Like Putting an Octopus to Bed

This is going to be a stream of consciousness and probably won’t wrap up properly, so buckle up.

I’ve gone ahead and started a blog that I had the best intentions of writing for every day. That hasn’t happened and for three reasons:

1 – I’ve been embroidering almost every day.

2 – I’ve been writing what might be a short story or might be a novel.

3 – I quit my job.

I’ve had some trouble with coming back to the blog since I wasn’t sure how to tie it all together. All three are things I want to write about and figure out my feelings, but they were all things that were important and information I didn’t feel like spacing out over many posts.

I’ve been reading this book called “Bird By Bird” written by a woman named Anne Lamott. It was gifted to me by a friend at work for our gift exchange at Christmas and it was one of the things that gave me the most confidence about leaving a job I hated: there was something else out there for me. I’m still not really sure what it is, and it probably isn’t writing (hardly anybody makes it as a writer, don’t you know?), but it was a symbol that someone else knew I could do other things and wanted to support me in that. Thank you, Jesse.

He also gave me a whoopee cushion and an air horn, to help me express when I’m feeling like shit and when I’m feeling LIT. I’ll let you decide which one is for what.

Funnily enough, Bird by Bird has also given me the perfect metaphor for how I’m feeling about my life right now.

There’s an image I’ve heard people in recovery use – that getting all of one’s addictions under control is a little like putting an octopus to bed. You get a bunch of the octopus’s arms tucked under the covers, but two arms are still flailing around. But you finally get those arms under the sheets, too, and are about to turn off the lights when another long sucking arm breaks free.

I’m not an addict, but I’m definitely in recovery. Recovering from being manipulated and mentally abused and exploited (I’m still unsure if this was all on purpose or completely unintentional), while also trying to figure out this whole writing thing and what it means and also putting a lot of time and effort into building my artistic skills. I’m working part-time at two new jobs and also trying to get my health back on track. I’m trying to see more friends and also keep my apartment clean, laundry under control and at least some eggs in the fridge.

I suppose a lot of this is what many people deal with in everyday life. But I swear, I’m so scarred by my experience leaving my job, it’s going to take me a long time to trust anybody professionally ever again. Maybe I never will and maybe you’re not actually supposed to trust people. We’ll find out.

This all sounds like I’m really overwhelmed, but I’ve mostly just done a lot of thinking. And I still have a lot of thinking to do. But it’s nice to reflect and come to terms with where I’m at in my life. I didn’t think I’d be here.

I’m happy that I’m not at that job anymore and I’m trying my best to not be bitter about how things ended and send them positive thoughts since it’s a tough business and everyone deserves a little positivity sent their way.

I’m happy that I have time to focus on things that are important to me and do things on my terms again. I’m a little lost but much more empowered.

I read somewhere recently that life’s purpose isn’t to be happy since there’s no equation for that and you’ll never know how you feel about the same thing on different days. It’s unpredictable. But what is predictable is that you can be useful. You can control how useful you are and how much effort you put in. Life’s purpose is to find purpose, and happiness is a by-product of usefulness.  

So I’m just going to be useful in some way. To be productive at whatever I’m doing, no matter how small, and I’ll continue tucking the octopus’s arms under the sheets not before throwing him a high five or two (or eight).

Intentionalism

I’m always on the search for a new person to inspire me. I’m somewhat a product of my generation in that I like when people who seem like they have some of their shit together tell me what to do.

Oh, you clawed your way out of debt and are a successful freelancer that’s not desperately selling your organs online? You must be woke, tell me your ways. And also explain what woke means. 

I stray from this in one way: I’m picky. I’m extremely picky.

I don’t just take YouTube or Instagram’s suggestions and run with them. Their algorithms are programmed to show us content similar to what we’re already consuming. This doesn’t work for me since I’m the Goldilocks of content consumers. It has to be just right. And chances are if you’re the person standing next to the person I like on the scale of style, values and content… I don’t like you. Well, it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that I won’t go out of my way to keep up with what you’re doing.

Just because I like Rich Roll, doesn’t mean I’m going to like stuff Tim Ferris does. I like hearing about Tim Ferris through the lens of Rich Roll, but I can’t seem to get on board with content from him. If you don’t know who these people are, start with Rich Roll. He’ll introduce you to everyone you need to know. 

