Inspiration! Dame Judi Dench Might As Well Be a Queen and Here Is Her Advice to 30 Year Olds

This article is, by internet standards, totally stale: on Feb 25th, Stylist published an interview with Dame Judi Dench where she gave advice to her 30 year old self. I bookmarked it on Facebook (where it was making the rounds) and then forgot because how often do you actually go back and look at your saved articles? (Answer: somewhat often because I use that to save things I might want to post about here, but still, not that often.)

Being that I am now 30, and I actually looked at my saved articles, I decided to read the article and glean my own little bits of inspiration from it.

First of all, it's hilarious in its honesty. On ageing and wisdom she says,
"Nothing is good about ageing. Nothing. Everyone looks at you and thinks, ‘Oh hello, so you're about to drop off the bough….' But I hate the thought of [death]. People say to me, ‘Oh but think of the great wealth of things you've learnt'. Actually, I'd rather be younger and dumber."
How fun is that? It's nice to not have to pretend that ageing and my body falling apart is going to be fun and adventurous. I feel like I'm already getting old - I used to be able to get hardly any sleep for weeks on end with no repercussions (or so I thought, I'm sure my friends would tell you my mood suffered), work on a thousand projects at once, and say yes to every single opportunity that came my way. Now I can't. But I can still do a lot more than I'll be able to do in 20 years, and then in 20 more, so perhaps I should enjoy it and drink out of more chocolate fountains. (This weekend I drank straight out of a chocolate fountain. It was awesome.)

Here is one of my favourite things that she said, though, on not letting the obstacles of ageing get in the way:
“I'm a great advocate for not sitting back. I never think, ‘Oh my eyesight's bad, I can't possibly do this' [Dench suffers from macular degeneration]. I just want to learn new things all the time. I like to play a lot of games; Bananagrams, Categories and I do that thing where you open the dictionary every morning and learn five new words. Iíve just started to learn how to carve objects out of soapstone – birds and things. I'm absolutely hopeless at cooking, too so I'm considering taking some kind of course. I think it's very important to keep learning.”
Isn't that AWESOME? I distinctly remember talking to my grandpa, an amazing man, when he was in his early 80's. His life story had always inspired me and I mentioned something about him writing it all down. He brushed it off, saying that he was too old to start something like that. It broke my heart. My grandpa, who had accomplished so much, who had been born with canons shooting over his home and escaped war and inspired a city full of students, thought he was too old to write his story? How could someone who'd done so much suddenly give up?

But that happens to so many people with age - all of a sudden it feels like too much work, too big a task, like there's not enough time to finish it. Well, I might die before I finish writing this blog post (although if you're reading it, I'm probably alive), so dang it, you still have to start things!

Side note, I love how this movie star talks about playing games like Bananagrams to stay sharp. Isn't that just not what you would expect and wonderful? I feel like stars are always trying to make massive undertakings seem effortless and fun, so it makes me and my regular life seem so much better to see that Judi Dench is memorizing Dictionary words and playing tile games to keep active.

Source: Stylist.

Living on a Prayer: How Prayer Can Benefit the Non-Believer

I am a praying-type person.

Of course, my prayers happen with a significant level of cognitive dissonance. I don't have an iron-clad faith that prayer "just works" or a delusional concept that I'm going to get what I want just because I asked for it (when I pray for sun, I'm quite certain there's at least one person who has prayed for rain - why on earth would I be more special than them?).  I'm not even entirely convinced that there is anyone out there to hear my prayers.

Prayer doesn't make me suddenly forget my problems or conjure up a figure who descends in a cloud to sort things out for me.  I've never been "healed" or had something that once was lost, suddenly be found.  In objectively measurable terms, the impact of prayer on my life is likely statistically insignificant and cannot be confirmed as more than a mediocre correlational effect.

So why pray?

For me, prayer has little to do with objective reality.  Like all questions of faith, belief, the supernatural, and "something more in life", none of us actually know for sure what is real.  At the end of the day, the only thing I actually know is what I have experienced in my life.  And I have realized that life is better (more meaningful, more supported, more connected, more grounded) if I choose to have a spiritual connection.  One of the best ways to do that is to pray.

