I am a cheerleader

Last week, I mentioned that I hear from many people who tell me they are thinking about starting a blog. After I wrote about that, I heard from even more which was delightful. One friend spilled the beans that she had actually already started blogging, but that she had a stumbling block of not really feeling like she had direction for what she wanted to write or who her audience is. I identified with that a LOT.

I’m sharing this little adage for two reasons.

  1. My friend is a professional writer. A very experienced professional writer. If you are neither of those things, then you can let yourself off the hook a little if you are, like her, struggling with where to begin.
  2. After our little exchange, I thought about what she’d said a lot – about how true that all felt for me as well and about what advice, if I was the advice giving type, I would have given her.

JUST WRITE

That was the advice that I borrowed from Elizabeth Dehn, creator of my new favourite website, Beauty Bets. I still believe that it is sound and a great place to start, but I’ve added my own two word mantra to the mix with the following.

be yourself

I’ve always been an advocate for transparency and truth when it comes to personal representation online. It’s how I coach my friends, family and clients to be. Through social media or my blog(s), I’ve always wanted to maintain the reality of my personality. Partly because I want to be genuine and act with integrity, but also because I feel like keeping up a fake persona would just be so much work and, if I’m honest, I probably don’t have a lengthy enough attention span to make it happen. When people caution others to be careful about what they put on social media for how it might impact their careers or other goals, I often think that maybe the more helpful advice would just be to be a better person. Know what I mean?

But once I dug a little deeper into this advice and really searched my heart and soul, I started to realize that there is one way in which I hold back, one way in which I’m not really honest or myself. I did some digging into the things I enjoy, what makes me happy and how I get the most out of life. What I’m about to say is something that it took me a long time to realize (and even longer to accept), something for which I have a passive-aggressive acquaintance to thank and something that I’ve slowly had to become more comfortable with.

i am a cheerleader

I don’t cheer for everyone and I certainly don’t cheer for everything, but I am at least a little bit in love with so many of the people and things I see in the world and so many of the things that I do. I like drawing attention to great things that are being done. I like putting a spotlight on the people who are doing them. Based on my perception, there really isn’t anything wrong with that, but I couldn’t avoid asking myself the question: why do I hide it? I didn’t come up with a very thorough or complex answer, but here are a few of my suspicions. (My awaken response in brackets.)

  • People get really ornery when it comes to positivity and enthusiasm. I have to defend myself against naysayers on the regular. (That isn’t something I enjoy.)
  • It can come across as fake, gimmicky, simple or trite. (I am none of those things.)
  • Sometimes people have different opinions/experiences. (Big deal. You do you.)
  • What if I’m wrong? (Are you even being serious with this?)

Finally, there’s the old, haunting standby: “loving things isn’t a theme” to which I have decided to take the position, “says who?” Because loving things is my theme – it’s how I go through my days and nights, it’s what makes me smile and laugh, it’s how I choose who to spend my time with and what we will do. This is who I am and that is exactly how I want to be.

And, you know what I concluded, the more I thought about it? If they don’t like it, well fuck ’em.

And then Rory Lula McMahan posted this on her Instagram this morning: The High Priestess. Here was her summary of today’s occurrence of this card.

LITTLE: Put some heart in your head. BIG: There is too much going on right now. Your mind is spinning with tasks, ideas, goals, dreams, wants, needs – and a great big dose of overwhelm. There is just so much you think you should be getting done, but all you keep hearing yourself say is how you can’t get anything figured out, or even which direction to start in. Don’t write off that spinning head of yours. It is actually trying to get a great deal of valuable information out for you to use, in its own ridiculously tangled way. The key for moving from anxiety to efficiency – or more importantly, peace – is to filter it all through your soul. The world, and your mind, is telling you to do only the things they desire from you. But right now, you need to figure out what it is that you desire. Not the pipe dreams and what-ifs and quietly envious imitations, but what you truly, really, actually want to do with your very sacred time. Stop worrying about if anyone else is going to like it and think about whether you do. That fear and frustration, that knot in your belly, is definitely not any fun, but it is up to you to look deeper and understand which parts are telling you to let go and which parts are telling you to dig in, which parts are obligation and which are love, which are the voices of others and which is the voice of your own true self. Yes, it feels like a war is being waged within your own inner spaces. And as with any war, there will be some loss. But listen, and you will finally hear what your intuition has been whispering through the chaos: You are actually on the verge of gaining it all.

I think that confirms it. That confirms everything.  ♥

What does this mean for this space? All good things. Stick around and you can expect more loving, more sharing, more cheerleading. And now that I’m free to be me, I’m hoping there’ll be a little more consistency.

What’s holding you back? How could you be more true to yourself online and off?

Remaking a reader

I woke up this morning to – well, I woke up this morning to the usual screaming cat alarm and subsequent trample over my slumbering body, but after I shut her up satisfied her needs THEN I woke up to declarations of today’s designation. So bizarre, this marketer’s world of #NationalRedBikeDay and Happy International Black (not red!) Peppercorn (not ground!) Day! I’m not complaining because it’s mostly harmless, it’s made mostly fun and I never find it too invasive, though I do roll my eyes sometimes. It’s just strange. But today, TODAY! has a couple of pretty cool designations according to celebrants in my Twitter feed.

