candle

the curse: wishful inkers issue no. 3


Issue 3: Only Human


What do you think about when you hear the word human nature?
Six Inkers came together to bring you a  themed anthology all about their interpretations of what human nature means to them.


This issue is a compilation of short stories, flash fiction and poetry that will make you smile, cry and think.


Our featured writer, which we are calling the “Editor” for this issue is  Alexandre Allouch-Micati. Check out his Q & A at the back of this issue!


All proceeds from the sale of this issue will be going to the charity Papyrus, which focuses on shattering the stigma around suicide and equipping young people and their communities with the skills to recognize and respond to suicidal behaviour.

~ Wishful Inkers

Issue 3 is about Human Nature, here is a piece from my short story. You can read the rest by buying the issue on our eBook page. Proceeds go to a charity.

Juls sat by the window, rain dripped down the thick glass, while orange city lights were blurred against a grey sky. Sirens sounded below, while the bustle of people rushing to work and school filled the air with hum. She could smell toasted bread from the kitchen and hear the tea kettle, as her auntie was busy with breakfast. The sixteen year old girl looked from the dreary weather outside to her right arm, and touched the spot were her skin was gold. Like a birthmark blotch, smooth unmistakable gold was her flesh on her forearm below the wrist. It didn’t hurt. It didn’t feel like anything, but metal. She noticed a pulse still beat under her skin, this thing never made sense. Surely, if it continued to grow, the pulse would stop. Would she lose her hand?

She swallowed the pain, the cringe of fear, and pulled on a sweater. A new hole found its way into the elbow, she noticed as she looked into the mirror hanging next to her bed. No matter, the sleeves were long enough to cover her gold patches. She brushed her thick, black hair and checked for zits…or gold…on her face before rushing from her tiny, tiny room to the kitchen where toast and butter waited.

“After class, you coming home?” Aunt Tia asked. She smiled at Juls and handed over a cup of black tea. Juls took it, though the taste was bitter. There was no sense complaining, they couldn’t afford sugar, or even milk this week. Thank the gods, they still could buy butter. It was the cheap butter, but was still better than plain toast. Juls sipped the tea and chowed down the bread slice.

“Yeah, I’m gonna just stop by the caf’ to see Red and the others, see if there’s more work, then I’ll be back,” Juls said.

“You don’t need to work. I’ll take care of you,” Tia said.

“I know, I know. I just like milk in my coffee. Gotta make that dough.” Juls said. She smiled at Tia.

“You gonna buy the good stuff?”

“Soy, for real soy.”

Tia shook her, still smiling. “And where would you get the rations for this?”

“I’d figure something out,” Juls said. She grabbed her bag and headed to the door, tugging on her right arm sleeve again. Tia’s smile faded. Her dark eyes turned away.

“You know, I’m proud of you, right?” Tia said.

Juls looked out the tiny window in the door, just enough space to see the grey building across the way. Outside, a world the streets filled with people, most of which didn’t care about Juls. They didn’t care about anyone. There was the bright city above, where all the well-fed people in nice clothes lived. Where they talked about blueprints, salt-free water, and they drink real milk. Then there was the underside, the shadow city where she lived, where the workers turned the gears in the dirt and ate stale white bread. But in the this tiny apartment, this square space of old blankets and tea, she was loved by family. Something that not everyone gets to feel. Why couldn’t she just stay there, in this cozy nest where things made sense.

Sirens sounded below and she was brought back.

“Yeah, thanks,” Juls said. “I know.” She had to go out there, to take care of what was in here. She had to work hard too. Tia worked everyday, scrubbing bots and greasing the wheels. The great machine damned work if you wanted to live. She opened the door and the smell of smog and oil and smoke rolled in, the noise of life was louder.

“Love you,” Tia said.

“Love you too, auntie,” Juls said.

Ireland

gilly the wizard: wishful inkers issue no. 2


Issue 2: Second Chances
Do you believe in second chances?


Six Inkers came together to bring you a themed anthology all about their interpretations of what second chances mean to them.
This issue is a compilation of short stories and flash fiction that will make you smile, cry and think. We are also happy to add a short story by our first ever guest author, Kristin Hargnett!


Our featured writer, which we are calling the “Editor” for this issue is Kay Apel. Check out her Q & A at the end of this issue!
All proceeds from the sale of this issue will be going to the charity, Children’s Miracle Network, which raise money to local hospitals that can be used for new equipment, education for staff, charitable care, and also towards special needs that patients may have.

