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Coming Back to the Conversation: Art Through Repetition

I’m a perfectionist by nature and that has been a big stumbling block when it’s come to creating art. The finished product in my head doesn’t always line up with what I’m able to create on the page. Once I identified that it was holding me back a lot in my writing, it became something I’ve been trying to let go of. It’s a work in progress but something I’ll likely always be struggling with.

One of the ways that I’ve been working on this is through questioning the pushback I get from my brain telling me something isn’t good enough. Why isn’t it good enough? What’s preventing me from completing this idea or piece of art? When you ask enough questions, you run out of reasons and excuses. The perfectionist in you reverts back to saying, “it’s not perfect, that’s why we can’t finish this”. That’s where you need to be able to say, “so what?” to that part of you.

The trick is to have the perfectionist part of your brain run out of arguments.

It was in doing this little charade that I came up against an argument that I wasn’t prepared for: you’ve already used this idea, you’ve already written that. It caught me off guard. Nobody wants to be the artist that runs out of ideas and has to start repeating outfits, so to speak. Nobody wants to read something that’s pretty similar to that other thing, right? I let the perfectionist win that round. I didn’t write the story.

But did it win? I thought a lot about it after that night and I realized I have subconsciously avoided creating anything using an idea I’ve already used before. Of course, I’ve written pieces about similar themes and subjects but as a general rule, I have never given myself permission to write about something more than once. I was always of the mindset of trying to find something new to say, a way to dive deeper into a different area. I was restricting my writing in a lot of ways without even realizing it.

And when you think about it? That’s really silly. Who says I can’t write about ghosts a million times? There’s a lot to say about ghosts. In fact, it makes sense to come back and revisit something you’ve talked about or painted or created in the past because it allows you to build on it with the new skills and new experiences you’ve acquired since you made it the first time. It gives you credibility.

Coming back to the conversation lets you pick up where you’ve left off to improve, expand and discover. Remember, you’re not the same person you were when you originally created the piece. You’re coming at it from a different angle, a different perspective.

There are a lot of successful artists and writers out there who became famous for doing the same thing over and over again. Art via repetition. Van Gogh and his sunflowers. Shakespeare and his sonnets. Monet and his water lilies. There are countless examples of this. They all returned to a subject that was familiar to them because they decided they had more to say. Another perspective to offer. And each time, they were able to try something new with it. They were able to experiment and get creative with a subject they had already exhausted.

Sometimes you need to work through all the mud in order to dive deeper into the lake. Sometimes you need to get all of the ideas out of your head and onto paper before you can push past them and really find something new and interesting in it to share.

The other thing revisiting ideas does is it creates breadcrumbs, a thread throughout your work. I was reading a collection of Louise Glück’s poetry recently. The collection spans over 50 years and in it, you see her write about a lot of similar themes. She picks up an idea, she speaks to it, she sets it down. Later, she picks up that same idea or a similar one and offers something new. She revisits memories, love, loss again and again, calling back and making reference to things she’s talked about before. She’s telling a story and every time she picks up the conversation, she continues that story. If I wasn’t reading her body of work, I may never have picked up on that but what it did is it humanized her. I was able to see the breadcrumbs, the references to events in her life that she has talked about before. And that creates a human connection. When you write about something multiple times, you’re letting the reader in. We often write to try and resolve, understand or make peace with things that happen in our lives and when you repeat a theme or a subject in your work, you’re saying, “I don’t have this all figured out yet, let me try again.” We as humans, love to see ourselves in other people and it’s important to see that they also struggle with letting things go.

Maybe I’m alone in needing to give myself permission to return to the same subject but I don’t think so. I think as artists, we’re aware and fixated more than ever on what people will think about what we create. We live in a world where we have the ability to share work immediately after it has been created.

We often don’t have the time or don’t give ourselves the time to revisit a piece and recreate it or make it better before the rest of the world sees it so there’s a pressure on us to get it right the first time.

And once it’s been shared? It didn’t occur to me at least, that I should go back and revisit it sometime.

