A Pandemic Life Lesson That I Hope Sticks Around When This is Over

A photo of two girls from behind. They are sitting and looking at a bright carousel, one has her arm around the other. They have pink and blue hair. It's a warm picture of friendship and connection.
Photo by Luis Quintero.

Like most/all humans, I live with a handful of persistent insecurities. The ones that, no matter how good I get at recognizing them and setting them aside, manage to don new disguises and sneak their way back in on the regular.

A big one for me is a nice, deep-seated fear of abandonment and rejection from my friends.

This one can be so easily triggered, it makes me feel like life is one of those boobie-trapped caves in Indiana Jones.

A friend sends a text that ends in a period instead of an exclamation point when confirming our plans, thus sounding like they may not be excited to see me? Razor blades jump out of the walls! They are busy and thus not proactive about reaching out to me for a little while? Pile of rocks falls from the ceiling!

They talk about moving away, even just theoretically? GIANT ROLLING BALL OF DEATH CHASES ME OUT OF THE CAVE.

Generally, after that first razor-blade-dodging moment of fear that my friend is leaving me forever and probably hates me and I never mattered that much to them in the first place, I am able to regain a teensy ounce of perspective on the whole thing and get over it. But if I have been feeling particularly insecure, glum, or lonely at the time, then the sense of being alone may overpower my greater reasoning for longer than I'd like. (Which is at all, really.)

So you would think that during a global pandemic when I have been trapped alone in my apartment for untold periods of time and many of my friends become even more distracted by their daily lives (because their daily lives involve kids who they now are stuck with 24/7), that my insecurities would turn into a fire that burns my heart to pieces.

Guess what???? THEY HAVEN'T!!!

I was shocked - SHOCKED - when I realized that this pandemic has finally given me the perspective I needed all along on these micro-rejections. (I realize that they aren't rejections at all, as that implies intentionality, but I like the term micro-rejections, so I'm going with it.)

All of a sudden, everyone is dealing with SO MUCH. Life is weird, everything keeps changing, all of our routines have been upended, and it has made it more tangible than ever that other people's decisions are... wait for it... not about me. (GASP!)

Suddenly, the basic fact that other people are living whole entire lives of their own with complications and issues and distractions and fears and concerns that have nothing to do with me has become incredibly real.

During my normal times running through the Indiana Jones Cave of Insecurity Traps I try to remind myself of this, and my success varies. Now, it's obvious, not just to my brain, but to my heart.

Sure, I have still passed a couple of evenings staring at a message I sent to a friend, willing those little grey WhatsApp checkmarks to turn blue, wondering if I will live like this FOREVER, but what else am I supposed to do with my time???

This is one thing that I hope sticks after this pandemic ends.


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Singalong! Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

A few days ago, I put out a call online for songs that give people hope. The result? I made this Spotify playlist: We Found HOPE in a COVID Place. It's a wonderful and eclectic mix of songs that make at least one person feel hopeful. One song that got multiple votes was Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, I think for obvious reasons.


THREE LITTLE BIRDS
by Bob Marley

"Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Rise up this mornin'
Smile with the risin' sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin', ("This is my message to you-ou-ou")

Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right"
Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Rise up this mornin'
Smiled with the risin' sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin', "This is my message to you-ou-ou:"

Singin': "Don't worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh!
Every little thing gonna be all right. Don't worry!"
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing" - I won't worry!
"'Cause every little thing gonna be all right"

Singin': "Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right" - I won't worry!
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right"
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing, oh no!
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

An animated GIF of Bob Marley, walking and smiling, with the text "baby don't worry about a thing. Because every little thing is gonna be alright" underneath.
Giphy


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Learning! Roundup: It's Smart to Be Helpful, Say Thank You, Helping Sad Friends, and More!

A photo of two men in an underground walkway with a table with food. It looks like they are there to distribute food to folks in need.
Photo by Victoria Kubiaki.

It's Smart to Be Helpful


Here is a new measure of intelligence: how much a person is willing to help someone else out. Okay, that would be a SLIGHT misinterpretation of these findings, but a new study shows that people who are more intelligent are more likely to be helpful, collaborative, and otherwise prosocial. It's a correlation that makes me feel hopeful for the world, and so I am holding onto it!

Say Thanks, Not Sorry


For a while, some friends and I have been trying to replace our apologies with gratitude, saying "thanks for listening" instead of "sorry for talking so much," for example. We have found that it makes all of us feel better about the conversation. Well, now science has shown that, in customer service settings, it is, in fact, better to say thank you than sorry. When there has been a service failure, it's better to address it by thanking the customer for (for example) sticking around than to apologize.