~ Wishful Inkers

Here is an exert from Issue 2, buy the issue to read the whole story and learn more about us. Proceeds go to charity.

GILLY THE WIZARD

Gilly stared out the window, his stomach too sour to eat dinner, his notes covered with ink, and his thoughts too scattered to focus on study. The sun set over the cityscape, the golden light reflecting off the silver dome of the High Magic Academy of Wizards. He left out a slow breath. The fat cat was curled up on Sap’s bunk, one eye open and on Jasper’s owl, who was perched with one eye open, focused on the cat. Gilly grinned.

He looked to his cactus, his unusual familiar named Prince.

“Tomorrow is the day. I’ll be meeting the council of High Wizards to retake the Trials. If I pass, I’ll be admitted into the High Magic Academy! On my journey to learn the most powerful and ancient spells! If I fail…again…I cannot enter the trials ever again. It’s cast or die, Prince,” Gilly said.

“Last time I failed by accident of course, and then turned myself into a turtle. I had misspelled the words so the spell came out…wrong. They had to rescue me…,” Gilly said.

This time around is different, Prince said, Sap read all the spells books to you, you sang them…memorized them. I’ve got a new flower. I’ve decided that is a good omen.

“The world of Elel is s magical place, home to the greatest wizards in history. Almost everyone could do magic, common magic, but only the best were admitted into the High Magic Academy to the learn the most powerful and most secret spells. I want to be something special. I want to help people, change the world, and be a great wizard. I want to make my family proud. Tomorrow will be one the most important days of my life. I hope I don’t ruin it.” Gilly stared out the window, clutching the table. His hands were shaking.

“Help me be brave,” he said to the familiar.

I believe in you, Prince said.

The cactus flower fluttered open. Gilly smiled.

sky

Yellow: wishful inkers issue 1


Issue 1: It’s a Kind of Magic
Do you believe in magic?
Six Inkers came together to bring you a magic themed anthology all about their interpretations of what magic is to them.
This issue is a compilation of short stories and flash fiction that will make you smile, cry and think.
Our featured writer, which we are calling the “Editor” for this issue is Audrey Ravine. Check out her Q & A at the back of this issue!
All proceeds from the sale of this issue will be going to the charity Titan Up, which provides scholarships for under-privileged high school graduates.

Wishful Inkers

Here is an exert from my Wishful Inkers Issue 1, based around the theme of magic. To read the full story, buy Issue 1 on our eBook page. Proceeds go to charity.

YELLOW

I remembered when my great-grandmother would gather a bundle of flowers from her garden and set them on the table then pull pudding cake out of the fridge on midsummer’s night. She’d tell the story of how she met great grandpa in the summer and how he was the Iceman, bringing blocks of ice in a truck before they had refrigerators. She’d make lemonade from scratch and put flowers in her hair. Everyone would be laughing, and Dad would actually have a beer while we sat in the lawn and named the stars. They would light a bonfire, my brother would play guitar. When they all settled into bed, great grandma would tuck Cali in…wrapping a yellow yarn around her wrist. “Invite the sun into your heart. Yellow attracts friends and repels foes. Like the bee to the marigold, aid while come to you,” she would say, before hugging her goodnight. “You are never alone.”
I looked at my wrist. Scars had faded from pink to white but were still there. I wore long sleeves in public, even in Texas heat, to avoid people asking questions. I went to my suitcase and pulled out a beaten up shoebox with the words “Private, Do Not Open or Else!” written in permanent marker on it. Under a handkerchief was a yellow yarn. I wrapped it around my wrist gingerly, covering the scars and rubbed the threads with my thumb, trying to recall the feeling of someone who loved you touching you. What did that feel like? I couldn’t remember. I fell on the bed and stared at the ceiling. The neighbors started screaming about the broken sink again. I rolled my eyes then rolled over to look at my favorite photo. It didn’t make me cry anymore, but tightness in my chest released a sigh. Would I ever be that happy again?
“I miss you,” I said. I wasn’t sure if I meant my brother or my dog or my grandma or my former self. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. The heat kept sweat on my brow and stifled any dreams that decided to visit. The room was solid darkness with an orange glow from the street outside the window. I rolled over for the millionth time, my pupils widened when I saw something shift in the shadows. I reached for my pocket knife.
I miss you too.
My ears started to ring, and my heart pounded against my ribs. I blinked, and the figure was gone. Slow, I stood up and stepped into the place where I swear to god I just saw the outline of a person. There was nothing. The clock on the floor said three o’clock in the morning. I had to sleep. I took deep breaths to calm down and put my knife down. I touched the yellow yarn again and wondered. I closed my eyes tight and tried to recall the days past, to feel that joy again.

