A Lovely Little World

Adventures in Southern Ontario

Category: overcoming depression

Highlights of 2016: Photo heavy as always

In 2016,

I was free from depression.

I loved music festivals, art crawls, hikes, bonfires, urban exploration, and spending time with “my tribe” (as much as I hate the terminology).

One of my best friends got married. Another walked her first runway (the one in the hat). Her husband started an amazing band (also the one in the hat). I did fun photo sessions with great people.

I visited the ROM Chihuly exhibit, Ripley’s Aquarium, the AGO and the AGH (multiple times).

I planned a photo walk with 500px. It got rained out, but it didn’t matter. I had my first solo Art exhibit.

I stayed at a cabin in Haliburton.

I started a new job in a city I love. I explored and walked that city, a lot.

I bought a new car! I helped amazing people do heartwarming things.

I saw how beautiful the world is at sunrise. I tackled things that scared me and found direction I didn’t have before.

I remembered how much I love music and started learning to play guitar.

2016 was an amazing year for me. The first year I thought I might be close to happy. Maybe you haven’t had your year yet. Maybe peace feels impossible. I know this is cliched, but please hang on.

All it takes is a little bit of light into the darkness – a second to weaken its pull and then you will slowly begin to push it back. You will find the path, the fog will break, the darkness will lift. Please don’t give up hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas time in the city

Tomorrow is the big day, Christmas Day! In fact, I suspect most people won’t be reading a blog post on Christmas Eve, but that’s okay. I’m writing it out for me anyway – sharing my thoughts this season, and a few of my favourite captures of the people and places I love, (starting with a few snaps from a family session with one of the best girls in the ENTIRE world).

Truthfully, this Christmas has been tough for me. It’s my favourite time of year normally, but some reason, this year single-dom hit me harder than other years.  Everyone around me is settling into relationships, and I’m just not. Not even close. All of that being said, things haven’t been all bad. I’ve realized how grateful I am for the friendships, family and support that I do have, and it dawned on me that if I had to trade all of that for a romantic relationship, I wouldn’t do it. I love my people far too much for that.  I stopped volunteering at the soup kitchen when I started my new job, and I still received presents from people there, which is almost too sweet for my heart to handle, seriously. I get to take photos (and hang out) with friends all the time. My co-workers are amazing, and the kind of people you know will be your friends for life. And I really love my Church.

I didn’t have a lot of time for Christmas adventures this year, but I still got in most of my Christmas movie favourites, and my friends who just got married, still had our annual Christmas movie night, only this year, they made a whole Christmas dinner, which was amazing. It was just on a work night this year, because all of our schedules have gotten so crazy.

The last few years, I’ve done all my shopping online and even though this year, I still did most of it that way, I went with Sarah, Joe and Katrina to pick up a few small things, and that felt really festive…. particularly because they dressed like deranged elves, just kidding guys.

And finally, the city is just so pretty at Christmas. Everything is festive. I didn’t even photograph most of it. Delivery truck drivers wear Santa hats, and formal offices look more playful with fairy lights. My favourite though, is balconies on apartment rises, decorated with colourful lights that you can see from faraway.

And I did make it to a Santa Clause parade, and any Dunnville parade is a treat for very unexpected reasons, (think Star Hollows or Pawnee) but that’s a post for another day.

Christmas reminds you that miracles happen all the time, and that’s something for which to be grateful.

Mittens in Trees

They hung mittens in trees at 7:30am on a Saturday morning.

It only takes a little bit of light to chase back the darkness… it’s common knowledge and repeated all the time. Sometimes we forget to focus on that bit light, and then all the dark feels like it’s overwhelming. The thing is though, you need to find a way to only keep your attention on the light. If you can somehow find light in other people, the darkness doesn’t seem so big and impossible anymore. More than that, suddenly there are just more people in your life putting out light. They gravitate towards other “light” people maybe. And maybe you can’t fight the darkness on your own, but when you’re surrounded by people who pour light into your life, it’s much harder to get swallowed whole.

If today, you can’t find any light, I’ll remind you of this example. Dunnville is a really small town, and although the poverty is apparent, the homelessness isn’t always. A lot of people are barely getting by, and even those who are, maybe just needed a little something to warm their hearts. A good friend of mine, Sharon, and her daughter Anita, decorated Dunnville with mittens and hats and scarves last weekend, just for anyone to take. They had acquired over 200 pairs of mittens.

