Most of January’s creative writing energy was spent working on a blog post I tentatively titled, “The Tumultuous Relationship I have with My iPhone”. My personal experience of creating boundaries around my own phone use was the inspiring factor towards that particular post. Diving eagerly into the psychological research around phone behaviour I acted largely like I was managing editor of The Gateway, not a small-time blogger with phone-attachment issues. Right there  in the middle of my writing, research and editing efforts a new president was sworn into office and everything shifted.

There is value in the iPhone blog and I’ll return to it eventually, but the writing started to stall because I’ve been deeply distracted by the events in America over the last two weeks.

No need to detail what is so obviously available for consumption anywhere, no need to explain why I as a middle-class, left-leaning, educated feminist I am so deeply bothered by what’s happening in the United States. I was taught never to talk about sex, politics or religion in a public forum, but I tend to break those rules in a subtle way. I’ve worked with Calgary Sexual Health Centre which at the core revolves around talking about sex, I’ve been quiet but pointed about my own spiritual and religious beliefs (landing somewhere between liberal protestant, spiritualist and seeker) but I’ve been decidedly silent about my political leanings. I’m quiet because I’m not Merry from American Pastoral, I vote because I believe it’s my civic duty, I try to remain educated about current affairs and I vote because not that long ago women couldn’t.

Off of the soapbox and back to my desk in Calgary, and I fight the urge to follow every negative news story, to read every op-ed, to dive deep into this moment in history. I have animated conversations with Jon, my friends, my parents, my favourite neighbourhood barista and anyone in my office who will engage with me. It’s a problem because it contradicts what I’ve been trying to do with my phone (not get sucked into an online rabbit hole AND have non-screen time) and what I’m trying to do with my life  (meditation challenge, reading, balance, etc.).

Along came this little gem of an article, and a timely reminder that maintaining optimism is one of the more powerful ways to show up at this moment in time. The way I’ve maintained optimism in the past is to reflect intentionally on the good and happy things. So I decided to make a short list of things I am grateful for and what is making me happy.

  1. I’ve read some really great books so far this year including Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less , All The Missing Girls and Everything You Want Me To Be. I’ve enjoyed the “suggested reads” feature on my GoodReads app and I have been happily nerd-ing it up at the library.
  2. The woman in front of me bought me coffee last week without telling me. That made me smile. At the core, people are good.
  3. Yoga teacher Kim McNeil challenged me to meditate every day for a year. I had to double up twice but I have attempted meditation everyday in some way, shape or form.
  4. I tried new coffee beans and I supported a two rad Calgary-based coffee businesses: Calgary Heritage Coffee Roasters (and Meraki Supply, where I bought them)
  5. Jesse and I got in on a bid project I never thought we would win. Yay! Despite a shortened timeline we still delivered.
  6. I had a lovely phone call from an old friend I haven’t talked to in a year.
  7. I got a card in the mail, a lovely card from a new friend I haven’t seen recently. Three cheers for snail mail.
  8. Jon and I are planning a camping/ mountain bike trip. When I need a mental break I scroll through some of the places we’re looking at and read trail and campsite reviews.
  9. Every time I take my dog to the dog park he acts like he won the lottery. Hey bud, we’re going to do this again tomorrow…

There are many reasons to maintain optimism and while it feels easier to slide into the dark media hole of holy shit what’s gonna happen next, it feels lighter, happier, more hopeful to try to find the good.

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In the middle of winter I found there was within me in me an invincible summer. – Albert Camus