How to Help Sad Friends


Given how many people are going through ROUGH TIMES right now, this research is especially useful: it's more helpful to validate someone's negative feelings than criticize, correct, or try to reframe them. If someone is stressed or down, instead of trying to help them see the bright side, all you need to do is give them some space to talk through their feelings. (This is literally what I pay my counsellor $120 a pop to do for me.)

Persistent Germs


In vet's clinics (where diligent disinfecting practices are supposedly in place), only about half of the surfaces were actually disinfected. So it's a lot more work than you might think to keep those germs away! Now is a time to be as diligent as possible, of course, without panicking.

PARTIICIPATE IN SCIENCE!


There is a study on right now about the impact of COVID-19 on people's mental health and lives. The first part of it is simply a survey of your understanding of the illness and how it has impacted your well-being. After that you have the option of joining the next phase and doing a daily journal study. You can HELP SCIENCE right now!


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Cohort Families Are the New Chosen Family

Photo by Jaco Pretorius.

We've had a few new phrases enter our lexicon since COVID became a thing: social isolation, social distancing (or their superior counterparts, physical distancing and physical isolation), and self-monitoring, went from being terms I had never heard to terms I use on the daily.

Here are a couple more terms that you may have heard bopping around: cohort families and isolation cells.

Isolation cells/cohort families are people in two households who agree to follow the same isolation protocols from the rest of the world so that they can freely spend time together. It's mostly floated as a way to keep families with children sane by giving them a friend to play with on the regular. But I think it's IDEAL for folks like me who live on our own.

I don't know about anyone else who lives on their own and is extremely extroverted, but I had a pretty dark moment when I realized that I may not be able to spend time IN PERSON with someone else for at least... what? Weeks? Months? WHO KNOWS. So far I have been doing okay with copious video calls, but when I clocked that I didn't know when my next hug would come, my soul wept.

In desperation, I started floating the idea of moving in with a couple of pals who also live alone, but we all live in one-bedroom apartments, so that would be an EXTREME solution that may lead to other health risks, like killing each other. Far less extreme? Forming a cohort family.

I did a little research on it, and LET ME TELL YOU - it was hard to find concrete information about this. It turns out that the phrases "cohort families" and "isolation cells" feature heavily in scientific papers (that aren't about how to create a cohort family in the face of a global pandemic) and very disturbing articles about punishments doled out in prison.

But! I did dig up some direct advice! Mostly in the wake of Alberta's health officer Dr. Hinshaw's recommendation that people form cohort families and a few articles that ensued.

I beg of you, reap the rewards of my obsessive googling:

WHAT IS A COHORT FAMILY/ISOLATION CELL?

It is when two households isolate themselves from everyone but each other while still living in their separate homes. Everyone agrees to follow the same isolation and hygiene procedures and then is free to spend time with one another.

In grown-up terms, one person on Twitter likened it to being in a "fluid-bonded" relationship.

Interestingly, that did make me realize that for people who live alone, a cohort family could potentially include 3-4 households, not just two. To draw out this icky-sounding fluid-bonding metaphor, it would be like being in a thruple or couples that swap, but exclusively in their small circle.

It means is that you have to trust more people to be truly exclusive and safe in your group-relationship, and doing this with COVID probably requires a similar level of trust as doing this in ongoing sex-having relationships. (Maybe slightly more, because it's a lot easier to accidentally "cheat" at social isolation than sex. I hope.)

WHO SHOULD NOT BE IN A COHORT FAMILY?

Anyone whose household includes people with immunity issues, seniors, or anyone who has any symptoms. Also, anyone who has travelled or comes into contact with travellers.

I also expect it's not a great idea with someone who has a "front lines" job, like being a cashier or a hospital worker.

WHAT ARE THE RULES?

Being in a cohort family doesn't mean that you NEVER leave the house except to see each other. You can follow normal isolation procedures (not gathering with anyone else, maintaining safe distance while shopping for essentials or going for walks, etc.). That's where the TRUST comes in.

One example I found suggested an additional "outing approval" rule, where the cohort had the right to approve any outings, thus creating an additional layer of communication and safety. Seems like a good idea!

Then, once you've established all the rules, you go forth and treat your cohort's home as an extension of your own! (But maybe call before coming over.)

So. We need to make this a thing. A BIG thing. LET'S MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

(Unlike fetch, which didn't happen.)



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Mayyyyyybe I Should Simmer Down With the Mottos

Ummmm... remember when I announced my life motto as "this year, everything is going to work out" to keep me motivated and positive in 2020?

Basically ever since then, world events have been cropping up to make me feel like maybe this wasn't the year to loudly decide everything would be okay.

Now? Now we have reached peak 2020 (I hope):

A meme from the Sex and the City Movie - it's Carrie smashing Big over the head with her bouquet when he stood her up at their wedding. The text says "me" over Big, and "2020" over Carrie.

