Reason #61 to Keep Living: Surprising Myself


Looking in my bathroom mirror recently, I can’t help but feel surprised by the person I see. The expression on her face is always a bit alarming, balanced somewhere between total exhaustion and relief at being home finally at 8:30 pm. The hair on her head doesn’t have any opinion: it’s pulled straight back into a ponytail, braid, or a variety of other methods that help her pretend it doesn’t exist during the day.

And those eyes… I try to not even think of those eyes, let alone look into them. They’re tired, always. They remind me of how much older I’m starting to look, how much older I’m starting to feel.

Surprisingly, despite the rush of this new life in Japan, despite the stress, the busyness, and the millions of tiny frustrations and disappointments, I am getting along just fine. Continue reading


Reason #60 to Keep Living: Building New Homes


Finding a new home: the bus ride from Nagoya to Tokyo

For a long time I have underestimated the comfort and necessity of a home base. I’ve always idolized the notion of living life with no ties, of jumping from place to place, of being unattached to material possessions. I was discussing identity with my boyfriend recently, talking about how places, things — even people — slide away so easily and abruptly. And here we are, continuing on, somehow still ourselves.

So I don’t need a home base for definition or security. I’ve realized that more and more throughout my travels from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Krabi, Nagoya, and now to Tokyo. What I do need a home base for is comfort at the end of the day. Continue reading

Reason #59 to Keep Living: Sweet Treats


To you they may seem trivial, but to me, “sweet treats”, or baked goods in this case, have been my saviour over the last two weeks. Japan is full of little bakeries strewn in the most unlikely places, and it’s one of my greatest guilty pleasures to shuffle through the sliding doors of one of these shops and take my pick of doughnuts, tarts, and fruit breads (melon and lemon are my favourite).

I know it’s dangerous for someone with a sweet tooth to depend on pastries for comfort, but, seeing as I’m only two weeks into a new and energy-consuming job, I’ll take what I can get.

Eating at these bakeries is like enjoying a slice of home. Besides these little pastry shops, Japan doesn’t pay much attention to bread, so this is indeed a treat.

Here’s to comfort food in unfamiliar settings!  Continue reading

Reason #58 to Keep Living: New Challenges


Here’s me in Thailand. I am sweaty, fatigued, and my thighs are smeared with mud. My boyfriend and I had been exploring for a while on and around Railay Beach (near Krabi) when we decided to take a “trail” which supposedly led to a lagoon. The path, which started steep, soon became a climb. I ditched my flipflops. Before long, my muscles were aching, the trail became a sheer drop-off, and I realized I wouldn’t be making it to the lagoon.

This was one challenge I couldn’t complete, and for good reason. (Who wants to traverse the possibly deadly side of a ravine far from any medical help, anyway?) But this wasn’t the only challenge that my travels have faced me with. Continue reading

Reason #57 to Keep Living: Fresh Starts


The title of this post was going to be something to do with goodbyes — how rotten they feel, how draining they are — because goodbyes have filled my life over the last four days. I’ve always viewed goodbyes as an integral part of living and as something for which to be thankful (goodbyes don’t hurt unless you really love someone, after all), but the amount of farewells I’ve had to say recently has left me more than overwhelmed. Who knew I loved so many people! Who knew it would be so difficult to leave my old life behind… Continue reading

Reason #56 to Keep Living: Getting Back to Normal


Goodbye 2017, and good riddance!

Don’t get me wrong, this year had some pretty nice highlights. I traveled to Hawaii, received my TESL certification, got a job in Japan, and graduated from university. The end of the year, however, was challenging in the extreme. November and December brought the death of my grandmother, an absurd amount of preparations for my travels in the new year, surgery, and a nasty cold that erased any chance of New Years celebrations.

After all of this, in addition to a schedule that gets me up at five in the morning, I am more than ready to get back to normal. Continue reading

Reason #55 to Keep Living: Making Space in a Crowded Mind


Although I’m a detailed person when it comes to my schedule, my teaching, and, most importantly, my writing, I have never liked the act of organizing. Making phone calls, memorizing dates, and attending to trivialities puts my mind in a state of foggy uproar.

Unfortunately, if you are familiar with the Canadian health care system (I live in Ontario, and this is the system I am talking about—it could differ from province to province), you will know how agonizingly slow and complicated getting appointments can be. There is the receptionist for the family doc, the receptionist for the surgeon; there are referrals and booking times and addresses and phone numbers. Oh, so many phone numbers. Don’t talk to me anymore about phone numbers… Continue reading

Reason #54 to Keep Living: Grief


Grief is pain. And it is a reason to keep living.

I know, it seems paradoxical at first. But bear with me. Grief is pain. In fact, grief feels a lot like mental illness, but grief has a source for the emotional pain where mental illness has none. In this way, grief is a little bit of a relief. It’s purposeful. I can see the point behind it. I can feel something intrinsically human in my own pain and the pain of my family.

Also, grief is fantastic in the way that it brings people together. My grandma died this past week, and I have seen more of my extended family in the last five days than I have perhaps in my entire life. Continue reading

Reason #53 to Keep Living: Progress


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

Reason #52 to Keep Living: Routine


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