The last month has been difficult. We’ve faced some almost impossible challenges, had major setbacks, lost loved ones, and had days where we didn’t even think we could get out of bed. It’s been one bad thing after another and we’re both feeling burnt out and emotionally drained.

I tried really hard to push past all of that this week and turn it around. Will and I have been developing arts programs for some non profit organizations and it’s something I’ve been very excited about. The programs are made to help people with mental illness, people affected by homelessness, and those with disabilities. Because I struggle with depression and have a disability the work that we’re doing is important to me and I want it to be successful.

The thing about my disability is that it greatly affects my confidence. It’s not physical, so looking at me you’d never say anything was wrong. It’s my brain that doesn’t function like it should. In a normal conversation you’d never notice. It’s only certain things, sometimes information gets jumbled and I can’t remember how to do something I could do perfectly ten minutes ago. It’s mostly anything that involves numbers. I have to stay away from math and sciences, but I’ve always excelled at the arts. Sometimes my measurements are off, but art doesn’t always need to be precise so I make it work.

professionally, it’s been hell. There aren’t many jobs out there for me, working retail is pretty much out of the question, I’ve tried several times and it never goes well. There isn’t much else in Newfoundland at the moment so I keep taking jobs that I know I can’t do, hoping that this time it will be different, but I always end up failing and feeling stupid. I have a degree in visual arts but it hasn’t gotten me very far. This is why this program Will and I are doing means so much to me. It’s a chance for me to create a job for myself.

I’ve been struggling with feeling confident that I can do this. I’m so used to having bosses, supervisors, and people in my life talking down to me that I find it almost impossible to show them how awesome and smart I am. In this setting Will does most of the talking anyway so my awkwardness hasn’t really mattered. He takes care of the planning and handles all the difficult situations. My job is to help teach classes, come up with ideas, and get people inspired.

Spring is a great time for fresh starts and new beginnings so this week I was determined to stop worrying about coming off as a dumbass. I was going to be brave and confident. I wanted my personality to shine so people would see that I am great to work with and not and awkward mess. I guess I just wanted to be impressive.

That didn’t happen.

Instead someone made me thier emotional punching bag. Made me feel targeted, stupid and like my ideas were pointless. I hadn’t even done anything, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m not going to lie, I spent a few hours crying and asking myself why I even bother. I know my ideas are good and I’m great at teaching art, but this incident made me feel really low. With my depression being as bad as it is I really didn’t need this right now. All I can do is try to push past it. I did nothing wrong and if I don’t end up with a job out of this I won’t feel too badly, I know it’s not a good working environment.

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I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want (Hint: its chocolate)

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Matcha green tea flavoured Kit Kat bars have been on my radar for a very long time. I remember coming across a list of Japanese Kit Kat flavours during my early 20’s and wanting to try every single one of them, unfortunately I didn’t have any way of getting them. So I put that goal at the bottom of my list and continued on with my life.

Fast forward 10+ years to my mom casually mentioning that she saw some “green tea or something bars down at the Walmart” and about 20 minutes later they were mine.

As much as I wanted to rip one open and try it, I decided to wait a few weeks until Will got back from a school trip. I’ve never met a person who loves chocolate more than Will and felt it was almost mean to try it without him. Meanwhile, he had already spotted them a few days ago in Alberta and tried one, but forgot to mention it. The nerve. Anyway, A few weeks passed, Will was back and I finally got to cross a flavour off my list.

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I’m a big fan of matcha so I figured I’d enjoy this bar and I was mostly right. While I did find it to be a lot sweeter than I expected, it was still very good. It didn’t have that sort of bitter taste you get with actual matcha, it was more like a sweetened creamy green tea latte. Will noted that they weren’t quiet as earthy tasting as he had hoped, he thinks matcha tastes like dirt and grass, but in a good way. I love the muted pastel green color of the chocolate and you still get that crispy wafer on the inside like a standard milk chocolate Kit Kat.

 

Overall I’m not nearly as obsessed with this bar as I originally thought I would be. I’m not going to go out of my way to get one, but I wouldn’t say no to one either. As for what flavour I’d like to try next, purple sweet potato or sakura strawberry sound pretty good.

