Loving commitment in a confusing time 

  

bell hooks says when we face pain in relationships our first response is often to sever bonds than to maintain commitment. That relationships are treated like Dixie cups. They are the same. They are disposable. If does not work, drop it, throw it away, get another. Committed bonds (including marriage) cannot last when this is the prevailing logic. Most of us are unclear about what to do to strengthen caring bonds when our self-centered needs are not being met. 

I’ve always struggled with the idea of marriage. I was never a close witness to any happy loving marriage, aside from a handful of friend’s parents’. I used to fantasize about being a single mom because single moms seemed stronger than most of the women I knew who were married with kids. I had this idea in my mind that single moms were heroes, and really, they are. But I no longer strive to be a single parent. I’m not even sure I want to be a parent. My womb is undecided. 

I feel safe talking about this. I’m in a committed relationship with my partner whom with I have discussed these things. It’s really quite funny how there is this social pressure to keep it all a big surprise– when’s he gunna ask when’s he gunna ask??– but I feel like maybe that whole suspense tactic is just more patriarchal bullshit. I’d rather talk about whether I want to get married (in whatever fashion we choose) than to suddenly have it sprung upon myself. How does one say “I’m not ready yet” or “can we talk about what this would mean to us?” to a nervous partner who so desperately wants you to say yes? 

bell hooks is so very right. Her words ring true to me. It’s easier (and more surface satisfying) to keep your options open, keep that special someone at the office smiling at you, than it is to face the issues that arise. Where do we go from there? We stand up to that inner voice that tells us that there is always something better. It’s that same voice that keeps us in a perpetual state of always searching.  You can’t compare to the game. You can’t be as great as the imagined possibility of something or someone greater. And that is a damn shame. And that is what keeps so many of us thinking there is someone better out there. Someone who will meet all of our needs, and someone who is genuine and kind, but not overly genuine and kind because that’d be no fun. 

There is a difference in truly knowing when you are unhappy in your relationships versus feeling discontent with yourself, your habits, your appearance, and/or your purpose. It’s difficult to feel worthy of love when you’re not feeling your best. It’s difficult to feel loved and give love when you are keeping your options open. It’s difficult to feel loved when you are hurting. Or when you’re sad. I want to keep learning to seperate [my bullshit], my inner struggles that are longstanding (one of them being jealousy), from my romantic relationship, all the while knowing I am supported and I don’t need to face my demons by myself.  I want to trust that my partner is as complicated and complex as I am, and empathetic towards me as I am towards him. I want to feel loved, and give my best love, and see where that takes me. What avenues might that open if I am able to get to that place? Who do we become when we are not fixated on the next best thing? 

It’s reasonable to feel that the sanction of marriage is a part of systemized patriarchy. I would struggle big time with my identity as a married woman. What does marriage say about young people now-a-days? In many social groups, it’s still awesome and everyone is very excited about one day getting married and planning their big day. But in other groups, marriage is like giving in. Giving in to more than just hetero-patriarchy, but capitalism and a long history of oppression. Side note: If I want to live with my partner in his home country, it’s not enough for me to just love him and want to be with him, we must get married. And health benefits aren’t issued to non-spouses either. If I want to live with my partner in his home country, I either have to marry him or find an institution/ company that the government finds worthy enough to sponsor me. And then I must work for this company. sigh. Jobs. Sigh. 

But I am mostly talking about loving commitment. Whether two people choose to get married is just their own form of solidifying that loving commitment. I am secretly (not so secretly now) afraid of the judgement I could receive if I choose to get married. I guess it’s fear of people devaluing my identity and politics. Maybe in my head Ive made a story that says married women seem to have somehow given up on their politics or their strength to fight against societal norms? Perhaps I must overcome this strange equation I’ve been battling which keeps telling me that married women are somehow less strong. Because I now know that a good partner is able to actively support you and that can actually make you stronger. 

