What Does it Mean to Be a Peacemaker?

A hand holding a fluffy dandelion that is only seeds against a sunset.
Photo by Aleksandr Ledogorov.

"Peacemaking doesn't mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight, but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free."
-Shane Claiborne

The concept of peacemaking has always been a part of my life. I grew up Mennonite and the whole reason Mennonites exist is because we wanted to not fight--pacifism is one of the primary, originating tenets of the movement. Yet, beyond conversations about being a conscientious objector to war and vague directives to "go forth and be peacemakers in the world", I don't remember in-depth discussions on what pacifism really meant on the day-to-day or in the face of global injustice.

Then in grade seven, a friend of mine said that she thought pacifism sounded like a nice idea, but couldn't get behind it because it came from the same root as "passive" and thus ultimately meant that you don't do anything to protect yourself, including lock your door. I, a good little Mennonite pacifist, thought that was wrong, but had nothing really to counter it with because my pacifism had only been defined by the absence of violence.

But this? Oh, this is beautiful.

It's not even a little bit passive and it doesn't even bother toying with systems of violence. It reminds me that peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace is a state of wholeness, all on its own.

I just love it every time something comes up to remind me, whenever I am presented with an undesirable binary, to look for a third way, don't you?

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It's Spoooooky: Scary Stuff Roundup

A creepy looking house that may be haunted. It's big, white, sitting in a foggy mist, with a few lights on at night.
Photo by Jan Jakob Nanista.

I've always wanted to create a haunted house for adults that is full of the real scary stuff from everyday life.

It would include:

The spine-chilling realization that the only way to get an education is to go into buckets of debt and then knowing you are incredibly unlikely to get a job on the other side!

Owning a home and hearing skittering in the walls. Is it a GHOST??? NO! WORSE! Mice. And YOU are the adult and YOU have to deal with them.

The harrowing moment when your landlord sends a notice saying they are bringing a realtor by to look at the place. The chill in your spine tells you... you are going to have to look for somewhere new to live and rents have DOUBLED since you last moved.

A GIF of a man screaming in a horror movie.

Walking down the street, you suddenly realize that there is a smiling person approaching you. Do you know them from college? Then, it dawns on you and your blood runs cold: they are holding... a CLIPBOARD! You are not sure if they are human or robot, but you do know they are programmed to use social engineering to trap you in a conversation until you buy your freedom back with $20 a month. It's basically modern kidnapping.

Look in your fridge, if you dare -- that hummus. It's been sitting there for... a while. Is it... bad? Or maybe it's okay still? The texture of the surface has changed but is it... YOU CANNOT KNOW, but if you throw it out you are a bad and wasteful person and if you eat it your good deed may be punished!

GIF of a man peaking over a counter, looking around scared. On either side of him on the counter are skulls with lights in their eyes. It is an old, black and white horror movie.

The knowledge that your body and mind will slowly... evvvvvvver so slowwwwwly... dry up, break down, and restrict your life until your loved ones (if you even HAVE any) have to fight a giant, bureaucratic health care system to make sure you are taken care of. It's like a zombie movie and a final boss, all in one except the final boss NEVER DIES. It just watches while you do.

Remember how you used to be able to run track, fall down, twist your knee, and not feel anything and now you stub your toe and feel it for days? IT'S HAPPENING!

Climate change.

A GIF of the text "you will have nightmares forever", the text is bouncing around slowly

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Inspiration! Roundup: Kendall Jenner's Twin, A Pathetic Poem, the Full Tiananmen Square Man, and MOre!

A picture of a baby sitting in a camping chair wearing sunglasses and looking like a middle-aged man, relaxed on vacation.
This Week's "I want to go to there": Give me some of this baby's sweet vibes.
Photo by Edi Kurniawan.

Kendall Jenner's Twin

Artist Kirby Jenner photoshops himself into Kendall Jenner's photos and the result is brilliant. (Although he is obviously ripping off the idea and craftsmanship of my Me and Ryan Gosling series, I will forgive him!)


This poem (called "Poem") by Rod Padgett isn't the kind of thing I would normally call inspirational, but it made me laugh while also making me feel like my insecurities were being recognized, so that's nice.

I don't know
I may not be much
Be a mess
Personality no good
All surface no inner strength
Poetry not any good
This poem not any good
I might die an old man
Scribbler of trash
Forgotten paper-scratcher
But I'll tell you this
I really love to lay around on my ass
Totally watching television

Tiananmen Square Man

I just came across this zoomed-out version of the iconic photo of Tiananmen Square Man. It's incredible.

