Silence and Noise

Listen. Can you hear it? Can you hear the sound of fluorescent lights, buzzing with empty anticipation, the whisper of the air conditioning through the industrial carpet fibres? Listen. That’s the sound of my office right now.

I’ve been extremely lucky in that for this summer work season, I had a job lined up in March. I get to do research, copy-edit, translate, and help to prepare manuscripts, which are all extremely valuable skills to learn and that I might not otherwise have developed. I really enjoy my job- I’m given far more responsability than in any job I’ve had in the past, and some days I’m even able to work from home, thus affording me the opportunity to bake pie during coffee breaks (but that’s a different story, for a different day…).

The one aspect of my job is that it tends to be rather solitary. I sometimes don’t see or talk to anyone during my work day, which can be a little lonely. I love my supervisors, but often don’t get the opportunity to converse with them throughout the day, and I essentially have no coworkers. I do see lots of people when I go eat my lunch in the lovely summer sunshine, but I’m usually sitting alone.

My friends tell me I should go up to random people and ask to sit with them. For some reason when they were saying this as if it were easy, it made me quite angry. Sit with people I don’t know?! I thought. What are you, crazy?! I wondered. Then I thought to myself- what is it that is so cripplingly worrisome about chatting with strangers? I’m not sure I’m quite able to put my finger on it, but I do believe I hear the ripples of my extreme social anxiety alongside the buzzing fluorescents.

The truth is, I hate small talk. I’m most comfortable sitting silently alone, taking it all in and watching the people around me (in a non-stalkerish way, I promise). It’s the approach that irks me- what if someone is having a bad day, or a private conversation? I don’t think I’d mind if someone asked to come sit with me, but I hesitate to intrude on a potential ritual or routine, a conversation or an argument.

The funny thing about me is that I sometimes like to be alone. (GASP.) I feel like society frowns upon aloneness as if it is something to be feared, much like it frowns upon refined carbs and high-fructose corn syrup (but don’t get me up on my soap-box about moderation and joie-de-vivre…). And while I feel that I could probably afford to let go a little and embrace the noise, maybe I should also make peace with the fact that I am ok with being with myself while I munch on my mid-day meal (complete with a slice of pie, thank you very much…). What I know for sure is that I’ll just take it day by day. Maybe one lovely lunchtime I’ll feel like approaching a random stranger. Or maybe I’ll continue on in my quiet way. Either way, I know that I shouldn’t judge myself for my choice.

Are you a silence lover, or do you thrive on noise?

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Where are you springtime?

I realize that harping on the weather for being mediocre is both played out and whiny, but I can’t help being disappointed by the lack of sunshiney days thus far this spring. I love a good thunderstorm as much as (probably more than) the next person, but sunshine feeds my emotions, glowing down on me and nourishing my body, mind and spirit. Alas, this spring has been nearly devoid of the good stuff- those luxurious afternoons that allow me to lounge outside in a Muskoka chair and bask in the sunshine.

Though the sun did oblige on my birthday...

Consequently, I’ve been nourishing myself in other ways. Which, coming from where I do, is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. I’ve been fortunate enough to land a plum job that allows me to choose both my hours and my working location, and I’ve been reveling in the spontaneity that this affords my summer life. Yes, I just said “reveling” and “spontaneity” in the same sentence… stunning, I know. For someone who used to “enjoy” having every second of my day planned out, not doing so is a revelation. There was a time when the freedom would have led me to a very unhealthy place, but I’m happy to report that thoughts of engaging in eating disordered behaviour have been far from my mind this springy season, despite the doom and gloom.

Birthday cake numero dos. Chicka chicka yeaaaa!

Spring, for me, really marks my freedom from the hell that was my eating disorder, whether it presents itself in sunshiney skies or rain clouds. Spring was the season of my decline into turmoil, and spring is the season of my real break from the ED demons, after months of treatment. Spring is my birthday season, so it only seems fitting that it should also represent, to me, another kind of “rebirth”, as corny as that may sound.

Lonely dandelion blossoming outside my office.

Rain or shine, my self-nourishment and growth continues, this spring. And for that I am nothing but grateful.

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Long Time No See

Oh goodness, it has been a while since I’ve written up a little blog post! It happens. Today I think I’ll share some random nuggets of brilliance I’ve stumbled upon over the past few weeks.

Grande Pike Place, Please...

Work is best when accompanied by a delicious cup of coffee and a hefty dose of sunshine.

Sidewalk speaks true

I’ve been inspired by graffiti these days… though I don’t know that I approve of defacing public property, at least it can be sweet sometimes.

Thanks, bathroom stall

I’ve also had a lot of time to reflect and rejoice in the spring, despite the not so brilliant weather… time to walk in the woods, and do anything but stare at a computer screen.

Woodsy.

I also turned 22 on May 11th, and felt thankful for the fact that I could let my mom bake me a (5 layer!!) cake and spend time having tea and talk with my closest friends.

Birthday lunch spread

I’ve been loving baking, still, and crafting creations of all kinds in the kitchen and on the page, though the writing in this post is at a minimum. While my prose hasn’t been prolific, there has been copious amounts of bread.

Pain Français- le yum!