 

One Day at a Time

I’ve switched provinces twice since my last post. Our time in British Columbia came to an end just as summer was beginning. Will finished up his second semester of the art therapy program and we promptly packed up what little we had in our tiny apartment and headed back east.

 

After a very difficult (and expensive) year we decided that life in Nelson wasn’t working for us and so Will made the choice to continue his program as a distance student. We spent the summer in Quebec working our usual seasonal jobs and in September we packed up again and made our way back to Newfoundland. There was a lot of uncertainty about moving back to the island at first but as things started falling into place we knew it was the right thing to do.

Being home again has had it’s ups and downs. A lot has changed and sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here anymore. I’m sure I’ve changed as well. I experienced a lot of new things in B.C (both good and bad) and my time there certainly left it’s mark on me. St. John’s feels familiar and comforting, which is something I desperately needed after my year away, but it doesn’t exactly feel like home anymore. I live here, but I’m not truly living here, if that makes sense. Will finishes school in a few months and I’m hoping once we settle down and start doing regular life stuff that feeling will fade. I haven’t been able to settle in and get comfortable anywhere in the last 5 years, we’ve always been on the move. Putting down some roots here will be a welcomed change.

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Right now we’re trying to take things slowly. I’ve taken some time off work to deal with a health problem and focus on my art and Will is busy writing his thesis. I’m not entirely sure what the future holds so I’m doing my best to focus on the present and enjoy everything around me.

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New Art

I haven’t been leaving the house much since the snow hit. We’ve had some significant snowfalls since December that have made getting around the city very difficult. I’ve been told that there isn’t usually much snow here during the winter but this year is record breaking. In fact, there’s a snowstorm happening outside right now!

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I’ve definitely reached a lull with my artwork. The inspiration and drive just aren’t there like they normally are. I’m the sort of person who needs a lot of visual stimulation to be creative. I need to travel around, be out in nature, go to galleries, that sort of thing. I can sort of do those things virtually through photos and videos, but it’s not the same as being physically immersed in art and beauty.

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In terms of content for this blog, I’ve really been struggling with that too. I love doing my What I Wore posts, but due to the frigid weather I’m living in baggy shirts and yoga pants…not really the sort of thing I want to be documenting.

Despite not really feeling inspired, I have managed to do a bit of drawing when the mood strikes. I’ve been trying to focus on things that make me happy, so it’s been fish and ocean type stuff. Capelin and squid, very Newfoundland!

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capelin

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Capelin are an odd fish. I’ve mostly only seen them beached and in various levels of decay. One of the most exciting things about them is how they attract other animals, such as wales and birds who come to feed on them. They are definitely something I associate with summer and home. While they are not the prettiest fish, they definitely are a thing of beauty to me.

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Aside from drawing, I’m also working on a needle felt and photography project at the moment. I’ll probably post about that later depending on how it works out. I’m pretty new to needle felting. I had a few classes of it at school back in 2003-ish but didn’t really catch onto it until last year. It’s time consuming and kills my back, but I really enjoy doing it.

That’s it for now, if you have any advice for dealing with a creative rut, finding inspiration, or know of a good cute for homesickness, leave me a comment!

 

 

 

 

How to feel better

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I think it’s time to admit that I’m not doing the greatest. As someone who moves around a lot (I’ve lived in 4 different places during the last 4 years) I expected the move to British Columbia to be difficult, but I honestly had no idea how much of a toll it would take on my physical and emotional well-being. It’s not one thing in particular, like missing my family or adjusting to life in a smaller town, but a lot of things that have come to together to make life much less enjoyable than it was before.

I’ve been in ruts before, felt stuck in less than ideal situations, and have dealt with periods of major depression. I know there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, or some joy to be found in the unlikeliest of places. I try to be patient and remind myself that while it feels like there’s a big ol’ raincloud over my head right now, the world is always changing. Something incredibly awesome could be right around the corner. Most of the time that’s enough to keep me going. The incredibly awesome thing for me is that we get to go home in May so we can go back to doing all the things we’re used to doing…like snuggling animals, eating poutine, and going on adventures.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to take care of myself as best I can since I tend to be hard on myself when I’m sad. I criticize myself for not making more art, I get upset about my appearance, and I start comparing my life to that of other people who seem to have a lot more going on. I’ve been trying very hard to fight against the negativity and keep myself from falling into a pit of despair. Here’s some things I’ve been doing to help myself get through it.

