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


Every time I come back to my life journal after a long hiatus I feel bad about how long it's been since I wrote in it. I know I probably sound like a broken record (if anyone's actually reading this anymore) because in the world of blogging, two posts from two years can be next to each other.

Today a friend posted on Facebook asking how all her friends controlled and kept their memories safe.  I was immediately struck by a pang of guilt.  for over a decade blogging was the way that I did that and up until recently there are a lot of reasons why my life journal was starting to die out.

I think the first and maybe the saddest reason is that when I moved to Edmonton a lot of my friendships were put in crisis. I had never really had long-distance friendships until after I got married. These days I struggle less than I used to,  but I do still find long-distance relationships to be a challenge that I haven't fully overcome.  when I look back at all of my old post here, I realize that so many of them were about time spent with friends.  these days I can definitely claim that we have friends in Edmonton,  but I'd say it's only the last two years but Paul and I have started to feel like we have relationships here.

The thing with a long distance relationship is that you can't go to karaoke together. You don't end up at the coffee shop sharing a chai latte and tales of what happened to you last week.  And when there's a concert in town you just don't go because there's no one to go with, and everybody knows things are better with friends. With so much time away from my friends and  in a city that is very large and certainly qualifies to be the kind of place it can be difficult to make connections,  I made a habit over almost half a decade  of all my evening plans are there involving work,  one of my hobbies that didn't require any other people: like watching TV or reading books, or cooking,  or of course spending time with my husband.  I got out of the habit of blogging because I wasn't going out and doing anything with other people there's only so much to be said about a book or movie so I said those things on Facebook  for the most part,  or chatting with friends online which is something I have been doing since I was first on the net.

But I'm being honest with myself though, Paul and I did a lot of really interesting stuff over the seven years that we've been together. Early on in our relationship I recorded almost everything that happened, because it was so exciting. But I look back on my life 10 years ago when I was 20,  and shake my head at all of the things that have changed. On one hand, there's a part of me that is disappointed with the lot I've had in life, On the other I'm incredibly grateful because  if I tried to start listing the blessings,  I'd have a document that I couldn't even scroll through in a day, Like those scrolls that they have on comedy TV shows for contracts with the devil that fall open and roll through a whole room…

Today as we near the middle of 2016, There are really only two moments in time that I have recorded,  and since in many ways this blog is my memory,  I am sorry for that. And so I'm going to do my best to go back in time and talk about some of the things that have happened.

This weekend Paul and I took a live online course in Warren Buffet style investing. Paul has always wanted to invest, and has even invested in some higher risk ventures in the past. I once took an investing course because a company paid me to do it and then never called in on there I have to admit that while I think I will be good at it, initially it really bent my brain out of shape because there's a whole new world of lingo and acronyms to learn. On the other hand I'm very excited about the potential to make good investment decisions and have excellent returns that will help us to have a good retirement,  and if we do a really good job, an early retirement.  I think the best thing I can say about a course like this and why I think it's true and good and useful is that it's essentially asking me to get rich slow and with as little risk as possible. That's practically the opposite of what most courses are offering nowadays.

As they say in my entrepreneurial classes, all everyone wants to do is get rich, look and feel younger, and have more sex. You wouldn't think that investing is very sexy, But having a lot of money certainly seems to be!

We actually started studying investing a couple of months ago with the online course that's a prerequisite,  and as I got more and more excited leading up to the live course, I started asking Paul to play Stock Ticker (which is wildly innacurate and speculative),  and we ended up watching The Big Short, which was a great movie.

For the last few months we have started hosting guests through AirBnB, Which is been a really unique experience. Since I have always had a little longing to own a bed and breakfast and always enjoy staying at them, it was great. On the other hand, the reason we actually set up our room for bed and breakfast use was because of the fires in Fort McMurray. It's not every day that thousands of refugees from one of the next cities over land in your lap.  As Paul said when I asked him if he wanted to host one of the temporary homeless for free using the AirBnB platform, “How often will we ever get a chance to be this generous with our home?” We actually did end up hosting one young man for just a few days before he returned home to his thankfully intact house. So that’s the story of how a natural disaster got us into AirBnB hosting. For real. We actually have a couple and their toddler staying with us right now, which is why I was reminded.

