Big News

You may recall a few weeks ago that I mentioned something big was coming in the near future.

On Valentine’s Day last week, it finally happened. I took delivery of my new car!


I bought myself a 2018 Hyundai Elantra.

I have gone eight years without owning a car; basically as long as I have lived here in London. I decided that it was high time I did something for myself to make my life easier. I originally had plans to buy a house in the next year or two, but after weighing the pros and cons, I decided that I would benefit far more from owning a car again. I have had it for less than a week and it has already made my life infinitely easier. It was an excellent decision!




Betwixt and Between

February 6, 2017 was the opening of the latest art show by the Shadowood Collective at The ARTS Project. The Shadowood Collective hosts a show at this location in the “dead of winter.” The theme this year was Betwixt and Between the Monsters We Dream and the artists who participate in this show are artists who specialize in dark art: monsters, and whatnot. Two of my favourite artists, both of whom are relatively local, were a part of the show (Vincent Marcone a.k.a. My Pet Skeleton, and Sarah Legault). I attended my first Shadowood Collective show last year with my stepsister, and attended again this year on my own.

There were some perks to arriving at the show early (and purchasing a VIP ticket). As I walked in the door, I received a pin and a poster. The pin is huge, and gorgeous.

img_5802The poster was for the event itself and showcased the art of some of the artists participating in the show. The art is really beautiful, and I cant wait to have it framed along with the poster I received from attending the show last year.

The art on display was amazing. If I had the money to purchase every single piece for sale I would have. I got there early and was able to make a full round of the gallery before it started to get busy.  I am glad I went early, as once the gallery started filling up, my anxiety started getting the better of me. I had to leave sooner than I wanted, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the show. It was great to get out of the house and do something that interests me. It was a nice change of pace from just going back and forth between home and work with maybe a few errands in between. I felt enriched by the experience, however short it was.

I always love the art I discover at these shows. I even discovered a new favourite art piece by my favourite artist. It is in the larger photo above, and it is called “The Children.” I wish I’d had the $390 to throw at it and take it home! But alas, it is not in the cards. Maybe I will be able to buy a print of it in the future.

The show runs Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 5pm until February 17th at The ARTS Project and admission is free. If you have the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend dropping in!

Newly Mobile

I recently made a rather significant investment and I think it will be life changing. It goes together with a few different things going on in my life.

The first thing, is that I recently realized that I am much more productive in writing when I am away from home. I think I just associate home a lot more with relaxing and not working. I can accomplish a lot more if I set myself up in a coffee shop for a few hours with some WiFi.

The second thing is my new side hustle. I am pretty proud of it and how much I have managed to do already. In addition to my full-time day job, I have started editing and proofreading on the side. My first ad went live on January 31st, and to date I have already worked with two clients and am negotiating with a third. It’s exciting to have a bit of extra cash from doing something I enjoy that isn’t too time consuming!

Anyway, back to this significant investment. I bought myself an ultra book. It’s the smallest laptop I could buy without having to resort to a Chromebook and I am already very happy with it. It’s an 11.6 inch body with a 13 inch screen, and is incredibly portable. It even fits in a purse to carry around on a day-to-day basis! Having this ultra book will enable me to be much more productive with my writing endeavours and it will also allow me to work from anywhere with my side hustle. I can go and meet clients anywhere.

I think this investment is a win. I’m so happy I decided to do it.

Please ignore the mess. I took the photos right after unboxing!

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

It’s easy to admit to yourself when you’re struggling. It’s another story all together when you admit to someone else how hard your day-to-day life really is. Showing weakness in itself talks its toll. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do when you’re an adult.

But here’s the thing:

You are not alone. You may feel like you are, but you’re not.

Everyone struggles in one way or another, and more of us struggle with our personal mental health than you may expect.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. There will always be someone there to help. There are resources available to you if you’re struggling. You won’t be judged for reaching out for help when you need it, even if it’s just calling a friend.

The good days usually outnumber the bad, but you don’t need to pretend the bad days don’t exist.

