Well. The world at large is still a mess. But for whatever reason I feel compelled to quietly celebrate a few things on this quiet little blog.
- I just found out about Sheer Mag. My dude was very insistent that I listen and now that I have I am very insistent that you listen.
- I came home from my last Seattle trip with a suitcase full of coffee beans & cliché or not, it’s better than anything I have found in Toronto. (Though if by some miracle you are reading this & have a rec for a great TO-based coffee roaster I’m interested.)
- My best gal Claire started an instagram for her makeup looks & OH MAN, I’ll just wait here for a sec while you try to pick your jaw up off the floor. Ever since I have been going hard about doing my makeup it has been a pretty exciting and also very chill time. Have been going hard on makeup youtube videos & watching people put stuff on their face is really soothing for some reason. But also, being able to make your face look like a different face makes you feel like you can do magic, so.
- I haven’t been here all winter so you missed every development from our Feminist Football League, except this one: I WON. All the best people from my knitting group started a league together so it is unsurprising that the trophy is a sequined football knit by my friend (and graceful loser) Chloë aka werewool if you’re a Ravelry person.
- It’s spring, people. It snowed this week but it’s spring, okay? Thank goodness for that.
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?
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.
— DIE WARM
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.
- 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!
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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
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.
SUMMER SELF-CARE which features my BIG VOICES, BIG FEELINGS 8TRACKS MIX
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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