07.14.19

What I’ve been up to:

Well first and foremost, we are still in the midst of moving to Canada and while there have been some serious snafus this week, we are getting past the point of no return. MANY papers have been signed, the car has been sold, all of our worldly possessions (excepts animals, plants, paint and some other stuff the movers won’t carry) has been packed onto the truck and we are camping out. We head north in the morning.

Seattle, we will miss – and especially our friends – but we will be back often and hopefully people will come to visit. But I am feeling the sadness of leaving this house. It was the first property that I owned and we were not planning to move so it will always be the place where we got Tyler and went through his bilateral knee surgeries, quarantining him in the bedroom so that he wouldn’t run or jump and carrying him down the stairs to pee. And then the hours I spent recovering from my motorcycle accident and subsequent surgery staring out the window at the pear tree. There were the raised beds I kept putting in (until we ran out of room at 7), and the stone walkway that I did myself, and my plans to level the yard that ended in the discovery of the surprise well.

Also where we built a free library and cooked paella over an open orangewood fire – although that didn’t happen until our going away party last week

But prior to the whirlwind of packing and paperwork, I took a quick trip down the coast with my Triumph, almost to LA. Partly I was killing time until the movers arrived, and staying out of Matt’s way while he cleaned up his garage projects, but it was also a chance to visit the remaining locations in my McMenamins passport and some other points of interest. So down to Portland then hopped through McMinnville, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Roseburg to arrive in Grant’s Pass.

Then through the Redwoods where I passed many trees much larger than my motorcycle – and actually drove through one , down Hwy 101 to the sea glass beach, past otters and sea lions and an elephant seal rookery, through all the twisties to the top of Bolinas Ridge, then down over the Golden Gate bridge, up and down a crazy San Fran street hill that I shared with a streetcar, through Big Sur to Morro Bay where I spent two hours in a cafe courtyard feeling warm for the first time on the whole trip. I decided I didn’t have enough time to do all the things I wanted to do in LA so saved it for another time and went inland to Bakersfield (almost immediately becoming way too warm). The next day I didn’t want to hang out on I-5 so got up early and barreled 830+ miles north back to Portland and home the next day via the newest and most beautiful McMenamins property in Tacoma.

Normally I do not stop in big cities when I’m on a road trip with limited clothing and makeup but I’ve been wanting to visit the Musee Mechanique in San Francisco since the last time I drove through there (20+ years ago) so rode my motorcycle right onto Fisherman’s Wharf and started exploring. It did not disappoint.

And now that we have some downtime between moving events, I have started planning a dive trip to the Arctic. I was so cold on my moto trip to Cali that I think I’d better get this booked ASAP. The most likely option is this one but if I win the lottery or fall in love with ice diving, this one (hosted by the company that made my drysuit) sounds like a dream.

Plus Airbnb has launched an Adventures page, where you can book whole trips like this amazing one around the world. So now I am updating wish lists and travel plans.

Finally, Duolingo (one of my favourite apps – for language) introduced Arabic (which I have badly wanted to learn) so fitting that into the cracks.

What was beautiful:

So many beautiful things from my trip but the collections that struck out were the vintage neon and ghostwriting (usually in smaller towns), beautiful wildflowers blooming everywhere (plus gorgeous succulents in SoCal), the treasures and art in various McMenamins locations, but mostly I fell in love with what I came for – the trees and the sea – and what I brought with my – my motorcycle.

This etsy shop

These two stories of the day by Brian Andreas that really speak to where I’m at right now – signature move and fine line:

People spending the 4th of July sitting with shelter dogs

Stolen wallets from the 1940s found stashed behind a bathroom wall

What I’m reading and listening to:

MUSIC –

Tangled up in Blue, Johnny Cash, Janes Addiction and our signature moving song – Eye of the Tiger Remix

BOOKS –

It can hardly be called a book but with all the helmet time lately, I’ve been trying to memorize Howl, so have read that poem over and over again.

ARTICLES –

Annie Leibovitz photographs five women running for president

What’s wrong with a little validation?

