My Homecoming Address

This past September, I was selected as the guest speaker from the Appleby College Alumni Community to speak at the Homecoming Chapel Service. I was so thankful I had the chance to share my story with current Appleby students and faculty. Below is my address:

“Home. A word that means so many things… a form of shelter, where your loved ones are, where you grew up, where you currently live. Home is wherever you would like it to be.  

Today, I’d like to take you through my story: all the places that I’ve called home, what I’ve experienced and what I’ve learned. Today, I will share parts of my life that are very personal, but an important part of who I am. 

My name is Celeena… and this year, I am celebrating my 5-year reunion of my Appleby graduation. All I can say is, where on earth does the time go? And I’ve only recently begun to appreciate the actual value of time. How important it is, and how quickly things change. 

This brings me to the first place I can truly call home: wherever my family is. About a year and a half ago, my younger brother passed away in a tragic accident at the age of 19. We were best friends and he just understood me. I’m sure many of you can relate that losing someone you love is devastating. There is not a moment that goes by where I don’t miss him and of course, I do wish we could be growing up together, like things were supposed to be. What I will say is that losing him taught me so much about life and has put things into perspective. Since his accident, my relationship with my parents and older sister has gotten stronger and I know he would be happy about that. And now, I am doing everything I can to carry on and live life for the both of us… with double the amount of excitement and strength, because that is exactly what he would have wanted me to do. My family and my time with my brother means the world to me. Home is wherever my family is. 

Home for me, is also here. Appleby College. Not only did I learn here… I lived here, made lifelong friends here, got into trouble here, talked my way of out trouble here… pretty much, I grew up here. And this school is another extremely important part of my story.  

I started Appleby in Upper One and truthfully… I wasn’t in a good place. I wasn’t motivated and school to me was just time wasted. I got into trouble, did the bare minimum, chose extracurriculars based on what my friends were doing, and didn’t care to get involved. 

Somewhere along my time near the end of Upper School, something clicked. Maybe it was my Round Sqaure trip to Peru, my newfound passion for learning and speaking Mandarin (which I may add was my best course), a Prefect who encouraged me to apply to be a Peer Counselor or the leadership role I began to take on the Swim Team. Whatever it was, after a year of coasting, I made an active choice to open my eyes and appreciate this amazing place. I hope you all figure it out before I did. Because, it is here at Appleby, at those harkness tables where I first discovered that my voice could be powerful. It is here, in Mr. Grant’s economics class and Zuke’s International Business where I first discovered my fascination with “business”. It is here where I learned that though little, I could be a force to be reckoned in the swimming pool.  This school and what it offers really turned my life around for the better. And I think that’s what made my Appleby experience so special, not only for me, but for everyone who witnessed it.

As the Head Prefect of the class of 2008. I can also proudly say that it is at this school where I learned that absolutely anything is possible. Being Head Prefect is still my biggest accomplishment and was an honor. Many of my accomplishments actually are thanks to the person who I became at this school.  Home for me is here.

Home for me, is also, The University of Western Ontario where I headed to “fingers crossed” get my undergrad in Business. It’s really hard to imagine life outside of these doors, or gates I guess. But let me tell you, it’ s insanely exciting. Take Appleby and multiply it by 1,000 (literally) and there you are. At the beginning, I was intimidated. But because of the strong foundation I developed at Appleby, I was able to find the perfect balance, between working hard and experiencing the other great aspects of University. After my 2nd year, I got accepted into the Richard Ivey School of Business and there I challenged my classmates and learned a lot about myself. I also landed job at LoyaltyOne, a large marketing firm in downtown Toronto where I just recently celebrated my one-year anniversary.

As an analyst on the Business Development team, I help build pitches to for executives to present to new prospects. More recently, I’ve even been given the opportunity to travel with the team and join in on the pitch meetings. Being in a boardroom is somewhere I never thought I could thrive. But with the support of the people around me, I have found that instead of fearing those meetings, I now look forward to them. I feel privileged that I can do things like walk up to the President of LoyaltyOne US like I did earlier this week tell him that I am speaking here today and to my surprise seeing how insanely excited he was knowing that two of his sons would be here listening. And that my VP, even during our busiest time of year, was so supportive of me taking this day off and coming to speak to you all. I feel valued and appreciated at my place of work, and that is special. Home for me is LoyaltyOne.

