There are sixteen days until it is officially spring. After two long, harsh winters in the country, I am embracing the upcoming equinox for the first time in my life. I am looking forward to the mucky, muddy afterbirth that is the fields, forests, and dirt roads. Tomorrow’s full moon, the Crow Moon, marks the last full moon of winter. If you’re not fist pumping right now, you clearly don’t have any snow on the ground and therefore are not suffering that much in your life, you big jerk.
Full Moon Rituals, also known as Esbats, are pretty wicked celebrations. They can be a group shindig or a solitary affair. They are known for their cleansing powers, and because this particular full moon is marking the end of a season, it feels as though this one will be particularly purifying.
Here are some of the things I’ll be laying out on the windowsill for their moonlit bath:
My healing stones // They’re all mucked up from the move (six months ago) and intermittent use and being stuck on shelves. When I first bought them I cleansed them in water, so this will be their first time! They grow up so fast. My journals // Instead of starting a new journal entirely (not that I don’t have enough blank books, let me tell you) I’m going to reset the journal I’m currently using. Same goes for my mixed media sketchbook! Why the hell not? My watercolour paints // I’ve been drawn to my watercolours a lot recently, and I feel as though these creative tools could benefit from a nice long dip in the moonlight.
What are you going to be cleansing this full moon?
I have been journaling and blogging online for about 15 years. I have used a plethora of different platforms (many of which no longer exist! That’s how old I am!) and befriended and forgotten many eloquent souls. And I’m here to advocate for sharing your thoughts in a virtual space. I want to give you 4 simple reasons you should write a blog. I’m not here to talk about the technicals, like platforms or newsletters, nor am I here to tell you how to strike your fortune with advertisers or affiliates. I’m just here to tell you why you can, should, and someday absolutely will write a blog you are happy with.
You have opinions that are worth sharing.
Everyone has opinions. Even sociopaths and capitalist politicians and Fox news anchors have opinions. Many of us seem to have an aversion of sharing our opinions, especially online. Maybe it’s the thought of adding to the din of white noise that is unadulterated op-ed pieces. Maybe it’s the changing landscape of blogs and how sincerity was cast aside long ago for affiliate links. Or maybe it’s because deep down somewhere you don’t think your opinion is actually worth sharing. You don’t have enough information, or can’t find time do the right research, or are consumed with the fear that you might offend someone you know personally (or not at all) because they hold an opposing view point. You do have enough information, you can make time to do more research, and your opinions are, absolutely, without a doubt, worth sharing.
Blogs act as virtual diaries, remembrals, dream catchers, and pensieves.
Since starting my blog (on the free wordpress.com site on December 6, 2012) I have been able to predict and track many of the significant highlights of my life. Each year I review the last, and often try to predict the next one. It’s like a virtual scrapbook, and occasionally I’ll go through my archives and see how lucky I am to have lived this life.
Blogs are little portals, connecting you with other worlds.
How many true friends do you have? This isn’t a contest, I’m genuinely curious. I have two best friends, two people I can approach about anything and confide in without consequence and can break down in front of without recourse. One of these people I met online. Now how many good friends do you have? Good people that care about you and treat you like someone they admire, and you reflect that admiration and respect? You’re not necessarily divulging scary secrets or childhood stories, but you’d spend an hour or two talking to them over dinner or spend an evening in their company. I’ve got about a dozen of these people in my life, and at least half of them I’ve met online. This pattern exists because I was a technology-obsessed child that connected with my first pen pal at the age of twelve via email. She live in Malaysia and was a Moffats fan. While this particular internet connection is no longer in my life, the trend of befriending and admiring people online has always continued. Want to make true online connections? Write a blog! Comment on other blogs! It’s like inviting your friend over to play after school. With a blog, your new pal has somewhere to go.
It’s a space all your own.
My bbg Virgina Woolfe made it clear that a woman “must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” This is also true if you want to write non-fiction. It’s also true if you want to create anything, ever. You need your space, and blog gives you that. And thankfully, you don’t need that much money. Buying a domain name is a worth investment, but not required. Sign up for a free blog with blogspot.com (or WordPress, but they like to try and charge you for everything) and get started!