Hang out with people who fit your future, not your history

The best love is ordinary

On adjectives – https://medium.com/@JessicaLexicus/adjectives-you-want-to-hear-about-yourself-f15e1c14e9bd. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately – how other people must see me and it’s interesting because it is such a rare thought these days. At some point, I did really stop caring or at least considering it. Sure, I conform. I get all the subliminal messaging about culture but I don’t often stop to think about how I am perceived. Even when I am looking at photos I am judging myself, instead of seeing a new angle. But I have been thinking that I am not well liked and trying to figure out why that is…how I am categorized. What certainly doesn’t change is that I will continue to try to be a good person and try to be kind, because it is the right thing to do. “Kindness isn’t an investment in a specific person, but the kind of world you want to live in.”

ON HEALTH –

Ways for seniors to stay active. I am kind of obsessed with not being old and decrepit.

Recovering from Creative burnout

When your partner won’t say how they feel “A mismatch in emotional expression is commonly described in therapy. But the answer is not to press your quieter partner into being the same as you.”

“It can be hugely frustrating to be with a “silent” partner when you like to talk.”

Getting through procrastination “Remember: if you’re engaging in something that is not your High Impact Action, then you are likely procrastinating.” Also remember: “never, EVER, skip twice”

Resisting the attention economy

On marriage – “This is what marriage does better than anything else. It forces you to look hard at what you want to be and acknowledge that someone else, someone you love, cannot give it to you. Even after spending 25 years with that person, the only way to get there is to change yourself.”

On marriage health – Spotting cracks before they become canyons

Reversing the scarcity mindset – “scientists have found that loneliness can induce a scarcity mindset. Being narrowly focused on what we don’t have erodes our capacity to make choices that serve us long-term”

07.02.19

What I’ve been up to:

Oooph, it’s been busy! We had a party where we (finally!!) made paella over an open, orange wood fire and it looked, smelled and tasted amazing. More importantly, no one caught on fire and even more importantly, many of our friends came to see us off on our next adventure moving home to Vancouver.

Then I rode with my Rainier Ravens and Dykes Who Ride (aka Dykes on Bikes) in the Seattle Pride Parade. This was an amazingly joyous and beautiful experience but also triumphant because it was my CB400’s re-debut back into the world (in grand style) after we crashed into a truck.

And then to celebrate Canada Day, I went to visit the wolves and their friends at an animal rescue. What an amazing experience.

Seems like a long time ago but Matt and I also went to see El Dorado at the Can Can and laughed our asses off. So funny, and sparkly!

El Dorado at the Can Can! Glitter chaps and pasties.

Now I am planning to go on a bit of a road trip to kill some time before the movers come but I’m exhausted and sore and not packed and it’s raining so not a lot of progress has been made there yet.

What was beautiful:

This article about my cousin’s project in the Straight. It’s a couple of years old but really good, especially in context with the musical component.

This story by Flying Edna. “It’s too easy to get caught up in the big death, she said, but it’s the little deaths that kill you.”

The chairs and tile in this old diner
Summer nights riding around, chasing sunsets.
Gypsy Caravans

What I’m reading and listening to:

BOOKS –

MOVIES –

Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” Not sure how this got stuck into my head but I am loving it.

Belén López‘s music

The Anthropocene Reviewed podcast that I have recently become acquainted with, but I particularly loved this episode. So many good lines in there that I don’t have time to transcribe.

ARTICLES –

Birds fly by seeing magnetic fields

Three suprising solutions to climate change

The Hidden US Empire

The importance of life lists

The real story behind Gastown’s Gassy Jack. Doesn’t seem surprising to me.

Good news:

Peregrine Falcons Nesting in Seattle. Actually very common – they are a species that has adapted well to urban living – but cool to see some locals.

Cold swims could help with anxiety and depression. And here I thought I just liked cold water diving for the octopuses.

Bad news:

The high cost of cheap fashion

Greenland temperatures soar, melting record amounts of ice

Men and Women who perished trying to reach Europe

Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid us / survive

Links found between grain free dog food and heart disease

A heartbreaking exhibit of clothes worn by rape victims – to prove it wasn’t their fault

Companies drain women’s ambition after only 2 years

ON EMPATHY –

Empathy vs. Sympathy. An oldie but a goodie.

