It is a wonderful time to be alive. The weather has been beautiful, Taylor Swift has come down from the heavens to bless us with a new album, and my period tracker has been accurate to the day for three months in a row. And it’s in these moments I like to take a look around at my life and realise one thing.
I’m fucking exhausted.
From August 31st to September 27th, I did not have 1 free evening. I feel like I’m running from one place to the next trying to cram in a schedule that is often double booked. As music gets bigger and nothing else in my life gets smaller, I find myself using my mornings to send emails rather than eat breakfast. And in the windows I do get to sit down and rest, I feel guilty.
I told all this to my therapist 6 weeks ago. It’s not that I didn’t love all the individual things I was doing, but there was no space to breathe and as I looked ahead, I could only see myself getting more burnt out. I looked at my colour-coded Google calendar and saw all those dinners and work events and volunteer shifts lined up like rainbow dominoes, waiting for me to knock them down as day hit night and night hit day, over and over for two weeks.
It is in that moment, she suggested a simple, but beautiful solution. Book an evening with myself.
I coined them “mevenings” (for “me evenings”) and there were only two rules:
Productivity was not off the table; going grocery shopping, cleaning my bathroom, and working out have all been a part of a mevening. But more importantly, they couldn’t be work. I couldn’t spend the evening sending emails to booking agents and my producer and figuring out how the IRS works.
It sounds really stupid. Needing to schedule time, needing to put a block in my calendar where I’m essentially not allowed to see people. But I needed to. I was wearing myself thin and wasn’t willing to cave on any particular activity so I had simply caved on myself.
For 6 weeks now, I have scheduled mevenings into my week and here is the verdict: I am still stressed, I am still tired, but it is manageable. I have an agreement with myself, 6.5 days/week I give myself to my job, my music, my friends, my family, I simply get 0.5 days.
And I’ve used that time to paint my nails and do facemasks and watch movies, but I’ve also used it to go grocery shopping and clean my bathroom and sort receipts. I use the time to do whatever will relieve the most stress for me in that moment.
Mevenings are not a sophisticated concept, nor a new one. However, I’ve now made a fun word for them so I’m calling them my own thing. As much as the fall is full of family and fun and (for me) birthdays, it is also full of longer workdays and less sunlight. It is full of holiday weight and planning for the new year and looking back on the new years’ resolutions you are not going to accomplish this year. I’m a sucker for the fall but it can really kick you in the balls.
So I’m setting aside time for myself and I’m recommending you do the same. Take a mevening every now and then and here’s how I recommend you do it:
So, that’s how I’m staying on top of it all. I still get stressed, but that’s probably because Flo has set the date and she hasn’t been wrong for the past three months. I just think it’s important to take care of yourself, because how else are your going to be there for other people?
If the fall is wiping you out, honestly take a mevening. Pop a bottle of wine, or read a book, or get a head start on your taxes if that’s what floats your boat. Just don’t let me tell you what to do, it’s not my mevening.
From me, with love, to you,
Two years ago, I started running. The whole thing came as a surprise to me and those around me. I could never really be described as athletic and prior to 2020 I had no interest in exercise. Granted 2020 really was the year that everything got flipped on its head, so I guess it was my fault I was surprised.
I started running because I needed to get my shit together. I had been in therapy since I was 12, and I had become the dictionary-definition of “plateau”. I felt like I had tried everything under the sun to help my mental health and I was running (teehee, pun intended) out of options.
My first run in August 2020 was 2km, 4 laps around the cottage. I walked half of it, nearly vomited after, and almost gave up entirely. This month – September 2022 – I ran 100 cumulative kilometres. I had my fastest pace yet, participated in my first race, and I just spent $200 on a new pair of running shoes. I’m a runner, I’m a track star.
There are a couple things about this month that I wanted to dive into – what I learned and the race. Let’s start with what I learned.
Last night, I finished my last 3 kilometres in pain, drenched in sweat, with the biggest smile on my face. I probably scared every else at the gym, as I ran like the joker to my imaginary finish line. But I don't really care. I'm proud of myself.
Did this month help my mental health? I guess we’ll never know. If I lived this identical month with no running, how would it have gone? Only the multiverse knows. However, I do know this month was beyond stressful. The pull your hair out, no sleep, have the occasional cry kind of stressful. But I had zero panic attacks. For the past 30 days I have been crushed by work and music and social media and life, this month would have likely leveled me in a past life.
