Category: Uncategorised

Dear Teenage Girls

This is something I wrote on my personal tumblr a few years ago, and I wanted to share it again in light of the tragedy in Manchester.

Dear Teenage Girls

I’m writing this because it feels like everyday I read something new about a young woman being victimized. I am not that much older then you, but it already feels like being a teenage girl is about 100 times harder. I can’t begin to imagine what many of you have gone through.

People are Hurting You Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually and Sexually

People are blaming you for things that are not your fault

People are calling you liars, and telling you that what you have to say isn’t important

People are still using your bodies, your gender identity, your sexual orientation, and your race to determine your worth.

Of course this kind of thing happened to us when I was a teenager, but everything feels more intense, more instant. It makes me sick. Whenever I read about another girl who was attacked, or killed or ignored or threatened, it makes me want to scream. I wondered why people targeted and trivialized you for so long, but I’ve just realized why.

It’s because you are amazing.

You are smart, talented, beautiful and powerful and that is terrifying to the people who want to keep you down because they know that if you are allowed to come into your own, to fully realize all that potential, you are an unstoppable force of nature.

So please, keeping being wonderful. Keep being brave, speaking out, acting out, creating, loving, thinking and most of all keep dreaming.

It’s not going to be easy. I know. There will be days when you can’t get out of bed, when you think that nothing’s worth it, when you decide it would be easier to keep your head down or lash out at others. But try to overcome that.

I love you

I believe you

I know you can do it.

And there are more people like me, who feel the same way and who will be there to help and support you every step of the way.

But in the end its up to you. You need to love and respect yourselves, love and respect each other and DEMAND love and respect from the rest of the world. It will be scary and hard but it will be worth it because when you succeed you won’t be sitting around in your twenties, with a broken heart for every girl who goes through everything you went through and more. You will be the reason that the next generation has it better, and it will be wonderful.

You’re already starting to do this, and I’m so proud of you. Keep going. You’ve been kept down long enough. It’s your time.

Love,
Lauren

Photo by Emily Jewer http://www.mjphotographics.com/
Photo by Emily Jewer http://www.mjphotographics.com/

5 Podcasts I Love

Podcasts

Hi everyone, I’m back! I have a Master’s Degree! It’s a new chapter in this Soubrette’s life.

A while back Schmopera wrote an article discussing the idea that many professional musicians do not like to listen to music in their downtime.  I am totally one of those people, there is nothing I love more than coming home to a silent house after a long day.  No TV or music, just silence and maybe a little conversation.  However when I want something to distract me while I’m doing a mindless activity, or on a long trip, I usually turn to Podcasts.

Since it’s summer festival season, and lots of us are going to be doing a ton of travelling, I thought I would share a few of the Podcasts that rely on when I need to fill the silence.

Pop Culture Happy Hour
Pop Culture Happy Hour is a round table podcast by NPR about pretty much everything entertainment.  Every week they pick one or two topics and get a whole bunch of smart people to talk about it.  Since I am a pop culture hermit, I love how this podcast keeps me up to date on what is new and interesting.  Every so often they will publish mini episodes called “small batches” where just a few of the panel members will discuss something important that has just come up (like Beyonce’s Lemonade), share interesting moments, or post extended interviews that appeared on other NPR podcasts (Like this interview with John Mulaney).  The discussions themselves are great, but my favourite part of the podcast is at the end, when they go around the table and talk about the things that made them happy that week.  What a lovely exercise, and a great way to get recommendations on cool things to try out.

Great Episodes: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Hail Ceasar!

Modern Love
This is another great NPR podcast based on the New York Times column where readers submit essays about love in all of its forms.  Each episode features a story chosen and narrated by a celebrity guest, and then an interview with the writer and the column’s editor Daniel Jones.  This podcast is one of my absolute favourites, and I get so excited every time there is a new episode.

Great Episodes: I mean, all of them, but “The Plunge,” “An Interlude of Clarity,” and “One Last Swirl” are particular favourites

Dear Hank and John
This is a delightful “comedy podcast about death” produced by John and Hank Green of Vlogbrothers fame. Every week they answer listener questions (and offer dubious advice) as well as give the latest news about Mars and AFC Wimbledon (passions of Hank and John respectively).  This podcast is a delight because it is just two funny, smart people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company.  They don’t try to be funny on purpose, but I’m often in stitches listening to it.

