Robot of Meloncholy

Down In Flames

In the blink of an eye

Just a whisper of smoke

You could lose everything

The truth is you never know

I got called in to speak at CPC Toronto with only a week before the conference started. It was one of the busiest weeks of my life because I had a lot of photography work to do and hadn’t really planned on putting together a one hour presentation. I don’t regret doing that or presenting it - I do however sometimes wish I hadn’t been there… Though obviously there’s reasons why I’m glad I was, too.

Dream about the days to come

When I won't have to leave alone

About the times, I won't have to say

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane

It feels routine now, getting on a plane to go somewhere. I have been doing it an average of six times a year, counting both going places and getting back, and it’s enough that it feels rather normal on average, even when on nearly every trip you see amazing lights, city centers, and mountains from above, you become a little desensitized to it eventually. I have now flown often enough that I no longer count how many flights, like I have no idea how many road trips I’ve been on. I stayed for that first night at an AirBnB near the airport, and in the morning enjoyed a delicious breakfast and tea at a little chic hole in the wall breakfast place, just down the street from a Catholic school and church with a little garden just off the sidewalk with benches directed to a beautiful statue of the holy family. I sat and prayed about my stress and exhaustion and hopes and dreams, then headed over to the hotel, where I had lunch with a new friend and saw some other fun folks as they trickled in. Setup was very low-key, but since Jasser had introduced the live broadcasting and I wanted to meet some of the speakers I didn’t know well I hung around for a while. Afterwards I was almost falling over falling asleep, but realized I had a thumb drive in my room that they might need downstairs before I was willing to wake up, so I called Jasser over to grab it. When he asked if I wanted pizza I decided that instead of my stomach warring with my need to sleep I’d accept some pizza. Then he told me that he’d attempted suicide in August. (This is now publicly available information, but he said I was the first person that he’d told.) He also said he was on meds and fine now, but I wasn’t so sure.

Hoping I can run today and get away faster

Than ever from here

Another night and who can say if leaving is better

Than living in fear

Here's to all the broken hearts tonight

Here's to all the fall a parts tonight

Here's to every girl and boy who lost their joy

They let it get away

I had a decent amount of sleep, and the first day was fun with a lot of wonderful speakers. Afterwards, there was a happening party in room 420 with a great conversation between a few of us about how your past doesn’t have to define your future. Looking back, so much of what happened those days just bleeds with irony.

I spoke on Day 2 and had a totally weird experience of feeling like I was behind a wall all day and almost nobody could see me - nobody came to chat with me after my talk and barely anyone did before it, and tons of people skipped it too. It was still worth speaking, but I felt really isolated all day. That night there was a kareoke party, which as our parties tend to do got a bit wild, with people crowdsurfing on the teeny tiny kareoke stage, and what I jokingly refer to as a “photo orgy” on the pool table because the light above it was a fun photo light source. Then I came back a bit early to the hotel and ended up chatting with a speaker who was having trouble with his presentation, and with Jasser, who up until June this year was my business partner, and was still a pretty close friend. He was concerned about finances… nothing THAT new. Or at least I didn’t think so at the time.

Whatcha say, that you only meant well?

Well of course you did

Whatcha say, that it's all for the best?

Of course it is!

And then I woke on Day 3 to what was devolving into the CPC Toronto 2016 debacle. It's not everyday that you get a front-row seat to watch something that you loved go down in blazing flames, devastating the close-knit community that you nurtured and cared for over half a decade, affecting hundreds of people and hurting dozens, and be helpless to stop it, even though you tried.

It is an event that felt more like a funeral than a celebration of what has been accomplished, and what happened since has continued to wear me out. It was not the beginning of the end, but perhaps the denouement, as Jasser told me, as a fitting scene of Laurent Martin’s dog funeral slideshow played out on-screen, that he was going to cancel Toronto - and as it turned out, other conferences and plans and even in fact, the payments due to the speakers who were speaking at this conference. He told me this in what was clearly a manic episode, scrolling through Facebook at incredible speeds, and unable to process reasonable thoughts anymore. He was just a drowning man looking for a way out, at all and any costs. And the costs were pretty heavy - emotionally, and financially to others at least. I spent almost four hours on chat, over the course of the next five to six hours trying to talk him out of doing it the way he planned - not closing the conference at some point in the future at a well-planned time, but announcing it there and bringing down the house in a bad way. But I couldn’t stop him, I could only ask for help from others once the word started to get around to the speakers to do some damage control and at least make the announcement a somewhat positive moment of nostalgia and appreciation.

The whole day was just jam-packed with ironies. It was so crazy I even made a list. Like "B***h Better Have My Money" coming on in the party bus as the news started breaking to some of the speakers, who had just found out that after all their support, Jasser wasn't going to pay them anytime soon.

Oh, we're on the right side of rock bottom

And I hope that we keep falling

We're on the good side of bad karma

'Cause we keep on coming back for more

This last few weeks has been dominated by private conversations and public announcements, tearful and heart-wrenching moments, pit-of-the-stomach dread, the day after in which I was alone and so exhausted that I slept at least 18 out of 24 hours and prayed and kept in touch with some allies whenever I wasn’t asleep. There were concerned conversations with people who weren’t there, and people who were, two visits to my therapist, and endless talking and letter writing and processing and official statements and things said on and off the record. There was honesty and tears and the feeling of betrayal, the feeling that it’s too late already, the feeling that even when things aren’t your fault it doesn’t always help with the pain.

You know, for most people the words, “I’m cancelling the conference” wouldn’t provoke such a perfect storm, especially as I'd already left the company. But for me it did, and it called into question dozens of relationships, my reputation and brought up a thousand un-spoken fears about sanity and mental health and responsibility and labels and diagnoses, about business partnerships and seeking after money above all things and finding your voice and teaching. So many things.

Cause when the roof caved in

and the truth came out

I just didn't know what to do

How much is it appropriate to grieve for a failed business? A failed suicide attempt by a friend? More than a dozen people losing money they expected and faith in someone they trusted? And how much can you grieve your own helplessness to stop any of it from happening when your own trust was broken?

These are the questions that plague me when I cannot sleep, that bite into me with a cutting sorrow in the moments when I should feel happy and don’t even remember why my heart is heavy, and the days I cannot see past my own pain to a potentially bright future, to sunny days.

We see the problem and the risk
But nothing's solved, we just say

Tsk, tsk, tsk and shame, shame, shame

Then I went home to Saskatoon for Thanksgiving and missed every meal, every service, and almost every friend and family member (mainly anyway) in a haze of anguish and exhaustion. I saw my Aunt and Gran briefly at a Fuddruckers breakfast where they gave me a beautiful crystal key pendant and some grocery cards for my birthday, and I really truly appreciated both gifts, but I was so tired I could barely function, and I was also upset because we were late and I was there because it was one of the architectural sites I was supposed to shoot. It hit a nerve that I had forgotten, since there was an epic situation in my past where someone else was trusted with setting an alarm so I wouldn’t be late and it caused a fracturing of friendships and a lot of hard moments, so when Paul innocently enough slept through the alarm he’d set for us, I was pretty irate, as we were supposed to leave that day. We were both absolutely out of energy, and Paul decided to take a personal day off work that he didn’t have to justify, which I certainly felt was warranted.

Looking back perhaps it was fore-ordained that we stay, as I spent several hours with friends sharing about our sorrows and helping each other with tools and coping strategies and advice in a way that built our friendship after we hadn't spoken often.

We both slept like logs all night and then headed home, and whenever one of us was driving, the other was sleeping. There was also the joy of the Lloyd Pizza Hut buffet, a traditional oasis mid-trip.

With eyes wide open at the wonder of it all

Or with broken wings when I'm spinning in free fall

'Hallelujah, deliver me'

One night soon after we made it back home I asked for a personal thanksgiving meal, desperate for gravy and tradition and looking on the bright side.

There was only one sunny day since I got back before yesterday, and I had architectural shoots to do, so I did a boudoir shoot and 5 architectural shoots that day and came home with absolutely zero energy left for the rest of the week. I am so grateful that Google changed their algorithym and prioritized me to the point where I'll probably be able to financially be alright even though one stable source of income is out of my life completely. No fallback. No nets under the great trapeeze. Back to shooting almost full time, and thank God, I'm actually enjoying it again. I just need to update practically every piece of software and hardware in the arsenal - that will only cost about ten grand. No pressure. Get a text from Jasser asking if I was okay... too late now.

