rethinking the hustle

Lately, I’ve been trying to prioritize my mental and physical well-being, because I know, returning to my office job for the summer is going to be draining. I’m not made for sitting at a desk for 8 hours and doing the same repetitive tasks all week (but hey, I filled my phone with philosophy, culture, and political podcasts, so maybe I’ll be engaging my brain a bit!). This prioritization also comes from wanting to get a hold on my anxiety, in hope of managing my pseudo-seizures better in the upcoming months than I have in the past few. I’ve even started to wean myself off coffee! So yeah, I’m serious about it.

I woke up this morning with the intention of doing a “run-through” of my early morning pre-work routine so I feel prepared for getting back into the swing of things tomorrow. But, that went out the window, considering I, first of all, slept in. I tried to recoup by at least getting in a morning yoga session, but everytime I changed positions I got light-headed and there was a dull pressure in my head. So that went out the window too. I felt a little frustrated at my inability to stick to my planned routine, but I took the yoga instructor’s mantra to heart, “do what feels good”, and decided to attempt practicing an intuitive, slow day.

This wasn’t only prompted from my failure to make it through early morning exercise – I have also been feeling very listless lately, and have tried to solve this with my signature over-the-top to-do lists. This of course, didn’t help me feel any less listless, and it definitely failed to make me feel productive, despite the fact that I was making my way through each task and checking it off. I wasn’t present though, really, just lost somewhere in my anxious thoughts and letting them get the best of me. It wasn’t until I forced myself to sit down, to work with my hands, to make, in this case, a collage, that I finally was able to feel calm and content. This realization of how still I felt after engaging in art-making was an encouraging reason to try and emphasize and value the same sort of feeling today.

I decided to leave all notions of efficiency and productivity for my return to my job tomorrow, and instead, allowed myself today to slow down, reset, and let myself do whatever I felt like doing in the moment, instead of adhering to a list of items.

I had a shower. Got dressed. Did my hair, just because. I noticed the dishes needed to be done. I also noticed Sky had left some body butter out for me so I could use it to make a body scrub I’ve been meaning to make. So I did that. I didn’t even follow a recipe as I usually would – just threw in ingredients I thought would smell good and feel refreshing. However, while doing so, I had the thought – “hey, I could make a little business making homemade body and skin care products!”, and I was bothered that this thought interrupted the simple act of mixing products together and perfecting the perfume, of testing the product…I was bothered that every time I make something and enjoy doing it, my automatic thought goes to how it could be profitable. Sure – it would be nice to make money doing something like that, or as a maker of any product or art, really – but why do these simple things only feel worthwhile if there is a chance they could be profitable? Why can’t I just make things for the sake of making them? Write for the sake of writing – not to be published? Stop making game plans for starting a “side hustle” and just enjoy what free time I do have? Stop this whole idea that something has to be measured by a specific standard of success, usually, monetary profit, to be meaningful, to be useful, to be a good way to spend my time.

I’ve been trying to resist this kind of mindset in all areas of my life. Part of it has been pursuing art. Part of it has been deciding to take an extra semester to finish my degree, because I can, and I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself. It’s hard for me to stick to – I’ve never actively chosen to take less than a full-course load – but I know the extra time will allow me to throw myself into all the opportunities I am afforded and excited about because I’m a student. It will allow me time to rest. It will allow me time to make connections. Most of all, it will slow things down, because I’m happy where I’m at in university and I love my life as a student, and I want to live this way for a little bit longer.

I’m trying to listen to myself, to re-evaluate priorities, to emphasize slow living, the value of intuition, to calm my mind and decrease my stress level, and hopefully, in time, see the result of less anxiety and fewer pseudo-seizures, migraines, and days where I’m depleted of all energy.

Today, I feel pretty content. Happy. And I hope I can keep building practices that maximize my mental well-being, so I don’t feel so lost in worries and what ifs all the time. So I can set aside time to just be still, and calm. We’ll see how I manage, starting tomorrow, with 3 spring courses and a full time job…..

xoxo jc.

