She Misses Her Sister, And Wants You To Know Something

“There’s so many things, that my little sister has missed. So many things that she’s not been a part of…”

It’s September 7th, and although we kinda hate that there even is a week for suicide prevention, we are here to make our part in telling all those who still don’t see how serious this topic is, that it is happening. It is happening so often that it is scary. I didn’t really know this until I saw the video.

This is Jenn. She lost her little sister seven years ago after she decided to take her own life. Their relationship was truly special, and now that September 10th is upon us, she wants you to know something.

40 seconds were never so relevant, until now…

PS: Don’t ever hesitate to reach others if you need to. Ugly Ducklings Inc is a community of people who can offer support and encouragement. We are not professionals, but you can check our resources page to contact helplines. Try to find counsellors near you, or close friends and family who care. There will always be someone out there for you. 

If You Had The Chance To Change Your Life Right Now, Would You Do It?

If You Had The Chance To Change Your Life Right Now, Would You Do It? She Did

At the beginning of this year, I decided that it was time to make a change in my life. I didn’t like where I was or who I was becoming; I really needed a life change. One thing I decided I needed to do was take control of my health and fitness.

whole life challenge, colouring contest

Colouring Contest for “FIT”

I have this inspiring sister who is incredibly gifted when it comes to helping people with their health and fitness, but she never pushes herself and her ideals on anyone – and that usually means people ask her when they are “ready”. I was ready. And so it started.

That was in February. You may have noticed that I dropped off the planet a bit then –sometimes that is what it takes to really get things under control. It means managing your time differently. For me, it meant not putting health and fitness last, in the “I don’t have time” category. It meant gradually moving it higher up on the list until everything else could work around it, rather than it being fit in where it really didn’t fit.

I even used this idea for a “colouring contest” at a gym-opening I was at. They asked participants to draw a picture of what “fit” meant to us (shout out to FIT by Fun Fitness Fast – amazing place to go in the Burlington, ON area!).

So everything was going great on this front… and around rolls April. I had heard about the Whole Life Challenge in February from my friend Heather. In March during a discussion about health and fitness, she recommended I might want to try it out the next time… in April, her Facebook page began piling with information and promos about the Whole Life Challenge that was about to start in May. I signed up immediately, recruiting my sister and one of her besties to join me. After interviewing Heather for Ugly Ducklings in April, our very own Jenn also joined the team.

The challenge changed my life.

Sisterly texts... Day 1

Sisterly texts… Day 1

And, besides that, it was a lot of fun! I gained valuable information, education, and insight, self-esteem, and confidence.  I was able to let go of a lot of the notions I had in my head about what health and fitness “looked like” and for the first time in forever, I felt like I was in control of my life and my health.

Anyone who wants to make a healthy change in their life, for whatever reason, I highly recommend you grab a friend who lives close by and join the WLC (even a long-distance friend can be a total game-changer, I’ve learned). ANYONE can do this challenge, regardless of your current health and fitness level – it just requires you to be mindful and accountable for the choices you make. There aren’t any crazy workouts or fitness regimes – it is about making health and fitness work for you. 

The first thing I will say about the challenge is that Undisputed Fitness (the community we joined for the WLC) really knows how to build a tribe. There was so much support in their Facebook group and on the website –everyone on their team genuinely wants everyone else to succeed; they offer advice, recipes, encouragement and answers to the questions everyone has. It was such an honour to be a part of such an incredibly strong and gifted group of people.

I cannot thank Heather enough for all the love and support she gave me during this challenge (and just in general!), the conversation I had with coach Lorenzo just before the challenge ended was a HUGE game-changer and Nate was a fantastic team captain and creates the best Facebook memes.

This entire team is so badass.

whole life challenge - making almond milkI also learned so much about myself and my environment. I learned to be conscientious of what I am putting in my mouth.

I haven’t stuck to the “compliant nutrition” since the challenge ended – but I am way more educated now about the foods I am eating, what is in them and how they make me feel. You think almond milk that you buy at the store is a godsend?

