Tuesday, January 31, 2017

This Week in Church: Vocation, climbing mountains, and the Daily Examine

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.


This week in church we talked about vocation.

Vocation is different than occupation or career or hobbies or whatever. Vocation as in "who are you and what work should you do in the world?" It's kind of a tricky concept, but one that seems to hold a deep truth. Here are some notes that I wrote down from service that helped illuminate the concept for me:

-Who am I now and who do I want to be?

-What are the trails of curiosity in my life? Do I follow them? What happens when I do? Why don't I?

-"Vocation is who we are trying to happen." -I didn't jot down the person who said this! Sorry!

-"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than the excitement and gladness... In the last analysis, all moment are key moments and life itself is grace." -Buchner (emphasis added)

-The pastor told a story of a man who, upon his death, was so worried God would ask him why he wasn't more like other great leaders who came before him, but the question was actually "Why didn't you be [insert his name here]?" So, then of course I get to ask ourselves - am I being Andrea? If no, why not?

This week in church we talked about climbing mountains.

We sing a song regularly with a line that regularly resonates with me: "I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open."

This week, while singing those words, I had a vision of all the women and peacekeepers of the world, marching up the mountain of fascism, sexism, racism, and loss together, with our hands open to the hope and help ahead. We've got a mountain to climb as we resist the darkness in the world, but we can do it together! We can do it with help.

This week in church we talked about Daily Examine.

I've thought about, and probably written about, this idea before, but it's come into my life again so I'll usher it right through into yours: The Daily Examine. This is a practice where, every day, you reflect on what brought you joy/life that day and what took joy/life that day. Do it every day for a couple of months and then have a look back and see what your trends are.

In my year of self-reflection, this seems like a perfect addition.


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Monday, January 30, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Bum hugs, George the Rescue Wombat, jerboas, and more!

In true cat fashion, Gertie found the least convenient place for her to sit in the house.

Why do cats always sit on your clothes? And other cute things like bear hugs, jerboas, and crabs eating!

Other Cuteness:

Bear hugs/bum hugs.

George the Rescue Wombat bonds with his caretaker.

A crabby eater (so delicate!)

Jerboa: an animal you've never heard of that is super adorable!

Otter plays dead.


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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Singalong! Quiet by MILCK (with the GW Sirens and Capital Blend)

Pretty much the most beautiful thing that came out of the Women's March last weekend.


QUIET
by MILCK with the GW Sirens and Capital Blend

Put on your face
Know your place
Shut up and smile
Don’t spread your legs
I could do that

But no one knows me no one ever will
If I don’t say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let the-em hear what I have to say

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone
Anymore

Cuz no one knows me no one ever will
If I don’t say something, take that dry blue pill
They may see that monster, they may run away
But I have to do this, do it anyway
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh I can’t keep quiet

Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
Must be someone who’ll understand
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now

I can’t keep quiet



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Friday, January 27, 2017

Oh Keto, why can't I quit you? (Oh wait, yes I can! BYE!)

I have a very, very, very exciting announcement. Please read the next sentence in a voice of operatic enthusiasm.

I quit keto! Eating bread is just so good.

I quit keeeetooooooooooooo!

Yes, that's right. I am a quitter. A QUITTER! And I couldn't be happier. I have actually been in a super good mood all week, and I attribute that to carbs.

Why did I quit with only one week to go in my month-long commitment?

Mostly because I hated it so so so much. Now, this is not entirely keto's fault. I am a vegetarian who is out from 9am-9pm at least 3 days a week, if not more, so I was set up for failure. Bringing enough keto-friendly food with me to last the entire day was not feasible, and there is precious little in the way of on-the-go keto food that is a) easy to find, b) quick to eat, and c) vegetarian. I simply was not eating enough.

Literally, when I'd go from work to dance class or a show, I wound up generally chowing down a cheese stick and then having a tea where half the cup was full of heavy cream so that I felt full. Then I'd get home and have a spoonful of peanut butter to cap off the day.

Not. Enough. Food.

Plus, I was getting really really really sick of the food I was eating, which is actually weird for me. I don't really get sick of food. I have eaten peanut butter nearly every single day for my entire life (which is why I am terrified that I will one day have a child who is allergic to peanuts - what a terrible choice this will be, between peanut butter and my child). I worked at a movie theatre for two years and never got sick of popcorn. I DON'T GET SICK OF THINGS.

Yet I would stare at my keto salad, full of things that I think are truly delicious, and just feel zero desire to eat it. I wasn't even excited to eat cheese. CHEESE!!!!!

Plus, I lost ten pounds. On one hand, great! I had put on about ten pounds in the past year through eating crap all the time. On the other hand, ten pounds in three weeks because you are miserable and not really eating? I don't know, it just didn't seem good. Or sustainable.

Now, I don't want to knock keto completely. For some people it's great. For my boyfriend's sister's husband (is there a better way to say that? Brother-in-dating? That sounds weird), it's really helpful. He has trouble identifying when he's full and stopping eating, and so a diet that reduces his desire to eat (while letting him chow down on bacon and other delicious things) is perfect. Great! It's obviously also great for people who are diabetic or (apparently) suffer from epilepsy or tumours. Great! Keto on!

Not me, guys. Not me.


(If you're curious, I still intend to eat relatively-keto for my breakfast and lunch - I won't count anything, but I'll stick to low carb, high fat foods. Since my boyfriend is still on the keto wagon, when we eat dinner together that will also be keto. I am also restricting my junk food intake, because that was truly out of control. But I now have freedom to eat so many other foods when I'm out and about, and I am SO EXCITED for sandwiches and poutine and popcorn and FRUIT.)


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Learning! Roundup: Smart octopi, vampire bats, no more fillings, alchemy, and more!

