A Toronto Transformation

LXL 7: Birthdays, BlogHer and Bananagrams!

This week on the League of Extraordinary Ladies, we are chatting about what exciting things we’ve been or are planning to get up to lately. I’m so overwhelmed by all the excitement of birthdays, BlogHer and Bananagrams that I briefly forget either how to count or how to use my hands. You be the judge!

What are you excited about these days, pals? Let me know in the comments!

People Google the Darndest Things

tarsiersvolleyballOne of the most fun aspects of using analytics for your blog has got to be reading the lists of search terms people have used to make their way to your site.

You might think that the top search terms driving people to my site would be something to do with “Toronto” or “How to use a Menstrual Cup without fainting” (actually that one does make the list).

You would be wrong.

Apparently the top search term leading people to Metamorphocity is “Naked Volleyball.”

So let me just save any of you who might have stumbled upon my site through a naked volleyball google quest and tell you, if you’re looking for an amusing anecdote involving volleyball on a nude beach, I’ve got you covered. If you came looking for photos of glistening nude women and men with impossible tans serving overhand, I cannot help you. I’m sorry/not very sorry.

Along with the simple, straightforward “Naked Volleyball” query, come a lot of inadvertently hilarious iterations with some creative spelling. For example: Nud Bach Volleyball – we all know Bach had the composing thing down, but what do we know about his “nud” volleyball habits? Enquiring minds!

Here are a few more terms the old analytic machine has picked up:

“deranged tarsier” – a lot of people (or one extremely determined person) really want to see a deranged tarsier. Who knew?

“dvt and madness “- I really hope that’s not something I should be Googling. The two are not related, right?

“bras comfortable for elderly women” – any entrepreneurial seamstresses out there? I’ve got a business idea.

“obnoxious pigeons” – well, this one makes sense. Pigeons are the worst and I am not afraid to say so.

“how to change into your swimsuit in front of people in public” – with confidence, my friend!

“why was my muscle sticking out of my leg in strange angle last night” – I hope this guy’s ok.

“neocitran prince” – Sounds dreamy… Haha.

“spear to kill whale with” – Captain Ahab finally got online! Also, I have another business idea!

“i love when my girlfriend fainted” – I wish you perpetual singledom, sir or madam.

“no pants are the best pants” – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Oh, and don’t worry, dear readers, I can’t tell who’s searching what.

Happy Googling!

Little Luxuries: Pretty Post-Its

Pretty Post-Its

I may or may not be known around my office for hoarding all of the pink, purple and blue folders and pens from the supply cabinet. There is nary a harsh yellow or traffic-cone-orange highlighter to be seen on my desk.

It may be silly and shallow, but having pretty, co-ordinated colours to keep my files and notes organized somehow perks me up and makes me more excited to do otherwise fairly dull parts of my job, similarly to how buying myself flowers often motivates me to clean my apartment.

This week I motivated myself with the little luxury of these sweet, springy floral sticky notes from Peter Pauper Press, Inc.

They’re almost too pretty to use!

Do you guys gussy up your work spaces or do you like to keep it simple and professional?

LXL 6: Favourite Desserts (How Squirrels Kept me Skinny)

Happy Wednesday, internet pals! This week on the League of Extraordinary Ladies channel we are chatting about our favourite desserts.

Naturally this lead to me reminiscing about a terrifying squirrel invasion as well as my least favourite dessert. Any guesses?

My apologies for the terrible video quality this week. I was experimenting with a filter. Results: rubbish.

Hurrah for learning!

Enjoy the hilarious screenshot above and the moment when I realize I’m annoyingly fidgeting with a pen.

Please send chocolate mousse.

Golden Girls and Baba Yagas

GETTY,ARTHUR,MCCLANAHAN, WHITE GOLDEN GIRLS 01/05/1985 CTC4309 Group ShotImage via EW

Every time I watch a rerun of Golden Girls, I think about what a fantastic setup those fictional, feisty aging single biddies had.

By pooling their resources they were able to afford to live in a beautiful (ok, hideous, but to be fair it was 1980s Florida) spacious home, where they were able to maintain their independence without becoming isolated as they grew older. They kept each other from being lonely and they looked after each other when they were sick or troubled.

While the premise was ripe for comedy, I actually think it might be an ideal way to approach old age, (and, as my mom has often pointed out, that kind of communal supportive living could be a really great way for women to approach single motherhood too).