HAHAHAHAHAHaaahahhhahahahahaaaaaaa.

We laugh in the darkness, because what else is there?

(PS: I am actually doing okay. I still have a job. I have a home. I have friends I can connect with online. I am projecting a lot of loneliness into the future, but I will be fine. It's possible that everything will work out. Just... ya gotta READ THE ROOM!)


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Inspiration! Roundup: Refuse Pain, Epic Dancing, Look for Magic, and More!

A photo of two girls hugging each other and looking at the camera while a boy behind them is holding some flowers. They are children, it is innocent and joyous.
This Week's "I want to go to there": hugs and cuddles with friends! Can't wait to get those back...
Photo by Tbel Abuseridze.

Refuse Pain


“Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.”
—Karen Armstrong

Epic Dance


Since the only caption to this video is in a language I don't understand, there is little to nothing I can tell you about it except that the dancing is beautiful! It also makes me wistful for the days when we could touch each other.


Look for Magic


A good citizen went to her local Costco and replaced the signs for sold out toilet paper and hand sanitizer with signs for sold out mystical items. Turns out, her town had a big run on summoning orbs and healing crystals!

Cheap Trick


Artist Tomohiro Yasui takes cheap toys and turns them into action figures, photographing his process so you can see pop bottles, rubber duckies, and accordion hammers turn into epic figures fighting for good (or evil). These could very well be #isolationcreations, except that he's been doing it for a while.

A photo of what looks like a superhero toy, but it was actually made out of a toy hammer.

Soft Shell


If you need a reminder that you don't have to harden yourself to stay safe, a sheep escaped its farm and spent 6 years in the mountains. In that time, he grew so much wool (60 pounds!) that the wolves who tried to eat him couldn't get through all that floof.


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Social Accountability is the New Black

A photo of a window with rain on it and a sticker that says "don't touch" with the picture of a hand crossed out.
Photo by Andrej Lisakov.

Commenting on our friends' life choices isn't something we normally do. If anything, our culture has shifted farther and farther away from this as we (finally) realize that there are sometimes REASONS and PAIN behind circumstances once thought of as benign.

Over the past weeks, however, I have had a number of friends comment on my choices.

From comments when I posted about being at the playground with some friends and their kids, to an "ummmmm, I wouldn't," when I told a friend that I was still planning on having the staff at my office come in once a week to touch base in person, to a ringing silence when I invited folks over, there has been pushback.

(Don't worry, mere days/weeks later, these scenarios have aged about as well as the homophobic jokes in Friends. They shan't be repeated.)

In each case, I started by defending myself before realizing that, SIGH, they were right.

It would have been easier for my friends to make a general post online about how "PEOPLE shouldn't be going to the playground" or "NOBODY needs to gather at work in person - STAY HOME!" or to simply blow off steam by shaming folks who bought too much toilet paper.

They didn't do that.

They took the risk to speak to me directly about my choices, and it worked.

The situation we are in is brand new. If we want to get through it with as little loss as possible, we need to get over ourselves, fast. We need to be brave and hold the people we know accountable in a direct, honest, and loving way.

For inspiration, here are the characters of Schitt's Creek being very straightforward with one another.






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Singalong! Gotta Get Up by Harry Nilsson

A friend told me that Harry Nilsson's Gotta Get Up is really getting her through this hard time right now, and now it's become my song of the pandemic as well. I've begun making up a dance to it and sharing my progress on Instagram stories (you can see it in my featured stories!) At some point, I hope to actually make some tutorial videos and get other people doing it! Know what helps with learning a dance? Knowing the lyrics!

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that Mr. Nilsson's album cover appears to be an accidental snapshot of him in a dirty bathrobe?


GOTTA GET UP
by Harry Nilsson

Gotta get up, gotta get out
Gotta get home before the morning comes
What if I'm late, got a big day
Gotta get home before the sun comes up
Up and away, got a big day, sorry can't stay
I gotta run run, yeah
Gotta get home, pick up the phone
Gotta let the people know I'm gonna be late

There was a time when we could dance until a quarter to ten
We never thought it would end then
We never thought it would end
We used to carry on and drink and do the rock and roll
We never thought we'd get old, though
We never thought we'd grow cold, but now

Gotta get up, gotta get out
Gotta get home before the morning comes
What if I'm late, got a big day
Gotta get home before the sun comes up
Up and away, got a big day, sorry can't stay
I gotta run run, yeah
Gotta get home, pick up the phone
Gotta let the people know I'm gonna be late

Down by the sea she knew a sailor who had been to war
She never even knew a sailor before
She never even knew his name
He'd come to town and he would pound her for a couple of days
And then he'd sail across the bubbly waves
And those were happier days, but now

Gotta get up, gotta get out
Gotta get home before the morning comes
What if I'm late, got a big day
Gotta get home before the sun comes up
Up and away, got a big day, sorry can't stay
I gotta run run, yeah
Gotta get home, pick up the phone
Gotta let the people know I'm gonna be late

An animated GIF of Natasha Lyonn from Russian Doll. There is a picture of her staring into the camera, lighting a cigarette, and then little images coming out behind her like a kaleidoscope.
Giphy Netflix



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Learning! Roundup: How to Help Your COVID-Fears, Understanding the Toilet Paper Bandwagon, and More!