The function of a prayer, then, is not to present a to-do list to my deity of choice.  It's to connect with something greater than me and to be reminded that I am not a deity.  It doesn't do away with the darker times of fear, stress, worry, or sadness, but it provides a sort of container to hold them.  A groundedness and a knowledge, floating somewhere around me, even if I can't quite grasp it, that this too shall pass.  A sense that there is something greater than me in control (thank goodness!), and that I can trust it.

Like most people who write about their experiences, I also think others could benefit from this.  I even think that people who aren't religious could use some time in prayer.

If you don't believe in a god?

If the idea of praying to a god doesn't sit well with you here, then replace it.  For me, "God" is shorthand for "a greater spiritual being that may or may not actually exist, that may just be (as Carl Sagan put it in Varieties of the Scientific Experience) the sum of all the principles of physics that rule the universe that we don't understand and are what we are actually talking about when we talk about God because they are so much bigger than us, or may be something closer to the God I read about in the Bible.  Either way, I will never know, but it's easier to talk to and about the ruling force of the universe if I personify it and a personal connection makes it feel more meaningful to my human brain."

See how "God" is easier?

God is a loaded word for a lot of people, though.  So feel free to come up with a different name for the being you will talk to.

If you feel like this is completely idiotic, there's a chance this is not for you, but you never know what will happen if you try.  It's like in the movies when a gruff, unfeeling man's wife dies and a well-meaning friend suggests that he can still talk to her, even though she's not there.  At first it feels silly and pointless, but then the floodgates open and he feels a connection with her that is still strong and ultimately, it helps him heal.

So then how the heck do you pray, especially if you don't believe spiritual things are real?

I have felt for a very long time that everyone, atheists included, could benefit from reciting their own version of the Lord's Prayer on a daily basis.  (This is, of course, assuming you don't already have a different religious practice of your own, in which case I assume you already have your own prayers that you find useful.)

If you grew up in any way connected with the Christian world, you probably have hear the Lord's Prayer before.  It is the prayer that Jesus gave to his followers when they asked him how they should pray.  I like it because it doesn't involve asking for a Mercedes Benz or a colour TV or any of the other things Janis Joplin sang about.  There is no shopping list of items for God to check off once he's given them to you.

The Lord's Prayer is, to me, a reframing of your place in the universe and a wish to be a better person, and that's something we could all do with more of.

Often recited in King James Old Fashioned and Important Sounding English, I prefer the everyday version:
Our Father in heaven, holy is your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen."
Now I know, that sounds ways too specifically religious for anyone who doesn't believe in God to pray.  I hear you.  But each phrase has a purpose, and once you parse that out you can reword it for your own use.
"Our Father in heaven, holy is your name."
This sentence kicks off the prayer by reminding us that there is something far bigger than us that we have no control over.  That we are not gods.  This is useful to remember, whether or not you think there is an actual God/are actual gods.  No matter what, there are forces far greater than us that we do not have the power to control, and maybe we shouldn't.  The one thing we know, the more we know about the intricacies of nature, is how much happens that we don't understand, and that messing with one little thing can have massive repercussions.

"Holy" refers to something that is somehow set apart or sacred.  If you believe in God that's easy, if you don't, well, think about Carl Sagan's definition again: the summation of the principles of physics that rule the universe.  There is something quite epic, set apart, and awe-inspiring about that.  All these little rules and equations that add together to make up our entire, beautiful, majestic, gigantic universe that we can't (and shouldn't!) touch or alter.  Sounds kind of holy to me.