I went to a friend's house and told her the story, complete with "commercial breaks" for tea and maple cookies and cat cuddles and colouring together on the living room coffee table sitting on the floor. Thank God for empathetic friends with big hearts. (Even if those hearts require surgery to sustain life.) The healing begins in those moments.

Yesterday the sun shone, and I was super guilty about how little I had been minding my poor Murphy, who hadn’t had much excitement and didn’t know why I was being an irritable sod. The sun shone, and I took him to the dog park near our home, and he practically leaped for joy at exploring the smells of the marsh. There’s something irrevocably touching about seeing a beast or a child innocently leap for the pure joy of living. It’s medicine to the weary soul, for the healing of the heart in the sun-lit, beautiful world.

No matter how many more explanatory conversations and lifestyle changes and ideas and upgrades and naps will be required before I can call things normal again.

Here come bad news talking this and that

Yeah, give me all you got, don't hold back

I should probably warn you I'll be just fine

Because I'm happy

  • Current Mood: distraught, earlier anyway
No Loafing

September's fine melody

I act pretty when I'm with my girls
And you act silly when you're with your boys
And I got problems, but I guess they're mine
And I got issues, well, I guess they're yours

It's pretty hard to believe that it's almost the end of October already. Sometimes I don't really know what to say.  In this case the main reason I don't know what to say because it's been a really long time and so much has actually happened in my life. So much in fact that I’m honestly going to split this post up into at least two parts, and check my calendar for anything I might have missed...

My September was pretty nutty. I had a lot of photography inquiries and I'm still getting at least one a day. Over the course of September I did quite a bit of coaching for CPC,  and it was a really excellent experience to be able to help so many people with their lives and businesses.

One of the biggest highlights of September of course was my friend Kori’s wedding in Saskatoon. It was, hands down, one of the absolutely most hilarious and most fun wedding parties, and since I'd had a chance to get to know a lot of the ladies while I was at the bachelorette party, it felt like being among friends even more so than usual. To top it off I met an old friend from high school who I hadn't seen for over a decade, and not only did we rekindle the friendship I found out that I might be able to get some work from his company in Edmonton, even though we met in Saskatoon!  Serendipity is a fantastic thing…

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me

One of the cool things that I did in September was schedule a phone call with someone who was planning a new business, I won't share much about what his plans were here just on the off chance that someone else decided it was a great idea but I do think that he has some interesting ideas about saving memories and his questions and conversation were really interesting. There's a creative energy that comes with planning a new business that I find a little bit addicting! It’s cool to have been a part of this person’s story, however briefly.

Paul and I went to the Edmonton Comic EXPO again this year and as usual my very favorite part was just to go through all the artist’s tables and see the different kinds of drawing, painting, sculpture, and all sorts of other cool things.  I had the pleasure of going to see a concert by one of my favorite web comic artists, Rock, Paper, Cynic.  it was my second time meeting him in person and this time he created a little drawing for me of a space puppy on the cover of my fresh copy of his new book. He's currently launching an attempt to work as a full-time artist which is exciting. (check him out if you think that you might like a nerdy webcomic!) As usual some of my friends were attending but the only one that I actually got a chance to see was Erin, and briefly her fiance as well. This particular visit to the Expo felt a lot less rushed and a lot more interesting than some of the previous times.  I did get to see the star of Arrow as he walked past me, and I was struck by just how piercing his eyes are, just like they are in the television series. He was definitely a good superhero casting choice. Here's hoping for Daredevil next year though!

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the milky way
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

In a completely different form of nerdy entertainment, Paul and I and one of my friends and some of their family went to Mars a few weeks ago…  or at least we went on a mission to Mars in someone's appropriately red garage. I think I’ve talked before about how much we LOVE escape rooms - well someone and some of their friends created one as a prototype and ran it as a by-donation experience. The whole experience was absolutely fantastic! Though, as I have discovered, I don’t think I’ll ever get through an escape room experience where Paul and I don’t have a small tiff over me giving him bad directions. Whoops.

Long story short, our pod succeeded (80% of the teams don’t!) with less than a second left on the clock, but a few brain cells missing since we hadn’t properly repaired the air filtration system… It was a wonderfully fun and appropriately difficult mission, and the puzzles and clues were excellent - as was the beautiful set that we were playing in. There’s a cool interview with a couple of photos from the room I found online, and a video special on CTV news, likely by the same people who interviewed me awhile back for my dudoir work.

I see that look on your face
You ain’t hearing what I say
So I’ll say it again
'Cause I been where you been
And I know how it ends

I had a brief (and I stress the word brief!) love affair with Amazon reviews  before controversy and bad press* forced Amazon to discontinue the practice of sellers asking for reviews in exchange for discounts or free merchandise. *Actually to be honest I think Amazon mainly did it for its own financial gain, as it could help businesses other than Amazon to make money! While it's a smart business decision for Amazon, taking a broad view, it's not great from a consumer perspective. I saw a lot of press accusing these reviews of being positively biased and skewing the norm but unfortunately there's plenty of data stating that the majority of people only really review things when they're unhappy so I personally think they actually provided a much more balanced reviews landscape. Nevertheless, Amazon the giant has made the decision and unfortunately that leaves me with many items that I received in response to requests through reviewing sites. I'm dabbling in video lately so I'll probably be putting up some YouTube reviews for several of the products I received. I am very pleased to have purchased many necessary and useful items in the process of looking into becoming an Amazon reviewer,  things that I was hoping to purchase anyway and then I might have had trouble finding.  In the end I think I'm quite happy that I had a chance to do it even for a few weeks,  and I have an assortment of products that I use on a daily basis and a few that I use a little bit more rarely but are equally necessary to the various pursuits that I want to spend time on.

The items that were involved in this foray into internet reviewing include a Phone mount and head and tail lights for my bicycle, a wireless mouse for ye olde TV computer in the living room, a brand new set of nice laundry bags since mine were cheap and falling apart, some photo reflectors that I haven't had a chance to use in a session yet - but I had been thinking about purchasing anyway to use for fill light in backlit evening outdoor portraits instead of a flash. There was also a high quality, compact USB charger for the car to keep both of our phones and other electronic gadgets charged while we're travelling and a large and Powerful battery pack for our smartphones - again, mainly for travelling and playing Pokemon Go, and finally, a computer adaptor for HDMI, which was the first thing I ever ordered, since my current adaptor was old and fizzing out, and I use it every day. So electronics and household items basically. All stuff I’m very excited to own and paid VERY little for - most of which I wouldn't have been able to buy without the review sites. Well, at least I caught the tail end.

It's party time
and not one minute we can lose,
pretty baby

On a completely different note, I've been trying to host lots of little events in Edmonton, and unfortunately we rarely have more than a couple of people show up to our little tea parties. On the other hand I have a semi-regular kareoke night at a friendly little bar (that serves the best shirley temples and the stickiest honey garlic wings and the waitstaff already knows my order) with one or two Edmonton friends who sometimes invite others, and on Tuesday night I finally sang “Rolling In the Deep” almost perfectly despite the fact that you really only breathe three times the whole song, and they’re all catchbreaths. I was proud! And the kareoke host complimented my voice which made me happy.

That’s not all either! I started a board gaming group with people I met from the internet whose only definite shared interests were both frequenting Reddit and enjoying board games - but after several months it's still going strong and all of the people in the group like each other quite a bit and love coming out. I routinely laugh until my gut hurts whenever we get together -  our latest meeting was actually tonight and my gut literally does hurt from all the belly laughter from our game of advanced adult telephone pictionary. On yet another social note, Paul and I together also joined a small youth group at one of the Catholic churches in Edmonton,  and we've actually found that we really enjoyed the people there as well and we're developing great relationships with them. Slowly and steadily I'm starting to feel like Edmonton is not isolating anymore.

On another related note, having many new guests over to our house as we've tried out AirBnB for the last year or so has been a truly interesting time for me. There are things to love and things we don’t love so much about sharing our space with others, but in general it has been a socially rewarding experience, as I have had some amazing conversations with some amazing Canadians and Americans.