ON SOBRIETY –

Breaking the booze habit “For drinkers who have become alcohol dependent, taking a short break is likely not an option. Many people who drink heavily have not had an easy road in managing their relationship with alcohol.”

“All my drinking was really centered around community and wanting that connection so badly with other people,” he says.

ON WORK –

Doctors without Borders do mental health

Counselors without Borders

People have more control over their emotions than we thought

Screentime and Depression

BC launches increased support for mental health and additions

Kids Around the World Photographed Surrounded by Their Weekly Diet

6.19.19

What I’ve been up to:

I had a free weekend with nothing on the calendar (tough to come by in these Seattle summer days!) so I hopped on the motorcycle and headed east. Well first south to Portland to collect some McMenamins stamps for my passport, then over to Hells Canyon in Idaho, up Lolo Pass into Montana and then back home, stopping in the town of Wallace (and fell completely in love with its quirkiness), Palouse Falls, and the Ginko Petrified Forest – so many things that I’ve been meaning to visit or that have caught my eye on the way to somewhere else.

Also trying to cram in some dog training so the dogs won’t bark in Vancouver and of course, finish off my online Psychology classes and grad school application.

What was beautiful:

So many things in Wallace, like this bizarre antique typewriter and the (unrelated) handwritten mining ledger.

What I’m reading and listening to:

BOOKS –

ARTICLES –

Relationship habits

Being a good person

Cognitive Distortions and Depression

How to quit drinking when you love drinking

on ACEs: https://www.acesconnection.com/blog/do-you-want-an-answer-to-aces, https://www.acesconnection.com/blog/part-2-do-you-want-an-answer-to-aces-playing-the-mirror-neurons-like-a-harp, https://www.acesconnection.com/blog/part-3-do-you-want-an-answer-to-aces-how-do-they-do-that

The Missing Element – need to know what time I was born

Woman invents tents that collect rainwater and store solar energy

It’s not always depression. Sometimes it’s shame.

6.9.19

What I’ve been up to:

Saying goodbye to the flamenco community with a house party (although I am still learning Sevillanas, and now have learned a couple of chords on the guitar)

and to the Rainier Ravens women’s motorcycle community with a motorcycle ride and beach bonfire party

plus some last minute dog training before we have new neighbours.

What was beautiful:

The Sinking World Plastic Project
Intricate paper-cut octopus
The art of Aidan Sartin Conte

This decorative African village

What I’m reading and listening to:

BOOKS –

ARTICLES –

VW Vans are going electric but not as pretty as the classic

Booklovers’ guide to Seattle

The controversial Madonna article

How to get your dog to stop barking

The Night Witches

FIRE – Financial Independence, Retire Early

British Doctors May Start Prescribing Art, Music, Dance

People are sick of drinking

Vancouver at the forefront of psychedelic research

6.1.2019

What I’ve been up to:

Study, study, study! and trying to see Seattle friends and favourite spots before we move.

Flamenco party tonight!

And hopefully riding my motorcycle soon. Been way too much riding around in cars with dogs.

What was beautiful:

My new art piece, “Corner of Hell” by M.Coombs

Bauhaus costume parties

Amazing clarity from Hinterland

I always love amazing maps

Decolonizing BC’s roadside history

Portraits made from DNA of cigarettes

What I’m reading and listening to:

And watching! Good Omens is amazing.

FICTION – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Finally! This has been on my list for years and I shouldn’t have waited. It is excellent.

NON-FICTION (ish) – Artful. I do love absolutely everything about Ali Smith.

& still psychology everything! ON PSYCH –

Self-care isn’t enough. We need community.

Inuit mental health

Dealing with a partner with anger issues

Therapists on MDMA

ON WORK –

It’s never too late to start a brilliant career

Save the planet by working less

How to stay focused

ON LIFE –

The new beauty

Becoming irresistible “Humility is the soul. Curiosity is the mind. Empathy is the heart.”

BAD NEWS –

Ways the government keeps Native Americans in Poverty

GOOD NEWS –

Female chief comes to power, immediately annuls 850 child marriages

Amazon tribe wins lawsuit against big oil saving millions of acres of rainforest

New orca calf is born!