So rewrite what you must, or alter definitions of "Father" and "heaven" and "holy" in your mind, but remind yourself that you are not a god, and there is a force far greater than you that rules the universe.
"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
More on the theme of non-control: as we are not gods, nor do we control nature (no matter how we try), there is plenty we have zero influence over.  What a relief, am I right?  God (or the universe-ruling principles of science) does a much better job than we would.  He is the heartbeat of the universe that just keeps pumping without our needing to do anything.  His will (or these overarching principles of physics) keep everything running, no matter our wishes, and so I don't know about you, but I want it to rule the universe - to "be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Again, revise as you must to continue to remind yourself that your will is not perfect, or best - not for the universe, and not necessarily even for you.  That you lack perspective, and that something else does a much better job of running things.
"Give us this day our daily bread."
This is where our puny humanness gets more specific.  We cannot live on our own steam: we need food, water, sleep, and air - all things outside of us - to survive.  That's the "daily bread".

If we live privileged lives with a relative level of wealth we may not think twice about being able to provide for ourselves, but I challenge you to take a moment and think honestly about how many steps you are from relying on the charity of others to survive.  Think about any number of events that are entirely outside of your control that could set your life on edge: cuts to government funding, economic collapse, a couple years of bad crops, inflation spikes that make basics unaffordable, sudden illness for yourself or a loved one, or a fire, flood, or earthquake.

It would take only a few, relatively common, events and many of us would see our lives change considerably.  If we're lucky, we wind up on someone's couch and living off their "daily bread."  That's if we're lucky; we might not be.  There are far worse results that can come of an everyday calamity.

The point of this isn't to monger fear.  It's to remember that we are needy creatures.  We are not islands.  We need so much that is outside of us to survive, and so we ask every day that our needs be met, look for the ways in which they are, and are grateful for them.
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
This is my favourite line in the whole prayer.  If you don't want to say anything other line, say this one (or your own version, because "debts" isn't really a juicy or evocative word, nor is the more traditional "trespasses").

It reminds me every morning that I need to forgive and to be forgiven.  That I have hurt others, that I have been hurt, and that none of us are defined by this fact alone.

The only way I've found to forgive someone who has truly hurt me is to choose to do it every day, and to remind myself in the process that I need forgiveness, too.  After all, we are but finite little creatures who need air and food and water, doing our best to get by without letting the brokenness in our hearts break everyone else's along the way.  Let's remember this, let's forgive, and let's ask for forgiveness.
"Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."
This line has always been pretty high on the confusion-scale for me.  As a young Christian child I never quite got why God might "lead me into temptation", why I had to ask him not to, and what would happen if I forgot?  Would this God I was supposed to trust lead me by the hand over to the Devil?  Pretty conflicting stuff.

For me now, this line is simply a reminder that there is temptation and evil out there.  Not necessarily the capital "E" Evil that comes from a man sitting on your shoulder with horns and a pitchfork, but the everyday kind of evil that can come from selfishness and pride and greed.  The kind of stuff that we wind up having to ask forgiveness for.  The kind of stuff that seems like a good idea because we got caught up thinking about ourselves and our needs and forgot to think about everyone else.

This line, to me, is a plea to avoid those things in the first place.  A reminder to keep our sights and hearts open so we don't let self-interest, busyness, and keeping up with the Zuckerbergs narrow our focus so much that we suddenly find ourselves in a dark place.
"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen."
This closing bookends the prayer in Something Bigger Than Us.  A final reminder that the kingdom, power, and glory are not ours to grasp at.  The forces that rule the universe (God, etc.) have already got all the power, and we're lucky to be a part of it by existing, no point in angling for more.  They are also pretty glorious in what they do (often in such simple, elegant ways), and so why compete with that?  Besides, as soon as you take the big focus, kingdoms are kind of meaningless.

That's it.  A simple reminder that we are human, that we have needs, and that we need forgiveness and help in life.  With a few tweaks of language, this is a prayer that can benefit pretty much anyone.

Give it a try!  Do some rewrites, or change the definitions in your mind, and see how praying could impact your life.  Let me know how it goes!