Read the ingredients – you can’t even say half of them. I made my own!
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Ugly Ducklings from Netherlands, Switzerland, and Argentina together

Ugly Ducklings Inc members get together

There are people who are very skeptical when it comes to cyber friends and meeting people you’ve only talked to via a computer screen.

Well, The Ugly Ducklings are an exception…

This past summer, Maaike, Maressa, and Marie had the incredible opportunity to meet each other, defying long distances (in the case of Argentina, especially), and other tiny obstacles. Below you’ll read the three diaries of these three duckies who got this great chance to meet.

Maaike story, summer with ugly ducklings

Having some of my best friends living abroad is a unique experience to say the least. Everything feels exactly the same as with friends living close to you, except for the *bloody* concept of distance (who came up with that anyway?).

You cannot just ring your friends on the other side of the world to ask if they feel like going out or to meet up. Conversations are only possible via text messaging applications or social media, and face to face contact is limited to online video chats. It’s weird feeling so close somehow, but so far away at the same time.

But sometimes… sometimes luck is at your side.

That moment when all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and you can actually be together with friends you love so very much. It happened to me this summer when I was the most fortunate girl in the world to be able to spend some time with my dear friends Maressa and Marie (a.k.a. Sisters from other Misters).

Last summer, Maressa and I were on a road trip for a week in her home country Switzerland (and we also shared our experience with The Ugly Ducklings here!)

Right away we agreed that we would meet up again next summer too, regardless of where that would be. Well, since Maressa never visited my home country, the Netherlands, we agreed that she would visit me this summer. We planned some day trips and even visited my second home, London, where I used to live in 2012. It was once again an amazing experience that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss for the world.

meeting ugly ducklings from other places

With our Ugly Ducklings t-shirts!

Then there’s this other peculiar case of faith I need to tell you about. Our dear Colombian friend living in Argentina (still following?), Marie, happened to attend a wedding in Rome in July… at the exact time Maressa was in the Netherlands. Everyone can do the math, right?

Exactly! Marie also took a flight to the Netherlands. I’ll spare you the details, but the journey to Europe entailed a lot of work and stress for her. But finally, she made it and the three of us were reunited.

I really have to say, it felt so natural to have these girls with me. So perfectly normal. Like we’re not living 450 and 7107 miles (!) apart, but just next door to each other. I was then also extremely sad to see them leave.

I had an amazing time with my Sisters and loved to show them my homeland. Also looking through their eyes at my own country and its culture taught me so much. It’s good to reflect upon these things from time to time and to open your eyes to your own country’s beauty and its unique aspects.

Friends enrich your life and having friends living so far away makes you appreciate that fact even more.

Maressa and Marie, I felt extremely privileged to be able to show you my country and to have you around me. Het was gezellig! Love you girls to the moon and back!

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Rest in Peace Robin Williams

Robin Williams was the voice of the Genie. Try to fight depression

Don’t you feel like you just lost a long-life friend?

Someone who taught you how to laugh, how to cry? How to laugh and cry at the same time?

Robin Williams passed away yesterday, August 11th, and according to media reports, he had been fighting some depression demons for a long time.

You think that people who are always doing funny things and making people laugh are just showing the rest of the world what they are experiencing inside… well, sometimes it’s just their own way to cope with the problems and aches they have inside.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out if you feel depressed

“I’m sad”. We all go through moments when we cannot deal with our inner feelings and we look for ways to escape. Perhaps we can’t seem to see an exit door. Here, at Ugly Ducklings Inc, we have been fortunate enough to create a supportive community, where people in need might come to us and ask for advice. At the same time, we have some amazing group of people who are willing to say some words of encouragement at the moment they most need it.

