Freaky Tales from Wood Buffalo

Happy Halloween, boils and ghouls!

My library has just started a blog, and I wrote up our first post, all about strange tales and occurrences in Wood Buffalo (in and around Fort McMurray).

If you enjoy local ghost stories, please check it out here!

Happy haunting!

Japanese Candy Wrapper Journal Video Tour

I love Japanese candy and snacks- they are often packaged very creatively and cutely, and feature all kinds of unique textures and flavours. For a while I had a subscription to a Japanese snack box (best birthday present ever) which gave me the chance to try out all kinds of different stuff. I love the cool packaging of these treats so much that I thought it was a shame to toss out the wrappers, and so I decided to start a Candy & Snack Journal. I’ve since added more and more as I’ve gotten candy as gifts, at shops, and on my trip to Japan in 2017.

When I first started this blog I made a post with a quick peek of my journal, but I decided it would be fun to make a video going through each page. I’ve enjoyed looking back at the candies and snacks I’ve tried, and hope that some others will enjoy the video too!

 

 

 

Daily Inkling: Crooked Man

Matthew of Normal Happenings has challenged me to participate in today’s Daily Inkling:

Write a blog post inspired by today’s Daily Inkling:

“THE MONSTER IN THE DELL”

Take your favorite nursery rhyme and turn it into a nightmare.

I love the Daily Inklings ideas posted on Normal Happenings and I really should participate more!

And now, without further ado…

Here’s my disturbing take on the nursery rhyme “There Was a Crooked Man”

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

He wasn’t literally crooked, at least in the beginning (though his sour face often twisted in disgust) but he saw everything and everyone else to be crooked, never supposing that his was the truly twisted view.

Nobody knew what turned him so bitter against the world- he just showed up in the town one day  with the rage already inside him- but for as long as anyone could recall he was known to be an angry recluse with a grudge against humanity at large.

His condition worsened steadily as he aged. His damaged worldview was paranoid, fearful, and angry. What started as bitter verbal vitriol eventually began to manifest in his physical mannerisms. His posture was affected, too- his back began to hunch and his shoulders bunched up tightly. He would sometimes be seen peeking out of his crumbling house, shrouded in shadow, craning his neck to look out at passersby and twisting his body as though to see them proper. His startling eyes would bulge and his mouth would hang open, revealing useless brown stubs of teeth on a face tight with silent fury and judgement. His face wasn’t seen often, but when it was, it was never forgotten.

His home became more and more dilapidated with time and his shoddy slap-dash repairs. Sometimes newcomers and visitors to the town would inquire sympathetically about the aging recluse in the patchy old house on the corner, but the town residents would dredge up abominable memories that swiftly dashed any potential for pitying him.

The only companion he had was a mouser with a sharp kink in her tail – the clever shorthair was fast and wily, and loved nothing more than catching mice to bring, still wriggling, to her master.

~~~

One fine and fateful day a young girl was selling cookies in her neighborhood without much luck. Her friends, who lived nearby, had already hit these familiar streets and taken the pocket change of her willing neighbors. These cookies are famously delicious, but nobody’s biting, she thought.

So she took her cookie wagon, and her business, elsewhere.

The new neighborhood was a ways away, and much more receptive to her Minty Crunchies. The little girl was feeling pretty good about her smart business choice. She moved briskly from home to home, feeling a lightness in her step, and in the red wagon she pulled behind her as the cookie boxes dwindled.

She was left with just six boxes when she noticed the sun was nearly done dawdling- it would soon be dark. She was about to turn around and head home when she saw a slender cat on the sidewalk a couple of houses down. The stripey cat looked curious, and very approachable. The girl couldn’t resist. She sidled up alongside the cat and gently stroked its fur. She noticed a bend in its tail and thought aw, poor kitty, did you get your tail caught in something? Did something fall on you?

The cat seemed to smile as it rubbed its face against the hem of the girl’s corduroys. It turned and padded languorously down a weedy, broken path towards the house on the corner, as if beckoning. The girl figured that this decrepit place was where the cat lived, and she felt a bit guilty for thinking I doubt they will have any money for cookies at least I can make sure the cat gets home, and who knows, maybe they’ll buy a box.

She grabbed a box of Minty Crunchies and skipped after the cat, who kept looking back at her invitingly as they approached the neglected old house.

 

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~~~

The girl’s parents had begun to worry- didn’t we tell her to be home before the sun was down? She knows better than this. 

As the minutes turned to an hour, and then another, they knew something was terribly wrong.

They called the houses of all of her friends. The mother circled their neighborhood in the car. The father’s frantic calls, echoing from the garden, grew more desperate every minute. The police were called. Two officers visited the house. They wrote down some things. Said they would drive around the neighborhood. They were calm, they obviously didn’t realize, this isn’t like her, this isn’t normal.

A neighbor offered to watch the house so the parents could search for themselves in the car. The mother insisted on a thorough search expanding outward from their neighborhood- maybe their daughter wandered somewhere new and got lost?

Their circle widened and widened as the father called out the passenger window into the darkness. The mother drove slowly but purposefully with a grim determination.

Isn’t this too far? the Father asked, why would she come all the way out here? We should turn back and go around our neighborhood again, then we-

Then they saw it. The red wagon, there on the sidewalk beside an old weedy path. Abandoned, along with 5 boxes of cookies. The little girl was nowhere in sight.