Singalong! Paper Bag by Fiona Apple

Back in my teenage-sadness years, I spent a lot of time hanging out with Fiona Apple.  She had the perfect mix of angst and clever poetry, wrapped up in a not-quite-perfect voice with a lot of feelings inside it.  Just what I needed. This song, in particular, grabbed my little heart and didn't let go. Something about that terrible, sad moment of disappointment encapsulated so well in what you thought was a dove, but was actually just a paper bag floating in the wind. I also LOVE the lines "he said 'it's all in your head', and I said, 'so's everything', but he didn't get it." It's just the best little succinct summation of the fact that everything we experience is in our heads because it's all filtered through (and often altered by) our minds, and so nothing is really objective and saying that something is all in your head doesn't write off the experience, it's just stating the fact of how we go through and understand life.

by Fiona Apple

I was staring at the sky, just looking for a star
To pray on, or wish on, or something like that
I was having a sweet fix of a daydream of a boy
Whose reality I knew, was a hopeless to be had
But then the dove of hope began its downward slope
And I believed for a moment that my chances
Were approaching to be grabbed
But as it came down near, so did a weary tear
I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag

Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh it kills
'Cause I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold 'cause these hands are too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love

And I went crazy again today, looking for a strand to climb
Looking for a little hope
Baby said he couldn't stay, wouldn't put his lips to mine,
And a fail to kiss is a fail to cope
I said, 'Honey, I don't feel so good, don't feel justified
Come on put a little love here in my void,' he said
'It's all in your head,' and I said, 'So's everything'
But he didn't get it I thought he was a man
But he was just a little boy

Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh it kills
'Cause I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold 'cause these hands are too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love

Learning! The Placebo Effect and Happiness

The Placebo Effect is one of my absolute favourite psychological phenomena.  I think it's just so incredible how powerful our minds are in impacting our bodies.  It also drives me a bit nuts when people use it wrong, but that's okay, that's just because I am a know-it-all.

We all know the basic idea of the placebo effect: you give people something that they think is a drug, but actually isn't (the placebo) and then they miraculously get better, without actual medical treatment.

Here's some fun new research on the placebo effect, though: you can tell a person they are getting a placebo, and the treatment still works.  That means that people don't need to think they're getting ibuprofen for their headache to go away, they can take a pill that they know is nothing, if they know their belief that it will work can make it work.

Kind of loopy, right?  And AWESOME!

It doesn't stop there, though.  Remember all that "Power of Positive Thinking" stuff in the 90s?  Well, it was kind of right.  We have lots of evidence already that stress has a negative impact on our health - cortisol levels spike, we get our fight-or-flight on, and our bodies go into protection mode, leading to all sorts of problems.

Well, for the longest time, we thought that the main benefit of being a more positive person was that you didn't experience the harmful effects of negativity.  Turns out, however, there is increasing evidence for beneficial effects of positivity.  That believing things will work out, or that you'll heal, or that you're a good and useful person, actually boosts your body's ability to repair and maintain itself.  This leads to greater health and well-being, which is just plain better for life.


Me & Ryan Gosling at a Prohibition Party

Me and Ryan love to go to parties, especially theme parties!  This was a prohibition-themed party held at the Vancouver Police Museum.  We took pictures on the old embalming table (gross but fun!) and drank out of paper bags.  I look a little funny in this picture because he just pinched my bum!  Saucy!

Inspiration! Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day!  While Earth Day is primarily about the fact that we're killing the planet and need to stop, it's also a great opportunity to stop and appreciate the awesomeness of our planet and everything it does.

So, if you can, consider celebrating Earth Day by getting outside!  If you can get into wild nature that's great, but if not, a bog or park or seawall will suffice.  Try to touch something green.  It's good for your soul!  It might even inspire you - what problems are you trying to solve?  Do you want to paint or write or take photographs?  Do it outside!  Or let the fresh air clear the cobwebs out of your brain and start over.

Next, be inspired to change your ways!  Here is my Earth Day Challenge: think of ONE THING that you can do this year that will help the planet.  Just ONE commitment to make.