If you suffer from depression, mediocre days may be the norm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to have some better days…or maybe even good days. Maybe therapy will do the trick. Or maybe medication. Or maybe even a combination of both. It’s ALL okay. Fantastic even. Trying to help yourself is never a bad thing. In truth, it’s a really great thing.

* * * *

I was officially diagnosed with depression in the form of Persistent Depressive Disorder (also known as Dysthymia) in the fall of 2014. My therapist noted that it gets worse depending on the season. I was also diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, trichotillomania and excoriation disorder (also know as dermotillomania or skin picking disorder). Most of these conditions are co-morbid, meaning they occur together. I saw a therapist weekly for about a year and a half before she discharged me. I have used the tools I learned while working with her ever since.

During the spring and summer of 2016, I fell into a deep depressive episode, and it got to the point where I went to see my family doctor. It also took some prompting from friends and family, because I am pretty sure I was in denial. But I made the appointment and my doctor and I agreed that the best course of action was antidepressant medication. I have been on it since August 2016. I now stand by the fact that starting medication saved my life. It also improved my overall mood level, by improving the baseline I operated at emotionally.

It is important to understand that medication does not cure depression. It only makes it easier to manage on a day-to-day level. This has made a huge different for me in my overall life. My depressive episodes have evolved from contemplating suicide pre-medication to lots of cry and having to talk to someone. While I do still have bouts of suicidal ideation, it’s not something I would ever actively or consciously consider. I really do love my life and the people in it.

All of this is leading up to my most recent episode, which culminated in an emotional breakdown. I’ve felt pretty low emotionally for awhile, even though some exciting things have happened. Back in September I went to the doctor and we increased my medication dosage.  It has helped, but the winter is always especially difficult for me. I struggle the most in the darkness of winter and the humid heat of summer. Earlier this week I was feeling under the weather and it triggered an emotional breakdown. I was feeling like crap and I needed a hug. Unfortunately, since I live alone, there was really no one around or available to give me the hug and physical contact I needed. This led to an overwhelming sense of feeling and being alone. This was when the uncontrollable crying started. I just couldn’t stop. I knew I needed to talk to someone. I couldn’t work through the emotions all by myself. For this, I turned to my closes friends. I messaged them and they were able to help me start working through what was happening and to start making healthy decisions to recover. I also asked my closest local friend to call me as soon as she was able. She talked with my for close to an hour. She listened. She was a rational voice, and ultimately she helped me stop crying. We also made arrangements to meet the following day.

While I didn’t sleep very much or well that night, I no longer felt alone. I appreciated all the friends I reached out to for support so incredibly much. None of them judged me. They each showed me nothing by love and compassion and support, which was exactly what I needed at the time. In general, this is what can be expected from your loved ones. There are only rare exceptions. And here I am, a few days later, and in a better place mentally and emotionally. Reaching out allowed me to work through it and come out feeling better than before. In fact, I was able to return the favour to a dear friend this weekend, which I would not have been able to do without the help and support I received before.

* * * *

For those of your who are struggling locally and are unsure of where to turn, here are some available resources in the are:

CMHA Middlesex – 519-668-0624

CMHA Walk-In Crisis Centre – 519-434-9191

WAYS Mental Health Support (Youth-focused) – 519-432-2209

London Mental Health Crisis Service – 519-433-2023

Ontario Mental Health Helpline – 1-866-531-2600

Cooking Win

I recently received my first GoodFood crate. I got a half off deal on my first one, so I figured it was worth a try. It arrived this past Friday, and I cooked my first meal from it last night: A ground pork bulgogi with jasmine rice and marinated cucumbers.

The kit came with all of the ingredients I needed to cook the meal, and boy was it delicious! It was surprisingly simple as well.

Since I live alone, and have for a couple of years now, I find it difficult to find the motivation to cook myself hot meals, let alone healthy ones. Grocery shopping is one of the banes of my existence since I depend on public transit. Ordering in is an easy way out that I take far too often and gets far too expensive. I subscribed to GoodFood in the hopes that receiving recipes with all of the ingredients for the meals would provide me with the much-needed motivation to cook a healthy hot meal. I tried the first recipe last night. And guess what:


I enjoyed cooking my dinner last night, and it tasted so good. The payoff was huge in the amazing combination of flavours and ease of the actual meal preparation. It took about half an hour to make, and I ended up with 3 portions in the end, which means I have lunch and dinner for another day as well as what I ate last night. I am definitely calling it a win!

