Cute! Roundup: A Baby Bear With a Chill, a Raccoon and His Bubbles, Bunny Love, and More!

You know when you buy nice things for your cat and then it turns out they just want to sleep in the laundry basket? That's why we don't buy nice things for the cat anymore. Look how happy she is in the laundry basket!


OTHER CUTENESS:

Poor, chilly baby bear needs a hot chocolate to warm up!

A raccoon in a bubble bath.

Nobunny is takin this corn away.

Life truly isn't fair.


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2018 Faves: Books, Shows, Scary Things, Self-Help, Podcasts, and More!

Favourite things from 2018 including books, tv shows, self-help advice, podcasts, beauty secrets, and more


What a week it's been! I expected I would write less than usual but still get a post or two out, but NOPE. I didn't even bring my laptop with me to family Christmas celebrations, and then got home from that and went straight into work (literally). So... here we are! It's almost the new year and you know what THAT means: YEAR END LISTS!!!!

I always always always want to read other people's lists of their favourite things from the past year, and this time I realized that I could get in on that action as well! So guess what? I'm doing it! Here are my favourite things from this past year!

These are all going to be things that were somehow new to me in 2018, not necessarily new to the world or all-time faves.

BOOKS

· Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
· The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
· Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (and the subsequent books)
· American War by Omar Akkad


SCARY THING DONE

I am torn between getting my tattoo and finally deciding to publish my book. I guess probably I should say publishing my book! (The actual publishing happens in 2019, but I decided to do it in 2018! And told people! And sent it to a book printer and everything!)

SHOWS

· The Good Place (OBVI!)
· Ru Paul's Drag Race
· GLOW
· Kim's Convenience
· The new Doctor Who


SELF-HELP PRACTICE

· Biting the bullet and doing a scary thing, big or small.
· Pretending I have a best friend in my head who says the nice things I need to hear.

RELATIONSHIP ADVICE

This is good for any cohabitation relationship: whenever you get annoyed that the person you live with has left their crap out or a chore undone, just look around and see the things you have left out and undone. Then remember that we're all just trying to keep it together and clean up whatever you can.

PODCASTS

· Frontburner from the CBC
· Ologies
· Coffee With My Ma
· Lizard People


ADVICE FROM SOMEONE ELSE

"Self-care is not the same as indulging yourself."

My friend had this realization and shared it with me. I think it's brilliant. Too often these days I use self-care as an excuse to indulge in whatever I feel like doing. Want to lie around and eat chips and watch Netflix? Self-care! Want to sleep in and avoid all responsibilities? Self-care! But self-care literally means taking care of yourself, and sometimes indulging yourself is a part of that and sometimes it's not. Sometimes taking care of yourself is drinking a glass of water, eating some vegetables, going for a walk, and going to work even when you don't want to because it's good for you.

BEAUTY THING

This is not new to 2018, but I don't really do a lot of "beauty" things and I still love my homemade skin oil the best. I combine castor oil, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E oil in more or less equal parts. Then I put some kind of essential oil in there for some sweet-smelling goodness. For whatever reason, the scent always wears off (I think it sits on top of the other oils even though I shake the bottle before using) and I need to re-apply the scent pretty regularly. Or get lazy and use unscented oil. Tangerine essential oil is apparently good for your skin and so I often use that, and when the ol' acne flares up I throw some tea tree oil in there.


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Cute! Roundup, Christmas Eve Edition

It's Christmas Eve! Here's some cuteness. (None if it is particularly Christmasy, but this is also serving as notice that things will be a little quiet around here for the next week.)


OTHER CUTENESS:

It's an otter delight seeing this little guy get a treat.

I giggled at this baby polar bear, travelling by holding onto its mom's bum.

A very sweet flower-crowned cow.

This cat just needs a friend!

Going in for a hug.

This might be this cat's finest moment.