I have met a teacher at a middle-class school in the USA, a woman who teaches piano and composes, a man who spent quite a few years as a businessman in Dubai and gave it up to seek a more meaningful life. I met a man who works as a social worker, a young girl who was delighted to stay in our fish-themed room because of her degree in aquamarine biology, and a very tall man who talked little with us, but who called his wife and children every night, and as I would pass his door in the hall, laughter came through the thin walls of his room. What an amazing cross-section of people, and an amazing opportunity. We’ve hosted so many people in fact that just a few days ago I got the news that we’ve been declared AirBnB Superhosts - which means that people see a stamp of excellence on our place. What a great honour to be officially declared a good host.

Your words are spirit and life, oh Lord,
Richer than gold, stronger than death

I have set up a small space in my home for prayer and contemplation. I remember at various times in my life wanting a prayer closet, and being most recently greatly inspired to do this when Paul and I went to the church art museum in New York, and there were hundreds of personal devotional items on display from the tiny carved triptychs to the grandest multi-panel pieces commissioned for the homes of the rich. Catholics and the Orthodox often have spaces like these in their homes, often called a home altar, or a prayer table. It is common to many types of Christians who don’t have a problem with imagery.

I created this space originally to deal with a specific problem - that I had on some occasions, and once was too many times, promised to pray for someone’s specific intention or request and completely forgotten them. Creating a specific spot in my home to go to when I had a prayer to offer helped me to make sure I wasn’t neglecting something important. As I was thinking about this, I discovered a stunning white ceramic candleholder shaped like a cathedral at a thrift store, and I immediately snatched it up as the centrepiece of my prayer spot, beside a candle featuring Mary. My favourite chair, the one my Mom made for me, is in that spot, and the dog’s bed is there too. Sometimes I use it as a place to sit, or alternately, it could be used to kneel if one felt the desire for that. It is in a corner of my house that otherwise had no purposefulness, and is now wonderfully meaningful, and a great space to retreat to.

Little did I know how important that space would become, as I had one of the busiest weeks of my life, found out a close friend was going to require open-heart surgery, another friend’s parent was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers, and generally had an awful lot of happenings.

Skip to my next post for the main event.

My lover's got humor

She's the giggle at a funeral
We were born sick, you heard them say it

flying paper

Frozen In Time

The hot and the cold are both so intense,

Put 'em together it just makes sense!

Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle,

But put me in summer and I'll be a - happy snowman!

It is actually been a really eventful week, what with the road trip to Saskatoon for the wedding that I shot on Saturday, tons of editing, and lots of new inquiries for Admire Studios.

Because we had put Murphy in daycare for the weekend we were able to spend our evenings and part of the day on Sunday staying with my favourite in-laws and their adorable kids. We watched Frozen again, and I was struck by how brilliant a movie it is about emotions and relationships. Also, Olaf is freaking adorable.

I’m working on our costumes for comic-con this year (in about a week, eep!) which involve a LOT of craft foam. A whole sheaf of it. I am pretty darn proud of the first of my many foam creations that go into our outfits. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

I have had a massive to-do list for Admire Studios over the past week, and I am pleased to say that I have completely conquered it! Several things that were overdue, or just due in general, got finished. I have things to edit next week. In celebration of work well done, I am planning to take a week for personal growth, fun, and some work-bee style work in a few of the more neglected spaces in the house in preparation for winter. I’ve been focused on me treehouse and hammock areas of the backyard while we could spend time there, but I want to have non-office rooms for relaxation, and I have some pretty major plans for that. Our landlords had left behind some old furniture that we asked if we could purchase from them - a soft 70’s style rocking chair, a bookshelf, a double bed, and a long solid wood coffee table which really needs refinishing, but could match the rest of my living room furniture.

A week or so ago I ordered a bunch of things off of Amazon and felt kind of guilty about it. And when I say a bunch I mean 4. One of those wonderful things was a rotary cheese grater.  we started buying the giant hunks of Parmesan a few years ago, and it takes an awful lot of energy to grate cheese. So after seeing rotary cheese graters for years at pasta places, A couple of years ago I decided I desperately wanted one. Somehow it was always just a touch more expensive than I was willing to spend, except for the part where I spend that much on pizza three times a month. So I finally bought the cheese grater.

Along with three other things, it came yesterday, and I grated all of the parmesan cheese we still had left in the house into a Tupperware container and planned a pasta supper for tonight.


This Is Just A Simple Post

From this day on I will make a promise

To be true to myself and always be honest

For the rest of my life, I will do what’s right

I will do what’s right

I saw a meme today on Facebook. It was a photo of a fence post, and beneath it were the words “This is just a simple post, It's not political, racial, or about the economy.” On one hand it’s funny, on the other, I think it raises the same frustration I’d been having about Facebook for a long time.

It is possible, though unlikely, that some of you reading this are among the vast numbers of people I have unfollowed on Facebook. You see, it used to be that one could only unfriend people on Facebook. This posed a problem, because a number of the people on Facebook whom I had on my list were those whose views and opinions on life were, quite frankly, either a constant avalanche of armchair activism, or some combination of angry and offensive to me personally. Unfortunately for me, they were also people I wanted to continue to be connected to for business reasons, or occasionally personal ones.

Most people who only use their Facebook for personal use can do whatever they like with their friends list, but for entrepreneurs like me, Facebook is a resource for my businesses (past and present, since almost 40% of my friends list is photographers from CPC since I am a big personage there), and a way to keep people in touch when I need to spread a wide net for something I need or want. It’s my own personal crowdsourcing service. Unfortunately, it’s also a provider of content that I like to read. Or in the case of Facebook, often don’t like to read.

For a while I put up with it, while I was in and out of being depressed and lacked energy. Finally one day, whenever something would come up that I hated, I would evaluate it, and 90% of the time I would unfollow the person. Then I decided to unfollow anyone whose name and face I didn’t recognize who I wasn’t currently trying to get to know and spent nearly an hour going through about a quarter of my Facebook friends. I still need to finish the process, but the worst of it is gone.

See, I don’t think that Facebook is going away anytime soon. It’s a bastion of the internet age, and of my generation. It’s also something that I want to fight to protect, because it is a place of connection with my many friends in other cities. Of my very closest best friends, only two live in the same city, another in the same province one city over, three in the city I grew up in six hours drive away, two in the province I grew up in, one way up north and one down south, and I have one in Vancouver and another in Toronto, which are fortunately cities I visit for conferences. The breakdown for Family is much the same, though we do have a huge concentration of Paul’s family, Uncles and cousins from both sides, just a few hours drive from here - we really must plan to visit this Fall.

So it’s vital that I preserve the place on the internet that connects me to these people from the pollution that fogs it over. I’m mainly talking about angry posts about cultural, social, political issues and secular humanism. I’m also talking about useless things memes that talk about being angry without your coffee in the morning.

It was like light pollution. I couldn’t see the stars anymore.

You've got me seeing stars,
Brighter than ever,
Shining just like diamonds do
I know that in time it will be all ours

Brighter than ever

The people and things I cared about were being obscured, so I cleaned digital house. It took time. Weeks, really. It's not totally finished yet. But finally my feed is full of people producing their own content, and a few people whose quirks I either don’t mind tolerating, or am obligated to tolerate by virtue of their being family - and that is fine.

See, it’s funny. I don’t worry much what others think of me anymore, compared to when I was younger. It’s really not that relevant to my life. I don’t stand to lose anything particularly valuable doing this, but it was hard to do because I kept thinking, “What if someone figures it out?”

And that really boils down to the fact that I have a metric ton of unpopular opinions and associations - and what’s amazing about that, is that no matter which side of an issue a person may fall on, I might be considered pretty radical. I can't think of a single person I know - family, friends, acquaintances - who wouldn't have the opportunity to be pretty majorly offended by something that's true about me. The people I'm close friends with are pretty good at choosing not to be offended, or providing good arguments for their alternate ideas, which I am always careful to listen to. The only true prerequisite of being okay with yourself, long term, is not being too afraid to be wrong and to consider alternatives.

I have friends on radically different ends of the political spectrum from Liberal to Conservative to Green Party, even a few dyed-in-the-wool Libertarians - and my own political views do not fit neatly in any party because they are all much too close to spectrum center. (I took a test in high school that split almost all my honest views between Communist, Libertarian, and Fascist - I kid you not. My teacher was a little taken aback and felt he had to ask if I answered honestly.) I have a close friend who is a gay agnostic from the middle east, another who is a liberal feminist unitarian, I know and love Christians from all ends of the theological spectrum - protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox among others, I have had long, deep conversations about faith and family with a devout LDS man who I met in art school and now lives in Calgary, and one of my favourite connections is a devout Muslim who got married in an arranged marriage to a man her parents chose for her after she finished her degree in science - she is a wonderful person I met on the internet and then got to know in real life while I was in college. And when her adorable son pops up on my Facebook page, it makes me beam. I have really appreciated getting to know people of all walks of life and types of work, especially blue collar people, since I grew up in a really white collar environment.

