Reasons to get up in the morning

 All I ever expected out of daybreak was a warm cup of coffee, real food to eat, some plants to water and a friend to talk to. I suppose, I have always found reasons to live for those quiet hours before I am tasked with the rest of a day. I don't even mind watching the snow fall across the peaks and valleys of a town or a life. When it is morning, the world appears sweet before me, like a honeybee has buzzed by and all I can do is be glad that I am alive to see it happen. It should be addressed though, I am not really a morning person, as in I don't necessarily wait for mornings to come or head to bed at decent hours so I can watch the sun rise, but when I am there, by accident or purpose, it is a nice place to be.

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February was cold, colder than how I remember last year's February, but I am still breathing, and I know there are worse things to wonder about than how dreary the sky's mood. I am here, in my bedroom, with the light of a candle casting shadows against the white paint of a wall and C is strumming a silver stringed guitar while I take turns between the space and delete key. I swear that is what being a writer is, from January to December, from June to May, a whole lot of words being erased only to reveal what you wanted to say all along. Sometimes, if the writer is lucky, what ends up being written is far more than what you wanted to say, as if the words are being written by somebody else and you just happen to be the one pushing a pen onto paper or letters to a keyboard. What comes to be in those sentences is similar to a shovel being used to dig yourself out of a hole, a welcome home, the same way a mother whispers in your ear even when she is not there, a way of being that is beyond the art of daily living.

What some don't realize is that writers aren't always writing for the audience, for you, or for the applause. Same goes for humans of any kind. We live and we do these things because they give us a reason to survive winter - both winters so real you can watch your cheeks turn rosy and imagined winters where the frost is less of a product of seasonal change and more of a mood you can't seem to shake. These words, these songs, these paintings, these pots of tea, these however you choose to spend your days, they are lighthouses and maps to the wavering sea boats we're put in the day we are born. So, although February is cold and grim, there will always be reasons for us get up in the morning. One of them is for art, to make the world a less mean place. Another is for you, out of every time a terrible misfortune could have struck down and left your name in the evening news, you're still here.

Outfit details: thrifted blouse & dress, journal & beret gift

winter braids and boredom

I sit here with my continual longing for springtime. At least, we have the Chinook arches that blow through the city, allowing us to have a day or two of spring-like warmth. I know, I know, I'm prone to crying out for the season where flowers grow. I mean, more than half of my blog posts talk about the weather, but it is more than the weather which I call out for. 

I want to feel that eternal hope, you know the one — where daylight hours are long with so many wonderful things to do, like sitting underneath the sun and hearing pebbles be whisked away by the creek bed or knowing that the skin of a banjo can be sweetly nourished with bird chatter and dirt from the gardener's hands. I want to take my socks off and feel the soft blades of grass spring about my feet. I don't want to walk into the forest with fear that I may fall on patches of ice or hear the absolute silence that exists only when snow covers the sound. I exist to be more than the lazy bones I wear during winter, I am so much more than who I have been lately.

Before anything else, I am human and although there is so much to see, to read, to know, and to do, boredom has been drifting in and out of the rooms I walk into as if there is a fly buzzing around my ears. I don't know if you get like this too, but I am looking for something I do not yet have. Could it be time spent away? A lifestyle change? Roots planted in something new? What could bring me to this place where boredom does not begin? Sometimes, I wonder if winter always had a way of saying the time is now and yet, I have spent the whole of my life thinking it was springtime and winter was just in the way of my growth — flowers, flowers, warm air, flowers, green grass leading home. I am so content when the garden is growing that I hardly notice how little I may do in the day and I cannot possibly come to think about boredom when the sun is shining and I'm wandering barefoot through the splendor.

The garden is a bright and bountiful thing, but if you cannot have a physical emblem of happiness, you must learn to create it in your own head. I have learned through the years to be really good at making my own happiness without any need for others or what the world expects from me, but as of this winter we're wading through, my skill in the art has diminished so greatly that I'm not sure what to do. Perhaps, for the first time, I have learned to be so busy with music that I have forgotten how to be when there are no gigs nearing. I lived a life before music, and yet a year has passed since I last spent a month without it, so I am rediscovering how I once felt when I was making little money and overthinking what to do with art and life.

It is not yet spring — the time where life seems to flutter like the wings of a butterfly and I am once again who I know myself to be, but a person does grow tired of waiting, so let it be known, tomorrow is a new day and I am going to pause my longing so I can relish in the strange discovery that is being with breath. After all, the banjo strings still ring and the heart still does beat like a tiny but tough drummer rented a home within. The dust circles the windowpane as if to be a reminder of how these rooms will go on when I no longer gather my thoughts here, when I no longer have hands for the holding, or a tongue for the tasting of good things like toasted bread and honey.  

