Imagine How Your New Life Will Change Your Daily Routines

Trying to make a decision about a job or home or other future-impacting thing?

For her, it clarified that she shouldn't take a steady job because her morning routine would revolve around getting to the office and sitting at a desk, which she hates. Instead, she opted for creating her own business that involved literally travelling the world in a van.

So! As you ponder your life change, ask yourself: what would your day-to-day look like if you went back to school? Took the new job? Ran for office? Moved to a new home or country? Do you like that picture?
How would your morning routine unfold? What would you do for lunch? What would happen in the evenings? What time would you go to bed?

It can really clarify things.

AND THEN, here's my mix-it-up question: if there's something in particular you love about that new routine, can you get that without making that big change? Can you bring that joy or refreshment into your life as it is?

Not that you shouldn't make a change, but give yourself a full picture of what your life is and could be without moving or quitting your job as well.

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Feel How You Feel Just Feel it While You Get Stabbed with a Vaccine

I've been seeing a lot of articles pop up lately with headlines like, "Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine."

Here's my version: feel however you feel about it, just get the vaccine as soon as you're allowed in your region.

By now you probably know the reasons why: the shot is how we protect others and speed towards the end of this ponderosa. Delaying yours doesn't guarantee that someone "more deserving" will get it, and while wasted vaccines are less of a concern now than before, you still achieve nothing by waiting.
Don't do anything sneaky to jump the queue, but do make sure that if you accept that invitation to a vaccination as soon as it's offered

If you feel guilty, though? Whatever. Your guilty feelings are probably part of what make you a good person: your natural inclination is to step back and let others through the door first. That's great! But in this case, you just have to feel that feeling WHILE someone is stabbing you in the arm. Mmmmmkay?

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Living the Dream

I have a mixed relationship with James Clear's work. On one hand, his focus on doing and being and achieving is very "productivity classic" (read: you are better if you are achieving bigger things) and it stresses me out. On the other hand, the way he breaks down habits and shaping them is pretty dang bang-on for me.

This quote, though:

“Instead of working toward retirement, work toward your ideal lifestyle. There is usually a path to get there in a few years instead of a few decades.”
-James Clear

This is a concept I've been thinking about for a while now, inspired by an even more stressful and deeply problematic writer, Tim Ferriss. I read The 4-Hour Work Week many years ago and found it kind of disgusting (oh hello, I will manufacture my life to barely ever have to work and become a nouveau riche who spends their life in ongoing mini-retirements thanks to passive income generated by other people who have to work full time for low pay because this system only works if it exploits others).
What it did do, however, is get me thinking about how I wanted to be living my life and how I could start to shift my current life to be closer to what I wanted, as well as open my eyes to the fact that some shortcuts are totally valid.

Now James Clear is reminding me of this, which I appreciate, despite ongoing insinuation that I would be better off eating fewer chips.

Here's some things I've done to get closer to my ideal lifestyle: talked to a financial advisor, changed my work schedule, spent more time outdoors, set little mini goals that are fun to work towards, bought a camera, and tried different kinds of writing.

If you're at a bit of a loss on where to start figuring out what you'd like to see change in your lifestyle, here's an exercise that I love (created by Dru Scott): take a piece of paper and write "more" and "less" at the top. Then, without worrying about it too much, write 20 things you would like more of and 20 things you would like less of in your life. It could be anything from the abstract (freedom) to specific (time reading books). Once you're done, review and circle the top 3-5 on each side. Set that paper aside (or flip to the next page in your notebook).

Do the same thing every day for a week without looking back on your previous lists. Then at the end of it, you can review those lists to see what kinds of things come up a lot or really stick out to you. Use this to start imagining what kind of lifestyle you want to have and how you can start getting there.

A gif video clip from the show Kim's Convenience showing Andrea Bang as Janet saying "you deserve it" to someone off-camera

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There's a Difference Between Being Vulnerable and Being Transparent

An animated gif video that is creepy, kind of funny,  and kind of nice. It's a humanoid figure, lying on the ground, saying "I feel like I can be vulnerable with you."
A friend of mine posted this on Instagram recently and it really hit home for me:

"People have sometimes told me I’m really good a being vulnerable. But can I clarify something? I think I am good at being transparent. Often when I share things that might typically be classified as vulnerable, I don’t feel that. I’ve worked through a thing, and I feel in control."

I have written about this in the past, including in my book, but my friend articulated it much better than I ever have with her distinction between vulnerability and transparency.
I will be transparent as heck about something that I've worked through or understood in some way. I'll share the silly things that make me cry on Instagram or unflattering stories or about my depression. I can discuss and share these things with an almost clinical detachment, because they are either not present for me or, as my friend said, I feel in control of them.
True vulnerability? Which is, by definition, sharing things that feel hard because they could hurt you? Yiiiiiiiiikes. That's a whole different story.

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Is Anyone Actually Impressed by the Number of Countries You've Been To?

As I get older, I have noticed a drastic increase in the number of men whose entire online dating profile is about the countries they have been to and oh dear me, are the only ones who are left are the ones who spent all their adult years travelling and have no roots or community or stability or sense of home and think that the number of countries they have been to actually makes them a more interesting person?