They started out knitting them themselves, along with Sharon’s sister in Holland, but when people heard about what they were going to do, they gave. They donated money and mittens because they wanted to contribute.
070102 03 04 0506 08 sweetest-ladiesThey asked me to tag along with them, and they were doing it before people started coming into town, so early morning. I really love my sleep, but I decided to go anyway. We had the whole town decorated with woollen goods within half an hour, then they treated me to coffee and muffins.

People who found the gloves later in the day, during the Santa Clause parade, were genuinely moved by such a simple gesture, (plus I’m pretty sure people with cold hands were also very grateful). Sharon and Anita worked hard gathering and knitting and planning, and people were just so happy about it and volunteered money and support to help them do it again. The thing is, maybe the mittens won’t end homelessness or poverty, but it brings light and unites people, and I think that’s really amazing. I’m so blessed to have people who shine so brightly in my life.

Look for light, give light when you can. You don’t know who is watching, who needs help fighting off darkness. It’s never too small of an act.

 

Reality: Why I’ve Decided to Live Somewhere Else

“It’s time to live in the real world”, “the reality is…”, “You’re a little bit naive”, “if you had my experiences…”; common enough phrases, but here’s the thing, I have no intention of moving into that world. I have been there, but I prefer my dream life. People assume that because you have chosen to see the good people, you have somehow not experienced the bad. The thing is, I have. Everyone goes through terrible things and my childhood and teen years were definitely not easy. In my early twenties, I was very jaded and had decided I couldn’t really make a difference in the world. I didn’t even believe that romantic love was anything but a silly tv notion, designed to sell cards. People didn’t come into your life and stay. I believed in God, but I didn’t feel like my faith was effective in any capacity. I was hopeless, truly, and very depressed.

I realized that I had to do something different, because I was drowning. I cannot say that I could have done this on my own. I needed help, but now that I can see a little more clearly, I’ve made a few choices that help me not fall into that place of despair again.

reality is grass in sunlight

  1. Seek out the good.

Proverbs 11:27 says “He who seeks good, finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it”. If you look for evil, you will find evil. There are so many negative things going on in the world right now. Don’t focus on that. Be aware definitely, but shift your attention. Instead, make a point of looking for good things. Not just in the world around you, but in the people you meet everyday. Enjoy their sense of humour or the way they always hold the door open for others. Maybe they are terrifying, but create beautiful drawings. Find something. Eventually, you will create this little bubble of goodwill around yourself. You realize how much good there really is, and people will end up proving the goodness to you, even on days you aren’t looking for it.

2.  Realize that you can make a difference.

There’s another passage in the Bible “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” – Romans 12:21 and I always took it mean that you shouldn’t give into temptation or something. This week when I read it, I looked at it more in the Lord of the Rings kind of way. There are so many evil things that go on every day in our society, but if we choose to love, and make kindness and goodness our lifestyle, that can make a difference. Every time we are kind to someone, it’s small act against evil. When people are kind to me, it makes a difference in my life. Who knows how much difference you make in people’s lives? Even if you never manage to work major change, it’s better to live trying. You will definitely get hurt. You will definitely be disappointed. You are not doing it because it’s safe, you’re doing it because it’s good and right and LOVE does change the world.

Reality discarded geranium

3. Dream.

There is nothing wrong with working a 9 to 5 office job, but don’t let it steal the magic from your life. Don’t work all day, go home and eat, sleep or watch tv, and then get up and do it all again the next day in an unending routine until the day you retire. Life is FULL of miracles and magic and hope. Daydream. Make plans. Even ridiculous ones. Work towards them. If they don’t happen immediately, don’t give up. Keep dreaming. Keep moving in the direction of your dreams. Refuse to live in “reality” while living in reality. If you really hate your situation, find a new path. Don’t feel so locked in to anything that it’s impossible to change. If you can’t change it right now, dream how can change it. Take steps towards that. Put a few cents in a jar. If you have to spend those cents, start with fresh change the first time you can. Watch videos on the places you want to go. Research the dream career you’d like to have. Stop for five seconds and enjoy the way the light streams through the trees in the evening. Remember that the first sip of coffee in the morning really tastes good. My goal is to believe more in miracles. I have discovered how magical life is, but I still want more. I want the fairy tale. (Not literally, but in the sense that I have found my own happiness and peace through overcoming adversity and taking on “evil”).

daydreams 02 DSC_4411 DSC_4426 DSC_4428

4. Share.

Share what you know about loving and hope. People will undoubtedly think you’re naive and sheltered, but you will know otherwise. You will know that you have deliberately chosen to be an optimist and that that is the path you need to be on. Also, just share. Give people things. Compliment them. Hug them. Find someone who has no one and randomly give them a Christmas present. People need each other. Someone needs you. Be the hope they need.