Loving commitment means that you are willing to try your hardest to fight the good fight. That you are open to the possibility that love is amazing and that you can experience it. That you are worthy of love and your partner(s), friend, mom, dog is just as worthy of love. That you won’t drop your loved ones because they frustrate you, or you feel hurt by them or yourself. That you won’t drop your loved ones as they age, or get sick, or start forgetting things. It’s finding a deep compassion for the complexities of being human. It’s saying that you recognize you might struggle, and that they might struggle, in different, or confusing ways, and that what you know so intimately of your own experience of living, you will be patient and loving for as long as you can towards another person.
 The pool of potential babes and hotties and hard bodies and smart cookies is overflowing. You can never compete against the pool. You’ll never be as beautiful as all of the beautiful women combined. You’ll never be as smart or as funny as the entire pool. But it’s worth finding a good swimming buddy for those times you think you might drown. Or when you want to celebrate your triumphant conquering of the breast stroke. Tell them you will try your best to save them if they try to save you. And then maybe pinch eachother’s nipples underwater for fun. 

You’re not a piece of poop

 
 There’s nothing quite like the decadence of indulging in a daydream where you are powerful, beautiful, resisting someone’s shitty offer, singing the most beautiful song in front of everyone you admire or just simply walking away. I fantasize about my strong self often–the parts of me that could resist short lived temptations, the parts that are brave, the inner self that is hungry for intense self expression. When I break out of the daydream, I’m rarely disappointed. I usually feel a creative surge. Sometimes I put on a new outfit and take a picture of myself. And then I post it to Instagram and everyone who likes it somehow is also affirming that I’m not totally a wash bag of old fish bones. Carry on. 

We’re all pretty well versed in parental expectation. It’s real shit. I didn’t experience that in the typical sense. My parents rarely remembered to ask about my grades. They didn’t pressure me into University or even flinch when I told them I wanted to study environmental policy. A lot of the time they were too self involved or tired to even know where I was at and what I was doing. But I’ve been thinking a lot about self-imposed expectation. I think I’ve always felt like I’d be doing something great by now. I imagined I’d be highly regarded in some thing or another. It’s beyond that though. It’s like I feel like I have potential but I’m too scattered to commit to one thing. I don’t really have a “thing”. I have bursts of passion. Sometimes all I want to do is express myself musically, and other times I need absolute solitude from sound for months. I like gardening, but not enough to pursue it. I am interested in theatre, but periods of anxiety hold me back from wanting to throw myself on stage and be watched. I am obsessed with herbs, vitamins, testing various tonics and substances on myself and boyfriend. I like cutting hair. I am into urban policy. I am into beekeeping. But not 100% committed to anything. I’ve been petrified my entire life of having a career. I like to see the exit as soon as I walk in. Tell me how easy it will be to leave this if I hate it. It’s like having agoraphobia towards most things. 

I’ve had at least ten dreams this past month where I am in highschool and taking a math class or something and eventually have an “aha” moment where I close my books and announce “hey guys, I don’t have to do this because I’ve already been through university. Right?” And everyone looks around and nods and says “yeah, I guess not.” I understand these dreams as my brain saying you can move on. I’m clinging to the high I felt in university. I’m clinging to the notion that everything’s possible and there’s a party Friday night and you’re great and smart and let’s talk about the perils of the tar sands and first-past-the-post politics. I’m clinging to the reckless wake up late and head to class, feel like you have life meaning cause you made an astute observation in class and everyone is like //who that girl//. Can’t tell whether I’m craving it or I need to give it up. Probably the latter. There’s something strangely invigorating about the constant ego boost of a Bachelor of Arts. When I hear the girls who work at the coffee shop talk about their “new apartment” and this “guy I’m seeing” and “this new thing I’m a part of” and they’re sipping coffee (how indulgent! I’d have a panic attack) and dyeing their pubes pink and hitchhiking home after work… I’m partly jealous? It helps to pretend they’re jealous of me too. 

I’ve idolized people who could make a living from one thing. People you can call up and be like, hey, my pepper plant has weird bugs on it, what do you think? And they’re like, yeah, it could be aphids or does it look more like a beetle? Or when everyone in town is like “you’ve gotta go to ____ for _____”. I wanna be the figurative man!  “THE MAN!” This post is funny to me. Im becoming very self aware of how I’m sounding (mopey, lazy? Twenty five?) Fuck it yo! 

