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go on and live: my thoughts about december

During the first days of December, I am often in a daze. One that is neither sad nor happy, neither grim nor jubilant. I am simply existing as I do, without giving fate and things like it too much thought. I take a break from watching the world and I feel as though I am sitting on a mountain all to myself. There are no rapid fire thoughts, like trains, traveling to and from my brain. Instead, I only think about the weather and what I will eat for my supper. Once the first days of December pass, I return to a shade of my former self. In this shade though, I cannot see the trees, it is more like a curtain of depression being drawn over my eyes and it spooks me, but it doesn't last for very long. This feeling of shadow comes at the beginning of the first cold snap and drifts in and out like sails on a sea front until one day I suddenly feel okay again. I don't know what prompts it and I don't know why it happens every year around this time, but I've learned to live with it the way one might learn to live with a hole in their shoe. I can still walk. I can still run. I can still go places where I want to be, but I'd much rather patch the hole and not feel the cold air on my feet. Today is one of those days. 

I was born in December, so I wonder if this is time's way of saying I have lines on my face I didn't have last year or that tomorrow is ringing a bell and I must go with it. I don't know why sorrow has to come with the snow, but I know myself to be resilient when it comes to overcoming these strange traits that return year after year. "Don't cry because the snow is cold or because a birthday is coming to say another year gone. Go on and live." I say this in my head and sometimes I hear it, other days I shush it, because December is unlike the rest. I dream of many things when the seasonal depression lifts and some of those thoughts include making an album, writing songs for it, getting better at banjo, and finding something in each day that could keep the velvet of a warm heart from turning into threads. I have so many dreams and it would be a shame to not follow them, learn from them, and live with them, because a life without would be barren and boring. You can't row a boat if it has holes in it. You can't swing on life's tail if you're afraid of falling off.

I think this is why being sad in December remains one of the more annoying things to try to overcome. There is endless festivity, stimuli, and people dressed like wreaths saying hello, don't you know this is the season of all seasons. Yes, I want to go to your Christmas party because I love you, but I also want to bake cookies at home and eat them by myself listening to anything but Christmas music. Yes, I want to relish on the year that was, but I also want to know what went wrong on the days that went wrong, how can I learn to be better? 

The windowsill has frost on it, the kettle coos, I run over and pour a spoonful of cream and cocoa into the hot milk until steam rises over my face. I trace the lines of the cup across my hands and I wonder what mood the person who invented cocoa and milk was in when they took their first sip. It had to have been in December maybe they knew how many of us there would be, who longed for the light of springtime but had to survive the winter first.

outfit details: oasap skirt, everything else was thrifted
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pressed flowers and music makers.

Every day has been busy for me in November and now that December is here, I have more time to explore, take photographs and return to the quietness that is home life. I fill my mug with half hot cocoa, half coffee as I watch the snowflakes fall onto the bench where bluebirds caw. It has been mostly warm in my part of the world so seeing the snow gives me a strange feeling in my bones that is neither sad nor happy. Each snowfall is filled with nostalgia --- I am taken back to the good and bad days of winter childhood. I am suddenly without words to speak or write.

So, I'll leave you with a collection of pressed flowers and instruments. Many of these have been posted here before, but because I have been so busy, I have been unable to take any new photographs.

Welcome to the world, December. I hope it is bright wherever you may be.

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the folk singer

After eight days on the road, I have returned home to my kitchen where the scents are familiar like an old photograph of a friend you haven't seen around lately. This has been the last two weeks of my life which is why I have neglected to post here or respond to emails in an honorable manner. We took ourselves on tour and played our songs in little Alberta towns. Every single perimeter of land we touched or person we talked to made it so we were encouraged and educated in our travels. I never thought in my pea shell of a lifetime, I would travel in a van with instruments in tow to sing songs into microphones where people sit and listen. Music, music, music, it can certainly give you reasons for a bellyache not being able to sleep in your own bed, hot baths no longer within reach, not knowing if anybody will even like your music, you have to deal with drunks and loud talkers, you have to meet strangers every night, you eat foods foreign to the tongue and if you're a lover of solitude like I am, the time for solitude has to wait. 

Music, music, music, it also has a garden bed of joys and I believe my life to be greater because of it. I don't know if I will ever find something that makes me feel so alive as opening my mouth to sing and using my hands to make noise with the strings. I could have died a long time ago, I could have kept myself from buying a banjo, but I didn't. I am always one foot in the classroom and one foot in the playground with this gift I found in music making this gift is out there waiting for you too, if you want to reach for it, but sometimes in the reaching, you pull your arm too hard or end up in soggy tears. This is all a part of music's wild plan. You have to climb, but for every inch, there is a song you get to sing to babies, to friends, or on the edge of your bed, which is where a grave is built for every worry, and a cradle for every note.

