Famous Authors and the Perils of Happiness

Instead of those lame ol’ inspirational quotes people post on their Facebook and such- you know the type. “Live, Laugh, Love. ” or “You’re only as happy as you make your mind up to be.” You know, that crap… I thought I would post some great quotes of some of my favourite authors talking about happiness. It’s not all fuzzy rainbows when real people talk about happiness or life fulfillment, that’s why I love these quotes. They don’t make me feel bad about myself, they just seem relateable. Hope you can relate too!

Mark Twain

Papa Hemingway

Chuck Palahniuk

Kurt Vonnegut

If you want to read more authors talking about happiness, this post was inspired by this list- 40 Authors on How to Be Happy

Tell me which one you like best! 



“Friends”… hitting a bit too close to home

I’ve been watching Friends on Netflix (as many people hovering around my age have been lately). When this show came on the air I was only around 11 years old or so and I couldn’t relate to much of anything that the characters were going through in the weekly episodes. I had never been without a job, had a roommate, or been on a relationship “break”.

But now, I am 30, rewatching these episodes and coming across some circumstances I can actually relate to. Most recently, I watched the episode where all the friends turn 30 and Rachael comes to terms with being in a place where she has to make some pretty heavy decisions. See below, you only have to watch to the 2 minute mark.

The plan. What is the plan? I had a plan at one point, but things happened to throw it off track and I’m now exactly where Rachael is- finding myself in the middle of having to make some very difficult decisions about life, future, and family. If only i had five wacky characters to rally around me and make it all okay. Oh well. I’ll figure it out as I go.

The Guilt of Spending Money

I have a hard time spending any significant amount of money on myself. I think it’s a remnant of growing up in a home where we were just barely getting by. As kids, we never went without, but I also knew not to ask for things I knew the family couldn’t afford. At the age of 30, I still have this guilt of spending too much money on myself and if I need to, the decision takes me forever to make.

I’m thinking of this now, because I need to buy a new laptop. I’m currently working on an old hand-me-down from a friend which is quite slow and is about ready to kick the bucket. I’m hemming and hawwing over the purchase because it’s a rather expensive one. I’m weighing the options of affordable vs. quality and since it’s something I use everyday, I’m trying to shift my mind to the idea that it’s okay to spend a bit extra money on things you need and use often.

So, I started to think of some of the things I’ve been wanting for years but haven’t purchased because of the guilt I associate with expensive items and I’ve compiled them below.

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer ~ $250

A car ~ $15,000+

A HBC Blanket ~ $350

Vladimir Kagan Furniture ~ $1000

Marc by Marc Jacobs purse ~ $300

Lenovo Yoga 3 ~ $1400

Around the World Ticket ~ $Priceless

Do you have a hard time spending money on yourself?

What to do/say when your friend has depression…

A few weeks ago I wrote What NOT to do/say when your friend has depression and it has become one of my most read blog posts in that time. I hope that these posts are helping to guide some of you readers who have friends dealing with depression. As a disclaimer, these things might not work for everyone. But, I have found them to be particularly helpful to me.

Here is the followup post that I promised all about what to do and say when your friend has depression.

1. Call them, make plans with them, drop by their house, take them out
A common trait of those with depression is withdrawal from friends/family. They lose interest in activities. They spend a lot of time alone. Instead of letting them stew in their sorrow, get them out of the house! Call them up and make some plans to get coffee together. If they refuse? Go to them. Knock on the door with take-out coffee and a couple fancy doughnuts. Touching base with your friend is like pulling them out of that deep well and bringing them back to reality. It is probably one of the most effective tactics in helping your friend.

