Things About This Year That Weren’t Garbage

I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to celebrate Christmas early this year.  You want two whole months of homey good vibes?  After the year this planet has had? Go right ahead.  Sing all 13 syllables of a proper “Gloooooooooria” at full belt as you trim your tree, and keep sipping eggnog until 2021 is well and truly in.

I’m cool with that.  We all need comfort.  We also all need to show ourselves that little bit of seasonal hope.  This year will eventually end!  Maybe next year will be better!

I don’t remember another time in my life when I heard so many people saying to each other “stay safe.”  Heck, those are just normal parting words now!  So yeah, I’m on board for optimism.  That’s why even though it’s only November, I want to go ahead and highlight some of the actual non-sucky things about this year.  

Look, I know I’m on dangerous ground here.  In 2020 it is a little uncouth to say, “Wow, I’ve had such a great year!  It’s not my goal to gloat, and I feel the stress too.  That said, no matter what happens, I still believe in the power of gratitude.

Here are some things about #thisyear that weren’t utter garbage:

  • We had a huge snowstorm in January to kick off this crazy year.  The most snow I’ve ever seen in my life.  Huge snow walls all over the city.  It was both insane and awesome.  (I mean that  it literally filled me with awe.)  Somehow, we dug out from it.  It was a state of emergency that had nothing to do with Covid.  I’m grateful I have my partner, and I am grateful we were able to shovel so much snow together.
  • When this whole Covid thing started, I was lucky as heck to have the flexibility to begin working from home.  It’s a huge change, but I’m so thankful I was able to do this.  I recognize that many were not so lucky.
  • Tulips!  I don’t know much about gardening, but this year I grew tulips, and I am IN LOVE WITH THEM.  I planted a bunch more in September for next spring.  I will be so excited to finally see them!
  • I found myself better able to cope than anticipated.  I am an already-anxious person, and yes, this year has been hard, but because I have already met anxiety and depression before (hey guys, what’s up?), I already had some things in my toolbelt to deal with the new normal.  Journaling, exercise, talking to people I trust when I need to, meditation, singing, hot baths with cups of tea…I have a few ways to deal with the suck, and I never have to feel completely lost and alone.  
  • I got more into essential oils. Hooray for hippie-dippie bullshit!  Don’t worry, I haven’t fully gone off the deep end.  I don’t believe that essential oils cure illnesses, or that they can magically protect against covid or anything like that.  But I do think they smell nice.  I have accumulated a little shelf of witchy vials. I love making my office smell like limes.  Or peppermint.  Or vanilla. Delightful! 
  • I taught myself to jump rope.  I know I already mentioned this.  I am still not great at it, but I can at least do it now.  Learning something new has been great for my self-esteem.  I started in May, I think.  I’m still working on stamina! (Although right now I seem to have an ankle issue and I need to take a little break.  Not for long, I hope!)
  • I got a promotion.  It is not a stretch to say that my life has not gone as I imagined!  I have a very serious-type grownup job.  When I initially took this job, I thought I was a “square peg in a round hole” and that the whole thing was incredibly temporary.  Instead, here I am, 3.5 years later and I am feeling like an appreciated part of the team.  Not only that, but my creative perspective is valued and respected, and I am trusted to advise my coworkers.  (Are you kidding me??  How cool is that!) 
  • I got to know my bowflex.  It’s been sitting in the basement, but because of the lockdown I wound up putting in the time to learn the machine.  It’s not bad at all.  You really can do a lot with it.
  • I spent time hiking and exploring this summer.  I got a family pass for the botanical garden too! It’s been beautiful and inspiring.  It has lifted my soul.  I want to hike more.  I am still not running, so this is a decent alternative. (Plus there’s journaling.  I have discovered that for me, all hiking requires adequate snacks and journaling.)
  • I grew my hair.  That’s been happening since March, so it’s finally noticeably different to people who haven’t seen me in a while.  As an adult, I have pretty much always had short hair.  From age 16 onward.  Well, a lot changed with the lockdown, and I thought it might be a nice time to switch up my appearance too.  I can actually put it in a ponytail now.  I can’t remember the last time that happened. 