A couple of weeks ago while everything had been becoming kind of awful in the world to parallel my own frustration and sadness with different parts of my life, I decided that things had been depressing long enough and got together with a couple of friends I know in Edmonton and went out for karaoke  to the place that's right next to my one friend's house.

Today I headed down to Calgary on the bus, thankfully I didn’t have any special appointments today because I ended up missing my morning bus because I had planned* the trip last minute. *And by planned I mean didn’t really plan anything, and didn’t properly think through the need to be at the depot significantly before the bus departure time, and then failed to look up the current address of the bus depot and ended up 15 minutes away with 10 minutes to bus departure. Whoops. At least on the financial scale of mistakes it was a $20 mistake. And I had really intended on spending today relaxing because the financial stuff I did on the weekend was really, really taxing on my mental faculties. I would say that I am not significantly functional… Thankfully the time in the station gave me a bit of photo editing time. The unfortunate part though was that I had only brought snacks, the machine with the sandwiches in it wasn’t accepting coins, just bills, and I had no bills, just coins (which I had brought specifically for this purpose, so that was a downer.)

The guy behind me on the bus was a member of the Hell’s Angels. His hand was all bandaged up and he was heading across country to the West coast. I realized I knew very little about motorcycle gangs and looked them up on Wikipedia. He was too busy to notice, because I highly doubt he would have appreciated my internet sleuthing. He was nice to the ladies on the bus nearby, and I was struck by the difference between bus and car travel. There’s a fellowship between bus travellers that rarely happens on a plane - a brotherhood of sorts.

Which got me thinking about why people need families and friendships and networks. They need support and company and that sense of belonging somewhere that gives people assurance they aren’t alone.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because I was part of the birth of a new internet community devoted to helping people find those kinds of connections, and having become active in that community, I’m doing my best to evaluate my own need to connect with others and ensure that need is met.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be human lately. About all our flaws and failures, and all the times we shoot an almost perfect game. About how we are drawn to violence and separation, and long for peace and connection. About how one of the most pervasive fallacies that most modern people believe is that their hearts and minds can be trusted to lead them into all good things.

There’s nothing like a long term struggle with a debilitating mental illness to help one realize that even for a person with typical psychology, the mind lies, and so does the heart.

It tells us that it’s better to be in a violent gang than to be alone, or it tells them that self-reliance will be enough.

I am working on disabusing myself of the notion of being an island.

This is where I stopped writing that day.
Nothing is ruined.

iMac Funeral

Here lies Twyla's iMac. November 18, 2009 to April 26, 2016.

You'll rest in pieces, likely.

I've known this was coming for a long time, I just had hoped I could eke out a few more months. I've been obsessively working on external drives whenever I don't forget, but today I missed a deadline with a client because it wouldn't start for hours. It's too much of a risk to do anything important on it anymore. I'm hoping it will run well enough to be a TV in our living room.
But it's time. It won't run correctly for more than a day now, and most of the time it won't start, so it's time to thank it for its service and let it go. If we can get it running somewhat reliably again it will be to watch TV on it in the living room, not do any work, it's not reliable enough. It's odd how connected we feel to our tools, you know? This computer was upgraded dozens of times. I worked and played with it. It was a part of my daily life since before I got married.

The next time it works for a bit, I'm going to create a basic user with nothing that runs on it but Chrome and see if it will work as a TV/Podcast computer if I don't tax it. That would be nice for our living room!
It feels like the death of the last workhorse on the farm and all that's left is an old pony. (MacBook circa 2010 is still kicking, now it's going to see much heavier use.)