Continued on ….http://wishfulinkers.org/ebook/

That Time I was Naked in the Woods

When I woke up that sunny, summer morning I didn’t know that at some point that day I’d be naked in the middle of nowhere, covered in bug bites and trying not to drown in a muddy river.

24 HOURS BEFORE NAKED DRAMA

I was dealing with relationship problems which were getting worse. (Don’t worry, I’m better now and I’m happy with someone else who is super awesome!) I kept needing time away from the situation. If it had been possible, I would have spent time away from myself. One thing life doesn’t let us do, right? Funny that we are eternally stuck in our own company. A friend saw my need to get out and about, inviting me out to a park of wilderness and natural springs.
In Florida, especially where I was, it’s all about water. It’s everywhere. Every type of H2O form there can be, it’s there. Swamps, bayous, pools, ponds, lakes, creeks, gulf, brackish, hurricanes, water funnels, torrential rainfall…I swear, there’s water lingering in the air. The humidity is so high that I could straightened my hair and step outside for instant curls. Fruit rotted by the time I got home. Mold is a real issue for everyone. Spiders swim. Side note: going from there to Canada was a shock to my skin. I’m basically bathing in lotion everyday.
The most interesting form of water there were the natural spring waters. Fresh, cold, clean water from deep, deep underground eventually finds the surface and bubbles up, making lovely springs to swim in. We decided to visit one in the middle of nowhere, because nothing could possibly go wrong.

MORNING OF NAKED SITUATION

My friend, her toddler, and I packed into a truck with snacks, drinks, towels, and a map, The first leg of the trip was driving for a bit on normal roads. I don’t remember how long, perhaps an hour…I think more like a couple of hours. Later events take over my memory collection of that day, so who knows.
We spent time talking and laughing and reflecting on life. Our friendship is non-existent these days, but at the time we were close. A couple of years later I would fade out of her life, bearing no ill will to her, but deciding for myself that I can’t be a part of her life. She’s awesome and it’s difficult to explain. I miss her. She’s a great listener and great at being with someone in the moment. She was being a great friend for me. This adventure was supposed to be a fun, relaxed time for all three of us.

T-MINUS ZERO TO NAKED

We get a little confused trying to find the spring and are driving pretty deep into woods and mud paths. We were close to the spring when we drive past prison-workers without a guard. Several men were working on something in the middle of the woods with only a port-a-potty and tools. Neither of us are the judging type, but we’d rather not be in the woods alone with strangers. We both decide to not care unless it becomes an issue. Little did I know, it was foreshadowing to the tone of the day: surprise!
The spring was tucked away in a large, group camping area with a picnic bench deep in pine tree forest. The shade was cool, but the air was still hot from new summer sun. It smelled like trees and dirt; I was in heaven. The spring was larger than I had imagined. It was probably more than 20 feet wide in some places and several feet deep in a few spots.
We had forgotten about the rain from days before.
For those who are more city-folk than country-folk, rain changes bodies of water. They can get super muddy and even dangerous. The spring was so muddy it was impossible to see into the water. The current was swift and strong.
“We’re strong swimmers!” we said. None of us brought swimsuits, but being women alone in the woods just means swimming in the skinny. This is when things turn for the crazy. Keep in mind, I’m white as the moon. Seriously, I glow in the dark. The Florida sun was shining off my white skin like a reflector. Perhaps that’s how the demons found me.
Standing in the nude several feet from the water I was attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes. For those who don’t know what a mosquito is…it’s the devil spawn of hell. Mosquitoes activate my darkside, turning me into a lord of darkness bent on world domination and complete annihilation of all things mosquitoes. Think Kylo Ren from Star Wars. If I was a bard retelling the story to drunk warriors by a hearth, I’d say 10,000 demon blood suckers swarmed us and we fled to the water for our lives.
You know how sometimes you enter natural water with caution because it’s so cold? You stand in it waist-deep for a minute and wait until you’re more comfortable? You giggle about how cold it is and splash your friends because you all are making funny faces?
I ran into the cold water and dived in like a polar bear who’d been living in the Sahara for ten years. Fear of cold was silenced by blood-sucking biters. My thought was, “ArrrRRrrggGgGGghhHhHH!