2. Help them with little tasks that may seem overwhelming to them
When I’m in a low place, I have a hard time keeping my apartment clean. Dishes pile up, cat hair tumbleweeds blow across the floor- it all seems very overwhelming to have to tackle on my own. I recently had a friend spend a couple days with me on a flight layover in Winnipeg. We spent a day cleaning and organizing my apartment together. We even rearranged my furniture for the new year. Such a tiny favour with HUGE impact. Immediately, it made life seem a little easier and took that burden off my shoulders. So, help your friend with their laundry because they likely have no clean underwear left and the trip up and down the stairs to the laundry room is just a task they don’t have the energy to do at the moment.
(If only I ever experienced mania)

3. Ask questions, brainstorm solutions
Listening is a big part of being a good friend. But, don’t just listen- ask questions and work together to find solutions to how your friend can feel better. Ask things like “what have you done in the past to feel better”, from there you open doors into how they can feel better again. They might forget how they’ve climbed out of their hole in the past, I’ve found my memory to be not great when I’m in a low. Ask them if they know what their triggers are- stress, a fight with family, a break-up, diet change, maybe it’s a vitamin deficiency, who knows. Ask questions and remind them of past times where they felt good or events where they enjoyed themselves. See if you can figure out some ways together to make those feelings come back.

4. When they say something like “don’t worry about it”, you should worry about it.
So, your friend mentions needing to ask you something or needing to talk about something… but, you’re about to head out the door to grab some groceries. Your friend won’t want to be an imposition or a nuisance, so they’ll say “oh, okay. Don’t worry about it. I’ll catch you later.” At this point, you should pick up the phone and call them. Make sure everything is okay. Groceries can wait until tomorrow. Tonight, you eat canned soup and toaster leavin’s and listen to your friend.

5. Let them know they are good enough and that they are loved.
When you’re depressed, your mind tells you lies. It tells you that you’re a bad person who doesn’t deserve love or friends. It tells you you’re ugly and dumb and that’s why you’re alone. Tell your friend they are loved- by you, by family, by cowokers. Let them know they are good enough to be your friend, to be a friend to many. Your friend might not always believe you, but that’s okay. Hug them, rub their back lightly- sometimes touch tells someone a lot more than words every will.

The Beauty in Beer Labels: Part II, Stouts

This is a series I started back in October in ode to the design of beer labels. I think the beauty and art of beer labels are overlooked when we talk about craft beer. We are always focused on the taste, the smell, ABVs and IBUs. But, just as beer brewing is an art, labels are art as well.Competition is fierce on the shelves in beer stores and packaging is a big part of being successful.

Here is Part I, India Pale Ales, in case you missed it.

This post will focus on Stout labels.

I think I’m drawn to the red and the background in this label. It’s like a bear silhouette in space.

This label is a redesign of an original 1886 label by the same company. The company was founded by an England ex-pat in Australia. It is a very English type label, but has a simplicity to it which I imagine is the Australian influence. I love the “brewed from best materials only”.

This label is actually a removable badge. The brew and the label was created in collaboration for BC Craft Beer Week by five different breweries. It is supposed to represent the spirit of collaboration and West Coast camaraderie.

What is this? It’s a cuddly kitten squeezing terrified dinosaurs. Aptly named BIG HUGS. I bet this sells very well.

I think this is my favourite label I found while doing this search.

It’s a black on black bottle with touches of prism foil. It’s embossed with Morse Code which allows for the minimalist packaging. Texture and mystery… I’m in!

Hope you enjoyed this installment of the beer series. Have you found any beautiful labels lately?

Year End Reflections

higlight1. My Career
Many things happened in the way of work this past year. I coauthored a paper with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, I made an appearance in a documentary about Winnipeg rooming houses, I spoke about my work at a community forum, a film festival, and again for several government officials. I traveled to Edmonton for a conference where I learned, networked, and promoted my own work with others working in the housing & homelessness sector. As a result of that networking, I’ve been asked to present a webinar on rooming houses as an essential form of affordable housing , I was nominated for a Golden Carrot Award for my work ensuring food security of low income tenants in West Broadway. Things are rolling along well in this aspect of my life and hopefully continues to do so.