In the end, I knew it was coming, and the day came. Let's hope for a chance at an upgrade in the coming months!
YAY kermit flail

A New Pharmaceutical Hope

I give You my apathy
I'm giving You all of me
I want Your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs I'm giving it back

Most of you know I have a pretty severe genetic skin condition where my immune system is causing severe eczema on my skin all over my body. I have awesome news - a big pharma is in final stages of developing a massively effective drug for my exact issue, and the dermatologist I saw this morning is friends with the folks who do clinical trials in Edmonton, so he said he wants me in the first clinical trial for it within 1-3 months. In the first 3 phases, it cured the issue for over 75% of people. Not only that, but there's a drug with no alarming side effects to replace the super nasty immunosuppressant drug I was taking for it before (the same stuff they use for organ transplants), so either way I'm going to be better off. I am so excited, I came out of the appointment that I just waited 6 months for crying for joy.

So many years waiting. Best of all, I know that when Paul and I have kids, if I happen to pass the genes to them, which is a 50/50 chance, they'll be taken care of, too and won't have to suffer like I did. The drugs are safe for kids.

It's so overwhelming! So good to have good news.
  • Current Location: Cloud 9
  • Current Mood: ecstatic ecstatic
  • Current Music: Switchfoot - Only Hope
a hero can save us

A Very Long Journey

Home is behind
The world ahead.
And there are many paths to tread.
Through shadow,
To the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight
Mist and shadow
Cloud and shade
All shall fade
All shall fade

WARNING: Mental health and ED content.
On this day in 2009, while living at home recuperating from having my wisdom teeth removed (and a visceral pre-dating breakup with my good friend) my Mom came in and asked if I wanted to join her at the grocery store. My reaction to her talking about food was so strong, and the fact that I had been recently triggered by some posts about anorexia online helped connected some dots, and I went on the Mayo Clinic website and confirmed that I had an extremely severe eating disorder. I called my doctor and found out the medical establishment only helps people under 18 when they're starving to death. The other 80-90% of people with EDs are largely untreated or ignored.
Seven years later after therapy and mindset work, the eating disordered voice is gone, I understand nutrition and meal planning, and I am just about ready to start weight training with a course from a friend in Calgary. (It's often not safe to try to lose weight with an eating disordered mind, contrary to everyone's advice.) A lot has changed about who I am in that time, but while the healing is still ongoing, I now tell people the ED is gone - and my specialist therapist agrees with me on this.
But the crux of the matter is that if you know someone my size - over 300 pounds - chances are excellent they had the same eating disorder. It's called Binge Eating Disorder, and it's exactly like bulimia except without the purging behaviour. (I could never make myself throw up.)
Some of my good friends have asked me what it's like. It's a little like split personality disorder, in that a voice in your head that sounds very much like you but is abusive and hateful towards you is very vocal, day in and day out. It's a bit like what you already know about EDs - a good 30% or more of my mind in any given day was preoccupied with food or weight. It's hard to be with other people because social = food, and I'd try to hide how much I was eating when I was out - and when I was alone, bored, tired, or stressed it was worse. It started right when I hit puberty.
If you've never been grossly overweight, you've never experienced the stigma that society attaches either. I've had clients that I know for a fact didn't book me as their wedding photographer because I was obese. People who do not experience mental illness believe you've made bad choices. Choices are only informed by the mind, and when your brain is broken (along with your spirit) poor choices are not only inevitable but extremely difficult to fix.
Saskatchewan's dark age health care is apalling, and it wasn't until I moved to Edmonton that I got any real help from the medical world. I actually had a great doctor in Saskatoon who was horrified she couldn't get me any help even after spending quite a bit of time researching for me (because I was the most severe case she'd ever seen and my life was in danger.)
I finally got help from a really excellent dietician, found a specialist therapist who deals with EDs and understood my situation the moment I walked in, and more.
The mindset work I did both with my therapist and with the business education in Calgary, strangely, is what helped me find freedom. I've already helped a handful of other people who had BED, and I'm always willing to talk to you if you or a friend or family member is struggling with it.
Today I clicked on Facebook memories. I made this status shortly after I found out. I remember what it felt like. Mountains I'd never climb. But I'm here today to tell you that while many mental health issues are deemed incurable, I have to say, that depends. It depends on how fiercely you fight. It depends on whether there are people in your life you can trust to help you. It depends on a lot of time spent sewing up holes in your soul.
But it's not impossible, and I'm living proof. I went off my SSRI medication last Fall and I have been a happy and functioning person for a completely normal ratio of the time since. If you don't know what normal is, find a good therapist.
And please don't embrace your depression, ED, or quite a few other mental health conditions as permanent and stop working to fix them. Your will is powerful, even when the mind is broken. You can overcome most things with medication, therapy, and just working harder at yourself than everyone else.
Thanks to everyone who's been on this journey with me, and encouragement to everyone I know on their own journeys. There's better things ahead than any we leave behind.

  • Current Location: Edmonton
  • Current Mood: Longing
  • Current Music: Lord of the Rings
a hero can save us

Human Decency

I'm taking a break from a long hiatus to speak out on a thought I've had.

As a longtime photographer, there has been an article going around criticizing a journalist who was on the scene at the Brussels bombing and saying the now-famous photo she took of one of her fellow victims was "indecent" because you can see the woman's bra. Seriously?
If all you can think about when you see a photo of someone in distress is their level of dress, you have an extreme lack of compassion and clarity. And if you think that any person who has spent their life so far devoted to trying to share with others through journalism should shove the instinct to record and only ever "help" others in their situation, you probably just have the helping gift and haven't yet realized that everyone else has unique gifts. Some are helpers, some are recorders, some work with laws and some with memorials.
It's always easy, weeks after an event, to have a well thought out version of how you think another person could have ideally acted. In the moment, we all become who we are, and the shooter of this image is a journalist.
This upsets me in particular because to me, the woman on the left is what struck me about this photograph. She looks almost exactly like a close girlfriend of mine, who was one of the bridesmaids at my wedding. The thought of my dear friend being involved humanized the whole tragedy, helped me remember that life is short.
In addition, for the family of the woman on the right, seeing this photo was their assurance that this precious life had been spared. They looked at this photo and saw humanity at its best and worst, not a woman whose bra and fat flab was showing.

I have friends

Hey Ladies

Think you can handle my love
Are you for real

Okay, so I have a lot of work to do today and this next week in general. I'm burning the candle everywhere. Well, technically I'm actually burning the licorice candle in the bathroom, and the smell is grand. I had a nice little personal mini-spa this morning with some of my favourite Lush stuff. Two days ago I got a great deal on a very nice blue top at Value Village, and I actually really love shopping, especially at the thrift shop. (Cue music.)

I just had a great recommendation for a hairstylist here in Edmonton, which is a huge relief, because while I love the stylist experience in Saskatoon where I grew up, commuting 6 hours for a haircut is too impractical for my practical little heart. Also, my time in Saskatoon at Christmas this year is more limited than I would prefer, so it's vital for me to use as much of it for family and friends as I possibly can, and a 4-6 hour perm is honestly a waste of my Saskatoon time.

I've been looking into those super cute Jamberry nail wraps lately but I don't know anyone personally who's an Edmonton rep... I am hoping to order myself some soon, but I'd really prefer to get a trial set... Maybe someone has some they don't like I can experiment with at home. Mmm. Home. Yesterday I made my famous Greek Lemon Rice soup, and it turned out better than it ever has before. Combine that with starting to clean my shambly office and working at optimizing the house storage system and you'd better believe that I'm excited about being a housewife.

Next week, I am dressing up in Regency era English apparel, watching the entire A&E version of Pride and Predjuice and eating dainty foods with tea and raspberry cordial with a girlfriend.