Broobs' Portraits

I am fully in for Instagram artist Broobs' portraits. I haven't looked through all of them, but it looks like he is highlighting queer (with a focus on trans) artists of colour, past and present. The collage-style work is very cool!

Friends with Death

This video of the making of a sculpture of a skeleton is hypnotic to watch.

Argue Kindly

“Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.”
-Haruki Murakami

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What to Look for Instead of Red Flags

A multi-coloured bunting hanging in the forrest with a red, green, orange, and yellow flag. The green flag is in focus.
Photo by Manuel Hoster.

We all know to be on the lookout for red flags in relationships, but what about the green flags? The things that make you go, yep, this person is a good idea? We don't really talk about those, do we?

That's why I got so dang excited when I saw Sharon Peykar's Instagram post about relationships that starts with the green flags: it gives a framework beyond "this feels right." Of course, something "feeling right" is absolutely worth paying attention to, it's just nice to have something to measure it against, since our desire for connection and care from others mayyyyy sometimes cloud how we read those feelings. (Or is that just me?)

(Also, if you're still worried about red flags, she lays some of those out too on the next slide - just click the little white arrow on the post!)

As with all relationships advice, this info can be used to reflect for more than just the person you're interested in dating:

What about your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers?

Romantic relationships are far from the only relationships that matter and as much as romance can feel high-stakes (many of us, after all, are trying to pick ONE PERSON with whom we are going to procreate and spend THE REST OF OUR LIVES. No pressure!), these other relationships impact our lives in a big way. We want to pick the right people to bring into our inner circles and invest in them. After all, I want my besties to be around my entire life, too, not just the person I might marry.

What about your relationship with your own dang self?

Have a look at those green and red flags for yourself. Do you support personal growth in yourself and others? Do you practice self-care, reflect, invest in longterm friendships, honour boundaries, and/or have some hobbies? Or, on the red side, do you criticize, avoid empathy, or manipulate yourself or others?

How can you create more space to cultivate some green? How can you begin to address any red that's in there?

I would start by focusing on adding green before you try to eradicate the red, though. It'll be more pleasant AND it'll crowd out the red stuff. If you can be strategic and pick a green thing that's the antithesis of any red in your life, that sounds like a brilliant place to start.

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Singalong! MMMbop by Hanson

Don'thatemedon'thatemedon'thateme! IknowIknowIknow! Everyone auto-hates this song! But the lyrics are actually kind of awesome and deserve some attention. I mean, it's an mmm-boppy song about the fleeting nature of friendship and love, what could be better?

by Hanson

Ohh ohh ohhhh
Ohh ohhhhhh
Ohhhh yeah

You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You're going through all the pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they're gone so fast
Oh yeah
And they're gone so fast, yeah-e-yeah ohhh
So hold on the ones who really care
In the end they'll be the only ones there
And when you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care-are-are
Can you tell me who will still care

Ohh ohhh
Okay yeah

Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah-e-yeah
Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah-e-yeah

Said oh yeah
In an mmm bop they're gone
Yeah heah!

Then I see you plant a flower, plant a rose
You can plant any one of those
Keep planting to find out which one grows
It's a secret no one know-hoe-hoes
It's a secret no one knows
Oh hoes, no one know-ohs

Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah-e-yeah
Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah-e-yeah

In an mmm bop they're gone
In an mmmbop they're not there
In an mmmbop they're gone
In an mmmbop they're not there-ere-ere
Until you lose your hair, Oh hoe
But you don't care

And you're sayin'

Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah-e-yeah
Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, ee-yeah

Can you tell me? Oh
No, you can't 'cause you don't know
Can you tell me? Oh yeah
You say you can but you don't know
Can you tell me ohh
(Which flower's going to grow?)
No, you can't 'cause you don't know
Can you tell me
(If it's going to be a daisy or a rose?)
You say you can but you don't knowwww
Can you tell me ohh
(Which flower's going to grow?)
No, you can't 'cause you don't know

Can you tell me?
You say you can but you don't know-wah-hoe
Say you can but you don't know

You don't know-hoe
Don't know-hoe-hoe-oh

Mmm bop
Du bop
Du bop
Du, yeah-e-yeah

Mmm bop ohh yeah
Du bop
Du bop
Du, oh ohh

Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah-e-yeah
Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, erghhh

Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, oh ohhhh
Mmm bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, ohh yeah-e-yeah

Can you tell me? Ohhhh
No, you can't 'cause you don't know
Can you tell me? Oh yeah
You say you can but you don't knowwwwww

You say you can but you don't know

Hanson Brothers - three brothers dancing back and forth GIF

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Learning! Roundup: Sleepless in Any City, Breaking Up, Happy Baby Futures, and More!