~~~

Jesus! the father cried. The mother screeched to a halt and flung open the car door, racing toward the wagon. The father joined her, shouting and sobbing his daughter’s name. They grabbed at eachother and followed their feet the only direction that made sense- down the overgrown path that was long forgotten before today.

The path led them to the steps of the dilapidated house. They raced to the top, hammering on the door. Nothing.

The father noticed a solitary box of cookies near his feet, and he made an inhuman sound. They beat on the door again. Still nothing.

Then the mother’s eyes met the eyes of another, peeking through the broken front window. Bulging, watery eyes, staring intensely. A crinkled nose and rotten mouth, open in a wide grimace.

The thing dangling in his arms couldn’t be their daughter. How could it be? Human bodies don’t bend that way.

CROOKED! the man screamed. ALL OF YOU!

UnSTUFF Your Life: 12 Tips from a Geek Who Read all the Books!

Books on organizing, tidying, and decluttering your home are quite popular right now. I’ve read a few such books in these last couple of years, and I’ve dedicated some pages in one of my journals where I keep track of tips and reflections on these books.

pic of my journal

I’m not chasing a minimalist or magazine sort of aesthetic- I have eclectic tastes and enjoy collecting books, figurines, and other stuff (often of clashing cute/creepy/many fandomed varieties!) However, I don’t enjoy clutter that is mindless, and I’ve learned a lot from the tidying and decluttering experts that I think can be incorporated into the lives of everyday people who are finding their stuff overwhelming. No matter the size of your space or your personal style, I think everyone can benefit from reconsidering their relationship with their things, casting out clutter, and celebrating the items that they truly love.

rillakkuma stuffies
These funny little faces give me joy every time I see them XD

Here I will share the tips that were most useful for me personally. At the end i’m including a booklist for anyone else who might be interested in reading up more in-depth on these concepts! Happy tidying 🙂 