National picnic day!

This is not to be confused with INTERNATIONAL Picnic Day which, as we all know, falls on the much more reasonable June 18th. (Seriously, my first thought was that I loved the optimism, but there was no way I’d be able to observe National Picnic Day today! Missed the mark on that one, NPD organizers. Someone had to say it.

But, I mean, let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love a good picnic?

Here’s the DAY that really got my attention:

world book day!

Okay, when I first saw it, it had been a little bit rebranded by a pretty well known and successful book selling chain as CANADA BOOK DAY, but it became clear, and rather quickly, that this was something we Canadians would be sharing with the rest of the world and as we should be.

Books have been on mind a lot lately. I’m just coming out of a period of YEARS when reading was something that I just couldn’t do. I always blamed it on The Hunger Games because the last book I’d read before my inner reader went MIA was the third book. And I hate to shit on something that someone has poured their heart and soul into, but that book was BAAAAAAAD. It broke me. I should never have forced myself to read it to the end, but I did and then there I was: a former bookworm paralyzed by the one thing that used to make me most happy.

This quote spoke to me when I read Big Little Liars (Read it! The book is so much better than
the TV series, though the series really did redeem itself in the final episode.) earlier this year

Now, it’s been five or maybe six years and I’ve only managed to finish about as many books. I started warming up to reading again last year, but now I’m happy to report that I am slowly getting back into my groove again. I set my Goodreads Challenge at reading 18 books this year and am seven so far. (Stats are a bit skewed since I tend to read many books at the same time.) Thing is, I really had to make a conscious effort to bring books back into my life. I understand how people who don’t like to read continue to not be readers – the only things I had going for me were my nostalgic tendencies and my memory of loving to read.

Here are a few of the things I did.

  • Took electronics out of the bedroom. There are a zillion reasons (here are eleven) why you should do this, too, even if you never want to read another book again. But if you do want to become a reader, ditch the phone and tablet before bedtime.
  • Planned to read before bed. I set an alarm on my phone that went off one hour before the ideal time when I wanted to be asleep. This allowed me the time to get changed, brush my teeth, do my whole bedtime ritual and still left me with at least thirty minutes to read.
  • Scheduled reading time. I had a terrible habit of spending my lunch time at my desk, poring over emails while shoving food into my mouth. That’s no break! Instead, I closed my office door, physically moved myself away from my desk, left my phone beside my keyboard, sat at my meeting table or a bench in another room and ate my lunch and read. And you know what? It was a nice little escape from the day. (I made a point of reading fiction in these circumstances.)
  • Develop discerning taste. Don’t try to read everything. Put a book down if you aren’t into it. Take recommendations only from people you trust. (And if those people fail you, remember it for next time!)
  • Take a book everywhere. I don’t generally bring a bag with me when I go out (that’s what pockets are for!) so this was another habit that needed to be changed. If I took a bag, it was usually a backpack so tucking a book in there was never a big deal. When I wasn’t carrying my backpack, I started bringing a reusable shopping bag with me and emptying my pockets into it so the book wasn’t the only thing in there. Having a book with me means I could steal moments to read – during transit, while waiting for an appointment or to meet a friend – you’d be surprised how often you have an extra few minutes to spare!
  • Tried new things. I’ve read a few books lately that I never would have expected to read, let alone enjoy. I also read a book on my iPad, something I never thought I would be able to do, but that I quite enjoyed. (I know it contradicts my first point, but is it ever convenient when you’re out of the house and don’t have a book if you also put the book on your phone!)
  • Rekindled my Goodreads. I’ve had my account for centuries and I’ve burnt it down and built it back up a number of times (seems to be my social media MO.) Getting reconnected there and tracking my reading, exploring others’ bookshelves, reading reviews of books I thought I might be into and getting recommendations really fueled my reading fire.

Here’s the one bonus that I found in going through a reading slump: my attachment to books has waned dramatically. I used to not be able to part with a book – any book. Now I keep very few that I have already read. Technology probably plays a role in that, too, but I am really happy I surrendered my attachment to books.

Here’s a look at my current bedside stack. I’m reading four, writing in one and excited to dive into all the others.

Have you ever gone through a reading slump? How do you make sure to include reading in your life? What are you reading these days? Also, let’s be friends on Goodreads!

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And if neither picnics nor books are your thing, there is still plenty to celebrate and/or observe today!

According to Days of the Year, it’s:

It’s also Vancouver Sun Run day here and, according to National Day Calendar, it’s National Cherry Cheesecake Day. I’m not sure which nation that governs, but, for today, can’t we all just be one? They offer this helpful advice on how to observe: eat cherry cheesecake. (But make sure you leave some room for National Pigs in a Blanket Day tomorrow!)