My argument in all of this is that there is a lot of value in repeating themes or subjects in your artwork. It allows you to dive down deeper and explore the subject more thoroughly and push your art past what is expected. And on a more personal side, it gives you the opportunity to come to terms with emotions you’ve been wrestling with for a while. There’s that opportunity for resolution. What’s more, it builds a sense of trust with your audience. By doing similar things over and over again, you become the guy who can write descriptions of dragons really well or the painter who can do beautiful paintings of wild roses. You become known for something and people begin to recognize your “style” or “specialty”. An audience wants to know who you are and witnessing you pick up the conversation again and again, lets them be a part of the story.

Is there a time in your life or a subject you keep returning to again and again? How do you continue the conversation?

Blog Kelsey's Bookclub

Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

A marriage. A series of letters. Redemption.

The Bottom Line: An American Marriage is a powerful book (although slow at times) that explores questions of what a marriage is and what love really means. It raises issues about race, family and loyalty. If you enjoy dramas that get nominated for Academy Awards, you will probably enjoy this novel.

Don’t read any synopsis about the book. An American Marriage is definitely a story about a marriage. It’s also a story about love and waiting and redemption and honesty. It’s told through three different perspectives, giving you three sides of the story.

It’s hard not to give this book anything less than 4 stars. The story may appear simple but it’s actually quite complicated and it’s told with brutal honesty. Each character has their own motivations and own challenges. The portrayal feels very believable, each character realistic.

There are no heroes in this story. Each character has their faults and mistakes. And yet, they each compel you into understanding their point of view. I changed my opinion a lot reading this novel and I think it’s a very important read for a lot of different reasons.

Why I didn’t give it a higher rating: there are a few parts where the story is told through letters. It felt like they were crucial times in the plot and I wanted more details. I wanted to connect to the story more in those moments but instead, I felt distanced from it. I can picture it working well in a film adaption of it though. This book would make a powerful movie.

An American Marriage is one of my 19 Books to Read in 2019

Find it on Goodreads.

Blog Life

Sparking Joy: The KonMari Method for Digital Spaces

Marie Kondo and her approach to “tidying up” is something being talked about a lot these days. It’s inspired so many of us to dig through the clutter in our homes and get rid of so many material items that are not contributing to our happiness. In doing so, we’re allowing more space for joy to exist.

I’ve gone through a few rounds of the KonMari method since her book came out a few years ago. I’ve applied it to clothes, books & miscellaneous items, each time asking myself, does this spark joy? What about it does or doesn’t? Why do I own it if it doesn’t spark joy?

With the recent release of the Netflix series following Marie as she helps people clean up their homes, I started thinking more about this concept of sparking joy. What happens when we start thinking beyond the material items in our lives? What if we start looking at other things to “tidy up” and allowing more space for joy?

Digital Property

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time on your phone. Or your tablet. Or your laptop. Or watching tv. Sometimes I think I spend more time interacting with digital objects in the course of a day than I do with physical ones. My phone is filled with apps, photos, messages, emails, and reminders. My laptop is similar, with files and software on there I never touch.

Just like with physical objects, these virtual objects take up space. They take up room in our hard drives but they also crowd our mental space and potentially our emotional space as well.

I’ve had my iPhone for a few years now. And with it, I’ve taken a ton of photos. But the thing is, a lot of those photos are meaningless to me now. They are photos of something I wanted to share at the time and many are duplicates of the same thing but I no longer need them. I was looking through them all the other day while I was searching for something specific and I realized how bothered I was by all these photos I didn’t want on there. It all felt cluttered to me. Like these photos I didn’t want were blocking my way to the things I did want to see and keep. It’s all very similar to Marie Kondo’s approach to tidying cluttered spaces.

Letting Go

What I needed was to get rid of a lot of them but it felt wrong. I can’t just delete these! What if I’ll need them or want them in the future? It was all starting to sound like my hesitations towards getting rid of that sweater I never wore or that tool kit I might need someday. But in reality, I needed to get rid of them. The photos I didn’t want were blocking all the photos of memories I love and want to be reminded of. The selfies I don’t like or look uncomfortable in, the photo of a mediocre mug of hot chocolate two months ago, the same twenty pictures of waves in Hawaii that will never capture the movement of the ocean, they can all be deleted.