 

 Now that I am home again, I drink my coffee a little slower and look for the winter chickadees who search through the bird feeder on our may tree. After the noise of tires rolling across pavement and guitars ringing out, it is a sweet reminder that home still remains and it was here where these songs were first sung.

outfit details: keiko lynn dress, free people boots, crown and glory floral crown
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the cycle of life & new forest boots

I am hopelessly romantic for the trees that once bore leaves and berries, for now they appear naked with the same amount of nakedness I have when standing without a coat. I admire them. I learn from them. I could never forget the shiny colors they wear when the weather was at its best. Trees are like people. No matter how hard you work to keep yourself from feeling naked or without the safety of pleasant things like fruit or colors, you still have to be bare sometimes. This is the cycle of life. Our hair it grows, our hair it falls out, our kneecaps develop so we can run, then time changes us and soon our kneecaps don't bend the way they used to, soon we cannot run like we want to. This is the cycle of life. The trees are green and food to the hummingbirds and ladybugs, but then they are not. You blink without choosing to, and when you open your eyes again, the view is not what you thought it was. Where there used to be home, there is a for sale sign. This is the cycle of life.

We can have names for it. We can curse it. We can wish it away, but nothing can stop time from wearing sneakers and riding runaway cars. We can sit at a window thinking of somebody, but only when we speak to them, will they know. This is the cycle of life. You wake up one morning crying because you don't want to be thirteen anymore, you feel more like twenty, you want adult responsibilities, you want to drive across the mountain highways like you read in some book and you want to drink spiked soda from a bottle. When the wind whispers into your hair, you feel alive, but then you remember how your mom used to wake you at thirteen for school, and although at the time it troubled you to rise so early and sit in a classroom, now you wish you could experience it again because of you, because of your mom, because you want nothing more than for time to take off its sneakers. This is the cycle of life. 

There used to be an old man who sat at a bar where I sang sometimes. He had wrinkles deep as sea water and although only a few words ever came out of his mouth, when he did talk, I tried my best to understand him. He sat there with a cup in hand whether the people around him were eating lunchtime sandwiches or the kitchen had closed. I often tried to imagine what he felt like before the wrinkles formed, did he dream a bright dream? Did he ever go fishing or look at the pine trees that grow outside of the city? What did he want more than anything in life? Did he ever get it? Where will I be when that much time has passed? Last I heard, he fell down a flight of stairs and nobody found him for three days. It is a sad thought, one that feels as cold as December's coldest winter. To imagine a baby being born just like me, learning to walk, talk, stick out its tongue and one day, the heart does not beat and yet the world goes on with only memories made of the living. More babies are born, more mothers are made, and we'll keep riding the train not knowing when it will stop.

This is the cycle of life.
I was recently gifted a pair of Dr Marten boots that are nothing like the other boots I wear. I'm so used to lace ups and ones that meet at my knees, but these green suede ones have me singing 'yeah yeah yeah let's go to the forest or town without having to stop to tie them up fifteen hundred times like my other boots.' They are also incredibly comfy and warm — it's a lot like walking through my own little fireplace which is needed if I am to survive a Canadian winter.

outfit details: Chicwish jacket, Union Jack shoes, topshop hat
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the woods in October

When you step into the woods and the month is October, you can be sure a ghostly and surreal mood will climb up your spine. I treasure the feeling. It reminds me that I was born. I carry a thermos filled to the brim with hot chocolate and I sit where the steam rises and tiny clouds of breath appear as I mumble words to myself. For a moment, I am the only human being left in this world until a joggers footsteps appear in the slushy snow. They say hello. I say hello. Everything is how it should be. I am not thinking about tomorrow or the summers passing - I can only see fog and the delight that comes with absolute solitude. I want to stay here for awhile, not because I have nowhere else to be, but because it is important for a lover of the woods to stay where trees are tall and the fog is hanging low. If I rush and run home to a world of buzzing and lit screens, I will have failed myself and a bad mood might follow. It is better for me stay put - listening for the cooing owl or the pheasant rustling through the brush - to feel the chill of October air on my cheeks is to be born again.

Music has been everywhere as of late. Over the weekend, I played a festival and it caused me to grin ear to ear. I got a standing ovation after playing a full set of my songs -- as it happened, I felt like I could have broken down crying. Never in my life did I anticipate a stranger could stand up for me and applaud to the air, almost as if they were saying "don't ever stop." If you're an artist yourself, you know the quiet battle that we tread on. We constantly ricochet between yes and no, good and bad, right place and wrong place, all in one day. We love what we do, but mostly, we need to do what we do. It is our food, our breath, and our livelihood. There are days where I want to lay the banjo in a case and stay in bed. There are shows where I return home feeling defeated, but for every moment of cursing the stars for being who we are, there are moments like these and they remind us of something so easily lost in the hullabaloo of life. Art matters. It keeps our insides from dying or being hooked up to a machine. Nothing should stop us from creating and being strange in our pursuits. If I can do it, this is a call to an art maker's arms and it says "don't ever stop."

 I have only a few moments in a day where I can be quiet in the woods. It fills me with the right kind of joy and understanding. I return home as one who found a compass leading to the meaning of life would. I remain strange and my life is greater because of it.


outfit details: american eagle jacket, free people turtleneck sweater, oasap skirt, montana boots
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