Here are some ideas:

  • Put your electronics on power bars and turn off the power bar when you're not using them (way easier than unplugging and plugging them in every time.)
  • Stop buying bottled water.
  • Vow to not use plastic bags anymore.
  • Actually look up what kind of plastics your city recycles and start recycling properly.
  • Repair clothes or other items instead of throwing them out and buying new ones.
  • Become a vegetarian (I know, I know, this is loaded, but it's also the simplest and cheapest way to help the environment.  At the very least, you can probably eat less meat.)
  • Get a bike and ride it more than you drive.  (Or walk!)
  • Banish elevators for anything less than 5 stories (or 3, whatever works for you).
  • Hang your clothes to dry (instead of using the dryer).
  • When you eat out, use one less paper napkin than you normally would.
  • Bring your own coffee cup instead of using paper ones.
  • Use matches over lighters!  (Unless you have a metal one you refill with fuel, plastic disposable lighters are much worse for the environment than wooden matches.)
  • Give away or sell things you don't want anymore instead of throwing them away.
  • Buy (or make) products with safer, more environmentally-friendly ingredients.
  • Look for things second-hand before you buy new versions.

Of course, like any resolution, you're bound to fail at some point.  You will desperately need to buy groceries and not have cloth bags on you, or be dying of thirst with a vending machine RIGHT THERE and no water fountain to be seen, or forget to turn off your power bar.  That's okay.  The point is to make an effort.  If you're really into rules for life, maybe give yourself an allowance for a certain number of "cheats" a month.  If not, then just be understanding and let your slips motivate you to try harder next time!

Cute! Post-Party Cuddles

This weekend I hosted a baby shower for my dear friend Keri. It was a wonderful afternoon, full of love and laughter and bunting and chocolate fountains, and as soon as the last person left I laid down on the couch for some cuddles with Gertie.  The cutest way to recuperate.

Singalong! Dancing On My Own by Robyn

In my humble opinion, Robyn was the surprise comeback pop sensation of the millennium. Nothing against her Show Me Love days (I am quite fond, after all), but they were fleeting and then she fell off the face of the earth - or so we thought!  Until 2005 when her album Robyn made its way through the rounds of cool kids and then suddenly exploded as one of the best pop albums of all time. (No exaggeration! It's incredible!) Okay, so most people still don't know that she made any music after 1999, and they also don't really care about the music she made before 1999, but I love it all. This song in particular is one of the finest go-to songs for a pre-, post-, or mid-workday dance party tunes I have ever found. This, and every other song on the album.

by Robyn

Somebody said you got a new friend
Does she love you better than I can?
There's a big black sky over my town
I know where you're at, I bet she's around

Yeah, I know it's stupid
I just gotta see it for myself

I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own

I'm just gonna dance all night
I'm all messed up, I'm so out of line
Stilettos and broken bottles
I'm spinning around in circles

I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own

So far away but still so near
The lights go on, the music dies
But you don't see me standing here
I just came to say goodbye

I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own

I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own

Learning! Talk to Your Cat

It's no secret that many cat owners will talk to their cats.  Generally my kitty chit-chat is limited to saying hello and goodbye and letting her know I'm going to feed her or that she's done something wrong.  I have friends, however, who will have full conversations with their cats, sometimes doing the cat's side for them, sometimes responding as if they understood the cat's silence as a deep and meaningful response, like Tom Hanks and Wilson.

Here's the best part of that equation, though: cats also talk to us!  Their meow developed for the sole purpose of communicating with their human pets!  So just like a non-cat-owning person might roll their eyes at me while I say goodbye to Gertie on the way out the door, a non-human-owning cat would roll its eyes at Gertie when she meows at me!  Isn't that the coolest?  I think it's so interesting that domesticated cats have learned a behaviour the wild cats have had no use for.

Learn more about talking cats at the CBC.

Inspiration! Settle Down

It might seem a little odd to post a video about figuring out when you're ready to settle down as a weekly inspiration, but I'm not going to lie, this video inspires me.  In case you want to watch it without "spoilers" I'll explain why below.

First of all, I am a total hopeless romantic and always have been. I distinctly remember watching Notting Hill with some friends in high school, and then, as the credits rolled over Shania Twain's "You've Got a Way", lying back, imagining my soulmate was wrapped up in Shania's words, and sighing deeply at the beauty of perfect love. My friends rolled their eyes very loudly.