For me, Home is the most comforting word in the English language. It’s quite funny actually… my friends often ask me where I am and I usually answer… “I’m at home”. But those who know me well know that could mean so many things… so they’re constantly asking “which home Celeena”. But hey, I feel lucky that I can have so many homes as each has played a pivotal role to the person I am standing here today.

Coming back to this home has brought back so many memories… of hanging out on Colley Flats, of Relay for Life and pretty much every moment of my Senior Two year. Treasure your memories here because sooner than you know it, you will be celebrating YOUR 5 year reunion. You have no idea how much this place actually prepares you for the rest of the world. Appreciate the time you spend here.

In light of my 5 year Appleby Reunion, I’d like share my top 5 pieces of advice … things I wish I would have known when I was in your shoes.

 1.    Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out. I truly have no idea what I want to do with my life next week, let alone a year form now. But, I wake up happy with myself, and grateful for the people in my life. Just have fun here. Work hard of course, but make sure there is a good balance. When my friends and I think back to our time here, we have so many hilarious memories. Yes, we learned a ton, but we also had a ball.

2.    Appreciate your teachers. I will never forget Mr. MacFarlane tutoring me in chemistry every single week and seeing absolutely no improvement. Now this had nothing to do with his tutoring skill and everything to do with how my brain was wired. My point is, not once did he tell me that chemistry wasn’t for me. Not once did he give up on me. You will never find the same quality of teachers than those you had here. Make sure you tell them how much you appreciate them.

 3.     Don’t sweat the small stuff. I still remember not getting home form leader and thinking it was the end of the world and looking back, I wish I didn’t get so upset over it. My failures have taught me MUCH more than my successes.

4.  Stay strong and take care of yourself. Take it from someone who has truly had their world shatter. There is some crazy inner strength inside each and every one of you. When you think you have hit rock bottom, keep climbing. You will be okay. I promise.

And lastly, number 5. Never ever forget those places you’ve called home.

Thank you all for letting me be here today, thank you all for letting me come back home.”

-C

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

10 Small Pieces of Advice That Will Go a Long Way:

Lately, lots of people have been giving me some really good advice. I don’t know if it’s intentional or if I’ve suddenly become a good listener, but these words have really stuck with me and I would love to share them with you all. Here are 10 pieces of advice that have been passed on to me, and that I really think will go a long way.

1. Sometimes you have to screw up to give yourself a reality check”– LF

Making mistakes often helps put things back into perspective and show us what is important. Be thankful for what your mistakes teach you.

2.“You never regret a workout”- JR

This one is so true. I always feel better after a workout no matter horrible I feel going into it.

3.“It’s important to be selfish”- AS

 Not all the time, but you should always come first.

4.“Go easy on yourself” – ES

You are your own best friend and worst enemy… so be nice.

5.“You will never ever forget what you don’t want to forget”– TL

I always worry that I will start to forget some of my best memories. But I now realize how crazy that seems. I have full control of the things that I remember?  

6.“Have you forgiven?” – HHM

A really good friend of mine asked me this the other day and it really made me think. Being angry or holding a grudge takes way too much energy. So why not just forgive?

7.“It’s just so much easier to like people”- PF

It’s so true. Similar to holding grudges, easier to like someone than to hate dislike them. Even if they’re really annoying, they likely mean well.

8.“People notice when you work hard”- CR

You might not think they notice, and maybe it’s only one person that does. But one of the worst things someone can think about you is that you are lazy.

9.“Hard work trumps good luck”– RT

Being lucky is one thing, but working hard to achieve your goals is another. You shouldn’t let anyone tell you that you are lucky to be at a point in your life that you worked so hard to get too. Appreciate your achievements but recognize the work that went into them.

