Don’t Let the Mood Swing By?

Just do it.

I’m not sure there ever was a catchphrase as popular in self-help circles.

It seems to be the solution that everyone likes to tote around when they want to encourage people to stop letting excuses in and go after what it is they really want.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the quote.

I just don’t do it.

I don’t believe in simply doing things.

It’s a brilliant quote, an advice that looks good on paper (and in Nike ads) but it never worked for me.

I’m definitely not the only one.

If everyone was “just doing it” surely the world would be a better place by now.

Book sales and traffic on self-help sites would certainly be down at least.

If you’re reading this it’s proof the interest in knowing how to go after goals and dreams and how to better yourself is not down.

No, a lot of people still want answers. A secret key that will unlock the vault where their motivation and drive has been trapped.

You might say “just do it” is a great advice. The only reason people fail is because they didn’t follow it.

That’s exactly my point.

What good is an advice if no one takes it?

I’ve been in search of a better advice for a while.

I thought I’d start with what keeps me and most people away from “just doing it” day in and day out.

Mood. As in “I’m not in the mood”.

Just because mood is a temporary feeling about something doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.

In fact, considering it’s the number 1 cause for all those “I’ll do it tomorrow”empty promises, we should give it the attention it deserves.

That’s where the Nike motto gets it all wrong.

Sure, we shouldn’t be controlled by our feelings but pushing them aside clearly doesn’t work and when it does, the struggle is real.

I believe there is value in exploring the feelings that makeup our “I’m not in the mood” mood.

Feelings are often seen as a nuisance. A human weakness that ultimately will be our demise.

Feelings indeed have a lot power. They can make us fail in achieving everything we want.

I say “they can make us succeed and get everything we ever dreamed of”.

If only we harnessed their power for our own good.

Whatever we feel facing a task at hand, even negative emotions, there is a way for them to be useful.

I learn about myself everyday facing all the emotions that come with not wanting to do things.

It turns out, I do want to do things.

Once I connect with myself, I can do better work than I ever would if I “just did it”.

What do you think?

Are you a fan of “Just do it” or do you think feelings have a place in motivational speak at all?

Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know!

*Picture Credit: Lydia flickr Creative Commons 2.0

How to Avoid Vegan Burnout

It’s no secret that the world is a dark place.

In the wake of recent political events, activists of all walks of life are feeling the repercussions on their mood I’m sure.

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of art in activism. I touched upon how there’s no reason to feel that being artist is pointless.

Today I want to talk about how being vegan feels pointless and rightly so and what can be done about it.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been vegan for a hot minute or years, you can most definitely feel the effects of a “vegan burnout” at any time.

It can take you to new depths of despair, contemplating everything that is wrong in the world and having to add the plight of animals to the mix.

There’s a price to pay for caring too much.

Sadness, anger, bouts of righteous unwanted vegan militant-ism and the worse; giving up altogether on morals are all symptoms of a vegan burnout.

You may want to stop associating with people. Going out to eat at the burger joint with friends is just too much for your soul.

I understand. I’ve been there.

I’ve been vegan for a few years now and I’ve had bouts of difficult times.

I still get symptoms of vegan burnout once in a while. It happened to me very recently when a long time vegan I looked up to, someone I thought was a great activist, turned his back on the animals to literally face (and eat) their dismembered body parts.

I thought if this of all things can happen, is there any hope at all?

While I’m still clueless and astonished that people can go back to (or never stop) gorging on something that is the result of cruelty and death, I’ve been feeling a bit better.

If you’re feeling a bit like you’re having a vegan burnout or you’re actually down there at the bottom of a negative feelings well, I’d like to help you.

Here are a few things that have made a difference for me:

1- Finding solace with like-minded people

First, know that you’re not alone in feeling this way. Even though some people leave veganism or never give it a try, there is a growing community of people who think just like you.

It’s worth reaching out to them, you won’t find a more compassionate ear than a vegan one!