I have to more recipes to try, and I am so excited now. I think I will be making GoodFood a semi-regular thing in my meal rotation. I’m thinking every other week or so!

It is really nice to have a reason to cook for myself! I think trying new recipes is probably the best possible reason to get excited about cooking.

Who Needs Resolutions

I tend to be the type of person who does not make resolutions for the new year. They stress me out. I do, however, usually create goals plans for the coming year. It’s less stressful because it’s less “I NEED to do this” and more “I WANT” to do this.

For 2018 I have created some plans, and even a couple of goals. One of which has already been achieved. (That will be a separate blog post in the near future.) I noticed something interesting this year though.

A little history first: Late last year, I transitioned from bullet journaling to an actual planner. The Happy Planner by Me and My Big Ideas has become my planner of choice. It’s more fun and a lot less stressful for me because I don’t have to worry about creating a new spread every single week. With my planner, I can just write down what I need to and I can jazz it up with colour and stickers as much or as little as I want. It’s working beautifully for me.

And now, back to the interesting thing I noticed: Since I joined the online planner community I have seen the intriguing trend of choosing WORDS to live by in the new year. I think this is such a fun idea. You can choose your words and live by them in whatever way works best for you. I decided to jump on board with this trend. Why the heck not, right?

I have chosen three words for 2018:


2018 is the year of taking care of myself. This is the year of focusing on my personal creative endeavours, of taking care of myself both mentally and physically in every way possible, and learning to truly love and accept myself completely for who I am. I feel good about this. I think this will be a great approach to the year.

An Absentee Blogger Ringing in the New Year

The final three months of 2017 were a bit of a whirlwind. A lot of reflection took place, some changes in priorities as well, but mainly, a very sick kitty took up a lot of my time and money.

On top of that, my mental health has been a treat to deal with this year, and the holidays kicked my ass.

But let’s take a quick look at what my 2017 was like. As always, there were many ups and downs, and several changes that took place. It was a hard year, not unlike any other though.

The Ups:

  • My low key board gaming 31st birthday party was awesome
  • Huxley joined the fam
  • I was able to attend my cousin’s wedding in Manitoba and see a lot of family we don’t get to see around here near often enough
  • I took my first proper vacation in almost a decade!
  • I met the Internet-friend who has been a solid place in my life for the past year and a bit in real life
  • Tobi finally reached a healthy weight
  • I was promoted at work

The Downs:

  • I didn’t pay down much in terms of debt
  • No savings
  • Huxley had to make 2 trips to the vet in 2 months and cost me a lot of money
  • My mental health took a hard tumble in the fall, though things are better now

The ups far outnumber the downs for what may very well be the first time ever. Aside from witnessing the state of politics down in the United States, I can say that it was not a bad year.

There were a few changes that took place in 2017 for me personally as well. They were more mindset shifts than anything else. The first was that I decided to sell my DSLR camera. As much as I love photography, I just couldn’t keep a piece of tech like that around making me feel guilty for not using it. Ultimately, I made the decision to sell it and focus more on writing than on photography. The second change, also a mindset shift, was regarding future plans. New rules have been put in place that make it much more difficult for someone like me to get a mortgage. I’ve decided instead to focus on enjoying life and making it easier on myself as much as possible. I still love my apartment, and I don’t think I will grow out of it any time soon, so I will be sticking around here a good while. The other major change was Huxley joining our family back in February. He has been such a joy and I love him so much. I can’t imagine home without him!