10.“Relax” – everyone, always

Something that I really need to do a little more.

To those who have passed on these words, thank you. I am so lucky to have your bright minds in my life.

–        C

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“The ups and the downs. The give and the take. The work and the play. The gin and the tonic.”

balance is everything

This life is all about Balance

This life is all about Balance. For every person who has let you down, there is somebody who will surprise you. For every person who has taken from you, there is somebody who will give to you… unconditionally. For every person who has hurt you, there will be someone who will be so kind to you. For every person who has abandoned you, there will be someone to cherish you dearly. For every person who has put you down there will be someone who will offer a hand to pull you back up. Just because we experience bad times and bad people, never forget that there is always a better day just around the corner. There is always a reason to keep going. And there is always that second someone. And on the days when you feel that there is nobody there for you, just remember you could be that person for someone else. Perhaps that with all that is going on in the world right now, this is greatest gift we could ever give one another.

-C

 

IMG_2617

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I love this !

Organic Green Roots

You’re quickly navigating your way through the busy streets as a litany of thoughts storm throughout your mind. A tugging urgency propels you to take faster steps, you round a corner and suddenly notice a tiny hand, a hand holding a flower, a flower meant for you.

In this moment you stop. Are you inclined to create space within your day to reflect upon random generosity? Would such guerrilla philanthropy inspire you to pay it forward?
Ornamental Thoughtfulness is a public arts project that attempts to provoke such feelings by installing several tiny bronze hands in public places throughout central Wellington, New Zealand.

The purpose of these hands is to hold offerings, small gestures of thoughtfulness to whomever notices. These offerings are meant to engage passers with anonymous tokens of generosity. A silent act of kindness that the artist hopes will create a butterfly effect of positivity or at the…

View original post 176 more words

Image

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is only appropriate to give thanks. Though it’s hard to celebrate without the one person I wish I could celebrate it with, if these past few months have taught me anything, it is to be more grateful for the things that I have and have had.

So here are 20 things that I am thankful for:

1. Random encounters: Out of the millions of people in Toronto, I am thankful that I can bump into the last person I would ever expect… and that this same person can be the first person to make my day.

2. Random Acts of Kindness: When someone walks me home at night, pays for my coffee at Starbucks, or a stranger says hello- these random acts of kindness really make the world go round.

3. Peace: I may not be fully at peace with myself, but I’m working on it. I’m thankful for the times that I feel most at peace with myself.Image

4. Things looking forward too: I’m thankful that I’m so young and always seem to have something look forward too.

5. Western: I’m so lucky to have spent the most amazing 4 years at hands down the best University in the country.Image

6. Our last Spring Break: My last Reading Week was spent with the most amazing friends. I’m so thankful that we all followed through, it really was the trip of a lifetime.

7. Memories: I am thankful for all of the crazy, happy times we have had together, and all of the special memories that I now have because of those times.

8. My TravelsTravelling has opened my mind to trying new things and has allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people.  I’m so fortunate to have travelled so much at such a young age.

Image

9. Laughter: To all those people who can make me laugh- thank you. Laughter really is the best medicine.

10. Good Health: I am thankful for the healthy mind and healthy heart of myself and those around me.

11. That feeling: You know that feeling you get…  when you are with someone who you know is special and just has such good energy. I am so thankful for that feeling.

12. My Friends: You have all touched me in so many ways, love you guys.

Image

Image

13. My Job: I get to wake up every morning knowing that I am working for a company that I am so passionate about beside some of the smartest, kindest people I’ve ever met. I am so lucky for that.

14. A boss I look up too: The cherry on top to a job I love is that I have a boss who listens and cares about what I have to say. I appreciate her and look up to her so much not only as a manager, but I also admire her so much because I know how good of a mother she is to her two girls.

15. My dogs: I’m thankful to have two adorable dogs, each with their own personality. I sometimes think they are the sanest, smartest members of the family. I would go crazy without them.

 ImageImage

Image

16. Strength: Everyday I get stronger and stronger…  closer to being as strong as my mom …both mentally and physically.

Image

 17. My intuition: Everyday my judgment gets a little bit better and I am closer to being just like my dad. I hope to one day make him as proud as he has made me.