Now let’s talk about the race. You may have remembered at the top, I mentioned I have been in therapy since I was 12 years old. For the last 11 years I have experienced diagnoses, medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, and coping mechanisms of every variety. Over this time, I have been supported by everyone around me but specifically my mom. I am beyond fortunate that my mom worked in health care, and her branch of health care was well embedded with mental health care.
When I was 12, my mom started searching for the best therapist she could find – despite my firm desire to not go to therapy. And after that therapist there was another one, and another one, and one more for good measure. My mom has worked tirelessly to connect me to any mental health service I could have needed, and I am extremely privileged and grateful to have had her as my mom.
On September 17th, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre organised the RBC Race for the Kids. It funded the Family Navigation Project – a program used to connect youth with mental health issues, to the right resources. I remember everyday that not everyone had my mom growing up, someone who knew the system and knew how to get connected. There are no words to describe where I would be if I didn’t have her; I want other people to have the opportunity to get connected to the best services possible.
A couple weeks ago, I ran my first race for a cause I am extremely passionate about and raised just under $1,000 for mental health and the Family Navigation Project. Despite me giving her all the credit already, another wonderful shoutout to my mom (and dad) for contributing.
So yes, my run for mental health and a run for mental health happened to coincide this month and I felt it was worth sharing. If you want to support others’ mental health, you have 2 days lefts to donate to Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project.
Thank you to those who donate and also to those who got this far in the post. I hope to get my sneakers strapped on again once my body recovers, until then congratulations to me! The runner, the track star.
From me, with love, to you,
Hello friends, it’s been a while.
It’s not that I have completely forgotten about the blog – in fact I’ve furiously been writing blog posts in my 4-month absence. Those posts went through outlines, drafts, reviews, and edits. However, they simply fell flat. It’s as though by the time I was prepared for them to hit the runway, they simply had nothing left in them. Maybe I over-edited them, maybe I had nothing to say in the first place, maybe I’ve simply drained all my creativity, or maybe I’m out of practice.
You see, blogs and vlogs and YouTube videos are all “long-form” content. Technically “long-form” writing is over 1,000 words – but in the context of social media and the greater “creator” landscape, blogs are long-form content regardless the word count.
And then you have “short-form” content. Instagram & Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts, Snapchat & Instagram Stories, and – of course – Tik Toks.
This abrasive pivot to short-form video content is taking over the social media marketplace right now. With Tik Tok on the rise and Instagram looking more and more like Tik Tok everyday, my feed, my life, and my brain is dominated with short-form video content.
So, let’s come back to my four-month absence.
I have always been…how might I say this? A wordy bitch. I like my words. I like to use lots of words and lots of sentences. I like analogies and long-winded metaphors. Some of my favourite creative pieces exist on this blog. But unfortunately, that style of speaking and writing is not suited for short-term content. We’re looking for split second judgements with snappy opening lines.
Do you remember in primary school, when you learned to write short stories and your teachers wanted you to open with an “engaging hook” – that’s all short-form content is: an engaging hook. A funny quip, and outlandish statement, something that catches your viewer within milliseconds.
And despite the fact that I sound 82, and act like I’m 47, I am actually 23. I’m technically “youthful” and I am also giving this whole musician thing a college-try. So, I turned to the popular platforms – Tik Tok and Instagram – while shifting focus off my blog. A platform that engages my parents and the occasional reader who accidentally clicks on my story link. The point being I made the correct business decision. As a musician, I dropped my focus on long-term, self-satisfying content, and focused on what’s popular.
Did you know that most social media experts recommend posting at least one Tik Tok a day? Bitch. I have a 9-5, where am I supposed to fit that sort of content creation into my day? Moreover, that quantity of content doesn’t breed quality. But on short-form platforms, you get short-term attention spans. And I have been catering to that attention span.
In doing so, I lost sight of this. My blog, creative writing, and what truly brought me joy. I did the opposite of what Marie Kondo taught me to do. Don’t get me wrong, I like Tik Tok. I get to work with facial expressions and tone of voice to express myself, whereas here I am limited. But I don’t get to think through thoughts fully. I feel like I am producing content for people rather than producing content for me. Which feels disingenuous.