The things is that while I swooned at romantic comedies and sappy love songs, and still tear up every time a dude goes on a big, unrealistic romantic adventure to win back his lady love, my actual romantic dreams have always been far more realistic. As a teenager I once wrote a love song that espoused the opposite of the "head over heels" love, where a person has their feet firmly planted on the ground and chooses to love the other without making ludicrous, untestable promises about mountains and oceans. When I fantasized about my wedding day, my favourite part wasn't the dress or flowers, but the actual promise I would be making and the meaning behind it.

At the same time, I am pretty sure that 'kids my age' somehow got it into their/our heads that true love would be a Disney/Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks/Manic Pixie Dream Girl-style affair where we meet someone who overturns our experience of life and overshadows any other love we've ever experienced, who we are never hurt by, who always says the right thing, and who always intrinsically understands us, without explanation.  And that we shouldn't EVER settle for less.

So I like this video, and am inspired by it, because it's real. Because it reminds us that every single person will do things that drive us crazy and hurt our feelings. That most of being with someone is day-to-day living: grocery shopping, putting away dishes, and navigating a shared space. That we are ready for that when we realize that the sparkly fairy tale is the romance of having chosen this particular flawed person to do all these things with.

I think we'll all be much more free to live joyful lives if we are more realistic in general about what that means.  That the joy is to be found in not only accepting, but perhaps embracing and committing to, imperfection.

Cute! The Tiny Mountain Chipmunk

Ohhhhhh nooooooo!  Look how WAY TOO CUTE this little tiny mountain chipmunk is!  Last Tuesday I finally was a real Vancouverite and hiked The Chief and at the top were these adorable little chipmunks!  They were far too comfortable with the humans, and kept coming right up on us, looking for food.  I know they're probably covered in disgusting germs, but I don't even care a little bit, because they were the sweetest and I wanted to take them all home with me.

Look!  I even had another Snow White moment with one!  One step closer to training woodland creatures to style my hair and bring me pretty dresses.

Me & Ryan Gosling Wearing Leg Warmers

This one time, Ryan came over to my house when I wasn't expecting him.  I was lounging in my jersey shorts and leg warmers, working on my jazz moves, and he just barged in and took a picture!  it was hilarious.  He's such a goof.

Singalong! Hey Ya by Outkast

Outkast's dance hall sensation Hey Ya song was suuuuuuper popular when I was in university.  It was one of those songs that suddenly changed our everyday lives, because you could no longer suggest that a person shake anything, be it a bottle of juice, a duster to get the dirt off of it, a can of paint, or even their booty, without someone qualifying that the should shake it "like a polaroid picture."

I thought very little of this song until a couple years later when my friend made me a mix CD (remember those?  Simpler times...) with a soft, soulful cover of Hey Ya on it.  Suddenly, I actually paid attention to the lyrics, and suddenly, I realized that this song is sad and meaningful!  Check it out and see for yourself.  You just have to look past the lines like "I just wanna make you cumma" and the demand that women shake their bodies around to make it worthwhile for the male musicians to, you know, play their instruments well.

And for your soulful reference, Matt Weddle's cover that gave me a new appreciation for the song:

by Outkast

My baby don't mess around
Because she loves me so
And this I know for sure.
Uh, But does she really wanna
But can't stand to see me
Walk out the door.
Don't try to fight the feelin'
'Cause the thought alone is killing me right now..
Uh, thank god for mom and dad
For sticking two together
'Cause we don't know how...

Hey... ya.
Hey ya.