Basically, the point that I’m trying to get across in this somewhat jumbled mess of words and photos is that while I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been living… not that I can’t do both, and I fully intend to try. Possibly in posts that make more sense and, you know, have a point.

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For the love of it.

What makes someone a dancer? Is it the ability to execute a perfect fouetté en pointe, or is it a love of movement, a sense of joy at the feeling of sweet movement running through one’s body? Where does technique give way to love of dance? Or does it?

I’ve been “a dancer” since the tender age of 4, if you define dancer by the terms of sheer fascination with the danced step. However, for my whole dance life I’ve struggled with stubborn turnout muscles (or lack thereof) and flat feet. This used to make me feel really bad about my abilities- I’d come home from the studio, having worked my little butt off to recieve no praise and only admonitions from my teachers designed to push me to change things over which I had no control. I was a little bit of an emotional wreck to begin with, having an innate sense of perfectionism and anxiety coupled with random spurts of rage, and the criticisms I heard at the studio only provoked the emotional monster that resided in my gut.

Nevertheless, I danced my way through my childhood and teenagerdom. Dance was a love-hate relationship for me, something I wanted so badly to excel at and something that I could never completely conquer. My traitorous knees gave out at 14, sending me through repeated bouts of physiotherapy. As I grew out of the patella femoral syndrome that plagued me, I gained hip problems and was back in physio yet again. I never gave up on dance, despite my body’s urging and my mind’s grapples with poor body image ever exacerbated by staring into full length mirrors for many hours each week. Still, even though my body often disliked me, there was something intoxicating about dancing. Even though I didn’t always like what I saw in the 360 degree mirrors, I really did love the way a port de bras could transform a bad day into a good one. My relationship with dance was too intense to just ignore, to put on the backburner.

When I graduated high school and moved on into the great beyond, I did let dance slide. I turned instead to a relationship that was truly hate-hate: one with running. Even harder on my body, I was soon pounding the pavement instead of hitting the barre, my self-hatred ever deepening as I spiralled into a full blown eating disorder. It was a relationship with physical activity in which the primary players were the same but the context so much more intense and the joy never present.

In recovery, I reexamined my entire life from the ground up, and was forced to look into what role, if any, my dance history had played in the development of my eating disorder. I searched my soul to discover that while some of my deep-seated issues may have incubated at the barre, there is a part of me that needs the creative outlet that dance provides to truly shine.

Part of my recovery involved 8 months with zero exercise. Zip. I had to write down any scrap of activity, from shopping to standing. It was hell, but it worked. Once I was safely able to reincorporate a little activity into my life, I had to think about how it fit with my plans for the future and my mental and physical health. The first thing that came to mind to stay healthy in mind and body was dance. Of course, I had to carefully think through whether I’d be able to look in the full length mirrors and see the girl I’d finally come to accept, or if previous self-doubt would come creeping back in. I settled on one class a week, which fit with my recovery in many ways. Firstly, activity with other people was something I refused to even consider in the depths of my disorder. Secondly, a scheduled class was better for me than having free reign to (go above and beyond) the amount of activity I wished in my healthy head to re-incorporate. Lastly, I missed the freedom in a good adage or port de bras. I missed letting go.

Though my return to dance hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, I’ve stuck to the promises I’ve made to myself with respect to the art form. I won’t berate myself for my body’s natural limitations. I feel ok about missing a class if I’m not feeling up to it (physically or mentally). I listen equally to compliments and critiques, giving the former equal room to absorb into my consciousness.

I am a dancer, even though I only dance once a week. I am a dancer because I will always be a dancer- no matter whether I’m admiring a performance or pointing my own toes. I am a dancer, not because of what my body looks like or even what it can do- I am a dancer because I love dance.

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When in doubt…

Do something crazy in the kitchen.

Like making bagels.

The Sponge.

Kneading is my form of "armwork"

On the assembly line

Bubbling away in Le Creuset

500 degrees later...

Trust me, its worth 8 hours.

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Taking the Time

There was a time when I would have berated myself for eschewing studying anytime, ever. That time is clearly not now, and I’m very happy with that. I study, don’t get me wrong. I do papers days ahead of time, making me (probably) a huge nerd. But the thing is… I always did things ahead of time. The difference is that I used to fret and fret even though I had planned ahead and budgeted my time so that in reality I never needed to cram at the last minute or pull an all nighter. I created the time and space to relax and enjoy the beauty that is being a student (because really, it’s a sweet life.) but I never, ever, took the time. Taking the time, it turns out, is the difference between thinking about living life and actually living life. Who knew.

So I take the time.

To bake bread…

Holla, Challah.

To bask in the sunshine of the morning…

Morning noms with a side of sunshine

To play with sweet puppies big…

Namasdog

And small…

Teddy bear dog

To paint my nails…

Bordering on obsession.

And to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors…

Even though there's snow, still beautiful.

Time. Time to let my freak flag fly, to be myself. Time to be happy.

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Sometimes…

Sometimes, a girl just has to bake croissants.

Fun fact number one: I didn’t realize how much work went into making the crescent-shaped beauties until yesterday. Consider me impressed.

Fun fact number two: “springing ahead” for daylight savings is made so much easier with the help of buttery, flaky pastry.

Sometimes, you just have to tell it as it is and call it a day.

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