Tips

  1. As Marie Kondo states in her bestselling books, If it doesn’t bring you joy, you might be better off without it. (Note: joy can come in many different forms, such as aesthetics, function, comfort, etc.) Another variation of this is: “If it’s not a ‘Hell Yes‘, it’s a NO!”
  2. Reflect that every time you observe or consider an item in your home that doesn’t bring you joy, you are wasting mental space and time on that item, which adds to mental clutter that can really annoy you over time!
  3. Acknowledge the privilege you have to be considering how to manage all the stuff you have- this is an opportunity to be thankful for the things you have even as you are working to lessen their hold on you.
  4. If you’re even considering whether you should let something go, that’s a sign that you probably should.
  5. Consider stores to be your own personal warehouses-if you have a hard time letting go of an item because it might become useful someday, remember if it’s that useful it will always be available later (and if it’s expensive you can likely borrow or rent it!)
  6. Think: if I lost this item or it broke, would I buy it again? If not, then you probably don’t need it or love it as much as you thought.
  7. If sentimental items are holding you back, consider taking a picture of the item. Remember, it’s the memories and intention that matter, not the item itself. 
  8. Storage solutions are not the answer- declutter everything and rely on built-in storage options in your house first. Storage solutions can often exacerbate the problem (hiding the clutter away but not truly tackling it)
  9. Don’t hold onto something just because of guilt– If it was expensive, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not what you need and you are wasting mental energy on it.
  10. If you have a hard time parting with items that were gifted to you, think: the person probably isn’t truly that emotionally invested, and likely wouldn’t want you to keep it if they knew it was not useful or wanted. 
  11. Consider if the item(s) can be donated, sold, gifted, passed down, or recycled. (One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!)
  12. Remember that someday you will be gone. Perhaps this sounds morbid, but it’s a practical consideration that can inspire you to consider what you really want in your home vs. what is there just because. Consider that every single item represents a potential judgement call that someone (a friend, family) will have to make in addressing the things you leave behind when you die. 

Books

These are the books that I’ve read so far on this topic. There are certainly more out there, so explore your options!

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
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  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo 
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  • The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up: a Magical Story by Marie Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto
Image result for marie kondo books manga
  • Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
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  • The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson
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  • Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
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  • Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki
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  • The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy by Nagisa Tatsumi
  • Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames
Image result for the frugalwoods book

Super Septic Lobster Award

Thanks very much to Matthew of Normal Happenings for tagging myself as well as all of the other contributors of The Games that Defined Us in this Super Septic Lobster Award! Or… OK, apparently it’s called the (Super Specific) Liebster Award -I can’t keep all these cool, fancy award names straight XD

 

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Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blog posting:

I love blogging because I can share my thoughts and ideas on things I am passionate about with the world! I’ve only been blogging on here for a few months, but I’ve already met some super cool people and joined some awesome collaborative projects. I truly enjoy writing, so it’s a good fit for me. My blog is also a time capsule I can look back on for the memories, as well as something I can share with people when they ask things like “why do you like cosplay”, “why do you love vampires so much”, or “how long have you been a SHINee fan?”

Provide 10 random facts about yourself.

  1. I just ate some butter chicken!
  2. My Dad calls me “scrawney” but I don’t think I’ve ever been what you could call scrawney…
  3. My left eye has really poor vision but apparently my right eye is 20/20 (last I checked, anyway) so it compensates for my bad eye.
  4. I considered getting laser eye surgery for my bad eye but decided against it when I found out that it would make it a lot harder to wear costume contact lenses (because cosplay>ocular health…)
  5. I have a small piece of New Brunswick rock embedded above my left cheekbone from a bad bike accident when I was 11 years old.
  6. My family “smuggled” our pet rats across the country when we moved because rats aren’t allowed in Alberta. We told the Air Canada security people that they were hamsters or something, and they didn’t really investigate. (We would have been a hysterical mess if they took our rats away, so i’m glad it worked out…)
  7. Last year I went to Japan and I still think lovingly about Japan every single day.
  8. I’ve been slowly but steadily working on learning basic conversational Japanese for several years.
  9. I’ve never eaten a food that I wouldn’t try again.
  10. I can’t help myself when it comes to sweets, so I don’t buy them often- when they’re in the house I devour them way too quickly!

Super Specific Questions

  1. Ask your best friend/significant other to make an annoying animal sound. How did they react, and what animal did they imitate?I don’t even have to ask, because I can already hear the beleaguered goat sound Dustin would make. I know it to be so. I will test this later…*I tested it later*.:
    Dustin, driving home, on bluetooth: Hello?
    Shauna: Hun, make an annoying animal sound.
    Dustin: *prolongued silence* uh…
    Shauna: Just do it. Any animal.
    Dustin: …. “HOOOOOUUUNNAAANNNNKK”
    Shauna: What… what IS that?
    Dustin: It’s a cow!

    Ok, so I was close.
    I then told him I thought he would make a goat sound.
    At first he said “I don’t know how to make a goat sound?”
    Then I made a goat sound, and he blurted “BAAEEEHEHHHEHHE” as if remembering a long-lost bovidae secret.