You aren’t obligated to keep that photo of you at your best friend’s birthday party six years ago if you don’t like it.

You can let go of photos that don’t bring you joy and especially those that bring up bad feelings. I mean they’re probably saved in a cloud somewhere anyway if you ever need them but why be reminded of them daily? Keep all the ones that make you laugh, make you smile. Anything that symbolizes happiness.

I used photos as the main example here but this can extend to any virtual property you own. Think about all the apps you don’t use. All the emails you’ve never opened or don’t need. All of that is stuff just like the stuff you’re physically surrounded with. Make your virtual reality less cluttered by deleting what you don’t need or want and make more space for the things you do enjoy. This doesn’t mean that you have to go and delete all your tweets from 2011 (although you could – I’m sure it would feel great) but it does mean you should consider getting rid of messages from exes or friends you no longer speak to. None of that is bringing any joy to your life. If anything, it’s subtracting from it. A constant reminder of something you no longer have. Give yourself permission to let it all go.

The Presences of Clutter

It’s possible you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, my virtual world doesn’t feel crowded. None of this applies to me. And maybe you’re right. But I think it’s a different feeling than the one we get when we’re surrounded by too much physical stuff. It’s more subtle. A cluttered physical space often hinders our ability to do something or prevents you from enjoying the space as much as you could be. A cluttered digital space is a bit different. To me it feels like a presence. I know I have a lot of photos and apps and files and messages. More than I could possibly use or keep track of. I can sense them. I see small reminders of them when I go looking for something but for the most part, they’re tucked away in their own corners.

Virtual worlds are different because they have enough closets and rooms for all of your stuff. They are forever expanding to accommodate your tweets and emails and photos. But the larger that space grows, the less meaningful those things become. The less it becomes a good representation of who you are.

Spring Cleaning Your Digital Home

I want my virtual and online presence to represent who I am and what I love. Just like how I want my physical space to be a representation of the things that bring me joy. To me, that means bringing up my Facebook profile and removing friends I no longer talk to. It means deleting emails and unsubscribing to newsletters I’m no longer interested in. It means giving up on shows I started but didn’t enjoy enough to want to continue. It means deleting apps and software I rarely use, knowing I can get them back easily if I need them. It’s about creating a space for only my favourite things and it’s about giving myself room to enjoy those things.

You interact with your virtual space as much or more than you do with your physical one so it’s important to take care of it. Use the KonMari method of finding what sparks joy. Tidy it up. Open the windows, take out the trash. Hit the delete button a few hundred times and don’t look back.

Blog Kelsey's Bookclub

19 Books to Read in 2019

I don’t normally set a TBR for myself. Instead, I just pick up whatever I’m excited to read next. But the books below are ones I’ve been wanting to read for a while or have been recently very interested in. Let me know what you’re reading this year in the comments below. Here is my top 19 books to read in 2019:

1.Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation. (Goodreads)

2. Just Kids by Patti Smith – In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work–from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry. (Goodreads)

3. The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss – Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing. (Goodreads)

4. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. (Goodreads)

5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. (Goodreads)

6. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend. While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. (Goodreads)

7. The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker – Vincent Appleton smiles at his daughters, raises a gun, and blows off his head. For the Appleton sisters, life had unravelled many times before. This time it explodes. Eight-year-old Hariet, known to all as Ari, is dispatched to Cape Breton and her Aunt Mary, who is purported to eat little girls . . . With Ari on the journey is her steadfast companion, Jasper, an imaginary seahorse. But when they arrive in Pleasant Cove, they instead find refuge with Mary and her partner Nia. (Goodreads)

8. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother’s loneliness. Believing she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author. Across New York an old man called Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days dreaming of the lost love who, sixty years ago in Poland, inspired him to write a book. And although he doesn’t know it yet, that book also survived: crossing oceans and generations, and changing lives… (Goodreads)

9. Circe by Madeline Miller – In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. (Goodreads)

10. The Lonely City by Olivia Lang – What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we’re not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens? When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by this most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives — from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawksto Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to the depredations of the AIDS crisis — Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. (Goodreads)

11. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed. For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. (Goodreads)

12. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Noah Yuval Harari – In Sapiens, Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?  (Goodreads)

13. Becoming by Michelle Obama – In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same. (Goodreads)

14. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising. But surprises aren’t always good. Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school. (Goodreads)

15. A Place for Us by Farheen Fatima Mirza – A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding – a match of love rather than tradition. It is here, on this momentous day, that Amar, the youngest of the siblings, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. Rafiq and Layla must now contend with the choices and betrayals that lead to their son’s estrangement – the reckoning of parents who strove to pass on their cultures and traditions to their children; and of children who in turn struggle to balance authenticity in themselves with loyalty to the home they came from. (Goodreads)

16. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-elusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel. (Goodreads)

17. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aaron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness enveloped by a mysterious darkness. (Goodreads)

18. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson – Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy. Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different. (Goodreads)

19. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison – Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain—real and imagined, her own and others’—Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory—from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration—in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace. (Goodreads)

Track my progress and follow me on Goodreads and Instagram (@livingkelsey).

Blog Life

25 Things I Haven’t Figured Out at 25

I’ve seen a lot of posts talking about things the author has learned by a certain age. Life lessons and things like that. But what about all the things that you haven’t figured out yet? There is no timeline on life, no age you should have figured out something or had a certain experience. Everyone experiences life a little differently. Some things you figure things out pretty early on and others you spend your whole life chasing down the answers to.

Here are 25 things I have not learned at 25 (and that’s okay):

1. How to stay on top of laundry 

There’s a reason this is number one. It was the first thing that came to mind when I sat down to make this list. Laundry eludes me. I have so many questions. How does it add up so fast when I’m only doing laundry for one? Why does it always feel like there are more clothes in my laundry bin than I actually own? Do people out there really have a laundry schedule? Did I make this list just to avoid such a hateful chore?

2. What I want to do when I grow up

I want to be so many things. I want to do so many things. I both know exactly what I want to do when I grow up and also have no idea. The thing is, I’m going to do a lot of different things. I’m not going to just have one job (as nice as that would be). I’m not that person. I’m going to have a lot of different jobs and do a lot of other things just for fun and that’s honestly really exciting.

3. What my favourite book is

As both a writer and an avid reader, I am embarrassed to say I don’t have a favourite book. The Holy Grail of books that I hold above all others. It feels taboo to even say that but alas, here I am. My closest answer to this question is White Oleander by Janet Fitch because it definitely had an impact on me. It’s been almost 10 years since I read that book. Would I still love it if I read it again? I have no idea. Do I panic every time I’m asked about my favourite book? Absolutely.

4. How to bake… anything

Baking is kind of a mystery to me. I’m sure I could bake something if I tried but this isn’t a list of 25 things I could figure out, it’s a list of things I haven’t. Baking will have to be something I figure out in the years to come.

5. Where home will end up being

This used to scare me. What do you mean this might not be my home forever? As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve attached myself to the idea of having many homes. My island will always be home but I also want to feel at home with the people and the places I spend a lot of time around. I want home to be something deep within me which can extend to a lot of spaces. Who says we can’t have a lot of homes? How do we take the things we miss from one home and carry them with us everywhere?

6. What my purpose is

I flip back and forth between believing we have a higher purpose in life or not. I think on some level there are things each of us is well suited for and perhaps meant to do. I don’t need to have it figured out at 25. It’ll find me when it’s meant to. I’ll know it when I find it.

7. How people enjoy coffee

How? Why? The same question applies to beer.

8. If I want to have kids

Somedays I do. Somedays I don’t. Somedays I think I could form a deep connection to something else in my life and be perfectly content to not experience motherhood. Sometimes I float somewhere in the middle. And that’s okay.

9. How to deal with the bad days

25 years in and I still haven’t found the perfect cure to a bad day. It’s probably not laying in bed with a box of cookies all day. Or maybe it is. Maybe the best cure is just taking a break from life for a bit and what better way to do that than with Oreos? I haven’t figured out how to avoid bad days yet but I’m not sure I want to. The bad days help you appreciate and make possible all the best days.