IT GETS WORSE

Now, two adult women and a small child are in underworld cold water bear butt and covered in bites. Don’t worry…the ice muddy water blunted the pain at that point…but we’re moving…? I tilt my head as I notice the shore is moving away.
The current is strong. At least, both of us being optimists, we smile and say things like, “Oh, the current is fast” and “it’s been awhile since I swam last”. Then panic sets in as we’re trying to swim. I try to swim across the spring to no avail. Keep in mind I’m a natural swimmer. I don’t have amazing form or anything like that. I can’t dive right most of the time, but I feel at home in the water. A good current though and I’m helpless. I’m only part-mermaid. My Viking learned that in the gulf last year…that’s another story.
Anyway, I try to swim across the spring to the other shore. Nope. I lower my standards to a large branch sticking out in the water. Nope. I lower my standards more, aiming for a root. Nope. Okay, perhaps just not get swept away? Nope. Every muscle is working to just not float away. The toddler is climbing unto her mother’s head. I hadn’t thought about how her work was even harder and I move to help. The child now goes back and forth between us as we try to stay afloat.
We’re fighting the current in cold water, naked and afraid of biting demons. We try to make the best of it and are eventually like…This is not what I imagined or hoped. I am not relaxed.
 
There was actually a moment I started to worry. Legitimate fear crept in and started to imagine myself on a shore miles down the spring with no clothes.
After a long struggle, we managed to grab roots and pull back onto shore, climbing up a muddy curve into demon biter land again. We rushed to the car, put on the clothes quick as wit, and sat in the truck. I felt gross, tired, winded, wet, and itchy. I had hoped for a relaxing, meditative day in the water and I’m sure my friend did, too. I wasn’t angry or sad, just thinking, Well, that just happened.

POST DEMON LORD WATER TORTURE SITUATION

The outing still helped my mental state, as I was dreaming often about drowning. That’s yet another story for another day, but this unexpected event taught me something. That day and over the span of two years I learned something weird about me that I still don’t understand fully. For some reason, no matter how grim the situation is, I don’t quit. Sometimes to a fault, so it’s a not brag. There are times I should quit and be swept away. I’m still learning, but I’m glad to know I have grit. Swimming in muddy water in the woods isn’t an example of my grit, but it was a tiny moment of my stubbornness.

I SAY ALL THAT TO SAY THIS

I used a funny story that happened to me to mention something else…
 
Depression is like drowning. We don’t expect a drowning person to save their own life, why do we expect someone suffering from depression to save their own life alone? Change my story…what if it had been the small child alone? Or just the mother and child without me to help? Or just me, plus lost in the woods and injured? Also, telling someone to “suck it up and deal with it” is like telling a naked, injured person drowning in a river to help himself. Uh, not possible.
When someone is suffering from depression, their brain cells are releasing chemicals (summed up in layman terms) that affect their whole body. In some cases, the brain cells are doing this without reason – as in there’s a natural chemical imbalance in the body and it’s not that person’s fault. Even if the depression is caused by an outside force, like something horrible happening to the person, we should reach out like a root in the river for them to hold on to, help them back to the shore.
People don’t walk into depression willing, just like I didn’t walk into a mosquito swarm and fast river with the intent to suffer. Sure, people could try to argue that I should have brought insect repellent or a swimsuit or just not gotten into the water…
Some people don’t have access to mental health care. We don’t choose our life, our body, or our brain. Besides that, people make mistakes. Should they suffer endlessly because we feel better just standing there and not helping? Why wouldn’t you want to help someone?
Spin off from some of my favorite quotes…if you’re not helping people, what are you doing? I’m not wanting anyone to feel guilty, just understand that depression is real and we all can help.
If you see someone fighting the current, reach out.
If you’re having a bad day, just picture a nerdy girl glowing white in the pine forest running from a swarm of bugs into ice cold water. I may or may not have been screaming.
SOME SOURCES
 
If you have any problems with these sources or have better suggestions, let me know!
 
purple

Weeds

Dandelions, the bane of the master lawn keeper. Tiny balls of yellow peeking from rough, pointy leaves dotted across the once neat tidy field of grass. The yard is a battleground and homeowners arm themselves with chemicals to destroy their enemy. The bees don’t mind the mess though. The yellow petals turn into tiny, white puffs; seeds with wings that children use to make wishes.