Make myself laugh

Will and I usually spend most of our time laughing at stuff anyway. When he’s busy with school stuff or gone out doing something sporty I throw on some youtube clips of my favorite comedians or watch a tv show that gets me smiling. Cute animal videos and using those odd but hilarious Snapchat filters with friends are also good for this.

Plan some adventures

I love traveling and discovering new places, but there hasn’t been much of that due to Will being in school and the winter conditions making it difficult to travel. Since we’ll be hitting the road and heading home in a few months we’re looking at maps and planning stops along the way. Parks Canada is offering free passes to national parks across the country this year so I made sure to get one so we can visit some awesome new places. It just so happens to be Canada’s 150th birthday as well so there’s going to be a lot of neat things to check out. Visit the website here to see what’s happening in your area, there’s also an app for your phone that will give you event listings based on your location. How awesome is that?!

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 Eat well, work out

We’ve been doing a lot of stress eating over the last few months. I really have been trying to eat better but with the cost of food being so high and the sadness being what it is, I haven’t been living the healthiest lifestyle. I do have a few healthy recipes I ‘m trying to get back into rotation, such as this really great avocado pasta sauce and having a bowl of baked apples with some greek yogurt in the mornings. Here are some good food recipe sites to check out:

Green Kitchen Stories

Oh She Glows

Alexandra’s Kitchen

Along with eating better, I’m also making sure I do some kind a physical activity every day. I go for a spin on a stationary bike, do pilates, or go for a long walk. Will is very athletic and is always off biking and skiing, so there’s been no impact on his waistline whatsoever. I’m pretty jealous.

 Make something

Because I’m a professional artist (some of the time, at least), being creative can actually be a pretty big source of stress for me. It feels awful to be stuck in a rut or feel uninspired. My creativity seems to being coming and going a lot. I’ll have a week where I make a bunch of stuff and feel super excited about it, then for some reason I’ll start to feel like nothing is working out well and I’ll go a month without being able to finish anything I start. Our apartment is dark and there isn’t anywhere for me to set up a proper workspace, so unless I can work on it while sitting on the on the couch, it’s not happening. It’s important to me to keep trying though, so when one thing doesn’t work for me, I find some other way to work out my creative frustration. When I stop being able to paint, I switch to photography for a while, or needle felting. I recently started a video log as well so I could brush up on my video editing skills. Even doing a simple DIY project found on Pinterest can make me feel better.

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Show myself some love

This one can be difficult. I can really be my own worst enemy. I’m trying not to get too down about not accomplishing as much as I’d like, or feeling like I’m not as pretty as I used to be (mostly because I don’t have a reason to dress nicely and put on make up, so I don’t). Moving meant leaving a lot of my favourite people, places, and things behind and I usually need all of that to cope. I’m not able to cheer myself up by going for a walk to a duckpond anymore, I can’t easily go to a gallery or sit in a cozy cafe with my best friends and observe the world through a window. I’ve been having to come up with new ways to perk myself up, which honestly has been really hard because I don’t have much to work with. I’ve been finding this self care sheet pretty good for getting me though the worst bits.

Show someone else some love

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This one is important. There’s obviously more than just me going through a sad transitionary phase at the moment. One thing that makes me feel better is taking the focus off myself and asking someone else how they’re doing. If someone I know is having a hard day I ask them if there’s anything I can do to help. Making myself smile is great, but what really makes me happy is having someone to smile with.

So there’s a few things I do to help cheer myself up when things aren’t going great. Maybe you might find it helpful if you’re in the same boat and if you are, just remember what I said about the world always changing and something awesome being around around the corner. There have been times where I honestly thought that I’d never be happy again and each time I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Also, if things get really bad, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it, because I’ve been in that situation too and talking to someone (either a professional or someone you trust) really truly helped.

