Infinity Song Are the Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Ohhhhh hello. I was introduced to Infinity Song through this incredible cover of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams, and my oh my. They are STUNNING. Currently listening to their original song Far Away and floating in a sea of heart-eye emojis.

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Duy Huynh's Quest for Enlightenment

Duy Huynh says that he is celebrating the quest for enlightenment with his work. I love it.

A painting of a woman suspended in the air above a placid sea. She is surounded by bird (probably seagulls).

A delicate painting of a woman standing in an open field. She is holding an empty, oval frame in front of her face and she has a cloud of birds around her

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Recommended Read: On Despair and the Imagination

An animated gif illustration with a line of light bulbs hanging from strings - the first one lights up and swings in, hitting the others, and the light goes down the line of bulbs.

This School of Life post On Despair and the Imagination is a fantastic read with so many wonderful little tidbits to chew on.

They discuss the fact that we often fall into despair just because we can't imagine another outcome or option for ourselves. We lose a job and can't see a world in which we get a new one or retrain for a different field or start a business. We lose a relationship and all we can see ahead of us is the misery we currently feel:

"We are not merely ‘sad’; we cannot picture any better life than the agonised one we currently have."

Instead, we could envision an endless array of possibilities for ourselves:

"We are grown-ups, that is, people with choices... We would be able to build ourselves a small hut on the edge of the desert. We could work as a postman or retrain as a psychotherapist, find employment as a bus conductor or as a carer in a hospice... We can change our names. If we’re feeling shy and defeated, we don’t have to go out and see anyone ever again. We can live by ourselves, mind our own business, read the classics and go to the movies all day. We can go mad for a while and then recover; a lot of people do. We could throw ourselves into learning a new language or take a university degree in Sanskrit by correspondence course... We could make a new circle of friends among recently released convicts (they tend to be very bright and very free of social snobbery). We could go to a monastery or a nunnery. We could become a gardener."

This reminds me of a practice I discovered for myself a while back, which is simply imagining a variety of different ways something could work out. I find that it really helps me regain a little perspective at the moment and remember that everything in my life doesn't rely on one particular path working out.

Another, similar, practice that I found really incredible for regaining some of this imagination and perspective is at the turn of 2020 when I reviewed where I was at ten years ago in my life compared to now, and then thought a bit about some of the major changes that had happened as I journeyed through that decade. That was FOR REAL. What a salient reminder of how much changes, even though, in each moment, I could barely see past what I was experiencing at the time.

To prompt this kind of thinking, The School of Life piece also suggests a creative writing exercise, to simply start with the prompt: "If I lost everything and had to start again, I might..."

Finally, buried in the middle of a very long paragraph is this incredible sentence:

"The oceans are so large and beautifully unconcerned with us."

Is that comforting to anyone else? I love it.

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New World Horses

Oh pals. Never knew I would love some childlike drawings of horses and rainbows so dang much. Jillian FitzMaurice's series New World Horses is just the innocent place I need to be right now.

A piece of art - on a pink background is a drawing of a bare landscape with a cactus, there is a horse, and in the sky some stars, a rainbow, and a moon. It's a childlike, imaginative drawing.

A piece of art that looks almost like a child's drawing of two horses with a rainbow and squiggly lines around. It's probably with pastels. It's whimsical.

I want to go to there.

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Furious Dancing

“Hard times require furious dancing”.
— Alice Walker

What does your furious dancing look like?

An animated gif from some kind of contemporary dance class, a woman stomps angrily forward while other dancers make worship-like motions.

An animated gif of two young women dancing. They have kind of wonky facial expressions and are just moving their torsos. It's hilarious.

An animated gif of a young woman looking into the camera and bopping, rolling her shoulders in a dance

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Treating Hope Like Worry

Ooooooh, yes.

If we're going to give a bunch legitimacy to the bad things we imagine might happen in the future, we might as well legitimize the good things we would love to see, right?

My question is, how do we give this kind of space to our hopes without getting so attached to them that it's devastating if they don't materialize? That's why we try to ignore them in the first place--we can't handle (or don't think we can handle) the loss.

But there must be a middle ground where we embrace hope without digging our claws into a particular outcome.