Boredom may furrow a mean brow towards me, but is it really boredom that chases me now?

outfit details: Good Looking Objects earrings, winners blouse, asos butterfly necktie, Montana tack shop boots, oasap skirt

this feeling calls for tea

The February air has been unkind in ways those who sit in longing during winter only know — I look outside and on every street, there are piles of snow shooting towards the sky and back again. I can't see the stars at night because they hide behind clouds and I can't feel the sun during the day because winter has settled in. Year after year, I live through these times and yet I have never been known to welcome them or expect their length of stay. What can one do when hibernation is not an option and we must go on living? I say, drink more tea.
I was going to put on the warmest socks made of wool that I own and run into the woods for photographs, but as soon as I left the front door and began my walk through that brisk and stormy February, I could feel my cheeks saying no to the chill and I knew it'd be better to stay home. So, in lieu of regular woods wandering, I wanted to share what I got up to instead. These teas are from The Watered Leaf by route of Edmonton, only three hours away from my doorstep, and each sip has its own way of saying "You will survive this."

I don't know what it is about tea, but hearing our kettle coo and then feeling my hands go warm as I grasp for a cup of flowers makes winter feel far away, even if it is only until the pot is empty. I grew up drinking those simple bags of store bought tea, but once you have tasted tea made with care, dipped with petals and plants, winter wears an armor of its own.

I wonder how many more kettle coos until I reach that garden..

Teas from the watered leaf, pressed flowers from last summer's garden

February 1st: how are you?

Today, I was asking myself if I should even write or post photographs here, not when those mountain pines are calling me and the world writes a story of seriousness and sorrow. I thought of taking a break, the same kind of break that one might request when they rent a log cabin or walk into the woods, they don't necessarily go there to hear the owl howl or watch the fallen tree branches crackle underneath their feet, it is more a matter of getting away from the world. I know it is in me to stay here, but it is also in me to run far away - How many times have I said this. Perhaps, too many. Perhaps, this is the language of my privilege - the ability to choose.

I have written and rewritten this five times already and none of the words come out as I want them to. Each time I end a sentence, I erase it with a frowning brow and each time I begin one, I tell myself, it is the last time or else I'm going to stop trying and hide underneath the bed sheets. I never realized how hard it would be to write today. I always thought writing during times of trouble would flow like music to the ears of a person who has been sobbing. Instead, I sit here, aimless.

I am standing on the arm of a question and I don't know if I'm going to find the answer or not.

The truth is, I believe, even when there is sorrow as there is now, even when there are decisions being made by strangers that put splinters in our hearts, we shouldn't stop pursuing what makes us happy and even more important to humanity as a whole, we shouldn't stop making art. Fighting for freedom and taking a moment to appreciate a leaf moving through the quiet street are not mutually exclusive. Caring for the well being of another and taking time out of your day to write a poem does not make you care less. Art can ease the suffering, but it does not entirely remove us from it. How are we to go on if we don't put food in our bellies? How are we to survive if we don't have the encouragement to do so? Art helps me to get out of bed so I can do what is right and what is right is to lessen the suffering of others or at least try. Sometimes, that means showing my teeth or singing songs that come from the gut or simply providing a moment of escapism for those who are in this fight too. It also means listening, really listening.

We are not wrong for continuing to read blogs that talk about flowery things like dresses, we are not wrong for logging off, we are not wrong for donating to the cause, we are not wrong for writing about it, we are not wrong for feeling, we are not wrong for howling, we are not wrong for protecting our mental health by getting rest, we are not wrong for fighting in regards to human rights, we are not wrong for planning the garden, we are only wrong if we rise in the morning with the desire to ensure others live only how we live, think only how we think or look only how we look. If it is in our desire to make sure other beings are hurting, then the time is now to seek professional mental help.

At first, I believed it would be better to hide than to write or share. After all, who am I but a Canadian woman? What could I contribute? I feel though as of now, it is in my privilege as a writer of a blog which is read by people from countries different than my own that I should say to you how I am thinking of you and my home will always be your home too.

What are your thoughts? How are you feeling? Where are you from? What can we do to help?
Leave your response in the comments and I'll make sure to respond to you.

a letter to you from me

I followed you down to the snow covered hillside and we came here as a peace offering to the caverns in our heart that desperately needed to be filled with softness. I knew you were feeling the same way as I was — when the world doesn't feel like your world. Instead, it feels like a mirror in which you don't even recognize your own reflection. A month ago, you were decorating a tree and drinking hot cider, but now, January says something unaware like playing a card game and life is always throwing you a new deck. We wanted to be reminded that although we skate across the January pavement with shaky shivering palms, this is still our world and springtime will be made all the more sweet because we've known and sang so loudly to the blues of winters beast.