2- Celebrating the little victories

For me it was receiving a Subway ad that made the promotion of the vegan Italian bread. It may seem insignificant but if you add them up, little things like that show that change is indeed happening.

Look around, it may not be obvious at first but if you pay attention you will eventually see all those little victories.

3- Focusing on what you can change

Dwelling on negative feelings is not good in any situation. Sometimes the solution is as simple as turning to action.

While I have no control over the terrible things people do, I can put my own actions forward and focus on the things I can change or get better at.

For me it means getting my words and values out there into the world and supporting the causes and businesses that go in line with them.

4- Making time to distract yourself

It may seem counter intuitive to want to take time away from the issues that matter the most to you but there is no point in letting your anguish over things you can’t ultimately control ruin your mood.

It’s ok to stop watching vegan themed videos or any animal rights content if your mood is already low.

There’s lots of fun vegan things you can do that doesn’t involve thinking about the suffering of animals.

I personally enjoy trying out new recipes.  Ice cream and brownies totally help too!

Have you ever dealt with a vegan burnout?

What are your tips and tricks to feel better?

I’d love to know in the comments!

*Picture Credit: Anton Vakulenko Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

The Power of Stories

I think as artists we all have days where we ask ourselves this question: “Why?”

Sitting down to write or create something, putting our stories out into the world can feel pointless.

It doesn’t matter what your medium of choice is, the fact is; being an artist of any kind doesn’t have many of the perks that a so called “real” job has.

No financial security, no status, nothing resembling a nod of approval for the important work we do.

Sometimes I do wonder. Is it important?

After all when it comes to life and death, fighting oppression and making the world a better place, a pretty children’s story or a contemporary dance piece are not part of the obvious work that we think should be done.

It’s already hard to find value in art when everything is rosy and sweet unless you’re an artist. When the world is looking bleak, like it does nowadays, even I, strict defender of the arts,  find it difficult to believe that sharing my words, my stories, a piece of my own vision is the most worthwhile thing I can do.

I’ve thought a lot about this in the wake of the recent political events that have (it seems) turned the world upside down.

Activists everywhere are waking up and people who never thought of themselves as activists are taking a stand.

Where does that leave artists?

Some say that art can be a tool in bringing social and political change.

If you have ever looked for a justification to do your art when more important things are happening, you probably gladly took this one.

I know I did and I am now.

If I’m being honest I didn’t quite truly believe it until today.

You could say I had an epiphany.

Where did it come from?

It came from asking this question: So what if I’m sitting down writing a story I believe the world doesn’t need?

We are already being bombarded by stories everyday. Stories that we don’t get to choose.

Everyday I read on SnapChat stories about some celebrity’s vacations or sudden acne flareup.

I read on Facebook stuff about an airport officer getting shot and a 2 year old singing perfectly a famous country singer’s song.

One can avoid reading the news you could say. That’s true. But it’s not just about story lines on social media or in the papers.

It goes deeper than that.

The power of stories is at work right now in your life and in your children’s life whether you like it or not.

Whether you realize it or not.

It’s also at work in our neighbor’s life, in our friends, in our enemies, in elected officials. Everyone.

What do I mean?

First, the obvious; what we do, what happened to us, that’s a story. You can’t say that has no power. The past impacts us all in ways we wish it didn’t sometimes. Conversely what you’re doing right now impacts you future, even though you might not want it to.

Secondly, the less obvious but perhaps a lot more powerful; the stories we pick up here and there, the one your grandpa might have told you when you went fishing with him or that time you got caught telling a really good lie. The stories big and small that we use to create. The stories that created us.

The stories that tell us what is important at all in this life.

Being an artist may come without a status but it does come with great power.

If you’re ever in doubt, please:

Never underestimate the power of a really good story.

Especially your own.

 

*Photo Credit: Eric flickr Creative Commons 2.02.0

Being a Barefaced Woman

In recent years, being a barefaced woman has become somewhat trendy. We’ve all seen the #nomakeupselfies become increasingly popular on Instagram. Heck, there’s even a National No Makeup Day.