There's a thread running through everything I just said. I'm actually pretty girly.

And that is what I'm going to post about today. Being a girl. I've only recently connected with just how feminine I am. It's something my husband saw in me before I had fully seen it in myself. I remember cringing as he pointed out the great many ways that I am a girly-girl. Why cringing? Because I had some weird concepts in my head.

One of the things about being the descendant of women who were severely abused is that you pick up some odd and terrible notions about what it means to be a woman.

Lies I learned about being a woman during my childhood: Being a woman means that you're a worthless bitch. You're not worthy of notice. Being a woman means that what you have to say doesn't matter, that you're not in control. It means that you have nothing to offer anyone and shouldn't rock the boat.

When I was young, and even into University, the vast majority of my friends were boys. Partly this is because I was boy crazy, which I think gets worse when you despise everything about womankind, and partly this is because I just felt like I didn't get women. Sometimes I still feel that way, but doesn't everyone?

But I have turned a corner, you guys. Actually, there's fewer and fewer men that I am close to these days. It's not a slight to them at all, but I'm growing into who I really am as a woman, and after a young life that left me thinking that I needed a full bridesmen row at my wedding, having a lot of girlfriends now is really wonderful.

I have a lot in common with these new ladies in my life. We're loud and proud and strong. We're logical and emotional. We're pretty smart, but don't think that intelligence is everything or look down on others because of it. We value family. We enjoy a house full of happiness and laughter. We want to do better than our parents did - but not through the myth of progress in money and housing and such, but instead through teaching our sons and daughters to be incredible individuals and dealing with any hangups we might be giving them early - learning from them as they learn from us. We are creative and have the spark of life in our eyes.

I love these ladies. In fact, just today I added a new friend to my quiver-full of them, someone I hit it off with right quickly because she was all of these things and more - a complex, lovely new person with oodles of beauty to explore.

And as I look back at the last six years of my life since that moment that I cringed about being girly, I can smile so wide. In part, because I love my face and embrace it's warmth and cuteness, and in part because I've made it. After struggling for years to learn to love women, being a woman, and the women I love, I'm finally here.

It's an incredible feeling, knocking something like that off the list. So I had to share it.

  • Current Mood: satisfied satisfied
  • Current Music: Spice Girls. Adele. Taylor Swift.
bring your moves, cpc

Re-Post from Facebook - CPC

Some of you on my friends list may not know a lot about my involvement with CPC, Canada Photo Convention over the past few years. I started out as an attendee, immediately became the first volunteer and ran the tradeshow, and then slowly became the second-in-command of the conference and head of the The Floor @ CPC. For the last two days, it was our first conference in Toronto and 5th in total.

I just spent about four hours steeped in CPC social media after a half-day nap and I am overwhelmed with joy. I am so proud of what we are doing here. I am so proud to follow in my high school Mr. Brown’s footsteps in creating a safe, honest space at CPC.

I am also unbelievably excited, as a classically educated artist, to be part of an art collective. (Most art historians would agree that art collectives are key to social change. This feels intimate, but the ripple effect is huge.) I am so proud, as someone with a fine art degree, to be a voice in that collective. What an honour.

CPC is not so much conference as family.

Every conference we host is like a wedding - a marriage of the minds where you learn more about people than you wanted to know, the parties are legendary, and the dancing goes late into the night. The Vancouver con and Toronto con are not just season bookends but family reunions, holidays where we grow in knowledge and in caring about each other.

Jasser and I have been having a lot of meetings in my kitchen while our dogs sleep in various patches of sunlight, and we’ve got more coming. So much more.

CPC. The Alpha Wolf Award. That thing I can’t tell you about. That other thing I can’t tell you about.

I am so pumped to running covert ops for all the CPC folks on site and all year round.

Dave Chueng asked how do I do it? By the end, I’m running on love. Because I truly, deeply care for all of you.

Thanks for giving me a place to belong.