I don’t believe that connecting with another person depends on them making similar choices to you. I don’t believe that the call to love everyone or to serve the Church, or even the call to evangelism, always means vomiting your beliefs on them in the first few weeks of your acquaintance. In the immortal words of St. Francis, for whom our Pope is named, "Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words."

I believe that Jesus was in large part remarkable, mainly in his own time but also now, because of his associations. He kept company with a ragtag group of mostly blue collar Jews, rather than a consortium of philosopher-rabbis. He went to dinner with a table full of the outcasts, rather than crossing on the other side of the road to keep from becoming unclean. A man who needed a treasurer who could steal without most people noticing from a clearly overflowing mission purse who, instead of sleeping in lavish hotels, relied on the kindness of others for a place to sleep. That was all part of his radical call to be different. It was all part of the love he demonstrated.

I don’t think his resounding call of “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” would ever be followed with, “he who isn’t interested, that one can burn in hell for all I care.” Sure I believe in a literal hell - not sure what it might look like of course, even if fire is how we communicate it - but if a person truly does believe in a place that isolates a person with their guilt, why would you want anyone to go there? Even those who have committed the worst sins against God, goodness, and their fellow man. I feel much the same about prisons, especially private ones.

I know someone who has a relative in prison who killed his own father during a bout of extreme mental illness - he doesn’t remember doing it. That man despairs that God will not accept him, and yet still longs to die. The system is isolating and hard. His only contact is with some family who haven’t given up on him, and the men who give spiritual care to the inmates. The world reviles him, but I don’t believe God does. He’s human.

But as long as everything is Us vs Them, the brokenness will intensify. As long as we keep this luxury of labelling people in ways that allow us to marginalize them or make fun of them, love will lose out. And to me that’s unacceptable.

I do not appreciate or grow as a person from having other people’s beliefs, particularly the angry ones, projectile vomited onto me, either. Especially passive beliefs. As an opposing example, a comic demonstrating a method of interjecting into a public display of racism to help protect the person who is being discriminated against came across my Facebook feed the other day through someone I don’t know well, but I was thrilled to have a new tool in making whatever part of the world I happen to be going into a potentially better place. I also saw comments hating on the guy who spewed racist comments at a black man in Edmonton last week - and I unfollowed the person who made them because honestly, that kind of thing is against my religion and my humanism.

All of my close family, friends, and acquaintances have just a few things in common - they are interested in life, willing to talk about issues with listening ears, and care about people. For the large majority, they care about relationships, and having a family (whether that family is blood or not.)

They love. And that’s who I want to keep spending time with.
  • Current Location: Edmonton
  • Current Mood: Confident
  • Current Music: Verge - Owl City
autumn, leaves, fall

Always A Photographer, Never A Bridesmaid

Life is a highway,

I’m gonna ride it

All night long

An exciting thing is happening - the leaves are turning, the air is getting a bit chilly, and the trees are beginning to turn colour. It's the most wonderful time of the year, my favourite season, fall.

Of course, the very most exciting thing to happen this week was when I finally got the message that I’ve been chosen as a bridesmaid instead of a photographer for a friend’s wedding! Technically of course, that’s bridesmatron. I don’t talk about it much, but after shooting a lot of friends weddings (another one this weekend! So excited) every so often it sometimes feels as though I was a second line friend for some of my closest friends. While I know that’s not true, and it’s just an ugly feeling that destroys my joy in being present for the people I care about, and bridesmaid choices are not necessarily representative of friendships over time (though I am pleased to say that mine have definitely stood the test of time so far) I can’t help but sometimes feel like I’m always a photographer and never the bridesmaid. Finally next year at the ripe old age of 31 I’ll be up there as a lovely, happy bridesmatron. Yay for being a part of weddings in any case! I am excited to attend one as a guest next Fall around this time as well. It’s glorious to enjoy weddings in general, but being a part of them in any way is lovely and truly enjoyable for me.

I’m a little sad because there’s a baby shower coming up in a few weeks for a cousin’s new baby that I can’t go to because I have a prior commitment for a big corporate gig. It’s not the worst problem to have, but I am a little wistful. At any rate, I am sending Paul on his own for that.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts

On Monday Paul and I went to see the new Ghostbusters movie at the IMAX theatre at the West Edmonton Mall in 3D, which after a coupon from our previous purchase wasn’t terribly expensive. We were excited to find that the WEM is a good place for Pokemon as advertised and we caught a couple of good ones. The movie was fun and a pretty good homage - nothing super special, but not a crappy movie either.

I completely forgot about a coaching appointment that evening so I felt like dirt for a while but I eventually forgave myself.

I have a beautiful wonderful tree fort, my summer project two years running. Tuesday afternoon I spent some time installing the double foam floor in my treehouse using those colourful foam puzzle blocks. Spent a little time in there the next day and it was definitely a bit more comfy when crawling around. I got a secondhand set from my friend, which is great because they’ll basically always be covered and I just want them for the foam. Just a few more enhancements every year, but I made a lot of progress this summer. The treehouse now has flooring, blankets, and sleeping bags throughout, one giant pillow, one harder armrest cylinder pillow, and a nice fluffy canvas pillow, all in various shades of blue, green, and sunwashed. There are three pretty lanterns hanging that are more for beauty than light. I don’t usually light them now, but if there happened to be a garden party I would, along with the freshly installed soft white LEDs that give just enough light to read or chat in there in the dark. Next summer I believe I’ll be looking at some mosquito netting and rain protection, possibly some nice drapery, running a power source to the far side of the fort for devices so I can spend more time in there without running all my battery packs down, and a dedicated fort blanket. I have a temporary warm fort blanket for this fall, but I would like a more comfy soft one for next year.

Laughing and a-running, hey, hey,

Skipping and a-jumping

In the misty morning fog with

Our, our hearts a-thumping

And you, my brown-eyed girl

The other day my friend messaged me and asked if I was interested in a free perm from Eveline Charles Esthetics Institute, a student there was in need of a hair model. I knew that perms were a multi-hour investment, and perms by an inexperienced person doubly so, but I also knew that I was planning to get a perm anyway over the next few months, and I have a wedding to shoot this weekend in Saskatoon where my family is. So all in all, not bad timing for a fresh new do. Plus as I said to Paul, I’ve never been bald or buzzcut before, so there’s always that to fall back on if anything went terribly wrong. On a serious note though, I knew there were going to be instructors there checking on the perm often, so I wasn’t that worried.

Being blissfully unaware of the kind of names that different genders have in other countries, and with a poor connection when he called me, I didn’t realize until he walked up to me at the salon that Khalid was a solidly built dude, a pleasant looking solid-sized black man who I found out was from the Sudan, though I could have guessed the region of the world from his skin tone. There are many countries in the world so I don't tend to feel bad about it anymore if I don't know much about one. In this case I did recall that it bordered Egypt, which I was proud of. The main thing I knew about the area is that the people there have the most beautiful shade of dark ebony skin, like his.

So, on a total tangent from my perm experience, here’s some thoughts.

I know I married a textbook white dude, but though I didn’t ever end up dating anyone of a different ethnic background, I am unlike some people in that I don’t always prefer men of my own race, physically speaking. Had I fallen in love with someone else, I absolutely could have ended up in an interracial marriage, particularly seeing as I was looking for a person who shared at least my core religious beliefs and the overwhelming majority of the Canadians who share my European ethnicity are now agnostics or atheists. I guess all that to say that I wasn’t just looking at white dudes, even though some girls do - and that’s okay if that’s just your sexual preference in terms of how you like people to look, in my opinion, it’s when it’s truly more driven by avoidance and racial or cultural bias that it makes me feel sad.

I like the diversity in Canada. I love seeing interracial couples and families, in fact they fill me with joy. I think quite honestly I would find European countries a little odd, with their stark homogeneity. (Cue me being proud of knowing how to spell that word on the first try!)