 

 

wrapping up third year + looking ahead!

hi!

i’ve been gone. but i’m here. and i’m officially done third year! as of, like a week ago, but yeah! it’s pretty bittersweet, honestly, because i don’t want my university experience to be over. it feels like it’s just picking up. that’s probably partially why i want to go to grad school – i love being in university!

so yeah, some highlights from this academic year are

  • changing majors and pursuing women’s and gender studies
  • getting to be a research assistant!
  • working as a writing tutor
  • getting into the honours program
  • being recognized for academic achievement in the previous year
  • diving into new territory and loving it (re feminist art!!!)
  • getting published both with our own writing centre blog and others at different universities!
  • building connections, community & getting more involved on campus
  • confidence boosting seminar presentations!
  • presenting my artwork at the WGS/Disability Studies Feminist Colloquium
  • getting a job with one of my profs to create/promote her art studio as a feminist space for art, community building etc on campus! (stoked about this!)
  • figuring out where my research interests really lay/finding new and exciting ideas to explore

and idk! i’ve learned a ton this year, not just about topics in class, but about myself as a person, and i’ve grown so much and i’ve really seen my thought process transform and it’s exciting. and at times exhausting, but so rewarding. i also feel like i know what i’m about and where i’m headed, but at the same time, i don’t have any super concrete plans, but have learned to be okay with that because i’m super happy with where i’m at right now, and if i keep making intuitive choices, i’m sure i’ll end up where i want to be.

that being said, my academic goals, and interests, have shifted a bit, so i may not end up doing my MA in disability studies! but i will still definitely be working with disability issues…but maybe through a cultural studies program or something similar!

 

so yeah – looking ahead! things i’m excited for this summer:

  • concert roadtrips (seeing Vance Joy, Passenger…possibly July Talk again and many others if we can make it work!!)
  • camping trips with Sky!!
  • seeing my fam
  • second round of sending my chapbook to contests/publishers (fingers crossed!!)
  • getting caught up on course credits
  • having a full-time job!
  • having time to read (hopefully) (also – send me your book recs!!!)
  • planning re the art studio!
  • lazy days by the lake
  • reunions with friends
  • dresses and sandals and not wearing layers
  • pursuing creative endeavors (currently in the brainstorming process for my next project!)
  • more time for snappin photos!
  • spontaneous weekend expeditions
  • SUNSHINE AND FLOWERS
  • LAZY SUNNY SUNDAYS
  • saving & planning for a new tattoo
  • ice cream 24/7

and so many cool things to follow in the fall so yeah!

 

things are good. hope they are with you too!

 

jc. ♥

 

(in)visible illness

 

 

 

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:

Taking inspiration from Jo Spence’s self-representative photography collection, Narratives of Disease (cw: nudity), I wanted to provide insight to my relationship to and with chronic illness using both photography and my body as materials to present my lived experience. Through these photographs, I illustrate six specific themes or emotions that are most prevalent in my life with illness. My intention with this collection is to both respond to Spence’s work, regarding her artistic expression of what it truly is to live with illness, outside of the objective language of medical environments, and to portray the complexities of my own journey as a chronically ill individual. Specifically, I hope to demonstrate the ways my so-called invisible illness marks me, both physically and emotionally; to resist the objectification of medical and other social institutions; to make meaning of my experience, both for myself and to connect with others who face similar experiences; and to ultimately, narrate my disease, in a way that allows others to understand the often arduous reality – both physically and psychologically –  of living in a chronically ill body.

art & illness

There are several artists I’ve paid special attention to in one of my (arts-based learning) classes. I feel like Karolyn Gehrig needs to be mentioned, along with her #HospitalGlam project, because the idea behind it, of making invisible illness visible, has been something I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. Here is more on her & #HospitalGlam (http://hospitalglam.tumblr.com/)! So check that out if you’re interested! It’s an awesome project and so empowering.