A photo of a woman sitting on the top of a mountain, looking out at the view. We see her from behind. It's peaceful.
Photo by Milan Popovic.

A Little Mindfulness Goes a Long Way


Just one short week of mindfulness training can help reduce overall feelings of paranoia. So if you're feeling especially fearful these days, grab one of the many, many free online courses out there on mindfulness (or jump on a two-week free trial, you only need one, after all!) It will make a real difference. Also, here is a nice article from a psychologist on managing our fear during a pandemic.

Bandwagons and Toilet Paper


There are two articles up right now on Psychology Today that, together, may help you understand the whole toilet-paper-stockpiling thing that is going on and maybe show slightly less scorn towards it online. First, we need a basic understanding of the bandwagon effect and the basic psychology behind why we follow others' lead. (Short answer: our lizard brain thinks they might know something we don't.)  Second, we look at toilet paper, specifically, and the fact that, once we believe a resource is going to be scarce, even if it shouldn't be, it becomes entirely rational to stock up on it. So basically, once the media started sharing story after story about toilet paper shortages, even if we knew it was dumb to stock up on TP, we knew that there might legitimately become a problem because everyone else is stocking up, and so now it makes sense to get some extra and play it safe.

Just Say No to Seductive Details


Ever heard of seductive details? Me neither! Apparently, they are when you insert an interesting, but irrelevant detail into a lesson, like a joke or cute cat picture. Looks like students retain less when you put those fun little bits in. So keep your lessons dry and straightforward, folks!

Remember, Remember the... Sorry, What?


Researchers have identified a molecule that is a key factor in holding thoughts in our working memories, even through a distraction. This could be a major breakthrough in helping those with Alzheimer's and other dementia!

Invest in the Children


If governments invest financial support and resources in the well-being of low-income children, that cost will pay off big time! Those kids grow up to have better-paying jobs where they pay more in taxes and require less support from the government, paying off the money initially spent on them and contributing back into the economy. Invest in the children!


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A Smorgasbord of Online Art, Learning, Movement, and FUN!

Photo by Flaunter.

Are you inside? Are you going STIR CRAZY? Even if you live in a fancy manor home, the indoors becomes confining after a while. (Or so I imagine, I've never walked in those particular shoes, perhaps your soles get worn thin as you wander listlessly from room to room?)

Honestly, I am not going bonkers yet because my workload has multiplied, not reduced, but at some point, I know it'll slow down and THEN WHAT?

I am NOT here to tell you that if you're in quarantine you need to write King Lear (as that absurd - and only partially accurate - meme keeps saying Shakespeare did and implying that maybe we should too????) What I AM here to do is offer you as many things as possible that you can do from home so that you have a SMORGASBORD of options.

ART:


Artslandia Happy Hour: An arts magazine out of Portland is offering 5pm Happy Hours on Facebook where musicians play some stuff and maybe you have a drink at home. I can't see whether this is an indefinite plan or just for certain dates.

Livestreaming Concerts: Here's a roundup of many livestreaming orchestra concerts.

Arts Roundup: CNN put together a list of concerts, museum tours, art experiences, cultural sites, and even aquariums you can visit online. Some are time-bound to specific showtimes and others are available indefinitely.

Jann Arden: Jann Arden offered a FB live concert that is still available on her page. Honestly, it was so comforting just to watch her futz around with the technology for the first five minutes and chit chat while she set it all up.

The Met: The Metropolitan Opera is sharing their catalogue of operas nightly.

The Social Distancing Festival: Looks like they are still sorting through submissions, so this one is on the way!

Choir Choir Choir: These guys specialize in live performances where the audience becomes the choir. They did a FB Live and will probably do more!

The Centre for Puppetry: Get free puppetry performances here!

Dropkick Murphys: This Canadian punk band is legendary and helping you release those pent up feels.

Dan Mangan: Another concert! This guy's a gem.

Live Theatre: The whole point of theatre is that humans gather together in the same space, but for now there is a roundup of a whole whack of plays offered for free online.

LEARNING THINGS:


Brit + Co: These folks have a ton of artsy workshops on everything from becoming a wedding photographer to watercolour painting. They are free for the month of March with the promo code SELFCARE.