 

On Moving

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Will and I have been living in British Columbia for over a month now. We’ve settled into our apartment, roughly figured out how to get around town, and Will has started classes.

I’d definitely be lying if I said I loved it here and never wanted to leave, which is what I originally thought was going to happen. As soon as we reached the area where the flatness of the prairies swoops up into massive snow capped mountains, I fell in love. I’d never seen anything like it. However we keep encountering things that we know we couldn’t live with, such as the cost of living, crowds of people everywhere, and the distance between us and our friends and family. While there are some things we love about this province, the hope of me finding my forever home here quickly diminished.

I don’t know. I probably haven’t given it enough of a chance either. I know that meeting some people would probably help me adjust more, but at the same time when I’ve gone out to be around people, or to a social gathering I’ve felt more alienated. I’m just not the sort of person who does well here I guess. This town seems to attract people with certain interests, starving artists, college students, and people who want to live the hippy lifestyle. I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I’m an artist yes, but I’m not really putting myself out there these days. I feel like because I don’t really fit in style wise either, I don’t look like I’m interesting or worth talking to.

The times I’ve enjoyed the most were when Will and I have gotten away from all the people and found a nice quiet hiking trail, or when we’ve visited nearby towns that aren’t popular places for tourists. Being able to walk freely without someone bumping into me every couple of minutes. I will gladly take all of the quite little pretty spots that BC has to offer.

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BC Wildlife Park

One of the cute things about Will and I is that our birthdays are a day apart. He was born on September 1st and I was born on September 3rd! (although a few years before him) So every year we plan a few days of birthday activities and make a big celebration out of it. This usually this involves going to our favourite restaurants and places in either the Gatineau/Ottawa area or in Newfoundland. This year we’ve moved to entirely new town where we haven’t discovered any new favourites yet. With Will starting school in a few days we figured we’d go on one last little trip before he gets bogged down with work.

We packed up our stuff and headed to Kamloops to check our The BC Wildlife Park.

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The park is a non-profit that takes in injured or rescued animals and either fixes them up and releases them back into the wild, or if the animal can’t be released, the park gives them a permanent home. We’ve also visited The Northern Lights Wolf Centre in Golden BC, as well as Boo the grizzly bear at Kicking Horse. The staff in both places explained that there is a big need for these types of places in British Columbia. It was only $15 per adult as well which is very good for all the things you can see and do there.

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The BC Wildlife Park is much like Parc Omega in Quebec, and Salmonier Nature Park park in Newfoundland. Animals have large enclosures which mimic the habitats they’re usually found in, they can pretty much do everything they’d do in the wild, except hunt. One of the staff members explained that they try really hard to hide food around their enclosures to make it challenging for them, like it would be in the wild. While we were they we watched a porcupine climb all over its space to get at the goodies and got to see grizzly bears flip over giant logs to get at the food hidden underneath!

Bear Butt

As for the kinds of animals we saw, there was a lot.  From farm animals like miniature donkeys, sheep, goats, and chickens, to some familiar Canadian residents such as bears, bison, mountain goats, and moose. There were also some animals you definitely wouldn’t find out in the wild here, like Patagonian mara as well a bactrian camels. One animal we were very excited to see was the kermode bear, or spirit bear, which is a rare white black bear.

Kermode Bear
Bear Butt

Another favourite were the owls and birds of prey. The park educates the public about Canadian wildlife as well. We were invited to see special information session with a snowy owl as well as a little demonstration of how owls hear. There was also an interactive element for kids if they wanted to participate.

Snowy Owl

Burrowing Owl

I really liked the educational aspect of the park, this is a great place to take children who are interested in animals. It was also great for adults as well, we really enjoyed the walking trails, which were nice after a day of driving. Also, since bears seem to be incredibly common here it was nice to learn more about them and get to really see them, gigantic claws and all, in a safe way.

Overall we had a pretty good birthday this year. We’ve discovered that camping in BC is the worst, but that’s a story for another time.

Click the eagle to see the rest of my photos. 

BC Wildlife Park