However, for my major project, I’ve decided to take my inspiration from Jo Spence. She was a photographer, feminist, writer, organizer and broadcaster. In particular, I am looking at and responding to her collection Narratives of Disease (click to see her collection – NSFW/nudity warning though!).

Spence captioned the collection as such:

“How do we begin to speak about what it is like to live with cancer? How do we find a language to express ourselves? What are we able to say if we turn to the medical language of tumours, drugs, and surgical procedures: a language which is crucial to medical professionals in helping to diagnose and treat cancer but which can only speak of people as mechanical objects? Can we make use of the non medical language of bodies which is obsessed with the idealism of youth and beauty?”

I was compelled by its description alone, not to mention the piece itself. I was compelled by the photographs, by the unfolding of a story, a life, a struggle, told through only six photos with single word captions.  Her idea of not being able to express her experience with language resonated with me, and I decided I wanted to work with the themes and artistry she employed in this collection. There’s a lot to unpack in her work.

Her images really tell a story, of living with illness, and knowing, that because of the illness, she becomes an object in the medical setting. It explores the objectification of women regarding beauty standards and how illness physically marks the body and our life experience, and renders us as something completely apart from these beauty ideals.

A few things stuck with me, and translated into a focus for my artistic response, or remix project…

  • pain of illness as emotional and physical (this is a big one for me, in medical environments! no one ever checks in my mental health, just my physical symptoms and medicine dosages etc….)
  • body as a material site of struggle and resistance
  • meaning making of chronic illness through art
  • using art to describe a narrative of illness
  • physical ideals of beauty versus reality of a chronically ill body

Soon – my own narrative of disease start to emerge, from abstract concepts to the planning of the photographs I would take. The process involved a lot of questions though, questions like what words or themes are prevalent in my journey with illness? How do I express these?  How do I make sense of pain, specifically, with my diagnosis of diabetes… How do I make sense of both the physical and emotional pain that comes with it, and transform it into an act of resistance, as Spence has? Is there any way to transform it into something positive? How do I communicate what it is like to live with a chronic illness, how do I represent the complexities of my experience in a way that allows others to come to understand it as well?

This was only the start of my thought process, and now, as I finish planning for the shoot that I will be doing tomorrow…I feel like maybe I’ve found some answers. And of course, more questions. And I know the process of actually making artwork will bring new insights and maybe even more questions yet!

Already, I have felt how thinking about these ideas, thinking about my own experience of illness,  and how to turn this experience into art, has transformed the way I think. I don’t always see my necessary medical self-care as a burden, but as something worthy of art – and this has totally reframed the way I understand myself as chronically ill but also how I relate to my illness. It’s been really exciting and uplifting.

I’m not going to say much more… as I’ll probably share my collection of images when I have completed this project, but I will say that planning the shoot was a lot more than just logistics. It has been a process of finding six words that encompass my life with chronic illness. But even moreso, it has been a process, a challenging process, to figure out how to bring these emotions and experiences into being: how do I represent the complexities, all the intricacies, with one photograph? How does it go from being an idea to being a collection that is honest, authentic and vulnerable? I have rolled through every possibility time and time again in my head, and come up with what I hope will be photos that do express all of these things. I know my ideas will change and transform during the photoshoot, and that’s awesome and exciting too. I’m excited to see the results of this process, of what I will learn and how I will grow, and of course, to have the finished product and to share it with others.

I know this has been a long, rather involved post, but I thought blogging would be a good way to both reflect on this process and also tell you about it, so you have some context when I share it.

I’ll leave you with a sneak peak of what’s to come – my working title, project description and the title of each photograph as it stands right now:

Along the lines of Jo Spence’s work, Narratives of Disease, where she uses six nude photos, each titled with one word related to her journey with breast cancer, I would like to choose six emotions to tell of my experience with chronic illness, through photography. As Spence puts it, this photography is a way of challenging and expressing what it is to live with illness, in an environment saturated with medical language and objectification – both in medical settings, and as women in public spaces. I would like to address my experience with chronic illnesses as a whole, but also specifically focus in on the way diabetes marks my body, and my way of being, in ways that are often invisible to others, but brought to light through my photo series.