You think you've got it
Oh, you think you've got it
But got it just don't get it
'Til there's nothing at all
We get together
Oh, we get together
But separate's always better when there's feelings involved
If what they say is "Nothing is forever"
Then what makes, then what makes, then what makes
Then what makes, what makes, what makes love the exception
So why you, why you
Why you, why you, why you are we so in denial
When we know we're not happy here...
Y'all don't want me here you just wanna dance

Hey... ya. (OH OH)
Hey ya. (OH OH)
Hey... ya. (Don't want to meet your daddy, OH OH)
Hey ya. (Just want you in my Caddy OH OH)
Hey... ya. (OH OH, don't want to meet yo' mama OH OH)
Hey ya. (Just want to make you cumma OH OH)
Hey... ya. (I'm, OH OH I'm, OH OH)
Hey ya. (I'm just being honest OH OH, I'm just being honest)

Hey, alright now
Alright now fellas yeah!
Now what's cooler than bein' cool?
I can't hear ya'
I say what's, what's cooler than bein' cool?
Alright, alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright,
OK now ladies (yeah!)
Now we gon' break this thing down in just a few seconds
Now don't have me to break this thing down for nothing
Now I wanna see y'all on your baddest behavior
Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor
Uh! Here we go know...
Shake it, shake, shake it, shake it (oh oh)
Shake it, shake it, shake, shake it, shake it, shake it (oh oh)
Shake it, shake it like a Polaroid Picture, shake it, shake it
Shh you got to, shake it, shh shake it, shake it, got to shake it
(Shake it sugar) shake it like a Polaroid Picture

Now all Beyoncé's and Lucy Liu's
And baby dolls, get on the floor
(Get on the floor)
You know what to do.
You know what to do.
You know what to do!

Hey... ya. (OH OH)

Learning! How to See Shock Waves

Photo Source: Defence Research and Development Canada

Despite what the movies would lead you to believe, it's pretty much impossible to see the shockwaves of an explosion most of time.


Did you hear that qualifier?  Most of the time.  That means that sometimes, you can!  With your own, pathetic, human eye!  Isn't that exciting?!?!!

The folks at Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics do a much better job of explaining it than me, but my no-science-classes-beyond-grade-11-except-the-nutrition-class-I-took-so-I-could-graduate-university understanding is this: sometimes in an explosion, the conditions create a sudden, sharp change in density in the air around the explosion, changing how the light hits that part of the air and thus making it visible.

Of course, the downside of this is that you will not be able to see this cool shockwave effect if you are dramatically walking away from the explosion, in slow motion, without looking back.


Inspiration! Help Ink

It seems every year or so I hear about a new business designed to blend commerce, beautiful design, and charity.  While we could argue until the end of the day about the ins and outs of how charitable support should happen, I love that these kinds of businesses help people buy good.  It's stuff you might already want to buy, and now you can buy it AND support good things in the world.

So next time you're in the market for some beautiful (and very reasonably priced) graphic art prints or t-shirts, check out HELP INK.

Look how pretty:

Cute! Gertie Holds on for Dear Life

The other day Gertie and I were having a really good cuddle session.  As usual, it was overwhelming in its cuteness, and I tried really hard to get a picture that captured the sweetness of how she was cuddling in to me.  It didn't quite work, but here's my best effort: see how she's holding onto me?  It's like she's saying "please, please, never leave me, my life will be empty without you!"  (Or is that me, saying that to her?)

Singalong! My Secret by Anna Ternheim

Today is the day!  My dear friend Alison is getting married!  A few weeks ago we did a Weird Al singalong in honour of her stagette, and now for her wedding I decided to share another one of my "I can't believe I'm admitting to this, yes I'm a silly girl who thinks about her some-day-wedding-day, let's all get over it already" imagined wedding dance songs.  I've shared a few with you in the past (In My Life and My Favourite Book), and now I risk being driven into the Crazy Wedding-Planning Girl category by doing this, but I'm sharing another one.

