Reason #53 to Keep Living: Progress

4B6ACA41-FD94-4BE1-8140-B4A367331A6A

Photo taken by WordsFest London staff

This is, and always will be, one of my biggest reasons to keep living.

On Sunday morning, I had the privilege of reading and speaking with four other writers at WordsFest in London, Ontario. This is the kind of event I couldn’t have been part of three or four years ago — partly because of health reasons, and partly because my writing was no where near good enough to be read in front of a room full of people. My writing still needs A LOT of work, but opportunities like this remind me that I am progressing, and that my constant work and practice is getting me somewhere.

As a writer, signs of progress are sometimes few and far between. I will take what I can get, and this one was more than enough. Continue reading

Advertisements

Reason #52 to Keep Living: Routine

2E05E01B-EFB5-4E59-9838-C9B69A07E514

Because I’m a person who believes creativity and spontaneous adventure to be life-giving, it was very eye-opening for me to discover productivity and a certain solace in the schedule I set out for myself during the past few weeks. I had been living half-healthy for a long time, drifting always between exhausting illness and the ability to function.  A routine was nearly out of the question, especially one that took me away from the house for long periods of time.

Then I discovered that I was suffering from low iron and a variety of other minor, but (thankfully!) definable and treatable, maladies. With treatment and time, I was able to follow a routine again, and I realized for maybe the first time in my life the value of repetitive action, of predictability, and of time away from the house. Continue reading

“Such is the World, such Man, such Love. What are we (I ask) but puppets in a show-box? Oh, omnipotent Destiny, pull our strings gently! Dance us mercifully off our miserable little stage!”

— Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White

Reason #51 to Keep Living: Birthdays

305CD399-D5E1-4D60-B370-AE4A41289410

I’m sorry this post is a day late: yesterday was my 23rd birthday, and the day was a little too jam-packed to construct a proper blog post. Here is a photo of me about to blow out the candles on my cake. I love cake, so I was pretty happy.

I was also surrounded by family. These are the people who helped me get to my 23rd birthday in the first place. Because for a while I didn’t believe I would make it to my 20th, 21st, or 22nd. Now here I am at my 23rd. I couldn’t feel more accomplished or more surprised at my own perseverance.  Continue reading

Reason #50 to Keep Living: Gratitude

blog collage copy

I am — we are — halfway to 101 reasons to keep living. Above you’ll see a (rather simplistic) collage I made, including some of the photos posted throughout this blog series.

Beginning with my first post, “Color,” I intended this series to be specifically about mental illness. 101 Reasons to Keep Living certainly has been about mental illness, but it has been more about mental health in all of its facets and about life in general. Because, unlike other illnesses, mental illness is intricately connected to every part of our lives. It may be genetically transferred, it may be rooted in human physiology, but it is undoubtedly shaped by our environments.

Despite experiencing my regular ups and downs over the last two years, I have found joy, inspiration, and beauty in my everyday activities precisely because of these blog posts. My “environment” has never seemed so spectacular.

So, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for clicking, reading, and showing me that you care. Thank you for discovering your own reasons to keep living.

Thank you for surviving, really. That’s all I’m trying to say. All of these posts, all of these pictures, are only to thank you for surviving. That’s the gist of it. Thank you for living and for writing about it. Thank you for following me in my own survival.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now, only fifty-one more reasons to go! Continue reading

Reason #49 to Keep Living: Rejuvenation

DSC02209

It has been a very, very long time since I have felt rested in any sense of the word. Perhaps as a consequence, all the writing I have done in the past five months or so has been forced (at worst) and usually uninspired.

I wrote the final exam of my undergraduate degree just under a month ago, and it has taken that long to rediscover my “normal” self (if there is such a thing as my normal self). Some time away from the city — see the picture above — and some time spent with my rather carefree brother helped to fight my fatigue. During the last couple of days I have experienced actual excitement and a sense of purpose with regards to my creative writing. How extraordinary! I had nearly forgotten what a difference inspiration can make. Continue reading

A Fine Farewell

UWO’s student journal, Occasus, has published one story, two poems, and one experimental piece of mine in the 2017 issue (launched today). This journal has been very, very good to me throughout my time at university. Now that I have completed my degree, this is the last publication I will have in the journal.

To bid me an especially fine farewell, Occasus granted my story, “Alyson and the Haunting of the Home Decorating Store,” first prize in its contest. This is a story inspired both by my time working at Pier 1 Imports and by an old coworker of mine. It is also a story I thought would forever go misunderstood. It deals with very subtle Marxist themes, but more significantly with the dangerous undercurrents lurking within retail. In addition, it’s slightly comedic — and, considering comedy is something I always struggle with, this story provides a nice alternative to my usual writing.

Farewell, Occasus! It’s been swell.

http://www.occasusliteraryjournal.com/issue-7.html

Reason #48 to Keep Living: Staying Offline

IMG_0229

Disclaimer: I did not take this photo; my brother did while climbing a tree in order to get a closer look at this long-nailed, big-lipped buddy. I was down below, on the ground, watching the magic unfold. In another, blurrier photo, the porcupine shows his orange teeth in what looks like a smile, but is probably closer to a territorial snarl.

This all happened in a forest far away from the internet. I spent a week at a camp, not going online once, and found it heavenly. I have always been a proponent of “less screen time,” but I often fail to achieve my own ideals, what with this blog and various social media outlets pulling constantly at my attention. I didn’t realize until I spent this week away from computers how much these distractions were affecting me. Recently, my creative writing has been scarce — partly because my focus was previously on academic writing for summer school, but also partly because my mind was much too scattered to produce a coherent narrative.  Continue reading