The series will be titled (in)Visible Illness, and will consist of six photos: submission, defeat, haunted, guilt, glorified, and finally, hope. 

Looking forward to tomorrow and sharing my work with you all 🙂

 

jc. ♥

why i took a break from social media 

After taking a much needed break from in Instagram in November and December, I decided to write a follow up post to this one, where I talked about social media + authenticity. As with everything, I struggle with anxiety and overthinking things that are seemingly as simple as social media. So I’m going to write about what led me to take a break from social media, and how I went about returning to Instagram with a healthier mindset.

The anxiety and overthinking of my Instagram presence is something I often deal with. It seems to be ridiculous that it can be such an issue for me, because it’s just social media, right? But. Not always. It’s a really big part of most of our lives, in all honesty, and I think something we should be mindful about. I would take and retake photos, and edit and re-edit them, continually. Half the time I posted a picture and took it down a few seconds later because it wasn’t getting the reaction I wanted or for some reason I was self-conscious about it or whatever. Dedicating this much time, thought, and obsessing was not doing anything for me but making me more anxious and more frustrated with myself. Why couldn’t I just post a picture and have it be that simple?

I tried to be honest on social media with what I posted, because I was aware of how easily Instagram can affect one’s mental health when they compare themselves to the perfectly polished pictures on their feed. However, no matter how hard I tried, there was always a layer of playing pretend – exactly the opposite of what I wanted to be doing – in order to “curate” my feed for a certain aesthetic.

I listened to a thought-provoking interview about how (millennials especially) are so submersed in a culture of instant gratification because we grew up with increasingly more accessible technology and media. But this doesn’t actually translate to the things that actually make people happy, like building relationships, or a career, or any other milestones that take a lot of patience and time. I couldn’t find the interview again, but this article articulates the same idea if you want to read about it!

So. I decided I need a break. The only time I logged on to instagram was once in a while from my laptop where I was unable to make my own posts but I could still use the opportunity to see what my friends were up to and comment on their posts.

When I ended my break, I knew I had to change my mindset. So I followed people who were using their platform in intentional ways – whether it be for advocacy or activism, simply spreading positivity, offering support, building community or simple being honest about their posts and their experiences. I unfollowed anyone that I knew I would only compare myself to. I tried to come up with other strategies to combat posting simple for likes or whatever else…I thought maybe I’d try to write poems that represented the pictures I wanted to post or my day, and only posting infrequently – but that just felt like making rules, which was a habit that I felt was still rooted in anxiety.

What did work for me was this:

  • I turned off my push notifications for likes. It allowed me to forget I’d even made a post, and even better, without constant notifications, I was not tracking the number of likes or people’s reactions. I kept comment notifications on so I could still interact with people in a timely manner.
  • I decided to post “intentionally” – and to me this means not posting just for the sake of posting, but thinking about why I’m posting what I am and what my purpose for posting it is. (Am I posting this because I know people will respond to this? I am posting this because I know it will look good with my feed? Am I posting this just because I haven’t posted in a while?)
  • I changed my bio on instagram to say “trying not to take myself so seriously” as a reminder to do exactly that, every time I viewed my own profile or was tempted to scroll through my profile to see how my feed looked
  • As soon as I started to overthink the aesthetics of any post I was about to share, I paused. I reframed my thought process. I reminded myself of this idea of posting with intention. I reminded myself why I took a social media break in the first place. If I couldn’t curb my overthinking, I just didn’t share the post.
  • I decided to only allow viewers’ perception of my posts to influence my choice in sharing content if I knew it would mean something positive for them (ie, being real or relatable. seeing a pretty rainbow hallway and wanting to “share the feeling” of being happy about simple things)
  • I allowed myself to make choices about aesthetics only in that it was a way to have a creative outlet, to practice taking pictures, or simply for the sake of documentation – not because I thought a post had to look a certain way to be appreciated or valuable.