Apparently, so did a group of women in France. Not inspired so much by a sitcom as by a desire to approach old age with a sense of dignity and purpose, free of the confines and limitations of more traditional retirement homes, these aging activist/feminists, lobbied for funding to create a home where elderly women would live together, look after one-another and continue to be active, contributing members of their community.

They have successfully created Baba Yaga House, a home with 24 apartments and space for university of sorts on the main floor, where they will co-ordinate educational courses and workshops to benefit their community.

I heard about the Baba Yagas on the CBC and was totally charmed by their concept. Sometimes the idea of aging is totally overwhelming and scary, but it doesn’t sound half as bad if you get to do it with your best Golden Girls or some badass Baba Yagas, don’t you think?

Very Pinteresting – 5 Pinners You Should be Following

Metamorphocity on Pinterest

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

I love that it looks like a magazine full of images and links tailor-selected for me, but I hate that it can seduce me into staying up an hour later than I should, browsing dreamy images when I should be dreaming.

But since I can’t quite seem to resist it entirely, I figure I had better at least follow people who I can count on to pin gorgeous images, inspiration and advice. Here are a few Pinners who always come through with treats for my eyes and brains:

Moorea Seal Pinterest

Moorea Seal has a modern, stylish sensibility. Based on her pins I’d let her dress me and my home any day. I was also really impressed with her response to some body shaming comments on an image she pinned recently.

The Nectar Collective on Pinterest

Melyssa Griffin of The Nectar Collective pins cheerful, colourful design inspiration, helpful blogging tips and general positivity

Bicyclette Boutique on Pinterest

Like their Toronto-based store, pins from Bicyclette Boutique are feminine, bohemian, whimsical and just so pretty!

Kyla Roma on Pinterest

Kyla’s boards are full of colourful fun and lots of inspiration to get organized and get creative.

Local Milk on Pinterest

Beth Kirby of Local Milk posts to-(quit your)die(t)-for recipes and just the most lovely serene images you ever did see.

Are you on Pinterest? Who would make your top five list of people to follow on Pinterest? Let me know in the comments!

Also, let’s be pin pals! You can count on me for everything from style to DIY to words to live by. And, if you’re a blogger in need of a little post inspiration, be sure to follow my Steal My Ideas board for unique writing prompts!

Blood Clots and Body Confidence

thigh-high compression stockingsMy relationship with my body took an interesting turn when, at 19 years old, I had the incredible good fortune to survive a pulmonary embolism.

I was diagnosed with chronic DVT, a blood clot in the deep veins of my left leg too massive to operate on and tested positive for a clotting mutation called factor V Leiden.

I remember at one point during my time in hospital telling the nurse helping me clean myself and wash my hair while I sat awkwardly naked in a wheelchair, hooked up to an IV, how I’d always been self-conscious about my calves, but in contemplating my grotesquely swollen mass of a leg, now they didn’t seem so bad.

I didn’t know at that point my leg would never be the same. The swelling did go down, but the damage to the veins was permanent and the clot running from my calf to my groin is, of course,  still there. To attempt to operate and remove it would mean a good possibility that some of the clot could break off and make its way back to my lungs and kill me, or become lodged in my heart or my brain and kill me.

So. There it stays.

Leaving me on good days, uncomfortable, and on bad, in pain.

There are little complications, and big ones.

I can’t run or crouch and I have to wear an uncomfortable tight thigh high compression stocking every day to keep the swelling to a minimum and to try to minimize the steadily growing damage to the surface veins of my leg.

Pregnancy would be high risk at best, unsuccessful or fatal at worst.

It’s an irritatingly constant reminder of my mortality and adapting to it has been a challenge.

I don’t know if every cloud has a silver lining, but if this one does, beyond the fact that my life did not end that day 19 years in, it would be that a potentially fatal condition does give a person a fair amount of perspective.

It made me think more about my body as a vehicle, as a temple, as a tool, and in doing so, it relieved some of the pressure I felt to make it look a certain way.

Taking my walker-assisted first steps out of the hospital made me more focused on what my body could do, and the exhaustion I felt taking just those few steps made me determined to do whatever I could to ensure that I get to feel healthy and strong for as long as possible.