Learning! Roundup: the intelligence of an octopus, bats drink human blood, alzheimer meds fix teeth, metallic hydrogen, and more

The Intelligence of an Octopus

Aside from the indisputable fact that they grow into giants and take down pirate ships, what do we know about octopi? Turns out they are super smart, but because the most recent common ancestor they share with humans is somewhere around the first dinosaurs, their cognition has emerged in a very different way than ours. "They are probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien." COOL!

Vampire Bats

Bats are now feasting on human blood. Just so you know.

End of Fillings

Dentist visits might start getting a little more pleasant, since scientists have realized that Alzheimer's medication helps teeth regrow. Turns out, teeth only stop growing because we produce an enzyme (GSK-3) that prevents dentine from forming as we get older. Soaking a sponge in Tideglusib (an Alzheimer's medication) and putting in the cavity of a tooth that is decaying suppresses that enzyme and then the tooth starts to heal itself!

Hold Off on the Pot

As Canada (and many other countries) start to play around with legalizing marijuana, more research is emerging over its effects. One new study shows that holding off on trying it out until you're 17 is a good idea. Those who start smoking pot at 14 were less likely to finish school and more likely to score poorly on cognitive exams, compared to those who started at 17 and showed no difference from non-smoking peers.

Alchemy!

Harvard scientists have turned hydrogen into metal. To a layperson like myself, this falls under the "cool" category. Apparently, to people who understand the implications of things, this falls under the "revolution" category: "metallic hydrogen could theoretically revolutionise technology, enabling the creation of super-fast computers, high-speed levitating trains and ultra-efficient vehicles and dramatically improving almost anything involving electricity."

Wow. Okay, then. More than cool. (Although some physicists are already saying, "it's probably not metallic hydrogen. Calm yourselves.")


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Thursday, January 26, 2017

After the March


Last weekend was so beautiful, wasn't it? We marched, we stood, we shouted, and we revelled in the unity of men and women around the world who believe that women's rights matter.

Then, one might say everything got trampled over with a handful of executive orders that I'm not even going to link to because it makes me too sad.

So the question we must all be asking is "what's next?"

LISTEN UP!

First thing, for anyone who looks like me, let's remember our role as white allies and fighters. Let's not forget the history of racism as it intersects with feminism nor sit back and let things continue now that we've "said our piece."

If someone is talking to you about something they are afraid about, or a problematic thing that's happening in our protest culture, hear them out.

Reasons:




Look up some photos from the Women's March and compare those to what happened during the race-related protests last summer. The difference is riot gear vs. selfies in pussy hats. We were treated differently.

If you ask me, the absolute best thing Jesus ever said was to love our neighbour as ourselves. So even if something isn't impacting you, listen to your neighbours, whether they are your neighbours to the South, your neighbours with a different skin colour, your neighbours with a different religion, or whatever. Listen and love! (And remember, as DC Talk said, "love is a verb", so then you do something.)

LEARN AND READ!

Check out this graphic essay on the lessons the Civil Rights Movement can teach us now. It's so so so good. Read the whole thing. My main takeaways: be brave (put yourself on the line), be specific (don't protest TRUMP, protest specific policies and practices that make a difference), be prepared (learn and train in protest history, philosophy, and tactics), be faithful (both in not giving up and in being backed by a faith/philosophy bigger than yourself), retain joy and dignity, don't worry about agreeing on everything.

Read historical protesters like bell hooks and Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Read new writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Helene Cixous. Read from perspectives that aren't your own.

If you have a question about something going on in the protest, read about it. Google is your friend. Read from the perspective of those affected by the issue.

GET TRAINING!

There is all sorts of training that might be valuable to the coming years. Get your First Aid certification (hey, we should all do this anyway). Mental Health First Aid - that's a thing, at least in Canada. Update yourself on emergency and non-emergency lines in your area and who to contact if you need help (this might include your local women's shelters, your city's non-emergency report line, a nurse's hotline, etc.)

Train in bystander intervention, protest techniques, or how to recognize when someone is manipulating you.

Learn about media literacy. Even if you consider yourself a wizened skeptic. Read this letter from a journalist in Russia to get an idea of what to expect in American press.

DON'T FORGET YOUR VALUES!

This is the best tip I've seen, posted in this excellent article by The Span of My Hips: write things down.

Write down what things you would never do, to remind yourself never to do them when the time arises. Write down things that aren't normal or aren't okay in society to check against when news stories come up. Keep a running note tracking hate crimes.

Our sense of what is normal is very vulnerable to circumstances - a psychological reality that abusers and dictators are very good at taking advantage of. RIGHT NOW, take a look at the world and think about a few categories (health, safety, privacy, education, equal rights) and write down what you think is normal and acceptable standards in these areas. This list may come in handy when you start to slip into thinking that something is okay.


CONTINUE TO STAND UP!

It felt good to march on Saturday. It felt good to be united and to know I was putting myself out there. Guess what? There is more marching to do. Here in Vancouver, there is a march coming up for DTES Women, who have historically been hunted, killed, and abused with nary a word.

What are the issues in your city? Stand with those.

Write letters, or better yet, call your representatives on the phone. I know, I know. We hate using our phones and talking to an actual stranger about something we believe in is SCARY. Well, too bad. Losing our rights and giving in to a dictator is scarier. I have heard from several people who worked in MP offices that emails and letters are easily ignored, not phone calls.

If you have money, donate it! Go big and donate to Planned Parenthood (looks like they're going to need it), or find a local organization that is fighting the good fight.

NEVER, EVER STOP!

Okay, here's where it gets overwhelming. If I think about everything that needs help - well, it's impossible! There are causes related to Indigenous rights, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, science, the environment, animal rights, torture, babies, plus all the intersections between all these things.

How am I supposed to do this? This is too much!

First of all, let's breathe.

Second, you're right. It's too much. Yet, change doesn't come if people march once and then go back to bingeing on Netflix.

