Singalong! In the Sun by Joseph Arthur

Everyone's getting all uppity on the internet these days about the new Adele single. Yep, I get it, it's good and she's got all those feelings and a voice like oozing diamonds and a really good face and her words are so freaking universal while being just specific enough to make you feel like they're telling your story. Bully for her! Last time Adele was all over the radio I was going through the worst heartbreak of my life and I couldn't listen to her for ages after that, because every single store I went into had one of her songs playing and the pain was just too real and I couldn't stop my feelings.

How does this rambling introduction to Adele tie back to the fact that this week's singalong is for Joseph Arthur's "In the Sun"? Well, Adele is a singer that people cry to, and this is a song I used to cry to all the time. Like, constantly. I heard it first in the movie Saved! (a movie that basically put an indie-style-quirkily-humorous-yet-poignant knife through my spiritual journey at the time) and it just killed me. Last week I was hanging out with some friends and this song came on. "Oh man, I used to listen to this song and cry all the time in university", I casually mentioned. My friend Marc couldn't understand what was sad about the song - why was I crying? Then my friend Suvi said, "Oh Marc, you don't get it. Something doesn't have to be sad to make a girl cry."

Also, FUN FACT ALERT! In looking up the lyrics to this song I learned that it was originally recorded by none other than Peter Gabriel! High five, Pete!

PS: I just realized that today is Halloween and I probably should be posting something spooky.  Sorry for ruining your Halloween fun with my lame university cry-fest!

by Joseph Arthur (but originally Peter Gabriel)

I picture you in the sun wondering what went wrong
And falling down on your knees asking for sympathy
And being caught in between all you wish for and all you seen
And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you

I know I would apologize if I could see your eyes
'Cause when you showed me myself I became someone else
But I was caught in between all you wish for and all you need
I picture you fast asleep
A nightmare comes
You can't keep awake

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you

'Cause if I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find
If I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find

I don't know anymore
What it's for
I'm not even sure
If there is anyone who is in the sun
Will you help me to understand
'Cause I been caught in between all I wish for and all I need
Maybe you're not even sure what it's for
Any more than me

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you

Learning! Stop with the antioxidants already

Antioxidants may not quite be enjoying the limelight they did in years past, but they are still a golden ticket in the food packaging world.  Slap "antioxidant" on a label, and everyone from the lululemon-clad to the couch potato will grab on, feeling like they are saving themselves from aging, cancer, and a litany of other bad things.

Here's the thing with antioxidants: yes, in the lab they neutralize free radicals and the harm they cause.  You can watch it happen under a microscope or when you sprinkle your apple slices in lemon juice to stop them from turing brown.

In your body, however?  Evidence says they don't do a single darn thing.  In fact, one study showed that smokers who attempted to antioxidize their way out of cancer were more likely to get cancer and heart disease.  Other studies have shown that oxidation (a very common instance of free radicals gone wild) can actually help wound healing and prevent aging in young folks.

Not to say you shouldn't eat those fruits and veggies, just don't pay extra for something with açai berries or whatever in it.  Don't let the evil marketers win!  

Inspiration! The work of Pawel Kuczynski

I recently came across some of the work of painter Pawel Kuczynski in a post called "36 Brilliant Paintings That Describe Everything That's Wrong With the World Today" on Digital Synopsis.

Normally I bristle at these kinds of posts that claim that computers or social media are the root of all our problems today.  Anytime someone says something about "everything that's wrong with the world today", I expect an entirely reductive look at our problems, ignoring the root issues that lie within us (you know, cutting ourselves off, feeling lonely but doing nothing to reach out to others, selfishness, all those nice human traits) and blaming car exhaust instead.

Pawel Kuczynski's series of paintings, however, are beautiful, evocative, and really pointed in uncovering how we use modern technology to exacerbate our problems.  This painting did it for me the most:

Thought Provoking Paintings By Pawel Kuczynski 30
by Pawl Kuczunski

I look at that and I see our deep need for confession and communion filtered through the speaker of Facebook. How we have gutted faith (because, you know, logic and being busy doesn't align with having a faith) but kept the form so that we feel safe while we confess our deepness to everyone we know.

