Archive for the ‘Everyday Adventures’ Category

walkingWalking is one of those things that seems mundane, purely practical, and frequently inconvenient. We do it when we have somewhere to go, often in a hurry, often wishing that we had a more efficient mode of transportation. I'm thinking of rushing through airports to get to our gate, stressed that it's so far from security, running out for lunch or a coffee before sitting back at our desk, or shuffling to the car or bus and back again.

I remember a time when walking felt like brushing my teeth or putting away laundry: something that I had to do but didn't pay much attention to. In university parking was in high demand and I remember how bummed I was when I had to pay for a spot that was a 15-minute walk from my classes, and how tiresome it was to trek back and forth, especially on cold, dark winter mornings.

Of course, there are times when we choose to walk, like when we hike through the woods or mountains, or when we explore a new city. At these moments, walking feels like a blissful detour from real life. We slow down and appreciate what we experience. Walking is the goal itself, rather than a means to an end.  (more…)

summerOh summer. So juicy and wonderful and yet so fleeting. Way up north as we are, we spend the whole year thinking about it and then have to run to catch up when it finally arrives. I used to make lists of everything I wanted to do in a summer, but I've stopped since I generally find myself feeling overwhelmed and more than a little frantic when June hits and there is so much to do: markets to prepare for, weddings to attend, camping trips to plan, family gatherings and barbecues and festivals. Before you know it, the season is yawning and curling up under a blanket of leaves to sleep for another year.

I often wish I could spend my summers in a cabin in the woods, or by a beach with nothing to do besides walk, write, make stuff and stare at the sky. Instead, I'm slowly learning to slow down and make space for the small wonders that summer brings. At the same time, I'm learning to appreciate all the seasons in their own right, so that summer doesn't bear the full weight of my desires and expectations.

The book The Way of the Happy Woman is about embracing the phases of our days, months, and years, and changing our habits to suit each one. I've loved reading about how to embrace summer's wild energy of celebration and fun, and how to take care of myself in the midst of it.

Here are my commandments for keeping summer both beautiful and manageable: (more…)

spa day, artist dateLast year I decided to start taking regular "spa days" where I spend an entire day doing only things that energize and replenish me. I see them as a way to step away from my constant need to produce and accomplish and instead simply soak up inspiration. This doesn't mean hours of scrolling Instagram, but instead a conscious process of seeking. Maybe you've heard of Julia Cameron's concept of Artist Dates, from her book The Artist's Way. Her explanation describes the purpose of a spa day perfectly:

"The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore
something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly
“artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the
imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the
play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well
of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask
yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it."

My plan was to take a spa day every two months or so, but I've been bad and haven't had a proper one in over six months. The trick is to schedule them, and then stick to the schedule, no matter how badly you think you need to get work done that day—which is what I have not been doing. I usually like to schedule them after a big project or deadline so that I can fuel up for whatever comes next but every time I finish something there's always something else on the horizon so I keep postponing them.

Does this sound familiar? Do you put off taking time off or resting because there's just too much to do? I think it's pretty common in our society and the truth is no one else is going to plan our breaks for us. We need to take control of our calendars and declare spaces that are just for us. Are you with me? Here's how you can plan your own spa day:  (more…)

staycation

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend, Matt, and I celebrated my birthday with a staycation in our own city. Earlier in the year, I did a window display for a nice hotel in one of Edmonton's popular food/shopping districts, and they gave me a gift certificate for a weekend stay as a thank you. We spent two nights in the hotel, wandered around the neighbourhood, and went out dancing. Friday night we were as excited as we would be for a real vacation, and Sunday I felt relaxed and content, if reluctant to leave our giant hotel bed and amazing view. The joy of staycationning in your own city is that you can do it any time, without any of the hassle (and a lot of the expense) of going out of town, but it still gives that feeling that something special is happening.

Here are some things that I found made our staycation extra special:

(more…)

travel photography

Since I've been practising DSLR photography (you can see other posts about my learning process here, here, here, and here), I really wanted to bring my camera on our trip to Turkey, Egypt, and the UAE. We were both a bit nervous about having it with us because we'd be very sad if it were lost or stolen, but I figured it was worth the risk. It's not every day that I get to practice taking photos in cities other than my own, never mind on the other side of the world.

I wasn't totally sure that my skills would be good enough to make a difference in the quality of the photos but it turned out that, skills or no skills, the camera made a huge difference. And since I wasn't sketching or doing any other creative activities, composing pictures gave me the opportunity to keep my creative muscles engaged.

The biggest thing I learned about travel photography was, (more…)

travel

One of my favourite parts about travelling is opening up my suitcase when I get home and pulling out all the treasures that I brought home. Gifts for friends, decorations for my home, edible treats and more spill out and remind me of all that I've seen and experienced. Of course, it’s not just physical objects that I bring home but memories, experiences, and plenty of inspiration. In Turkey, Egypt, and the UAE we saw so much and my heart is overflowing with the magic of it all. Here are some of the things I brought home from my trip, both the tangible and the ephemeral:  (more…)

curiosity

"What is creative living? Any life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." Elizabeth Gilbert

My boyfriend and I like to go back-country camping. We hike into the woods for a few hours then set up camp far far away from other humans. It's glorious. Our favourite part is exploring the area around our camp. We usually camp in the mountains so there's always plenty of scrambling and hiking to be done and we feel pulled by a deep sense of curiosity. What's at the top of this hill or this spillway? What's around that next corner? What are we going to find? The photos in this post are from a camping trip last summer where we didn't really know what we were getting into, but dove in anyway.

I'm sure you know the feeling of being magnetically drawn towards something that you want to know more about: an unexpected package that arrives at your doorstep, or a new piece of public art that catches your eye. (more…)

loving winter

I have relatives that live in California and every time I talk to them they try to convince me to come live there. The main draw, in their eyes, is the perpetually mild weather. Who wouldn't want to live in a place that's sunny with an average of 20°C all year long?

I wouldn't.

I live in a city that spends almost half the year under snow. And I love it.

Don't get me wrong, I love summer. I love walking around without a coat, the long daylight hours, the feeling of grass under my feet. But I love the changing of the seasons too much to live in a land of constant summer. What would I do without the golden months of fall, or the freshness of spring, or the sparkle of winter? (more…)

Draw Paint Print Marion DeucharsIn my constant effort to bring a little more creativity to my everyday life, I've decided to start a new project. I have come across dozens of books with exercises meant to get creativity flowing. I tend to read them quickly, anxious to get to the next thing, and I rarely do very many of the exercises, if any. However, after receiving Marion Deuchar's book Draw Paint Print as a birthday gift, I've decided to work my way through it and - gasp - do every single exercise. 

This book is a treat to look at. Deuchars based the exercises on the work of well known artists that have been influential to her. Each chapter starts with a sketch of the artist, and a graphic explanation of what makes them unique. This is followed by exercises ranging from quite simple to more complex, all in an effort to get the creative juices flowing and help the reader better understand how art comes together. It's bold and bright and colourful, and the texture of the paper reminds me of a colouring book. I definitely ignored my family's conversation as I leafed through it, trying to soak it up, wishing I had pencil crayons with me. The book is meant for younger audiences, but that's part of the appeal. It's simple, clean, and easy to follow.

My immediate thought was that I didn't want this book to languish on my shelf unused. It was meant to be drawn and painted in and I wanted to fill it up with playful experiments. Sadly, I knew my tendency to start working on something and then lose interest early on (see the perils and joys of being multi-passionate). I realized that I would have to make my efforts public. If I tell the world that I'm doing this, then I have do it, right?

So here's my plan. There are 18 artists in the book. I'm going to do the exercises for one artist each week, which will take me just over 4 months. I'll be posting my progress on Instagram and Facebook if you would like to follow along. If you're really keen you can order the book from the publisher or if you live in Edmonton, you can ask Audrey's Books to order it for you (go local book stores!). In case you're wondering, I'm not affiliated with the book in any way - I'm just really excited about it.

This week I'm starting with Joan Miro and experimenting with lines and shapes. I'll try to post progress reports throughout and a recap when I'm done. If this goes well I might start doing a regular series with other creativity boosting books. I can't wait to see what happens!

 

30th Birthday PartyI have been anticipating turning 30 for way too long. Some of my friends who have hit this milestone told me it was the best thing ever, and there's a big part of me that couldn't wait to leave my tortured twenties behind and get on with being a real grown-up. Obviously there were parts of me that were a little anxious about where I'm at in life, but mostly I was really excited. I like who I am, I'm proud of how far I've come in the last decade, and I was ready to celebrate.

I've held a number of themed parties over the years. Starting with a murder mystery that my mom wrote for me for my 13th, I went on to host a music awards themed Halloween party in high school, complete with lip-synced performances by my friends and papier mache "Golden Pumpkin" awards. In more recent years I hosted "Gangsters through the ages", with gangster trivia, prizes, and a home-made piñata, and a blue themed goodbye part when I moved out of "The Blue House".

Last year the theme was endangered species since I had made a sloth costume for my boyfriend for his birthday and I wanted him to have somewhere to wear it. Everyone dressed up like animals and we raised money for the World Wildlife Federation.

I love hosting these parties. It gives me an excuse to do a ton of research on obscure topics and to make things I would never have the opportunity to do otherwise, and it gives all my friends reasons to dress up and get creative themselves. I'm so thankful for how enthusiastically they play along.

This year I wanted to do something a little more special than usual (more…)