I learned a few new things about myself as well. I learned that the state of my mental health has a huge effect on my every day life including managing important things like my finances. In light of this, I have come to understand that self-care needs to be a very important part of my life. My plans for 2018 encompass this. Those plans include a strong focus on taking care of myself first and foremost – the ways I intend to do this include fostering creativity as much as possible, working on self-love, and making sure self-care is a part of my daily routine. My other more “practical” plans include paying down as much debt as I reasonably can, saving $1000 and keeping it saved, and the big one: BUYING A CAR! It will be a significant added expense, but it will pay for itself by making my life significantly easier as well. I’m almost 32, and as much as I don’t love driving, I’m ready to not have to struggle to travel around the city or make arrangements to visit friends in the next town over weeks in advance! It is something that will make a huge different in my quality of life on a daily basis. I call that worth it!

So here’s to a happy and healthy 2018 to all of my friends, family and readers.

A Vacation of Firsts

I just arrived home from a vacation months in the making a few days ago. Vacation days were booked in February, and the following months were spent saving up funds and booking travel. After much anticipation and planning, things finally came together for a September 1 departure.

This vacation is my first since 2008, aside from taking a week off to move two years ago. A lot has changed since then: relationships have come and gone, I’ve moved house more than a couple times, I’ve started and left several jobs, and I’ve started over completely from nothing. A proper vacation was long overdue.

My vacation was amazing, and I had the opportunity to have so many experiences over the course of it, thanks to some pretty amazing friends and  family. I don’t know that I will ever be able to express my appreciation for helping to make this vacation possible.

The most amazing part of this vacation was the sheer number of first-time experiences I had. I attempted to keep and make a list, but it just got ridiculous once it hit multiple pages in length. I want to write about as many as logically possible. I will do my best not to make this boring!

Let’s start with the crazy stuff. On the second day of vacation, the first day of our road trip: we stopped in Redding, California, just off the I-5 for dinner, and then the plan was to head for the highway 299 W toward the coast. Minutes after we started to make our way down the 299 W, we discovered it was shut down due to one of the many fires in the area. I scrambled to find us a detour as quickly as possible, and ended up taking us down two regional roads: SR 3 and SR 36. Little did we know we were in for the ride of our lives…and not in a good way. It was the most terrifying experience I have ever had, to my recollection. We were detouring down these unfamiliar back roads full of sharp turns, at times with no lines painted on the roads or reflectors, and definitely no guard rails to be found the entire time we spent travelling those roads. It was made even more frightening by the drivers coming from the opposite direction around the curves driving 55-60 miles per hour, and that we were driving these roads well after midnight. We didn’t have phone service for the majority of the detour either, so we were also travelling blindly. We white-knuckled our way through the entire detour. Never have I been so thankful to arrive at a destination!

Thankfully, the positive first-time experiences outweighed the negative. I traveled into California for the first time and saw the world-renowned Redwoods. We visited two state parks while we were in California: the Redwoods State & National Park, and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We hiked two trails, totaling just under three miles. I use the term “hiking” lightly as neither of us are hikers. The tree growth in the first park was not as old as the growth in the second park, but it was beautiful, and an amazing thing to see for the first time! Even though we were dealing with wildfire smoke, it did not detract from the experience in the slightest. Seeing the Redwoods is the first thing I can confidently describe as awe-inspiring. And that was just the first park! The second park we visited was an old-growth park, where the vast majority of the trees were over a thousand years old. It has a completely different vibe from the first.  It felt like a truly magical place, and its beauty was almost overwhelming for me. We found a nice little nook just off the trail, and I now describe that nook as one of my “happy places.” It’s pretty amazing though that the Redwoods was just the first of several amazing destinations I experienced for the first time. The next one I was able to experience was seeing and going into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I saw it for the first time while we were driving up the coast, and smelled it for the first time when we were past the worst of the smoke. The ocean has a very distinct smell, sort of fishy almost but also refreshing! It walked into it the first time when we stopped in Newport, OR where we stayed at the amazing Sylvia Beach Hotel. It was so much colder than I expected! I had a lot of fun and very pink feet by the time we were done and ready to go eat dinner! We visited the ocean again when we were in Pacific City, and had a nice walk on a slightly warmer and sunnier day. The ocean wasn’t much warmer, but it was an enjoyable stroll along the beach. Even with a bunch of people around, it was kind of peaceful. We ended our walk that day with yummy beach coffee. Another first, although much easier to come by! I was really so lucky in that I was able to see so much of nature’s beauty on this vacation. I even got to stick my toes and hands in a real sulfur hot spring while I was in British Columbia!