Either that, or there's the guy who shared that his wife died of cancer three months ago and now he's looking for a new partner. THREE MONTHS AGO.


I just...

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Here's Some More Animals on Tinder

Some more from Animals on Tinder! (Catch 'em all on the 'gram!)
If you're unfamiliar, Animals on Tinder is the series wherein I take the very smart, very appealing things people say in their online dating profiles and put them into the mouths of innocent animals.

A simple line drawing of an octopus with a speech bubble saying "will not meet up"

A simple drawing of a koala in a tree with a speech bubble saying "Looking for someone who can keep up and not crumble."

A simple drawing of a hummingbird with a speech bubble that says, "I don't want to do the dumb shit you probably want to do."

A simple drawing of a fish with a speech bubble that says, "I can predict a woman's menstrual cycle."

A simple drawing of a chicken with a speech bubble that says, "I know how to kill."

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This Week's Gratitude & Delight Roundup

An animated gif illustration. There is a black background and a white speech bubble with the text "thank you" inside it that blinks on and off. Around the speech bubble are two white stars that wiggle back and forth.
Ivo Adventures
This week I have been grateful for:

Snow that didn't stick AT ALL so by evening there was almost no sign of winter because it just makes life easier.

Having a good "taking care of business" day where I got a warranty replacement for my vacuum, dealt with my lost credit card, and ran other errands because it makes me feel like I can DO life!!!

Having just enough leftover chips in my cupboard to fill my chip-eating needs when I got home from work because they were delicious and made me happy.

Figuring out some big things at work because that makes me feel like I accomplished something.

Seeing the play Mx online because it was so so beautiful even though it was on the internet and not in person.

Being able to commiserate with my coworker once I discovered new details about the provincial public health order that annoyed the heck out of me because it felt like I wasn't alone in my frustrations.
This week's delights:
- Daylight that lasted my whole bike commute home 
- Discovering that there is a new communication app that I actually enjoy using (Marcopolo)

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Turns Out, Self-Acceptance is Anti-Capitalist

"Reject elitist markers of success & rejoice in your inherent value as a person."

I am coming to realize that one of the core tenets of my journey of self-acceptance (the one I wrote a book about and yet am... still not arrived? Continue to find things to learn and distance to travel?) is, at its core, kind of anti-capitalist and anti-colonial.

The struggle with self-worth the issue isn't just internal. We don't sit down and evaluate our own worth in a vacuum. It's an interaction between our inner reality, our actions, and all the cultural values that have been thrust on us that measures worth in career, status, wealth, relationship, and other (as the quote goes) elitist markers of success.

If you can get to the point of truly believing you have inherent value, no matter what you produce, what you earn, or how much influence you have, if you can accept and even love yourself for who you are, full stop, then, whether you meant to or not, you have taken a huge step in rejecting the capitalist and colonial structures that tell us the opposite.

How neat!

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The Power to Protect

I recently took Nicole Brewer's Anti-Racist Theatre course (and by recently, I think it was in the summer, because what is time?) and ever since I have been following her on Instagram (highly recommend!)

A while back (again, because whatever, we invented time and inventions sometimes become meaningless), she posted this on Instagram:

A black square with the text on it, "Power = Protection" and the name Nicole Brewer, who wrote it

When we talk about power, we are talking about your level of protection. When preventing and reducing harm, we need to use our power to protect the most vulnerable communities. How are you currently using your power?

It's another useful framework for understanding what it means to hold privilege or power. White privilege protects you from racial discrimination, from police violence. Wealth privilege protects you from hunger, from exploitation. Male privilege protects you from sexual violence, from gender-based discrimination.

The protection isn't perfect. Men are still victimized by sexual violence and white people are still brutalized by the police. But it does happen less often. It's like an umbrella: sometimes it fails and flips open or springs a leak, but generally, the people holding them are going to be a lot less wet than those without.

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Franck Bohbot's Dear Winter

New York photographer Franck Bohbot captured an unusually quiet city during the winter of 2020. (It may never sleep but it sure does lull.) These shots remind me of when my cousin volunteered as a doctor in NYC during the first wave. He took a photo when he went for a jog and Times Square was EMPTY. So weird.

A photo of New York City in the pandemic winter. It's night time. Everything is covered in snow. There is what looks like a hotel entrance, with it's long awning, decorated with a string of coloured lights. One person stands near the entrance.

A photo of the Washington Square arch in New York City during the winter of 2020 and a global pandemic. It is night. It is snowing. There are a few solo people standing around it, looking at it, silhouettes in the dark. The closest person appears to be a young woman, perhaps wearing a head scarf of some kind. She has a dog.

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On Correcting Corrections and Letting It Go

Here's a thing I've noticed in myself. Maybe it's a white person thing, maybe it's a privilege thing, or maybe it's a me thing. But I've noticed it most specifically coming up when I have conversations around race-related issues.
Here's what happens: 
1) Someone corrects or calls me in about something. This could be because I genuinely stepped in it, using the wrong terminology or making an assumption or forgetting to account for another experience, or it could be a simple misunderstanding.