In my opinion, we have to pick our causes AND remain flexible and open to all. Pick something to pour most of your protest-related attention and resources into, just don't let that shut you down to caring about other causes. You want to pour your attention into protecting women's reproductive rights? Great! Sometimes that means showing that women who care about reproductive rights also care about Black Lives or Indigenous Rights. Or at the very least, listening and supporting your sisters and brothers who are fighting their fight as you fight your own.

I suggest a two-pronged approach to picking your causes: what are you most passionate about? Where is help most needed? Now reverse the importance of those two questions. Start where the need is.

REMEMBER THE REST OF THE WORLD EXISTS!

While it is completely understandable that the "Western" world is getting fired up and marching for women's rights after the Trump election. It hits really really close to home when this stuff starts happening in America. Don't forget, though, that atrocities worse than this are happening all over the world.

You know all those comparisons between Trump and Putin? That's because THIS STUFF HAS BEEN GOING ON THERE FOR A LONG TIME. Remember when a school full of little girls were kidnapped in Nigeria? Remember how female genital mutilation is still a thing in a LOT of places? Remember Malala?

If you've got money, donate to causes that help women across the world, not just in America. If you don't have money, make sure to let your representatives know that you care about women around the world, not just in your backyard.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

Last night my friend and I were talking about how sometimes you have to choose between being informed and being sane. Turn off Facebook for a while. Spend time in nature. Take a bath. Do something that makes you feel good. Treat yo self.

The causes will literally never stop, but that doesn't mean you have to let them constantly wear you down. Find the things that allow you to rest your heart, mind, and soul, and do them.

Start by doing them for five minutes a day (like my five minute art-making therapy), if you don't feel like you have time for more. That's still five minutes of rest you wouldn't have otherwise had.



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Me & Ryan Gosling that time we tried to start a family dance troupe

People have gone crazy for those videos of Ryan Gosling back when he was a dance student in shiny silver pants, but that wasn't his first foray into joining a dance team. Way back in the day, we teamed up with my siblings and cousins to form a family dance troupe! We were gonna be STARS - but then the rest of us decided that was way too much work and left it to Ryan, who carried the torch like a champ.

Did you know that Ryan Gosling and I tried to form a dance group with my siblings and cousins in the 90s? Didn't quite work out.



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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

You say "Let's Talk" about depression and mental health? Cool, then let's get into it. #BellLetsTalk

It's Bell #LetsTalk day. Let's talk about how honest friendship is one of the keys to surviving depression.

Today is Bell's "Let's Talk" day, where people are supposed to talk about mental illness and remove stigma and promote Bell Mobility and how great is that?

Of course, all that really happens today is that my twitter feed gets filled with people saying things like, "It's okay to talk about mental illness", "Let's remove stigma around mental illness", and "If you need help, I am here for you."

What the heck does that even mean?

I'm not going to get too critical of these symbolic awareness days because while none of them necessarily "change" anything, they are helpful to some people. From Pink Shirt Day to this, spending a day publicly declaring support and allyship is not a bad thing.

However, as someone who "suffers from mental illness" (I guess? I mean, I'm on antidepressants and have struggled with depression my whole life, but I don't know if I would say I "suffer" or even that I identify with the "mental illness" tag, but then maybe that's part of the problem), I'll tell you that seeing people talk on Twitter about how accepting they are of mental illness did not make me feel better about bringing up my depression.

What DID make me feel okay about dealing with my depression openly?

Having people who a) know and love me, b) who are honest about their own emotional lives, and c) who don't freak out when words like "depression" come up.

a) Sure, I'm a writer-type who is weirdly honest with strangers on the internet, but ultimately the thing that makes it feel "okay" is to have people know me for who I actually am and still care about me.

b) If you want to live in a world where people can be honest about what they're going through, be honest about what you're going through. I don't know if it's because most of my friends are either artists, spiritual types, or both, but I am blessed with a community who is into self-reflection and shares very honestly about where they're at in life. Openness breeds openness.

c) Freaking out looks like you needing to get to the bottom of my depression, solve it, see me cry, be convinced it's 'really that bad', be only able to talk about this from now on, pretend it doesn't exist, or being afraid to touch the topic because now you think I'm a delicate snowflake that will poof into tears. Not freaking out looks like talking to me like a normal person, about this and other things.

This is how you remove stigma.

If you ask me, the first and most important thing everyone should be doing to remove the stigma of mental illness is to start being more honest about our own lives. Nobody is going to feel comfortable sharing their dark underbelly if you are pretending yours is not only scrubbed clean but made out of some super dirt-repelling magical skin of purity.

Foster a community that is honest about life by being open about your own. It will only be okay for people to discuss their depression, schizophrenia, or everyday struggles (problems don't need to be diagnosable to be valid) if they see it happening around them.

Pick the people you know, love, and trust, and share where you're at, what help you need, how you're dealing (or not). It doesn't matter if your problems are huge or small, you'll all benefit from friendship that is closer and more intentional, as well as the knowledge that the people who love you actually love YOU, not just your happy, fun persona.

The more you practice open and honest conversations, the more comfortable you'll all be and the less likely the "freaking out" will be. Don't stress about "getting it right" if your friend starts talking about their mental illness. Listen. Ask questions if you don't understand. Remember that they are still the same person.



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Inspiration! Roundup: Obvious happiness, 7 billion days, Celine Dion, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
Can I dress EXACTLY like this (but in my adult self), sit down with this girl
and have an ice cream bar? While protesting for women's rights? This is the dream.

12 Very Obvious Facts That Will Make You Happy

They say it's the little things in life, and sometimes we need reminders of what those "little things" are. Here's a list to help you do that.

Something Different

It's easy to get caught up in what is happening in our lives. Thank you to PostSecret for the reminder that something different is happening in someone else's life. In fact, there are 7 billion "something differents" happening right now.