A few things float around my head, and sometimes they feel contradictory: You’re only a fucking human. What is amazing, anyway? Is the circus amazing? Or is being in a committed supportive relationship amazing? Trick question. Both are amazing. Is it more important to do great things at a macro scale or a micro scale? What fulfills you versus what makes you look great on paper? Stop fighting your natural urges. Fight them a little more. You don’t need to be anything. Do what feels best at the time and keep doing. Doing something is more important than what you’re doing (Wisdom of adam). 

That last one hits home. There are so many ways to express yourself and express what you are doing with your time. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone either. You’re not a piece of poop if you work at a cafe, or walk dogs, or just moved in with your sister, or are just focusing on painting, or making decorative piñatas. You’re living. And the sun goes up and the sun goes down. 

One last thing. Watch Wolf Alice make me jealous with her semi-high budget music video. Hey @wolfalice hey! Can I be in one of your vids? #wolfalice


Bye.👭

Exhaustion isn’t a status symbol

  
Soooo, I’m not very busy right now in life.  I’ve been busy before though. I’ve been that person who was late to work, late to friends’ houses, super tired, in rehearsal, at work, volunteering, trying to meet new people, trying to cook enough meals at home, trying to have good relationships, cleaning the litter box, getting enough exercise, getting enough down time….but right now I am not busy. I am not working for money right now, which really helps the equation. My partner has a job and we live together and supports us both. I also don’t know very many people where I live, which has drastically reduced the amount of social time I have.  And it’s caused me to become very strange once again– strange in that when I pause for more than a minute (well, a few weeks) I begin to feel verrrry anxious again. Like, where’s the oat straw tonic anxious. When I don’t have any self-imposed schedule, I tend to sleep in more, take more time to cook and get back into yoga, gardening, painting and writing. And while everyone around me seems to think this type of lifestyle sounds like heaven or that “I’ve got it made”, it’s somehow very distressing. In the forefront of my mind, I feel like I don’t really have answers for anyone’s questions about what I am doing. If I had a job, that answer would suffice. If I were doing something beyond “menial” household chores and things that fulfill human needs i’d somehow be more okay?  These beliefs have made me, yet again, question why we are so quick to validate busy lives as “better” lives or more important lives. 

It always seems to be such a damn struggle to find the right balance between overly busy and horribly underwhelmed. I’m usually somewhere between trying to create meaning and trying to feel inspired and worth something, and feeling intensely critical of workaholic culture, and apathetic about the future of many things (but mostly my financial and emotional states). There seems to be this inner voice that shows up when I’m really busy (and coincidentally stressed, but stressed in a different way than when I am not busy) and says “things will get better when x or y is finished in a month”. But it doesn’t. Because I can’t relax. I’m back on the quest to find something to fill the void of what just so recently cleared up my schedule. I think it’s important to find meaning in your life, and try new things, but I think I’ve often just wound up working jobs I didn’t like very much in order to feel like I had a greater purpose than pooping and peeing. 

I’ve stopped using facebook for a little bit. Facebook is great when I have lots on the go and feel proud of my day to day. But it’s a strange place when you’re feeling unsure about yourself, underwhelmed, or a bit lost or hungry in your quest for meaning. Because there is always someone, and sometimes it’s me as the antagonist in others’ lives I am sure, who will show you what you’re missing out on. 