I grew up learning that there are annoying no-good plants called weeds and that everyone hated them. No one wanted weeds, they wanted roses and carpets of grass. But when I started to study local plants, urban gardening, and gardening from the middle ages, I was informed that many if not all weeds were actually useful. In some cases, the weeds were uninvited guests brought to the land by the very people who grew to hate them, known as invasive species. Some weeds are the natives, and the landscape we try to force onto our lawns is actually unnatural. We created the war against weeds. Check out the next natural field you see and note how the grass is only part of the equation. Dandelions, in particular, were once known as a “common herb”. When consumed they provide nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. The petals can be turned into tea, jelly, balm, and wine. Their leaves can be harvested when young to use in salads. You don’t have to believe me, learn more here: Taraxacum Wiki.

The lawn devil is actually food. This unwanted even hated thing, I learned, is actually useful. I think they are beautiful, too. There are even pink ones.

Learning all this changed my perspective not only about plants I didn’t invite but also how I see myself and others. Some of us are weird. I’d dare say most of us are weird. Most of my life I’ve felt like an outsider for one reason or another, meaning I can relate to the feeling a weed might have if they could think as we do – I’m not welcome, I don’t belong here, and I’m odd. Yet, plants labeled as weeds are often viewed that way because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time or colliding with the desired norm. This acknowledgment that weeds are not evil, just a point that shows what context the viewer is living in, help me accept the part of me that is often the outsider. In a sense, I’m a weed. From the outside, I may appear like a bright yellow ball of what-are-you-doing-here, but I still bring something to the table, liked or not. Now, I love dandelions and what they symbolize in my personal story. Surely I’m not the only person who has ever felt like a weed or outsider or weird. We “weeds” should be proud, not ashamed. We symbolize freedom, self-expression, and individuality.

Do you still hate weeds or could you change your perspective and how you interact with them? Do you ever feel like a weed? What are common non-native plants in your area and what could you do about them? Are there common plants that we should learn to utilize in a different way?

Are you a proud weed?

candle

When You Change Your Art Changes

A topic discussed briefly over coffee at a local gamer stop: painting in colors you hate. It happens. That’s why judging an artist by their art is challenging, the art could reflecting a rare part of them. The science of what is happening behind the scenes when an artist creates is still outside our understanding, but it doesn’t stop me from studying it in myself and others.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve experienced outrageous changes (love to my friends and family sticking with me through it). I found myself doing things without knowing why. The changes have caught up to my artwork. I’ve been trying to paint on my numerous acrylic canvases but hating the results. I’ve gone through two buckets of gesso covering things and starting over. Only, I kept hating it.

I’m painting with colors I do not like. Half way through a large piece I asked myself: if I had unlimited resources, what would I make art with and what would I make? That’s when my answer revealed the changes in me.

I wouldn’t grab the tubes of acrylics I’ve grown to know so well. I wouldn’t paint bright colors and messages of joy. I want to bleed watercolor into paper, I want to cut into lino blocks and press ink into thick paper. I want to etch weird, curving, disturbing lines with a pen onto a faded color background. I want to draw pictures about things that haunt my mind. I’ve experienced trauma. I’ve witnessed pain. I know suffering. I want to make art about that. I want to share my insides, not a fake outside. Sure, I wish I could make colorful, pastel, happy flowers on an inspirational quote, but I’d be forcing it. That is not me. Sure, I make “happy” art sometimes, but it’s when the mood strikes me and still with a hint of darkness. Even when I do use bright or pastel colors, they represent a rebellion in me. Using pink is my feminine side pushing back at the irony of binary gender-obsessed society. The first time I read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” I wanted to stab my own eyes out. (FYI the differences between men and women are so minute they only really matter to scientists and medical professionals.)

