Category Archives: Personal Life

On Mindfulness, Light Therapy Lamps, and Being a Human Houseplant

A desk lamp shining down on a houseplantMy name is Lydia, and I’m a human houseplant.

Or at least that’s what it feels like at this time of the year. You see, I get the winter blues. While other people are outside revelling in the snow, ice, and cold weather, I’m inside quietly counting down the days until spring.

If winter in Ontario included as many bright, sunny days as spring and summer did, this post might be quite different.

But our winters include months of long, dark nights that make me half-forget what it’s like to feel warm sunlight on my face.

And having access to enough bright light is important for my mental health. It boggles my mind that some people on this planet live in places that don’t see the sun for months on end. I wouldn’t be able to cope with that well at all unless someone invents a way for humans to go dormant for the winter like real plants do.

Luckily, there are light therapy lamps for wilted houseplants like myself. I’ve been basking in the glow of that artificial sunshine this winter.

Sometimes I sat there and surfed the Internet on my cell phone. It was an especially good way to pass the time when I first accepted the fact that I needed to use one of these lamps but was skeptical about if it would do any good.

If actual plants had opposable thumbs, they might look at cute animal pictures while soaking up light, too, so they didn’t have to count down how many weeks left until spring or how many weeks after that it will take the weather systems in Ontario to shift from cold, wet, and slushy to anything that bears the faintest resemblance to true spring weather.

Then it started to work.The sadness began to lessen. I could concentrate better, I felt less sluggish, my energy levels slowly began rising, and my quality of sleep improved.

Am I back to my old self yet? No, but I’m doing better. That’s something to celebrate, especially as we inch into the time of the year that is the most challenging for me to get through.

For now I sit next to my lamp and chuckle at the fact that I react so much to the lack or the presence of sufficiently strong light. I am entirely human-shaped, and yet somehow I still need to bask in light like a plant to function properly.

When that thought passes, others don’t take its place. In this moment, I am surrounded by light. I breathe in and out as it shines onto me, the desk, the chair, and the floor.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

It’s that simple.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Celebrity Crushes

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

What a fun topic as we move closer to Valentine’s Day!

My celebrity crushes include:

Red carpet photo of actress Julia Stiles

Julia Stiles.

I’ve thought she was cute ever since I saw her in 10 Things I Hate About You back in the 90s. She tends to play characters who know what they want out of life and go for it.  I really like that.

Nina Dobrev on the set of Vampire Diaries playing the character Elena Gilbert

Nina Dobrev.

A few weeks ago, my spouse convinced me to start watching season one of The Vampire Diaries. Nina plays the main character, Elena Gilbert, on that show, and I immediately thought she was pretty. Obviously, I have no idea what the actor’s personality is like, but her character is so sweet that I can’t help but to have a crush on her.

William Jackson Harper as Chidi
Photo by: Robert Trachtenberg/NBC

William Jackson Harper.

One of my longterm goals with the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge is to convince everyone else to give The Good Place a try. Yes, I’m joking there. (Probably 😉 ).

Not only is this show funny, many of the characters in it are quite attractive if any of you are looking for eye candy. Wlliam’s character, Chidi Anagonye, is a nerdy, intellectual guy which is something I find irresistible.

Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil

Jameela Jamil.

Jameela Jamil plays Tahani Al-Jamil in The Good Place. She plays her role as a wealthy, sheltered, but still incredibly likeable person extremely well. I was surprised by how quickly I developed a crush on her.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: New Hobby I’m Trying

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Photography is my newest hobby. I picked it up last spring and have been dabbling in it ever since. January isn’t the best month for spending a lot of time outdoors taking pictures in Ontario, so I’ll share a few pictures I snapped last year when the weather was warmer.

Branch leaned up against a tree. The branch is covered in red leaves and propped up by twigs. Each one of the three arms of the branch is surrounded by red leaves. The red leaves are surrounded by yellow leaves.

This was a piece of environmental art I discovered at a local park last autumn. It was absolutely gorgeous! I only wish I knew who made it so I could credit them and thank them for creating it.

A winding path through a patch of autumn grass.

I liked the way this path provided a natural focal point for my photograph. The next time I shoot it, I’ll play around with how I frame the shot some more.

Painting of a robot's head. The head is filled with a geometric design that has all pieces connected by intersecting lines.

Toronto is filled with street art. Some of it is commissioned by the city, and other pieces just seem to randomly spring up. I think this might have been a commissioned piece. Either way, I like it.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Goals for 2020

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

My goals for 2020 are simple.

Woman sitting on a bench in an art museum looking at large paintings. Visit More Museums. It’s been too long since I stepped foot into a museum. That needs to change.

Try New Things. It could be as simple as visiting a new restaurant or as complicated as having a full-blown conversation in Spanish. I want to stretch my comfort zone this year.

Study Spanish Again. Speaking of foreign languages, I stopped studying Spanish last year. I want to pick it up again and hopefully get to a point where I can have conversations in that language. Learning a new language is hard,  and I deeply admire everyone who becomes fluent in a new language.

Spend More Time in Nature. While I love living in a big city, there’s something incredibly relaxing about spending time in nature. I want to do that more often.

Reply to Emails Faster.  I wasn’t always good at that in 2019. Let’s see if I can do better this year.

What I Read in 2019

Black book with floral design at the topIn January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 20182017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

There are links included to the books that I also wrote reviews for here.

I had some trouble finishing books this year. There were so many more titles that I started but then gave up on. I think I was pickier about what I read over the last twelve months, and the lure of social media also made reading a little less appealing than it normally is for me.

If any of you have advice on how to get out of this sort of slump, I’d sure like to hear it!

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

“Living like Livvy: A Mother’s Story about the Girl Who Refused to be Defined by Rett Syndrome” by Andre Govier
“Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free” by Linda Kay Klein
“Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” by Camille Laurens
“Diary of Family G” by Ami McKay
“Shut Away: When Down Syndrome was a Life Sentence” by Catherine McKercher
“Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited” by Elyse Schein

 

Mystery

“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters

Poetry

“Charlotte: A Novel” by David Foenkinos

“The World According to Fred Rogers: Important Things to Remember” by Fred Rogers

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood

Let’s Play White” by Chesya Burke

“The Lost Ones” by Anita Frank (review pending)

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson

The Farm: A Novel” by Joanne Ramos

The Spellbound Spindle” by Joy V. Spicer

Sociology and Psychology

“Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths (and How We Can Stop)” by Bill Eddy

“Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them” by Tina Gilbertson

“Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and how It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love“ by Amir Levine

“Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – And Break Free” by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis