QUIET RETURN OF GOOD THINGS SUNDAY

Hi.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to write anymore where the whole internet could see it. I decided that I would update whenever I felt like it, and it turns out I just didn’t feel like it for a long time.

And that’s okay. I make no promises about my posting schedule.

But then I realized I had stopped making these lists all together, and I need to make the lists, because it’s important to appreciate it when life is good.

Writing the good things down is like getting to experience them a second time, and who doesn’t want to double up on the good vibes?

bootstagram

Boots-stagram

Good Things, Since I Wrote Last:

  • I moved back to my hometown. I live with my parents, who are probably the best roommates I’ve ever had. There is a lot of stigma about living with your family & I struggle with feeling like I am being judged for it, but I feel lucky to get to spend time with my people. Especially since I am planning to move to Seattle someday, the opportunity to get a lot of family time in before I leave has been an incredible upside.
  • I got a new job. Finally, after almost six months of looking. I have my first paycheck of 2014 in my wallet right now.
  • All the flowers are blooming. All of them. After so much winter. I am not taking a single bloom for granted.
  • I have been seeing baby bunnies all over my neighbourhood.
  • I started jogging again. It’s been years since I wrote about finding a way to move my body that would feel right to me and I have kept coming back to this, intermittently, because the time I spend outdoors where it’s just me & my body, where I struggle with persistence and endurance, where I feel my body getting stronger, that belongs to me & me alone, and I love that.
  • I started a tumblr where I keep track of what I am reading, in books, on the internet, and everywhere else.

GOOD THINGS KNIT FAST –

– DIE WARM

uilnej's knit fast die warm patch

uilnej’s knit fast die warm patch

Being an in-public knitter

and frequent instagrammer of my in-progress knits, people tend to send me any and all fiber-related stuff that they come across. I have probably seen these art works, articles, and memes already, because I am seriously yarn-obsessed, but I love to be thought of this way. Today’s blog headline comes from a tipsy text message my boyfriend sent me about a punk lady he spotted at a show who had a “knit fast, die warm” patch on the back of her studded vest. I wish we could be friends.

I LOVE YOU LIKE I LOVE MY COFFEE

I LOVE YOU LIKE I LOVE MY COFFEE

  • Someone referred a customer to the shop I work at by saying, “If there’s a girl behind the counter knitting, that’s Iris.” I’m happy to be known that way (though I do actually work at work, too.)
  • This week it snowed, more than once, which means I can wear all those things that I spend so much time knitting. One day this week I managed five handknits in one outfit without really thinking about it.
  • I have been trying hard to wear vintage & handmade clothes as often as I can manage for style, quality, and labour ethics type reasons. I love buying my supplies at my best friend’s store, I love supporting indie designers when I buy patterns, and I really like this style direction, too.
  • As well, I have been doing some fancy underwear upgrading. The prospect of wearing the same damn jacket with the same damn pair of boots for the next six months seems far less tedious with something new and fun underneath. I’m talking about both high quality warm wool socks and more unmentionable pieces, which, duh, I’m not mentioning here. I’ve been wearing more perfume for the same reason.
  • My favourite winter layering tip, by the way, is solid-coloured tights with patterned, fishnet, or lace tights over top. Fancy!
coveting these constellation leggings from minxshop

coveting these constellation leggings from minxshop

Further to last week’s winter self-care reminders,

I have been thinking about setting some new guidelines for myself that should help me feel more productive and energetic. Often I spend my evenings alone in my apartment, knitting up a storm with the tv for company, but I’m already feeling stuck for things to do. So, I’m committing to:

  1. Sticking to a consistent bedtime. Yes, like you would with a little kid. I set an alarm on my phone and when it goes off, I go to sleep. Deciding when to go to bed is in itself exhausting, I think. Hopefully this will transition into waking up early enough to go for a morning walk, but one thing at a time.
  2. Picking a TV time limit. Yep…like a kid. I like suspenseful tv, but too much of it makes me agitated. I’ve really learned to monitor how the media I consume affects my mood, and this should help. I’m planning to switch to podcasts and audiobooks for background noise when my time is up, please comment with your favourites of each. If there’s new music I should be into, tell me about  that, too, why not?
  3. Fine-tuning my eating choices. I haven’t blogged about this because in general I think that what people eat is their own damn business, but I have all but cut gluten and added sugar from my diet in an effort to curb the carbs/sweets cravings that go along with SAD and yes, I have found it helpful. For me. You do you though.

Also on my listening list is this new talk from bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry. Seriously important stuff.

GOOD THINGS IN THE DARK

Be vulnerable or go away by Clara Bee Lavery

Be vulnerable or go away by Clara Bee Lavery

Today I’ll walk home as the sun sets.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: the fall time change feels like the official beginning of Seasonal Affective Disorder season. Yes, I loved that extra hour of sleep. But tonight will be tough and I know it.

It took me by surprise, but this year’s big feeling isn’t sadness, it’s anger. I’m mad that I can’t seem to find the energy to get anything done in the evening. I already miss summer night bike rides. I understand why all my friends are hibernating at home instead of out and about, but I’m wishing for more excitement in my life.

Making time for a cappuccino and knitting in the morning. Cafe window seat forever. Those balls of yarn are going to be mittens soon.

Making time for a cappuccino and knitting in the morning. Cafe window seat forever. Those balls of yarn are going to be mittens soon.

I am just going to try my best to give myself what I want.

That’s all we can do, right?

  • Dating a person who helps me keep my own FEEL YOUR FEELINGS & DO THE WORK advice. Forever grateful to be able to talk things through rather than feeling pressure to be okay no matter what.
  • Buying new fall-scented candles to give my apartment that extra cozy feeling.  Yes, I am fine with how cliche that is. For laughs, tho, please see “What your scented candle says about you” at The Toast.
  • Had coffee with my brother at a cafe in his Toronto neighbourhood this week. Somehow, it had a great music selection & a cute back patio and stocked my favourite semi-obscure booze brands. Possibly my only superpower is the ability to track down hipster cafes in unfamiliar places. If you’re curious, we were at BELL JAR CAFE.
  • Also, this thing where my brother and I are both cool adults who are friends is pretty awesome. We laughed a bit about how somehow we both grew up to be workaholics who are very bad at making money in any conventional sense. Check out NO FUN PRESS to see what he’s up to.
  • The otherworldly scale and arts-and-craftsy expertise involved in the creation of KILL JOY’S KASTLE blew me away this week. Check internet pal Jenna Danchuk’s review of the installation: I Explored Toronto’s Lesbian Feminist Haunted House…and survived.
  • For once, my horoscope is telling me to just ASK FOR WHAT I WANT because if I do life will get more fun and exciting. Okay, horoscope. Usually it just tells me not to be an asshole so this is such a refreshing change. Actually, that’s advice I want to give you, too. Be willing to hear no, but also, ask for what you want! The older I get, the more I realize that my own preconceptions hold me back way more than external limitations ever would.

I was reviewing some of the writing I’ve done about the strategies that work for me in terms of minimizing the effects of depression in my wintertime life, and I thought maybe you’d appreciate the reminder, too.

FURTHER READING:

SELF-CARE FOR SEASONAL DEPRESSION

SELF-CARE FOR BOSSY FEMMES: AN INTRO

SUMMER SELF-CARE which features my BIG VOICES, BIG FEELINGS 8TRACKS MIX

SIMONE’S ROSES

Spring flowers from a neighbour's yard.

Spring flowers from a neighbour’s yard.

Simone de Beauvoir in a letter to Nelson Algren, 1947:

I sat a long time in the garden and looked at the sky which was losing its blue and pink colors, and looked at the nice bit of glittering moon above the roof, and I felt happy to be a human being with two eyes and a heart. There are such fine roses blooming in the garden! … It is very strange that such beautiful things may be given by nobody: it looks like a gift, without anybody making the gift to you.

Thinking a lot about wild flowers, beauty, and anti-capitalism today. She’s right about that feeling you get from flowers – beautiful blooms do make me happy to be alive.

Also check out Zadie Smith’s essay, “Love in the Gardens,” and, at Fieldguided, see Anabela’s tutorial for candied rose petals.

GOOD THINGS, FULL BELLIES

Kitchen, by ybryksenkova

Kitchen, by ybryksenkova

Absolutely nothing is more relaxing

than puttering around in my kitchen. More often than not, times when I settle down to the task of nourishing myself is when I can actually feel something like self-care. Right this second I am waiting for an improvised batch of soup to cool down enough to eat, my apartment is cozy and fragrant, and the rest of the evening is spreading itself out in front of me with all the promise of hours alone with nothing in particular to do.

When possible, I like to cook for a date.

It’s fun to flirt over a sink full of dishes, it’s heartening to watch raw ingredients turn into a meal lovingly cooked, it’s nice to have someone to make jokes with over the din of pots and pans. I like drinking a beer with someone as dinner simmers. In the back of my mind I have these cherished memories of looking over at the handsomest smiling man, tea towel draped over one shoulder, reaching up for a kiss in front of a bubbling stove. The simplest things about love, about home, are often the best.

Sometimes self-care is about starches.

Sometimes self-care is about starches.

But I love myself that much, too.

When I’m alone, I mix my own drinks. I feed myself samples of fancy cheese, I eat spoonfuls of food right out of the pot, I listen to podcasts and laugh out loud. I watch sports and yell at the tv. I add extra greens and extra black pepper to every dish, because that’s what pleases me. I buy squares of dark chocolate & fancy fruit and save them for special occasions.

Especially when those special occasions are nights in, alone, but not at all lonely.

GOOD GREEN THINGS

Water Tower at Volunteer Park, Seattle

Water Tower Lookout at Volunteer Park, Seattle

I love those grey, rainy Seattle days

since wet weather also guarantees a vibrant lush green space all year long. Even in overcast weather there are is green everywhere in so many hues and so much depth and variety that I can’t help but feel overcome, even on regular walks around the neighbourhood.

Between visits I start to crave that “Seattle after the rain” smell, and all those moments where I stop in my tracks to take in so many new-to-me plants and flowers. Even that acid green moss growing over the sidewalk.

In Seattle I feel like I can strike some sort of deal with my Seasonal Affective Disorder. In Ontario it can be dark and cold forever and the landscape gets stark, hard, colourless. There’s no recompense for the rain and snow. But in the Pacific Northwest it feels like things grow so fast you can see it happening.

Volunteer Park Water Tower

Volunteer Park Water Tower

Flowers just feel better

Ever since I have learned to pay attention to how the weather outside affects my mood, I try to take care of myself by being attentive to my own plantlike qualities, strange as that may seem. It’s hard for me to grow and blossom in the winter. I lean into a warm sunbeam like a flower unfurling its petals.

That correlation is real, though. There’s actual science supporting the idea that proximity to green space helps people cope in stressful environments.  Being outside, being near things that are growing is such a healing thing to do. Being in nature helps your mind focus and helps bodies heal.

Jade Tree

Jade Tree

My Volunteer Park Conservatory afternoon

was as magical as a few hours wandering around in a new city can possibly get. Walking into the greenhouse, I peeled off a few layers of sweaters and wandered around quietly, having my mind blown over and over. It wasn’t an enormous place but it had that feeling of deep calm.

If I lived nearby I feel like I would go every time I start to feel down. Since I can’t do that though, I took a bunch of photos.

Bearded Irises

Bearded Irises!

Pink Bells

Pink Bells

Pink like a heart

Huge and impressive and beautiful as a heart.

In the mirror

In the mirror

Garden adventuring

Never ever fails to remind me of some of my best philosophy-student years, reading Spinoza with some of my very best friends. Spinoza had the right idea:

It is the part of a wise [person], I say, to refresh and restore [themselves] in moderation with pleasant food and drink, with scents, with the beauty of green plants, with decoration, music, sports, the theater, and other things of this kind, which anyone can use without injury to another. For the human body is composed of a great many parts of different natures, which constantly require new and varied nourishment, so that the whole body may be equally capable of all the things which can follow from its nature, and hence, so that the mind also may be equally capable of understanding many things. – Spinoza, Ethics, IVP45S

Concentric cactus spirals

Concentric cactus spirals

Air Plant

Air Plant

Cactus Room

Cactus Room

GOOD THINGS BY REQUEST

Pink blooms.

Pink blooms.

The other day a friend asked me if I was “still blogging”

& since it’s been a month since my last entry, I guess that’s a fair question. I was starting to feel like the most optimistic broken record, or worse, like I was bragging. I think I should just try to relax & appreciate the positive constants in my life, hey?

Mr. Tiny Cat

My friends Sasha and Hannah adopted this kitten.

St. Lawrence selfies.

Selfie-taking standing in the St. Lawrence river.

Beauty view.

Beauty view.

At the beach with Simon.

At the beach with Simon.

Tegan & Sara!

Tegan & Sara!

Julia and I found out we had free tickets to see Tegan and Sara just a few hours before the show started. No one danced harder, sang louder, or wore shorter hemlines to this thing than we did. I bought their second record, This Business of Art, in the year 2000, so I guess I have been a fan for THIRTEEN YEARS now. I know this photo is terrible, and I don’t care, because I was having the most fun.

Sappyfest 8!

Sappyfest 8!

This was my first year at Sappy as “just a fan” & since all Sappyfests are great, I can’t say that this one was the best yet, but it was a damn good time with some really lovely friends. I took almost no photos. My highlights included incredible veg-friendly food from Black Duck & Food Wolf. The first time I went to Sackville my only food option was grilled cheese for every single meal. I am still daydreaming about those Food Wolf Kimchi dogs.

Additional highlights: watching Shotgun Jimmie from the front row, late night dorm room after parties, Sarah Neufeld’s incredible church set, being pulled into a lady-dominated mosh pit that smelled amazing, homemade doughnuts from the Sackville Saturday farmer’s market, and oh yeah, being able to introduce my boyfriend to my best friend.

Iced coffee with Julia.

Iced coffee at Black Duck with Julia.

Quality time.

Quality time.

It goes without saying that a long weekend of international romance with this dude was…there isn’t a word for “happiness” that is big enough.

This year as an added bonus I got to spend some time in Halifax on the way back, spending all my dollars on iced coffee and fancy cheese plates. Spending time knitting, buying vacation yarn from The Loop, sitting on a rooftop patio, laughing a ton.

Iced coffee in Halifax.

Iced coffee in Halifax.

Back home,

Things are still pretty great, even if they do seem slow and ordinary by comparison. I’m almost finished a sweater. I’ve been spending a lot of time selling vintage clothes. We’ve been doing a bunch of in store shows at the shop, too! This weekend was the Peterborough Folk Festival & I got to see Jennifer Castle play TWICE, including a tiny show on a little island (!!!) This city sure does have its magic moments, every once in awhile.

Today I am seeing my parents for a double-virgo birthday dinner. I made fancy ice cream to go with it, even. What could be better?

Don't get your hopes up.

Don’t get your hopes up.

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