As if I Could Love Celine Dion More...

...she goes and turns down the invitation to sing at Trump's inauguration. (So did a bunch of other singers, too.) It's always heartening to see people standing up for their beliefs, especially when their beliefs happen to match your beliefs.

Darkness is the Canvas

Artist Hannu Hutamo creates the most stunning in-camera art using light and darkness. The most incredible part of this to me is his ability to visualize the image in the darkness, creating surprisingly intricate pictures, one flash of light at a time. How does he even keep track of it all???


How to Grow

My yoga teacher posted an excellent piece on Facebook recently, countering our tendency to constantly affirm everything. Affirmations are great, but when you're trying to improve, perhaps you need something different.

Below is an abridged version of what he posted, which is still a bit long for a blog quote, but stick with me. Read it through, even if you don't care about yoga at all. The principles apply to everything we could possibly want to succeed in: relationships, spiritual practices, career, whatever. We don't grow, improve, or succeed by only focusing on the things that we are already doing well.

Affirmation?

When diagnosing an issue with your car, a leak in your roof, or consumer debt, we don't focus on the positive. If you car stops running, you don't tell yourself the seats are comfortable anyway...

So, when trying to become more successful (which to me means competent and also well compensated for your time), in the business of yoga, it is not always the best course to affirm the things/behaviours that are not problems.
The question "Am I a good yoga teacher" is too broad to be helpful. Instead, break the general question into components.

"Good" breaks down into:

Agreeable personality, but able to encourage disciplined practice.
Conscientious - showing up on time, self-practice dedication.
Skill - verbal cueing and observation skills.

Honest self-reflection to improve areas of teaching that necessary, yet not your strong suit...

You could then place a value (1-10) to indicate your level of "goodness" within these categories. Then take the category with the lowest score and break that category down into further components. For example:

Conscientiousness:
Shows up on time - 10
Regular self-practice - 8
Reading/study - 4
Listens well and responds to critique - 8

These are just examples, and there are more sub-categories you could think up and score - or better yet ask someone who knows you to tell you.

Then take your lowest score (Reading/study as an example here) and ask yourself if you are not high in that category because you don't have time, it doesn't interest you, you think you already know what you need to know, and so on. Then determine if you really want to change that - when you think about it, do you get energized or depleted? - that's usually a good indicator...

This is what you can do on your own to maximize your potential.

-Daniel Clement (full text here)
I'm going to start applying this principle of reflection to other areas of my life! I am excited!

Shut it Down

I didn't even know this was a thing, but apparently, people like to go to Holocaust memorial sites and take fun-loving, silly pictures of themselves. Artist and writer Shahak Shapira was up on this insanity and thought of a brilliant way to shut it down: she has photoshopped them with the historical images from the Holocaust in that spot to help show how offensive and horrible it is. Some of the images are pretty brutal, but really worth looking at.

9 Good Things That Happened Last Week

Just because it's good to remember some good things, like the fact that some people knit sweaters for elephants to keep warm.


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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#AlternativeFacts: Jump on in!

I am pretty stoked about this whole #alternativefacts thing. We all now have a method, sanctioned by the US President himself, to morph reality into any shape we want!

What are we waiting for? Let's stop worrying about what is actually happening in the world - saying the world is how we want it to be is obviously much much better.

(Don't know what I'm talking about with this alternative facts thing? Here you go. HINT: It's about Donald Trump.)

A photo posted by Tim O'Brien (@obrienillustration) on


As far as I can tell, all it takes is a willingness to state your heart's desires as facts and then defend them without acknowledging any actual arguments against you. That's it. You don't even have to provide a logical defence. Just say things like, "well, that's your opinion", "that's fake", "you have no sources to back you up" (note: it's very important that it doesn't matter how many sources they actually have), or a simple, "WRONG."

Then BLAMMO! The world is yours!

I mean, we're practically there with all the super-filtered photos and "insta"gram shots that took 30 minutes to stage, anyways. #Alternativefacts are a dump truck that just happens to be driving by the building at the same time as we fall off the roof because we were trying to take a selfie where it looked like we were flying.

Don't worry, it will carry us away and there will be no injuries, because in #alternativefact-land, there are no repercussions!

SOME TIPS:

Grab photos from anywhere. Absolutely anywhere. Use them to make it look like you're on a sweet vacation or dating a rock star. Who cares if they show up on the first page of Google Image searches and are obviously not yours? Not you! Google was hacked by Russia.

Start small to practice your #alternativefact skills. How was your morning today? Great! You woke up, with no need for an alarm, feeling perfectly rested and spent a bit of time in grateful contemplation of the gift of life before getting up for some yoga and then quickly paint a picture of the mountains out your window, because they are just so inspiring in the morning light. Then you took a quick call from Steven Spielberg and turned down replacing Tom Cruise in the Matrix reboot because you're focusing on your relationship with your model/scholar partner right now. See how quickly that ballooned to insane proportions of wrongness?

Once your comfortable embellishing your everyday life, go big. Win a Nobel Prize, invent post-it notes, direct a movie, have a net worth of 50 trillion dollars. The bank doesn't know what it's talking about, if you feel like 50 trillion dollars, you ARE 50 trillion dollars.

Don't stop with just yourself! The world is your oyster! Maybe the world IS an oyster? No, that would be cramped and smelly. But maybe the nation of Peru sprouted wings and flew into space. Maybe unicorns are stampeding through Calgary. Maybe Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds is coming true. Maybe global warming is reversing. Maybe women can just decide not to get pregnant. Maybe women are actually treated like equals and maybe racism finally disappears and colonialism is joyously dismantled by all and we live in perfect harmony and everyone has a kitten and clean drinking water.

