Calgary Vibes

Good morning friends,

I am writing to you this morning from my sweet “hotel” aka dorm room on the University of Calgary campus in Calgary, Alberta! What a cool way to start this post, because really I’ve been wanting to write something but things don’t always get done. There’s yoga to be had and a final mammoth paper to finish, but today I am in Calgary. The non-humid, delicious coffee-totalling city that, despite having only seen literally forty minutes of campus life, is wonderful.

It could be because Ontario is currently in a huge heat wave nonsensical flood of humidity and there is nothing but fresh, albeit mildly wet, air here, it could be because this trip feels like a cool academic retreat/holiday somewhere new, and it could also be because I slept for the first time in a few days last night being so jetlagged and so breathing fresh cool air with my coffee after being well rested realy has just hit me in a wonderful way, a way of wonder, if you will.

I am in Calgary for Congress, and more directly the Canadian Association of Theatre Research conference, which begins tomorrow and follows on until Tuesday afternoon, to which I will then take a bus to Banff and spend nearly two days loving my life near mountains and good friends. Ah, the academic’s life, full of spending the only morning you have off in Calgary editing, transcribing and reading, and also planning on doing more reading in the evening, and then planning out your budget for the journals/books that will come upon registration for these events.

Jenny (my room mate and I’d like to say good friend from the Drama Centre at UofT) dropped the book bomb yesterday: every academic publisher brings their books to congress. We had a good twenty-five minute conversation about where I’d put these books and we finished on I’d have another carry on for the trip home full of them. I will update you later.

This is so exciting for me, to be on my first “lurk and learn” in the professional academic world, and I have some great birds who’ve taken me under their wings to introduce me to the people and show me the ropes, its een a good day settling in here.

The next five days might be exhausting, and long, but I am positive they are going to be full of beautiful and fascinating panels and conversations had by people researching important things for our culture. On the brink of sounding sentimental I hope that this begins my life long presence at conferences such as these; where the people are smart and nice and welcoming, the food is present, and the books are abundant. Oh, and maybe the ideas that are generated are brilliant, as well.

xx Jess

On Finding Creativity

I was walking around campus yesterday amongst the beautiful tree’s and the beautiful people and sunshine, and looked up at a fully blue sky with a stark white cloud, and smiled. I am in love with life again.

It hasn’t been a problem, really, that I lost the love for life. But I lost some true and important things in my life. I have always been confident in my ability to triumph through hardship, but this term has tested me in terms of my academic worth and merit, and that has subsided. I belong here.

Creatively I’ve been in a mental block since last November, struggling to be creative or fun or anything that I love about creating things. Something shifted a few weekends ago when I brought out some paint and just did it. I’ve always wanted to paint, and now I want to buy a bigger scale paitning situation and get to it. I am going to. I started working on creative fiction again, and poetry, and reading. Oh I’m in this amazing book club with these amazing, brilliant, interesting women. I am so proud of the people in my life for what they are doing, and I am proud of myself.

I am proud of hard work, people! It doesn’t matter if you do forty five minutes or twelve hours of hard work a day, I am so proud of it. Every single human in my life is spending time doing hard work lately, and I try and appreciate those moments and humans as much as I can because everyone deserves to feel proud and appreciated for the work they do. Wow. I just, love, hearing about everything everyone is doing. Sure its inspirational for my own creative, academic, social, and mental work…but it is just so nice to see people working hard and thriving.

Things are hard working but not all positive in the fekkledfudge camp. I try hard every day to be motivated but despite loving things again things are hard. I have listened to the same music over and over, I’ve watched the same shows over and over, I’ve been working through things one block of time at a time in order to get through this moment of hard work for myself, but I am…thriving? Surviving? Are you?

How do you get through it all? I think I’m interested in hearing about how others get through things. Do you set aside time to play piano on a sunny day between meetings and errands? Do you watch your favourite film on repeat (one of my oldies)? Do you play video games or drink copious amounts of coffee? I could tell you all of my coping mechanisms, I’ve been known to create lists for blogs advising on how I get through and how YOU COULD TOO! But in reality I don’t really want to share today, I was just writing in my physical journal and thought maybe it’d be nice to hear how other people get through. I like to put BB cream on and go outside. I like being outside. This is a new development of living in Toronto, where do people like to go outside?

Do I expect a response? No. Do I hope you think about your own coping mechanisms? Absolutely. Knowing what works for you is essential during times of hard work. And if you’re one of those people who constantly does hard work (everyone? Yes?) then you deserve to know more than everyone else. Do you eat ice cream at midnight because that’s your only lone time? I envy your metabolism and love of cold treats, and also send you kudos because you deserve that ice cream.