Digital SĂ­nulkhay and Ladders: Learn some decolonization basics through a giant board game that has been made digital! Dates on offer until March 23 for the time being.

Drawing Classes: I reallllly would love to be better at drawing, and artist Jarrett J. Krosoczka has youtube classes just for that.

Cooking: Chef Massimo Bottura is offering cooking classes and Q&As on his Instagram account.

Class Central: This is one of many sites that gives free access to university courses from top-rated schools. What do you wish you got a degree in?

Playwriting: Join one of the coolest current playwrites, Young Jean Lee, in a playwriting workshop on Sunday, March 22 at 1pm EST.

Gardening: Gardens on the Go is answering gardening questions on Facebook.

Think Indigenous: Daily classes for kids in Kindergarten-Grade 8!

Scholastic: Remember Scholastic book fairs? They have branched out! Every day short classes are being released for kids as young as pre-K and as old as grade 6+ (is that all of us?).

MOVE THAT BODY:


Movement Ritual: A friend of mine is running daily dance/movement workshops online through Zoom that are then shared to a Facebook group. Join for details!

One Yoga: On top of your fave YouTube yogis, you can get daily Instagram Stories classes from One Yoga for the People. Schedule is saved to their story highlights!

Ballet: A roundup of ballet classes available online.

Barre Fitness: More Instagram Live classes!

Vogue: Van Vogue Jam will have live Vogue classes on Tuesdays. Couldn't find a time, so do your research!

OTHER:


Adobe: You can sort of get Adobe products free for 90 days. Or maybe not. Honestly, I'm confused about it, but this is a tutorial for that.

Everything: Finally, here is a roundup that includes art, concerts, courses, and basically anything you might want to do. (Except, of course, to host a dinner party. It doesn't have that. You can't do that.)


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Inspiration! Roundup: Border Creatures Take Over, Transition Stories, Sightings, and More!

WOW, folks, I don't think I have ever been so excited to put together an Inspiration! Roundup than today. I need this more than ever. I hope it helps you, too.

This Week's "I want to go to there": Honestly, I miss crowds. Also, this is a group of people this excited to see THEATRE! I really want to go to THERE.
Photo by the New York Public Library.

Border Creatures Take Over the World


Painter Adrian Cox has created a series of paintings called Border Creatures, a sort of fantasy/sci fi series about mythical creatures taking over the world. It's compelling AF!

A painting of a humanoid creature whose body appears to be exposed organs and flowers, standing in a circular rainbow and performing some kind of raise-the-dead ceremony on a similar creature.

Transition Stories


If you need to feel good about the world right now, try this series of 30 tweets where people share their best stories about people reacting to their gender transitions. It's not only heartening, but also a good lesson for those of us who might be sure of the best thing to say when we realize someone in our life is transitioning.

Sightings


Photographer Maria Lax's Finnish hometown is known for UFO sightings. She has taken a series of photos highlighting this spooky element to her town, and they are captivating!

A photo of a person peaking through the curtains in their living room. The room is fairly dark - you can barely make out a vine pattern on the curtains, and it is bright outside, so the brightness is almost blinding.


Share the Load


I love this recommendation for all you partnered people out there: don't just make a list of chores you need to share/split up, make an emotional labour to-do list as well. This way you are both aware of what needs to be done and whose job it is to do it. What an idea! I can't wait to have someone in my life to do this with! (SIGH.)

Maps


Artist Shane Drinkwater's work is like a tall glass of water! (Get it??? HA!) But really, I looooove these pieces that look like astronomical maps.


Scavenge


Are you stuck at home? Jane McGonigal has created a stay-at-home scavenger hunt on twitter and it's quite lovely!


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What Do You Do When Your World Keeps Changing?

A watercolour painting of a butterfly in front of a series of chrysalises.
Photo by Gabriela Tamara Cycman.

What do you do when your world keeps changing?

Every few days, something happens that makes everything that came before feel like old news.

In my yoga teacher training, we were taught the incredibly simple mantra, "everything changes." It is both a comfort and a curse. Right now, the changes are coming fast and feel out of control. Before this, they were still changing. After this, they will continue to change.

In Canada, we have now closed our borders. The Prime Minister told us to stay home. My province has banned gatherings over 50, basically shutting down theatres until at least May 30. (This one impacts me directly and it's my job to calculate the hard cost of this for my company, something I haven't been able to do yet.)

Other things that have changed:

Usually, even on work-from-home days, I struggle to actually get up from my desk and go outside. My desire for a sense of expansion and to see other humans drove me outside multiple times yesterday.

I also usually feel like phone calls are a major interruption in my life. I video-called three people yesterday. VIDEO-CALLED! Spontaneously!

My friends and I have taken to recording little videos of ourselves and sharing them to the group chat instead of just texting. Somehow it just feels that much more connected.