Some celebrities like Alicia Keys have spoken eloquently on the topic and helped make the #nomakeup movement what it is today.

Like most (if not all) of the choices a woman can make about her body, putting on makeup or foregoing it is a source of debate and controversy.

Whether you’re on team #makeup or #nomakeup it doesn’t matter, someone somewhere will think you’re wrong.

I’m not here to be that person.

All I can talk about is my experience. The personal is political.

If there’s one thing I remember from feminist theory it’s exactly that.

There is no right or wrong choice but adding our voices to the collective discussion can help other women to be more confident in making the right decision for them.

When it comes to making decisions on how we want to present ourselves to society fear is sadly a major influence.

It was for me.

Even though I have been a barefaced woman for more than 3 years now I was never a barefaced girl.

From ages 12 to 18 the thought of going barefaced terrified me.

No, that’s not exactly right.

The thought of what would happen if I went barefaced terrified me.

Because let’s be real, there’s nothing scary about ditching the time-intensive routine of “prettyfication”.

What’s scary is the fact that we know all too well that for every action, there’s a reaction.

The first obvious one is our own.

I couldn’t bare looking at myself in the mirror if I didn’t like what I saw.

The second obvious reaction is other people’s reaction.

That’s usually where things go wrong.

I mean if you’re alone all day all you have to do is avoid mirrors. Going out into the world, other human eyes put mirrors to shame.

Going out into the world, inhumane eyes put you to shame.

That’s what I was afraid of.

I didn’t want to see that I was ugly. That reflection of me in other people’s eyes scared me and that fear informed my decision to put makeup on.

People often say that makeup is a mask. That women use it to hide themselves. As if it was an act of deceit.

I used it as a shield.

As a girl there was some battles I wasn’t ready for.

I wish being barefaced wasn’t seen as a courageous feat to be celebrated.

But in many ways it is.

I wish my decision to be a barefaced woman was just that, my decision, but I don’t think it is.

It’s a lot more.

I’m not a celebrity, I don’t have flawless skin, I don’t have a special glow or the kind of “natural beauty” that you find in usual #nomakeupselfies on social media.

I’m a one of a kind woman. I have a lot more to show than tired eyes and slightly dry skin.

I never see women like me on the bus or walking down the street.

But I don’t care.

Going without makeup shouldn’t be a privilege that only women with flawless skin get to enjoy.

That’s why I’m a barefaced woman.

Are you a barefaced woman too? What do you think of the #nomakeup movement?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

*Photo Credit: Larry flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Going to Familiar Places

There’s this place I go often called “La salle des Pas Perdus”.

The Hall of Lost Footsteps. 

That’s the literal translation.

It’s a wide, empty room made exceptionally bright by its white floors and impressive skylight windows.

There are little wooden benches in the middle with fake trees next to them. Whenever I go I like to sit on one, always the same.

Sometimes I look at the old pictures on the wall instead.

The Hall hasn’t changed much in the hundred and more years since it opened as a part of Windsor Station (Canada’s first heritage railway station).

The Hall of Lost Footsteps is the best name anyone could ever find for this place.

Millions of people have walked in and out of there. Travelers going to unfamiliar places or coming back to familiar ones.

So many footsteps whose trace has long disappeared from the white immaculate floor.

I usually day dream about the lives of these people I see on the black and white images of the very same room I stand in.

Where have their steps gone to?

Today I thought of my own instead.

The invisible thread retracing my steps that my mind created tells me one thing: I keep going to familiar places. 

Living in the city where there is absolutely no shortage of new places to discover, I still go down the same roads. The same paths.

Tonight my feet took me to a street I have been on, one, two, too many times. As I walked by the usual shops, the new boutiques, the corner on which my ex-boyfriend used to live and the familiar sight of the cars on the highway below, I thought of all those steps of mine I could see if they somehow never got lost.