Great Episodes: Putting Water in Cereal??? And Grief is Super Weird

Song Exploder
This is a new one on my list, but I love it already.  This podcast has the writers and producers of popular songs explain how they created the song.  At the end of each episode, you get to hear the song in its entirety.  It is so fascinating to hear the process and the story of each song, it’s also a great way to learn about new bands and artists.

Great Episodes: I’ve only listened to two so far, but they were both great “Old Crow Medicine Show-Dearly Departed Friend” and “Busdriver- Worlds to Run (Feat. Milo and Anderson Paak)

Limetown
I didn’t put Serial or Welcome to Night Vale on this list even though I love them both because they are very well known.  Limetown is like these two podcasts had a baby and it is gripping and beautiful. They’ve finished their first season and haven’t announced when the second season will be coming yet.  There are only 6 episodes, and you must listen to them in order. I’m actually avoiding the last episode because I don’t want it to end. It’s so good
(There is some disturbing material in the podcast, mostly violence, just so you’re aware)

Great Episodes: Here’s episode one.  Enjoy the ride

This isn’t all of the podcasts that I listen to (I’ll finish that 20 hour backlog someday) but these are the ones that I drop everything to make sure I’m caught up on.  Am I missing anything essential? What do you do during your downtime? Let me know in comments.

See you soon!

The Art of Failure

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Hey guys… I’m back. Again. Oops.

Today, I am (appropriately) going to talk about failure.

February is a good time to think about failure, because this is a time when so many people who “failed” to keep their new years resolutions January decide to just give up on them entirely. For all the think pieces and blog posts there are about making effective new years resolutions, there is relatively little written about what to do when you let your resolutions fall to the wayside. Recently, I discovered two great pieces of advice on this front.  The brilliant John Oliver recommends lowering your expectations, and Apartment Therapy offers similar (more serious) advice.  I think that is idea of revaluating and scaling down your new years resolutions has merit, but it also feels more than a little bit disappointing.  I’m all for small victories but it’s still important to have huge goals too.

Rather than focus on tiny successes all the time, I like to embrace the fact that I am a failure.

“But Lauren, you shouldn’t say such negative things about yourself!” I hear you say. But it’s only negative if you think failure is a bad thing.  In Worstward Ho, Samuel Beckett wrote what is probably my favourite quote ever:

Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.

I honestly haven’t read or heard anything more inspiring than this. All of a sudden failure is acceptable because failure is not the end, it’s a checkpoint.

I think that a lot of our attitude about goals and goal-setting comes from our attitude about failure. We’re scared of it. It sounds big and scary and final, so when we think about making goals we make little ones that are almost impossible to fail. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, in fact tons of experts say that it is the best way to build positive habits, but if you don’t grow your goals over time, then you’ll never grow.  There is nothing wrong with big, ambitious resolutions, even if you fail them at first

I failed a LOT in 2015.  I failed as a blogger, I failed to progress as an artist as much I wanted, I failed get the parts that I wanted, I failed to stay healthy, I even almost failed some classes (a new experience for me). I spent a lot of time being upset about all of that, but I’m done with all of that now. Now, I am going to focus on working harder, and failing better.

I have never felt more motivated.


photo by Hannah Paton

 

Resolution Review: How I did in September and October

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I think that a big part of making and keeping resolutions is to constantly review and re-evaluate them. Now that we’re two months in, I thought that I would re-evaluate how I’m doing.

Rededicate Myself to the Blog
Ok, so this one did not go well.  I think that since going self-hosted, I put so much pressure on myself to have incredible, viral posts every single time that I just end up getting overwhelmed and paralyzed.  I’m new to blogging and I need to remember that I’m still learning.  I am still going to try and write the best posts that I can, but I am going to be a little easier on myself.  Putting all of that pressure on myself meant that blogging wasn’t fun anymore, and why would I do something that wasn’t fun.

Spend More Time at the Library
I’ve been spending more time at the library at school, but I’ve yet to get to the public library yet, although that is going to change tonight! I’m volunteering at an event this weekend and there’s an orientation session tonight at the library.  I’m going to use it as an excuse to get to know the library better, and maybe take out some new books.

