Wake Up Kids, We’ve Got the Dreamers Disease

"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool" -- Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs

So this is what we’re told: Dream BIG. Scratch that–dream bigger! Think BIG. Think bigger! Take it to the next level. Give it 110 %. Embrace the chaos. Be BIG. Be BOLD. Be LOUD. Make noise. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Be inexhaustible. Go big or go home. Be ON at all times. See every interaction as a chance to network. Get ahead. Move up the ladder. Maximize your potential. Imagine you’re a product and sell yourself. Shine the brightest.

It’s not all bad. I mean, we got little gold stars on our assignments in grade school; the purple dinosaur told us we were special; no two snowflakes and all that stuff. It’s all good, it’s all true, and we should love ourselves, and if we don’t have dreams we don’t have much … but …

Is it okay that the first paragraph of this blog post made me want to take a nap? Is it okay if I admit to you, dear readers, that I do have beautiful dreams for my life but not all of them are grandiose? Is it okay that I find it so unappealing to think of myself as a product, that I really can’t be on at all times, that I don’t necessarily want to waste my time and sell my soul just to gain someone’s approval?

Virginia Woolf said: “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

I find a strange comfort in that, and encouragement to be myself, who is not someone desperate to be the biggest, boldest, and loudest. Aren’t there enough of those people anyway without me halfheartedly blowing my own horn?

I find comfort, also, in the fact that the upside of introversion has been making news lately–quietly, of course. There’s been much buzz about Susan Cain’s new book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. 

Here’s her TED talk. It’s 19 minutes long, but worth watching:

This is wonderful.

It’s about time we learned to value the unsung attributes of modesty, introspection, reflection, and premeditation in a culture that has far too long rewarded loudness and aggression.

I wish you the best of all possible journeys, and the courage to speak softly. 

I may not be the brightest star, but I’m still shining.

Distractions Thursday

So basically right now I’m just procrastinating from writing this article … which will be my last article for my internship!  Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to write.

During my Web-browsing, I came across some humourous things which will provide you with some distraction.  Enjoy!

First of all, this list of stereotyping people by their favourite author.  What does your favourite author say about you?  According to this list, I’m a girl who made out with other girls in college when I was going through a “phase” (Jane Austen), and a female high-school French teacher with a master’s degree (Virginia Woolf).  I wonder what loving the Brontë sisters says about me (they’re not on the list)?  That I’m an obsessive romantic with a dark side (quite accurate)?  

Take a look at the list.  Is your favourite author(s) on there?  What does that say about you?  Are you a youth group leader who picked your nose in fourth grade (C.S. Lewis)?  Or a woman whose favourite colour is hunter green (Margaret Atwood)?  

From the same blogger is this website of pure comedic gold: http://www.momsmsgs.com.  

From the website’s About section:

We decided to start this site when we realized that because of technology and social networks, parents can be annoying more often and in a more public way. The texts messages are embarrassing enough – you only have to provide us with your first name and your relation to the offender.

And remember Mom and Dad, we only poke fun because we love you.

Anyone who has received a ridiculously misspelled text message, e-mail, or awkward facebook status comment from their parents will truly appreciate the humour of this website which had me laughing hysterically at work (co-workers think I’m nuts)! 

Here are some of my favourites:

Becky: OMG Gossip Girl was so good!

Becky’s Mom: What does OMG mean? It sounds like you’re choking.  (Facebook status comment)

Janna’s Mom: Why can’t we all get along?

Janna: What happened now

Janna’s Mom: Aunt Nancy said that she wasn’t coming to Christmas because Dad told you guys about how she went to Twilight by herself (text messages)

James: We won the ultimate frisbee tourney!

James’ Mom: You’re my favorite little mathlete. I remember you when! (Facebook status comment)

Ryan’s Mom: Is that bar really a cougar place? I’m scared they’ll take my hubby away!

Ryan: Dad’s 61. You have nothing to worry about.  (text messages) 

Remind me to start saving my mom’s text messages, okay?

Wonderful Quote Wednesday #2

 

The Holiday -- one of my favourite Christmas movies

 

We are each the love of someone’s life — Andrew Sean Greer, from “The Confessions of Max Tivoli”

 

Virginia Woolf

 

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself — Virginia Woolf (via Shawna) 

 

BAAAAAAAAA!

 

The heart set to do the Father’s will need never fear defeat. His promises of guidance may be fully counted upon. Does it make sense to believe that the Shepherd would care less about getting His sheep where He wants to go than they are about getting there? — Elisabeth Elliot (via Diane

 

This picture has nothing to do with the following quote; I'm just in love with it!

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for — Epicurus 

“I’m the walkingest girl around”

I’m a walker.
Always have been, always will be.

When I was wee, I would struggle to catch up to my older sister and brother when we would walk to Becker’s convenience store with candy money, and collect “treasures” in a paper bag on the Bruce Trail every Sunday on our family hikes. My childhood best friend and neighbour and I would walk around the neighbourhood block every night at least two or three times.  As we became teenagers, we wandered away from the neighbourhood and took the entire town into our nightly rambles. From the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario, we went wherever our feet took us, talking and dreaming and laughing in the way that only the best of friends can.  Is it any surprise that she’s now an artist and I’m a writer?

Walks are where inspiration flows.