Another stunning image is of a cat with a mouse in its mouth, and three other mice taking photos of the event.  THIS IS WHAT WE DO, PEOPLE!  One of our own is being devoured, and we photograph it!

Heartbreaking.  Check out the rest of the images here.

How to not be an accidental jerk to your single friends

The world is basically a minefield of accidental offence these days, which probably means that you're sick of hearing about another way you have to be sensitive to other peoples' feelings.  Well, guess what? I don't care!  As a person who has been what I like to call a "long term single" most of her life (I have been in relationships for a total of 25 months out of my total 371 months of life), I have some observations!  Plus, I have a blog, so I'm going to share them!  Publicly!

Most of these boil down to what I like to call "duonormativity".  This is a term I invented, because when you're pointing out a problem in society, you have to give it a name.  First, it sounds way more official.  Second, it makes it way easier to accuse other people of doing it, and then you get to make them feel bad in two ways: for doing the hurtful thing and for not being up to date on the latest sensitivity-training-lingo.

With that in mind, duonormativity is the assumption that everyone is, should be, and/or wants to be, in a relationship.  It expects that the normal arrangement for people is to be coupled, and that anything outside of that needs to be fixed.

While it might be a statistical norm that most people are (or want to be) walking two-by-two, like all statistical norms, it quickly becomes dangerous to plant that it, and its related expectations, on individuals.

Before I get into it, full disclosure: I am not actually single anymore.  However, I have only been in my current relationship for 8 months and my overall time spent in relationships so far makes up just over 6% of my time spent on earth, so I feel like I am still allowed to talk about this.  Besides, I never felt like I could write this post while I was single, lest I be some kind of angry, oversensitive single person.  Now I feel that I am in the perfect safety zone: I am coupled, and thus not a bitter singleton, yet haven't been in my relationship so long that I've forgotten the finer details of single life.

For simplicity's sake, I'm using the first person plural here when referring to the single folk.  This is not a hint that I'm trying to get out of my relationship, it's just easier.

Of course, the personal experience disclaimer applies - I can't speak for all single people, but this is what I observed both in my own life and that of my other long-term single friends.

Don't Pretend You Aren't in a Relationship

Just because we are single doesn't mean we think you should be or are thrown into a pit of despair every time you mention your partner.  Avoiding talking about them doesn't "protect our feelings", it's just awkward.

Don't Pretend We're Not Single

Single is not a bad word.  If it comes up for some reason, you don't have to dance around the word or try to avoid mentioning the fact that there is one of me and two of you.  It's fine.  Sure, you don't need to go out of your way to bring it up, but you also don't need to act like it's some unmentionable disease.  If it comes up in the conversation, feel free to acknowledge our un-partnered status.

Invite Us Along

Don't "protect" us from being a third (or fifth) wheel by not inviting us to something.  Especially if you're one of our closest friends.  We can decide if we are not feeling like being around couples right now, but chances are, as a long-term single, this is just a part of life.  We would rather share life with our friends than permanently avoid couples.

A side note of this is that it would be nice to not only hang out when you want to get away from your partner.  As I got older and more and more of my friends paired off, I noticed that almost every time we hung out it was a "girls night".

I get it, you live with a guy (if you're a lady and straight), and so a night with just the girls is a fun novelty for you.  It is not a novelty for me, it is my life.  I like hanging out with guys sometimes too, and it makes me really sad that people seem to think that the only reason to hang out with the opposite sex (when they are straight) is if you are either already sleeping with them or hoping to sleep with them.  Can't we just enjoy each others' company and not be shunted to one corner of your lives?

Set Ups Are Great

TV shows and movies have made it out that single people just HATE being set up by their coupled friends.  Maybe this is true in New York or LA where the people who make entertainment tend to live, but personally, I would have loved it.  The main reason I was single was that I hardly ever met eligible dudes, so if a friend of mine actually knew a guy who could be a good match for me, I wanted to meet him!