Image


18. 
My Family:  We have our highs and lows, but they really are my foundation and the reason I am who I am today.

Image

19. The things Kyle left behind: I’m thankful for the things he left behind for everyone, almost like he was preparing us to not have him here. I know see why he loved Brittany and Ali so much and am so thankful to have them because in both of them, there is a bit of him. I’m thankful for these gifts and everything that I’ve learned from him. Because I know that I am better, because of him.

20. You: I’m thankful that you took the time to read this, because I imagine it means that you’re special to me and I am lucky to have you in my life.

Xox

– C

20 Things That I am Thankful For

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cheers to you, Kyle

This slide show was played after my speech at the Kyle Sayani Charity Golf Classic. The song is Carry On by FUN. Thank you to everyone who got a chance to celebrate Kyle’s life with us. We are so thankful to have had you there.

xox

C

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Kyle Sayani Charity Golf Classic Speech

This speech was written by my sister, Brittany and I for the 1st Annual Kyle Sayani Charity Golf Classic. We are so thankful for everyone who played a role in making the tournament such a success. Kyle would have been so honoured.  

Image

People come into our lives to teach us things. Not intentionally and sometimes without us even knowing it. But one person can honestly change your life. And for a lot of us here today, Kyle was one of those people.

There was something special about him. He was someone who you meet and are instantly drawn too and you just feel better and happier and they are around. When Kyle smiled, you couldn’t help but smile also.

For many of us, our lives revolve around our plans for the future, how certain actions will help us become more successful, get us more money, and help us accomplish our dreams. Basically most of our thoughts revolve around ourselves. This was the biggest difference between us and Kyle. Kyle had the biggest heart we had ever known. All he wanted was to make his loved ones happy, and whatever would accomplish that, he would go to all lengths to do that. It is not that Kyle didn’t have dreams and goals for himself and his future, but Kyle had that perfect balance. The balance between caring for himself and caring for others.

He taught us so much. And we want to share some of these lessons with you. Because that’s what he would have wanted. We hope that you can pay it forward and leave today learning from him. Because, Kyle, though young, had a lot to offer the world.

Kyle taught us how if you’re not good at one thing, you can always find something you’ll be great at.  I’m happy he found golf, especially because that is what brought him and I together and all the rest of us here together. He was a natural. I’m glad we gave him more time to practice his swing while we did his homework.

Kyle taught us how it is cool be a strong girl. He always told us that there was no limit to what we could achieve as long as we set our minds to it. A special thanks to Kevin and Team BodyTech. You were his inspiration and because of you, he taught us how to push through those last few reps in the gym; I have my muscles to prove it. But I still don’t think I could take my mom in a fight, she’s a monster.

Kyle taught us how to have fun. No matter what he was doing, he always managed to make it a good time. From performing dance routines in the car, to singing Michael Jackson to our never ending prank wars. He would make us laugh till our abs hurt. He left us with nothing but good memories and we know that one day we will laugh together again.

Kyle taught us how it actually makes the world a better place when you’re nicer to people. He didn’t understand how many people he touched just from his kindness. Whether it was sticking up for an old lady at the grocery store or paying for the car behind him in the Tim Horton’s drive thru. It’s these small acts of kindness that made him so special. I hope he can somehow see all the people who came out today. He really would be so surprised. We are so proud of him and Kyle, the world is a better place because of you.

Kyle taught us how to love with our whole hearts and so much more. We’ve never seen anyone love others the way he did. His love was so strong that even though he’s not here, it was enough to last a lifetime. We honestly hope someday to love one person as much as he loved us all.

Kyle taught us how to put life into perspective. To love more and to worry less. That hair grows back, friends come and go, life goes on… To read lots and be open-minded. To respect all and to fear none. Right dad?

Kyle taught us how to talk our way out of anything. He just had a way with words. Even if he was asking us the most ridiculous things, he always found a way to convince us willingly to buy him candy, drive him places or give him money. That kid got away with murder.  He taught us how to negotiate, how to win arguments and how to get out of trouble. And for that, we are thankful.