Overall, this has been a refreshing and beneficial process for me. I don’t feel like I need to “compete” on instagram, or to post pictures that make my life look more luxurious than it is. I remembered that social media was created to connect with people, and I kept this in mind. I wanted to build community, have content that lifts people up instead of contributing to self-comparison. I realized how social media can be so powerful in so many different ways, both good and bad, when our lives are saturated in image-heavy culture. We have to be careful and critical about what we take in, what we share to the world and how it shapes our thoughts and behaviours.

Instagram is now a platform in which I feel inspired, empowered and hopeful when I use it and a lot of this has to do with who I follow and the messages they are sharing.

 

that’s all for now!

jc.

12 Things 2017 Taught Me

2017 was a wild year. Although it was tumultuous and often anxiety inducing on a global scale, good things still came of it. 

Personally, as usual, it was a year of many highs and lows, but overall, it was pretty great! There is too much to say about it! I moved in with Sky, got engaged, found two jobs I am super happy about, made some great memories with both friends and family, found “my place” in the university, and I’ve honestly seen a lot of personal growth which has been awesome. I know if I do a reflection-type post, I will end up rambling on for ages, so I figured I’d keep this post short and sweet by posting about something I learned each month of the year.

I also apologize if these are all super cheesy. I’m a pretty cheesy person, ahaha.

[JANUARY]: Being strong does not mean you’re not allowed to feel weak, to feel broken, to feel scared. Being strong is knowing that tomorrow you can try again, start again. Being strong is never giving up on yourself. Being strong is slowly putting one foot in front of the other until you’re able to run again.

[FEBRUARY]: You are more than enough. When the world is threatening to overwhelm you, it is best to take a moment to step back, and look around at all you have, and all the wonderful things you are. You are enough.

[MARCH]: If you believe in yourself and your decisions, so will everyone else. But it does not matter what they think, anyway. If you are confident in yourself and your choices, great things will follow.

[APRIL]: Let yourself be vulnerable. Embrace the chaos of life, and remind yourself that even when everything feels like it’s too much, you will still learn about yourself and about life in the process of dealing with hardship. Just hang on and you’ll keep getting better at this whole thing. You’ll get to where you want to be. Hold those who support you, believe in you and encourage you so very close, especially in these times.

[MAY]:  Losing people from your life never gets easier. Sometimes the hardest changes will leave you with the space to learn from the mistakes of your past and better yourself, and you’ll come back stronger for it.

[JUNE]: The world is a lot brighter when you give people the benefit of the doubt. There is a lot of negativity out there, but people will surprise you in the best ways, if you allow them the chance to.

[JULY]: The most liberating thing you can do for yourself is to learn to live un-apologetically as exactly who you are, despite any preconceived notions of what others might think or expect of you. March to the beat of your own drum, and revel in the power, the pride, and the confidence it brings you.

[AUGUST]: Mindfulness and slow/intentional living are not just buzzwords. They are super useful practices to carve some space for yourself to just be; they allow us a break from being pulled in every direction, a break from always trying to be more. They are helpful and healing and so many other great things. Take a bit to learn about either and see if you can fit it into your life. It’s worth it.

[SEPTEMBER]: It’s cliche to say it, but sometimes things really do need to fall apart to fall back into place. The people who are meant to be in your life, who you want in your life,  and who mutually want you in theirs, will, in the end, always be there for you. Friends are invaluable and so important ♥

[OCTOBER]: Be brave. And never forget to take the time to appreciate and thank the people in your life who help you to do so. Always believe in love and the strength that comes from having a community of people around you that love and believe in you too.