To suit my taste, you need to have a clean aesthetic, a simple and authentic message, and unique content. This is more difficult to come by than it sounds.

I’ll cut to the chase a little more quickly. I’ve started to follow a YouTuber called Matt D’Avella. Instantly, I was drawn to the quality of his videos and the attention to detail he’s given every shot. It’s clearly the work of a true professional and he definitely cares about what he’s doing. I love him. Is it too soon in our relationship for me to just come out and say it? I love him. If I start writing his name with hearts in the back of my Moleskine planner, you can notify my boyfriend.

He has this short video about minimalism (he was actually the guy who did that documentary on Netflix about Minimalism, though I only found this exciting news out from simply watching his videos – I loved this documentary), where Joshua Fields Milburn of the Minimalists (see link) says about minimalism, 

For me, the ism is less important. You can call it minimalism, I think it’s the perfect word. I also think it’s the most imperfect word because sometimes it scares off people. Sometimes it scares people enough to actually make some changes which is great, but if it’s too austere of a word, then you can say essentialism, you can say intentionalism, you can say living-within-your-means-ism. Whatever ism you want to use, but it really has to do with living a more meaningful life.

*cue a montage of stuff blowing up as a metaphor for my brain*

I truthfully stopped listening after intentionalism. It hit me like a rock hitting water and cornstarch. It made a huge impact once it hit, but once I sat with it, it sunk right in.

Everyone talks about mindfulness, they talk about minimalism. I’ve only encountered intention as part of a yoga class – an intention is a thought or a feeling you set for the class as a dedication of sorts. Sure, at the root, I guess mindfulness and intentionalism are both kind of synonyms of each other when it comes down to it – but intentionalism is different because of the feeling it gives you when you think about doing something with intention instead of mindfully.

Mindfulness is peaceful, it’s taking note of what’s happening and not being affected by the sea of actions happening around you. It’s the pebble at the bottom of the river that lets the water rush over it without trying to stop it.

Intentionalism is action. Intentionalism is the deliberate lack of action. It’s choice and thought and action, inaction, stoicism, mindfulness, minimalism, zero waste, budgeting etc. etc. etc., all rolled into one. It’s motivational, it’s empowering and it’s easy to manipulate into something unique – into a term that works for you.

Mindfulness feels like a slow walk in the park, enjoying every flower, the smell of the breeze and acknowledging the present moment.

Intentionalism is choosing that present moment. It feels like marching down the street, feeling the journey rush over you, seeing the crack in the pavement and stepping over it, and taking control over which flowers you want to see today, or if you’d rather sit in a coffee shop and write a blog post. 

Both are valuable and you can’t (read: shouldn’t) live without either. But there is a certain level of control and choice we all have that gets left behind when people talk about enjoying life and being present for the journey.

So this is the mission. Keep moving forward, or slow down to a pace that feels right for you. Heck, screech to a stop if that’s what you need. Just do it intentionally.

Iceland Part 3

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But really, it’s like part 5 or 6.

Here it is, the last of the slew of photos and quick updates.

It’s an amazing country. I don’t have much to compare it to, but as far as beauty goes (and I’m Canadian… we have like, the most beautiful country ever), it’s pretty spectacular. When we drove out to Hofn you literally couldn’t escape the mountains. I imagine that’s similar to BC, but this little island can only hold so much mountain. And there was a lot of frickin’ mountain.

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Reykjavik was dreamy weather for this part of the world. Days were damp but fairly mild and the sun poked out more than we expected. We made use of this good weather on Wednesday to take the elevator up to the top of the church. Boy, the view was worth the $10 charge.

For those of you interested, Iceland has its own currency which is just slightly more valuable than the Canadian dollar. It’s a little more than $1 for 100 Icelandic Krona. Most things were more expensive. For example, an oat milk latte at Reykjavik Coffee Roasters was ~$7, but some things were really randomly cheap. OB tampons were less than $3. Craaaaaazy. Guess who smuggled a few cartons home?

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And yes, I found the best doughnuts in Iceland. Of course I did.