  2. *POOF* I am your barista. Order your favorite coffee shop beverage exactly as you would in real life.

    “Hi um… can I please get a chai tea latte? Oh err, the one that means medium heh, I can’t remember what it’s called. Great, thanks. OH, and this peanut butter cup thing too please. No that’s ok, I will eat it right now. Great. Thanks!”


  3. Do numbers have personalities in your mind? If so, tell me about the personality of the number 6. What’s it’s story? What kind of disposition does it have?
    Six isn’t afraid of seven. She’s so tired of people making that joke. In fact, she’s about to snap! She has a secret room in her basement that the other numbers have started rumors about. “It’s a torture chamber!” they whisper, “no, I heard it’s a kinky bdsm dungeon, you know they call her Sadistic Six right?” Meanwhile Six bides her time, musing “They think i’m afraid? Heh, I’ll show them what it means to be afraid…”


  4. What is your favorite movie title? Not your favorite movie, just the title, irrespective of the quality of the film. 

    “Malkovich’s Hole” (Coincidentally though, I do love that movie)


  5. Story time! Your best friend suddenly finds themselves in the body of your least favorite animal. Craft a story of five sentences or less with this unfortunate predicament as a central plot mechanic. Bonus points if it’s the same animal they chose to imitate.
    I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking and I honestly can’t think of a least favorite animal!
    I just… I love all animals T-T
    Well, since he makes goat sounds, let’s go with goat.S: Honey, you’re a goat!
    D: Baeeaaaahhh
    S: You know that goats are sometimes associated with the devil, right. Are you a Satan worshiper?
    D: BEEAAAHHHEEHHHH
    S: I challenge you to a rock off!!! Give me one chance to rock your socks off!!! 

    Image result for tenacious d beelzeboss


  6. Tell me. Do Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?
    If you give credence to lexical ambiguity, they sure do!(Thanks for getting me to curiously google buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo and find this interesting ted-ed!)


  7. Tell us about the most boring game show you could ever imagine.
    A game called “Truth Or Trump?!” where Trump’s tweets and video clips are shown: contestants raise a sign up to show their guess of if what Donald Trump is saying is TRUTH or a LIE, and whoever gets the most right wins a small loan of a million dollars.It would be extremely boring because there would be no contest; everything that man says is a lie!


  8. Useless Superpower Bedbug: The Return!
    Which of the following useless superpowers would choose and why?
    – The ability to randomly add cat meows to every song on the radio
    – The ability to randomly add the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story to even the most intense of any movie scene
    – The ability to randomly add Owen Wilson saying “WOW” to any line of dialog in a video game

    WOW, these are all solid options. However, I’m definitely going with the ability to randomly add cat meows to every song on the radio. It would really entertain me and tickle my funny bone endlessly. There would have to be a wide range of meow sound selections so that I could tailor my choices to the specific song. I’m already obsessed with Corgi Maybe, so this isn’t a far stretch for me.


  9. What is the hexadecimal color code for your favorite color?

    #88d8c0 Color Information. In a RGB color space, hex #88d8c0 (also known as Pearl Aqua) is composed of 53.3% red, 84.7% green and 75.3% blue. Whereas in a CMYK color space, it is composed of 37% cyan, 0% magenta, 11.1% yellow and 15.3% black.

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  10. On a scale of one to 15,742.58, how do you feel about these super specific questions?
    The scale doesn’t even go high enough- I rate them a fifillion out of a million!

    OK! So, I tag these awesome peeps:
    Milliebot
    Simpleek
    FangirlFury
    A Nerdy Perspective
    The Spellbound Librarian

    My questions for you are below!

    Please don’t feel pressured to do this if you don’t want to, this is all for fun ^_^ And if anyone else reading this wants to do it too, GO FOR IT!

    Here are the official Liebster Award rules.

    And, here are my 11 questions!:

    1. You wake up tomorrow to the Breaking News that alien ships had been discovered in our atmosphere. How do you feel? What do you do?