After the sad news of Robin Williams’ passing, and how everyone has felt touched by his leaving us, it is very important that we reinstate, and encourage you to look for someone who can help you, as there will always be someone willing to be there for you. As Sky Williams said in his video “A message to the Depressed”, always try to look for someone who is near you, a friend, a therapist, a relative. If not, you can try the different hotlines available.

We have a list of resources that you can turn to if you need to. Just click here.

And to all those who have been in close contact with depression, either because of a friend, a relative, or because you yourself are suffering, this message is for you…

“I’d like to live in a world where happiness is as easy as buying a soda in a vending machine. But it’s harder than that.”

Special thanks to The Telegraph and MindFullUK for sharing this beautiful video.

Public shaming because of something you’re eating!?

Public shaming for eating food

Your body. How conscious are you of it? Of the way you look? Of the way people might see you?

It’s the society, really, and I think that media has a huge influence in this too. The constant input of photos, TV shows, and films showing slim figures and girls who might not seem from this world (and some are really not, as they are significantly modified thanks to graphic editor programs) make you think twice about your figure.

But then there’s other girls -and boys too, don’t forget boys- who don’t feel like they have to subscribe to this image of what a “perfect body” is, and they feel perfectly fine with their current weight.

And what if you are eating something while walking to work? Or perhaps indulging in a scrumptious cupcake that you promised yourself as a reward if you finished your paper on time?

What if someone stopped you or caught your attention while you’re in the bus, nibbling on a yummy snack, just to make you feel bad about what you’re eating? That’s one kind of street harassment no one talks about these days. 

That’s the reason why we wanted to share this with you. No one has a right to criticize you or make fun of you because of what you’re eating in public. Don’t let them get you. Click here to watch this interesting discussion on the subject.

How would you respond to someone who mocks you because of your figure or what you’re eating? Tell us in the comments.

The power of music

celebrate-music-banner

Music, an everyday concept that we often take for granted. It is everywhere, all around us, and we’re often not even aware of it anymore. Yet, it is the one thing that connects us as human beings. Like Hans Christian Andersen once cleverly pointed out: “where words fail, music speaks.”

Music is a form of language that is commonly understood by every human being on the globe.

  • It brings joy, comfort and liveliness into the world.
  • It can communicate emotions like no other.
  • It can create mutual understanding between people from different social backgrounds, ethnicities and social classes.

Music inspires. That, to me, is the true beauty of it.

To celebrate this form of art and to encourage amateur and professional musicians to step out of their comfort zone and perform in public areas all over the world, Fête de la Musique (World Music Day) has been introduced.

World Music Day - June 21Over 108 countries and 726 cities around the world yearly participate on 21st June and offer free concerts and music events in streets, parks, squares, public and commercial buildings. It is the perfect way to get together and to enjoy music styles of all sorts. At the same time, it promotes the connection between city centers and rural areas, not leaving anyone out.

For amateur musicians Fête de la Musique is the perfect opportunity to reach out and let other people hear what they have to offer. Even for professional musicians it is a great chance to get a feeling of what it is like to perform in front of a different backdrop than the usual concert hall. The events during this day also promote the encounter and exchange between amateur and professional musicians.

And I just had to show you this example. A flashmob in the Copenhagen metro that I saw recently.

Fête de la Musique was established by the French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, in 1982. He discovered in a study on the cultural habits of the French, that five million people (one child out of two) played a musical instrument. This was the beginning of his dream to bring these people out on the streets and make music accessible to everyone. And it obviously worked! Starting in France, the event soon spread out across the world and still gets picked up by new countries every year. If that isn’t an indication that music is important, I honestly don’t know what is.

To see where Fête de la Musique is celebrated in your area (and how you can participate), visit their website!

Comment below and tell us what music means to you!

- Maaike (UDI Research Assistant)

Josh Dallas NAHS charity fundraiser

Hello Ugly Ducklings. 

Today’s post is dedicated to our great friends, partners, and favorite people from the Charming Angels community and the fans and admirers of actor Josh Dallas from the tv show Once Upon a Time.