It doesn't really have the right feel for a wedding dance, and the message is a bit strange for a wedding: it's basically saying "I met you and now I'm completely changing my plans and everyone thinks I'm crazy and shouldn't do it", which might not be the right sentiment for a wedding where everyone is gathering around to say "yes, we support this union", but there's something I like in it.  Something about shifting priorities (which I interpret as going from centering your life around your own needs and throwing someone else into the mix) and finding a peace that you didn't know would be there.

by Anna Ternheim

Today must have been one of the strangest days
Some would say that you won't find love that way
The best days are not planned by common sense, by lack of time
You just happen to be where everything feels fine

It's a new secret I have found

From today I'll change my priorities around
I'm no longer in command and people say
I'm off solid ground and you're to blame
But they dont understand, people never do
It's confusing, I dont expect them to

Its a new secret I have found

Today must have been one of the strangest days
I found a place where I could stay
And people say that it will kill me

But they dont understand
People never do, but it makes sense to me
To be senseless, to change my plans for you

It's a new secret I have found

And I'm off solid grounds for you

Learning! Singing Mice Are Real

Photo by Stephen Michael Barnett on Flickr Creative Commons (text added)

You know how in Disney movies mice sing pretty songs to pretty girls?  Well, in real life, male mice sing pretty songs to lady mice that they think are pretty, in an effort to woo them.  When they smell the presence of a girl, these little mousey Sinatras stop the high-pitched squeaks we know and loathe and switch to a song that is softer, and ultrasonic, so we can't hear it.

What song do you imagine the mice use to woo one another?  Perhaps "My Mousey Lies Over the Ocean" or "My Cheesecake Brings All the Girls to the Yard" or "The Way You Squeak Tonight"?

Inspiration! Two Steps to Becoming Whatever You Want to Become

A while back I came across and bookmarked this article on how to become a morning person.  I've been edging more and more into "morning person" territory over the past year, and so far, I love it!  Sure, going to be earlier can be hard, but waking up earlier and having time in my morning to do yoga, write, eat a good breakfast, read, journal, meditate, or meet a friend for breakfast before work is fantastic.  It makes me feel like my life is more than the office.

I just came across the article again, and I was struck by two things:

One: the fact that even a couple years ago I never would have guessed that I would voluntarily be waking up at 7am, let alone working on moving that wake up time into the 6's.  It seemed like an insurmountable and completely insane idea.

Two: most of the advice involves planning ahead to make waking up as easy and enjoyable as possible.  For me this includes having a morning routine that I look forward to, occasionally having appointments (like my scheduled, not-at-home writing times) that I can't miss, picking an alarm tone that gently eases me awake so I don't wake up with a heart attack, and starting to think about bed an hour earlier than I used to.

This made me wonder: how many other things seem like good ideas, but we just can't fathom ever having the will or discipline to make it happen?

We often expect ourselves to "just do" something that we find unpleasant but know is good for us, and while we might be able to force ourselves out of bed or into the running shoes once or twice, it usually doesn't last.  Why?  Because we've done nothing to mitigate the unpleasantness.  We're forcing the brussell sprouts of life down our throats, but without even putting a little salt, butter, or garlic on them to ease us into their terrible flavour.

So here's my super-sneaky "two easy steps" to becoming whatever it is you want to become:

1) Plan ahead!  What are your excuses to avoid this activity?  What circumstances need to be in place to make it easy for yourself?

2) Put the circumstances into place so that it's easier to do the thing.  Then start doing it.

That's it!  No detail is too small, insignificant, or superficial.  Consider every element: schedule, duration, accessories/equipment, environment, and company.  Consider what your excuses are to avoid your thing, and then find ways to eliminate them.  Be honest with yourself about what motivates you and then indulge it.

If you're trying to become a fitness-person, you'll probably want to do it if you actually like your work out clothes and have a sweet pump-up mix of songs to listen to.  If scheduled classes motivate you because you have to be there, sign up for one!  If you do better to fit it in at home, pick a time when you'll have less of an opportunity to talk yourself out of it.

This works for pretty much anything you want to do.  Want to become more studious?  What time of day is your brain the sharpest?  In what environment do you best focus?  With what company (if any)?  Want to become more nutritious but hate cooking?  Buy vegetables in whatever format you find them most convenient - sure the packaged, pre-cut ones might be less than ideal when it comes to money and the environment, but if that's the only way you'll eat your broccoli, get them.

Go for it!  Make it easy!  Become whatever you want to become!