As February draws to a close, I’m looking back on the incredible month that it was. What better way to show my gratitude for such a gruelling month, than with a February Favourites? There were a lot of tears, a lot of moments when I thought the sun would refuse to rise the next morning, but also a lot of laughter and joy and gratitude. I was blessed to travel with my family to Orlando and escape the horrendous winter conditions of Southern Ontario. Upon my return, I was happy to be reunited with my husband and our menagerie of pets. We have been adjusting to new jobs, a new home, and another year living the country life. At times it has been tough. February felt like a breaking point to the constant litany of doubt, dismay, and disappointment. Be off with you, February!
For the entire month I’ve been loving on Lowell, a relatively new group that’s signed to the wicked Toronto-based Arts & Crafts label.
On our trip to Orlando, we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In Hogsmede, I revealed my true colours: green and silver, bitches. This Lovegoodian is a straight up Slytherin. Suck it, Lions! (Also pictured: my fabulous amethyst necklace from Zaraluna)
Upon my return form Orlando I immediately got sick. My body does not acclimate quickly to change, and I relied heavily on herbal teas (more so than usual) and Greg’s hot lemon and honey tea to pull through.
If you weren’t already aware, I run a #CanLit book club on YouTube with my fabulous cosmic partner, Jason. In January we read Sinclair Ross’ As For Me and My House, and have been discussing it all month on the channel and our Goodreads book club page!
Magazines are legitimately cheaper in the US, and I spent my last few dollars of spending money on magazines for the plane rides home: Elle and Nylon. It’s nice to have these in my home. The last magazines I bought are from 2009, according to my bookshelves.
Happy Freedom to Read Week, everybody! In Canada, late February not only marks the weather inching that much closer to spring, but the annual celebration and awareness event, Freedom to Read Week. Organized by the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council, this is week full of online, solitary, and public events that Canadians across the country can participate in.
Much like the celebration of Banned Books Week, Freedom to Read Week is an event that is meant to remind Canadians of their fundamental rights and freedoms of thought and expression. In Section 2(b) of the Constitutional Law of Canada, the freedom of expression (similar, sort of, to the “freedom of speech” in the United States) states that everyone has the fundamental freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. In spite of this, year after year, many books are challenged in some way across the country. They can be challenged by the press, in schools, and by various parental, religious, and ethnic committees and organizations. A common space for books to be challenged is within a school, or a school library, by revoking access to the books by students, and removing it from the curriculum.
During Freedom to Read Week 2015, I will be reading Raziel Reid’s young adult novel, When Everything Feels Like the Movies. This novel was nominated and won the Governor General’s Award for Literature, and is currently being defended on Canada Reads as the one book “to break barriers.”
A petition with 1,893 virtual signatures (at the time of writing) has been put out into the world to revoke the book’s Governor General’s Award for Literature. Ironically, the petition was started by children’s author, Kathy Clark. The petition is as follows:
“Given the offensive and graphic nature of the words and images used in Raziel Reid’s novel for Young Adults and the influence this will have on children’s minds, and given that the Governor General’s Award has the mandate to honor the best in Canadian Literature, we the undersigned, request that the Canada Council for the Arts revoke the Governor General’s Award for literature from Raziel Reid.”
While requesting the revocation of an award is not quite the same thing as banning it, or shoving it behind bars under lock and key, figuratively there are many similarities. To revoke such an esteemed literary award — after it has already been given — indicates a severe judgement on the author, as well as its supporters. The reasons for revoking include graphic and offensive words and images, and relies on the cliched notion that depictions of sex, drug use, and general teenage independence will have a severe and negative impact on the malleable minds of children. Though it is not mentioned in the petition, the protagonist of the novel is a gay teen, who is bullied throughout his small town for his sexual orientation.
One Canadian book reporter for the National Post, Emily M. Keeler summarized the censorship challenges best: “It’s sickening to me that the moral panic surrounding the book regards teens reading about blow jobs and not its painfully, stylishly wrought portrayal of kids being bullied to death, or growing up with fear because it’s not safe for them to be who they are.”