Develop Good Morning and Night Routines
I think that I’ve been making some pretty good progress with this.  Right now, the nighttime routine is a little more ingrained (thanks to some phone alarms that remind me it’s time to go to bed) but hopefully getting more sleep will make the morning routines a little easier

Get Serious about My Finances
This did not go well for me in September, and I ended up paying for it (literally) in October.  The worst is past (I hope) and I should be back on track in November.  I think that is what I like the most about how I deal with my finances.  Since I pay myself every month from my student loan money, I can always start fresh and try again.

Bike to School
In retrospect, this resolution was a little bit too ambitious for me. I’ve biked to school all of once, and I was so exhausted that I ended up being late for class and I could hardly pay attention.  I think the distance from my house to school was just a little too far for me to deal with after being relatively inactive for so long, and now it’s getting too cold to comfortably bike in the mornings. I’m going to have to find a new way to get more activity in my life in the winter.

Be a Better Student
This is maybe the only resolution that I can 100% say I’ve been doing well on. I’ve been missing less class, doing more readings, and practicing more.  After a musically disappointing September, I’ve turned a corner and I’ve been having a lot more success with singing and that translated itself into a really encouraging audition experience in October.  I have a bunch more auditions in November, so I’m going to try and continue progressing forward.

Make My House a Home
This has been a slow and stressful process for me, but Jeff and I spent this past weekend putting up mirrors and pictures, and having things on the walls has made me feel much butter about my living situation. I think by the end of the month, I should be ready to show you guys my handiwork!

Here’s to a more productive November!

September Resolutions

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Hello everybody! I’ve missed you.  I had to take an involuntary hiatus from the blog, because of computer issues at the worst possible time to have computer issues (that is, when you are in two operas at the same time and then moving hallway across the country immediately after) but I am back and so excited about it.

Gretchen Rubin recently posted something on her blog about the idea of September Resolutions.  As the traditional start of the school year, September is a great time to start fresh and work on forming new habits. It’s also a great time look at your January Resolutions and re-evaluate them.

Since I’m going back to school next week, I thought it would be good to share my resolutions with you. Since accountability is important when it comes to achieving your goals.

Rededicate Myself to the Blog
I had to take a break from blogging last month but if I am being honest with myself, there were things that I could have done to prevent such a long radio silence. This coming term is going to be busy for me, but I am determined to keep on schedule. I also have my DSLR with me again, so I can finally stop taking pictures with my less than stellar cellphone camera and have some nicer photos to share with you!

Spend More Time at the Library
Living in Halifax this summer meant that I got to spend time at one of the most beautiful libraries that I have ever been to, and it reminded me how much I love the library. I haven’t been to the library in London yet, but even if it isn’t as pretty it will still have everything that I love about libraries.

Develop Good Morning and Night Routines
I’ve read everywhere that having good routines helps you get to sleep faster and makes your mornings easier. Plus, living in a new a climate means that I need to get serious about my skin care, because I am tired of feeling like a teenager with these breakouts

Get Serious About My Finances
As I’ve mentioned in my personal finance posts, taking control of your budget is a process that requires constant re-evaluation. Sometimes I feel a little bit like a fraud, writing about effective budgeting when my budgets are often less than balanced.  Also, this is my last year of school, so I am going to have to start thinking about how I’m going to pay back all of my student loans and to be honest I’m a little worried about it.  Getting my finances under control this year will make the next few years so much easier.

Bike to School (weather permitting)
One of the things that London has going for it over Halifax is that the city is full of beautiful bike trails. Our new apartment is fairly close to a bike trail that runs along the river and deposits us right outside the music building at school. I plan to take advantage of this.

Be a Better Student
Isn’t this everyone’s goal at the beginning of a new school year? Originally I wanted this resolution to be more about my professional success, but I’m not so sure if “get a role in the opera” or “get into this young artist program” are reasonable goals because so much of that is out of my control.  Instead, I can resolve to be a better artist and a good student.  I can work hard in my classes, practice more often and more effectively, and prepare my auditions more fully so that I give myself the best chance to impress the people that have more control over whether or not I get those roles and or a place in those programs.