We all deserve a break in whatever way we wish.

xx Jess

Integrity and Kindness

After attending an emerging artists event put on by the Youth Advocacy Council for Theatre Ontario I have been thinking a lot about Integrity within my work both academic, personal, and working-wise. As young “millennial” humans we are constantly asked to make sacrifices in order to get ahead (pay thousands of dollars for a post-secondary education, work 40+ hours/week-have a social life-work out every day-be environmentally conscious-care about everything and anything political-be hilarious-know how to do makeup-be in an amazing committed relationship-be kind-etc.-etc.) and it is funny to me to think that if there is one thing that is essentially the easiest thing to do is to have Integrity with every decision you make, and most of us do.
We have been criticised for pursuing careers and degrees in creative fields that we enjoy as opposed to the most pragmatic or money-making paths, and we fight back by continuing to pursue what we love.
I saw this beautiful post on a friend’s timeline yesterday about body-shaming, and how your body waits your entire life to love it and be kind to it, and that just stuck with me. I say that I am a kind person, and yet I am so hard on myself about being fit, about looking like the girls on Tumblr, about being smart (easily) and acing every test, and about my community impact and what I “should” be doing for my peers. I have been in many therapist’s offices where they chide on about the “inner critic” and the “should” that we tell ourselves, but those “should” come from somewhere, they are not just invented out of nowhere.
When I write off a list of what millennials have to worry about I wonder about Integrity to the causes that we do believe in, and taking a stand past just sharing a facebook post or using a hashtag, but taking action instead of just circulating the conversation (no matter how beneficial that circulation can be!) but actively pursuing, making change, with our actions.
An actress at the Emerging Artists event made a comment that every ticket we buy for a performance is essentially casting our “vote” and donating to a cause, and so if it is important to you to see more diverse theatre than buy the tickets to those shows instead of something else. I think this is an interesting way to look at your own Integrity when it comes to everything: put your money behind your beliefs. This could also apply, in my opinion, to the way you live your life.
If I bring back my example of my body and how hard I am on it, I imagine myself looking at my best friends or my sister and saying the things that I tell myself when I look into the mirror and am horrified; I would never treat the ones I love the way that I treat myself. This is a thought process of the past for me, as I have spent this year trying to be more compassionate to my body and my habits, and working on being strong in my conviction to be kind to all humans, myself included. If I wish to see diverse theatre, and I wish to care about the future of the theatre community in terms of diversity and accessibility, and can continue to be true-to-my-beliefs there, then I trust myself that it can transfer to other parts of my life, too.
All of these thoughts have sprouted from amazing conversations I’ve had the past few days with influential women in my life (Rebecca Nicole Sarah Gloria Erin Amy Tita) who know how important it is to have female friendships, to have kindness in your heart towards all people including yourself, and who are dedicated to holding action and change in their own hands let it be for their community, their own career, their bodies, their hearts, or others. The women in my life amaze me daily because they struggle just like me with hard things like Integrity and self compassion, and not only do I feel like I am not alone but that there is real change happening here.
I’d like to leave off this post with Hope. I believe ther eis hope for a new generation of humans who are ready to acknowledge their faults and their hardships and smile and work hard to make change. I have hope for the women in my life who are all building their own empires and being Goddesses and making it happen for themselves, “It” being whatever they damn want, because that’s what we do, we do what we want because our parents and communities have worked hard for us to have the opportunity to do so. I am thankful for the things my mom and dad had to do for me to go to swimming lessons (despite heavy anxiety of going to them) and what my grandparents had to work hard to do to provide even more opportunities, and I promise to work just as hard to make them proud, but also to continue to work on this Community—the greater community of women and humans and friendships and diversities and cities and social media’s and everything else, because that is something we can do: do. Do things to make change in your own life, in your friends’ and families’ lives, in your community, on your timelines, small changes inspire bigger ones and it starts with being kind to yourself and trusting that you will work hard to make those changes.
xx Jess

The Big Spring Clean

While on my hands and knees this past bright and warm Saturday I found myself stereotypically following through this season’s motions of cleaning. “Spring Cleaning” means a lot to me, as does “Back to School Shopping” and “Christmas Starts December 1st (or as soon as the poppies come off people’s jackets)” because having my surroundings be clean is important to me as an adult. It wasn’t important when I lived in my parents’ house as a teenager and would hardly clean my room, or when I lived in dorms and lived extremely alone, but now I still live alone, in an apartment that I take care of myself, and yet I find myself scrubbing the bathroom floor, sink, and toilet as if I owned the place.

I just kind of like to clean.

Its like doing a mind-hijacking yoga class or having just enough wine for a buzz; cleaning numbs the mind to other worries because I’m preoccupied with my end goal of cleanliness.

I tend to ignore cleaning when other things like deadlines come up, but when I do put my Bad Girls playlist on my speakers, open the windows, light some candles and put my hair in a bandana I feel as though I could clean right through the walls. The freshness of the apartment when it has just been cleaned is unparalleled.

I am looking forward to be in a space with multiple rooms for just this reason: more places to clean? Maybe, but more importantly more windows and windows to open.

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The changing of seasons has finally begun from cool winter into Spring and the windows in my apartment are open, my winter tights are being packed away, and florals are back. I almost bought flowers for my kitchen table this morning but refrained: in due time flowers wiil be back in my life, but for now I will rejoice in the windows being open.

I also love the new season because I feel inspired to cook again, and buy fun vegetables and make cocktails with lemonades, Spring provokes me to change things up in general, which I hope it does for everyone because it really is the time to. The changing seasons mean new weather, new holidays, new things in general. Some people are afraid of change, but I have learned to embrace it.

As I online shop, shop in person, cook, bake, establish new routines, and make new and exciting plans with people I try to remember that as much as I am planning to move forward this is the time now. There is a future coming, yes, but I can’t always plan for it, there has to be living in the moment too.

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“Live your truth” as a friend of mine told me last week, and I would venture to put “Live your truth, NOW” at the end of that.

So as I pour myself another glass of lemonade in a wine glass (Beyonce-inspired), open my window, and don a nice sweater for the weather, I am living my truth now, because that’s the only way to be.

xx Jess