2. Grad School
I submitted my application to study for a Masters of Social Work at the University of Calgary. I made the decision to make a life change and finally go through with it. I won’t hear until around April, which doesn’t give me much time to tie up loose ends and make a big move.

3. San Francisco
I took a trip to San Francisco, somewhere that has been on my list for awhile now. I went with a friend and I don’t usually travel with another person, but it was nice to be able to share a great experience with someone I care about. Of course it could have been a longer trip, but I’ll take what I can get. Time to start planning where I’ll be off to in 2015.

disapintment1. The last of my good friends left Winnipeg
In the last couple years, all of my closest friends have moved to other provinces. It’s been really hard to lose everyone close to you when you don’t have much family at all or many close relationships. I’ve always been one to advocate for quality friends over quantity, but it has kind of come to kick me these days. It’s hard to stay in touch when people are diving into their careers or having babies; and I’ve definitely seen a deterioration in at least one of my friendships.

2. A break up of sorts and all that follows
I had been in a long-distance relationship of sorts which came to an end this summer. I don’t want to say too much about it, but it has been incredibly difficult for me to process and figure out where to go from here. Do you remain friends with an ex, do you go no-contact and just try to forget the whole thing? I’m still in a place where I don’t know what’s to come in the future and it drives me absolutely insane. It has also been a major factor in my next disappointment below.

3. Hitting as close to rock bottom as I care to get
In 2014, I came out about suffering from “a severe case of major depressive disorder” after struggling silently for many years. I told a few friends and a couple coworkers so they could understand my actions, but it didn’t really help me at all and those who wanted to help didn’t know how. The last half of 2014 became so unbearable for me that the thoughts and feelings I was having about myself and life around me just weren’t normal anymore.

major focus1. Art & Creating
I spent a lot of time in 2014 making. I’ve always been the creative type and it really showed in 2014. I took up crocheting in late 2013 and really got into this past year. I made hats and scarves, mitts and trivets, placemats and blankets. I painted a lot in 2014 and I began making polymer clay brooches and necklaces.

2. Being Depressed
Sounds strange, but a lot of my energy went into being depressed. I thought if I just rode it out and watched a lot of Netflix, drank a lot of vodka, and hid out from the world… it would all go away and I would feel normal again. That didn’t happen and I wasted a good six months or more doing that.

grateful1. Twitter
If not for Twitter I would probably never make any friends ever. It has become a really great place to discuss things like politics, social issues, craft beer, and other everyday stuff. I’ve said these things before and I’ll continue to say them, “some of the smartest people I know are on Twitter” and “most new people I meet are through Twitter.”

2. Bob’s Burgers
I discovered this television show this year and you might wonder, “why the hell would you be grateful for a cartoon?!?” Well, let me tell you… this show made me laugh so hard I would cry and gasp for air sometimes. It was a really nice reprieve from my usual deadpan, expressionless self. Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene, and Louise reminded me I was still a living, breathing person under all that.

3. Family
I’ve never been one of those people who are in love with their family. I actually have a pretty poor relationship with every member of my family and I chocked it up to past events and bad communication and poor nurturing. I realized this year that it was ME creating the negative relationships and my family didn’t necessarily see it the same way as I did. I opened myself up a small bit to the possibility of strengthening my relationships with them. I began talking to my brother more than we ever have. I continue to see my mom pretty regularly. And the biggest step of all, I had breakfast with my father- someone I haven’t seen in close to a decade and haven’t shared a meal with in probably about 12+ years.

road ahead1. Be Healthy
This is all encompassing- mental, physical, financial, spiritual. I’m determined to feel good in 2015.

2. Create More
I want to continue to do what I love and make things, create art. But, I also want to dabble in other art forms like writing, wood working, photography, and even cooking.

3. Be Brave
Travel often. Take a leap. Invest in something risky. Take chances. I think 2015 is going to be full of scary changes and I’m going to have to be strong and brave to take the year on and survive it. Today, I feel like I am ready for that challenge!