  • Someone very close to me began taking more serious steps in their transition process.  People becoming more fully themselves is a beautiful thing to witness!
  • Trivia.  In the past few months, some of my University pals and I have been getting together for a weekly online meeting/Trivia night.  This has led to me talking to people I haven’t really hung out with in twenty years.  It’s fun to have a weekly meeting of friends.  I miss being social, so this has helped me.  At first I was awkward, but I really, really look forward to Sunday night trivia now.  
  • Forgiveness.  I have been working hard to let a lot of personal baggage go.  I have been nerdy and awkward in the past.  So what?  Sometimes I ramble, and get excited and say the wrong thing.  Who cares?  Sometimes bad things happen and I gain a little weight in response.  Whatever, it just makes me that much more voluptuous. I am not perfect, but I don’t need to rehash the past, or rethink every moment I’ve ever screwed up. 
    • The truth is, everyone sometimes says something stupid, or does something embarrassing, or feels insecure.
    • ADDITIONALLY, everyone has flaws, and no one except me is placing all of these standards on my body.  Really, having a bigger butt now that there’s a global pandemic seems like a pathetic concern.  I’m fine.  This is minor.
  • An improved relationship with my sister.  Maybe it’s how crazy the year has been.  Maybe it’s age.  I just find I can relate to her more.  (Also, she has a great sense of humour, and this big laugh that makes people turn their heads in public.)
  • Deeper thoughts about music.  My obsession with music has only grown over the years.  (I almost wish I had done music school, but would that have ruined it for me? I don’t know!)  However, it is only recently that I have been thinking about: 1) the subjective nature of the concept of “good” singing and, 2) the racism/classism inherent in what is meant by “music theory.”
    • With regards to “good” singing, there truly is no measure that applies to all singers in all scenarios.  You can’t evaluate a yodeller based on an opera singer. Just because I, or anyone else has an opinion on which styles we like better, is it ever right to judge one as “superior” to the other? On what criteria?
    • In addition to that, I have been able to seperate myself from my singing even more.  What I mean is, I have increased my understanding of the fact that I can mess up and still be a “good” singer (Whatever the heck that means).  People who are regarded as “great” singers still practice, mess up, have bad days and hit sour notes. That is normal.  In fact, sometimes it takes hitting a few stinky notes to improve.  If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying anything new!  
    • When someone talks about “music theory,” they are really talking about a very white and mostly 18th century European standard.  Even if someone in North America studies in music school, chances are that they won’t learn a lot about non-European standards of music.  I think this limited view is gradually changing, but we have traditionally evaluated and thought about music according to a very strict set of rules.  These rules aren’t “bad” but they aren’t the only ones, and when we talk about “Music Theory” we should either be more specific or more inclusive.  My mind was kind of blown by THIS VIDEO  
    • All of THAT said, I am keen to learn some more about music theory.  Honestly, sometimes music is still like mystifying wizard-stuff to me, and I think it’s time I taught myself all of that theory stuff that seemed so terrifying back when I was a teenager.
  • A greater understanding of my own perfectionist tendencies.  That shit will hold you back.  It is so much better to produce something imperfect than nothing at all.  
  • Renewed interest in the occult.  Well…ok…that’s never really changed!  But I find myself having more little rituals here and there, doing lots of reading and listening to podcasts like “Occult Confessions.”  I don’t have a coven or group anymore, and that was initially hard to deal with, but I am still finding magick in the everyday. Lemme read your cards sometime. 😉
  • Jason and I are more solid than ever.  Actually, I think I need to work on being a little more loving to him.  He is kind and understanding.  He makes me laugh.  Our late-night chats about everything are the backbone of our relationship.  We bicker, but we are faster to get over it now.  After 10+ years, I still want to grab his face and kiss it. Not half-bad!