A blonde woman lying in bed, awake, looking at the camera
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz.

Sleepless in Any City

Some people are able to sleep as little as 4.5 hours and still feel fully rested. It's legit, and all thanks to a genetic mutation. I hope these people use their powers for good.

Breaking Up

This one is both surprising and pretty obvious: people think of breaking up more when they get emotional support from outside of their relationship. It's obvious because your partner should be a source of emotional support. It's a bit surprising, because a relationship where you only rely on your partner for emotional support seems unhealthy. Alas!

Happy Baby, Happy Future

This will comfort you if you have a happy baby: happier babies turn out to have higher IQs and are more likely to graduate from college.

All the Feels

The patriarchy may put men in power, but it also holds them back. Like forcing them to live an emotionally dead existence to avoid the terror of appearing feminine. Over recent years men have begun to learn that talking about their emotions is a good thing, but they still feel like they are socially punished for doing so.

All the Single Ladies (& Dudes)

It's pretty well-known that being single is better than being in a bad relationship, but now science has shown that singledom is also better than being in a relationship that's only okay.

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This Week in Church: Sharing, Rationalism, and Feeling Attacked.

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 sharing.

In the very earliest community of believers in Christ the followers would share all their stuff. Some people sold their belongings and allowed the money to be distributed among the group while others simply said, "what's mind is yours" and shared everything.

My first thought in reading this? A combination of, "this sounds like a utopia" and "but they will run out of stuff, and then what? It doesn't seem like anyone really has a job."

So that's interesting.

Regardless, it's very cool that there is an example of community that was truly invested in there being no poor among them and sharing all they had.

This week in church we talked about rationalistic belief vs. wonder.

Being rational is good and valuable and important and has helped us figure a lot of stuff out. But if it is at the expense of wonder in our lives, there is a problem.

This week in church we talked about not feeling attacked.

Sometimes, we read something in the Bible suggesting we should be living in one particular way, but we're not. (Sometimes, this happens in non-church settings as well.) Reactions often range between dismissal, justification, and/or feeling terribly guilty and acting based on guilt.

What about just seeing a beautiful example of something wonderful and leaving it at that?

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Inspiration! Roundup: Giving Back, Frozen, Tiny Bits of Joy, and More

A roundup of inspirational things, including an Albert Einstein quote about giving back, frozen, a mini forest, and more!
This Week's "I want to go to there": Gimme some not-too-scary, spooky, Halloween fun!
Photo by Colton Sturgeon.

Giving Back

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer lives are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”
– Albert Einstein

A few years ago at Thanksgiving, I came to a similar realization - that I owed pretty much everything in my life to the input from others. There is so much to be grateful, and so much to give back.


Tiny Bits of Joy

This photo made me smile so freaking big. I love it when people insert whimsy into daily life.

Julie Cockburn

I can't seem to get enough of artwork that partners old photography with crafting. Here's Julie Cockburn's take.

Flipping the Script

I love this series of photos taking sexist scripts for women and making them powerful. IT'S SO GREAT!

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Democracy and Volunteering

A boy facing away from the camera with a t-shirt that says "volunteer" on the back.
Photo by Ray Sangga Kusuma.

"Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in."

Last weekend was the national election in Canada. The results are personally disappointing to me, but not nearly as bad as they could have been. I suspect this is the way a lot of Canadians are feeling today: disappointed but not devastated. Frustrated, in general with the limited impact of our votes.

Which is why I thought it would be a good time to remind us all (myself included) that volunteering is a thing and that it's a wonderful way to make your community a little closer to whatever your utopia is.

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It's Time to Evaluate Your Life

It's evaluate your life day - time to measure where you're at and where you're going
Photo by Vladimir Proskurovskiy.

Last Saturday was Evaluate Your Life Day, so I guess we have to... evaluate our lives?

Honestly, as silly as it seems to let a randomly-chosen day, invented by a very retro website called wellcat.com that seems to provide wellness-related herbs and other such holidays, tell you what to do, it's also super useful to have a reminder to check out your life as a whole and evaluate whether you are going in the direction you want.

I know I am in need of a life-audit. Inspired in part by my recent realization that my relationship with money is holding back my hopes and dreams, and just by the fact that I have a bit of that "what am I really doing here?" feeling that tells me I might be off course.

There are lots of different ways to evaluate your life, here are two of my favourites:

A Post-It Party: To Get in Touch With Your Dreams

One way to evaluate your life is to use a whole bunch of sticky post-it notes

This one came from Lifehacker. Like any workshop facilitator will tell you, using post-it notes to brainstorm can really set the imagination free. In part, I presume because post-its don't feel entirely consequential (and so we don't self-edit as much), and in part because they can be easily moved around for different kinds of analysis.