It’s easy to not take them into account when your feet leave no traces.

I was standing there with the cold wind in my face and I realized that maybe I should start taking the direction of my steps seriously.

What good is it to always walk mindlessly if it takes us to the same roads again and again?

It seems to me like going to familiar places does leave a trace in the end.

It’s something that starts but doesn’t end with your feet.

Going to the same places is akin to doing the same things.

If you want to conquer new terrains and new things maybe it’s worth it to stop going to familiar places.

Where do your footsteps go?

*Photo Credit: Rob Gallop flickr Creative Commons 2.0 

The Fibonacci Sequence & All the Love in the Universe

I had a few good math teachers. Thankfully. Or else I never would have gone anywhere after high school.

I had one that made me love math for at least one class. (that’s an achievement, believe me)

We made a fruit salad.

It was a pretty banal fruit salad as far as fruit salads go. Bananas, grapes, apples, kiwis, oranges.

Although it was tasty (and nutritious) the point of the class was to cut fruit open and count the seeds, spirals and parts of the fruits.

If you’re not familiar with the Fibonacci Sequence, it is a sequence of numbers derived from adding the result of the previous operation to the following one. So 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, 5+8=13, 8+13=21 and so on…

Those numbers are found in nature. In plants, flowers and fruits.

Sitting in class counting seeds in apple hearts felt silly at first. However, it didn’t take long before I started seeing how significant it actually was.

The whole room seemed smaller to me suddenly.

I was a thirteen year old in math class, surrounded by other thirteen year olds, all of us cutting into fruit but I was also a part of this universe. For the first time I was acutely aware of being both at the same time. A student and also a student somewhere on earth in this mysterious universe.

I knew before this moment that they are things who will forever be outside of my comprehension but it never occurred to me that I am one of those things.

In the grand scheme of things I wasn’t sure why I was on this earth just as much as I wasn’t sure why every apple had either 3, 5 or 8 seeds.

I still carry this feeling I got a long time ago in math class.

Last week I got to meet a nice little lady for the first time and I got reminded of that day.

She’s a sweet and soft girl who welcomed me into her life with nothing but the purest love.

I have found this kind of love in some people I’ve met throughout my life but I have experienced it from all the animals I have crossed path with.

I know that like some humans not all animals are inherently inoffensive but when it comes down to it, we are connected in more ways than we think.

I don’t know why we are on this earth but we are on it together.

When I cuddle my cat or any cat, I see the moment for what it is. We are together in a room but we are also two creatures part of this infinite universe.

You may say that faith gives us knowledge in many ways but some questions are simply better served by an open-ended answer.

Everything about the universe is endless and I like it that way.

If there is love in me then surely it must be present in the universe.

Then all the love in the universe is exactly the right amount.

I don’t have anything less than that for the animals that I share this planet with.

Do you?

*Photo Credit: Kai Schreiber flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Same Same But Different

I’ve always been a good girl.

Sweet, agreeable, kind. Quiet.

Those are the adjectives used to describe me. I have no problem with using them to describe myself either.

I’m generally a nice person and most of all I want to be a nice person.

That’s the core of who I am.

However, if I’m being honest I have put on layers that hide this truth at many points in my life.

Sometimes I forgot to be nice to others.

Most of the time I forgot to be nice to myself. 

I may have said or done the wrong thing and disappointed people I love throughout the years but I’ve definitely let myself down.

I let myself get focused on what I should do or shouldn’t do. I waited too long to go after my dreams because I didn’t think I deserved them.

I’m here to say this:

Even good girls get it wrong sometimes.

There is however one thing that we are great at and that is forgiving.

I forgive myself for all the times I insisted on staying the same.

The good parts of me will always be there even if I’m not the exact same.

I’ll just be same same but different.

The updated version of me.


Have you dealt with guilt about always being the same version of yourself?

Have you forgiven yourself? If not, what’s keeping you from doing it?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

*Photo Credit: Alice Barigelli flickr Creative Commons 2.0