So there you go, something personal but feel-good for these dark times.  

Stay safe,


A Forest In Fall

I don’t always have the chance to go, but there is a wooded area behind where I work, and on my lunch breaks I sometimes venture up there. When I do, I find myself blissfully alone in what I consider to be a mind-blowingly beautiful place.

Makes it hard not to feel a twinge of hope, y’know?

My pictures don’t do it justice.  I hardly think they could.  Not until they can capture a perfect panoramic shot, along with the brightness of colours alive in the moist air, and combine it all of it with the actual feeling of being there.  I only hope there is some shadow of how it seems to me reflected in the pictures I snap with my phone.

Gotta love that clean air. (The crowd’s not too judgmental, either!)

Apart from when I indulge in dramatic makeup and costumes, most of the pictures I take of myself are “forest selfies.” Me, against a backdrop of trees left to grow of their own accord.  Embarrassing, perhaps, but it makes sense.  I am trying to capture the state in which I feel I am being my most authentic self.

In the wilderness, things like choice of clothing are of little consequence.  Somber or bright, as long as I am warm, comfortable, and not hitching my hem on the trees, I’m fine. (Still, because I walk directly up from work, I admit that I do sometimes wear wilderness-questionable outfits out on the trail anyway!)  

Like any immediate concerns about appearance, most modern distractions become so much nothing in the forest. My social media presence and number of Twitter followers are infinitely less interesting than this one particular tree I was fascinated by. It stood “alone” in a crowd; surrounded by trees of different species. Yet it was the one dripping in sunlight. I wondered if anyone else had ever even seen it look like that  before.

Don’t be afraid to be different…

It was so much more shiny in reality. I love the pluck of this sun-struck tree!

I miss the outside when I don’t go.  I work indoors now, and when the days are busy and long, or cold and miserable, I don’t go to the woods at all.  It bothers me not to have this tiny escape.  The urge to follow the path to the trees some days is quite insistent.  


When I worked as a mail carrier, Mother Nature didn’t have to push me quite so hard. Outdoors was a given. I couldn’t help but observe natural cycles in action.  I brushed past buds and first crocuses. I was met by fall bugs seeking warmth in the crevices of dark mailboxes. I even, in the right place at the very right moment, caught a glimpse of late-summer Blue Flag Iris growing wild.  In short,I saw the change of the seasons as easily as I read the words on the envelopes and fliers between my fingertips.

One of my more recent shots. The forest is changing again!

I have to force myself to pay a little more attention now.  Like so many others, I don’t have to go outside.  It’s just something I endeavour to do.  I am fallible.  I am easily distracted.

Still, even at my most distracted, I think Autumn has always been my favourite.  The trees themselves may be bare or nearly so, but the wooded landscape is far from lifeless. I love the moss, and the brilliant shades it boasts, even late into the season.. I love the cacophony of the leaves that litter the ground.  I also cannot help but love the proliferation of strange mushrooms in their multitude of unexpected shapes and arrangements. You might find the strangest specimen standing alone, or a circle of frilly brothers and sisters keeping unexpected vigil. I love those perfect days where the temperature is just crisp enough to tell you to keep moving, and to whisper of impending winter.

This is pretty amazing to me. Fungus is neato!

I have a history of wandering.  Trails through the forest, going precisely nowhere, suit me perfectly.  I love the mystery that lurks there, and the fact that we as humans don’t fully understand everything about how it works.

Life is complicated.  2016 has been so hard on so many people. This fact only heightens for me the spiritual importance of creating a built-in time-out.  Ordinary breathing space on ordinary days. I’m not saying a walk in the forest will cure your sadness.  I’m just saying there’s a lot that clean air, mossy undergrowth and being awed by the wilderness can fix.

Yours in continued observations and aimless wanderings,


Me, pretty much in my happy place.