Willie Nelson rescued horses and let them roam free on his ranch

Sikhs aim to plan 1,000,000 trees by November

Riverview to re-open with $101m mental health facility

5.28.19

What I’ve been up to:

Planning out the final details for our trip to London and Wales!

Removing the subjects on our new house!

Dancing in my debut flamenco show!

and spending as much time as possible in the yard before we move

What was beautiful:

listening to the rain.

What I’m reading and listening to:

Mostly psychology texts but also listening to Circe on audiobook and loving it.

The Importance of Knowing you Might be Wrong “As technology makes it easier to lie and spread false information incredibly quickly, we need intellectually humble, curious people.”

Unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.”

Notes for making a drastic career change Remains to be seen what I will wish I had known!

Reviled, pit bulls have become representative. There is no other dog that figures as often in the national narrative—no other dog as vilified on the evening news, no other dog as defended on television programs, no other dog as mythologized by both its enemies and its advocates, no other dog as discriminated against, no other dog as wantonly bred, no other dog as frequently abused, no other dog as promiscuously abandoned, no other dog as likely to end up in an animal shelter, no other dog as likely to be rescued, no other dog as likely to be killed. In a way, the pit bull has become the only American dog, because it is the only American dog that has become an American metaphor—and the only American dog that people bother to name. When a cocker spaniel bites, it does so as a member of its species; it is never anything but a dog. When a pit bull bites, it does so as a member of its breed. A pit bull is never anything but a pit bull.”

Abandoned psychiatric hospitals

Korean deep sea diver women

A history of women and psychedelics

Research Confirms that No one is actually thinking about you

05.15.19

What I’ve been up to:

So much! but we are making good progress.

It has, however, been a bit of a throttling exercise. In between late nights painting and studying, daily dance practices and dog walks, we’ve had long stretches of time to kill, trying to enjoy the early summer.

Just perfect.

What was beautiful:

I’ve been really in love with my garden this week. The early heat has brought out all the irises, lilacs, lavender and rhodo blooms – and with it all kinds of birdsong. Our house is also the most beautiful it has ever been, due to being staged for sale and so we have been spending quite a bit of time in the yard. I am loving noticing the changes throughout the day, from all the different vantage points.

We also spent the weekend at an airbnb in Strathcona, a historical area of Vancouver and I delighted at the row houses, quirky artist studios and coffee shops, not to mention the riotous colors and smells and sounds of Chinatown.

What I’m reading and listening to:

Post Meditation

“Did you grow or stagnate this year?”

Is Your Life Playlist Set to Repeat?

Getting Past Emotional Dependency

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.”

Seek First to Understand

Fear of Better Options (FOBO). I have it bad.

Are you a good partner or the other kind?

I love Instagram! And now it’s working on Anti-bullying

How to find a lost pet

You will be young for a very long time. You have to try new things.

““Anger is a moral response.’ But then it’s what you do with that anger…it’s not fair [that it] is a fundament of morality and of activism. So how do we walk that line between demonstrating that and also helping ourselves and our children live wisely with those feelings and those observations of life’s unfairness?”
…I remember my father, who is now long gone, hearing me teach about transforming anger into work in the world, doing something. He’d say, “I need my anger, Sylvia. It motivates me to do all the activism that I do.” And I’d say, “Well, you do need it, Dad. You need it just to alert you to what needs attention. But you don’t need to carry it along with you to keep refueling you.” As a matter of fact, if you keep nurturing the flame of anger, it confuses the mind and maybe we don’t respond as wisely as we ought to. But I need the anger as if I had 104 fever; it would be a sign that I need to do something about it…But then you let it — well, I hope that what I do is I recognize the anger as a response, actually. It’s a response, I think, to what I feel underneath it, which is a fear. Things really aren’t fair; this is not right that this and this is happening in the world. And I think it responds to that fear, which is basic. The human response is to lash out at it when something frightens us…So I think that the anger is on top of the fear. And to be able to say I am frightened, because in the world these unjust things are happening, what can I do and how can I have a mind that’s energized to do something about it, but not reacting in anger, but responding in firm kindness? But things need to be different. Things need to be different.”

