Take Care of You (by Aaron)

Hello readers! Thanks for being patient with me as I get adjusted to me new home and school. Today was my first day at school and well….uh I survived so I guess that’s good. Anyways, since I can’t be here much this week- I had asked one of my favorite bloggers Aaron at The Confusing Middle to write a post for us this week! If you’re just tuning in, welcome to “The Shaz Show”! Here we talk about real life issues and solutions. I kid. No I do not. Okay I need more sleep. Anyways, Aaron is awesome. I specifically asked him to write for me and write about this topic because this is something I have been lacking lately and should not be lacking as I start grad school. So listen to Aaron everybody!

Dear readers of For the Love of Sass…

First, let me say it’s an honor to be asked to write a guest post this week while Shaz adjusts to life in grad school and Boston (You’ve got this!). Second, if you’ve ever read my personal blog, you might be expecting something funny. I don’t always think I’m funny, but I’m told that, a lot of the time, I have humor mixed in with my posts. Well, Shaz suggested that I write something about self-care. This is something that I actually take pretty seriously because it’s a concept that not too many people consider important. So I’ve tried to take this post kind of seriously. But if you get a chuckle thrown in here or there, I guess that’ll just be a bonus.

It’s a little sad to me, to think that a movie that came out when I was a kid is now old enough to be considered a classic. But, that’s because, despite the fact that I’m actually in my mid-30s, I like to believe I’m still in my mid-20s. This doesn’t change the fact that Pretty Woman, a classic film, is now 27 years old. Anything over 25 is an antique, right?

“Take care of you,” is a line from that 27-year-old movie. Sure, it’s advice given by one prostitute to another as she climbs into Richard Gere’s Lotus, speeding toward Beverly Hills. But it’s still good advice. And it’s advice that we don’t often think to apply to our own lives.

I’ve spent the majority of my career working as a counselor in various capacities. Most people who have worked in a human services related field will tell you that it can be difficult to separate yourself from the people you’re helping. And that’s because you’re able to go beyond feeling sympathetic toward the people around you. It’s because you’re able to empathize, genuinely feeling what another person is feeling. It means you’re willing to get down into the mud with someone and help them get through whatever it is they’re going through.

Where do you draw the line? Where are your boundaries?

Boundaries need to exist. When I first started out as a counselor, I didn’t understand that. I worked with kids who had heartbreaking stories. Seriously, I sometimes joke that I don’t have a soul, but thinking about what some of my clients had been through during their first four or five years of life would bring me to the edge of tears. Starting out, it was so easy to get drawn into my clients’ lives. At the same time, it was so difficult to leave it all behind at the end of the day. Over time, I learned to do just that. I learned how to leave my work at work, because if I didn’t, it would tear me up inside and begin to affect my personal life.

But taking care of yourself isn’t limited to people who work closely with other people. Everyone needs to hear that line, “Take care of you,” from time to time. If you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s impossible to take care of others. Think about it this way: When you’re on an airplane and the flight attendants are giving instructions for emergency situations, do they tell you to help everyone in your row to get their oxygen masks on before you reach for yours? No! Because by the time you’re finished putting on masks for everyone else, you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen. You put your mask on, then you help the old lady sitting next to you. That may seem like a hard thing to think about. But it isn’t selfish. It’s smart.

So how should you go about taking care of yourself? How do you make sure that you are finding ways to destress at the end of your day? I’d love to give you advice or some kind of “How to” instruction, but it just isn’t that simple. Everyone is different. Everyone has different stressors in their lives and everyone has different ways of eliminating stress. But here are a few ideas that may get the ball rolling for you…

Exercise – This could be jogging/running, weightlifting, spin class, hiking, rock climbing, dancing, sports, Tae Bo (Is that still a thing? I told you, I’m old… Also, clearly not in touch with current exercise trends). Whatever physical activity you prefer can be an incredible way to release tension.

Music – This is one that I can identify with, big time. After a long day at work, I had a long commute back home. So I would crank up the radio in my car and sing along with whatever I was listening to. Music can be a great way to help you unplug.