The thing about photography is that in some respects whenever you're out shooting you look at people's faces all day. Understanding how a skin tone affects the camera for instance is actually important observation, not to mention that I am an artist and noticing the details of how things look is kind of our thing. So while I find the diverse colors of humanity absolutely stunning, I don’t talk about it much. There's all sorts of ever-changing rules and I must follow as a person of a presumably privileged skin tone about how I talk about other cultures. Though honestly, my ancestors were likely subsistence-farming peasants on one side and possibly as good as house servants in Britain somewhere on the other so the privilege almost certainly did not extend to the presumed colour of their blood, and some black people I have met are descended from royalty in their bloodlines, so appearances may not tell you much about relative caste.

Okay, so tangent aside, I got a really cute wavy perm, and it took the better part of all day. Luckily I had planned for this with drinks, snacks, battery packs for my phone, and happened to have a pokestop that was lured three times while I was waiting. So I have a full digital bag of pokemon goodies and I’m looking forward to playing more this month and going out with Paul.

Also, I have a gorgeous wavy perm. I haven’t been this happy with my hair in probably 2 years.

I also found a few great deals, enough that I’m planning to take Paul to the mall tonight and try a couple of nifty shirts on him and maybe see if any of them fit nicely, and to buy a few more things from the sale shelves.

  • Current Mood: dorky dorky
phonebooth graveyard


Summer has come and passed

The innocent can never last

Wake me up when September ends

On Thursday evening (and honestly, every day since) I had the most wonderful conversation with a person I met because I hosted her and her husband through AirBnB, one where we talked about challenging our views on how to deal with the homeless, with the human need to have a certain equilibrium when it comes to danger and the research on why so many people feel the need to believe that vaccines are dangerous because they haven’t seen an actual disease outbreak up close and personal. We chatted about music, and why a song without a good baseline that may have a nice melody is like a vacuous woman with heavy makeup to make her look nice. We spoke about why it’s difficult to do things when we have so few good examples, and why it’s important to have a legal will.

There is something so immensely special about the intersection of human lives that the internet cannot and will never replace. I love the internet, truly I do, but when we were discussing what we will pass on as a grandparent, I think I would talk about growing up in a family and starting my own family that research and talk about life and challenge the status quo, who converse face to face with no backlit devices.

I’ve seen this saying floating around.

If you want to live a meaningful life, imagine yourself ten years from now then ask yourself what you'll wish you'd done by then. Then do those things.

I want to be more generous with my money. I want to be physically active all year round. I want to play more board games, eat more vegetables without dip. I want to enjoy places. I want to go for more walks and take more swims.

I’d say I want to be “happy” but I think The Oatmeal is right about the fact that I’d rather be interested, in the zone, engaged with life and feeling things.

And finally, I never want to burn with anger for longer than a single day.

And we can run away

Swimming in the sunlight everyday

Paradise in your eyes

Green like American money

After many years of financial struggle, it seems like we might finally be catching up, at least a little bit. I have a VERY small nest egg which over time I hope to build up to fill the overdraft at the bank. I am feeling a little less like it’s all going to go to heck. I’m going to be working a lot over the next few weeks to get everything ready to go. I feel good about our decision to have the “summer of fun” this summer. Spend time feeling less stressed instead of struggling, even when there’s danger on the horizon, even when things could shortly take a turn for the worse. Even when we don’t know what tomorrow brings, there’s joy for us if we only take hold of it. Sing in the shower, and in the car, and the kitchen while the dishes are being done. Take every appropriate opportunity to find joy. I’m getting better at it and it’s had wonderful effects in all sorts of areas.

I can only fix myself though, and to some small degree, others who want my help, and even less often, my wonderful husband. Good thing there’s not much there to fix, right?

We carved our love in the mountainside

We soaked our hearts in the rain

And I, waited my whole life, for you

Yesterday Paul and I went out pokemon hunting after supper, and it was glorious. We fought a huge gym down several levels and won another smaller gym in minutes, tons of fun. Paul also manned both phones as we drove down a long commercial street nearby and spun as many pokestops as we could.

Today after a glorious chat with our AirBnB guests, we headed out for the afternoon to the second location of the Table Top Cafe, the 124th street location. Paul picked Bohnanza, a bean growing game I played once many moons ago, and that was fun and low key, then we transitioned to a quick game of King of Tokyo, which unfortunately wasn’t as fun with 2 players as I had hoped it might be after playing it with 3. Then we played another nifty game called Junk Art - so using over 60 colourful wooden pieces to create jenga-like danger sculptures, and every challenge is like a new kind of game. Wonderfully unique, I am 100% a fan. Unfortunately due to the nature of the game with a wooden box and SO many pieces, it’s far, far out of my price range right now, so we’ll be looking to play at the cafe as much as we can.

This just goes to show why board game cafes are such a fantastic idea.

And then, surprise surprise, after playing Pokemon casually at the cafe the entire time we were there (and sometimes a tad more than casually to be fair) I got to capture a Valor gym on the way home, turn it blue, and briefly wave at a fellow Team Mystic player who was adding another Pokemon to the gym before I left.

When we got home I ended up chatting with our guests again, which has been a great pleasure. They’re leaving tomorrow, but I’m just so grateful we’ve met. Perhaps if we ever head out north to Peace country we’ll look them up!

It was a wonderfully fun night, and I’m feeling grateful for the chance to enjoy every day.
  • Current Mood: content content
  • Current Music: Borns - American Money

The Flow

These are our hours
This is our time

Honestly it's difficult to believe that it's only been 10 days since I wrote a journal entry.  it has been an incredibly hectic week-and-a-bit, and though it had a nice balance of work and fun, I actually have quite a bit of work to do this week, and I’ll have to make the fun for myself. On the other hand, I may need a couple more days off of doing anything at all...

On the 23rd I had two major long distance meeting, both of which created some serious work, I designed and wrote a ten page proposal for consulting with a company, which may or may not work out. If it doesn’t, I enjoyed the proposal-writing process and I felt confident that my offer was a good one. I hope they do consider it, and that my partner-in-crime that I’ve been working alongside at that company advocates for my ideas.

Secondly, there’s a venture I’ve been involved with that was on the back burner for the better part of a year and is starting to come of age now, and I had to script a time management education piece for that, which went better than expected considering it’s a 3 minute segment with a 5 part acronym! All in all it’s put some pretty important pieces of work on top of an already reasonably busy end of summer, and while I am happy about that, I’ve definitely felt a bit stressed and tired lately - though taking care of myself for a couple of days appears to have given me the day I had today, which had high-level productivity and great results in the photography session I shot, and a few interesting twists and turns. More on that later.

Oh, we're on the right side of rock bottom

And I hope that we keep falling

Last Wednesday Paul and I went to a Tupperware meal prep party, which means we came home with tupperware full of marinated meat for a freaking amazing deal on the pocketbook. I am slowly trying to replace some of our older plastic for new Tupperware and this really helps. It’s a great way to learn more quick and easy recipes, too. I have one new way to make chicken that I really like from this batch already.

I also went out for tea with Erin on Thursday, and we had a fantastic conversation as usual, but I felt particularly valuable and loved to be hearing about the part I will play in her wedding. It’s great to have such a close friend in Edmonton, and more friendships of various kinds developing all the time.

I drove into Saskatoon last weekend for a number of reasons, but mainly because one of my besties was having her bachelorette and I just couldn’t miss it because it was a 6 hour drive away, too much fun. On the way into town I stopped at my parents and found that not only had my Mom fixed us up with a new pasta pot, which I knew about, she had also gotten me a refurbished sewing machine. I’m excited to take some time in the winter to learn some repair techniques. We had a lovely chat that evening, and I felt loved and cared for. The next day I headed out to a friend’s acreage and spent a big chunk of time with her, which I totally appreciated, and got to see the mansion they are building (they’re contractors) which I am excited to one day visit when it is finished, though it could take a year or two.

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed be you name
And blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering

Blessed be your name

After that I had a quick Tim Hortons date with a friend I hadn’t seen since winter, so far too long, and while it was over too soon it was one of those high quality conversations that leave you with a lot of food for thought. She told me that all emotions are a gift, and that we should remember that even when we have hard ones. It was a good thing to think about when some of the news lately has been very happy, and some very sad.

Nothing to prove and
I'm bulletproof and

Know what I'm doing

After this I went to the bachelorette, and it was a blast. I enjoyed a delicious pasta supper, played all sorts of hilarious games (lipstick Pictionary anyone?) and sang some kareoke. For once I got to order snacks before the bar’s restaurant closed, too. I was DDing, so I ended up drinking what felt like a vat of Shirley Temples, which is a drink I have always loved and couldn’t give up for a piddly little thing like adulthood.