I still walk everywhere because I don’t have a car, it’s more environmentally-friendly and for the sheer enjoyment of it. I sometimes entertain the sneaking suspicion that people in town think I’m “special needs” because no one between the ages of 16-50 actually walks anywhere. At the same time, I don’t care. When I’m feeling stressed out and need a breather, I walk. When I need inspiration, the creativity is overflowing by the time I reach my house at the end of the rendez vous. With my iPod in hand piping only the best musical accompaniment into my ears, I walk my way into shape, into health, into sanity, and into renewed creativity.  I discover things.  I have revelations.  I commune with nature.  I communicate with God.  I stumble into loveliness …

I would have made a fabulous writerly woman in the 19th-20th century, rambling around fashionable London at twilight in a long trench and gloves, a skinny clove cigarette dangling from my lips (smoking is only cool in the fantasies where you travel back in time, back when it was harmless to smoke).  In Virginia Woolf’s gorgeous essay, “Street Haunting: A London Adventure,” I found a kindred spirit in the love of therapeutic walking.  She writes: 

The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow.  We are no longer quite ourselves.  As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become a part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers …

There’s no shortage of thoughtful and inspirational quotes pertaining to walking, hiking, and being in nature.  I’ve included some that particularly speak to me and express the goodness of walking more eloquently than I ever could, followed by my favourite wandering music.  Enjoy!

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow — Henry David Thoreau

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk — Raymond Inmon

My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing — Aldous Huxley (me too!)

After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value — George Macauley Trevelyan

I dream of hiking into my old age — Marlyn Doan

Thoughts come clearly while one walks — Thomas Mann

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks — John Muir

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.  Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it — Soren Kierkegaard

Walks. The body advances, while the mind flutters around it like a bird — Jules Renard (I couldn’t have put it better myself!)

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see — John Burroughs (a resounding Amen!)

How can you explain that you need to know that the trees are still there, and the hills and the sky?  Anyone knows they are.  How can you say it is time your pulse responded to another rhythm, the rhythm of the day and the season instead of the hour and the minute?  No, you cannot explain.  So you walk — Author unknown, from New York Times editorial, “The Walk,” 25 October 1967

I’m the walkingest girl around. I like to work at it — really get my heart pounding — Amy Yasbeck (that’s me to a T!)

We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down — Robert Sweetgall

Walking is good for solving problems — it’s like the feet are little psychiatrists — Pepper Giardino

There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo.  Even a bicycle goes too fast — Paul Scott Mowrer, The House of Europe

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes, my rage, forgetting everything — Pablo Neruda, translated (one of my favourite poets)

The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand — Frederick L. Knowles

join me for a stroll?

join me for a stroll?

And now, music to walk and get lost to, which is different from music to drive to because it has less a driving quality and more of a … wandering aimlessly quality:

  • “Letting the Cables Sleep”–Bush
  • “Beneficial Herbs”–Kasabian
  • Plants and Animals, all of it
  • Patrick Watson, all of it
  • “Coconut Skins”–Damien Rice
  • “Days I Had”–Kings of Convenience
  • “I am Human”–The Smiths
  • “To Be Alone with You”–Sufjan Stevens
  • “Her Morning Elegance”–Oren Lavie
  • “Last Goodbye”–Jeff Buckley
  • “Autumn Sweater”–Yo La Tengo
  • “Black Rain, Black Rain”–AA Bondy
  • “For Emma, Forever Ago”–Bon Iver
  • “Maps”–Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • “Orange Sky”–Alexi Murdoch
  • “One Big Holiday”–My Morning Jacket
  • Beirut, all of it
  • “You and I are a Gang of Losers”–The Dears
  • “Christobel”–Joan as Police Woman
  • “Hold Me”–Fleetwood Mac

Class Notes: March 31, 2009

photo courtesy of: www.weheartit.com

photo courtesy of: http://www.weheartit.com

In my Virginia Woolf class today, my professor asked us to share our thoughts about graduating with English degrees and how the program could improve, and I basically used the question as a platform to be brutally honest–how a lot of us who aren’t going into teaching feel lost and aren’t sure what to do with our degrees.  For the first time this year, a professor gave me some encouragement and things to think about.

Here are some of his comments that I wrote down around a doodle of a clopping and rosy-cheeked giraffe, and my attempt to draw Mrs. Dalloway and an abstract painting:

  • People with Humanities degrees outperform people with Business degrees (OH SNAP!)
  • The salvation of women is friendship with other women (which is pretty much the thesis for my final paper!)
  • Life is long
  • It all doesn’t have to happen in the next 2 years . . .
  • Professors are people who didn’t have the guts to quit school

All so comforting.  For the very first time, a professor wasn’t bemoaning the current economy and “how hard it will be to find a job these days with just a BA.”  Just some good, solid advice.  I’ll cheers to that.

He also gave us the assignment for Thursday to imagine we met Virginia Woolf at Starbucks, where she would be smoking a hand-rolled cigarette and staring down her nose at us.  If we could ask her 3 things, what would we ask?  If we could tell her just one thing, what would we tell her?

Here’s what I would ask her:

  1. Have you read or watched The Hours?  (Assuming she’s been ambling around the modern day for awhile)  What did you think of it and Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of you?
  2. You clearly take the craft of writing very seriously, as is evident in the painstaking details in your writer’s diaries.  So, how do you feel when people call you a “stream-of-conscious” writer?  Do you feel it reduces and disqualifies your very calculated and well-thought out writing style?
  3. People say you were a lesbian, or a bisexual who engaged in lesbian affairs.  What do you think of these labels and our culture’s obsession with your sexuality?

And this is what I would tell her.  If I could stay composed and not bawl my eyes out in front of her, that would be perfect:

Dearest Virginia:

Thank you for everything.  But mostly, thanks for Mrs. Dalloway.  I know it’s a cliche and everything, but you changed my life.  Your writing has inspired me and I have deeply fallen in love with it . . . and you.  The things you were unashamed to write about have encouraged me and given me strength in my own secrets and inner struggles.  You have tremendous courage, and I love you for it. 

Love,

me.

Life Wisdom from Virginia

Thanks, Virginia.  I’ll write this on a sticky-note and stick it to my heart:

“By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.

I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else.  Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted.

Think of things in themselves.”

from “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf