Every Book Is A Self Help Book

Welcome Back, Small Bunnies.

As the Pandemic rages on and Instagram remains off of my phone, I thought I’d share with you the most helpful books I’ve read lately.

These aren’t traditional self help books but it is my personal belief that any book is a self help book as long as you’re reading. So without further adieu, here are my recent reads that took my heart – broke it, flirted with it, took it out for a drink, offered it a cigarette and then left without a word in the morning.

Enjoy!

Still Life With Woodpecker

Tom Robbins

What I took With Me:

Remember the important things like how to make love stay and that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood

Favorite Quotes :

“Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not.
Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end.
Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.
There is only one serious question. And that is: Who knows how to make love stay?
Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself.”

“There’s no point in saving the world if it means losing the moon.”

“Funny how we think of romance as always involving two, when the romance of solitude can be ever so much more delicious and intense. Alone, the world offers itself freely to us. To be unmasked, it has no choice.”

Borne

Jeff Vandermeer

What I took With Me:

What loneliness can do, what lengths you’ll go for intimacy knowing how much it will hurt but going forth undeterred anyway. You choose your family. You can’t change nature. Logic will break your heart forever.

Favorite Quotes:

“but this was always the test of our relationship. Were we symbiotic or parasitic?”

“Am I a person or a weapon?”
Always he wanted to know that he was a person. He just kept giving me different choices so one time I might slip up and say, “You’re not a person.”
“You are a person. But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”

Daisy Jones & The Six

Taylor Jenkins Reid

What I Took With Me:

Remember that everyone has intoxicating evocative presence and magic, even you. Leave this book confidently, longing for music and sunshine and reverence and art.

Favorite Quotes:

“Art doesn’t owe anything to anyone.
Songs are about how it felt, not the facts. Self-expression is about what it feels to live, no whether you had the right to claim any emotion at any time. Did I have a right to be mad at him? Did he do anything wrong? Who cares! Who cares? I hurt. So I wrote about it”

“People say that life keeps moving, but they don’t mention that it does stop sometimes, just for you.”

The Dutch House

Ann Patchett

What I took With Me:

Let go of the hate in your heart, the unfairness of your life and the people who slip away. You have no control over anything. You resign yourself to circumstances and you work to make them better and sometimes they are and sometimes they are not. You exist broadly in the minds and hearts of many people and vice versa. Isn’t that a sweet antidote to all the injustice of death of suffering? It’s not a consolation prize but at least it’s something.

Favorite Quotes:

“There are a few times in life when you leap up and the past that you’d been standing on falls away behind you, and the future you mean to land on is not yet in place, and for a moment you’re suspended knowing nothing and no one, not even yourself.”

“We had made a fetish out of our misfortune, fallen in love with it.”

“There would never been an end to all the things I wished I’d asked my father. After so many years I thought less about his unwillingness to disclose and more about how stupid I’d been not to try harder.”

“You don’t have to like your work to be good at it.”

There you go pals.

Have you read anything recently that feels like it altered your DNA or at the very least perspective? Share with me if you did, I’m always on the lookout to get my heart broken.

x

Supplements I use to Help With The Soul Crushing Anxiety Of Being Alive During A Pandemic

Hello my little apple pies cooling in a window. 

Welcome back to my blog. Whether you’re here for a hate read or a love read, I am happy to see you. 

Today I wanted to chat a bit about Supplements. Specifically the supplements that I use to cope with a little thing called PMDD which has been made worse due to the pandemic. 

 ‘PMDD causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before your period starts. Symptoms usually go away two to three days after your period starts.’

I have this little issue and have had since my early 20’s. Every month 11 days before my period I turn into a small but dangerous werewolf. The condition causes me to react to my shifting hormones in ways that feel utterly out of my control. There’s treatments for this but they are generally birth control (pass) or anti-depressants, which would be fine but I am happy and thriving the rest of the time so it wouldn’t make sense. 

Every month I prepare for these 11 days (referred to the Luteal Phase) like I am going to war. I have to change my diet, up my exercise, plan creative projects or tasks around this time. I am incapable of productivity. I sit and stare and cry and panic. Historically all of the worst fights I’ve ever had with boyfriends are during this fateful 11 days.

Back before the Pandy, I was a living breathing person who worked full time, went to the gym, attended university part-time, had a huge group of friends and was just overall happy and distracted. This has obviously changed. Now I am at home, that’s it. Just sittin’ around at home, thinking.

The pandemic has done a number on our collective mental health. Isolation, junior chickens, netflix, online shopping, existential crises, loneliness, fear of dying are all ever present shifting considerations throughout each day.  Generally I am happy and rational and functional but for 11 days every month, it gets dark. I get extremely anxious. I get paranoid, I get profoundly depressed and no amount of exercise, salmon, positive thinking or hugs can make me feel better. I have however, found some supplemental things to slow the grinding gears of the walls that feel as if they are closing in on me.

Now let me start by saying that I am straight up not a doctor, not even close. I am an out of work actor, so really don’t take my advice on this and especially don’t sue me if you do and it doesn’t work out.

Ok with that disclaimer dutifully dispensed, here are the supplements I use to cope.

The inexplicable smoke means it’s working!

Natural Calm

A magnesium based supplement. I can’t tell if this stuff actually works or if I just think it does and that calms me down. I used to drink it at work while serving on busy days. It helps with racing thoughts and pounding heartbeat, it reintroduces chill when you have functioning with below zero.

Traditionally you would share this in a gourd with pals and loved ones, but that’s a good way to get Covid now.

Yerba Mate

This is an old favorite and yes it is caffeine which is BAD, but for whatever reason, the stimulant in it gives me a rise without a fall. I am perked up without the gigantic coffee-dooms I get from too many cups.

The greener the leaf, the less of a colossal bitch you’ll be!

Matcha

I am simply a better person when I am drinking this. It’s messy, its hard to make, it’s expensive but it makes me ….euphoric. I usually switch out coffee 8-10 days before my period with Matcha and it helps. I dance more, that’s the most important thing right.

This one is called ‘Boost’ but for me it’s more like ‘Melt’

CBD Oil

Discovered this after a tricky breakup when I couldn’t really sleep or calm down. I tried smoking actual weed but it makes me a total fucking weirdo. CBD oil is cheap, effective and also great for cramps.

“Not for Human Consumption”

Kratom

Ok this is technically illegal. The bag literally says ‘not for human consumption’ so I am indeed a bad girl but …goddamn. You have to be careful with it, people use this to get off heroin. Do some research and really sniff it out before you take the plunge. When I take it it affects me like adderall. It eradicts my (dangerously) high emotions so I can focus on tasks at hand. I feel like a robot when I use it and sometimes that is exactly what I need.

It was not my intention to take a photo that resembles a vagina

Maca

Ancient, mysterious. I don’t understand this stuff or what it does but when I put it in a coffee or smoothie it makes me feel sexy? I don’t know why. It’s energizing.

Exercise, yoga, meditation help too.

I’ve found the anxiety has lessened since I deleted Instagram and the weather is getting better. We’re still deep into the Pandy but any little bit of anything definitely helps and these little supplements help me. Hopefully if you decide to use them they work for you too. 

Are you dealing with anxiety? Have any coping mechanisms? Share them with me below. Any advice is more than welcome. 

That’s it for me sweet sirs. I am off to walk my bike to the boardwalk for a ride because I don’t have a helmet and am too afraid of biking on Toronto city streets. 

See you soon, 

xo

Will Saving Money Make Me Happier Than Spending It?

A more ill fitting sweater does not exist but if it does I will buy it online to self soothe

Hello again sweet angels. I am back today to test my strength with a low buy March. The concept of low-buy or no buy periods of time have long been celebrated on Youtube and blogs by minimalists and money savers for the seemingly endless list of pros resulting from the endeavour. Money saving gurus have lauded the benefits of a rainy day fund and developing the discipline to say no to that thing that will bring momentary dopamine into our sad/struggling little brains.

Online shopping is delightful, truly. Throughout the Pandemic, having something arriving in the mail has at times felt like the only reason to live.

The harsh reality of this is, I overspend. I work in film/tv as well as service and in my city those industries are fighting to exist right now. With a stay at home order in place and endless time on my hands, the quick kick of dopamine from a purchase has become a real self care crutch. 

I recently came across the concept of low-buy or no buy after researching Instagram and the effects the app strategically has on our shopping habits. How easy it is to click through and make in app purchases, how teams of people (weirdos) sit around all day engineering updates that subconsciously encourage spending. I realized that prior to January 1st (the day I stopped using [Instagram]) I had made so many insane purchases just because it was easy. Clothes are my vice. I buy an absurd amount of clothes for someone who barely leaves the house.

The breaking point for me came when I had purchased a sweater from Zara and waited three weeks for it’s arrival. Every day the tracking teased it’s delivery and every passing hour that I did not have my coveted sweater made me desperately, hopelessly hornier to receive it. 

This sweater was going to make me beautiful and cozy like the Instagram ad I had seen it in. It would look Nordic (???) and the experience of owning it would take me from sitting in my Toronto apartment to hiking the Fjords or drinking coffee in a street cafe in Amsterdam. I had huge (extremely unhealthy, unrealistic, irrational, illogical) hopes for this sweater. 

Finally the day came. It arrived.

The sleeves don’t even fit in the frame.

Abysmal. I’m not sure that I own a more ill fitting piece of clothing. This beautiful 70 dollar sweater that I can’t even sell on Facebook Marketplace or trade on Bunz has become the pinnacle of disappointing purchases I’ve made through boredom and sadness.

Everytime I open my closet this bulky oppressive garbage garment mocks me. 

This experience made me wake the fuck up and realize that I am a shameful money waster who needs rehabilitation. 

What is a pandemic if not absolutely depressing at all moments.

Enter, low buy/no buy. First, It’s winter in Toronto. I don’t need to be buying clothes. I wear four items and go almost nowhere so this should be easy. 

Another interesting draw to this concept is contentment through delayed gratification. Research has shown that developing discipline is another important factor in overall contentment. Not giving full control to your emotions has far reaching benefits beyond saving a couple bucks here and there. Learning to control your desires or observe them as wants not needs can reportedly be life changing. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Why shopping feels good

Feelings of sadness, stress, or anxiety are often rooted in feelings of powerlessness. The authors of the 2013 study suggest that retail therapy offers people a sense of control that counteracts these feelings.

Choosing to make a purchase (or not to make a purchase) helps people feel more empowered.

-Healthline

Author Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the destination is rarely the goal, but rather the journey is what makes humans happy. When we get the prized thing that we want with little to no effort it cheapens the experience and then we go out and do it again. That’s why online shopping feels so damn good. You make your purchase and wait for it and the anticipation is the dopamine bomb. 

The pandemic has caused so much uncertainty. So much job loss, so much financial insecurity and yet companies like Amazon are somehow thriving. We’re spending more than ever because we’re sad and it feels good.

So for one month I am not going to buy my vice. I will not purchase another ridiculously expensive long armed sweater or pants that hide my gorgeous thick calves. This will be hard, there is no doubt about it, but in the spirit of this blog I am going to try!

I invite you to join me in saying no. No more. No more buying shit that we absolutely do not need. The joy is only temporary. Let’s strive for a more sustainable feel good endeavour. Let’s control our impulses and emotions and see if we’re as tough as we sometimes like to fantasize.

I’ll keep you updated and please let me know how you do.

Godspeed sweet angels,

x

Quitting Instagram To Be Happier

Instagram would love this fake smile

Social media has long been accused of destroying our mental health and quitting it used to be much easier. Now that we are in a global pandemic a lot of us are out of work, bored and lonely sitting around the house all day watching our youth melt before our eyes like a pool toy on a sunny day. Picking up our phones and scrolling through other people’s lives helps to take our minds off of our own. The effects of social media are far reaching and damaging.

In my experience, I’ve always had a tricky relationship with Instagram. I love photography so it’s a great place to showcase my work but on the flip side, it’s also a great place to feel bad about my work. I hate the feeling of putting something out and checking for likes and validation. The feeling of checking my story to see if particular people have watched is so wholeheartedly cringeworthy, and when they haven’t looked? Pain.

This isn’t a new concept, it’s natural to want to express yourself, to want to be perceived and appreciated. In a pandemic, it’s way harder to find this type of validation. Ordinarily we would be getting it from friends and loved ones who we no longer see. 

Research has shown that Instagram is the worst social media platform for mental health and wellbeing. Other sites like YouTube and Twitter encourage users to learn and grow, these platforms aren’t entirely predicated on selfies and shopping. 

So why are we still using it? We know it’s bad for us yet it seems impossible to escape it’s glossy familiar clutches.  We use it because we’re lonely, bored and encouraged to use it. We’re in a pandemic and honestly there’s really not much else to do. Posting is great for self expression but terrible for self comparison. So here is a list of things I am doing to keep me from picking up my phone and logging in to that demonic shopping app.

Reading Books That I Actually Like

These books are not at all embarrassing but I have read Twilight and I am not ashamed to admit that

Hear me out. Often we’ll pick up a book and start it because someone we love or respect enjoyed it and they’ve recommended it or simply because we want to be the kind of person that would read a certain kind of book. This has happened to me and when it does it’s actually fucking torture to get through it. I am not excited to read it and becomes more of a chore than a simple pleasure.My advice? Read books that you actually like and don’t give a shit what people think. You’re a 50 year old woman who likes YA? Who cares! You love trashy thrillers or formulaic Harlequins? Good! Even if you’re reading actual garbage, you’re still reading, you’re still putting your brain first and you’re still not picking up that god forsaken phone.

Cooking

I realize this is a salad but I did bake the tofu so it still counts.

I know what you’re thinking because I think they very same thing. Cooking is challenging and it takes too long and it’s barely worth it. I never cooked until the pandemic hit and now I’ve forced myself into domesticity, cooking and almost enjoying the fruits of my labor. Cooking takes up a ton of time, is healthier than eating out and is often cheaper.

Walking

Four times a week I walk to the beach near my house and stare existentially at rocks.

Yes. Boring but effective. If you’re addicted to your phone, stuffing it deep down in your bag away from your jonesing little hands for 40 minutes while you walk around listening to a podcast is a great thing. Not only are you interacting with the world at large, you’re moving, getting fresh air and actually living your life instead of watching someone else’s on Instagram.

VSCO

This is where I love to post my little abstract images free from the shackles of likes and strangers asking why they aren’t selfies.

I use this app for photos and follow no one. No one follows me either. I still take tons of photos and edit them and post them but not for likes. Every time I post I expect that no one will like or share it and I’m happy with that.

Call Someone

Not them though.

I know this is terrifying but I have found that it works 300 percent better for curing loneliness than Instagram. Call a friend, it might be weird at first but chances are they are just as lonely and happy to know that someone cares about their existence too.

Anything is Better Than Nothing

I have been off of Instagram since January 1st. It has been tough at times because my city is in lockdown so most days are just staring out the window, but not facing the pressure to live some glorious life every day has lessened my anxiety beyond measure. I no longer feel the need to shop (why the fuck was I doing this, I literally sit in the house all day) my relationship with my person is better and not seeing my life as content when I’m barely able to move from bed some days. 

There’s so much self help out there but almost none of pertains to pandemic living. Everything is hard. We all don’t know what we are doing. We’re all just coping. If Instagram isn’t a problem for you, you’re lucky and special but if it is, try for a little bit to stop using it. Go slow, do like a day or two at a time. See how you feel. It won’t make your life instantly better but at the very least you will save money.