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Singalong! This Christmas by Donny Hathaway

Ever since my friend sang this song in a Christmas variety show (and I got to sing back up), this has become one of my absolute favourite Christmas songs. It needs to get into everyone's holiday playlist rotation!


THIS CHRISTMAS
by Donny Hathaway

Hang all the mistletoe
I'm gonna get to know you better
This Christmas
And as we trim the tree
How much fun it's gonna be together
This Christmas

Fireside is blazing bright
We're caroling through the night
And this Christmas, will be
A very special Christmas, for me

Presents and cards are here
My world is filled with cheer and you
This Christmas
And as I look around
Your eyes outshine the town, they do
This Christmas

Fireside is blazing bright
We're caroling through the night
And this Christmas, will be
A very special Christmas, for me, yeah

Fireside is blazing bright
We're caroling through the night
And this Christmas, will be
A very special Christmas, for me yeah

Hang all the mistletoe
I'm gonna get to know you better
This Christmas
And as we trim the tree
How much fun it's gonna be together
This Christmas

Fireside is blazing bright
We're caroling through the night
And this Christmas, will be
A very special Christmas, for me

Merry Christmas
Shake a hand, shake a hand now
Wish you brother Merry Christmas
All over the land

Don Hathaway singing This Christmas and Someday We'll All Be Free
Source: Giphy



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Learning! Roundup: Climate Change Catch Up, Competent Men, Sexy City Frogs, and More!

A roundup of research and learning from the past week, including climate change, competency in men, city frogs, uterus transplants, and exercise tips.
Photo by Alto Crew.

Climate Change Catch Up

Here is a great article summarizing where we are at in terms of climate change, and what we can all do about it (we all need to become vegan, or at least vegetarian. The highest-carbon-impact vegetable proteins are all lower than the lowest-impact animal proteins).

Competent Men

Here's one for the patriarchy: masculine faces are generally seen as more competent. Not all is lost, though. Don't forget the previous study that after about 20 minutes, women are seen as leaders, too. So it's just first impressions that screw us ladies over - not like those have an impact on anything, right?

Sexy City Frogs

When animals, like frogs, move into the city (or, more accurately, have the city move into their home), their mating calls have a lot more noise to compete with than before. Because of this, urban frogs develop more complex mating calls that are more appealing to the lady frogs. Anyone want to write the Christmas rom com about the lady frog who visits the big city and meets the gentleman frog of her dreams?

Uterus Transplant

For the first time ever, a baby was born out of a uterus that was transplanted into one woman from another, deceased woman. It took 10.5 hours to hook that new uterus up in the first place, and the baby was born early but is healthy.

Resonance Theory, or, the Hippies Were Right

New theories of consciousness basically boil down to "the hippies were right", because it's all about the vibrations. Human consciousness, animal consciousness, and even physical reality itself may boil down to the sweet vibes (or resonance theory, if you're fancy).

How to Exercise for Mood

For possibly the first time, researchers have looked into the optimal intensity and duration of exercise to best improve your mood (as opposed to health). They have found that a moderately intense workout that lasts 10-30 minutes is best for mood-boosting, and that anaerobic exercise (like yoga or thai-chi) is a more consistent joy-inducer than aerobic exercise.


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Recommended Read: Dear Men, Feminism Needs You

Read Jessica Valenti's Dear Men, Feminism Needs You
Photo by T. Chick McLure

This is a great article, especially if you are a man: Jessica Valenti (one of the finest feminist writers of our time)'s piece Dear Men, Feminism Needs You.

Her basic argument here is that feminism will not succeed until men decide that they also care about equality for women, all on their own.

"It’s too exhausting, too demeaning. It’s absurd that a woman should have to persuade someone else of her humanity (which is, remember, what feminism is actually about)."

Now, I am not at Ms. Valenti's stage of exhaustion, and so I don't mind it when the men in my life ask me to explain a particular feminist issue to them or help them see what they can be doing to help the cause. I think that, while it's unfair in general to expect the oppressed group to teach the oppressor how to stop what they are doing, it's sort of psychologically necessary for people to hear things from the source.