This is my joyride, and everyone is welcome to come along.
When I released The Blue Book Project five years ago (holy fuck that was a long time ago), I made that promise. I would only create content, and write music, and release everything as long as it was fun. But maybe I lost sight of all that over the course of this last year.
Maybe the stress of bigger projects, the stress of larger price tags, and the stress of chasing trends and growing my platform caught up with me. (It definitely did, I had tears for breakfast) I’m not going to sit around and act like I have had massive internet success in the last four months. I’m not so disconnected from reality that I think one mildly successful Tik Tok means anything, but what I am saying is I would rather haven 10 people read this and it mean something, than 50,000 people see a Tik Tok I threw together in 5 minutes.
I’m not abandoning short-form content. That’s a dumb business decision, and part of my life is a business. But I think it’s time to come back to the blog. To write about love and mental health and music (a lot has happened in these last couple months and where else would I share it).
So yes, I’m short of the 1,000 words that makes this an official long-form content piece, but there feels like no better time to say it:
From me, with love, to you,
I was unsure the angle to take on this post.
For those of you who don’t know, today is my workout-iversary. Two years ago, today I committed to two workouts a week, every week. Which I understand that this doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s important to remember that prior to this is was no workouts a week.
In trying to describe year-two of this self-positioned challenge, I was unsure what to say. I feel as though last year I was quite eloquent, and I didn’t want to go about beating a dead horse.
But I wanted to still say something – even if that thing was a lot briefer.
I am incredibly proud of myself – over the last two years I kept expecting myself to give up, but I haven’t. I have kept this promise to myself. My friends and family poke fun that I have been replaced by an alien who looks a lot like me but has a strange new affinity for exercise. And I think part of this is true, I don’t think I am the same person I was two years ago. Not all of this can be accredited to working out – but some of it most definitely can be.
In light of me achieving this “impossible” task, I want to talk about a misconception I had prior to working out.
I’m a busy person. I like to keep a full, but diligently organised, schedule. I thought that there was no room to fit working out into my schedule. That I couldn’t find a couple hours a week to cram in a quick sweat every now and then.
I started working out immediately after graduating. It was May 2020 and I was unemployed and living with my parents and my mental health was falling apart at the seams. Working out was a last-ditch attempt to fill my time in the endless void of COVID-19. It was easy to find time when time was all I had.
I always assumed that I would quit this project when life got busy. I had attempted workout-kicks before – all of which were unsuccessful. I imagined that with a fulltime job, a social life, a tiny music career, and a list of hobbies, there would be no space for working out. But I would say the opposite.
The focus of my active lifestyle has always been mental health recovery
Since working out I have found more time in my life. The focus of my active lifestyle has always been mental health recovery, not physical changes. And the mental changes I seen are near immeasurable. Last night, my sister took me to a club in a foreign country, it was packed shoulder to shoulder, the music was loud, the drinks were poured, but no panic attack was had. I am 23 years old and that is the first time I have been to a club without a panic attack.
Working out has lessened my anxiety and given me back of the vital real estate in my brain. Space to think, to make more rational decisions, to enjoy time with others. With less panic attacks, and less anxiety-maintenance required, I have more time in my life. Giving 30 to 60 minutes, twice a week to working out has given me hours back every week to be a human being.
This is not a fix-all and I don’t want it to come across as preachy. I don’t live a “that girl” lifestyle full of green juice and ice water. Most of my morning runs are fueled by Oreos and leftover cheesecake. This is simply a pat on the back for myself and an acknowledgement that I was wrong. Working out is something I do have space for.
So, my sister and I just got back from a major hike and my feet are exhausted. So, I think it’s best for me to put my feet up, have a glass of wine, and celebrate two years of fitness. Happy Workout-iversary to me.
From me, with love, to you,
I’ve been talking a lot with friends and family about my mental health recovery. And in doing so I’ve had more time to think about what I did to get to where I am now. I’m not going to regale you with the whole story of my mental health journey because there are an infinite number of stories outlining bits and pieces of my journey.
All this to say, I know what it feels like to be unhappy.
Currently, that is not the case; but it’s not an overwhelming, jump for joy kind of happiness. It just exists. It’s the kind of happiness that means I only cry sometimes, have a decent handle on my mental health. It’s growth. It’s progress.