[NOVEMBER]: You never know what someone is going through, so be kind. We are all so very different, but the thing that unites us all is our humanity; the very real experience of living through heartbreak, hardship, through picking yourself up when you hit rock bottom, through celebrating success; the big and the small, and from trying, just trying, always trying to be who we want to be and live the life we want. We’re all searching for something bigger than ourselves, something to smooth out the creases and remedy each battlescar we’ve acquired. Be gentle, be tender, the world is hard enough as it is.

[DECEMBER]: There are many ways to build the life you imagine for yourself. There is no correct or straightforward path to take. Do what feels right for you, and the rest will follow. It won’t always be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

 

As for 2018, I don’t think I am going to set any specific goals other than getting my chapbook and hopefully my disability/fairytale media paper published! I made quite a few goals at the start of the school year in September and throughout 2017, so I think I’m going to keep working on those. Maybe I should write them out though, that’s what the experts say is best 🙂

Wishing you all a happy, safe, and exciting 2018!! thank you for taking the time out of your days to read my posts!

love and best wishes for the new year,

jc. ♥

i’ve written a chapbook!

and I’ll be sending my little poetry baby out into the world within the next few weeks, hoping someone believes in my voice enough to publish it!

or, because I am sending it to contests, more specifically, that they like it enough to consider me as a finalist.

we shall see!!

but i’m super excited. i’ve finally completed a writing project. this collection is only 25 pages long, but it’s finished, and i’m proud of it.

i’ve always loved writing poetry, something about the short and sweetness of it, but yet how effective it can be at conveying something…and how fun and creative it allows one to be! i titled it revival, for now, as my header for this post reads, because in some way that’s what the story within this collection is about. it carries multiple themes throughout, but ultimately is the story of my journey over the past 4-6ish years, with threads of specific experiences/emotions interwoven throughout, such as doubt/uncertainty, relationships, hope, illness and the accompanying fear it brings, self transformation, identity and all the processes that come with that (questioning, wanting to be more, doubting, trying to change, confidence, figuring out who I am and what I stand for and what I want..). there’s a lot of facets to the narrative of it, but I tried very hard to make sure it worked as a collection, to make sure it told a story, and most of all, represented me and my voice in the most genuine way possible. i hope i succeeded.

so, although i’ve been especially focused on improving my poetry in the last few years, with the goal of publishing a chapbook eventually, and then hopefully a longer piece of work, this chapbook came to be in a very specific way. originally I had a different idea, but I was looking at chapbook contest submission guidelines as well as poetry I had written for my creative writing class last year, and a suggestion from one of the publishing presses gave me the inspiration I needed to envision this collection. Their advice was this: A good chapbook asks a question. An even better chapbook answers it. 

and somehow, that brought me to one of my favourite poems I’ve written, which I have shared before on social media, so I’ll share it here, and one of my poems that has been well received by those who have read it:

he painted the whole damn house red

the day you were born.

you wore the face of a newborn child

but he saw it

lurking behind your wide eyes.

wild. untouchable. resilient.

the kind of spirit that would crush rib cages

in the palm of one hand,

one that would climb mountains

just to stand at the top and say I did it

and look down at those who doubted you

you weren’t born for baby pink and pastels

you were born screaming,

angry at the world

for all the broken pieces you’d have to fix

you were born to wear armour and

dress in blood red

you were born a warrior

fighting since you took your first breath.

(I really wish that wasn’t double spaced but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it…sigh..)

I didn’t write this poem with myself in mind. I imagined a character, and I wrote about her. But I found myself thinking this might be a good poem to start my collection with. So I made a new document, pasted it on the first page and asked myself what questions I had about it. I asked myself: Who is this girl? What became of her? Is she still screaming?

I thought that maybe, this poem represents a part of me I’ve been trying to find my way to. So I dug back into the past, into some painful memories, some happy ones, I flipped through old journals, old poetry, trying to create a list of moments that were important in shaping me to who I am now. Honestly, writing some of this chapbook was really difficult. It reflects every high, every low, every struggle and every success, every hardship endured, but in the end, I think it reflects the girl in the first poem. But it wasn’t easy to write about all of those parts. It tells her story. It answers who she is. It answers what became of her. It answers if she is still screaming at the world.