Make My House a Home
Moving to a new city is always hard, but it was especially hard for me this time because I love Halifax so much.  I’ve spent the past week wavering between loving my new place and wishing desperately that I could go back home to Halifax. Since I can’t do that, I’m going to work hard to make this place cozy and welcoming, so that I can love living here too.

So that’s what I’ll be working towards this year. Do you have September Resolutions? What are they? Let me know in the comments!

The Starving Soubrette’s Summer Reading Challenge: Halfway Roundup

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To find out more about my Summer Reading Challenge, Click here

So the reading challenge has been going really well. I touched base with some of the other participants and so far we have read 8,385 pages and 24 books! That’s a ton! I bet that we can get over 10,000 by the end of the summer! The current winner is Jasmine at 2856 pages and 9 books!

I read one and a half books this week: Lorna Crozier’s The Garden Going on Without Us and Geek Girls Unite by Leslie Simon.  I’m going to briefly talk about both.

Lorna Crozier is my favourite Canadian Poet.  Her poetry is smart and funny and tragic and gorgeous. The Garden Going on Without Us is a collection of poems, some of which had already been published in other volumes and some newly published that focus on life in the prairies.  She writes about the people around her, people she loves, and the natural world, both wild and cultivated.   My two favourite sections were “The Morning of the Sad Women” and “The Garden Going on Without Us” the section from which the collection gets its name. The second section includes selections from my favourite collection of poems “The Sex Lives of Vegetables” which is exactly what it sounds like.  The poems are cheeky, sensual, and clever. They also sometimes make you hungry.  If you need some more Canadian poetry in your life, I definitely recommend The Garden Going On Without Us

The second book I read this week was Geek Girls Unite.  At least I tried to read it. When I don’t like a book, I try my best to stick out to the end so I can create a fully formed opinion. I couldn’t do it with this one.  I picked up the book on sale and had high hopes for it.  Anyone who’s spent any time on the internet knows that it can be hard to be a geek and a girl at the same time.  Because geek culture is so male dominated, many women who participate in geek culture are viewed as frauds who crave male attention and prey on helpless nerd boys by pretending to be genuinely interested things that are generally considered “nerdy.” I hoped that Geek Girls Unite would be a feminist call to action that tore down or satirized the “Fake Geek Girl” trope, but it wasn’t that at all.

The concept of the book didn’t seem that bad at first; it outlines several different categories of geek girl (the fangirl, the literary geek, the film geek, etc) and offers a short history of notable women in the genre as well as a list of resources and recommendations of popular media made by women in each category.  However, there is a considerable amount of girl-hate and gatekeeping (the idea that you have to meet a certain number of high standards before you can qualify as a member of a group) written into the book.  Each section starts off with a quiz so you can see if you qualify as that particular kind of geek.  This seems like classic gatekeeping at first, but you quickly realize that the right answer is always C, always obvious, and the other answers are generally pretty funny.  The “quiz” is meant to educate and entertain rather than categorize, but my problem with it is the way that the results are delivered.  Of the three possible results, “mostly C’s” indicates a full-fledged geek girl, “mostly A’s” is an enthusiastic newcomer and “mostly B’s” is a vapid, clueless girl.  The beginning of the “mostly B’s” description in each chapter always starts with “Sorry Lauren Conrad” (or Megan Fox, or Heidi Spencer or any other popular celebrity with a reputation for being valued for their looks rather than talent) and goes on to insult them and their intelligence for a paragraph.  It’s blatant girl-on-girl hate that is destructive and divisive. Even worse than that, each chapter has a section called “Frenemies” that explains how to identify a “fake geek” that will harm the cause rather than help it.  This includes people who love twilight (which is considered an “acceptable” fandom) but think that it is well written, girls who are declare they are “really into film” after seeing a Wes Anderson movie for the first time, people who like Channing Tatum and watch his movies, People who listen to Miley Cyrus or PHISH, girls who wear leggings as pants and people who wear eccentric or “Cosby” sweaters unironically.  It seems that Leslie Simon wants geek girls to unite, but only if you fit her narrow definition of what a geek girl is.  (I apparently don’t count, I am a proud member of the leggings as pants club and I love patterned sweaters)

Geek Girls Unite is a great concept for a book, but is full of gatekeeping and misogynistic rhetoric that only reinforces the “fake geek girl” trope and make it harder for women of all kinds to be accepted into geek spaces.  I got 81 pages in before I couldn’t take it anymore.  I’m going to count those 81 pages in my reading challenge because I can’t get that 30 minutes of my life back.  Hopefully my next book will be better.