2) The correction includes the slightest error in the thing I actually said, so while the spirit of it is absolutely correct, the specifics of it are off.

3) I accept the correction but also get all caught up in that itty-bitty error. It becomes really important they know that I actually effed up by saying X when they thought I effed up by saying Y. I still effed up!
Sometimes, if it was a genuine misunderstanding, it might help to articulate my original meaning and how it really lines up with what they're saying. But even then, it's probably better to just say, "Yes, that's what I was trying to say, thanks for helping clarify," and let it go.
It's the forest versus the trees. If you agree with the intent and overall message of a correction, then there's no real reason to get hung up on little details.

The funny thing is that I learned this lesson IN PUBLIC years and years ago when an organization I ran was very publicly called out for issues of systemic racism. The open letter that circulated about us had some errors in it, but I knew at that time that if I focused our response on correcting those errors it would turn into an argument. Instead, I focused on where we agreed, the need to address our lack of racial equity. Because of this, we were able to get somewhere instead of nitpicking about these little details that were, ultimately, besides the point.

Isn't it fun how you can learn a lesson in one context and then six years later realize that it applies to the rest of your life?

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Is Travelling Really Selfish?

Travel. It's almost a virtue, isn't it? People talk about loving to travel with pride, as if it makes them better people.

In a sense, they're right. There are some great benefits to seeing, in-person, the vast expanse and diversity of our planet and human cultures. I'm sure there is research showing that it opens our minds, perhaps makes us more compassionate or appreciative of difference in the world.

However, in light of climate change and the wild stratification of rich and poor, does it also make us worse people? Is travel not an increasingly selfish act?

In a sense, it always was selfish. We travel for ourselves. Even (or perhaps especially) if we're on one of these volunteer-based trips. We go places for our benefit: we want to see a new place, have a new experience, get away.

But now, is there an extra level of privilege embedded in it? I'm not talking about travelling in the pandemic which definitely exceeds 100 on the privilege and selfishness scale, but in the aftertimes. By travelling, we are saying, "I deserve to be here, in person, and see this thing with my own eyes. It is worth the cost to the climate and local culture and ecology, even if my being here is one step on the path to its destruction."

Sure, there are some benefits for others (mostly because we pay money to a lot of different people when we travel), but that's not why we do it. If it were just about distribution of finances, there are far more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to do that.

This is reminding me of zoos and aquariums. There is a material benefit to seeing the great creatures that used to be held in these places in person. To be awed by the majesty of orcas or lions or elephants. To learn about their diets and habitats, because we're seeing them! Right there! Live!

However, at some point between my childhood and today, society has decided that benefit is not worth the cost to the animals. To the point where even aquariums that operate only as rescue and rehabilitation centres are being targeted to stop housing cetaceans. (We still seem to be okay with smaller creatures being in cages, just not the big ones.)
Do you think our perspective on travel will change? Or do people just love it too much? It's possible that too many economies depend on making people feel like it's their right to travel to ever have it go the way of the whale show.

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Want a Luxurious Life? Go to Bed Early

Recently, I made a realization that filled me with such joy: my group chats now tend to fade out between 9-10pm and then fade back in as early as 6am.

We are officially boring adults, y'all! And it feels like we won the lottery. Boring adults do whatever the heck they want without worrying about being cool. They still have fun, it's just far less strenuous. It's comfortable fun. Who doesn't like being comfortable???

But one of the best parts of all of it is the early bedtime. Early bedtimes are glorious. They are luxurious. Other people think they are childish and that grownups stay up late past 10pm, but I ask you, why???
Why stay up when literally the only thing you are doing is scrolling social media while another show plays on your TV and you still have to wake up at the same time tomorrow morning?
Why choose slouching on your couch over curling up on a BED that cradles your tired body and a BLANKET that nestles you into a world of comfort and warmth???

Why would you resign yourself to a life waking up feeling instantly miserable when you could wake up feeling only kind of unhappy? Neutral?? Maybe, sometimes, rested??? Dare we say, happy????
Why would you prioritize yawning your way through anything when you could just treat yourself like you matter and go to bed?

My bedtime isn't even that early, as early bedtimes go. I generally start getting ready around 9:30 so that I can read a little of my book and have lights out by 10. In a perfect world I would push it by 30 more minutes and be cozied up with my book around 9:15 but I can never quite do it.

But here's the thing: 6-9pm is PLENTY of time in the evening to meet up with a friend (or have a video "happy hour"), watch some episodes of a show, cook a meal, catch up on your emails, or otherwise get something done before drifting towards bed.
(And for all the parents reading this, I guess I'll say that 6-9pm is likely enough time to slog your way through dinner, bath time, and wrestling your kids to bed and then I understand the urge to have some alone/adult time and stay up later so do what you must but what if that alone/adult time was treating yourself like the precious being you are who also deserves rest?)
Yes, in the beforetimes there was occasionally karaoke or an out of town friend or a Celine Dion concert that took precedence over bedtime. Flexibility is a wonderful thing. But once you get used to the sweet bliss of an early bedtime, you'll realize that those exceptions had better be worth it.

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