There's always something happening
And it's usually quite loud
Our mum she's so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down
And a mess is not allowed

The following day I slept in a little and then headed over to see my dear friend Ricki’s gorgeous new place with a beautiful open concept main floor, to help her clear a few toys off the floor and a few things off her mind, and to read stories to her daughters when they got home from spending the afternoon with Grandma. It was a great day, and I was happy on the way home. Especially even happier when I heard from my friend Leah on the way and chatted quite a bit on the phone during the whole trip. When not chatting, I have been listening to Revisionist History and Beautiful/Anonymous podcasts - Paul informs me that I am missing a fabulous season of Reply All so I intend to pick that up on my way to Saskatoon for my friend’s wedding next week.

I cut down trees, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavatory

On Wednesdays I go shopping and have buttered scones for tea

Monday was unique in that Paul and I finally did something we’ve both been wanting to do for ages, except this was something Paul REALLY wanted to do: go axe throwing! We learned some basic technique and threw small axes about 15 feet towards a big wooden target attached to the wall. While it was definitely a bit more dangerous than one’s average Monday night, I found that I really took to it, and though I would often go long stretches without sticking an axe in the target, I did manage several bullseyes and two doubles - throwing two axes, one in each hand, at the two targets. You can’t throw an axe at a target that already has an embedded axe, that’s dangerous, so you have to sort of keep your wits about you the whole time, but all in all it was a simple and deceptively active thing to do. My shoulders are a bit sore tonight after adding swimming to that mess.

Because of the kind of session that I shot today, an online dating profile session, my entry into a nearby gym was purchased by client and the wristband lasted all day,  so despite how busy I am I decided that I had to take the opportunity to go swimming since I haven't had a chance to spend quality time in the pool for some time. End up dividing my time between stretching out some old moves in the Lane Swim area and evaluating how my swimming strokes work since my body is shaped so much differently than it was when I swam on a daily basis.

Unfortunately there were waterlogging complications for lane swim, since I have a hard time finding goggles that fit me and I prefer to swim with them. I have two fairly expensive pairs now, neither of which fit my face, so hopefully I can sell them both to get enough money to try and find a single mask that actually fits my face. It’s been an issue for several years now, since the one mask I had got too old and the plastic warped and cracked.

Time is standing still
You're the treasure
Dive down deeper

Still, all I need is you

Some days I feel like hitting my 30s is a constant mess of things wearing out. This week it was exacerbated by the fact that my GPS won’t charge properly anymore even though it appears there’s nothing else wrong with it… Perhaps some phone store can fix it for me for less than the cost of a new one… The good ones are over $350 these days!

I like to think that we had it all

We drew a map to a better place

It was very nostalgic and thoughtful, which I remember being the case even when I was young oddly enough. It made it even more interesting that this civic centre is a rare library-rec centre combo, just like the ones I grew up with. The pool was great, and since it’s only 10 minutes from here and has a library attached and internal options for healthy food and fruit beverages, it may become a haunt for me to work on things outside of the house in winter and get a workout at the same time. Also, I could use that elusive sense of totally calm thinking I get when floating through the “lazy river” at the pool. I was actually thinking I might have to borrow a GoPro from a friend and shoot a YouTube video there about being in control as content for the Time Management site.

The wheels are turning in general after swimming. I remember wishing I could take up teaching swimming lessons again after seeing a man with his son training him to go underwater for the first time... But since it's sort of a job for 16-20 year olds it's probably not worth recerting my qualifications. Probably the most interesting part of the evening was that there were several women wearing burkinis, which I was happy about and then had to think about why... It started me thinking about all the racist garbage happening in France and the EU, and how I want to feel free to live my faith without abuse, and though our faiths are different, I think that supporting other people of faith in not being abused by thoughtless and ignorant people is important in a secular world.

But during National Brotherhood Week,

It's National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week,

Be nice to people who are inferior to you,

It's only for a week, so have no fear,

Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

Tonight I had just enough time (50 minutes, pretty much on the nose) to introduce Paul to one of my favourite musical comedians, the dark and zippy pianoman and satirist, Tom Lehrer. So many horrible, horrible songs that you just can’t help but grin and then promptly grimace.

I’ve been doing a lot of coaching and teaching for CPC ever since I changed my mind about being part of the company, and I really feel like there’s some absolutely fabulous results for some of my clients. I live for the days when I get to coach and teach, and can’t wait to make more opportunities to do this in my life. I am currently writing a book and in the idea-gathering stage for the kind of podcast I want to start for time management. I have a lot of different ideas, just waiting for the right one to gel, the same way the idea for the book did last May after several abandoned attempts.

On top of all of this I have also been working on my Admire Studios revised catalog for 2016 - 2017. I think I'm actually finished at this point, you know, like uploaded to my website level of done, although I do tend to tinker.  I've also been working on my greeting emails that go along with galleries where the photos are finished,  a few tweaks to the Admire website and all manner of small details like that to get in shape for a big fall season.

So basically a lot of things have been happening. Which I feel like I say every time, but I suppose the News has it’s mores and memes and formats and so do I when I talk about my own news. I shouldn’t expect to be any different than anyone else in that more things will continue to happen, and I will hopefully keep blogging again now that I’ve built up some momentum.

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
And time's forever frozen still
I have friends

I love myself today

I'm cool, I'm calm, I'm gonna be okay, uh huh

I love myself today, not like yesterday

Take another look at me now

On Monday I had the great pleasure of having several hours of conversation with my dear friend Janta online - and reminding her that in less than 6 months, we’ll have been friends for 10 years. So much changed, so much has stayed the same.

We had a guest most of this week who brought his dog Jack, who was so obsessed with fetch he’d do it forever and with the highest of energy. It was a treat to have them.

The other day I found a big clearance sale at Rexall drug store (think Walgreens or Shoppers Drug Mart if you’re not in Alberta) and they had some very long strings of outdoor lights on for $7 each, so I picked up two and took some time with the two dogs in the treehouse stringing them up. That evening, after it had rained but was no longer raining, I asked Paul to come out with Murphy and I and test out the perfectly soft white light that made the space glow. What a great find. With that, there’s only a few more small treehouse adjustments I’d like to make - I’d like to get a couple of thick/cheap ruined yoga mats to make the floor a bit softer and more grippy… Maybe those foam puzzle pieces or something…

A few days later, a fantastic deal came up on Kijiji to buy a hammock stand, and after splintering a rotting old fence trying to set one up in our yard earlier (which thankfully entertained our landlords as opposed to angering them), I’m super excited to have one to enjoy for the rest of the summer and beyond - I’m actually thinking that if I set it up corner-to-corner across our second spare room/library/Paul’s office when we move our things out of there, it will end up being a cozy blanketed winter space as well for reading and relaxing.

Last night I went out to The Tea Girl with my friend Erin. We talked about all kinds of things,  and I was honored to confirm that in one way or another I will be a part of her wedding next year.  since I've met her fiance and her parents and her brother is a friend of mine as well, I have to say, I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Confetti, I'm ready; I need it every night

Red velvet, vanilla, chocolate in my life

I keep on hoping we'll eat cake by the ocean

On my way home I was sitting in my nice car listening to Google Play Music, and singing Cake By The Ocean while taking a way home that flaunted my knowledge of Edmonton streets and denied the sanctity of my GPS (something I’ve been challenging myself to do lately, driving without a map in my home city) and I suddenly had a thought, unbidden: “I like myself.” If this has ever happened to me before, I can’t really recall it clearly, but I was thinking of myself through the eyes of some of my closest girlfriends, and every eye sees me with such value and joy that even my old perfectionist instincts have to bow down and say, “She’s good enough, it’s fine.” Not only that, but there’s all sorts of parts of myself I really do love. It may offend some of my more religious friends, but one of the things I like about myself is feeling a lot more free to swear than I used to, when I feel emphatic. It’s not like it creeps into everyday language, but like everyone I have my stubbed toes and incredible days, and sometimes nothing works except that most British of F-words. Feeling free to say it (or in this case, sing it) makes me feel more authentically myself to be free to say it for myself.

I’ve been fighting to come out of a state of “grey rock” where I severely limit my personality out of fear of retribution. I am beginning to work on allowing myself to have all the feelings, not just feelings I should have. My various therapists would be pleased.