My voice spoke to you with no uncertainty as I told you to listen to the birds who seemed to not notice we weren't birds too. In fact, we were so human in that moment and it is also what lead us to each other and onto this hillside. Being human after all means exactly this; to weep, to wonder, to ricochet between needing this world and wanting to run away from it. I told you that I loved you and like every other time I said it, I meant every word. All the stutters, all the ache, all the togetherness and separation that comes with saying it. Some people don't mean it like I do. They say it to you because you are so worthy of love, but they don't see the compass that turns my eyes towards you when somebody asks where is my home.

I know there is a dying light every time I part from you, and every time we part from places like the hillside. I know when you are distant from me, it is only because you have been losing sleep or because you are longing to watch the hollyhocks grow. I know winter brings with it a caravan of sleepiness and sometimes, your hands cannot mend what is expressed in your heart. More than this, I am utterly incomplete without you.

You are my bones, my belly, my mind, my feet and all of those feelings which exist in separate and strange parts. There is only one you. You are me. I am you. There is no ordinary in your vocabulary and that is why the blues bite you like you're a trout swimming through cold water. You notice things, little things where other people move on from. Sometimes, I wish I could detach from you momentarily just so I could break from thinking this much or thinking at all, but then I wouldn't be me anymore. I could survive winter, but I couldn't survive without my head.

When I rise from the bed where we both sleep, you will open the shutters to see that winter is still here. You will tell me, I will cry for a moment, but then I will make a recipe that calls for cold hands, something to warm us, something to say that the winter still has a heart for the living.

outfit details: chicwish dress, thriftstore shawl, winners tights, free people boots

going to and from a train

Sometimes, my face aligns with the faces of those who take the train into downtown. I stay seated as the tracks whistle and roar, everybody wrestling to their destination, me not wanting to be on the train but knowing I have some part in the hustle. I watch people travel along with the hurry of ten sled dogs. I don't know why they are compelled to live a life where breath is just an automated response and the rest of the day turns into the rest of our lives and soon, we become strangers crossing the street from one another. I do not want to ever - not for a moment - turn the light in the attic that is my brain off or numbed. I exist, but that is not enough. I breathe without trying, but that is not enough. 

To live in the city means to forget what the sea whispers or the mountains confess. Sometimes, it is the difference between the horse running through the grass covered plains and the horse being a contestant in a rodeo. We shouldn't, but we do it often. Forgetfulness reels rampant when we're chasing something we do not yet have. We need friends, but we don't need to count them on our fingers. We need money, but we don't need so much that we don't know what to do with it. We need love, but we don't need to stay in relationships that slowly leave our hearts rotten like teeth without a tooth brush just because we're afraid of being alone. We may not always know what it is that marks the difference between just living and being truly alive, but somebody along the way must have said to find what you're looking for, you need to run. run to the train station, run to your place of work, run to your computer, run to your esteem, run away from, run to, always be running. This call for running can be so loud in the ears of those who hear it, but I do not want to rise early only to lace up running shoes every day for the rest of my life.

Why must we run, when there are so many little beams of sunlight and what could be is making friends with the dust bunnies while we're moving too fast to pay any mind. Go to school, find a job, get a husband, have a baby, retire, die, leave a legacy. Have you ever looked out the window and noticed something for the first time? Although, you have traveled to and from that street every day for the last seven years, do you remember a day where you noticed a sign post or a bramble or a house for the first time, even though it has been there all along. We are so busy - we don't remember what it was like to crane our necks and count the stars at night, even when we do, we're told to wish on shooting stars because they travel so fast, too fast for thoughts of our truest wishes to begin taking shape in our heads. We always want something else. When it is midwinter, we want the mist to turn into tall grass. When it is autumn, we want the fallen maple leaf to be a tulip bulb. I don't mind dreaming, it is the only place I visit where I am always myself. There, in these dreams, I do not have to try, but I would like to see what is in front of me too, otherwise I am bound to a life of sleeping.

I do not want to look at life as if it is a stop watch, losing time between each breath and exhale, but I would like to stop running and to do so, sometimes, I'll need to be pinched in order to really feel something besides simply being a human going to and from a train. This is why the woods matter. Without even trying, they tell me what I needed to hear as if I couldn't hear it when I was in the city. 
This is not a race. This is a life.

January, you are not yet over. Life, you have not yet left. Rise and put the coffee-maker on, this feeling calls for a cup of take your time and a brain that says there is nothing else you need to do today.

 outfit details: chicwish skirt & blouse, free people socks, crown and glory floral headband, gift necklace