The part I wholeheartedly agree with her on is that women shouldn't have to keep pointing out reasons why there is a problem in the first place. Even if men aren't clicking through to the articles, they read the same headlines as we do: the teenage girl who was raped and her thong was deemed consent, the man who choked and masturbated on an Indigenous woman and was simply told "this can never happen again" by the judge, the frat president who will pay a $400 fine for his rape conviction, Brett Kavanagh winning the he said/she said "investigation" and being rewarded with a seat on the Supreme Court and getting every complaint against him dismissed (do these headlines still make you think that being accused of rape will immediately "ruin a man's life"?), the fact that only 52% of Americans feel comfortable with a female president (a narrow majority is not exactly comforting), every other thing Donald Trump says about women, and the gender pay gap, not to mention any personal accounts from the women in their lives about creeps following them around, catcalls and inappropriate comments, harassment at work, and who knows what else.

The fact that so many men can see all the news, hear the stories from their female friends, and still need convincing that there is a problem... well, the ignorance becomes willful at a certain point. And if you're choosing not to see something that's hurting people you (theoretically) care about, let alone half the human population, it's understandable that they might be exhausted of the idea of changing your mind.


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The Commonplace Book: How It's Going

I set up a commonplace book/bullet journal combo. Here is how I did it and what I like about it.
Photo by Gift Habeshaw.

A little while back I wrote about trying to keep a commonplace book, in the hopes that it might transform my life. Mostly because someone wrote on the internet that it would transform my life to keep a commonplace book, and I am very suggestible.

A commonplace book is basically a book where a person writes down interesting quotes and musings -- a place to mull over life and meaning and other such things. I likened it to an old-fashioned bullet journal.

So here is what I have done:

I set my notebook up like a bullet journal, with the first pages devoted to a symbol key, index, and future log (a place to jot down things that need to happen in the next six months that I don't want to think about now).

Entries are individually numbered, not dated (because I don't like trying to remember what date it is, which sounds ridiculous when I actually say it, but there you go), and each one gets a symbol that shows what kind of entry it is, to make it easier to find things at a glance (a little cloud, for example, is an inspiration/deep thought and a checkmark is a to-do list). I drew little margins on the pages so that I would have space to write the numbers and symbols for each entry.

The index is the place to log things I'm going to want to refer back to, I don't put everything in there. I just note the things I know I'll want to reference back to and their entry numbers. Categories with multiple entries that I want to refer back to are listed together (for example, my DnD notes all have a drawing of a 20-sided die, and the index just has that symbol and then the entry number for each DnD note.)

Then I started writing! My notebook is definitely a bullet journal/commonplace notebook mash up. Basically, it's my everything book.

How I set up my commonplace book/bullet journal to have one place for everything.
One of the only spreads in my book that is not too personal to share.

I had two goals with this project, one was to transform my catch-all notebook into a more effective resource, and the other was to create more space for creative thinking and musing.

I think that so far, the first goal has been achieved and the second has not (although I did get on a bus forgetting the book I am currently reading and think, 'that's okay, I have my notebook', knowing that I could even just write and think with it, so that is something.) Also, I realized when I was talking to a friend about it that this notebook brings me GREAT JOY, which was not a goal but is an excellent side effect.

Here are the elements that helped with the first goal of transforming my catch-all notebook into a more effective resource:

I like the numbering and the symbols. It's nice to look at a glance and know what kind of notes I have on a page spread as well as to find something in particular.

I like writing quotes down here instead of going through the hassle of trying to highlight them on my Kobo, which is not only super frustrating because Kobos are not great tools, but it's a pain to look them up later. This takes longer, but it ultimately far more pleasant and I have reviewed them more often, which is kind of the point.