I wrote this chapbook in three days.  Which is very fast, but, I had a goal and a vision and I wanted to have it done within the break. I had a very specific idea of the narrative I wanted to tell. I even outlined it. I wrote the last poem first, so I knew what the conclusion would be, and I built it from there. I brought in a few of my best and favourite poems I’ve written, and I found them homes in the chapbook. Once I’d had a few poems written, and in an order that made sense, and I really knew where I was going with it, I made an outline. I wrote down the theme each poem dealt with, and I decided what themes or moments I still needed to tell about to complete the story. I picked out a theme/emotion for each poem still needed, and I wrote each accompanying poem. I ordered them chronologically, but in some ways, strategically so they complemented each other best. I didn’t just throw my favourite poems together. I wanted this to be a story, I wanted it to represent my journey. I wanted it to be me.

And a narrative really did unfold. It tells my story. And honestly, I’m so very proud of this collection. It’s the story I’ve been wanting to write for years, and I finally have. I have let a few people read it and got great feedback. Their kind words mean so much.

So now, all that’s left is to polish it up, and I have a list of about ten different contests/publishing presses I’m going to submit it to, which I will do over the break….

Wish me luck!

Hoping you all will be able to read it soon.

happy holidays friends!

jc.

 

I survived first term!

and now that my final projects are handed in (a day early even!) I’m back to blogging since school has taken priority for the last few weeks!

after writing for the last few weeks non-stop I don’t know why I’m choosing my first day off to do this post, but here I am!!!

anyway- this is just a really casual update post as i get back into the swing of blogging and posting about ~important~ things.

so. life!

i’ve been busy tutoring (I tutor at the writing centre at uni and LOVE it), writing papers, overthinking (as per usual), having minor crises about irrelevant things, enjoying the cozy winter vibes, wearing flannel every day and lovin it, enjoying being engaged while also obsessing over wedding planning but trying not to because it’s so far away still!!!!! and also been spending a lot of time thinking about the holidays and getting super excited to go to little bvain and see my fam and friends ♥♥♥ like, super excited. i miss every one so very much!!! and it’ll be the first Christmas where Sky gets to spend it with both sides of the fam so I’m excited for everyone to meet her because in case you didn’t know, she’s pretty awesome.

 

i’m really in the swing of like, researching and writing right now, despite just handing in my final assignments, but luckily, i get to continue to do so over the break! i had a meeting with my research advisor and we decided on a direction for my research assistant project. I am going to be studying The Little Mermaid as a disability narrative (in terms of losing her voice and having a “nonstandard body”), so I get to spend my free time reading feminist scholarly work about Ariel’s loss of voice in the story, and other aspects (the story is often related to transgender and queer studies for the same reason..her transformation from mermaid to human)…and also watching all three of the Little Mermaid movies (which, what? there’s three??). For research. I’m just like, what is my life? I am getting paid to do this? What?! I love my job. I love my major!!                        I mean, like, I reworked a bridal magazine to be representative of diverse people and bodies for my feminisms class as my final project and wrote an essay about Emma Swan (kind of a feminist character study) from the tv show Once Upon A Time for my gender & fairy tale film class and I’m just like…this is way too much fun to be school? idk man. academia is pretty cool in some ways and i’m in it for the long haul (despite having a two day crisis over my career path and thinking i should be pursuing journalism. turns out all the reasons i saw for going into journalism can be applied to academia, so thank you, Sky, my love, for that insight and reassurance) and yeah! i’m just super happy with where I’m at right now and where I’m headed.

also not really sure what to do with free time?? i need to go to the doctor and get some cactus spines removed from my finger (pro tip: don’t grab a cactus with ur bare hands. just let the plant fall and the planter break. it’ll be ok) and i would love to venture around the city and take some wintery pics! i haven’t done a lot of photography lately and i’m itching to get back into it. so if ur in the city and want to adventure with me and get some pics taken, let me know!!!