There are so many ways to do it, too!  Have a party and invite us both, ask me to meet you at your office and introduce us, or heck, throw the silly we-just-met-by-accident-isn't-fate-crazy?  song and dance aside and be a grown up and introduce us by email!  (Maybe ask our permission first.)

Of course there is a caveat: just because two people are single doesn't mean they should date, nor does the fact that you think the other person should be single and that maybe we will lure them away from their partner.  No thanks.

Don't Freak Out When We Get Real

There is a fine balance that needs to be struck if you're a long-term single who isn't a spring chicken but still wants to find someone: you have to be open-hearted, available to possibilities, and flexible, while still building the life you want and enjoying it for what it is.  You need to pursue your goals, nurture the relationships you already have, and avoid relying on mental timelines or expectations of when love might happen while being open to finding it lest you accidentally slam the door of your well-planned life in love's face.

Unfortunately, as time moves on it becomes super obvious that there is no way to know or control when you will meet a person you can partner with.  It could be tomorrow, but it could also be ten or twenty years from now.  It could even be never: some people, despite being truly excellent human beings, never find a partner.

So when we make comments about being single for decades, freezing our eggs, or whatever, we're not necessarily hopeless and in despair and in need of some "stick with it" pep talk.  We might just be preparing ourselves for the actual fact that we don't know when or if we will meet a romantic partner, and setting up the life we want to live in the meantime.  This is not a tragedy unless you make it one.

Let Us Be Where We're At

Along the same vein, being a long-term single has its ups and downs, and it doesn't help if our friends try to convince us we should be feeling differently than we are.

Sometimes we will feel hopeless and desperate and terribly lonely and just want to cry about the fact that we'll never find anyone.  Sometimes we'll feel optimistic and hopeful and happy to wait for the love we deserve.  Sometimes we'll decide that we are ready to seize life by the junk and make it our own, finding joy, meaning, and love in other realms than romance.  Sometimes we're just kind of blasé about the whole thing.

There is no "right" way to feel about being single, nor is there a "right" way to approach finding a partner.  If we're happy to be single, don't try to convince us we are missing out on family-style bliss and should be out looking.  If we're feeling helpless and lonely, don't try to convince us that we're better off being single because being in a relationship is "so hard".

(Side note: telling single people they're lucky to be single because of the sacrifices you have to make in a relationship is kind of belittling and ridiculous - if you really didn't want to make those sacrifices, you would leave your partner.  Obviously you like life better with them, so please, don't patronize us.)

Let's make a deal: you be there for us where we're at, and we'll do the same for you, whether you are unspeakably angry at or desperately in love with your partner.

Sorry, You Don't Know What It's Like

You are perfectly welcome to give advice to your single friends.  Just bear in mind that their experience of being single is different than yours was.  Sure, you might remember what it was like to be single - when you were just finished university and had the world at your fingertips, with the retrospective goggles of how your life turned out since then.  My experience of being single at 23 was completely different than it was when I was 26 or 30, and if I'm single at 35 or 40 or 62, that will be different too.

Advice is best when it's situation-specific: if I just went on a date with someone and don't know if I should bother going on a second, feel free to weigh in.  If you want to give some super-generalized commentary on how I should expect my finding-of-love to turn out how yours did, then, well, go for it, but know you aren't being helpful.

I know it's hard to see a friend in some level of despair.  You just want to say anything to help them feel better, but let me tell you, it has NEVER made me feel better to hear my coupled friend say that they sometimes wish they were single, or that they would rather join a convent than Tinder, or that it's okay because they met their partner after a major break up that left them heartbroken, so maybe I will too.  In fact, they usually made me feel worse.

Sometimes, You Gotta Be Our Partner

One of the benefits of having a partner is having someone to help take care of some of the more practical aspects of life.  Sure, we can take care of ourselves (long-term singles have been doing so for years), but that doesn't mean we won't feel so much better about life if you bring us soup and kleenex when we're sick, help pack up our home when we're moving, offer to host our next birthday party, or try to decipher Ikea instructions with us.