I am exercising a lot of courage lately. From fears of being burnt by the oven that were imprinted so long ago as to be completely unuseful at this point, to challenging myself to not slow down at residential intersections where I have right of way despite that accident I had way back in 2009, to putting in a huge proposal with a pretty big company this morning, and then immediately hearing back that the owner wasn’t a fan of the idea I built the whole proposal on. Oh well, if they don’t like it then it wouldn’t be a good plan to work with them anyway.

This week the biggest thing that happened was that I had two important phone meetings on Tuesday, and both of them resulted in extremely short term deadlines for the two huge projects that have pretty significant results, one involving that proposal, another involving some video scripting for time management videos. Not to mention the new sessions I’ve been booking, and editing still to be done.

Call it torture, call it University

No! Arts and crafts is all I need

I'll take calligraphy and then I'll make a fake degree

Yesterday morning I was so tired that I got up and did a bit of work, but I was so wiped that I messaged Paul that I was headed back to bed and spent about 2 hours napping. It’s a good thing too, because while I was procrastinating typing this blog post I had pages left to write on the big proposal I sent in this morning. Kind of reminds me of college to be honest. Not a bad thing either, because in a lot of ways, college was a big part of my life.

It feels a little like coming to a new era this month. So much waffling in what I wanted to do with my life over the past two years, but I think I’m back to a place of feeling more secure again.

love umbrella

The Dog Days of Summer

I see skies of blue

And clouds of white

The bright blessed day

And the dark sacred night

I had a truly excellent time last Thursday, Paul and I headed out to the Board Games cafe with three other couples we met off the internet, and we played Monkey, a card game an acquaintance of mine invented, and then tried Pandemic for the first time with a couple who had played it before, while the other two couples played Dominion. It was absolutely wonderful, and all of us couples enjoyed each other’s company, so we’ve decided to get together to play again, and created a private Facebook group to facilitate this.

We then headed out to a late-night show at the Fringe of Working, a musical based on a book of interviews of working class Americans. I had a number of thoughts about the musical and Paul and I have had several discussions about it.

My first memory, sadly, is just how uncomfortable the theatre seats were. Unfortunately my prodigious hips are getting me into a lot of really uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing situations. (I broke another chair when we went camping, though to be fair, it was an old folding camp chair and a screw sheared through a plastic piece that was only about 3mm thick, so it’s definitely not entirely my fault and is at least partly that such camp chairs are not designed to last a lifetime…) But that vague discomfort really was rather fitting with the musical about people’s day-to-day work.

It’s me and my machine

for the rest of the morning

The rest of the afternoon

And for the rest of my life

The actual musical had excellent performers, songs that spanned the full range of feelings that people have from work from the job satisfaction of a stonemason to the feeling of being trapped that a millworker in poor conditions had. It was kind of heartbreaking, actually. You can see a video of someone performing that song here, language warning. It’s a really eye-opening musical, highly recommended to those that like musicals, or expanding their awareness of the experiences of others and flexing that empathy muscle.

After fitfully sleeping that night, Friday was a day where I was either working or erranding the whole day and then after being super exhausted by the chores, I drove 6 hours to Saskatoon, for 3/4 of which I had a napping dog and husband. I played with the dog, did multiple loads of laundry and dishes and packing, prepped our spare room for a guest, got an oil change and gas, took the dog to the dog park and walked further than usual, did some digital work, and a few other things. That was the kickoff to a very full weekend. On Saturday morning I breakfasted with family, got a fantastic thrift shop deal on a double-sized thicker blue winter blanket for the spare room for $2 and a beautiful cathedral candle holder. That afternoon I relaxed and then went for supper and a walk to the very nifty Berry Barn, the Saskatoon tourist attraction which I don’t think I’ve ever visited. Saskatoon berries.

I thought you beat the inevitability of death to death

just a little bit

The biggest news in Canada this weekend was about The Tragically Hip final concert in Canada. While I feel terrible for anyone losing their livelihood and joy to cancer and my wishes are with Gord and his family and band, unfortunately I’ve always thought the Hip’s music was terrible, uninspired, and universally overrated by Canadians. I don’t hate much music, but theirs gets close. I hate their obvious lyrics that take one concept and beat it to death in song, and think their melodies are achingly bland, including the lyric posted above, though it’s now been made interesting through irony.

As a consequence, it’s super awkward when everyone around you is having this big moment celebrating something that you don’t care about - between the Hip concert and the Olympics it’s been quite the month for that. Though I really appreciated the clip on Last Week Tonight where John Oliver lambastes someone for talking about the Olympics being about human equality, seeing as the entire thing is a competition about officially choosing who is the better person based on their country and whether they beat their peers by a fraction of a second. There’s also the enormous waste of money and resources that every Olympics brings. The abandoned structures, the ruined careers of the not-quite good enough.

So I’ve been feeling a bit left out of world events lately, and that’s actually fine by me. I was listening to a podcast from Revisionist History about the concept of action threshold - how easy it is for some people to do things that are untried or unpopular vs another person trying something when there is ample evidence that it is tried, tested, and true.

I'm locked and loaded

Completely focused,

my mind is open

Sunday we went to church, ate brunch with Sarah and Andrew, and then Paul enjoyed some time with them while I went out to shoot two family sessions, which though immensely fun with many cute children, was a bit more tiring than usual due to lack of sleep, high heat, and a few seriously determined mosquitos.

Today I had 5 appointments scheduled, all of which have potential for difficult conversations, and while some have been moved or cancelled and others went well despite difficulty, I’m glad that I seem to usually feel pretty well the day immediately after one or two big days - tomorrow I plan to do as little as possible and I’ll probably feel like a train wreck.

Quite a bit of culling and editing to do, and tonight I have a consulting appointment. All in all, lots going on, but I’m pretty satisfied with life.

We’ve been having some AirBnB guests and we have one right now, and he brought an adorable Boston Terrier named Jack that thinks that fetch is the spice of life. What’s awesome is that he’s actually faster than Murphy when running very short distances, and Murphy is totally flummoxed that a tiny dog has him beat - it’s hilarious. On that note, I’m out.


Summer Chill

You should be rolling with me, you should be rolling with me, ah ah ah
But you're moving so carefully; let's start living dangerously

Quite a lot of things happened over the past few months, and then today a whole BUNCH of stuff happened.

Today some things happened that were planned, some simply the hearing and processing of news - but a very eventful day it was. I’ll try to do today justice, but the last few weeks have been very crazy.

But first, let’s recap the last month or so. I had a financially good couple of months, and that’s meant some small changes.

Upon sharing about my iMac’s demise back in May and June, my awesome bro-in-law said he thought it sounded like a malfunction in a certain adaptor part in my upgraded Mac. I finally had enough money to find the $20 USD specialty part and spend $25 USD getting it shipped and $17 USD on duties from the dumb government, who is taxing me on something I can’t actually even buy in Canada… /Rant. Long story extremely short, after spending over $125 on a $20 part, and all that hullaballo, I took apart my computer for the umpteenth time, installed a new part, and now I can squeeze some more life out of this ancient beast. (Seriously, I’ve had it longer than I’ve been married, it’s almost 7 years old.) So that’s back in my life, and now we have somewhat of an entertainment system set up in the living room with my new portable bluetooth speaker, new monitor, and various other small upgrades. So that’s big news.

The other big piece of news is that my car got totalled in June, not my fault, and long story short I am now driving a nice newer silver Elantra that has some awesome attributes, like a handsfree stereo system and bluetooth, which up until recently seemed practically futuristic in a car. I really like it as a car, but in all honesty I really loved both of my Mazdas, and both were totalled by others and ended in me getting another model of car I didn’t like quite as much. Not to say I don’t love the Elantra, but I do have nostalgia for my Mazdas. Hopefully I’ll get another one some day.

I love you when you're singing that song and
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
You're gonna sing the words wrong

A few months ago I asked Paul if we wanted to see if we could just a little bit of money, about $500, to just try and have more fun this summer.  after scrimping and saving and struggling for several years, I have been feeling the strain of a constantly tightened belt. I wanted to let loose and do some fun things. We're just past the middle of August now and there are only few fun things left this summer,  but I have to say that this has been the summer of fun,  and my soul and my marriage have greatly benefitted.

