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paring down

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water-2045469_960_720At the beginning of January I decided to do a lot of things. More exercise is perpetually on that list along with a host of other resolutions of sorts. This year I decided to work toward decluttering and living smaller so I joined the #MinimalistChallenge2018 Minimalist game knowing full well it was going to be difficult. I also didn’t have a person to play against so it was just simply a challenge.

I’m sentimental in a great many ways and it extends to belongings. If I’ve carried things with me, moved them many times they’ve almost become an extension of myself somehow and I am reluctant to let go. Blue glass, boxes, pictures, a variety of doodads and whatnots. Look around and my apartment and you can see testament to that.

I was very gung ho and cast a baleful eye around my house looking for items to shed. I knew I can well live without or I am hanging onto a multitude of items “just in case” or in the event “i might need” it. For instance, I own a a veritable rainbow of scarves, purchased in crazy deals at one of those chain stores or discovered at thrift stores, even gifts I’ve gladly received, but I never wear them, not all of them. I have a few favourites I rotate through and there are a bunch in a fancy box by my front door. I also have a special scarf place in my bedroom and it contains seasonal scarves, the warm and cozy ones or ones not as popular as others.

So the premise of the game is that you throw away, donate or otherwise give away the number of items of the day: the first day you get rid of one thing and the second, two, the third 3 and so on. Every day I diligently sifted through different storage boxes and closets and stowaway places to triumphantly comply with the rules of the game. Every day it got a little more difficult until day 19 when I decided I couldn’t go any further, then on day 20 I managed to push it just a little further. It’s day 21 and I just have to tap out. Perhaps it’s just a little too ambitious and cuts to close to the bone for me. I’m not ready to live that simply just yet. I like to have some amount of doodads and colour around me. I like boxes of all varieties and shapes. I collect them, I’m going to allow myself to be a collector of some amount of things. Technically I lost and failed at Minimalist Game , not miserably however so I’m going to cut myself a break. I learned. I keep what I need and some amount of what I really don’t. Balance. Some clutter is quite alright, as long as it’s kept in check and I think that’s the most important thing.

over and out

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the little grocery store not far from us has a for rent sign in the window. we started to suspect something was up when the rather sparsely stocked shelves became even emptier. but now our suspicions have been confirmed. recently the awning trumpeting "green and organic goods", took on a lopsided aspect, and nothing was done about it. sort of underscoring its hopelessness. its presence made the whole street begin to look pathetically forlorn.  and although the selection in the store was fairly limited at best; the produce scandalously past its prime, (and i wouldn't even have risked the meat and cheese) but they sold avalon milk and my favourite yogurt. generally the shelves offered up what we needed in a pinch, without requiring me to take transit. but as a convenience store it was lacking. 7-11 across the street and mac's down the block offered more. we are holding out the hope that someone takes it over and does it up proper.

the main street is beginning to look like a bit of a boneyard. this is just the latest casualty.

the little italian shop is no more. we cannot look forward to amazing gelato or brutally
refreshing a/c in the summer. the electronics fix-it guy seemed to be
there one day and gone the next. when i last spoke to him he waxed
wistfully about making a change and uprooting his life to edmonton to
be with his girlfriend, it seems he made it happen. he seemed a
determined sort. there was a rather shishi boutique called cherish went
belly up a couple months ago, but i thought that was just as well. they
sold a mishmosh of niche and trendy clothing, most of it pricey and the
clerks that manned the shop were snippy and unpleasant. good riddance.
and last but not least, a for rent sign has also sprung up in the window of kids' closet as
well. seems they're dropping like flies. 

some of the already empty spaces are being taken over. a fresh slice will be opening up next to the starbucks. there is a small guy down the street and a panago down the block so it seems superfluous to me. how much of an appetite does the neighbourhood have for pizza anyway?

this is our neighbourhood. if it weren't for the cliched dollar store and sushi joints as well as the ubiquitous starbucks, it would amount to almost nothing at all.