    2. What was your favorite toy when you were a kid? Do you still have it?

    3. What fictional character would you love to be besties with? What would a typical hang-out session be?

    4. Share a random, obscure YouTube video that you are fond of and explain why you like it. If you don’t have one, explore until you do!

    5. Share a memorable story from your past involving a teacher you had.

    6. What is your opinion on the “YOLO” mindset?

    7. Describe your dark alter-ego. Give them a name, explain their style, their hopes and dreams.

    8. Open up Paint or a similar program. Create something just for the act of creating it- no judgement, no expectations, no worries, just go with it. Take a screenshot and post it here! (Alternately, draw with old fashioned paper and pen/pencil/marker/paint and take a picture).

    9. Explain your true feelings towards circus clowns. You may wish to do this in the form of poetry.

    10. Speaking of poetry, what is your interpretation of the following verse from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky? What is being described?

    ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
          Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 
    All mimsy were the borogoves, 
          And the mome raths outgrabe. 

    11. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen in person- something that  might have gone viral if it was caught on camera?

 

Super Specific Sunshine Award (& Tags)

Thanks a bazillion to Megan of A Geeky Gal for nominating me for this really fun award, featuring SUPER SPECIFIC QUESTIONS! I really appreciate it, community is what makes blogging fun, and I’ve met so many cool people through blogging!

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And also thanks to Matt of Normal Happenings for creating this award! It’s an interactive and engaging idea.

So! Here are the rules for this award:

The “Rules”

You control your own destiny. If you desire Normal Happenings Super Specific Sunshine Award, the nomination process is as follows.

  • Respond to at least one super specific question in the comments.
  • If I like your answer even a little bit, I shall dub you “Nominated,” and exchange some witty repartee.
  • Respond to all questions on a blog post of your own, then come up with ten more super specific questions.
  • Link back to this post (or not, doesn’t bother me).
  • Encourage others to do the same, henceforth propagating an internet macro for centuries.
  • Bask in the glory of your newly earned Normal Happenings Super Specific Sunshine Award!

 

Super Specific Questions from A Geeky Gal

  • It’s Karaoke Night! What song are you singing?

I LOVE KARAOKE! I usually go for soulful songs or powerful rock ballads from artists such as Journey, The Cranberries, KISS, The Cars, Ozzy, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin.

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  • If someone really wanted to understand you, what would they read, watch, play, and listen to?

Read: Transgressive fiction

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Watch: Vampire movies and epic fantasies

Image result for interview with the vampireImage result for the lord of the rings fellowship of the ring movie

 

Play: Otome games

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Listen to: Diabolik Lovers drama CDS XD

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  • What movie made you so sad that you could never watch it again?

Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995)

When I was a little kid in the 90’s my parents rented this vhs from blockbuster and sat me down to watch it. They still fondly recall sometimes the story of how, when the movie was over, they asked me “So what did you think of the movie, Shauna?” and I turned to them, tears streaming down my lil’ face, and bawled “IT WAS HORRIBLE!”

It’s about a boy and his dog lost in the woods together. There is a scene *spoiler alert* where the kid and his dog are finally found and a rescue helicopter comes to save them but they can only take the kid. They have to leave the dog behind, and the kid is screaming, held back by the rescue crew as the helicopter raises higher and higher, noooo my dogggg, I can’t leave my dogggg! and I was pretty much scarred for life.

  • If you dropped everything right now and went on a road trip, where would you go?

Japan isn’t really accessible by road so….. Banff! I want to soak in some hot springs and see the beautiful scenery. I would also love to visit my friends in Calgary and Nanaimo.

adventure, Alberta, alpine

  • You can play match maker with any two characters of any genre, what characters would you pick and what would their first date be like?

I want to see InuYasha take Kagome on a proper date with no alternate context. YOU CAN’T RUN AWAY FOR EVER, INUYASHA!

InuYasha has to take the initiative. Window shopping, fancy dinner in a restaurant, an evening at the theatre. Who knows where the night will lead?

It always drove me CRAZY that InuYasha was obviously so in love with Kagome but always hid it, CRAZY I TELL YOU.

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  • If I were a billionaire and I wanted to hire you to be make my life better/easier, what would I hire you to do?