Never, EVER let yourself see the contrast between your #alternativefacts world and reality. I just got reallllly bummed out because I dreamed too big while still letting my brain stay connected to the real world.

Sigh.

Image Source: xkcd



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Monday, January 23, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Piglet jump, tiny things, and a dog who thinks he's people

Gertie loves playing games, even when she gets a little sleepy sometimes.

Cute! Roundup for the week includes a game-playing cat, jumping piglets, tiny tiny bunnies and turtles, and a doggy dog.

Other Cuteness:

It's the piglet leg jump!

Can you even SEE the bunny in this picture? It's so tiny!

More tiny things: little bitty turtles. They are so BITTY!

This dog is serious about his banking business.


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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Singalong! Bonus: Bad Reputation by Joan Jett

I can't help myself. Today is the day for us to sing along with at least TWO badass (nasty?) women.


BAD REPUTATION
by Joan Jett

I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation
You're living in the past it's a new generation
A girl can do what she wants to do and that's
What I'm gonna do
An' I don't give a damn ' bout my bad reputation

Oh no not me
An' I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation
Never said I wanted to improve my station
An' I'm only doin' good
When I'm havin' fun
An' I don't have to please no one
An' I don't give a damn
'Bout my bad reputation

Oh no, not me
Oh no, not me

I don't give a damn
'Bout my reputation
I've never been afraid of any deviation
An' I don't really care
If ya think I'm strange
I ain't gonna change
An' I'm never gonna care
'Bout my bad reputation

Oh no, not me
Oh no, not me

Pedal boys!
An' I don't give a damn
'Bout my reputation
The world's in trouble
There's no communication
An' everyone can say
What they want to say
It never gets better anyway
So why should I care
'Bout a bad reputation anyway
Oh no, not me
Oh no, not me

I don't give a damn 'bout my bad reputation
You're living in the past
It's a new generation
An' I only feel good
When I got no pain
An' that's how I'm gonna stay
An' I don't give a damn
'Bout my bad reputation

Oh no, not me
Oh no, not
Not me, not me

Photo Source: Joe Mabel



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Singalong! None of Your Business by Salt-n-Pepa

Today is the day! Everyone who thinks that women's rights/human rights matter and has a penchant for shouting in public is marching the streets in protest of Trump's sexist, racist, and trans and homophobic stances. I am starting to get into the mood with a little Salt-n-Pepa, None of Your Business.


NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS
by Salt-n-Pepa

What's the matter with your life?
Why you gotta mess with mine?
Don't keep sweatin' what I do
Cause I'm gonna be just fine - check it out

[CHORUS]
If I wanna take a guy home with me tonight
It's none of your business
And she wanna be a freak and sell it on the weekend
It's none of your business
Now you shouldn't even get into who I'm givin' skins to
It's none of your business
So don't try to change my mind, I'll tell you one more time
It's none of your business

Now who do you think you are
Puttin' your cheap two cents in?
Don't you got nothin' to do
Than worry 'bout my friends? Check it...

I can't do nothin', girl, without somebody buggin'
I used to think that it was me, but now I see it wasn't
They told me to change, they called me names, and so I popped one
Opinion's are like assholes and everybody's got one
I never put my nose where I'm not supposed to
Believe me, if he's something that I want, I'm steppin' closer
I'm not one for playing high-pole
Like the high soditty 90210 type of the ho
I treat a man like he treats me
The difference between a hooker and a ho ain't nothin' but a fee
So hold your tongue tightly, wish you could be like me
You're poppin' all that mess only to stress and to spite me
Now you can get with that or you can get with this
But I don't give a shit cause really it's none of your business

(1993, S and P, packin' and mackin'
Bamboozlin' and smackin' suckers with this track
Throw the beat back in!)

[CHORUS]

How many rules am I to break before you understand
That your double-standards don't mean shit to me?
I know exactly what you say when I turn and walk away
But that's OK cause I don't let it get it to me
Now every move I make somebody's clockin'
Don't ask me nothin', will you just leave me alone?
Never mind who's the guy that I took home...to bone

OK, Miss Thing never givin' up skins
If you don't like him or his friends what about that Benz?
Your Pep-Pep's got an ill rep
With all that macaroni trap for rap you better step
Or better yet get your head checked
Cause I refuse to be played like a penny cent trick deck of cards
No, I ain't hard like the bitches on a boulevard
My face ain't scarred, and I don't dance in bars
You can call me a tramp if you want to
But I remember the punk who just humped and dumped you
Or you can front if you have to
But everybody gets horny just like you
So, yo, so, yo, ho - check it, double deck it on a record butt-naked
Pep's ass gets respect, and this butt is none of your business

[CHORUS]

So the moral of this story is: Who are you to judge?
There's only one true judge, and that's God
So chill, and let my Father do His job

Cause Salt and Pepa's got it swingin' again
Cause Salt and Pepa's got it swingin' again
Cause Salt and Pepa's got it swingin' again
Cause Salt and Pepa's got it swingin' again...



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Friday, January 20, 2017

Getting Ready for the Women's March

Tomorrow's the big day! For any who are still unaware, today is the day Trump officially becomes President of the United States, and so tomorrow, all over the world, people are marching in solidarity with women's rights and against his policies of hatred, fear, and bigotry.

Why march if we're not even American, you ask? I am marching because I want to express solidarity with my American neighbours who are afraid of what the Trump administration will do to their lives, and because I was raised to speak up for what I believe.

No, I don't expect this to "change" anything. Honestly, I have protested tons of things and it's never resulted in a practical, visible difference (maybe once - shout out to all my Abbotsford peeps, fighting SE2!), but I stood in solidarity with what I believe to be right, and that matters.

Like Neville Longbottom said in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
"It helps when people stand up to [the facists/dictators/torturers], it gives everyone hope."*
(As an aside, if you're looking for some reading that directly reflects what's happening politically right now, try Harry Potter on for size. Yikes.)