1000 posts and counting

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i never would have thought, given my lack of discipline and massive talent in the art of procrastination, that i would have hit the marker of 1000. they haven't all been top quality A-number one, but i've been puttin' them out there. some posts have been inspired bits of lyrical and poetic storytelling; others angst-ridden dark rides through deep chasms in my depression; there have been words i couldn't otherwise speak because my monster–trigeminal neuralgia–made it impossible; dirges sung of hurt and anger-fueled rants when i've felt violated or hard done by.

all of it is who i am at any given moment. of course it depends on the moment. for the most part i aim for a shiny happy mindset, but it can be work sometimes, and the perpetration of a fraud because that is not what anyone's life is about and certainly not mine. whatever has been going on i've been working some of it out here. therapy is expensive and i can't afford that at the moment. hanging your butt out there for public viewing makes you honest. or more honest anyway. and it's scary. but less scary than the alternative; strange as that may sound. i think my some of biggest breakthroughs i've made in facing my demons head on occurred through the bits of scribbling i did here.

the dichotomy exists in the fact that i am still a rather intensely private person.  it is a contradiction, but my need to express something of myself in word and images trumps my desire to hide from the light.

right now i am working on a post about my recent san francisco trip. it's looking awfully long already and i'm not even to the stage where i've gotten off the bus there. sometimes i wax a little on the loquacious side. i'm trying to decide if i should break it down into days or make it one long protracted post. first, though i have to get all the words down onto "paper". that's the hardest part, believe me. revving up the machine and getting it going. it sputters and balks, but once it gets going, it becomes easier; a force unto itself; the physics of the words moving through space take over. 

here's to 1000 more.

grin even when it hurts

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i was reading a blog post i discovered through a running group that i never actually attend. never mind about that. i had good intentions. you know about that road.

oh, wanna know why i never join in the running group? i live 45 minutes from the meeting point and i really don't relish the idea of sitting on the bus afterward, rapidly cooling down, while i wait for the bus to slowly maneouvre it's circuitous route to get me home again. like i say, no matter. it was just a little side information

tom  was writing about first impressions, and i'm like him. if my face is passive, my expression appears somewhat forlorn or sad because my lips have a slight downward turn. while i lived in toronto i made the effort to talk to anybody because it was so important for me to make the human connection, and putting on a smile while feeling that black hole swirling inside somehow minimized the effect of the negativity, and it also made me feel better. as cheesy as the saying goes, it is true.

now that i am back in vancouver and feeling somewhat gutted and demoralized by the experience of my reacquaintance with the city i have found it helps to put on a happy face when put myself out there into the world. no matter how i feel. it's my secret smile, no one needs to know its origin and people respond to it, and in turn i reap the rewards of human connection in a city with whom  i've never felt much of kinship.

and there are people who pass me with apparently scowling or sneering expressions on their faces, i let that go by, because i am still actively trying to practice the four agreements, and agreement number two tells me not to take it personally because it likely has nothing to do with me.

a smile and a brief tenet have done more for my mental health of late than a bunch of mind numbing meds ever did. thus far.

memory lane

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i've been dipping in the nostalgia pool lately; recording rockford files. i suppose, given the fact that i'm not always away from home these days, i could easily watch it but it has a way of awkwardly splitting the day in half.  james rockford made living in a single wide trailer look sexy and the ultimate of cool but then again, probably because he lived on the edge ofhe pacific. when i zoom through the commercials i noticed that  the gap created by commercials is a minute thirty at best.  no wandering off to take care of errands until the program resumed. nowadays those commercial pauses are at least 3 minutes long sometimes longer.

they don't make them like they used to.

words to live by?

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It seems serendipitous and coincidental but no less interesting my horoscope today in 24.

          "Be flexible in the face of changing times."

I've got a lot of decisions to make and this has occurred to me. many times. the question is, which way to proceed. the economy is making turtles of employers and they all seem to be pulling their heads into the safety of their shells, waiting for the storm to pass. some are even taking advantage of the current economic crisis to burden current extra employees with more work and meanwhile, people like me, out there hunting, somewhere in the middle of the pack, are left to scrabble for whatever scraps might be available. and it seems there are a lot of us.

so, i am seriously pondering what to do with my future. some might say this is the very navel gazing i should have done many years ago, but many years ago it didn't seem as necessary and perhaps i wasn't ready to make the decision. necessity begs it now. every journey begis with one step the adage goes, and i just have to figure out where to  place that first step.

riddle me this

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i'm standing on the platform at joyce station. the wind is teasing me and tickling me, causing me to shiver a bit under my several layers. across the way there is a crowd of people sporting bare legs and hoodies for jackets, looking like a page out of the Sears summer catalogue. I always wonder: if a person is wearing shorts and halter tops when it's blustery and cool what do they wear in seasonal weather when the temperatures are cranked up the dial?

and 3 and 4

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i've finished reading of the four agreements save for the brief epilogue. i've been trying to apply all four to my daily life. all i can do is try and give it my best effort which is the gist of the fourth agreement. after reading the book i am forced to consider most every word that comes out of my mouth and even the thoughts that pop into my head in the form of assumptions (don't make assumptions), errant negative thoughts. it is hard work, but i think that with the application and effort every day it will be worth it. of all the agreements it is the fourth always do your best is the most important of all, because in doing your best it you are making a concerted effort in striving for excellence to meet all of the agreements. it is all you can do, and gain a sense of peace and satification in the knowledge that you have. most of all i have become more self-aware of the processes of my thoughts that are verbalized or the ones that rumble around internally. as self help books go, this is the most straightforward and simplest to incorporate into daily life. it could probably be the most relevant 150 words i've read on the topic.