Hmmmmm good one….  I’m pretty good at cleaning, and I could maybe entertain you with some very basic ukelele songs?

  • How many pillows do you sleep on and why?

I have one pillow, and I am VERY particular about my pillow! It must be squishy enough to wrap behind my neck and around my ears- not too firm, not too flat. Sometimes I even take it with me when I am traveling if I know that a hotel has crappy pillows.

The worst kind of pillow for me is one that’s too firm >.<

  • You die. Credits start rolling past you. What are some of the strangest roles other people have played in your life?

WOAH this is such a great question!

-First Kiss Boy: Kevin Bacon (no relation)

-Mutually Johnny-Depp Obsessed Girl

-The Coolest Woman You’ll Ever Meet

-Racist Jerk on Public Transit

-Loud At 2AM Roommate

-Very Sexually Active Roommate

-Drug Paraphernalia Roommate

-Shawol insta-friend

-Witch at the Bus Stop

 

  • What’s worth the wait?

Happiness is worth the wait, though I wish I’d known I needn’t have waited.

🙂

  • What kind of people do you hate the most?

Hate is a really strong word that I don’t use often, but I think it’s safe to say that I hate animal abusers.

 

Super Specific Questions from HideNGoShauna

  • You’re at a geek convention. You’ve got $1000 to blow. If you could only choose one of the following, which would you rather spend your money on: plushies, posters, or figurines?
  • What fictional character do you look up to as a role model or inspiration, and why?
  • Explain an outlandish belief or misconception that you had as a child.
  • What is a profession that you’ll probably never do but think you would be good at and/or enjoy?
  • Do you have any special or unique traditions with your family or friends?
  • What would your catchphrase be if you were a 90’s hero? (Example: In the Name of the Moon, I will Punish You! – Sailor Moon)
  • If your life was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
  • What was your favorite childhood toy?
  • Do you prefer city life or country life?
  • What’s on your bucket list, and have you completed anything yet from it?

I nominate:

BizarreBrunette

The Geek at Heart

Crazy Disco Stu

The Animessenger

and if anyone else wants to do this, I will nominate you too 😉 leave me a comment.

Consuming vs. Creating

I wish I could find the exact quote; I read a book once, a good few years ago (I can’t even remember what book it was). I have no recollection what the book itself was even about, but I do remember this: the author quoted someone who said something like “if you aren’t actively creating, you’re just a consumer”. That simple, harsh truth really stuck with me.

Back then I realized that, for a variety of reasons at that particular moment in my life (okay… decade of my life) I was barely creating anything. I was solely consuming in all meanings of the word- consuming food, entertainment, and material goods mindlessly. I wasn’t using my creative mind in my job, in my hobbies, or in my day to day life. I was spending way too much time scrolling endless junk articles on my phone. I’d lost my teenage penchant for writing poems and playing with visual art.

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^Ignoring my friends for my phone? >.>

I don’t want to come off as preachy- technology is super useful, and we use our cell phones for so much more than distraction seeking. Plus, it’s fun and recharging to do mindless things once in a while, and I have abandoned the term “guilty pleasure” because if you love something, why should you feel guilty about enjoying it? Speaking of which, read this awesome blog post by @biblionyan on the topic of guilty pleasures!

But that’s the thing; this “guilty pleasure” pastime of scrolling and losing myself in click-bait wasn’t actually enjoyable for me. It was just a habitual, unfulfilling distraction I automatically turned to because it was easy and gave me a hit of dopamine.

I knew I wanted to spend more time creating again and really using my free time to learn new things and develop new skills, but for some reason this mindset just didn’t stick. I’d read an inspirational book, or watch a documentary, and feel motivated- for a couple of days. Then I’d fall back into the same stale routines.

Happily, I have now gotten to a place where I am creating and living so much more again. I am writing, drawing, painting, dancing, studying, traveling, and learning new skills like public speaking. I’m seeking out new opportunities rather than hiding from them. This has come about in the last two to three years. How did I get my creative spark back? Why hadn’t I been able to reignite it sooner?

My anxiety and depression were holding me back.