10. What my food sensitivities are

I know they’re there. I know I have a couple. Should I find out what they are so I know how to properly make my body feel good with the food I’m putting in it? Probably. Will I continue to live in ignorance of my inevitable sensitivities (I’m looking at you dairy products) until it becomes a larger issue? Also probably.

11. My perfect Starbucks order

I’m getting close with my grande caramel frappuccino. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t really go near Starbucks until this past year. It was an intimidating place for someone who doesn’t drink coffee but yet, here I am. I still think there’s room for improvement though, some small alteration that would set my order over the edge. The hunt continues.

12. How to conquer social anxiety

This is a day to day battle. It’s gotten a lot better over the years but interacting with people on any level is still sometimes a struggle. Not letting that anxiety, that fear prevent me from doing the things I want to do though is what I’m trying to focus on.

13. How to stop procrastinating

Clearly evident in how it took me about three months to finish this post. One thing I will say in defense of procrastination is that it often helps me fully form an idea, organize my thoughts and solve any anticipated problems before starting a task. Procrastinating is not always a bad thing.

14. How to not let doubt creep in

It’s always there. Am I good enough? Does this meet the standard? Will people like me? I’m working on not letting doubt have the loudest voice or the final say. It will always be there but there are other voices (like hope, like courage, like confidence) that all deserve room at the table too.

15. Where to find the perfect pair of leggings

I have a deep love for leggings and I’ve tried a lot of pairs over the years. I’m sure the perfect pair exists, I just haven’t found them yet. Although Lululemon does have something pretty close. It took me a long time to give in to the hype but I can confirm that they are pretty great.

16. How to make new friends

This is a skill I really wish I had learned on the playground. I grew up in a really small town where my friends were the same friends I had in daycare. There was never really a need to make new ones (or a desire to as an introvert) until I hit university and realized it was a skill I was definitely lacking. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to social interactions (see #12). Challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone and simply talk to new people has helped push back on that a bit. Finding a larger social circle is definitely in my goals for this year.

17. How to turn ideas into realities

I have a lot of ideas. I’ve started a lot of projects and have had ideas for a million more. What I haven’t quite figured out is how to turn all of these beautiful ideas into reality to share them with others. A lot of this comes down to overcoming my need to make everything perfect and I’ve come a long way with that. Not every idea is going to end up becoming something but I want to get better at sharing them in some way.

18. How to travel cheaply within Canada

It’s near impossible, I’ve realized. If you’re reading this and live in a country where it’s relatively inexpensive to travel within your country or to neighboring countries, please do more of that. For me, for you.

19. How to write a good essay

Do you ever have Imposter’s Syndrome for your entire degree? I went to school for English Literature. I wrote a lot of essays but did I ever really learn how to write an essay or was I just simply making it all up as I went along and got lucky?

20. How to speak French

I’m working on it. I’ve gotten pretty good at reading and understanding French in written forms but speaking, writing or listening? That still needs some work.

21. Where I stand with religion

I think this will be one I’ll be exploring and thinking about throughout my life. Do I believe in a higher power? Would I call myself spiritual? Do I align my beliefs and practices with a community or group? I’ll report back when I’ve figured it all out.

22. If I like running

Let’s be clear, I’m not a runner. But sometimes I get the idea to try it again. Lots of people run, maybe it’s something I can do too! The jury is still out on whether I actually like running or if I like the idea of running.

23. What I’ll name my future pets

I’ve given this a lot of thought. Do I go clever or cute? Do I go with an old faithful that’s been overused but still great? Do I use some obscure reference to a movie or a book I like? We shall find out.

24. How to be selfish

I’ve gotten a lot better at keeping my best interests in mind but I still struggle with setting healthy boundaries for myself when it comes to helping loved ones. Putting my own needs first and making sure that I’m in a good place is something I could do more of.

25. Who I am

But then again, I don’t want to have myself figured out. I am full of contradictions and I will always contain multitudes. I will be endlessly exploring and discovering new parts about myself.