This is the thing that single people just don't get to have: a person to do things for us when we need an extra hand and to accompany us to parties where we don't know anyone but have to go anyways.

You might not be able to deflect your long-term single friend's family from asking when they're going to "settle down", but heck, you can rail with them afterwards about how ridiculous it is for anyone to expect a person to be able to just decide when they will find a person to marry, right?  Which is, of course, the best thing you could actually do.

Cute! The kitty that was

Today I have decided to dig into the cuteness archives to a kitty who is, sadly, no longer with us. Ladies, Gents, and Other Humans, please meet Percival Severus Longbottom. Lovingly named after several under appreciated (and potentially dubious) Harry Potter characters, he was a mash up of them all - at times loving and loyal, and at times incredibly evil. This photo was taken on the day my roommate (at the time) and I took this little bundle of joy (and pain) home with us.

Singalong! Sympathique by Pink Martini

I love this song! It's in French, but don't worry, the translation is at the bottom if you aren't cool enough to speak just enough French to understand this song.  It's clever and funny and jazzy and cute.  So fun to sing along with if you are blowing off work!

by Pink Martini

Ma chambre a la forme d'une cage
Le soleil passe son bras par la fenêtre
Les chasseurs à ma porte
Comme les p'tits soldats
Qui veulent me prendre

Je ne veux pas travailler
Je ne veux pas déjeuner
Je veux seulement l'oublier
Et puis je fume

Déjà j'ai connu le parfum de l'amour
Un million de roses n'embaumerait pas autant
Maintenant une seule fleur dans mes entourages
Me rend malade

Je ne veux pas travailler
Je ne veux pas déjeuner
Je veux seulement l'oublier
Et puis je fume

Je ne suis pas fière de ça
Vie qui veut me tuer
C'est magnifique être sympathique
Mais je ne le connais jamais

Je ne veux pas travailler
Je ne veux pas déjeuner
Je veux seulement l'oublier
Et puis je fume

Je ne suis pas fière de ça
Vie qui veut me tuer
C'est magnifique être sympathique
Mais je ne le connais jamais

Je ne veux pas travailler
Je ne veux pas déjeuner
Je veux seulement l'oublier
Et puis je fume


My room is in the form of a cage
The sunlight passes though the window
The bellhops at my door
Like little soldiers
That want to take me

I don't want to work
I don't want to have lunch
I only want to forget it
And then I smoke

Already, I understood the perfume of love
A million roses wouldn't smell so sweet (1)
Now a single flower in my enclosures
Drives me crazy

I don't want to work
I don't want to have lunch
I only want to forget it
And then I smoke

I am not proud of this life
That wants to kill me
It's magnificent to be nice (2)
But I have never understood it

I don't want to work
I don't want to have lunch
I only want to forget it
And then I smoke

I am not proud of that life
That wants to kill me
It's magnificent to be nice
But I have never understood it

I don't want to work
I don't want to have lunch
I only want to forget it
And then I smoke

Learning! Carl Sagan's baloney-detector

Carl Sagan was, in my opinion, super awesome.  He was a mighty fine scientist AND he had a fascination with and respect for religion and mythology.  He also inspired a lot of young folks to be scientists (including Neil DeGrasse Tyson, also a very cool person), and he helped both regular people and scientists understand the universe better.

In his book, The Demon Haunted World, he included a tool kit for detecting bull corn from media and scientists alike.  He called it his Baloney Detection Kit.  I think it would be great if everyone used this for all the scientific articles we read online about things like GMOs and microwaves and vaccines and, well, everything else.