The Four Agreements

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.
Avoid using the word to speak against yourself
or to gossip about others. Use the power of
your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What
others say and do is a projection of their
own reality, their own dream. When you are
immune to the opinions and actions of others,
you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express
what you really want. Communicate with others
as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings,
sadness and drama. With just this one agreement,
you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to
moment; it will be different when you are
healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance,
simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment,
self-abuse and regret.

don Miguel Ruiz

halfway there

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so i am reading the four agreements. even though the book is a mere 150 pages, i've only read two so far. just reading the preface one night was enough for me. it's almost a completely different way of thinking and i am reading it slowly, to make sure i absorb as much as i can. it's not very easy to incorporate these four agreements into everyday life, if you are the average human being. the book is a teaching in self esteem, about being responsible for only yourself but living in such a way you can experience true happiness once you embrace its simple philosophy. it seems simple enough, but it takes a concerted effort to accomplish it.

the first agreement is to speak impeccably. which i am interpreting as choosing your words carefully and saying what you mean, and don't gossip or use your words against yourself (is self-deprecating humour allowed, i wonder?) i don't people bash or anything, but it takes discipline, no negative self-talk is allowed, which so many of us inflict upon ourselves, and i am no exception, and negative self-talk is incredibly limiting and only does further damage.

the second agreement is don't take anything personally. nothing others do is because of you, the book jacket states. when people do things it is not in an effort to injure you, and even if they do it is to protect their reality, not yours. or something like that. and when you become immune to the actions of others, you won't suffer needlessly because of what other people do. this is easier to follow, but again it takes dedication. we are so accustomed to thinking that other people's actions are somehow in aid of causing you pain. "that person is looking at me funny, what did i do to deserve that?" and then we go into a round of negative inspection of ourselves to try and figure out what we must be doing wrong. at least this is what i do. bad habit yes, and like smoking i am now attempting to quit it, one day at a time.

difficult though, in a time when i am trying to get myself noticed as a worthy employee with all the goods that any of these employers (who don't acknowledge my resume, my existence) would benefit from. very difficult, but i persist.

excerpt from the first chapter of adventures of beige girl

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in one of my nighttime sojurns to the loo, i sort of whacked, or rather scraped, my face on the little ikea storage job mounted on the wall. i did my business and staggered back to bed thinking to myself "that's going to leave a mark" and it did, everything does. that is one of the downsides of being beige. this is a new term i lifted from the act of kenny robinson and gladly credit him with the coining of this term. the innocuous colour is apt. i used to call myself a brown girl when it seemed necessary as it was more accurate to me than terms like "black" or "mixed race" or the insulting "mulatto" or whatever other terms are out there to denote the differing shades and races of ethnic groups. i never felt comfortable with the whole "black" thing as it seemed sort of an alien designation to me. first off, i'm not that dark and i've never been in touch with the nubian princess in me. growing up in canada, and in a blue collar european neighbourhood i was one of the local scapegoats for those kids who weren't so enlightened. so when i saw kenny doing his comedy act–and it could be said his approach is challenging–i immediately took to the term of beige, because he is canadian born (and born in my hometown of winnipeg) and lived the experience of the canadian mixed race child, where even being a creamy light beige caused him to stand out.

one would think. well why do you need some sort of terminology? the answer to this is that a lot of people seem to want to know. the first question is innocent enough: "where are you from?", but the information that the asker is after is often where my lovely shade of skin tone comes from. often times when i say i answer that i am from winnipeg and my dad is canadian and my mom from the netherlands, this leaves the asker puzzled. so instead of them fumbling around asking the twenty or so questions to net them with what they want to know i have learned to expedite things by letting them know my father is black and my mom was a shade of alabaster white. ergo, the lovely mix. interestingly enough, when abroad, there is no question that i am canadian, even though my shade is obvious.

so it's official. i'm beige.

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