So I am excited! And it's time to get ready by nailing down what signs I'll be carrying.

Yesterday, I started doing some research and brainstorming what I might want to put on my sign. I'm a bit torn between a direct political message and literally just saying how I feel about things. Here's what I've come up with so far:


Then there are all the cool art signs available on the internet. There are a ton of resources:

Available at Dome Collective.
There are great text-based printable posters from Dome Collective (above), or Pop Sugar (sorry for the slideshow).

Available at Join the Uproar

Or there are several collections of stunning graphic art posters like Join the Uproar, Refinery 29She Knows, and Julie Van Grol's awesome Babe Posters.

Still want to make your own? You could make Lady Liberty torches like these women, or take some inspiration from these past protest signs.

*I spent about 30 minutes trying to find that quote. I thought it was a longer speech, but it's just two sentences. I don't care. WORTH IT. (If you want it, it's on page 462 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rain Coast Books 2007 edition.)



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Learning! Roundup: #KnowYourLemons, how to survive a plane crash, the history of goth, and more!

Learning! Roundup: what breast cancer really looks like, how to survive a plane crash, personality changes, the history of goth, healing wounds with fat, and more
Photo Source: Know Your Lemons

Know Your Lemons

An image has been traveling through my social media lately and it deserves a LOT of attention. It's an egg carton full of lemons that can help you understand what breast cancer looks and feels like. Check out #KnowYourLemons to learn more.

How to Survive a Plane Crash

You know that thing we all try to put out of our minds when we board a plane? The possibility that it will crash into the ground and we'll all die and it will literally just happen because the co-pilot didn't feel comfortable telling the pilot they missed an item on the checklist?

Well, flight attendants are once again to the rescue with some tips on how to survive a plane crash. The Cole's Notes? Brace position, protect yourself from falling luggage, and then once the plane is down, leave your stuff behind (seriously) and don't wait for someone to tell you it's okay to move.

Personality Changes

One of the things I learned in psychology class was that personality is a fixed thing: we are who we are and that doesn't change. That's why there is a distinction between personality disorders (won't change but can be managed) and emotional disorders (can change). New research, however, says NOPE! Not true! Apparently counselling and some medications can actually change a person's personality, for the better.

Snake on a Plane???!??!

In far less-pleasant airplane news (well, perhaps more pleasant than your airplane crashing, but less pleasant than surviving?): I really need some other people to know and be horrified by this: a flight from Oman to Dubai had to be cancelled because staff found a SNAKE ON THE PLANE. Snakes on a Plane is one of my favourite movies (for obvious reasons), but IRL? NO, THANK YOU. No snakes on planes for me. Ugh. Shudder. No. Please. Ew.

No More Sexy Scars

Doctors have figured out how to use fat cells to help wounds heal without forming scar tissue. Neat!

How to Beat Chub Rub

Chub rub: it's an issue many women face where their thighs rub together and get all hot and chafe and it's horrible. Finally, someone has tested the solutions!


Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves

One lady shark has done what has been joked about for years: learned how to reproduce on her own, after years without the presence of a man. This is the third known instance of a vertebrate female that had experienced life with a male partner who later went on to reproduce asexually.

A Brief History of Goth

I love learning about counterculture movements and how they emerged, grew, and transformed until becoming a sad commercialized version of itself, finally, becoming so ubiquitous it is invisibly everywhere.


Thanks to Pitchfork Magazine for putting this one together.


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

This Week in Church: Grenzbegrifflich, Knowing Yourself, and Eye Contact

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.


This week in church we talked about grenzbegrifflich.

Grenzbegrifflich is a German word for something that is very real, but that defies description. Things that are grenzbegrifflich include that amazing concert/dance show/theatre piece you saw, the experience of love (or hatred for that matter), or spiritual matters.

Thinking about it, I wonder if most people who pursue spiritual growth do so because of some experience of grenzbegrifflich. They (we?) have a feeling or a tangible experience of something greater that cannot be adequately described but is undeniable: there is something more.

This week in church we talked about knowing yourself.

Specifically, we talked about how when you get to know yourself, your true self, you get to know God. It's the same philosophy that exists in yoga and a lot of other practices, so I like it already. It also times up perfectly with my 2017 project of figuring myself out. For someone who loves introspection, I have no idea what my priorities are in life right now, and that's a problem.

This week in church we talked about fixing your eyes on Jesus.

I've always hated it when pastors and church people talk about "fixing your eyes on Jesus". What the heck does that mean???? He isn't even on our current plain of existence, if he truly "exists" at all!!! At the very least, he is totally incorporeal and invisible. How do you "fix your eyes" on that? UGH! (Yes, I know, "read your Bible, Andrea." It's not the same and you know it.)

What we talked about was how you can fall in and out of love with anyone (God, a friend, a partner, family) depending on where you place your attention. The more "affectionate activities" you have with someone, and the more you pay attention to those moments, the bigger they grow. The more you focus on the hurts and negative things, the bigger those things grow.

So, you know, pay attention to the good things, I guess? I'm still not sure how to functionally apply this to God, but it's a good reminder for my other relationships.

This week in church I learned that nothing makes you appreciate Communion more than being on a no-carb diet.

That bread was extra blessed, you know what I mean?


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Baltering, femininity, silent protests, and more!

This week's "I want to go to there":
Writing, anywhere really. On a hill, sure that seems nice.

More Baltering!

To balter is to dance gracelessly, without particular art or skill, but perhaps with some enjoyment.

Come on folks, get your balter on!

Femininity

A photo posted by Alison A. Malee (@alison.malee) on

Fake Library Patrons

At many libraries, books are only kept in circulation if they are being taken out. If they are ignored for too long, then they are taken off the shelf and re-purchased if and when they are requested.