I’ve recently been eating vegetarian (with the exception of intending to eat bone broth near my time of menstruation). I’ve always been that person who sorta cheaps out on food. If I’m a ravenous beast at lunch time, I’ll probably grab a slice of pizza or a small container of potato salad. Carbs carbs and more carbs. I’ve spent a lot of my life caring about good food, researching diet and health, and yet most of my time on earth has been spent eating whatever is around me at the onset of hunger. I’ve long known I’ve had an sensitivity to dairy but I continue to load on the sour cream and have yoghurt and granola in the morning, which causes a fountain of delicious mucous trickling down my throat for hours.  Until just a few weeks ago! And now instead of heading the store and buying some chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, and salad greens, I have to think of cleverly delicious vege meals (well, really vegan cause I’m actually avoiding dairy). It takes a fair amount of time. It takes time to research new recipes, experiment in the kitchen, and cook two meals a day and make healthy snacks. At least if you’re hoping for variety. That’s what I have concluded. But it’s rewarding to not just auto pilot towards meat, cheeses, and creamy dishes. I don’t condone the eating of meat, but the China study has got me thinking again. It’s worth watching “Forks over knives”– a documentary that discusses the findings of Colin T. Campbell and his colleagues. 

All this to say that I’m vowing to remove myself from praising BUSY. I want to value intention, and being, and laughter and slow. I want to spend time cooking and making my home nice. I want to continue to learn to be okay with myself in times where I am not running around stuffing bread down my throat in between classes and work and dinner hangouts. Im going to take more time to live, and deal with the resurgence of feelings from anxiety and fear and sadness and pain and avoid them no longer. I might have to do this over and over again as to keep reminding myself to breathe. #preach

Ps. Even bees aren’t that busy. They get things done, but they spend a whoooollle lot of hours hanging out. Straight up. If you open up a hive, you will see many bees collected on the insides of the box just meditating on fruitful days of honey production. 

Cute self care for cute people with cute mental health problems 

  
Self care is any intentional activity that self-nurtures. Self care is the mental health cure all of today as hempseed, goji berry, and spirulina were of 2010. Self care is often on checklists of health care professionals– “Have you been practicing your self care activities like we had talked about?” Self care is for people who neglect their own needs and desires. Self care is for busy parents and employed people and stressed out people who aren’t depressed or chronically anxious or paranoid or chronically ill– we think about ourselves a lot. It’s for relatively high functioning people who need a little down time. While I know, from personal experience as well, that yoga, bathing, napping, cooking, baking, reading and gardening are all things that  contribute to a healthier state of mind, sometimes they just don’t cut it. 
When I am anxious, I am focused too much on myself. I’m studying every thought and feeling and sensation in my body and everything else is secondary. I can auto-pilot conversations, all the while thinking and believing I am going to die or pass out or barf or whatever the feelings may be. When I am anxious I don’t know how to relax. Sure I can stop and meditate or jump in a warm bath, but just in doing those actions I can’t promise relaxation or any supposed benefits of self care. And what about after the bath? Shall I spend my whole day hopping from relaxation technique to relaxation technique?While I believe the intention behind self care is good, I think it’s a passive and lazy way to try to engage someone who is experiencing mental illness. What if they say no, no they haven’t been practicing their self care? Do we really believe that taking a bath or lighting some candles or other conventional ideas of relaxation are really going to work on someone who feels utterly distressed, lonely, confused, exhausted, miserable, and/or sad? 

I found a pretty interesting blurb that follows in line with this thought. 

The following is written by dion-the socialist who can be followed here. 

No one here seems interested in the grimy parts of mental health. Everyone wants to talk about mental illness as quiet introverts drinking tea and nervously stuttering over words. No one ever talks about symptoms like paranoia or hallucinations or hypersexuality or compulsions or homelessness or drug addiction or delusions or psychosis or violent urges. Every time a clearly mentally ill person commits a crime, and someone says, “Hey, maybe this is a sign that we need to improve mental health awareness in this country,” everyone goes to screaming: “This isn’t about mental illness! Mentally ill people aren’t violent!”
But yes, sometimes mentally ill people are violent. Sometimes we are bad people. And even those mentally ill people are in need of advocacy, maybe even more so.
When you post “Protect people with mental illnesses at all costs,” do you mean all of us, or just the cute ones?
I get sick of tumblr’s version of self care, which 90% of the time threads into this beautifully: go pet a fuzzy cute animal! pile up your favorite blankets from childhood and watch disney movies! take a nap! play a game from this list of cute soothings games! 