In any case, for this one, you literally just write down every goal, hope, or life necessity that you see for yourself on a different post-it note. Everything, from jobs to awards to lifestyle to relationships. Do you want to live in a cool downtown loft? Write it. Do you want to have a family? Write it. Do you want to win a fancy award? Write it. Write it all! Write the specific and the abstract and be generous with your hopeful self. Don't worry if they don't all connect, seem crazy, or otherwise are things you could talk yourself out of. Try to fill as many stickies as you can, unfiltered. (You might want to give yourself a goal of writing X number of stickies in X time.)

Then make use of those post-its: arrange and re-arrange the notes in different ways. Arrange by life category (career, relationships/family, health, spiritual). Arrange by the amount of time it would take you to get this thing (or how "close" they are to where you are now). Arrange by what scares you the most. Arrange by how badly you want it.

For each arrangement, spend some time with it. Look at where you are now in relation to where you want to be. Consider whether your life needs to change direction and where you are on course.

Now you have the option of making a full-on strategic plan for all of this, gaming out deadlines and small steps to get to where you want to be.

SWOT Yourself: To See Where You Are and Where You Can Go

You can do a SWOT analysis on yourself and your life to set some goals for the future

SWOT, for those of you who don't know, stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It's often used in business to analyze where a company is in the marketplace and to plan where it should be going.

A mentor once suggested that I do a SWOT analysis on myself and... it was ILLUMINATING! Here's how:

The traditional way to SWOT something is to create a 2x2 grid on a wall or whiteboard and write the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in each box. Other options include using post-it notes (arranged into the categories) or to simply make lists in a notebook. Do what suits you.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal - your own traits and abilities that you would consider to be helpful or harmful. Things like your optimistic attitude, critical thinking skills, or time management. It would be a strength if you are good at it and/or it helps your life and a weakness if you need to improve at it and/or it hurts your life.

Opportunities and threats are external - things that you really have no control over and that happen to and around you. Things like another company having a job opening, the weather, housing prices, or shifts in government policy that impact you. What big events are happening around you?

If you really want to get into it, you can ask a handful of people you trust to share what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Only if you think they'll actually be honest, though. It's not helpful if they're going to be overly nice about it.

Then you analyze it!

First of all, have a look and simply consider this picture of yourself. How do you feel about it? Does it seem accurate? Does anything jump out at you as particularly good or bad? Are you embarrassed by anything? Proud? Nervous?

Next, look at each category. Are there any weaknesses you would like to improve? Opportunities you want to seize? Can a threat be mitigated, or better yet, turned into an opportunity? Appreciate your strengths and see how they assist with all these things.

Finally, you can use the opportunities, threats, and weaknesses to set yourself some goals and make a plan for the future.

Those are two of my current favourite ways to do a life evaluation! What about you? Got any favourite methods you want to share?

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Cute! Roundup: Slipper Buddies, Maternity Shoots, Dog Jumping Solutions, and More!

One thing Gertie loves is getting kneady with knit blankets. Luckily, this is exactly the time of year where I want to cover myself in knit blankets! Win win!

A roundup of cute things for your day, including cats, maternal pit bulls, and a very crazy cat.


Always check your slippers before putting them on!

Maternity shoot with a mama pit bull.

The dog wouldn't stop jumping over the fence. They found a solution.

Paw alignment.

There is one in every family.

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Singalong! Capsized by Sarah Harmer

I have to confess, I have been getting really into singing along with some pretty bummer songs lately, but it's not because of my own bummed feelings. This one I used to listen to a lot in university when I was deeply depressed. Now, I am learning how to plunk it out on the piano and enjoying the vicarious emotion.

by Sarah Harmer

When I heard about the coming day
Wish I could wake up from the dream
In it I see a family photographed
And there you are, tucked in the scene

And there's a jealous net inside my chest
There's a hurt and sadness there
Maybe I'd tell you all about it
If I thought you'd care

Heavy heart gets lighter by your side
But there are thoughts I'd wish I'd heard
If they ask you how I'm holding up
Say I'm holding out for the worst

What's the sense in being so sensitive?
Can I trade this thin skin for a shell?
There are some things I've got no feeling about
But there are some things I can't tell

Heavy heart get lighter by yourself
It's been so long since you capsized
And you've been lying out there in the sun
Has it begun? Has it begun?

Heavy heart, have you heard?
That I could use the words

Sing along with Sarah Harmer's Capsized - lyrics included!
Photo by hobvias sudoneighm.

