Sunday, 22 March 2015

[3] The Sunday Collections: Middle Space

It has been a centering kind of season, and sometimes centering isn't fun because it makes me pull in the bleeding edges and deal with issues I've been ignoring or justifying for too long. Not everything that is ultimately for the best feels good at the time, though. 

It seems as though I'm always, forever sitting in a middle space. I'm neither here nor there. Always going, never quite arriving. I'm at the point, now, in my middle space where the novelty has worn off a bit, the end is just foggy enough to be out of reach, and I'm feeling the rut beginning to form. I hate that rut. It is the routine, the repetitive work. What I've noticed about myself is that I usually dive into new things with intensity, and then the shine wears off and I'm looking for the next thing. This is a habit that scares me, a bit. I'm trying to train myself out of it. I don't want to spend my life addicted to running over the next hill while never actually leaving behind work of substance. 

We're all building something, I think. We're building careers, families, relationships, our stories. My question to myself is: what grounds me enough to push through that boring, dusty middle space? Personally, I've discovered that I need to be creating things. Rather than always chasing the newness out there, I can create new things here and now to keep the restlessness at bay. When I'm craving a change of scenery and it is not the right place or time to leave, I need to look at where I stand from a different angle. 

The other thing is comparison. It is easy to glance over into the lives of other people and convince myself that they have better problems, more freedom, or a nicer life in general, and maybe, if I tried something new, I'd get there too. See, that type of thinking is dangerous, especially if it propels me to drift around, taking on projects and signing up for things that don't fit who I am because I'm trying to find the magic life. It is especially dangerous if it makes me a chronic "leaver," ever unfinished and never truly satisfied. I know I'll never build anything strong if I keep disappearing before the end.

Part of why I have this urge to leave before the end is because I hate endings. Denouements are painful and final and sometimes I'd rather skip across to new beginnings without the nasty "end" part. There's something healthy about allowing a season to finish, though. Some of us drag out our seasons on purpose so the end will never come. Some of us avoid endings by trying to evade them. Either way, closure sometimes hurts and it is important to acknowledge that. It is good to say good-bye at the right time. Sometimes it might not be our choice to say good-bye, but it is essential to learn how to work through this, even if it might be very painful.

It is Sunday. In a way, this is a day of beginnings and endings. It starts a week and signals the end of last week. It is a day that I use to reflect and it is a day I use to look forward. I think that this practice subtly helps ground me, as well. It shows me that last week had purpose and beauty and lessons, and so will this week. It is the sigh of relief and a spark of possibility wrapped into one day. 

This is the ebb and flow of life's rhythm. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

[2] The Sunday Collections: Be Gentle With Your Self

This week was one of those crazy ones. The days were full and time was short. It's funny. The week I try to be intentional about simplicity is the week that gets crammed with one more thing to do, one more place to be, etc. None of these things were bad, but sometimes there is just so much

Keeping track of the little things is becoming more important to me now. The snapshots of my week include a quiet morning breakfast, one of my finished pottery projects with the tiniest crack in the bottom (a lovely imperfection, to me), scarves and blankets, early mornings, good books, and writing letters on paper. 

Simplicity. Breathing space. Intentionality. Noticing. Appreciating. It starts with the small things and eventually it becomes a way of seeing and a way of being. 

I tend to get restless easily. I feel like I'm always chasing down a new goal or trying to move in a new direction. I can get addicted to "the next thing" without fully appreciating what I've already accomplished or what already belongs to me. Ambition is good, but I don't want to become a person who is chronically unsatisfied. My way of combatting this, for now, is by documenting the simple moments of my week. I don't want to take anything for granted.

Also, this phrase: be gentle with your self

I'm trying to stay true to my own story and I'm trying to give myself more grace for the times I make mistakes or fail. I'm not lowering standards. I'm trying to stop beating myself up when I feel as though I fall short, or when I feel as though everyone else is better, further, stronger, or has their life more "together" than I do. 

Part of this includes talking more to the people who are my cheerleaders in life. They are the ones who encourage me to be genuine and challenge me in healthy, needed ways. They are affirming and gently nudge me back on track when I fall off a little bit. They tell me the truth. I want to listen to them more.

Part of this includes regularly taking time to do something that fills me. These are things that refresh me, inspire me, and energize me. Personally, this can take many different forms. My pottery class, carving out quiet space to read or write, wandering through Indigo to browse through the books, thrift shopping, talking to a good friend; these things all create "sweet spots" in my day or my week. 

This week, I hope that you find space to do something filling. Look for those sweet spots and savour them. 

Try to slow down and appreciate the simple moments.

Be gentle with your self. 

Have a restful Sunday.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

On the Shelf: Book Recommendations

Since I'm not in school right now, I'm finally reading things again other than poetry written in Middle English or something Shakespearean. Those are not bad things to read at all, but I haven't read anything by choice in way too long. However, the drought is over. I've been reading books like it is my job. This is a random list of some of the best authors and poets that either I've read recently, or that I know I love.

Non Fiction:

I read non-fiction more than any other genre. These books are mostly ones that I've read in the past month.

Blue Nights, Joan Didion

If you've never read Joan Didion, you need to read Joan Didion. Read anything she's written. She's one of my all-time favourites. The other day I was wandering around Chapters and found this book for like $6. You don't leave a book by Joan Didion on the shelf for $6. This is written in a memoir style, but it speaks to themes that we all can relate to. Those kind of books are my favourite. They are the ones you read and discover things about yourself through other people's stories and observations. This book is about themes of change, loss, fear, illness, and growing up and older. It's pithy. It's honest. It's not hard to read.