More realistically: go take a shower because it’s been three days. Wash the dishes that have been in the sink since last Friday that you can smell as soon as you open your door because rotting food stinks. Pick all your clothes off the floor because that’s where your entire wardrobe is and you’ve already cried today because you tripped over a sweater and realized the cat puked on it. Call someone who can give you enough courage to pay that bill you’ve been ignoring. Put away the crackers because that’s all you’ve eaten for two days straight. Apologize to the friends who are worried sick about you, and if you can’t, at least let them know you are ok and need space. 
One of the most empowering types of self-care is responsibility, but tumblr just wants to sit in a closet strung with fairy lights and read their favorite fic.  
“Cute” self-care for “cute” mental issues. That’s not reality. 🐱

Are you looking for meaning in your life? Yeah, same. 

Emma Hewson does it again. She reviews a book and tells you why and why not to read it. I love Emma. Thank you. 

——————–

  
 The day before a friend of mine was about to leave the country for a several months, she found a copy of the Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield on the street and passed it along to me. This was odd, considering that she had been wanting to give me a copy for months, and had now found one at the last possible moment. Even more odd, considering that the book is entirely about synchronicity.  

 The Celestine Prophecy is a narrative that follows a man, John, as he discovers 9 ‘insights’ towards a spiritual life. It’s an effective format that gets you excited about the material because the protagonist is learning at the same time that you are. 

 Essentially the plot is as follows: John has come to a plateau in his life when he meets an acquaintance who tells him about an ancient Peruvian manuscript. He somewhat spontaneously decides to travel to Lima, Peru, to investigate. Once there, he synchronistically meets a series of characters that reveal to him more and more of the manuscript. He learns that the entire world is made of energy, and our happiness in life has to do with how tuned in to that energy we are–especially important are synchronicity and intuition.

 Personally, I loved the book because it describes some of my favourite spiritual ideas in a fun and engaging fictional world. The whole idea of fun is sometimes lost in the self-development section of the bookshelf! If you’re interested, the Celestine Prophecy was also made into a film, starring Mathew Setter of Gossip girl fame. And although it redefined my assumptions about Setter, the film itself moves too quickly from insight to insight to be engaging or to allow the audience to connect with the characters.

 Additionally, there is one thing that is slightly disappointing about this and many personal development/new age books, and that is its very strong Christian influence. This book specifically revolves around the suppression of spiritual ideas by the Christian church, and seems to be trying to convince Christian readers that the two philosophies don’t conflict. For me, I can kind of ignore this aspect in order to enjoy the other messages. However, skip this book if you’re not in the mood for a Christian-tinged narrative.

69ing: who what why where when 

 
69 almost makes a yin-yang. Neat! Guys, 69ing is just awkward. Like, where does it even come from? Apparently it is first mentioned in 1790 in French “whore catechisms”. 

I think it’s really strange to think that in order to keep our sex lives interesting, we might assume that we need to move our bodies into strange positions. Like wheelbarrow, or any position standing up, or even worse, standing up in the shower. Danger. Slippery when wet. 69ing is a novelty position. It’s like you’re on your way to a great birthday party with beautiful homemade muffins under arm, and you half heartedly decide to stop into the corner store and peruse the gifts section (which is never good, and you know that) because you suddenly feel the muffins aren’t enough. You walk out of the store with a clown figurine and you don’t feel any further along than you did before. Now you’re late for the party. 

 Whoever invented 69ing probably also invented those wasteful flossing sticks. What was wrong with regular floss anyway? Ooooo, I don’t have to hold the floss. A little fishing rod for my mouth! How quaint. Don’t buy those sticks, ever. 

The number 69 is forever cursed. A sea of giggles when it is called out at the passport office. A sea of giggles when some dude on the volleyball team uses it on his jersey. I remember buying a red zip-up sweater from Sirens when I was in grade 8 that had the number 69 on it. Thinking now about my male teacher having that number thrown in his face every time I answered a question is just, I can’t even. I hadn’t even kissed anyone at that age, let alone put my vagina on their face. But it was all for sass’s sake. 