Challenge Update:

Pages: 854

Books: 2 ½

Currently Reading: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

There is always still time to join the summer reading challenge.  Tell me in the comments, or tweet me with #SoubretteReads2015 and tell me what you’re reading right now!


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Tips for Long Distance Apartment Hunting

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Jeff and I are moving to London, Ontario in August and I have been going crazy with preparations all summer. I tried to find an apartment while I was still in school, but I didn’t have any luck.  However, after months and months of searching, I am so pleased to announce that we’ve finally found an apartment. Since this was such a difficult process, I thought that I would share some ways that can make it easier.

Know When to Rent
As I mentioned above, I tried to find an apartment while I was still living in the city during the school year, but I couldn’t because of the way landlords list apartments in London.  Halifax is home to seven universities, so the major rental periods are May and September, as a result, you can sign a lease for September as early as February.  London is a university town too, but their major rental period is just May. Because we wanted an August or September lease we had to wait until June or July, since tenants are required to announce their intentions to move at least 3 months before. Looking at listings months before you can find one that you like will just stress you out

Know the Housing Market
What is the average rent for a one-bedroom in the city? Do utilities usually come included or will you have to pay your own power? Are there a lot of rental properties in the city, or do you have to move fast to get a place? Will they ask for first and last month’s rent or just a damage deposit? Do your research about renting in the city, and read the province’s Residential Tenancies Act to find out what your rights are and what isn’t legal. For example, in Nova Scotia most landlords ask for a Damage Deposit that is returned to you after you vacate, minus any repairs the landlord had to do, but in Ontario a deposit has to be put toward the tenant’s last month’s rent, any other use is illegal. If I hadn’t done my homework, I might have been scammed by a predatory landlord.

Know What Neighbourhood You Want to Live In
If you’ve never been to the city before, do some research about which neighbourhoods you might like to live in.  How close are they to work or school? How easy is it to get other parts of town? Which neighbourhoods are the most interesting? The most affordable? Knowing where you want to live can make looking through listings much more manageable.

Ask your Friends
Social Media is great for so many things, but one of its most useful features is that it acts as a giant hive mind of information and services.  A woman I know calls this “friendjiji.” Ask your friends if they know of any listings or tips about living in your new city, or if they have any friends that can help you. Even something as simple as “avoid this landlord” or “This neighbourhood doesn’t have a good grocery store” can make a huge difference.

Know Exactly What You’re Looking For
This is super important, since you don’t have the luxury of going to a ton of viewings. Know what you can and can’t live without in an apartment and don’t be afraid to ask if it isn’t mentioned in the listing. Nobody has time to sort through listings that won’t work, but when you aren’t in the same city, you have even less time.

Have an Agent in the City
Find a friend or an acquaintance who is willing to view apartments for you.  Ideally, you would be able to visit ahead of time and do a bunch of viewings yourself, but when that isn’t the case, it’s important to have someone honest who can report back to you about the apartment.  Remember that listings focus on the most attractive parts of an apartment, you need to know about everything else too

Focus on Larger Apartment Buildings and Property Management Companies
This is just my opinion, but it is way easier and more comforting to work with companies that have dedicated staff, office hours, and good websites.  Some larger companies even have people who specialize in long-distance applications. With apartment buildings you also have the added benefit of floorplans, so you know the layout and size of the apartment, which is super helpful for things like figuring out whether or not you can fit all your furniture in it.

Make Phone Calls
If you only take away one thing from this article, it should be this. Emails are fine up to a point, but eventually you are going to need to speak to the landlord or property manager in real time.  Everything gets done so much faster that way. Forget about long distance charges and time differences.  Those sacrifices will be worth it when you have the peace of mind that comes from getting all the information you need all at once, and especially when you finally get that apartment.