also also!!! The CRA Disability Tax Credit thing was all solved re them denying t1 diabetics the credit so thanks to the national diabetes community for rallying for that and making change!!

also also also!! i made the Dean’s honour list as a student of distinction for the 2016-2017 school year so that’s pretty cool!!

so yeah. things are alright.

hope you all are enjoying the wintery season and have a lovely holiday. i’m sure i will be posting again before the new year!!!

peace out!!

jc. ♥♥

 

 

we do not always look like the heroes you want us to be

I know I said I’d write a post on epilepsy awareness. But this has been pressing on me, so it is taking precedence. Firstly – after having tried to edit this for coherence, I am going to state this: This may read more like a diary entry, of scattered, unorganized thought. But. There have been a lot of things on my mind that I feel need to be expressed, and publicly. So, prepare yourself for some honesty and some disorganization in my writing!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about disability, from a social perspective, for research purposes. But some of the points are hitting home, and hard.

A concept raised is the “supercrip” or the concept of a person with a disability or other related illness having to have some extraordinary ability to compensate for their disability. It is expressed by Ann Schmiesing, as read in Disability, Deformity, and Disease in the Grimm’s Fairy Tales:

The supercrip…represents overachieving, over-determined, self-enfreakment that distracts from the lived daily reality of most disabled people.

My first reaction was, in capital letters in my notes: “WE DO NOT ALWAYS LOOK LIKE THE HEROES YOU WANT US TO BE.”

I am no different than any one else. I get through each day with one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. I didn’t choose my reality. It doesn’t look like “overcoming” my illnesses to get my happy ending. It looks like living, despite the frustrations, the limitations, the stigmas and every other high and low that comes with being chronically ill. I do not exist to be strong or inspiring to others. I exist for myself.

But still, I don’t know.  This concept of having some sort of compensatory characteristic to make up for my illnesses makes me uneasy. I guess I feel that it’s imposed on me.  I impose it on myself, perhaps, and others (maybe others in a perceived sense…) come to expect it from me. Specifically, I question its relevance to my high standards for myself. The question is this: Do I set my standards so high because I feel the need to compensate in some way, shape or form, for being chronically ill?

Or does this need, or expectation, for myself to be the very best come from somewhere else?

The answer?

I honestly don’t know. I think it’s a thing that is pushed on a lot of us, from many different sources, both systemically and individually. I don’t want to start talking about capitalism, or the education system, or social media, or whatever… I mean. It’s all there. We all live through the experience of feeling like we aren’t enough – feeling like we have to be everything at once and above all, productive and successful in measurable means, and somehow, we are always failing. Or so we think.

It’s a toxic thing.

But. Let me stop rambling. I am thinking about a lot, and I am trying to lay bits and pieces of it down here. For your understanding, your consideration, and for my own.

I guess – the takeaway point from this, the reason I am posting it publicly, is that I want able-bodied, “healthy”, people to understand this: disabled people, or those who are chronically ill, or otherwise not able-bodied, do not exist for your inspiration. We do not have to “overcome” our health complications to be happy, or to be successful. We do not owe it to society to be successful or productive in a manner that is valuable and measurable within capitalism. We should not have to be “supercrips” to be accepted. We should not have to compensate for the circumstances of our body that are out of our control. We should not have to change ourselves to meet society’s abled-bodied standard to be accepted. Society should change to be accommodating and accessible to people of all abilities. We do not have to throw ourselves into our passions or pursuits to cope with the struggles of our lived reality.

We are enough as we are. And we do not have to be inspirational, or strong, or constantly challenge our boundaries to be acceptable; to be valid in our identity.

We are not always “okay”. We are allowed to not be okay.

I’m tired of the facade.

I am not always strong. Not in the way you think I am.

I am not inspirational.

I am always tired. I am often frustrated.

But I am always enough.

 

 

love & spoons,

jc.