It wasn’t until World War I that pink was associated with girls, and after that, the aesthetic become hard fast to the point that many modern men will refuse to wear pink. Pink is for girls. In my early “fuck the patriarchy” years I refused to wear pink because I thought showing any so-called feminine traits would make me appear weak. I wanted to appear strong, something that society had decided was a masculine trait. My brain operates from a completely different space now. I use pink as defiance. “Look, I’m wearing bows and delicate pink and glitter and STILL being strong!” Of course, I’ve also learned the true meanings of strength and power as well; they have nothing to do with physical strength, dominance, or assertiveness. The Buddhists and Pagans helped me learn that part. I digress. The point is pink is just a color and I’ve been using pink along with other colors I didn’t like growing up in giant art paintings.

Still, I want to explore the other changes inside my mind that I do not understand yet. I’ve been drawing weird, ugly, or alien people. I’ve been wanting to make some weird ass art. I love memento mori art, vanitas, Celtic and Norse, mythology inspired, fairy stories, and all things strange. I’ve spent so long hiding those parts of myself, showing them only to certain people in ideal scenarios.

Then I asked, why not? What stops me from doing what I want? Fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of how people will react. Fear that people will judge me, unfriend or unfollow me, fear that people will think I’m a sick, twisted, or disturbed person inside. It will happen, I’m sure, though I wish people were more understanding. I’ve accepted my own darkness and my own weirdness, but other people have not. It’s trying to force it’s way out. My soul wants to be authentic and I’m trying to water it down with pastels and some sunshine. Light needs a dark backdrop and shadows to be fully real. I’m that shadow. I want to explore my ancestry tree and the art that ancient Europeans made that inspires me so much. I need to wrestle with my people’s demons and the hell we’ve created. I want to make art from nature and dwell in it.

On the cusp of accepting this part of myself, my art will change. My body will change. My voice, language, movement, music, and what I wear. That’s one thing that art does: it empowers people. Empowerment manifests in different ways, but as I form my new life and live authenticly I will look and feel different. I will change because I have power over my own choices. I’m living my life, not someone else’s…for that reason my art will be mine, not some else’s.

To avoid being wasteful, I will fill what canvases I have felt with paint, but I’m moving on to new territories.

Have you ever found yourself suddenly not liking something you used to like? Has your taste in art, music, or even food changed over the last 5 years? Do you make art that is authentic to you, or do you make art that you’re told to make?

Hygge

Serendipity…searching for how to survive winter I learned what I was missing in my daily life.

I stood in soggy boots, the north wind blew at me sideways, my face was red, my fingers were numb, my nose was running, and my hair was a hot mess. It was my first winter in Canada. I was not prepared.

Then came the second winter and I was still a mess.

Come 2017 I ignored the idea of winter until November came and went leaving me in December. The winter wind is roaring back and I’ll need more than waterproof boots to get through this one.

I lived in Florida for years and they don’t have winters. I lived in Texas a bit and their winters are just cold air. Texas is just sky and flat land. Summer there is hell’s breath, but winter is survivable. I grew up in Tennessee, where winter is mild with the occasional blizzard. I did get stuck in a blizzard in Colorado once; had to drive for 24 hours to get away from it. That’s another story.

I’m trying to make a home in Canada so I need to adapt. I got a giant cup of coffee and googled countries with serious winters and how they survive it, which lead me to Scandinavian cultures which lead me to the word hygge. The word hit me like a wool sweater in the face. (That joke will make more sense later.)

It sounds a bit like “hoo-ga” (do not say “higgy”) and the word belongs to the Danish with no English equivalent. It has siblings in other languages, however. The Dutch have gezelligheid. The Norwegians have koselig. The Swedish have mysig. The Germans have gemütlichkeit. The Finnish have kalsarikännit, which is sitting alone at home in your underwear drinking with no intention of going outside. Close enough. (If I got the words wrong, correct me.)

In a gist, it is a feeling…the feeling you get when you’re safe, cozy, and enjoying things. The opposite feeling I get in the winter. The word is a notable cultural aspect of Denmark. The word is used as a noun or verb. Meeting a friend over coffee can be hygge. Sitting by the fire can be hygge. Having a piece of cake with family can be hygge. People hygge all the time and don’t realize it. Talking about politics, playing on your phone, or being rude is not hygge.

There were some clever people who saw the opportunity of wrapping hygge in a bow and selling it to the masses. The feeling cannot be bought or sold or forced; you don’t have to spend a dime to feel hygge. It’s marketed as sitting by the fireplace wearing socks drinking hot cocoa, but you can feel it by the campfire in the summer with friends.