And before we go any further, I feel the need to disclaim something: I am not your therapist. What worked for me may not work for you. You have your own complex thoughts and feelings, and I am not trying to present a fix-all for depression. Let’s continue.
The pursuit of happiness is kind of a lie.
Not entirely. I’m not going as far as “Everything I’m Telling You is a Lie”
But something stinks a little like bullshit, and it’s the pursuit of happiness. People have created an industry around marketing happiness; books and TikTok accounts and – yes, I’ll say it – blogs, filled to the brim with how to “find happiness”. And some of it is beneficial and helps you reframe your ideas in a productive way. A personal favourite is from “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” in which the author says: all good things take hard work, if they were easy everyone would have them.
Which might be the perfect place to start. Happiness – like a nice ass or good teeth – is a constant work in progress. If you brush your teeth once, that does nothing; it is the cumulative act of flossing and brushing over time that allow you to maintain good teeth. Additionally, if you did 1,000 squats and deadlifts and glute bridges tomorrow (and lived to tell the tale) you may have a nice butt. However, if you stop working out, eventually you will regain your pancake-ass. Happiness is the same – you don’t wake up happy and stay there. You constantly have to engage and change and learn and adapt.
Happiness is elusive. There are days where it shows up to work and days where it decides to be a degenerate and leave you high and dry. And you don’t always get to pick which days are which. You can’t force happiness to show up to the round-table-meeting in your brain when it has other plans. More importantly, you can’t fight the days that suck. Sometimes you just need to let them pass and accept that bad days are part of the package.
But I think despite it being hard work and elusive there is one thing that I learned throughout becoming “happy” that I wish I could get written in the sky.
Happiness is a process.
You don’t wake up one day and flip a switch. You don’t roll over in bed and realise you’re finally on the right side. It is not sudden, and it is not immediate.
I’m going to tell you the story of my 19th birthday. I barely celebrated it, instead I had a panic attack and sat with my sister on my couch We ate poutine while I cried. And at the end she made a joke and I laughed. And in that laugh, there was levity, a moment where things were okay. A few weeks from then I played my first show in a bar, and again levity. And levity showed up in bursts and flashes. It appeared at study dates with my friends and watching The Avengers. However, the levity in contrast to the depression was exhausting. Every moment of happiness dropped me so hard back to rock bottom that it hurt.
I was chasing these moments. These breaks in the clouds, and I was so fixated on them. On finding more, collecting more, saving more moments like a chipmunk getting ready for winter. And I would cry to my sisters on the phone because I got so anxious that I couldn’t finish an exam, or I couldn’t attend a party, or I had to leave an event early because I was anxious. And my sisters would tell me:
“You used to hand in blank exams, but you finished most of this one”
“You used to decline party invitations, but you accepted this one”
“You used to not make it out the door of your apartment, but you made it to the bar”
Because that’s the final lesson I have about happiness: you don’t see it until you do. I said earlier you don’t wake up one day and a switch has flipped, which is partially true. You don’t flip a switch from unhappy to happy. But you do wake up one day and realise you're happy. It’s just when you least expect it.
There just comes a point where you realise you're happy
There just comes a point where you realise you're happy. A moment where you’re so caught up in life, where you haven’t thought about chasing down those elusive moments of levity. Where you realise that you’re no longer drowning in fear, panic, anxiety, and sadness.
I cannot tell you when I realised I was happy. When I realised that those “elusive moments” turned into common occurrence, but I at one point I realised that I was happy. I just was. At some point, between then and now I re-learned to be happy and I don’t entirely know how it happened.
This does not mean I’m happy all the time. This does not mean I know what I’m doing. This does not mean that I don’t work constantly and tirelessly on managing my mental health. I don’t get to stop working at it. I have a forever-illness and I know that, but I am happy.
I don’t want to give you advice on how to be happy, that would be hypocritical, and I am many things but (hopefully) not a hypocrite. But for me it has been such a long trek to happiness, I thought maybe sharing this might make sense to someone. It might bring you some peace of mind. It might bring you a second to breath. It might even bring you a moment of levity.
From me, with love, to you,
What's going on?
Here's a place where I'll try to keep you updated on what's going on in my life and with my music to keep you connected.