By Now, I Should Have a Doctorate, So I'm Claiming It

An animated gif video of a woman holding a magnifying glass over one eye, so that it's larger. She holds her head still and just moves her eyes side-to-side, like she's looking for something shifty.
Giphy

Here's a fun thing I realized: I basically transitioned straight from being a teenager and young adult who would hold her face inches from a mirror examining her acne to an adult (am I still a young adult or am I just an adult now?) who holds her face inches from a mirror scrutinizing her skin for fine lines and for whisker hairs PLUS still the occasional acne outbreak.

I wonder, at what point did I put in my 10,000 hours of up-close skin-surveillance? Maybe I should find an honorific to communicate this expertise with the world.

Yes, I am Andrea Loewen, SS (Skin Scrutiny).


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SOMETHING ABOUT HOPE

An animated gif - a black and white illustration of a person standing on an empty planet looking at earth. The light rotates around earth so that it is dark and then light.
Giphy

My plan was to try to find some wise quotes to write about hope for today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of hope. I wrote the headline "SOMETHING ABOUT HOPE" up there as a placeholder so I wouldn't forget.

But I kind of like this better: an all-caps cry into the void, looking for something about hope to come to me.

Now seeking hope, please! SOMETHING ABOUT HOPE, PLEASE!

(And, like some kind of on-the-nose bell, this is the song that came on my playlist right this second: Everything is Going to Be Alright by Infinity Song.)


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For When You Are Afraid and Don't Know How to Rest

A photo of a bunch of prayer candles - the only light comes from them, everything else is darkness.
DDP

Blessed are we who admit,
"God, I'm afraid."

Blessed are we who confess,
"I don't know how to rest."

This is an excerpt from a blessing written by Kate Bowler, penned specifically for these, as they say, 'uncertain times.'

The whole thing is lovely, but I deeply appreciate these two stanzas in particular.

Admitting you're afraid? That's scary as heck! Now there's the original fear, and a whole extra fear of being vulnerable on top of it. Who wants that? And yet, when we admit our feelings, whatever they are, that's when we open the door for blessings. The blessing of support, help, love, companionship, or understanding.

The sentence "I don't know how to rest" hit me hard.

I have actually been getting better at finding rest in my life over the past few years, and this is a reminder: for whatever reason, I (and so many of us) have no idea how to actually rest.

As a collective, it seems that we know how to be so busy we don't realize what we're really feeling and we know how to numb out. But rest? That actually rejuvenates us? That's harder, somehow. We don't know what will actually make us feel better.

But we can learn. We can get help. We can be brought to rest.


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More Animals on Tinder

More of the smart things people say to promote themselves on the dating apps, put into the mouths of innocent wildlife.

What a time to be alive.

See them all on @thereceptionistblog on Instagram!

A comic of a whale saying "In person I will try to make you laugh. It maaaaay not always work" - which is a tinder profile

A comic with a drawing of a mouse saying "don't want to get to know you"

A comic of an octopus saying "Make you laugh, even when you don't want to."

A comic of an otter saying "I don't meet in cars in random parking lots."




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Ummmmm.... I Mayyyyyyy Have Started Posting to TikTok

I've started a tiktok! I know, I'm too old for it. Whatever. Right now it's pretty much exclusively me giving you weird compliments. It's kinda lame and I am enjoying it.

Here's one:


@ms.andreajoy

you catch people in their hearts! ##affirmation ##magic ##yourock ##positivevibes ##loveyou ##heart

♬ Twinkle - Spiritual Sounds


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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.
SorenWorks


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.
Giphy

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

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


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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 Foter.com / 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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