Kyle taught us that it’s damn important to look good. Not because he was conceited- kay maybe a little, but he helped us understand that when you look good you feel better about yourself. He would say, “ You don’t want to be the slob standing beside a good looking person” And he was talking about himself as the good-looking person. He literally told me daily to fix my rats nest of hair and that I gained a few pounds. All in good fun but he is the reason why we keep at our bests.

Kyle taught us what it means to be there for someone. I think that’s what we miss the most, he was always there for us. Whether it’s him comforting me when I didn’t get the job, taking care of me when I’ve had one too many or to threatening my boyfriend. He always had our backs. We know his friends would say the same and we are happy to have you all here today. We’re all going to miss having our own personal bodyguard but we will all be there for each other.

So really we’re just thankful, for him. All the lessons he taught us and the gifts he has left us with have dramatically changed our lives. We are lucky that we even had something so great to loose. It’s hard to find light in a situation like this, but this event and the people around us have allowed us to do just that.

To Hazel and Janice. We honestly would not have been able to get through this without you. You two mean so much to us. Thank you and your families for being. We consider you our other moms and we’re sorry for being a handful. We love you always.  Kyle got all of his girls Pandora bracelets. So on behalf of the Sayani’s, as a small token of our appreciation, we want you to have one too.

To the CJGA and John Lawrence. You guys were such a big part of Kyle’s life and we are absolutely honoured that Kyle can now help a young golfer that started just like him. We know we made the right choice working with you.

To our volunteers and sponsors. You made today possible, we are beyond grateful.

To everybody here today. We look at all of you today and are so thankful that you are all here with us to celebrate Kyle’s life. We are overwhelmed with all the support you have given us in honor of Kyle. Please, find it in yourselves to be thankful for what Kyle taught us. And do us a favor and hold on to the people you care about. You should always appreciate the people you love, hold on to things that are important to you and follow your dreams just like Kyle did. And just be nice. It’s really simple.

To my mom and dad. We just want you to know that you raised an incredible and very special son. It’s not just a coincidence that he was the way he was, it was because of you. We love you so much, are always here for you and will stick together. On top of that, we will make you triple proud, we promise.

To Kyle. People always say you never know what you have until it’s gone, but we can 100% say we always knew. There is nothing I would have changed about you. We promise we’re gunna take all of these things and make the world a better place. For you. You are our hero. Always were and always will be. We love you.

To Kyle. As your older sister I spent my whole life trying to be your teacher and your protector. Although sometimes you drove me insane because we were so similar, it turns out that you are the one who was always protecting me and teaching me things. I am so thankful that as we grew up we found it easier to relate to each other and get along. Thank you for being the best brother a girl could ask for. You push me to be a better person and I promise I will make you proud. I love you more then you will ever know and I will take care of us all like you would want me to. Love, Alicia

To Kyle. Thank you for taking care of me, making me strong, and for being my best friend. There is very little for me to say because I know you already know what you are to me. But I want you to know that everyday I see a little more of you in myself. People tell me everyday how much I remind them of you. And that helps me get through this, because I really did look up to you in more ways than one. I’m sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye, but am hoping this was all part of your master plan. I promise to still follow all our dreams. You will always be in my head and my heart forever. With Love, Celeena

To Kyle. Thank you for being the best person to ever fall in love with. I am so glad I went through all the ups and downs of having a first love, with you. Though sometimes things were tough, overall it was a beautiful journey and I am truly blessed to have spent it with you. You were my number one fan and the love of my life and I will miss you with all my heart. I promise to make you proud and to achieve my dreams, because I know that’s all you ever wanted. Love, Brittany

We know this golf tournament may have been a little soon, but think about Kyle. He would want us to be here laughing, golfing and celebrating. So thank you all for doing exactly that. I’m sure he’s watching over us with a big smile.

But let’s forget the tears and keep in mind that we’re here to celebrate his life.