Before I launch into a list of fun things, I have one thing that might not seem like fun to everyone - more of an educational, long term investment of our time and money sort of thing, but a big part of our lives.

Don't stop now
Just be the champion
Work it hard like it's your profession

I should take an aside and talk about that. In May I went to a business conference in Vancouver where about a dozen speakers who are very well respected by my main business mentor made presentations - and one of the men who has made a fortune in Warren Buffet-style investing offered his investing courses to us as a gift - no strings attached, and with a guest. So Paul and I took a full self-directed online course in June, and in July we set aside a weekend where we learned a completely fresh style of investing. We both feel we have different strengths to pursue this kind of investing with, and where Paul has always been interested in financial investment I started to become more interested in the past few years as I have become more financially savvy in general and learned a lot more life skills when it comes to budgeting and planning for the future. There was also a class I took in high risk investments a few years ago. So that’s been an exciting journey, and we’re still researching various companies that we have an interest in like entertainment companies and those that sell consumer products.

Okay, now the fun stuff.

Rushing through me
I feel your energy rushing through me
Baby you're like lightning in a bottle
I can't let you go now that I got it
And all I need is to be struck by your electric love
Baby you're electric love, electric love

It’s summer blockbuster season at the movies, and Paul and I snagged a great movie deal that’s keeping us in movies for a few months! So far we’ve seen X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America Civil War, Batman vs. Superman, Now You See Me 2, Star Trek, Nerve, and Suicide Squad, the last of which was our first time in the VIP theatre, for which we ALSO landed a deal for dinner and a movie for Paul’s birthday, a few days late. There’s another 4-6 movies coming up in the next few months we’re looking forward to as well including the Ghostbusters reboot, Ice Age, Bourne, and Ben-Hur, though I’m certain that won’t beat the original at much of anything. Honestly I’m probably missing a swath of movies, I remember 2015 was like a constant wait for the next movie at a crawl and this year we can’t actually keep up with everything we want to see in theatres.

My brother-in-law added me to his Google Play Music account, and I really like the format - plus the song names all get displayed in my car now. I've really expanded my music collection since, with BØRNS definitely being the best new addition to bands that I enjoy.

You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to you only

Last weekend we headed out to One Rock, a Catholic music and faith festival. It's a huge festival with something like 3000 people who attend, lots of families are there, there's no age limits or anything so even though it’s sort of a youth event, it’s mainly a family one. A lot of the bishops and even the Archbishop were there speaking and they even had a Bishop's Panel where they answered questions like how to marry the right person and deal with distractions in prayer. Hearing so much absolutely fabulous teaching from the Bishops was one of the best parts, and reconciliation and spiritual direction was really eye-opening for me as well. Feeling very happy to have been a part of it. There was also a few other awesome things.

First, this was the first time Paul and I have ever gone camping! We borrowed a tent, and I bought us a nice little high-power LED flashlight, and Paul roughed it and slept for a few days without his sleep apnea machine. I wouldn’t say we really roughed it properly though, because we brought our futon mattress so we wouldn’t have to sleep on the ground!

Second, there were some really cool food trucks there, and we knew about them in advance, so I happily planned for us to eat there. One of the food trucks was selling Mojito Lemonade, which I promptly became addicted to and hope to try and recreate at home. We also had some specialty asian burritos, delicious Pho soup, and terriyaki and noodles for other meals, not to mention all the delicious snacks we brought with us. All in all, it was a great experience food-wise.

Third and Fourth, we met up with one of Paul’s Aunt’s and Uncle’s family and their two kids, who are both much older than when we first met! It was a pleasure to spend some time with them at supper one evening listening to the performance of an all-family bluegrass band called the Trudel Family from small-town Saskatchewan! I’m looking forward to seeing them again, I really loved their sound.

So basically it was a pretty eventful weekend last week.

Some dreams never do come true
Some love doesn't hit the target
I've been wishing about you
Darling I've been wishing my hardest
You've got me seeing stars, brighter than ever
Shining just like diamonds do
I know that in time it could be all ours, brighter than ever
Your love is such a dream come true

I know, I know, I know I need you

Paul has become hugely into podcasts over the past year or two, and I have about ten that I listen to off and on myself, especially a couple of comedy ones or personal interest ones. Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids probably remains our favourite, but lately I’ve been getting into Revisionist History and Myths and Legends. This American Life remains my most enduring favourite, as I’ve probably listened to 40 or 50 hours of it now on various road trips, especially while I was commuting to Calgary every few hours.

We started playing Pokemon Go when it officially came out in Canada a few weeks ago and we’ve been having fun going for walks and collecting cute animals ever since. Of course it’s in my blood to get obsessed, so I’ve been looking up training videos and charts about how to do the best in the game. I’ve walked a lot more than usual since having it and since we’ve been going to so many events this summer. Paul asked to go Pokemon hunting on his birthday, so we went to the Alberta Legislature grounds, which are now constantly full of Go trainers. The best part of Go for us is walking around in the real world. I love going to various locations around Edmonton and taking walks now, and I don’t usually love taking walks. So it’s good for my health as well as being overall a fun game.

Tonight was a big milestone for us with Pokemon go, because (for anyone familiar) we set up a couple of lures in two close-together pokestops at the Fringe, turned on the incense, hatched some eggs, leveled up, and then after the show we saw at the Fringe, we went to a pokemon gym and both of us were able to defeat the incumbent Pokemon and take the gym for a bit. For those not familiar, suffice it to say that we had a super fun night of gaming that involved high fives and grins and enjoying the game and each other.

Out on the verge of the rest of our lives tonight
Top of the world and we're dressed to the nines tonight
Edge of the earth and we're touching the sky tonight

Out on the verge of the rest of our lives

The main event was our fourth of five Fringe plays. We’ve now seen Anatolia Speaks, a monologue based on the true stories of war refugees to Canada, based on a Bosnian woman’s experience, Harold of Galacticus and Kill Hard, which were two male duos performing improv on a theme of a superhero’s life and an action movie respectively. Both were funny, but the superhero one was one of the best improvs Paul and I have ever seen - we ended up with Snowglobe Man, who can capture and change moments in time vs. his creepy evil nemesis whose name I can’t remember. All I know is that my gut hurt from laughing afterwards, and we laughed pretty hard at the other show too. Tonight’s show was Dirk Darrow, a mentalist magic show mixed into a film noir era detective story. The best part was that there was a fair bit of audience participation and both Paul and I ended up being chosen to be part of the magic show, which was an absolutely excellent time. Paul said, “When he called you up there, I was like, ‘This is going to make Twyla’s night.’ and then when he called me up there I was like, ‘Now this is REALLY going to make Twyla’s night!’” He was totally right. I was thrilled to the marrow of my bones. The show itself was also truly excellent and highly recommended, even if you don't end up participating.

Come along with me and don't be scared
I just wanna set you free
Come on, come on, come on
You and me can make it anywhere
For now, we can stay here for a while, ay
'Cause you know, I just wanna see you smile
No matter where you go
You know you're not alone
I'm only one call away
I'll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I'm only one call away

While we were gaming later in the evening, we received news that a good friend of ours got engaged after a long wait, and within minutes of that bubbly and excited phonecall, we found out on Facebook that a close couple friends of ours were experiencing the grave sorrow of delivering their first near-term baby as a still birth tonight. So it was kind of a roller-coaster of very up and very down at the close of the evening as we headed to our car on the bus (this year there’s a bus to the French Quarter down Whyte from the festival about 15 blocks, and there’s ample parking down there, so we’ve been parking and taking the free festival shuttle bus - which also gives us entry forms every time to enter for some awesome prizes, so I’ve got my fingers crossed about that! Basically no downsides. (Plus there’s at least 6 pokestops on the bus route both ways.)

Now I’m home and trying to record just how enjoyable life is. Still to come this summer - one big meetup with some new people in Edmonton going gaming at the Board Games cafe tomorrow - Paul’s first time gaming at a Board Game cafe, much less the one on 75th. Then we’re catching our last Fringe performance, a musical, and heading to Saskatoon for the weekend so I can shoot a couple of awesome family photo sessions. We're also going to try learning how to do axe throwing in a few weeks.

So life continues to be full of interesting things, and I am doing well. Paul and I feel close and we’re having a lot of fun, it’s been a good summer.

I'll take another sunrise
Another hand to hold tight
This isn't over
  • Current Mood: creative creative
  • Current Music: Electric Love - BØRNS