Friends – Being around other people can help to alleviate your stress. Unless your friends are what is causing your stress. In which case, avoid those people like the plague. But, the true friends in your life, the ones that are there for you no matter what, they’re the ones that can help you to take care of you.

Family – This can fall into the same category as the Friends, actually. If watching movies and TV has taught me anything, it’s that family can often be the source of stress for people, especially around the holidays. But family is also an incredible blessing (whether I want to always admit it or not). I know it’s different for everyone. But, if you’re lucky, home is where you can go because there’s always someone there who will take you in.

Alcohol – Look, I’m really not a drinker myself. So I thought about not listing this one. But Homer Simpson once described alcohol as both the cause and solution to all of life’s problems. He’s not too far off, I’m sure. I’m not saying that you should go out and get hammered whenever your boss starts breathing down your neck or you just found out that your student loan payments are coming due next week. But a glass of wine at the end of the day to help you unwind sure won’t hurt anyone.

Create – Draw, paint, sculpt, write, take pictures, build… What kind of art are you into? Doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not. Get into it. Get your hands dirty. If it’s what you love, let nothing stop you.

Kids, these are just six simple examples of how you can focus on your needs. But no one can tell you how to do that. It’s something you have to figure out for yourself. Maybe there’s a way that works for you that isn’t on my far from exhaustive list. Whatever it is, do it.

Disclaimer: I am not giving you permission, nor am I suggesting that you start being selfish. There’s enough of that going on in the world today. Love people, but love yourself, too. Find the balance. It exists, trust me.

For more posts by Aaron, check out his blog The Confusing Middle. And do send me more cookies and letters! I’m going to need some this week…

xoxo. S.


8 Lessons I Learned In University (by Paul)

Hello readers! Welcome to the new segment I like to call, “The Shaz Show”. Okay I just made that up. But it is my honor, to introduce to you, my first guest blogger! Paul from The Captain’s Speech is my best blogger friend. He has given me valuable advice through my toughest times at college. I feel like we had different experiences at college, but at the end of the day- we had similar ideas. As I struggle to accept the end of my undergrad journey and mope, I thought it would be nice to get Paul’s opinion on a few of the things he learned at college (and I’ll definitely make my own list soon). Enjoy!

University is all about making mistakes. Some of them are bigger than others. Some of them are embarrassing. Some of them are kept alive by friends, who make sure you never forget. But with all mistakes, there are lessons to be learned. Here are eight lessons I learned while in university.

1. You can’t rely on people to do their part properly when doing a group project.

There were about five days before Christmas break and I had never been so stressed in my life. Exams were going on and final projects were being completed. One of my projects was in a group that included three other people.

As always, I took it upon myself to put everyone’s part together. I never trusted anyone else’s editing or formatting abilities.

Well, we were coming down to the wire and as I received everyone’s part, I realized I was in trouble. One guy sent me his part and right away I knew it wasn’t his own words. Sure enough, I typed a sentence into Google and it showed up on Wikipedia. Most of his part showed up on Wikipedia. Instead of sending it back to him, I did his part for him.


Another guy sent me his part and it was all in broken English. English was his second language so I was understanding of the situation. But as I was editing it, I realized that there wasn’t nearly enough “good” content. I had to fill in the gaps.


By this point, I felt like throwing my desk out the window. I was fed up. I didn’t have time to do my part and everyone else’s part, and study for exams.

Thankfully, the fourth member of my group came over and we both worked on it together. But man, I had never been so frustrated to be in a group.

2. Make sure you have a towel.

My parents came up to visit one weekend (and by that I mean they stayed for an hour and went home) and decided to take some of my laundry home (I lived in residence). I think I was going home the following weekend, anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Well, they took my towels home. All of them. And when I say towels, I mean the towels you use after getting out of a shower.

The only towel I had left was a small Gatorade towel that you can wrap an infant in. I’m not an infant. I’m six feet tall.

So, all week, I had to use this small towel to dry myself. It wasn’t bad, it was just terribly inconvenient. I never realized how important towels were.