Deig was hidden by the old harbour, and I was really really surprised to find fresh yeast doughnuts, brushed with a simple cardamom and lemon glaze. OH. MY. GOD. Yes. I felt right at home with this in the best way.

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Iceland, it was an absolute honour. We’ll be back.

Last Couple Days

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This morning we had a hard time waking up. The short days really screw with your mind when you’re used to waking up at 6am and the sun is starting to appear. We made it out to the baths to soak and arrive in the world. It finally got light around 10am.

Luckily, we have good coffee really close. I swear, this has saved me.

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Upon reflection, I couldn’t have asked for the trip to go any more slowly or quickly. I’m not quite ready to go back to work, but I don’t feel like our time here has flown by too fast. We got so much in.

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Today is the full relax day. We plan on ambling along to the last art gallery or two and hitting a highly recommended Gastro Pub, Kex, mid-afternoon before it gets busy and you need a reservation.

I was able to do one of my favourite things: sit in a coffee shop and edit photos and videos over a coffee or three. Adrian is graciously waiting for me to finish up. He looks bored, bless him.

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Tomorrow we check out of the Airbnb and head home around 5pm.

Time

It must have been the mid 1990’s.

I was just old enough to know to ask my mom “How long?” but just young enough to not really understand what that meant.

I was definitely getting impatient, but she was on the phone in her bedroom. The windows at the back of the house are West facing, and the sun was going down. Little slits of light were coming through the shades.

There was carpet in there at the time, I think it was beige. Or maybe it was burgundy.

I don’t remember a whole lot from when I was very young. Just little bits – like the view from my treehouse – you could see my neighbour’s farm truck from the very top, a little dent on the right front bumper. Or the ceramic balloons that hung on the wall of my bedroom, before that same room became my sister’s. That room definitely had burgundy carpet.

I know she was on the phone because I can envision the black phone cord coming from the bedside table. That phone was black. The kitchen phone was white.

“Mom, how long?”

“You’re supposed to say, ‘Excuse me” when you interrupt someone.”

“Excuse me.”

“Yes?”

“How long?”

“Ten minutes”

“Is that a long time?”

“No, it’s not.”

I remember being confused about the concept of ten minutes. Ten was a big number. It was two numbers.

I don’t think the basement was finished at that time, because otherwise, I would have gone down to watch the digital clock on the face of our VHS player. But I think the only other digital clock in the house was on the kitchen phone.

I must have pushed one of the dining room chairs up to the island to sit on the counter and watch that one. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but I knew how to count to ten.

I remember very distinctly how slowly it went. It seemed like the numbers only moved when I got bored of staring. I was frustrated that my mom had told me ten minutes would be quick.

Here’s the part of the story when I’m supposed to come to a conclusion that ties the whole thing together. But I don’t really have one. I think maybe it’s about how we don’t get to choose the memories we keep. Or maybe about how if we don’t want time to move so quickly, we should watch it more closely.

All I know is that when I started typing, I didn’t expect to miss the view from my treehouse quite so acutely.

I read an article

entitled “The Most Important Thing Nobody Taught You”. It starts,

…we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.

When I read this, I exhaled a deep whistle in response. I can relate.

It goes on to talk about how solitude doesn’t mean you have to feel alone.

How we spend so much time in the act of distracting ourselves and trying to be inspired, that we forget the most inspiring and stimulating experiences happen when we’re alone.

Boredom should become a place to discover self-knowledge, do some reflecting and experience the world around us in greater, slower detail. To feel more alive and connected.

Interestingly, the main culprit isn’t our obsession with any particular worldly stimulation. It’s the fear of nothingness — our addiction to a state of not-being-bored. We have an instinctive aversion to simply being.

Even if you’ve considered this before, or attended a yoga class or have done some meditation, we can all benefit from a repeated revisitation of the idea.

I think part of it is that people don’t realize there is a possibility to simply be. That there is something that exists beyond the realm of our real world melodramas.

I’m attempting to not sound like a preacher here, but to communicate thoughts and also do some reflecting of my own:

Why do I keep losing sight of myself? Well, idiot, it’s because you’re not paying attention. You’re not looking at yourself. Step back, try to be alone from time to time and carry a mirror.

Here’s the article. You know, if you’re interested.