I unpacked about my struggles with anxiety and depression in a blog post recently, which you can read here. Long story short, after years of battling these issues, talking to counselors, and trying lots of methods unsuccessfully to manage, I finally tried medication prescribed by my doctor, and it helps me so much. Life is exciting and fun again. I feel like the old self I once knew and lost somewhere between adolescence and adulthood.

The passion for my job at the library, which I knew was lurking inside me, finally bloomed. I worked on building up my self-confidence from my lowest low. I started seeking out new opportunities instead of waiting to be asked. I began using my creativity more in work projects, and at home.

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Feeling lifted out of the muck, I sought out new hobbies: handbell choir, dance classes, sewing, yoga, cosplay, crafting, dabbling with ukulele, volunteering at the SPCA. I even helped out with some small roles in a local web-series created by-nerds-for-nerds. Speaking of which, my dorky fangirl self, who had been hiding in a sort of shame cave, fearing judgement of others, emerged proudly once again.

I started creating visual art again, something that I had largely abandoned in the height of my anxiety and depression. Before long it became a familiar habit. I get a regular urge to create art now, and when I get into my flow several hours can pass without my realizing.

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I’ve since started sharing my art in small local galleries & markets, and online. Sharing my art and creative projects with the world brings me joy.

I think that everyone has the capacity to be creative in their own way. Sometimes we get bogged down by a narrow idea of what “creativity” means, but we can be creative in so many different ways- at our jobs, around our homes, through the clothes and accessories we wear, or in our gardens, for example. Right now I am slowly but surely working on a goal of being more creative in the kitchen with baking and cooking.

Speaking of infusing creativity into our daily lives, recently I came across this extremely interesting Ted Talk by Ingrid Fetell Lee about the roots of joy.

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She presented her insights about some of the universal triggers of joy as discovered through studies of people all around the world- things like bright colours, soft shapes, fractal patterns, novelty, abundance, a feeling of light and air.

Two take-aways that stuck with me:

  1. Why,  if these playful, colourful, and creative expressions bring us joy and increase our happiness and productivity, do we design so many aspects of our homes, offices, hospitals, schools, and streets in uninspiring, predictable shapes, and shades of beige and grey?
  2. Why do we judge people who embrace colour and creativity in their own lives, in what they wear, how they decorate and so on, by labeling them as kooky, emotional, unprofessional, or “girly”?

I think we can learn so much from people who incorporate fun fearlessly into their lives (or rather, refuse to let go of it just because they are getting older). I’m fascinated by people like Iris Apfel, Yayoi Kusama and Elizabeth Sweetheart who present themselves however feels right to them, and don’t give a flying fluevog what society thinks of them for being different. Thanks to social media like Instagram, it’s easier than  ever to find unapologetically creative people and bold sartorial inspiration.

A potential struggle for being creative is the busy lives we lead- there were times when I thought “how will I possibly have time to finish this personal project”? But as with anything in life, you make time for what is important to you, what makes you happy and fulfills you. I work on art during my work breaks sometimes, and because I consider my art time important for my well-being, I will pass up invitations or events on occasion if I know I haven’t had time to paint in a while. I am lucky to work at a library where I have the option of using my creativity on a regular basis such as illustrating the Joke of the Day, making fun book displays, or drawing pictures to accompany my power-point slides!

Yes, I still check my phone, yes I still watch Netflix and play video games, but when I do I always aspire to be mindful and intentional with this use of my precious time, and avoid getting lost in zombie-like distraction. Time is the most important commodity we have, and in this often cruel and unfair world I’m privileged to be a healthy woman living in a safe country where I have the gift of free time to explore my creativity. I don’t want to squander that.

Freeing myself from depression and intense anxiety has enabled me to enjoy my life and creativity to the fullest. I am glad that the days of dragging my feet through life are behind me. After 10 years of waking up with sighs of fatigue and defeat, sighs of contentment are a welcome change. There are so many things I want to do with my life that I don’t know where to start, so I am dipping my toes into everything.

I wish I could share this wake-up call with the world (well, that’s what a blog is for, I guess) but I think that, first and foremost, it’s something that you need to truly want for yourself.

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