A couple of librarians didn't want to see the classics removed from their shelves due to low interest, so they created a fake patron who checked out 2,361 books in a year!

Okay, I realize that these librarians broke rules and ultimately what they did isn't particularly admirable, but I am also totally inspired by their guts and creative thinking and maybe it IS admirable!

Silent Protest

I am about to attend my city's version of the Women's March on Washington, because even though I don't even live in America, I feel like I need to be a part of the rebellion. As I prepare for protest, I am inspired by these silent protests in Turkey.

Pretty Big Movement

The dance world still seems to be reserved for young skinny people, which is entirely ridiculous. It is a skill that anyone can learn and love. Need proof? Check out Pretty Big Movement, a dance company for full-figured women, and they ROCK!

A video posted by Get Into The Movement (@prettybigmovement) on


Palestinian Refugee Stories as Comics 

I can't give enough love to comic artist Leila Abdelrazaq and her work documenting the lives of Palestinian refugees. I want these books!


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Living in La La Land

Last night I saw La La Land! It's a lovely, sweet movie and I have some thoughts to share. As per usual, I am not holding back on the spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT! Don't read on if you don't want to know what happens.


LA LA LAND: THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS

The opening number was so great, it did what all great musicals do and made me want to dance my way through life and car jams. I nearly burst into applause at the end of it. (Of course, that might just be my conditioning from seeing live musicals where you are supposed to applaud at the end of songs.)

From that first number on, I passed much time marvelling at the fun, playful, and just freaking magnificent choreography. I wondered who did it, and then dismissed the question assuming I would have no idea who the person was.

MANDY MOORE did the choreography guys! Mandy Moore! Respect points for Mandy Moore just went up a million!

The main song ('Mia & Sebastian's Theme') is one of the most beautiful pieces of music.

Of course, now I can't listen to it without seeing the tragic and perfect movie of what their life together would have been if they could get do it over and get rid of their mistakes. Oh man, the heartbreak. The 'what could have been'. But it isn't, and their lives are still good and that's good and also the worst thing ever.

Okay, okay, let's listen to it and feel the sadness of beauty together.


It was not the movie I expected. I expected a sort of Baz Lurman-style romance. A Moulin Rouge with less glitz and a happier ending. Instead I got a fascinating blend of reality, fantasy, and the suckiness of trying to live your dreams. (Which is truly sucky, ask anyone who's actually working at it.)

Of course, if it were anything like reality, Mia would have never achieved her dreams. She would have gone to her parents' house, figured out something else she was good at doing, gone back to school, and done that. This is the course of reality for most people pursuing an artistic dream.

But that's okay, I guess. This is a movie. Movies are always about the people whose dreams come true. Maybe we need to make movies about people who realize there is more to life than a dream?

Of course, they both learned there was more to life than the dream of their perfect life together.

The mixture of old timey glamour and modern-day, dirty LA was kind of amazing.

From the moment Mia agreed to perform her play in that theatre, I knew that she made a mistake. There were way too many seats in that theatre for a one woman show playing one night only by an unknown actress. Start small! Start intimate! Be close to your audience!

For this reason, and the fact that apparently her only publicity was sending a mass email to her friends and (I presume) casting directors, I think the turnout at her play was actually very good.

Did anyone else notice that, while the background performers were very diverse and likely represented the reality of LA's demographics, the only people who got to talk (except John Legend and the casting lady) were white? Sigh.

I could be wrong on that, as some actors were ambiguous looking. It's just sad that we're still in a world where people of colour make great, well, background colour, but don't get to be the subjects of stories we want to watch. (I know, I know, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were basically made to play these roles together and there are other movies in theatres now that contradict this statement, whatever, I'm just pointing out a symptom of an overall problem as represented here, okay?)


I literally just figured out that the "La La" in "La La Land" not only refers to living in la la land, but also the fact that they are in Los Angeles. LA! Get it? La la/LA? Oh man. The layers.

The John Legend character was supposed to be kind of a jerk, I think, but I think he was right. About jazz and progress, anyways.

Another problem I had with the movie: Mia is supposed to be a struggling actress, working in a coffee shop, and yet she drives a PRIUS and her dresses ALL come from The Land of Perfect Dresses. This is just not realistic. Maybe maybe maybe her parents bought her the Prius. But a true struggling actress would have a few pretty dresses to rotate through for special occasions. Especially one who wasn't even serving in a bar and getting sweet tips.

Also, did you notice how she was so pure and nostalgic that she wrote out the first draft of her play BY HAND? There was even one quick shot where you saw that she had an old film SLR camera. Good thing they were both obsessed with doing things the "old way" and aren't tainted by horrible technologies of convenience.

The blend of magical fantasy and reality worked in a way I didn't expect. They flew, for goodness' sake! Flew! That should have been atrocious, but it was just like a dream.


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Monday, January 16, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Tiny puppies, existential angst, and more!

Sometimes it's hard to see the point in getting out of bed, amiright?

Cute! Roundup includes adorable cats AND puppies

Other Cuteness:

A new puppy is always the perfect thing on a Monday.

Cat or eggs? It's anyone's guess.

Too much tiny adorableness! This one just might kill you!

This cat embodies the deep angst of existing.

Bulldog needs his security sock.

Who can resist a good kitty/puppy nap combo?


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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Singalong! Please Be Good To Me by Sarah Slean

Sarah Slean is my top-favourite-all-time-secret-wishful-gal-pal singer. She has one of those voices that is just kind of magical, and her songs have always punctured my heart. I love this song for its honest and naked plea of what we are all looking for in love: someone who will hold our heart and be good to us.


PLEASE BE GOOD TO ME
by Sarah Slean

I carried my heart unbuttoned
Across the lonely stage
Where all the fools and actors
Circle like birds of prey
But careful with the rose, she knows
Every word of every scene

O Please be good to me

I let the liar have me
The forger and the cheat
Love is the legal tender
They try to steal from me
But tell me how to lose, what you
Want to give away for free?