Here is Carl Sagan's 9-step test:

  1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”
  2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
  3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
  4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
  5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.
  6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.
  7. If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.
  8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.
  9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.
Okay, that talk was pretty science-y.  Here's my dumbed-down version:
  1. Did someone besides the person who wants you to believe it test and confirm the facts?
  2. Get into it with people who have different points of view (and some knowledge) on the subject.
  3. Don't trust someone just because they are an "authority" - there's got to be more to it than that.
  4. Think of as many different explanations as you can.
  5. Check yourself: are you just arguing for it because it was your idea?
  6. Use whatever objective measures you can to quantify the idea.
  7. If it's a chain of ideas strung together, make sure every link in the chain is solid.  Every single one!
  8. Keep It Simple Stupid.
  9. Can the hypothesis be disproved?  If not, it's not a very good (scientific) hypothesis. 
If the thing you're reading about or the idea someone is giving you passes all 9 steps, then according to Sagan, you are to welcome it with "warm, albeit tentative, acceptance."  I like the idea of a tentatively warm hug of welcoming.

Of course, I think there's more than just cold, hard, scientific logic to life.  Some ideas are valuable and don't need to be proven - they are there to connect to us in different ways.  If it's at all science-y though, hold it up to the baloney detector and see if it bleeps.  (But first decide if it bleeps for things that pass or fail so you know what the result actually means.)

Inspiration! You might be getting it right (according to Neil Gaiman)

I just launched a podcast two days ago.  Using official-sounding terms like "launched" makes it feel like it's not such a personal thing, but really, it's a really personal thing!  I co-created a podcast with my friend Joel, and we put it out into the world and are basically saying, "hey guys, here are a bunch of things that we want to talk about that are really important to us as people, and we are cocky enough to not be satisfied talking about it among our friends.  We need to broadcast it out into the world and make you listen to it."  Ugh.  Scary.

So yesterday when I came across this Neil Gaiman quote, it was a helpful reminder.  When you get an idea, get all excited about it, and then partway through start to feel like it's too much and too scary and too exposing and you just want to decide to not actually do it, that's when you maybe are doing something good.

It's important to remember the "maybe" as well (or Neil Gaiman's "might be starting").  Just because you are exposing yourself and vulnerable doesn't mean what you're doing is the thing it should be (or needs to be).  Just because your work reveals your soul doesn't mean it's complete.  Creating something worthwhile takes vulnerability and openness, but also crafting and shaping and cutting and perspective.  Feeling far too naked is not the whole picture, but it's a necessary step.

So, I'm feeling a bit naked right now.  Let's see how this goes!

Get your podcast on with Life, Right?

Hey guys!  I have a new podcast!  Yaaaaaay!

We launched yesterday.  It's called Life, Right? and it's about the things we all experience, but for whatever reason we never really talk about.  We are talking to regular people about their experience of life, and hoping that we'll all feel a little more connected after it's over.

There are so many ways you can listen and stay in the loop!

Listen, download, and subscribe on iTunes HERE.

Sign up for our email list HERE.

Like us on Facebook for bonus content and conversation HERE.

Stream or subscribe on YouTube HERE.

Check out our website HERE.

Cute! British kitty on high alert

I already shared one picture of this sweet British Kitty that I met while in Hebden Bridge, but I am giving you another picture of her, because she was so darn cute!  Of course, it's useful to note that she looks so alert in this picture because treats were being held out for her - treats she took using the force of her claws and teeth a moment later.  So take this cuteness with a grain of salt.

Singalong! Possession by Sarah McLachlan

I talked to Sarah McLachlan once!  A couple of years ago I got to go to a ballet called Fumbling Towards Ecstasy that had been created from her music.  My friend, a blogger, asked me to take a photo with them together, and then I said something like, "is it a bit weird for you, sitting in the audience watching while your music is being performed?" and she said something like, "it's a nice break getting to sit and relax and not be the one on stage."  So we're pretty much best friends now.

I have always loved the song Possession, partially because it's just a beautiful song, but also because I like songs that have a meaning most people miss.  Most people think of this as a love song and maybe even sing it at their weddings, but it's really written from the perspective of a stalker who sent McLachlan creepy letters.

by Sarah McLachlan

Listen as the wind blows from across the great divide
voices trapped in yearning, memories trapped in time
the night is my companion, and solitude my guide
would I spend forever here and not be satisfied?

and I would be the one
to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after, I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes dear

Through this world I've stumbled
so many times betrayed
trying to find an honest word to find
the truth enslaved
oh you speak to me in riddles
and you speak to me in rhymes
my body aches to breathe your breath
your words keep me alive

And I would be the one
to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after, I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes dear

Into this night I wander
it's morning that I dread
another day of knowing of
the path I fear to tread
oh into the sea of waking dreams
I follow without pride
nothing stands between us here
and I won't be denied

and I would be the one
to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after, I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes...