The dark side of moving to a new country (or even a new city) is that hygge is lost. As a psychology nerd, I see a connection between hygge and the familiar. Being an expat means re-creating a home in a new, strange place. Hygge becomes a rare and special feeling. Though hygge cannot be forced it can be invited or encouraged, so my game plan is to survive enjoy winter, like practicing old traditions from home, making new traditions, candlelight dinners, time with friends, making and sharing comfort food. Time will pass and life in Canada will settle in, being less foreign and more familiar.

I can’t visit family or friends back home and I’m still getting to know this country. I was fortunate to move in with my boyfriend. His family and friends are welcoming. Many expats move alone and must struggle without support in their new home. I can’t imagine that.

No one likes having their snot freeze, but I’m thankful for the chance to experience winter and have excuses to do things only suited for cold weather.

Now, pardon me while I go put on a second pair of socks. That’s right…double socks.

***

Hygge may be used as a commerce tool to sell things, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Behind the Instagram aesthetics of pie and coffee mug cozies, there’s a real feeling. Here’s your permission to take a break.

Danes Explaining Hygge 2014

Danish Man explaining Hygge in Detail

VisitDenmark Explaining Hygge 2013

More Reading

Gezelligheid vs Hygge < Dutch vs Danish differences in coziness.

9 Ways to be Gezellig < The Dutch hygge

Is Hygge real, or just hype? < Danish answer the question.

Dutch Tell Ya How to Gezellig < Features lots of cool Dutch words.

Norway: koselig

Koselig to get through the Winter

Kalsarikännit < Finnish

Hygge Conspiracy

butterfly

Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

I could turn this into a novel. I could explain everything in dripping detail. Or I could keep it short and sweet. I’ve decided to keep it short and sweet.

  1. Don’t live for other people. You’ll do this unaware that you are doing it.
  2. No matter what you do, even if it’s literally just existing, someone will hate you. You cannot be right or perfect for everyone, so don’t try. Expect haters.
  3. Pain is an internal fire alarm. Your pain is valid. Listen to it.
  4. Throw labels out with the trash.
  5. Negativity is a poison. Optimistism can be too. Just look at things as they are and accept them. Hope is sacred though. Keep it.
  6. Believe in yourself. Cheesy AF, but also true AF.
  7. Your interests are valid. Even the uncool ones.
  8. People who love you don’t treat you like shit. Walk away. You can love someone from far away. Walking away doesn’t mean you’re not loyal or that you don’t love someone.
  9. Be vulnerable.
  10. Don’t ever regret loving someone or something. Even if they hurt you, you weren’t doing something wrong by caring.
  11. You can’t save anyone. It’s not your job to save anyone.
  12. Loyalty is sticking with people through the hard times, not sticking with someone who intently constantly hurts you.
  13. Don’t give up.
  14. Tell people you love/need/respect/admire/appreciate them. Say thank yous. You’re going to lose more people to death or unfortunate life events than you expect and it’ll happen in an instant…so tell people when you can.
  15. Keep the photos.
  16. Everything you’ve been told about diet, fitness, being healthy, being fit, food, beauty, aging…health, in general, is a lie. Which brings me to:
  17. You’ve got PCOS. Your body is broken and it’s not your fault.
  18. Food is not poison. Food is awesome. It’s ok to love food. It’s ok to eat. Food is not the enemy.
  19. You don’t have to be nice to creepy perverts. Tell them to fuck off.
  20. Go on that trip. I’ve never regretted a trip I took or a place I’ve visited.
  21. Trauma makes you afraid. Let go of that fear.
  22. Take a joke. Make jokes. Laugh at jokes. Laugh at yourself. Humor is power.
  23. Keep writing. Keep drawing. Keep dreaming.
  24. It’s ok to make mistakes.
  25. Don’t be someone’s shit basket.
  26. You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to.
  27. Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak.
  28. The system is rigged, so you will put 110% in and fall short. You have to be your own advocate.
  29. View each day as a micro-life. Let that weight just fall off your shoulders when you do.
  30. 30 isn’t old. It’s still young…very young.
  31. You’re allowed to change your mind.

P.S. Invest in those weird bands you like so much. They become famous.

Community Art Studio

This is attempt number four in trying to write about the LivingRoom Community Art Studio. It’s difficult to put into words what this place is doing for the community. For such a tiny place, it does big things.