Last year we united forces for our first charity competition, where we had the support of these wonderful people. With their help, we raised $600 for Mental Fitness Inc!

Now, we want to help them spread the word on their new campaign in favor of Josh Dallas’ high school’s theater department.

They’ll do a series of raffles starting on June 9th and you only need to donate a small amount of money to participate and get a chance to win one of these!!!

Josh Dallas Charity Drive

Item from Lot 1 – Novel signed by Josh

Josh Dallas Charity Drive

Item from Lot 2. Complete Season 1 DVD signed twice by Josh

Make sure you read all the instructions over at their website: Josh Dallas NAHS Theater Dept. Charity Drive.

If you can’t donate money, then there’s something that’s free and super easy to do: tell others about this, so more people can help and support this great cause.

Stay awesome Ugly Ducklings. And thank you!

Swan Out,
- Marie

30 days of hope project

JUNE is HERE! That means that #30DaysOfHope begins now!

Ugly Ducklings, we know that through this community we have helped, support and encourage lots of people, and both our lives as well as theirs have been touched by the positivity and the advice that we post here.

Two of our dear friends from when we got this movement going, Zachery, and Amy  -who are part of the Once Upon a Fan website- came to us to get this thing going. What better way to bring each other up than with #30DaysOfHope? 

So come! Don’t miss this for the world! Remember to follow us on Twitter, @UDucklingsInc, as well as @TheZachVan, and @Amylia403

30 Days of Hope

Skin Cancer Awareness month

get your moles checked to prevent skin cancerWhen people hear the word cancer they can’t help but feel a little scared.

Even if they haven’t suffered from it themselves the chances of knowing someone who is living with or has died from cancer are big.

People do a lot of things to help others and to protect themselves: they raise money for cancer research organizations, they do self-examinations of their body, they get vaccinations, but what about the little things like,

  • Not staying out in the sun for long periods of time between 10am and 4pm
  • Avoiding getting a tan, and UV tanning booths
  • Maybe just remembering to use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually and each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of other commont types like breast cancer.

It is said that one in five Americans will develop it in the course of a lifetime. So, why aren’t people doing everything in their power to stay safe during the sunny days?

Because they want to hide their natural pale skin.

They go through desperate -and dangerous- actions to get what they want without thinking twice about the risks. But why do they so desperately want a tan? Having a tan isn’t something society has brought on.

Yes, people who go get a tan might have gotten inspired by seeing a specific celebrity and want to get it themselves, but in style, there’s nothing that says you have to have either a tanned or paled skin.

Both are in style.

Melanoma

Jennifer Morrison, moles removedIn November 2011, actress Jennifer Morrison did an interview with US Magazine called “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me: Jennifer Morrison”. Most of them were fun facts about her, but number 22 was more serious.

“22. I have seven scars from having moles removed.
One was a melanoma, six were precancerous. Get your moles checked!”

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and these cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.

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It’s International Day Against Homophobia

Be true to yourself What better way to be part of this important day than with an interview with these girls?

The road to equality is still a rocky one but if we all keep talking about respect, and tolerance, we may gain some extra yards quicker.

We had the amazing chance to chat with actress Andrea Verdura, and her beautiful girlfriend, Angela, who talked to us about being gay, finding true love, and most importantly being true to yourself.

Here’s our pop quiz part of the interview (and just wait until Andrea gives us a surprise when she answers what her favorite fairy tale is!)

And, for our second part of the interview, here are some of the things they had to say…

  • People never think that being heterosexual is a phase.
  • Straight men make comments like they think they can change you.
  • Any kind of change starts closest to us and then it spans outward.

Their advice, their outlook towards life, and their future projects just made us forget that homophobia even exists! Let’s keep in our minds that we can also make part of the change, ugly ducklings.

Leave us a comment and tell us what you loved the most about our chat. And if you seek any kind of support from the LGBT community, you can check our Resources page.

Until next time Ugly Ducklings…
- Swan Out!