Learning! The psychology of voting

We are in the middle of an election in Canada!  Official polls will happen on October 19th, but many (including myself) have already voted in advance polls.

A lot of research has gone into elections and what actually influences peoples' votes.  Is it policy and capability of our potential leaders, or is it haircuts, height, campaign spending, and where you go to mark your ballot?

Lucky us, BPS Research Digest did a basic digest of the research on the psychology of voting.  Here's some of what they found:

Appearance has an impact - we are more likely to vote for someone who "looks competent", is attractive, and those with deeper voices.  These factors make the most impact on those who are ignorant to what's actually going on in politics.

Personality comes into play - we tend to vote for people we think have similar personalities to our own.

Poll location is a fascinating one - if your polling station is in a church, you're more likely to vote conservative.  If your station is a school, you will be more inclined to approve educational spending.

Physical position - if you are physically leaning left or right, you are more likely to vote in that direction!

We are less likely to vote for every additional inch of rainfall (cue "first world problems" arguments), and are also less likely to vote for a candidate seen as "risky" on crummy days.

If there are lots of shark attacks in your area, or your local sports team goes on a losing streak, right before an election, the incumbent will likely suffer.  Because, you know, everything is their fault.

Got kids?  If you have more daughters, you might vote more liberally.  Sons may sway you the other way.

On it goes!  Scandals, the economy, simple emotional responses, they all impact how we vote.  So, my fellow Canadians!  Arm yourself with this knowledge and be aware when you cast your ballot on Monday!  Exercise your constitutional rights!  Take the government into your hand and tell them what you want, and make sure you're telling them what you actually want, not what your polling location is tricking your brain into thinking you want.


GET EXCITED! Bill Murray is hosting a Netflix-produced Christmas special

A Very Murray Christmas to you, kids!  Everyone's favourite Hollywoodite is hosting a Christmas special.  Step aside, Kelly Clarkson, this is what the Christmas spirit is all about.

The story is nothing if not unoriginal: Bill Murray is meant to do a Christmas special, but a blizzard shuts it down, so instead he hangs out and sings songs with whoever happens to be around! (Cue Bill Murray's random celebrity friends.)

OMG! Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph are in it!!!! Life just got better, guys.

Inspiration! Taking in life without a phone (a personal challenge)

Look at this photo and guess what has inspired me to a new personal challenge?

Photo from The Boston Globe

Do you see her? Of course you do! The lone person without a cell phone in a crowd will, indeed stand out. It's not just her lack of a cell phone that is inspiring, though. Look at her face. Look how happy she is. Yes, everyone else looks happy too, but they also look like they are reaching - trying - for something. Of course they do, they are trying to get a good photo of the celebrities walking by at this fancy red carpet event for a movie I haven't heard of.  (Sigh.)

What a magical moment.  What joy to actually just experience life without needing to prove that you were there or save the moment.

Now, I'm not ragging on people taking pictures of things, not really.  I love photography.  I am old enough that I learned how to develop film and print my own photos in high school, and I even had my own little darkroom in my parents' basement.  I had dreams of becoming, among other things, a photographer.

All that to say, taking photos is great, and I am not snobby enough to write off phone cameras.  They are convenient and you can get some gorgeous shots on them.  Why the heck would we put that down?

That said, my love for photography combined with my penchant to hold on to things and my inclination to sharing everything (hello, I'm a blogger, this is how we desperately justify our existence), meant I was photographing EVERYTHING.  I spent a lot of time lining up a good photo of something I was experiencing rather than just experiencing it.