Thus, I’m going to keep it simple. I’ll let the Studio speak for itself.

What is the LivingRoom Community Art Studio

In Oshawa, Ontario, there’s a place where you can make art for free. No strings attached. Yes, it’s actually free. No, it’s not only for children. Anyone and everyone can just walk in and make art. There’s all the supplies you’d need. If not, there’s all the supplies to make it work. I don’t mean someone micromanaging or telling you how to make art. I legit mean you can walk in, grab supplies, sit at a table, and make whatever.
Today I made bat mobile thingy, a moon phase wall hanging, and something to pin pictures to (out of drift wood), and spray painted a tin box I was having problems with at home. Best thing about paint – paint over it to start over.
Inside the LivingRoom Studio you’ll see the walls lined with all manner of art and craft supplies. Local and distant artists have their work on display. Music is usually playing, but on a busy day the melodies are just background noise to the sounds of art happening.
Strangers become friends. Friends get to know each other better. Neighbors exchange more than just “hello” for the first time, and there’s no rush to leave, like at a coffee shop. Making art also releases the nervousness in social interaction, as you have something to keep your hands and mind busy.
People come in just to say “hi” or drop off donations. You could worry that they’ll run out of supplies…but oh, no! They have so much from all the kind people donating their extra supplies or things they don’t want anymore. The space is full.
Just some of the spaces in the LivingRoom…

Why a Community Art Studio?

Many communities, in the US and apparently Canada, lack resources for the creative side of life. Even the education system has failed in many places to provide study in the arts. Society (for reasons we could write books about) decided that the arts are not important and cut funding. Art is becoming for the elite – this is not okay.
What about the artist that can’t afford supplies? What about the inner artist in all of us? What about a place for community members to meet, share, brainstorm, and make things happen together? The LivingRoom hasn’t even seen it’s full potential yet.
We need more places like this.
I shouldn’t have to explain why art and a creative space is important. Take away art, music, dance, poetry, literature, and other such things from a society and what’s left? A skeleton of basic human behavior. Art is the voice of a culture.
The patio, some art, and squirrels.

What You Can Do in the LivingRoom Community?

You can use free art supplies
You can buy art and craft supplies for a great deal during yard sales
You can buy pre-made art kits
You can sell your art
You can attend a “Pay What You Can” Workshop
You can learn from other artists that visit the Studio
You can attend their pop up events
You can read through their large art resource library
You can rent the space
You can teach workshops
You can meet other local artists
You can volunteer
You can start your own art hive studio
The Studio

The LGBTQ + community is welcome there and they try their best to be a supportive place for all artists. Plus, everyone is an artist.

In their words:

The LivingRoom Community Art Studio will:
CONTRIBUTE to the well-being and stability of our community by providing a working model of a non-institutional community art setting that sustains and improves community mental health and social capital.
ESTABLISH a safe, non-judgemental space where people from all walks of life can come to make meaning of their experiences and connect with others through constructive, arts based activities.
PROMOTE positive Self Identities and BUILD Self-Esteem through acknowledging and celebrating the uniqueness of every individual and their creative accomplishments, reinforcing the value of their work through positive feedback and public exhibitions.
ENHANCE the lives of those members of our community who feel most marginalized by providing them with a place where they can be defined as creators and artists, and not by the challenges they may regularly face.
STRENGTHEN relationships between community members and organizations by bringing together people who might not otherwise interact, to talk and make art about what matters to them, and to learn about one another and the worlds in which they live.
INSPIRE community driven action through providing people with opportunities to contribute to and collaborate on group art projects and exhibits that acknowledge, examine and address the issues and themes that impact them and their Communities.
EMPOWER community members through highlighting skills and knowledge they already possess by providing manageable ways of transmitting those resources to others through workshops, skill shares and studio mentoring.
PROVIDE income to local community members through providing them with regular opportunities to exhibit and sell their artwork and handicraft to the public.
ENCOURAGE social equity and inclusivity by making the arts accessible for everyone and providing individuals and families who may not have regular access to arts activities and events with regular and ongoing opportunities to participate for free.
INCREASE cultural vitality through engaging community members in arts activities and community events that broaden their understanding of what art is, and who artists are.

This Week in the Studio

I’ve been making stuffs!
Moon art, bats, and drift wood display.

Go, Make Art and Visit an Art Studio Near You