O Please be good to me

When loves light is shining elsewhere
The cold is hard to shake
But when its shining on you
The winter melts away
I don't want to know how so
I just want to feel the heat

O Please be good to me

Photo by Lunapuella

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Peanuts can prevent peanut allergies, understanding Israel-Palestine conflict, a tumour with a brain, and more!

You can inoculate your child against peanut butter allergies by FEEDING THEM PEANUT BUTTER as a baby! Do it now! I know I will. Also, let's learn about other things like tumours with brains.
Photo by PiccoloNamek

Peanuts Against Peanut Allergies

I LOVE peanut butter. I love it so much. I have eaten it almost every day: on toast, with honey, from a spoon, whatever. Thick, thick layers of peanut butter. It is my heaven (along with cheese and popcorn).

Because of this, a part of my brain is very afraid that I am going to have a baby one day who is allergic to peanuts. I just don't know what I'd do. I mean, I guess I would love my baby enough to not have peanut butter in the house, but what if it was really severe? What if its body could tell that I ate peanut butter for lunch at work and would punish me for being happy by swelling up and dying? That puts me in a very difficult position.

So I am very relieved to learn that giving babies peanut products can actually help them avoid peanut allergies.

Understanding the Israel-Palestine Conflict

If you're anything like me, you know a little about the Israel-Palestine conflict, but know that there is WAY MORE TO THE STORY than you can possibly understand. Here is a really handy, short, likely simplified but still useful to start, history of this conflict.


The Speed of Sight

Scientists have begun to understand the speed of vision, using an optical illusion that appears to rotate when it doesn't.

A Tumour With a Brain

File this under OMG: doctors removed a tumour from a teenage girl's ovary and inside the tumour they found (get your spooky voice on) braaaaaaaains! Or, to be more specific, a mass that turned out to be a cerebellum. A CEREBELLUM! Ick! Wow! Gross! Amazing! Shudder!

Bodies are weird and gross and pretty incredible.

How to Throw Shade Without Being Terrible

You know how people get upset that they "can't say anything" now that the "politically correct fascists" would like to stop stigmatizing everyone? Well, here's a handy guide for how to throw shade while remaining intersectional. No, you don't get to call people idiots anymore, and yes, you have to have a real reason to throw shade and work a teensy bit harder at it.

Isn't it worth it, though? Calling a name or insulting someone's appearance is just weak, and the whole point of throwing shade is to show how great you are, isn't it?

To Succeed, Imagine You Failed

Here's a new way to try to succeed at your goals: imagine you've failed, and the reason why. Then you can prepare for that circumstance and avoid said failure!


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's the end of the world as we know it! (And I feel fine.)

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook:


THE WORLD TODAY! WE'RE ALL TERRIBLE! COLLAPSE IS IMMINENT? EVERYBODY'S TEXTING BUT NOBODY'S TALKING!!!! The world is full of silent, brainwashed lemmings staring at their phones and only the poor, abandoned innocence of a child is able to step away and see how broken we are.

Uuuuuggggghhhhhhhh! Can we all just relax for a second and get over ourselves?

Yes. People text a lot. Yes. People take photos of things a lot and post them online and hope that they get liked and commented on. Yes. People sometimes sit across from someone and both of them are looking at their phones.

Yet you still walk into cafes full of people talking. People still hug and kiss and say I love you. People still get into big, pointless debates about things they could easily just look up online. They go for hikes, play with children, go to concerts, travel, read at the beach, stand up for each other, and have long, intimate conversations in romantic restaurants.

Sure, there are dangers to life filtered through the internet, but chill with the Orwellian disaster scenarios, shall we? I mean, I think only two or three people would walk into the manhole before the others were awakened from their stupor by the screams and thuds.


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Me and Ryan Gosling going ice skating

Here's a shot from the time Ryan and I went ice skating. This was right after Vancouver had the Olympics, and we decided it would be really fun to go check out the fancy skating oval they built. It was really just like skating around in circles, but Ry Ry got a kick out of it.




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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Creative until you die, boys in make up, Bowie's books, and more!

Inspiration! Roundup: Creative until you die, male make up models for Covergirl AND Maybelline, ancient prayer beads, Bowie's favourite books, and some stunning art
This Week's "I want to go to there":
Sitting at the end of a dock on a warm summer night.

Creative Until You Die

Forget those '20 Under 20' lists, how about nine incredible performers who are over 90 and just won't stop working? These folk are a real inspiration.

Maybe He's Born With It

The world is changing! Last fall, Covergirl made history by signing a male model, and now Maybelline has followed suit. I don't care if this is marketing, it is two incredibly mainstream companies presenting boys in make up. Do you know how normalizing that is? How powerful it will be for throwing out stupid gender roles? I don't either, but I think it will make a big difference.

16th Century Prayer Beads

Check out these incredible, intricately carved prayer beads. They are actual entire worlds inside the palm of your hand. The craftsmanship is just mind-boggling! Check out more photos on the AGO Website.



Hidden Sources of Light

I am absolutely taken by this art series by Andrew "Mackie" McIntosh, placing majestic sunsets inside of everyday, abandoned objects (like trailers).

Gorgeous artwork putting sunsets inside unusual, abandoned objects.
"Merlin" by Mackie.

These Windows are Eyes

Have you ever looked at a building and felt like its windows were eyes? So has graffiti artist Achilles.

Bowie's Books

Need some reading recommendations? Why not start chipping your way through David Bowie's 75 favourite books? You'll get reading material for years to come AND some insight into one creative genius.

As an aside, someone needs to open a bookstore and call it Bowie's Books.

If Harry Potter Was a Black Rapper

Yep.



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