I now look very closely at the date of any news update. Anything more than a day old (or even a few hours old) may be useless to me.

Things that haven't changed:

The sun shines. (Even if it is behind clouds.)

People want to connect.

My cat curls up in my lap and starts purring right when I need to get up.

Chips taste good. So does popcorn.

We need to eat vegetables, too.

Even the best food doesn't fill the same void as loving community.

Community comes in many shapes and sizes.

Many people want to help and are surprisingly generous.

Art exists.

Some people make new art.

Others look at it.

Sleep is important.

Some people are very good at growing vegetables and flowers.

I am not one of them.

We know what time the sun will rise every day.

Hard times come and go.

Everyone is doing their best.

Everything changes.


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Cute! Roundup: A Bunch of Puppies in a Bucket, Cat Paws, Zebra Orphans, and More!

Sometimes, Gertie displays that wild superpower cats have to sleep in the most seemingly uncomfortable positions, but seem totally blissed out on it. Like, I can get behind this curled-up on-your-back position, but extending your limbs across the hard edge of your basket? That's a recipe for pins and needles.

A photo of a black and white tuxedo cat sleeping in a basket. It is lying on its back, curled around its side, with its paw extended over the edge of the basket.


OTHER CUTENESS:

Here is a bunch of puppies trying to get into a bucket. You're welcome.

This is a Twitter thread of pure adorable animal nonsense. My fave is the cat paw-turned bear.

A zebra caretaker who wears zebra print to care for an orphan. Awwwww!

Attack!

This happy duck gave my heart a lift!

A super proud mama.


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Singalong! You Can't Hurry Love by The Supremes

I don't know about you, but sometimes I need a reminder that I don't control life's schedule, whether it's for love or something else entirely.


YOU CAN'T HURRY LOVE
The Supremes

I need love, love
To ease my mind
I need to find, find
Someone to call mine
But mama said

You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take
You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
You got to trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes

But how many heartaches must I stand
Before I find a love
To let me live again
Right now the only thing
That keeps me hangin' on
When I feel my strength
Yeah, it's almost gone
I remember mama said

You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take
How long must I wait
How much more can I take
Before loneliness
Will cause my heart, heart to break?

No I can't bear
To live my life alone
I grow impatient for a love
To call my own
But when I feel that I
I can't go on
These precious words keeps me hangin' on
I remember mama said

You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take
You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes
(Now wait)

No, love, love
Don't come easy
But I keep on waiting
Anticipating
For that soft voice
To talk to me at night
For some tender arms
To hold me tight
I keep waiting
I keep on waiting (Ooh, until that day)
But it ain't easy
It ain't easy
But mama said

You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes
You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take
(repeat and fade)

An animated gif of old footage of The Supremes standing around a microphone singing. It's black and white, they are wearing white dresses, have excellent bouffant hair, and are doing a little wiggle dance on repeate
Giphy


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Learning! Roundup: Is God a White Man?, Emotional Images, Real Men Are Miserable, and More!

A photo of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam painting - a man (Adam), lies reclined on the left side with his arm extended out, and on the right, God (a white man) descends on a billowing cloud, surrounded by angels, and reaches out to touch Adam's outstretched hand.
Michelangelo's Creation of Adam - Creative Commons

Is God a White Man?


If you were raised in (or adjacent to) a Western, Christian environment, chances are you see God as a white man. If so, you are also more likely to prefer to see a man in a leadership role. Because all these little things add up in our brains, and if GOD is a man, then maybe men are closer to God!!! (They aren't. I am sure of it.)

Emotional Images


Our brain represents emotions in similar ways to how it represents images, which apparently has significant repercussions for therapy. At the very least, it is neat.

Real Men Are Miserable


The more a man subscribes to toxic masculinity (that men are stoic, strong, and never ask for help, among other things), the more socially isolated they become throughout their lives, leading to a host of issues with their health and overall well-being. More reinforcement for what the feminists have been saying all along: the patriarchy hurts EVERYONE, men included!

Hard Working Role Models


If you are looking for a role model, go for someone who was known for working really hard in their field over a natural genius. It's much more motivating.

Have a Drink, Life is Meaningless


Did you know that people who have a stronger sense of meaning in their life drink less alcohol??? I did NOT know that, but apparently, it is widely known in the world of research that people who are seeking meaning in life drink more alcohol in more harmful ways than those who aren't.


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This Week in Church: Solidarity and the Ocean

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.

A picture of a small chaple with a steeple in a field, with the text This Week in Church written on the sky.

This week in church, we talked about solidarity.


One of the examples Jesus sets that we could all adopt is what the pastor referred to as his "radical solidarity" for his people. He was known for rebuking the religious leaders who were doing all the right things to appear to be following God and associating himself completely with those whose lifestyles were considered way off the mark.