3. Don’t assume the professor can’t hear you talking in the back row.

Here’s the embarrassing one of the list. I took a Classics course called, Ancient Sport, with three friends I lived with in residence. We were all in different programs but coordinated our schedules so we could have this class together as an elective.

Well, one day we learned about the Hippodrome. If you don’t know, that was an Ancient Greek stadium where they held horse races and chariot races.

The seating in this lecture hall was on an incline, like a movie theatre, but steeper.

Being the giggly bunch that we were (because we cracked jokes about everything) we always sat in the second last row, so we could whisper to each other and not get caught acting like fools.

When the professor taught us about the Hippodrome, he asked the class, “How long do you think a Hippodrome is?” Immediately, I blurted out “8 laps.”

Everyone turned around and started to laugh, even the professor chuckled. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON. I wanted to crawl under the desk. First of all, I didn’t think anyone had heard me. I had said it under my breath, didn’t I? DIDN’T I? I guess I didn’t and the sound carried.

Second, he wasn’t asking for the length of the race. He was asking for the actual length of the track, as in how many metres or feet it would be.

I’m an idiot. But at least it was funny! I think.

4. Avoid the wobbly desk during exams.

You learn a lot in first year, especially during final exam season. Our final exams were held in both of our gyms, with a million and one desks making about three thousand rows. My math is accurate.

It took me about five exams, and some advice from an upper-year student, to realize that desk selection was extremely important.

You never want a wobbly desk or you’re going to be rocking back and forth like the Titanic the whole time, watching your grades sink. Nice analogy, eh?

I had the wobbly desk multiple times, until I got smart. Before claiming a desk and sitting at it, I would see if the desk wobbled. Then I would check the chair. Then I checked to see if it was a spot in the gym where the sun would hit. All very important details.

I once got stuck at a desk with the sun on my face the whole time. Didn’t help that I had a headache that day. And don’t get me started about the exam I was writing.

5. You can’t stay friends with everyone.

Most of the people I was friends with in residence in first year, I barely talked to in second year. It’s just the way it was. I went back to residence and they moved off-campus. I found a new friend group and realized I didn’t really fit with most of the first-year bunch. It was for the best.

6. All good things come to an end.

When you’re in university, you live in the moment without even trying. Each day is a new adventure. And when it’s all over, it feels like a part of you is shipped to Mars. I wasn’t ready for how I would feel once second-year ended (the best year of my university experience).

I also wasn’t ready for the last day of my final year. I was like a Doctor’s office that day, with appointments to say goodbye to friends every hour until 2am. It was a sad day. Walking out of my final exam felt surreal. I didn’t feel like I was in my own body as I walked across campus.

Those were some hard days and it made me wish I had appreciated the entire university experience a little bit more from the start.

7. You have to stand on your own sometimes.

I knew one other person at my university when I first arrived as a clean-shaven kid straight out of Grade 12. I wasn’t afraid of this situation. I also wasn’t afraid of moving away from home and not having my parents there to do things for me.

I loved being on my own. The cafeteria ladies quickly became my Moms-away-from-Mom and I made friends that became my family.

You don’t have your parents there to remind you to study, or start an assignment, or tell you that you can’t hang out with friends when you have work to do. You learn to make the right decision, rather than the fun one. And sometimes, you’ll be the only one making that decision.

8. You’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. Mainly, assignments.

There was an essay I had to write for my Ancient Sport class. I had to choose between two topics. I didn’t like either one, so I decided to go with the one that had more information in the library. That didn’t make my decision easier.

As always, I left it until the final day to start. I was sitting in the library with my friend, who was also in the class, and I was borderline yelling my frustrations with the class, essay, and the “stupid books”, at her. She had never seen me so angry. Then we laughed about it.

Eventually, I calmed down and got the essay done and got a good mark on it. That incident in the library was four years ago, but I’m sure if I mention it to my friend, she’ll remember it clearly.

What a day.

That’s my list. I loved university. I think it’s unfair that I spent 10 years in elementary school and only 4 in university. Oh well.

What were some lessons you learned in school? Comment below!

***Would you like to be the next guest on “The Shaz Show”? Write me! For more of Paul’s posts, check out his awesome blog: The Captain’s Speech