What will you be reading for Freedom to Read Week 2015?
For years I have been preaching and practicing buying, endorsing, and supporting cruelty-free cosmetics. While I have been practicing this in my own little world of skincare, I have not been sharing much of my journey. Today, that changes. Today I bring you my first cruelty-free empties post!
Empties posts are a great indication of a well-loved, much-used product. It is perhaps one of the most genuine forms of appreciation a consumer can have. Today I am sharing two brands that I appreciate, admire, and financially and ethically endorse: LUSH and Korres.
My first foray into Korres products was the Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel, and the Tea Tree Face Wash. The latter is, sadly, discontinued. The former is still readily available, and I’ve gone through several pots. But that’s another story for another day!
With the discontinuation of the tea tree face wash, I opted for the Korres Milk Protein Foaming Cream Cleanser. I had to use very little of this product to get a full, foamy coverage. I used it every night and some mornings. It probably lasted me six or seven months, which I’m incredibly happy with. The formula has a fairly soothing effect. The expectation is a weight and heaviness, but its instant foam leaves your skin feeling weightless and refreshed.
Verdict: I bought this again! Sadly because the tea tree face wash is no more. It is a well-earned second best.
After experiencing the cream-gel, I chose a hydrating LUSH product, the Enzymion Facial Moisturizer. I love walking into LUSH stores and being swept up in their fanciful world of decadence. Startling proof that a company does not have to bend their ethics in order to be a success. I was advised that this moisturizer would ensure a matte finish. I have been blessed with decent skin. I bought this during the early summer months, and definitely did not want anything particularly “dewy” (that word grosses me out so much. It’s my moist).
Verdict: I am glad to have tried a LUSH moisturizer. They are hella pricey, and I am not frugal about face care. (It’s your face, people! If you’re really looking to skimp on this part of your body, you’ve come to the wrong place.) The texture and the feel was very different from the Korres cream-gel I had been using, and that transition was tough. The overall experience didn’t justify the price, and I’m back to Korres for the remainder of the winter.
Like I said, I’ve been blessed with some pretty decent skin. I haven’t had to deal with oiliness or acne, and I count that as a blessing. I do, at times, deal with dryness. These past two winters have been one giant dehydration experiment, concocted by some angry Medusa of the skies. When I had to choose between washing my face in the mornings (a total moisture sucker) and using toner (a drying agent) I chose that latter of two evils. And I’m so happy I did!
The LUSH Tea Tree Water Toner is a little spritz of heaven’s waterfall. There is no alcohol in this toner, which is why it is the best thing going for your cleansing needs. It’s not going to dry up my skin in favour of cleanliness! It is advertised for folks with oily skin, and I imagine it delivers. In the particularly dry spells of this winter and last, I would switch between a gentle mist over the face (ahhhhhh) and spraying onto a cotton swab and gently wiping down the money maker.
Verdict: Yep, absolutely, buying again. This product helps in the heat when sweat is trying to make camp in those pores, and it is a life saver in Canada’s other season: Winter.
Because of the giant dehydration dome we call Canada’s climate, I found the need for a frequent-use exfoliator. TMI: This was largely to get rid of dead skin that would try to freeload around my nostrils, actin’ like they pay rent. The sweet smelling LUSH Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub was my go-to shower exfoliator. I didn’t use it on my body, just the face. And it always got in my damn mouth. But that’s a pretty great test to ensure your products are fresh and natural and hella sweet. Am I right or am I right?
Verdict: Oh man. I don’t know! It is such a beautiful product when you first buy it. And that refreshing scent doesn’t die, man. It’s like Bob Marley, it lives on forever. But I’m also in a place where I want to use masks more than rub-and-run exfoliants. I’ll keep you posted.
What cruelty-free products have you finished up lately? (Seriously, I don’t want to hear about your Aveeno bullshit. If it was forced into a bunny’s eye before you paid $8.95 for it, BACK. UP.)