I like (and have been using) the index as a place to track the things I'm going to want to come back to later.

Here's something fun with this book that might lend to the second goal: sometimes I just open up and flip through my book. I NEVER used to do that. So that's neat! Perhaps the additional space for creative thinking and musing is just a seed that has been planted but not yet sprouted.


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Inspiration! Roundup: Greta Thunberg is Amazing, No More Successful People, Super Flemish, Quantum Tangle, and more!


Greta Thunberg is Amazing

"You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children."

"You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes."


This girl knows what she is talking about and she's not afraid to say it. Let's do whatever she says.

Simon Prades

I am thoroughly taken with the artwork of Simon Prades.


We Do Not Need Successful People

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
– David W. Orr

Super Flemish

I'm not going to lie, I don't love about half of artist Sacha Goldberg's work. He seems to be into pictures where women have a nipple sticking out for no particular reason, and I am just bored of that kind of art. However, his series of images of superheroes (and villains) done up as if they were 16th century nobles is pretty interesting.


Create

"Create the things you wish existed."

I don't know who said this, but it's a good one.

Quantum Tangle

Have you fallen in love with Quantum Tangle yet? Watch this video of them singing their song Love is Love and you will fall so hard.



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It's Complicated: Finding Empowerment Through Domestic Activities

Is it complicated to find empowerment from traditionally domestic activities if you're a feminist?
Photo by Thomas William.

I recently read an article about how a young woman rediscovered sewing, and by proxy, empowerment.

On one hand, I get it: mastering sewing (or any practical, making-things skill) is super empowering on a basic level. You go from being at the mercy of what other people have made for you to being able to make whatever you want, out of nothing. Okay, not nothing, but raw materials.

If making something for yourself, just the way you want it, isn't empowerment, then what is?

On the other hand, has anyone else noticed how many women seem to be finding power through "reclaiming" traditionally feminine activities? Knitting, sewing, crocheting, cooking, and even housework are cropping up all around me as my female friends rediscover the joy and satisfaction that can come from them. Sometimes it feels like it's not a coincidence that, before feminists got too far with things, we wound up sitting at home with knitting needles in our hands and cookies in the oven all over again.

I know that it's different when it's your choice. We are, for the most part, no longer taught the domestic arts as a suite of skills needed to accomplish the vital life tasks of finding a husband and raising a family. Yet the external result of a woman who chooses domestic activities for fun looks pretty similar to the one who had it foisted on her: more time spent inside, taking care of the home and its residents, and less time spent out in the world, where the traditionally masculine activities live.

It is worth noting that I live right in the centre of this: I love making things and get great satisfaction from creating and customizing clothes and crafts. I would consider an evening spent inside, reorganizing a closet, a legitimately excellent night. This year, my partner and I are including my homemade jam, apple butter, and candles in our Christmas giving. I have brewed a vat of domestic kool-aid and I am swimming in its sense of accomplishment.

Perhaps I am just creating a conflict where there is none. If someone gets great satisfaction out of sewing, who am I to suggest they question it?

Obviously, the least feminist thing I could do is tell anyone what they should do for fun or where their sense of accomplishment or empowerment should come from. When an activity lives on such a stark gender divide, however, I can't help but notice it. After all, you don't see many men out there discovering the joys of darning their partner's socks.


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Cute! Roundup: Ducks Discover Snow, the Face of Betrayal, Reindeer Calf, and More!

I like to call this one, "you look really uncomfortable, but stay in this position so I guess you like it?"

A roundup of cute things from the past week to brighten your Monday


OTHER CUTENESS:

Some ducks walk on snow for the first time. (Spoiler: their response is "nope nope nope nope nope!"

Here's what your dog looks like when you have betrayed them and their sweet sweet cuddles.

A white reindeer calf from Norway!

Escalators are scary.

Fun fact: dogs actually really like it when you use a high-pitched voice to talk to them.


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Singalong! Leaving the City by Roisin Murphy

I only recently discovered the music of Roisin Murphy and I LOVE it! I am making it a singalong basically as an excuse to look up the lyrics. (Because apparently, I need an excuse to do that?)


LEAVING THE CITY
by Roisin Murphy

Wish I was taking you with me

No more goodbyes
No more goodbyes
Tell me to stay home

There's no place
No more goodbyes
No more goodbyes
Tell me to stay home

I'm leaving…I'm leaving

No more goodbyes
No more goodbyes
Tell me to stay home

I'm leaving…I'm leaving

There's no place
I'm leaving…I'm leaving
There's no place
No more goodbyes

No exotic country
I found my journey's end
When I found you
Don't let me go
Won't leave town
Or go around
If you say so
Won't leave you no if you say so

Can't stay always going away
Never knowing the way home
Another hour
Another day
Surely we
Will find a way somehow

We're leaving the city today
Leaving the city
Soon I will be gone
Leaving the city today
Soon I will be gone

Leaving, leaving, leaving, leaving
No more goodbyes
No more goodbyes
Tell me to stay home
I'm leaving
I'm leaving

No more goodbyes
No more goodbyes
Tell me to stay home
I'm leaving
I'm leaving

Photo by Maarten van Maanen.


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Learning! Roundup: Sad Songs, Spider Milk, ADHD, Loud Restaurants, and More!

Photo by Eric Nopanen.

Sad Songs Say So Much

As a society that generally likes to avoid feeling sad, is it weird that a lot of people enjoy listening to sad music? There are a few psychological explanations for this fact, including a sense of empathy and human connection when we are sad and the fact that sadness helps us release prolactin, a hormone that builds up when we are stressed.

Spider Milk

This may be fuel for nightmares, but did you know that some kinds of spiders produce milk? And it's more nutritious than cow's milk? Could this be a part of our future diet? (Oh I hope not.)

August and ADHD

Kids born in August are more likely to get diagnosed with ADHD, whether or not they actually have it. Sort of. Kids born in August, who are in districts where Sept. 1 is the cutoff for entering school and thus begin kindergarten with kids who are up to a year older than them, are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. At age 5 one year is a big deal in terms of socialization and maturity.

Why Restaurants Are So Dang Loud

I am really glad it's not just me noticing how loud it can get in restaurants these days. It's not the music, either, it's just the din of people. I wasn't sure if it was age turning me into a more sensitive person, but it turns out it's not my shrivelling ears, but restaurant design that's making them all into echo chambers!

Salt and the Brain

I don't like this research. Apparently, high salt intake can lead to all sorts of issues including cognitive decline. This is thanks to the relationship between our gut and our brain.

The Honeymoon is Extended

As couples age together, their tendency to bicker gives way for laughter and understanding and they have more tender feelings towards each other. That's really nice.


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This Week in Church: Having Babies

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.

I think that church can teach things that are beneficial to everyone, whether or not we believe in church-related things.

This week in church we talked about having babies.

The reason is, of course, that we are in the season of the church calendar that is all about waiting for a baby to be born. The timing is apt for me: I just witnessed my first birth ever, as a doula for a best friend. I still haven't fully processed that experience in order to write about it, but I will.

In the meantime, here is what we talked about when we talked about having babies in church:

1) There is a part of the process where you just have to let go and let labour happen to you. You aren't really participating, you are simply experiencing it.

There are other times in life that are like this.

2) During this phase, the body is doing a LOT of things to make sure that the baby can come out. There is a lot of work happening beneath the surface, unseen but significant.

There are other times in life that are like this.

3) When the body transitions from this first stage to active labour, this is the time when many women want to give up, lose focus, think they cannot do it, freak out, feel crazy, cry, and maybe even throw up. During this time, it helps to have a community of support (your doctor, partner, midwife, doula) to remind you what you are doing and why.

There are other times in life that are like this.