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Learning! Roundup: Tea Benefits, Heartbeats, Talking to Kids About Race, and More!

Did you know that drinking tea regularly is good for your brain activity? Learn more about that and other current research in this week's Learning! Roundup
Photo by Jason Leung.

Tea Benefits

Tea drinkers, rejoice with me! Habitually drinking tea throughout your life is good for your brain! Specifically, it positively impacts the connectivity of our brains, making them more efficient over time.

In a Heartbeat

Here's a wild one: if an obstacle appears on the road at the same moment that your heart beats, you may be more likely to have an accident. Turns out that the effort our hearts put into squeezing blood out can actually impair our reaction time and even memory!

Talking to Kids About Race

If you've got kids in your life and are wondering at what age to talk to them about race, the answer is from the beginning. Here is a great slideshow summarizing our current knowledge of what children perceive about race at different developmental stages. For example, babies almost instantly start preferring people with the same skin colour as their caregivers, and by 2.5 years old kids start using race to choose their playmates.

Lying Under Pressure

When asked a question under pressure, you are more likely to tell the person what they want to hear over what you actually believe to be true. We tend to think that we get more honest responses when we pressure someone to answer quickly, but apparently, they are more likely to just appease us or give a more socially desirable response.

Statistical Significance

Apparently, most undergraduate psychology textbooks define statistical significance incorrectly, leading to 100% of undergrads and 80% of methodology professors and 90% of scientific psychologists to also define it incorrectly. So if no one knows what statistical significance is, what is it really?

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Challenge Accepted: Giving Grudges an Expiry Date


Something I have had to face in myself is the fact that I can hold a grudge for a really long time. To be fair to myself, it can take quite a lot for me to get to the point of grudge-holding, but once I'm there, it's really hard for me to leave it behind.

Case in point: I still give a nasty side eye to the restaurant whose owner made me cry 15 years ago, the baby clothing store where I worked and had many issues 10 years ago, the apartment building for the man who was particularly confusing in how he went about breaking up with me 6 years ago.

At some point, they have all become silly. It makes sense to avoid the person who made you cry's business for a little while, but for 15 years??? How does it even register after this much time? These grudges are truly ancient history--my life has moved on in a serious way, as, I'm sure, have the lives of the others involved. And yet, I still seem to care. Why?

That's why I like the idea put forward in this Manrepeller article by Harling Ross: give your grudges an expiry date. Ross is talking about petty grudges within a relationship; she and her boyfriend agreed that if something small comes up that bugs them, they have to say something within 24 hours or let it go.

I'd like to take this idea in a different direction: I want to give myself an expiry date on holding grudges, period. Once I realize I am holding a grudge, I will name it and give myself a deadline to throw it out. ("I am mad at ____ for ____ and I can hold that grudge until ____.")

My spidey senses tell me that naming the grudge in the first place will help with the process of release. Things tend to lose their power when you face and name them, and grudges, while often described in great detail, are rarely looked at directly.

Just like the shelf life of that artisanal, farm-sourced goat cheese is shorter from that of a name brand salad dressing, some grudges may have longer processing times. For that reason, I won't pre-determine any particular length. I can tell you this, though: the three grudges I described earlier have loooong expired. They're out.

UPDATE: I got an opportunity to try this out IRL and... here's the result!

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Inspiration! Roundup: Fate, Trust, Slow Adventures, and More!

A roundup of inspirational things, including quotes from Carl Jung, the art of Fares Miscue, and more!
This Week's "I want to go to there": When was the last time you had enough downtime to do something completely pointless like toss paper airplanes?
Photo by Annie Spratt.


“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
-Carl Jung

I read this quote in an article about money and the importance of paying attention to what you're actually spending. It applies, of course, to pretty much everything. What keeps happening that feels like fate dictating your life? Maybe you actually have some agency there.

Fares Micue

I am desperately taken by Fares Micue's photography.


“The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.”
— Ernest Hemingway

Of course, it's also the scariest way.

Slow Adventure

This illustration by Emily Grace Freeman is called A Slow Adventure and doesn't it just make you grab your heart?


If you're feeling in a bit of a rut in terms of self-esteem, here's one easy way to feel better about yourself: learn a small, new skill. Mending clothes, baking bread, piano scales, basic first aid, changing the oil on a car--there are so many things to learn how to do!

Mastering a teensy-tiny little skill makes you feel good for doing something, gets your brain out of its meta-self-analyzing death spirals, and makes you more capable, overall. It even has a quippy name to prove itself as a wellness practice: micromastery.

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