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Sometimes it Takes a Long Time

A black and white photo of Miles Davis standing on a stage holding a trumpet with Darryl Jones behind him holding a guitar
Photo by ::ErWin on / CC BY-ND

"Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself."
- Miles Davis

I like to imagine that this quote actually came from Miles Davis working with some rookie musician who kept trying to imitate his sound instead of owning their own.

But more than that, I love to see him sharing the struggle to find his voice. Sometimes it takes a long time! And in the meantime, I guess you just gotta try some things out.

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If Debt Forgiveness Has Got Your Goat, Remember Who the Real Enemy Is

It's natural to feel a bit ripped off if you've worked hard and sacrificed for something that just gets handed out the next minute for free.

But remember: the enemy is not the "handout", it's the capitalism, complacency, scarcity, and greed that kept your sweet hands handout-free in the first place.

When I was an apprentice at a theatre company, I got paid a measly $600/month stipend. Two years later (when I was on staff), the apprentice stipend got increased to $1,000/month, just because someone who they really wanted asked for an increase.

I felt two things: happy for the new apprentices who would make closer to a decent amount of money and also upset that I'd had to live off much less and now it was going to increase to what was practically a lavish wage to me at the time. (Oh what teensy tiny expectations I had.)

What really got me wasn't the fact that the increase was happening, it was how easily the wage changed and the knowledge that I had not been valued in the same way.

Because that's all it takes to increase a wage or forgive a debt: a decision. A little bit of will. One person to value the work or life of another.

The problem isn't that someone eventually might make that decision, the problem is that a bunch of people spent so long maintaining the opposite decision--the one that kept you in debt or at an inhumanly low wage.

So feel your rage, if you've got it, just send it in the right direction.

An animated gif from The Hunger Games - a man stands in a jungle at night calling back towards the camera, "remember who the enemy is"
Kate Tumblr

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The Four Time Horizons and How We Spend Our Lives

A photo over the ocean, the water is choppy with a flat horizon and the full moon is visible even though it's daytime.

Why do we do things?

There are a lot of reasons, but usually, it boils down to us thinking that whatever we are doing will bring some improvement to our lives, perhaps just for the moment or perhaps in the long term.

Enter the four time horizons: a way of looking at the impact of an activity or choice today, tomorrow, and through the rest of our lives. I found this really helpful to clarify my desires as I considered various habits I am want to incorporate or increase in my life. It could also be used to consider the impact of less-desired habits or activities.

Today: The immediate impact of the decision or action.

- Moving my body today improves my mood and focus, makes my body feel more alive.
- Meditating today makes me feel calm and connected to the moment.
- Writing today gets me one step closer to finishing a project, gets a blog post out, or helps me sort through my thoughts.

Day-to-day: The way the activity impacts my life in a current, but ongoing way.

- Moving regularly means I can say yes to a hike with a friend, move a couch without worry, and feel more comfortable in my body in general.
- Meditating regularly means I am better able to recognize my emotions when they arise or re-ground myself when anxiety flares up.
- Writing regularly means I make continual progress on projects and my desired identity as a writer is matched by my actions.

The Unexpected: How does this decision impact unexpected situations that may arise?

- Moving regularly lets me recover more easily from injury or sprint to the grocery store before closing when I've run out of ice cream.
- Meditating regularly means that when an emotional upheaval occurs I already have a practice to help carry me through.
- Writing regularly allows me to have something in progress (or even finished!) if I ever happen to meet a publisher or editor who says the magic words, "send me some of your writing."

My Final Years: What impact does this activity have in my final years of life?

- Moving through my life means I will be more likely to be able to go to the toilet by myself, walk with balance, and stay independent.
- Meditating through my life will lend to mental and spiritual health in old age, feeling calmer and more able to accept circumstances that arise. Maybe I'll have more wisdom to share.
- Writing through my life will create a giant body of work, a way to communicate even if my body falls apart, an ongoing connection to my imagination.

Going through this exercise reminds me of the Annie Dillard quote:

"How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing."

(I came across this concept from The Workout Today newsletter (I've referenced its lessons before), and the benefits of moving were lifted directly from them!)

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On the Preciousness of Being Ordinary

A photo of a dishrack with colourful ceramic plates lined up in it. The colours are slightly muted, so it's not super cheery.
Tracey Hocking.