*Video*

Please raise your glasses and cheers to Kyle. You will never be forgotten, we can promise you that.

Thank you

xoxo

C

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m Inspired by You.

And you will inspire me forever…

Image

You inspire me because of the way you took care of people. You taught me that sometimes people need help even though they don’t ask for it. Whenever you saw someone in need you were the first to help out, whether you knew them or not. So many people were touched by your random acts of kindness and I promise to carry them on for you.

You inspire me because you worked so hard. You always passed everybody’s expectations… it was so impressive. You taught me to work harder, strive higher and to prove people wrong.

You inspire me because you were fearless. You lived in the moment, took risks and never had any regrets. I try to be more like that whenever I can.

You inspire me because you were always so calm. You always told me not to worry, that things have a way of working themselves out. I swear by these words and can still hear you saying them to me.

You inspire me because you were so tough. I have no idea how you made it past some of the things you went through. But you always kept your head up.  And through this impossible time I will try and do the same, for you.

You inspire me because of how much love you had to give. I’ve never seen anyone love others the way you did. You loved with your whole heart and so much more. Your love seriously never ends. I hope to love someone some day the way you loved everyone around you. You had a heart of gold.

You inspire me because of your smile and your spirit. I know you couldn’t help it but your positive energy was contagious. I was so drawn to you…not because we were family, but because of your energy, the person you were… you were something special. Whenever we were together or whenever we talked, I felt instantly better.  So now, when I meet people who give off the same energy you do, I try and get to know them as much as I can, cause I know that they are special too.

You always have inspired me and you always will.

I hope I can inspire one person the way you have inspired me.

xox

-C

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 Life Lessons Everyone Should Live By

  1. It’s okay to miss home. Course, it’s cool to backpack through Asia because its what you’ve always dreamed you would do. But if it doesn’t feel right, go home. Home is where your heart is… and that’s where you should be too. You will know when the time is right to go follow your dreams.

  2. Timing is everything. A year from now, that guy that you thought you could never see yourself withmay be perfect for you. Things change and people can surprise you.

  3. Life is full of surprises. Some good, some bad. You don’t know what can happen tomorrow, so don’t have any regrets. Sometimes, one single day can be the scariest thrill ride of your life.  

  4. Life really is a rollercoaster. Within a matter of seconds, you can go from your highest high to your lowest low. When you’re at that low, you’ll feel helpless. But other people have been there and have climbed their way back to the top. Trust me, I’ve met them. Never say you can’t climb back up too. 

  5. Never say never. Try not to speak in absolutes; it’ll just hold you back you in the long run. You have no idea if you will always love someone and who says you can never climb Mount Everest? You can do whatever you want to do. Be fair to yourself.

  6. Wait, life isn’t fair? You know how your mom always said to you that life’s not fair? Well she was right. But little did you know that your life is in your control. So if you don’t think it’s fair, change it. And if you can’t change it, then… it is what it is.

  7. The world is not out to get you. By taking some time to open your eyes and get to know the people around you, you’ll soon realize that people have been through similar things.

  8. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Okay, so you lied to your on-and-off boyfriend and he told you he needed some space. It seemed like the worst possible thing to have happened to you. Looking back, there was no reason for you to have been such a baby. Apologize though, because you made a mistake and you were wrong. But really, It isn’t the end of the world. 

  9. Always say goodbye to the people you love. You never know when the last time you see them will be. It’s that simple.

  10. Simplicity trumps complication. If you’re hungry, eat, if you’re tired, take a nap. If you care about somebody, tell them (See Number 9).

  11. Be nice. Even though you may have mastered being a little brat, it really takes more of an effort to be rude. You’ll slowly learn that you if you’re just a little bit nicer, the world will be a better place. And on top of that, karma is a b****                                                                                                              

  12.  Karma is a b****

Wow, I just realized that I can’t wait to move out, hate surprises, always say never, complicate even the simplest situations and can be really rude sometimes. Maybe I should take my own advice. Even though I have a lot to learn at least I’ve realized that I should start trying.

– C

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,