I can’t forget though, the amazingness that was Powell’s City of Books. I can only describe it as a book lover’s dream. So, basically my dream. We visited twice and I did well in stopping myself from overspending – or spending at all! I can’t wait to go back… I NEED to go back…

Among the many other amazing firsts was the food! I tried so many new foods! I even discovered that I enjoy things I thought I disliked previously. Surprising myself in this way was actually pretty great. It reminds me why I try things at least once. I had my first actual food cart experience in Portland… more than once. It was delicious every time. Absolutely zero regrets. I had the best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life twice from a food cart that came highly recommended, and I also tried a “sushi burrito” twice in two different styles: one spicy and one not. Both were fantastic. Who knew a giant sushi roll could be so satisfying! In keeping with my whole trying foods kick, I tried a new spin on an old staple of mine when we stopped for lunch one day: a salmon Caesar salad! I usually go for chicken, but I remembered that I wanted to try new things on vacation so I changed it up. And boy am I glad I did! It was so flavourful and the salmon melted in my mouth. It complimented the salad much better than I ever expected. One of my favourite new foods I tried was Korean, traditional. Arien’s mom cooked a meal the night before I left and it was excellent. I enjoyed it so much…spice and all. I was rather proud of myself actually! Spicy foods aren’t usually very nice to me. It’s funny though because I was told that she didn’t break out the big guns in terms of spiciness…haha. Baby steps! There was So much good food on vacation too. I will miss it. It’s just not quite the same at home.

This small recap of a few of the MANY firsts I experienced isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I have so many amazing memories from this vacation that I will remember forever.

You Know Something’s Wrong When…

The world we are living in is a very difficult one to live in. On one hand we are surrounded by SO MANY great and beautiful things like friends, family, nature, the freedoms we enjoy – but on the other hand we are dogged by some of the ugliest things. Racism and bigotry are very much alive and well. Violence is everywhere we turn. Extremists of all kinds seek to dismantle all that we have worked hard to achieve as a society. This is becoming especially apparent with our southern neighbours, the U.S., based on recent events.

I have been struggling a lot with my depression this summer in and of itself, but watching events unfold around the world, mostly in the U.S. since Donald Trump was elected president, has been profoundly disheartening and has had a negative effect on my mental health overall. It has added to what has felt like a gradual spiral dive turned crash and burn into the ground. My mental health is in the shitter. My anxiety is at a 2-year peak, and my depression is the worst it has been since I went on medication approximately a year ago. I realize part of it is seasonal, part of it has a social aspect, but I feel like a large portion can be attributed to struggling to live in this world we have created for ourselves. I’m not saying I am suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, but it is becoming more and more difficult to go about my day knowing what has been happening elsewhere and thinking about what could potentially happen that day. It’s a very stressful way to live.

The events that took place in Charlottesville this month had a more profound effect on me than I ever could have expected, leading me to examine my own belief system and the way I look at this and similar situations. The fact that neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and white nationalist groups feel like they have a place in society today is scary to me; bordering on terrifying. They shouldn’t have a place anywhere. I thought we as people learned from history, at the conclusion of World War Two, 72 years ago. I was so, so incredibly wrong.

I consider myself a feminist, and my political leanings are quite far left. I am very much against any form of racism, bigotry, or hatred; things that are very easy to say considering my privilege. Sadly, it is all I seem to see when I attempt to read or catch up on the news.

It’s difficult to handle these huge amounts of negativity everywhere when living with depression. I sit here and feel like I should be doing something about it. Single-handedly if I could, as impossible as that is.  I question myself constantly: Do I do enough? Do I allow it to happen? Am I helping to perpetrate racism and bigotry and hatred as a white person? I know there are opportunities out there, but most times I just do not have the energy or the motivation. It’s difficult enough to get out of bed every day and get my self to work, let alone do anything else.

It’s so hard living in this world. It makes me want to rage quit.