“Ordinary isn’t the enemy but instead something nourishing and unavoidable, the bedrock upon which the rest of experience ebbs and flows. Embrace this — the warm water, the pruned hands, the prismatic gleam of the bubbles and the steady passage from dish to dish to dish — and feel, however briefly, the breath of actual time, a reality that lies dormant and plausible under all the clutter we pile on top of it. A bird makes its indecipherable call to another bird, a song from a passing car warps in the Doppler effect and I’m reminded, if only for a moment, that I need a lot less than I think I do and that I don’t have to leave my kitchen to get it.”
– Mike Powell, An Ode to Washing the Dishes

I remember, as a teenager, making dramatic declarations about how I could not possibly do something "normal" or "boring" or "ordinary" with my life. My mom, in all her wisdom, would point out to me that most people had regular lives and that was a good thing - the world doesn't need us all to be big and flashy and impressive. It needs us to contribute on the ground.

Of course, at the time I would say that sure, that may be what the world needs, but some of us get to be extraordinary and that's what I needed to be. I was desperate to be lifted up onto some kind of pedestal of specialness, which of course, was only because at my deepest core, I hated myself and craved mountains of external affirmation to balance it out.

Now that I've learned to like myself, I have a deepening appreciation for the ordinary, as Mike Powell puts it, as "something nourishing and unavoidable, the bedrock upon which the rest of experience ebbs and flows."

How comforting.

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How to Tell Your Boundaries Aren't Being Respected

A photo of two signs, one in front of the other, both say "No Trespassing" on them. They are bright yellow, hanging underneath a bridge or boardwalk.
Michael Dzeidzic

I have always struggled with having boundaries.

Once, I was talking to my counsellor about an issue I was having with a person and she said, "that's a great place to put up a boundary," in a sort of off-hand way. I don't know what my face was doing, but when she looked at me she actually laughed, realizing I had NO CLUE how to do that or what it really meant.

After that, I began to dip my toe into the world of boundaries by looking at them through the lens of prioritizing the people and things that mattered rather than fencing out the things that didn't.

It turns out, however, that establishing boundaries isn't just something you do once and then you're good! (Why am I always surprised when my self-care isn't "set it up and then clap your hands and walk away"?) So I've really enjoyed this list by Anne Write of 15 Signs Your Boundaries Need Work to help me recognize when I've started letting my people-pleasings-anti-conflict-here-let-me-help-I-can't-be-alone-with-my-thoughts tendencies take over.

The list includes the usual suspects like resentment, dread, exhaustion, anger, and feeling like you "just can't". But there was one I hadn't considered before: feeling hurt, but with no real sense of why or how it happened.

That's interesting, isn't it?

Honestly, I always assumed that whenever I walked away from an interaction with a friend feeling inexplicably bad, it was just my depression doing its thing. (Sometimes, it shrinks down real small while I'm busy or with people, and then the very INSTANT that distraction goes away, POP! It expands to fill all my brain-space.)

I will bet, however, that some of those times, I was feeling the sting of my boundaries being ignored. How INTERESTING you guys! It's a whole new face to my self-analysis prism, what FUN!!!

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Lest We Forget

A tapestry with poppies all over it that says "lest we forget" in the middle.
David Clode

As a pacifist, I have often had a complicated relationship with Remembrance Day.

I certainly respect the people who gave and risked and lost their lives to stand for what they believed in--even if I disagree with the premise of what was happening (war), that's an honourable thing to do. I also realize that there are things worse than violence and that sometimes, fighting may be necessary to prevent a greater evil.

Yet, sometimes the proceedings can feel a little like they glorify war, which I am not really comfortable with, either. I mean, I'm not surprised that the people leading Remembrance Day ceremonies aren't critically engaging with the question of why we fight in the first place or mourning that the soldiers had to be soldiers in the first place, but I guess a girl can dream.

Either way, I've felt like my pacifist values needed constant reconciliation with the day.

This year, however, I came across a tweet that helped me bring all that together. Unfortunately, I didn't save the tweet and I can't find it now, so you'll have to deal with my uncredited paraphrase:

The best way to honour those who died in wars in the past is to ensure we never ask anyone to die in another war, ever again.

I love that.

It grieves the lives lost without glorifying the context in which they were taken. It also drives us towards becoming the peacekeepers we (we being Canadians) pretend to be on the world stage. After all, I have a hard time believing that "lest we forget" was intended to be something we keep saying to remember new wars.

So let's remember those who died and honour their sacrifice.

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