He picked his people by looking at their hearts and then wasn't afraid to stand completely with them, where they were, in their lives. He also wasn't afraid to make people uncomfortable by calling out their hypocrisies.

How do we pick our people? Do we stand with them, no matter what? Are we afraid to make the establishment uncomfortable?

This week in church, we talked about the ocean.


I don't know if there is a significant lesson here, but I truly appreciated the opportunity to think about the beautiful contradictions within the ocean. It is full of fragility and life and teensy-tiny ecosystems as well as vast, crushing power and violence, and its glory can only be experienced in person.


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Inspiration! Roundup: Capitalism... For Good?, Motion, Captured, Minimum Wage, and More!

This Week's "I want to go to there": Somewhere dreamy and vintage and nature-y feels like a good fit right now.
Photo by Annie Spratt.

Capitalism... for good?


Patagonia continues to truly impress me as a company working from within the capitalist system while undermining the worst parts of capitalism and pursuing actual, ethical practices. For a long time, they have given the option of purchasing repaired used clothes from their website, and now they are sharing sewing tutorials for how customers can repair their own clothes. They are the inspo for capitalism done well.

Motion, Captured


Photographer Shinichi Maruyama has an incredible series of photos of nude dancers in motion that are more like paintings than anything else.


(via International Photo Mag.)

Minimum Wage


In another example of capitalism that hasn't gone off the rails into evil, a few years back, a Seattle CEO made the minimum wage at his company $70,000 across the board. At the time, there were a few articles about how exciting this was and a few about how damaging it was for his company. Well, someone checked in after it had time to make an impact, and guess what? The company is more productive and profitable AND staff are able to do things like actually have a family. I am truly wondering if it's possible to make a similar move at the company I run, except we are grant-funded...

Get Lost With Silvia


There is something to get lost in when it comes to Silvia Stetcher's illustrations.


(via Creative Boom)

To Be Met


“To meet someone. And be met.
To be chosen. To choose.
To love. To be loved.
This is everything.”
— Mark Groves

If you're like me, the first thing you will think of when reading this quote is romantic love, but think of all the contexts and ways you can be met, be chosen, and be loved. It really is everything.


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I Am a Feminist Who Loves Celebrating Things and I Ignored International Women's Day -- WHAT? WHY???

A photo of a young black girl wearing a white t-shirt that says "grl pwr" on it, giving a peace sign and a fierce face to the camera.
Photo by Kiana Bosman.


Sunday was International Women's Day.

Traditionally, I like to get into the various "days" on the calendar. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a home where the breakfast table was adorned as an homage to whatever holiday was happening that day, with little decorations and (usually) chocolate gifts, but I see everything from Mother’s Day to Earth Day and even the greeting-card-invented Valentine’s Day as lovely reminder-excuses to celebrate and express my appreciation for the people and things that I love.

Combine that with my vocal feminism and you'd think I would have been ALL OVER International Women's Day, right?

Well, turns out that, in recent years, if you assumed that, you would be wrong wrong wrong.

While just two years ago I managed to throw together a little homage to IWD on this here blog, I have completely lost the will to publicly celebrate this day. In fact, I have a vague memory that the 2018 post was more of an "I should do this" post than a genuine desire to celebrate, and that last year I just... didn't want to.

At the time, I thought it was because I had pulled back from posting about all these commemorative days. There are SO MANY now! If I try to recognize the intersectional feminist calendar, it would include any day recognizing women, LGBTQ+, BIPOC people and cultures, and people with disabilities. Plus, I am very interested in mental health and there are three different weeks devoted to mental health/mental illness/mental wellness, which is also kind of a LOT.

So that's a reasonable excuse to peace out on International Women's Day, right? I was tapped out on all these special days, in general, and needed a BREAK.

Except.

Oh, there is an except.

Except that last year, when I didn’t feel like posting anything on International Women’s Day I found that I DID feel like posting on International Men’s Day.

I wanted to, and did, share posts about non-toxic masculinity and the necessity of men participating in the feminist movement and thanked those who do so.

I felt an inner drive to make a public deal out of a few male feminists and didn’t feel the same drive to recognize and thank all the women who paved the way for me to waltz into a life where I get to live alone at 35 and without being a confusing pariah to society??? WHAT???

Time to dig in and find all my self-contradictory beliefs, my internalized misogyny, and probably laziness:

One:

The way we talk about ourselves on these days is a strange brew of Girl Power/"I don't need a man"/women-can-do-no-wrong high fives while also embracing the very domestic and emotional labour-based traits that I thought we were trying to shake off and share, not own as inherently ours.

I completely get where this comes from as well as that any group of people is going to have some internal inconsistency, and yet my first reaction is to back away from it.