Here’s another April 23rd day I can really get behind:

I couldn’t resist the urge to look up what is celebrated on my birthday. We have the cruel irony of Bacon Day and Falling Needles Family Fest Day which is “a reminder for those of us who enjoyed a live Christmas tree over the holidays to clean it up and recycle it.” There is also National Bicarbonate of Soda Day and I guess that is probably my most holy since I do actually use the stuff pretty regularly.

What are you celebrating today? What days are celebrated on your birthday?

Family Day 2017

This piece “Family Portrait” is unavailable, but find more from this artist,
Heather Mattoon in her Etsy store

Family Day. An extra day tagged onto a weekend with the intention of having families spend more quality time together and/or having a statutory holiday in February. Depending on whose account you read, Family Day sometimes comes across as an intention that found a date, but more often it seems a date that found an intention – that people felt it was too long between the New Year’s holiday and Easter .

Fun fact: Alberta was the first Canadian province to celebrate Family Day and they did so beginning in 1990. The next province to join then was Saskatchewan, but that wasn’t until 2007!

Also…

BC’s Family Day is celebrated one week earlier than Family Day in the six other Canadian provinces that celebrate it. Initially the Premier had aligned the holiday with the rest of the country, but the decision to designate the holiday for the second Monday in February was determined by a consultation on what BCers preferred. Ever since, the holiday has brought with it great debate and suggestions that it should be changed.

Fortunately, regardless of the origin, many communities have taken the opportunity to develop traditions for celebrating the holiday and, true to the name of the holiday, bringing families together with both each other and with other families. Nothing wrong with that!

We are going to take in a movie and then do some meal prep for the week. Nothing particularly celebratory, but we have a big week ahead so we’re taking advantage of the extra day off in the best way we can.

•••

I woke up around 6am this morning and when I walked into the living room, the clearest blue sky was impossible to ignore, helped along by the moonlight that flooded the room. It was gorgeous.

We’ve started to think of the things that we will miss about this apartment once we have moved and the view is certainly one of them. Also, the fact that we get morning sun in the new place. Here, we had sun from early afternoon straight through until sundown. Switching that around is going to take some getting used to and I’m worried about my garden, but I’m sure it’ll all be wonderful in different ways.

•••

This week we are officially starting our half-marathon training with the intention of preparing for June’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle event. It’s exactly one week after our wedding so I suppose you could call it a honeymoon run (our runnymoon?) We found a sixteen-week program that seemed a perfect compromise between the 24-week (too much!) and 12-week (too little!) options that we’d seen before. I think we’re meeting some friends there and spending the weekend so it’ll be a good way to kick off our marriage…and preparation starts now! Well, tomorrow. Today is a rest day and, I’m not going to lie, I am killing it! Thankfully, things have warmed up here significantly so my treadmill running will be kep to a minimum. (Fingers crossed.)

•••

Last but certainly not least, today is my dear friend Rebecca’s birthday. Oh, the places and things we’ve done/see/talked about over the fifteen years we’ve known one another. We should really write a book. Or at least have a podcast.

Happy birthday, Coconip.
Love, Tip-Tip

The unexpected side effects of using vintage dishes

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A month or two ago, after a few visits to Cadeaux Bakery in Gastown for some delectable desserts, I found myself longing to make a switch from our regular, old, boring dinnerware to fancy, vintage china instead. I put my intention out to the universe in the most efficient way: by tweeting it.

Days later, I was over at my folks’ place and chatting with my mom. Lo and behold, she told me that she had a full set of my grandmother’s china that she wasn’t using. As we dug it out, she found all kinds of other mismatched pieces from various sets and I was the willing and happy recipient of it all.

As soon as we got home, I moved the current dishes out of the cupboards and into storage and packed the new (old) pieces in. Of course, most if not all of the china is rimmed in gold so none of it can safely go in the dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand is no big deal since we both lived without dishwashers before we moved in together and we are kind of still used to it.

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I noticed that once we started using the new (old) dishes, we started using the dishwasher remarkably less. When we were already washing a couple of plates, we might as well wash a bunch of other dishes, right? It added up and it has started to take a lot longer to fill the dishwasher.

Here’s another unexpected side effect: happiness.

From the Huffington Post Home article, How Hand-Washing The Dishes Could Make You A Happier Person:

You may be the type to put off dishwashing until the sink is jam-packed, but new scientific findings may make you more eager to clean up. A study published in the journal Mindfulness found that washing dishes mindfully could be therapeutic, increasing feelings of well-being and decreasing nervousness.

To wash dishes “mindfully” means to do so with intention and focus, contemplating the sensory experiences of the act like the warmth of the water, the feel of dishes and the smell of the soap.

This is precisely what some study participants were instructed to do while washing 18 dishes. The control group, on the other hand, washed 18 dishes without the mindfulness instruction. Instead, they were given directives relating to proper dishwashing techniques. The experimental group reported increased positivity and decreased nervousness, while the control group reported no change.

I’m going to start being more mindful next time I’m doing the dishes and other chores. I mean, it has got to be good practice to add mindfulness (and happiness) to other household tasks as well. I’m all for anything that helps make them less painful!