Anyway, how do people decide to get into 69ing? One person gets to stay in their current position, and the other waves goodbye, sometimes cries, and heads south, trying to position themselves properly on your face while they simultaneously find your parts and latch on. And then all you can think about is whether or not the other person can smell your butt. I mean, you can sometimes smell theirs so…..yeah um and God forbid you have a lil toilet paper stuck somewhere.

It’s not all bad. I like that any combination of genders can give it a shot. In essence it is beautiful– simultaneous pleasure can be great but often it’s just too distracting. It is quite difficult to multitask. To give and receive at the same time is almost superhuman. It’s beyond my senses, that’s for sure. 


Ps I made this t shirt. Just kidding. Some clever devil did. 

  

How Do You Take a Compliment?

  
Written by Evelyn Taylor 😘

Compliments. They can be exciting, uplifting, insulting, awkward and weird. They can make you feel a range of emotions, including indifference. They can even make you unwittingly support capitalism.

Yeah, I went there.

Maybe you’ve noticed it from others, maybe you’ve noticed it in yourself, maybe you’ve never noticed it and maybe I’m a bit off my rocker for thinking it’s worth noticing, BUT, have you ever noticed that sometimes a compliment is immediately responded to with a recommendation or testimonial for a business? I love your necklace! I got it at Smart Set. You look great in that dress! Thanks, I found it in Value Village. Great haircut! I got it done at Sally’s salon down the street.

This pattern of responses works to accomplish a few things. Most of which are troubling.

#1 Deflection – Yes, it can be hard to take a compliment; to accept that someone sees something positive, interesting or beautiful about your appearance and that pointing it out is not only ok but justified. Deflecting a compliment by attributing it to something beyond yourself allows you to accept the compliment as valid without requiring that you let it change your self-image positively. It’s a tool – an effective one at that, but it seems somehow unfortunate. I mean, people compliment each other for all sorts of reasons, one of which is because they generally like you and want to show that they notice and appreciate you. Since we never truly know what happens in other people’s minds, why not choose to believe that people like and appreciate you? If they want to know where you got something, they’ll ask you.

#2 Individualistic Pragmatism – A compliment is clearly all about being practical and so clearly the only practical response involves promoting an action that will end in tangible results i.e. acquiring the desirable object or service. Unpractical, relationship-oriented things are useless! Right? Wait.

#3 Capitalism – Buy things! Let’s all buy things together! I bought x at y store and if you buy x at y store, we can both have x together! No sharing; that is not allowed. If you like something of mine, get your own! Objects can be the source of fun and good times, but unless it’s your friend’s shop or a place you really want to support, why promote it? For that matter, why attribute the store when they likely didn’t make it themselves but instead probably are exploiting other people for profit? In fact, I think if someone ever compliments you on how you smell (thanks to some LUSH product), you should keep in mind the person’s name on the container and respond with “Someone named (insert worker’s name) made it!”

#4 Fear of Lying by Omission – This one gets me. I think sometimes we immediately word-vomit when people compliment us so as not to be interpreted as hiding information from them, or “secret-keeping”. When I found out that omission is considered lying, I began to panic. The part of my brain that said “don’t say anything dumb or upsetting to anyone ever” had an epic battle with the part of my brain that thoroughly believed that “honesty is the best policy” and the casualties were so bad on either side, it’s hard to tell who won. As I get older, I’m beginning to rediscover the wonder and excitement of secrets and mysteries and have been less worried about lies. People believe what they want to believe and we can only truly know our own flawed perceptions of reality anyway, so what does it matter? Truth is relative and dynamic. Be mysterious if you want to be.

Do I think that responding to compliments this way is wrong? Not at all. Do I think it’s weird? Absolutely! People are weird and often times they just do things because they imitate others and generation after generation ends up repeating strange habits. I advocate for thinking about these strange habits and seeing if they need to change. I also like to think of life as a choose-your-own-adventure story that you tell yourself, so let’s not make it too dull or predictable, ok?