Are you moving to a new city? Have you ever had to go long distance apartment hunting? Do you have any more tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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8 Ways to Make Your Weekday Evenings Fancier

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When I’m not living the oh-so-glamorous life of a starving artist grad student, I work as a temp here in Halifax.  It’s a great job for someone like me because it pays above minimum wage and it allows me to be flexible with my schedule.  Also, since I’m usually on short-term assignments, I get to go to a bunch of different offices and I learn about so many different industries.  However the downside is that I become part of that 9-5 work week slog that leaves you drained at the end of the day.  I’ve had to start coming up with creative ways to make my weekday evenings a little more exciting, so I have just a little bit of time to relax and think creatively before bed.

Make Your Afternoon Snack Fancy
I usually don’t have dinner right after I get home from work, but I still feel a little bit peckish.  Right now I’m really into eating cheese and crackers with a little salami or pepperoni, and a handful of berries or sliced fruit. One day, I didn’t have any clean plates, and was about to reach for a bowl, when it hit me. Why not use a wooden cutting board! All of a sudden my cheese and crackers turned into a charcuterie board, which made me feel WAY fancier, even if I did have a sink full of dirty dishes.

Champagne Fridays
This was a tip a learned from my Aunt when my Uncle was going through cancer treatments.  They’d have a glass of champagne to celebrate the end the week.  I love the idea of celebrating the little things with as much enthusiasm as you do the big ones.  So why not pick up a little bottle of bubbly at the end of a tough day every once and a while? You deserve it.

General Libations
Maybe Champagne isn’t your thing, maybe you’re craving something else.  Whether it is a glass of wine, a mixed drink or a fancy soda, treat yourself and toast to your awesomeness. For extra fanciness, put your beverage of choice in a high ball glass and pretend you are Don Draper.

Dinner and a Movie
Take yourself out on a date, friends and significant others optional.  Go see that movie that you thought sounded kind of cool, and splurge a little to go to a restaurant or pub where someone makes your food and serves it to you. This might not be an every week thing, but if work has been particularly grueling lately, it can be nice to tune out for a few hours.

Eat Dinner at a Table
Obviously you can’t afford to eat at a restaurant every night (and if you can, why are you reading this? your life is already fancy!) so substitute by taking time to sit at an actual table for dinner, rather than sitting on your couch or over the sink. Even if you can’t eat with other people, there’s something about sitting a table to eat that feels refined and comfortable. Plus it keeps your couch way cleaner.

Slip Into Something More Comfortable
Just because you want to get out of your work clothes at the end of a long day doesn’t mean you have to put on sweats.  Change into something comfortable but still put together, or maybe wear your nicest pajamas.  If you’re feeling really fancy, throw on a bright lipstick, touch up your eyeliner, or shave off that five o’ clock shadow.  It doesn’t matter if no one else is going see it, this is about making you feel good.

Light a Candle (you know, the one you’re saving for a special occasion)
Nothing says fancy like flickering candlelight.  If you are worried about fire safety, invest in one of those battery powered candles; they look super realistic now and you’ll never have to worry about finding a match.

Have a Bubble Bath
I don’t care what you think about baths as a method of getting clean, bubble baths are way more relaxing than showers. If you can fit even a little bit comfortably in your bathtub, don’t waste the opportunity. Get a bath bomb or a nice scented bubble bath, bring that candle into the bathroom and listen to your favourite podcast (Welcome to Night Vale is my favourite bathtime choice).  You will feel so relaxed and incredibly decadent.

even if your work schedule feels mundane, that doesn’t mean that your weekdays can’t be special. Remember to treat yourself to the finer things in life every now and then.

How do you make your weekdays special? Let me know in the comments!

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Organizing the KonMari Way

Image from www.tidyingup.com

Marie Kondo’s the life changing magic of tidying up has been all over the all the design blogs for months.  The book, written by a 30-year old organization expert, promised not only a definitive way to clear your house of clutter FOREVER but also that your entire life would get better after you did it.  She reports that her clients, found their purpose in life, became richer, happier, lost weight, and even got better skin after tidying up their homes. The book was translated from Japanese in 2014 and took the English-speaking world by storm this year.