Two:

The way people talk about women on this day can be super gender-binary-normative, as if there are two categories of distinct genders with distinct traits that come at birth. I also see lots of importance placed on bearing and raising children, which is no doubt an incredible feat, but I thought we were trying to move beyond these things in our definition of womanhood.

I also get where this is coming from. People are speaking from their own experiences and in their attempt to celebrate women they may not realize they are being exclusive in how they define it. I also don't have to agree with how everyone celebrates to take part.

Three:

I truly believe that one of the main things the feminist movement needs to progress is for men to enthusiastically join in, and I recognize that many of them need some kind of nudge to see that they are welcome. Sure, ideally they would figure it out on their own, but they clearly aren’t and I learned in marketing that you work with what people are actually doing, not what you think they should be doing.

So apparently, my desire to invite men in for the ride and show them they can be celebrated for something besides the toxic elements of masculinity meant prioritizing them over women when I could have just continued to celebrate women and invited the men into the mix.

Three:

This is the one I don't want to admit, even to myself: feminine things aren't as "cool" as masculine things. This is a pervasive bias in our society and so it's not exactly surprising that I absorbed it. Heck, it's the reason why I made myself develop the taste for beer in university--I didn't want to be the girl who only drank girly drinks. I wanted to be the cool girl who drank beer.

So did I feel on some level that it was less cool for me to celebrate women than to celebrate the men who support women? PROBABLY!

I am not loving this fact - the fact that this bias against feminine things has cut so deep inside of me that I actually am beginning to shy away from doing things that help women.

But I have to recognize it to fight it, right?

In the meantime, a happy belated International Women's Day to you all.

An animated gif with the words "shimmy if you're with her" at the bottom and images of men and women of different races and styles shimmying their shoulders.
Libby VanderPloeg on Giphy



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Singalong! You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just need a song that is full of random silliness. It's fun and it's a little weird and it's You Can Call Me Al.


CALL ME AL
by Paul Simon

A man walks down the street
He says, "Why am I soft in the middle, now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard
I need a photo-opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Don't want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard"
Bonedigger, Bonedigger
Dogs in the moonlight
Far away in my well-lit door
Mr. Beerbelly, Beerbelly
Get these mutts away from me
You know, I don't find this stuff amusing anymore

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al

A man walks down the street
He says, "Why am I short of attention?
Got a short little span of attention
And, whoa, my nights are so long
Where's my wife and family?
What if I die here?
Who'll be my role model
Now that my role model is gone, gone?"
He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along, along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al
Call me Al

A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the third world
Maybe it's his first time around
Doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound, the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says, "Amen and Hallelujah!"

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al
Call me

Na na na na, na na na na
Na na na na, na na na-na na-na
Na na na na, na-na na-na na na
Na na na na, na na na na

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can call you Betty
If you'll be my bodyguard
I can call you Betty
If you'll be my bodyguard

An animated GIF from the music video You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon with Paul playing a pennywhistle and Chevy Chase chair dancing next to him.
Giphy


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Learning! Roundup: Anxious Memories, Don't You Want Me?, Bullying, and More!

A photo of a woman sitting at a bar in a cafe, with a coffee cup, staring into space. She looks worried.
Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi

Anxious Memories


If you suffer from social anxiety, you are less likely to be able to remember social interactions that ended positively. It's not causal at this point, but it might help you to know that you are probably having more positive social events than you think!

Don't You Want Me?


It's been clear in the science for a while that men tend to overestimate how sexually interested a woman is in them while women underestimate a man's interest in her, and for a long time this has been chalked up to evolutionary psychology explanations that rely on outdated gender dynamics. (You can tell I am not a fan of evolutionary psychology.) New research, however, suggests that perhaps it's explained by two simple factors. Men who are more interested in noncommitted sex in general, AND who are more interested in having said sex with a particular woman, are more likely to think she wants to have sex with them. Sooooo... basically it's wishful thinking.

Bullying


The brain activity of bullies and victims is different when presented with angry and fearful faces. Bullies have a greater amygdala response to anger and reduced response to fear, and victims are more responsive to both types of faces.

The Facebook-Election Test


A large-scale trial had a randomized group of people deactivate their Facebook accounts for four weeks leading up to the 2018 election. Those who went without Facebook used the internet less overall, did more offline activities, were happier, and also had less factual knowledge of political information as well as less polarization.

Childhood Maltreatment and Adult Relationships


Adults who were maltreated as children are more likely to show antisocial behaviour as children, which leads to challenges in romantic relationships as teens and adults. They are also more likely to use relational aggression, like spreading rumours, which hurts their ability to form friendships. It's not a universal path, of course, but it does begin to explain why adults who had terrible childhoods often struggle with relationships.


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