4) Then it's time to participate in the labour. To add your own effort to the contractions and push. Often, it is a relief to be able to start doing this; on a level, it feels good to join into the labour, even though it's super hard, because it goes from something happening to you, to something you are doing.

There are other times in life that are like this.

Now, I'm not going to get too spiritual about labour. It is a physical, primal, earthy experience that is meaningful and worth it and very difficult and unpleasant and painful. It's not a spiritual gift. However, when looked at from far away, these stages do feel like spiritual lessons, and there is something to be gleaned from that.

(Oh goodness, can you imagine if God made labour this way just for the sake of teaching women a spiritual lesson? Annnnnd as I typed that I just remembered the whole thing in Genesis about pain in labour being a punishment, which is basically teaching a lesson. Crap.)


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Focus Group: What Do You Need to Hear Most?

What is the one thing you always need to hear? To breathe? That you are beloved? To be fierce? That you are enough?
Photo by Robin Benzrihem.

I asked a few pals what the one thing is that they need to hear the most these days. What they would tattoo on their arm just for the daily reminder or what is their secret, comforting motto.

Here is what they (and I) had to say:

Keri:

I want to get a tattoo - one on each inner wrist. I think I want one to say “breathe” and the other to say “beloved”. I need to be reminded that I should be slow to anger and to not react out of my past baggage. I also need to be reminded that I am loved, by my husband, but most importantly by God. And that that is sealed and will never be taken from me.

But at this stage of life, I honestly need to hear “thank you” a ton. At normal jobs, you get accolades, raises, and employee of the month for doing a good job. Being a mom you get... nothing. Don’t get me wrong, it warms my heart when my son says I love you to me, but it is rare (though they are working on it and already are much better!) that someone says thanks for the jobs I’m doing, as mundane as they are. It may sound stupid to say “thank you much for cleaning the bathroom! It looks great in there and smells so nice.” But it means the world to a mom of two.

Alison:

Obviously “feros ferio” or “Fierce with the fierce”. The family motto I want to live by.

Me:

In general, for life, it would be the simple statement of "you are enough." My lifelong struggle is with feeling like I am somehow broken or deficient or somehow not enough. That I need to compensate and cover up. I have largely worked through this and know that those old beliefs about my insufficiency are not true, but that doesn't mean they don't like to stroll into my brain sporting a fake mustache every once in a while and see how long they can make themselves at home before I recognize them for what they are and kick them out. A weekly, daily, or perhaps hourly reminder that I am enough would certainly help.

Also, "life is long"; I don't need to accomplish it all right now.


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Inspiration! Roundup: Smells Like Pop Punk, Kindness, Getting Balloony, Year of Learning, and More!

A roundup of inspirational things, including turning Smells Like Teen Spirit into a pop punk song, colourful paintings, balloon art, and more!
This Week's "I want to go to there": somewhere with a lot of colours, a little weirdness, and a lot of abstraction.
Photo by Marcus Spiske.

Smells Like Pop Punk

Turns out pop punk is just grunge in a major chord! The remixed version of Smells Like Teen Spirit done with major chords tickled my fancy. It's familiar... but different!


Kindness

“We can be kind and successful, kind and exciting, kind and wealthy and kind and potent. Kindness is a virtue awaiting our rediscovery and our renewed, un-conflicted appreciation.”
-School of Life, Aphorisms on Kindness

Love it.

Getting Balloony

Charles PĆ©tillon's artwork involves putting a bunch of balloons in unexpected places. I love it!


Time

“To see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
— Georgia O’Keeffe

A Year of Learning

A writer and consultant named Tom Whitwell keeps track of interesting things he has learned in the past year, which is a super fascinating idea in and of itself. His list of 52 things he learned in 2018 has inspired me. (Did you know that people will think you're more clever if you use a middle initial?)

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

I love April Soetarman's work, putting little unexpected signs around the world!



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