I have also noticed a disturbing trend in my photo sharing.  More an more often, I re-open Instagram minutes after I posted something to see how many likes it got, or check the likes and comments on my friends' photos and compare them to my numbers.  I am aware, as I do this, that it is truly unhealthy, self-absorbed, neurotic behaviour that defeats the purpose of joyfully sharing images and can only make me feel bad.  I do it anyway.

So it is time for an intervention!  Inspired by this lovely woman, I am challenging myself to go the entire month of October without taking a single photo.  This, of course, means that I also cannot share any photos, which is the other half of the problem here.  Two in one!

Now, this isn't a majestic, living-in-the-moment, my-month-will-be-more-genuine-than-your-month challenge.  It is actually more like a test. I genuinely enjoy photography, and I find that the time spent with a person or object while I'm photographing it (even just on my phone) can increase my connection to it, so I am not operating under the automatic assumption that events will be more meaningful without my camera.

Plus, I have a terrible memory and will probably forget more things without photos.  On the flip side, without even the temptation to take a shot, will I engage in a deeper way and form better memories?  Will an inability to craft my image online through photos help me stay present or not?  Why do we need to share every single freaking thing we do online?  But isn't that a wonderful way to build connections?  Good questions!  These are things I'm going to find out.

So that's it, no photos until November 1!

NOTE: There is one exception to this no-photos rule.  My job is publicity and marketing, which includes social media.  I have to take photos to do my job.  So job-related photos are okay, because they have to be.

NOTE 2: If you are noticing that it is already October 14th, fear not!  I have been abiding by this challenge all month.

NOTE 3: If you are wondering, so far this month I haven't noticed a big difference in how I experience things without taking photos.  The big tests are yet to come, though!  I am going on a staff retreat this weekend, and Halloween is coming.  These would be times I would be snapping away like crazy, if life were normal.

Cute! The animals of Europe

i was recently travelling in the UK and Germany, and encountered many an adorable animal. The farm life was especially exciting, despite growing up in a farm town (these were GERMAN cows and BRITISH sheep, after all! Here are just a couple of the photos I took.

Learning! It was easier to be skinny in the 80's than it is today

Here's a big piece of news!  New research has shown that people following the exact same diet and exercise regimens in the 80's will have a BMI 10% less than a person today (okay, it actually compared to people in 2006, because of available data).  The research measured calories, macronutrients, age, and exercise habits.

Wow!  Possible explanations include increased exposure to chemicals and hormones that may be weight gain-inducing, an increase in prescription drugs that cause weight gain, as well as possible changes to some of the gut bacteria that impacts weight.  (In a high-five to vegetarians, it's possible this is impacted by increased meat consumption, being that meat contains loads of growth hormones and junk these days.)

Maybe we should be a little less judgey of people who don't have perfect bodies then, eh?


Inspiration! Be That

My yoga teacher posted this on his Facebook page recently.  We get so busy trying to figure out our "optimal selves" and "true selves" and how to "be the best" and "live each moment" and blahblahblahblahgoodstuffbutseriouslyblahblahblah.

How about just be yourself?

Cute! Introducing guinea pigs!

These aren't the best pics in the world, but still, the cuteness shines through.  Yesterday I met my friend's PET GUINEA PIGS!  For real!  They are super cute.  They make the weirdest high pitched squealing noises that can only be incredibly annoying to live with, but are adorable for a one-time visit.  Look at the nose in the second pic!

Learning! The real reason your computer comes with games

You know how excited we all were in the 90s that computers came with games?  We could play Solitaire, and this new game called Minesweeper, and even Hearts once you got tired of Solitaire and Minesweeper!  For FREE!  On our computers!!!!!  It was like this wonderful gift that Microsoft gave us all.

Turns out, that gift had strings attached.  They had a reason to put those games on there.

Don't worry though, it is surprisingly non-sinister!  Their goal?  To teach us improved computer-handling skills.  Since computers were relatively new, they wanted to get people used to right- and left-clicking, as well as dragging and dropping.  That's it.  They wanted us to be good at using computers and they knew we wouldn't want to take classes or do exercises, but we would stare at a screen with a deadpan expression for hours trying to defeat Minesweeper.

And look at us now!