How to Breathe Underwater, Chris Turner

This is a collection of Chris Turner's best work over the years. He's a long form journalist and this book is so, so interesting. He mostly writes about technology and the environment and all of his works span from about 1999 onward. It gives a very smart, in-depth overview of the changing face of technology and culture over the past decade or so. The way I've been going through this one is by reading one article, putting the book down for a few days or a week to think over what I just read, and then coming back to another one. There is a lot to process in this book but it is good stuff.

The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan was 22 years old, a graduate of Yale, and an accomplished writer for someone so young, when she died suddenly in a car crash. This is a collection of her short fiction and essays. This book is definitely an experience to read. It is a collage of thoughts about life, growing up, relationships, career, etc., mostly from the perspective of a student. The story behind the book and its author adds an extra layer of depth and weight to her words.

Scary Close, Donald Miller

I've always liked Donald Miller's writing style and his books, Blue Like Jazz, and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years are some of my favourites ever. Once again, this book is easy to read and honest. This particular book is more about relationships than his other ones. I read it in one day and I keep going back to re-read my favourite parts. You should read it too.

Still Points North, Leigh Newman

I didn't read this book this past month, but I love this one, so I decided to include it anyway. It is about the author growing up in Alaska with a very broken family. The story goes through her journey of healing and finding herself as she becomes a journalist and travels all over the place. The writing style and the story combine to make this a very worthwhile book if you enjoy memoirs.


I'm always looking for new poets to read and listen to. I like poetry that is accessible and readable, yet deep. I'm not into the sentimental fluffy stuff. These are poets I keep coming back to.

T.S Eliot

Yes, I have a strong devotion to T.S Eliot. The Waste Land is obviously a classic and straight up one of the most amazing works I've ever read. Then there is Rhapsody on a Windy Night, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Preludes, etc. It's all poetry with substance and depth written by a master poet. He's not for everyone for sure, but if you want to read some good poetry, I'll always recommend T. S. Eliot. I also love his essay, Tradition and the Individual Talent, especially if you are an artist or writer or creative type.

Jamaal May

More of a spoken word poet, but again, lots of depth. He can create the most amazing metaphors and word pictures. I heard him live at a poetry reading a few years ago. Honestly, I had always been skeptical about poetry before I heard him speak. After listening to his poems, I was more willing to explore this genre.

Warsan Shire

Worth it. I love her poetry


I only include Rumi because his poetry intrigues me in general. You have to read it with an open mind, but it is very good.


It has been a while since I've read fiction, so these books are a few years old, but they are still some of the best on my bookshelves.

The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak

I love the style this book is written in. I like this perspective of World War II. This book just made a very deep impression on me in general. It will always be one of my favourites. Also, the movie is fine but you really need to read the book.

Dubliners, James Joyce

This is an older book. It might be hard to find, I'm not really sure. However, it is a collection of short stories and it is incredible. As a disclaimer, though, I also first read it in an English course. We analyzed the whole background of it to death, so I'm not sure if you'd get the full experience if you didn't really take the time to analyze each story. If you ever do read the book, though, it is an amazing work of literature and a very intelligent commentary on the culture of Ireland at the time it was written.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer 

This is a movie, too, but you have to read the book. The way it is written is so creative and unique and memorable. I heard the author speak live in an interview and I really respected his perspective on the creative process and what it means to be a writer. Anyway, this book is well worth the read.

The Wednesday Wars, Gary Schmidt

This is a humorous, yet serious, novel about a boy growing up during the 1960's. He is convinced that his teacher hates him and gets into all kinds of crazy, unfortunate situations. This is NOT Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Timmy Failure stuff (although if we are going to talk about that genre of book, read Timmy Failure. It has an unexpectedly deep message. Also, yes, it is for kids, but one afternoon in university I was really desperate for some light reading. This was the perfect thing). This book is surprisingly astute. I have no idea how many times I've read it, but it is many. Apparently the sequel, Ok for Now, is amazing too.

Hopefully this short list gives you some new inspiration for future reading!

Have a restful weekend.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

[1] The Sunday Collections

I've developed a funny little habit that I do on Sundays. I have a huge collection of pictures on my phone because I'm always taking pictures during the week of things that catch my eye and inspire me. Sometimes it is the mood or colour scheme of the picture that captures my attention, and, sometimes, it is a memory behind it. Either way, every Sunday I listen to an artsy playlist of songs and go through all of these pictures. 

In order to organize these pictures, I've decided to sometimes put them up here as well, mostly so I have a place to put them all. This is obviously not to showcase great photography, since most of these images are just quickly taken with my phone. This is more just a collage of snatches of my week. 

Also: one thing I have been thinking about this week is this word "reclaim." Sometimes, especially during this time of year, I feel kind of weighed down and restless waiting for spring to come. As a result, I tend to get sloppy in my own life. I cut corners and take shortcuts and get stuck in old ruts. I've been trying to reclaim spaces of my life by being alert and trying to see new things. 

One way I do that is by taking these pictures. There's something about noticing and capturing beauty that, to me, is an act of acknowledging these kind of exceptional moments that I could easily skip over. Sometimes they are extremely mundane things, but they can still be beautiful.

Another way: a friend and I agreed to take the month of March to read through the book of Hebrews in the Bible. Sometimes creating a fresh goal, naming it, and doing it with a friend is helpful to break out of that rut.

Lastly, I'm trying to commit to incorporating and increasing simplicity into my life. In my schedule, in what I wear, in my daily expectations of myself, etc., I just want to purge all the excess out of my life and be content with simplicity so I can more easily see and commit to things that matter. 

I'm hoping that, by being intentional with my time, my resources, my choices, and my relationships, I'll be able to reclaim those parts of my life that were starting to become cloudy. 

That's just a little meditation for your Sunday. 

I hope you find simple moments of beauty within your week as well.