Sylvia Boorstein in conversation with Krista Tippett

Energy plus Will gets you a new life

Having just turned 43, I suppose I am no longer the answer to life the universe and everything – but I do feel as though I am honing in on what that might be for myself, and moving away from things that I know have not been good for me.

5 years ago as I prepared for the year, I wrote, “it’s going to be busy. We’re getting a dog and moving to Seattle. I’ll be travelling … I’m working on a new art project, will probably start grad school in the fall and already have some exciting ideas about What’s Next.”

And now we are prepping for another big, goal-changing year; we will be moving back to Canada and I’m leaving retail project management to be a therapist! It’s all coming together, after months of prepping our house for sale, sorting out Matt’s work, taking several undergrad classes online, applying to grad school, quitting my job, looking at houses in Vancouver, and – as an unrelated bonus – practicing for my debut flamenco show.

We’re so tired.

And yet somehow we keep finding the energy to move forward. A large part of this is due to 1000 task lists and energy drinks and the glorious sunny days that seem to have appeared out of nowhere while we were painting but it also feels really good to be putting energy into known good things. We will miss Seattle and our house but we’ve made many good friends here, acquired another amazing dog and had a lot of fun adventures.

The Anais Nin quote seemed initially like the theme for the year but sitting in the garden and thinking about all the work that has gone into this move – the internal work to figure out what is good for me, the work on our marriage to determine the conditions where we thrive, the work on dog training to develop good canine citizens, the community and relationship work with friends to build lasting connections, never mind all of the work on the house and school and jobs and even the mound of paperwork ahead of us – the quote seems very flingy and insouciant. Do instead I picked this one:

“Leonardo da Vinci said that Genius is Energy plus Will. Energy plus Will gets you into the Pacific Ocean. Da Vinci said nothing of Talent. Genius does not depend on Talent. Without the snorkel of Energy and the fins of Will, Talent is the bather who from a dune watches the sun set.”

– David Barringer

The new life is a gift from the old self and it doesn’t come without both a cost and a tremendous amount of energy and will. But we are built for growth, not stagnation and so we press on.

05.06.19

What I’ve been up to:

We had our 8th anniversary but had to reschedule celebration plans until things get a little calmer.
So much painting!

What was beautiful:

Putting your feet up, enjoying some calm with a dog at your side and a glass of rosé within reach.

Our house is nearly perfect…just in time for other people to live in it.

Used bookstores
Dogs

What I’m reading and listening to:

Ayahuasca

Retiring early

Mindfulness

How to Uplift Yourself When You’re Feeling low –

When every area seems to fall apart, start with the basics:

Food
Movement
Sleep
Stress

How to unlock your brain and become a top student

Normalizing sobriety

Fighting cancer before you have it

Be happy by making others happy –

“We need to think of happiness as a collective phenomenon. If I come home in a bad mood, I may be missing an opportunity to make not just my wife and son happy, but their friends.”

How to handle a workplace bully – no longer relevant to me!

Science proves dancing is good for you

Vancouver home prices sink 29%

4.19.19

What I’ve been up to:

Well, I had a birthday so that was fun. We went to Washington DC for the weekend and saw all the things (or at least tried to!), walking up and down the mall, through most of the Smithsonian museums and amongst many cherry blossoms.

The Mall in DC
Getting ready for my flamenco debut!
I gave my notice at work today.

What was beautiful:

Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon 
This gorgeous luggage – and split window VW to match.
My flamenco assigned seating
An excerpt from Upstream, by Mary Oliver.
Spring blossoms in DC
An immense number of beautiful artifacts and experiences in the Smithsonian museums, including this one by David Beck in the Museum of American Art.

What I’m reading and listening to:

ON HEALTH –

Preparing for the Dementia I believe I will get

Rethinking Depression

ON EATING –

ON DRINKING –

A year in drinking.

ON RENEWAL –

The Healing Power of Gardens

ON WORK –

How to identify and navigate gaslighting at work

Why we spend our brief lives indoors, alone and typing

When Work Lacks Meaning

Could Your Therapist be Replaced by an App?

ON SENSITIVITY –

Why are friendships so clingy these days?

Extremely Sensitive People

ON OCEANS –

Adidas plans to make 11 million shoes out of recycled ocean plastic.

AND A BIT OF POETRY –