gum, or even blow up balloons. My tongue also seems to be misshaped and I actually can’t stick my tongue out. When I try it reaches the very tip of my lips but it’s not very visible. When I was younger and I wanted to stick my tongue out at a kid who was being mean I used to get my sister Crystal to stick her tongue out at them on my behalf.

Most adults who were medically fragile as kids are able to say how many surgeries they went through but I honestly cannot say. I don’t know how many procedures and actual surgeries I had as a kid. From my memory I’ve had my nose fixed twice, deviated septum fixed twice, two attempts to fix my jaw. The first one I kind of remember but nothing really. Two reversals of said attempts to fix my jaw, plus a few minor procedures some to do with my condition some not related at all. Oddly I still have my appendix and tonsils. My mom wasn’t the type to write things down or keep a journal. She also just went along with what the doctors told her and never really asked a lot of questions. I don’t blame her for that it’s just an observation.

As an adult I’m fairly healthy I’d say in the last 5 Year’s I’ve gained some unwanted weight and I’m not eating the healthiest but sometimes the easiest food to eat due to my jaw is the stuff that is pretty bad for you. Like cheesecake that stuff doesn’t require a whole ton of chewing power for me to plough one down my gullet….dang now I want cheesecake…

Well guess that’s the best place to leave this post. Until next Monday!

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Happy New Year

I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas, holiday season, or just enjoyed some much needed rest. We haven’t been big in to Christmas for a number or years so it’s not something that’s important to me but I did enjoy my long weekend.

I wanted to try something out this year different from what I’ve done in the past. I want to try to do a weekly blog on my YouTube channel and pair it with a written blog. So that they compliment each other. Also I know I’m not tech savvy enough to know how to add closed captioning to my YouTube videos but I want them to be accessible so if I write a blog post as a companion it will be a great way for all to be able to be included.

I wanted to try and set goals as I’ve never been one to really finish much I’ve started, doing one weekly I’m hoping will be achievable. I’ve got about 8 weeks worth of ideas written down. If you have suggestions on things you want me to cover let me know. I don’t have a real niche I’m kind of all over the map I like that about me. Some of what I will talk about will be about living with a facial difference but other stuff will be just random.

Some of my other goals for 2018:

~ will be to lose some weight would love to lose 10-15kg (20-30lbs).

~ will be to get some awesome make up and get good at applying it myself.

~ knit myself something awesome

~ pay off my credit card debit. Thankfully it’s not crazy high but still keeps me up at night.

Those are about it. Nothing really “out there”. All of those goals are obtainable, tried to keep them realistic. These are goals I can break down and have milestones set throughout the year. What are some of your goals?

I wish all my readers, friends, and family a wonderful 2018. Let the lows just flow away and let the highs be your light. Be kind to those around you and know I’m always here for you!