Kondo’s method centres around the philosophy that you should only keep things that “spark joy” and that most of the stuff that you have probably doesn’t.  It struck my interest because it acknowledged the emotional connection that we have to our stuff.  A lot of the philosophies around getting rid of your stuff focus on the idea of use, but there is much more to the value of an object than how useful is it.

after a few months of thinking about the basic idea, I decided to buy a copy of her book (on my e-reader of course).  It was an interesting mix of instruction and personal memoir written in a similar way to The Happiness Project.  We learn a lot about Marie, who has been obsessed with tidying since she was a child, and tried almost all of the most common organization methods before settling on her own, which she calls the KonMari method (a shortened version of her name).

What I like the most about this method is the idea that all of your possessions, even the ones that you are going to get rid of, have a purpose.  Something that you received as a gift but never used came into your life to show you that someone cared about you enough to buy you a gift or to let you feel the excitement of opening a present, but it has now fulfilled its purpose so you can thank it for its service to you and let it have a new life somewhere else.

This idea of re-framing an object’s purpose and thanking it for its service was super helpful to me. I once bought a dress online on an impulse, but I didn’t read enough reviews and when it arrived I discovered that it was too tight in the chest.  It would have cost too much money to return it and so it hung in my closet for almost three years.  The thought of getting rid of it made me feel extremely guilty and so I tried to find ways to make it work; maybe I could lose weight? These darts in the front could be let out, maybe I’ll take it to a tailor? After I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I realized having a dress that made me feel guilty hanging in my closet was a terrible idea, and that the purpose of the dress was to give me joy when I bought it and teach me not to buy something online without reading other people’s reviews.  I thanked the dress for the joy and the lesson and I was able to let it go without feeling guilty.  Now when I get rid of stuff, doesn’t feel like I am abandoning it or throwing away money, because I am honouring the role each thing played in my life.

I’m not a total convert to her method however, because it requires a marathon tidy session.  In order for it to work, Kondo says, you have to go through all of your possessions all in a pile, all in one day. This is supposed to get all of the things that don’t bring you joy all at once, but it just sounds like a recipe for exhaustion to me. The book is also written in such a way that implies that if you don’t follow her methods exactly, then you won’t ever be tidy or happy.

Also she tells you to fold your socks. Who has time to fold socks?

Overall, I think that the KonMari method is an interesting way of looking at your things, and why you own them, and it is definitely worth a look if you’ve had a hard time getting all of your stuff under control.

(But maybe borrow it from the library, so you have one less thing to get rid of)

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Crafts for People who are Bad at Crafts: Program Keepsake Book

Shelf

Like any musician or music lover, I often find myself overwhelmed by the number of concert programs I accumulate.  I know that most people just think of them as clutter, but to me, they are full of memories.  I was trying to find a way to save all my old programs in way that they are easily accessible and protected, and I am quite pleased with the results.

2015-06-19 13.50.39Portfolio

Materials

Old Programs

8 ½” x 11 Artist Portfolio

Pen

Scissors, exacto knife or paper trimmer

Directions

Sort your programs in whatever way that you want them displayed.  I went for chronological order, but I know that won’t last too long.

annotated program

If you’d like, annotate them with notes about the performance.  If they had to change the order, if something memorable happened, your friend was in it, or if there was a piece that you particularly loved

Put them in the sleeves of the portfolio! These are great for double sided programs.  I go to a lot of concerts that use sheets of paper as programs, but the 8 ½” x 11 fits booklet programs on the side as well.

Program Book

There are a few different ways to store booklet style programs.  I like to open them up to the page with the performance information, but if it has a pretty cover, or no one page with the order of performance, you can slip them in closed.  This portfolio came with black backing paper that I removed most times, but I kept in for programs like this.

Program

Here’s a program that had a lovely cover and a page with the program order, so I cut it out with my paper trimmer and slipped it in beside the cover.  Cutting out the pages you need is also great for the programs that come from the bigger companies that are thick, generic for the whole season and only have a few pages of information about the performance that you went to.

2015-06-19 15.03.26

This portfolio had a pocket for a spine label, I simply took one of the extra black papers and used the original label as a guide to make my own.

Now I have my programs organized in a way that is easily accessible and easy to store!

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