It made me recognize in a concrete way, what a glorious privilege it is to be able to walk. To just get up, and effortlessly move yourself across a room suddenly seemed like the most miraculous thing. Suddenly I had no time to worry too much about what my body looked like and I was forced to focus more on what it could do, and how I could take good care of it to keep it running as smoothly as possible for however long I’m lucky enough to live in it.

Of course, it hasn’t stopped me from scrutinizing my body with a less than kind eye now and again, but that shift in focus has been a really powerful thing.

So my advice to women when they find themselves dissatisfied with their looks is to try  your damndest to shift your perspective. Think about the amazing things your body can do besides fit into your skinny jeans. Think about the way it feels, and what you can do to make it feel better.

And then? Stop thinking about it. Put your energy and your brain power into something outside yourself.
Because there are people who stand to gain from you being miserably preoccupied with your looks, but honey, you’re not one of them.

This post is part of the Love Your Body link-up hosted by the lovely Alicia of Jaybird and Rachel of Tossing the Script. Pop on by their blogs for links to more posts about loving your body.

Little Luxuries – Phone Finery

iPhoneCase

So guys, I recently discovered this thing called an “iPhone.”

I’d been clinging to my blackberry for dear life for YEARS, in part from a sense of loyalty to a local company and in part because I really liked the buttons. Oh, and also in part because I just couldn’t quite justify spending the money on a new phone when I had a functioning (well, for the most part. The trackpad stopped working about two years ago, but I worked around it) one already.

Even when my brother told me his pal was getting rid of one and didn’t even want any money for it, I didn’t immediately jump at the chance to upgrade. I was suspicious about its origins, and you know what they say about things that seem too good to be true.

But when everything checked out with the ie number, I decided to give it a shot (while holding on to my treasured BlackBerry, and its sweet little buttons just in case.

I am SO glad I did. I can’t remember being this excited about a toy since I was five and Santa brought me PJ Sparkles for Christmas (her hairbow and all her jewellery lit up!). It’s just so much faster and smarter and guys, the apps! Did you know about the apps?

Ahem.

And, since I don’t trust myself to not drop this new-found gem of mine in a show of epic clumsiness one of these days (neither does my brother, he threatened to take it back if I didn’t have a case for it by the next time he came to the city), I decided to treat it to the little luxury of a cute spring jacket, courtesy of Rifle Paper Co.

I already loved their distinct floral designs that I’d seen on stationery, cards, and calendars, so I was thrilled to learn that they made oh-so-pretty iPhone cases as well.

Before I settled on this one, I also had a grand old time scouring the internet for the prettiest cases in the land. You can check them out on Pinterest, here.

What do you guys use to help protect your phones from smashing to smithereens? Do you care about wrapping them in something pretty, or are you more about the function? Let me know in the comments!

5-9: Serving Brunch by Day, Lighting up Screens by Night

 Start calling yourself the thing you are in your heart, the thing your mind bends towards when you dream, the thing your fingers itch to do.

Start describing yourself in terms of the things you do from 5-9. Because we’re not defined by our 9-5s.

Imogen GraceImage courtesy of Alice Irene Whittaker-Cumming

By turns a quiet, soulful, observer of the world and a gorgeous goofball with a wicked sense of humour, it’s hardly surprising that my decidedly multi-faceted friend Imogen is no one-trick pony when it comes to her work life.

While she does hold down a steady restaurant gig, that barely skims the surface of the remarkable number of pursuits she could answer the question, “What do you do?” with.

“I  say I write, I make films, I act, I do copywriting…I rarely mention the work I do in the restaurant industry. Not to hide it, but because at this point I just don’t consider serving to be ‘what I do’,” she explains.

“I stopped answering with “server / actor” a loooong time ago. Usually people would respond with “Oh, one of those”, or perhaps just a pitiful chuckle. Then I’d spend 5 minutes reassuring them that, don’t worry, I’m going to be all right.”

Rather than attempting to get to know her based on her 9-5 job, Imogen says she’d be happier if people formed an opinion about her based on the fact that she feels that “it’s really special to get to do what inspires you, and to take big risks. And though my path is difficult and not quite traditional, it’s f***ing amazing to work hard at what you think is important.”

Work hard she does. I’ve never known her to not have a project or two on the go. Most recently she wrapped up directing a short film called #Cold, set to premier at the Reelworld Festival in April. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Imogen says the experience was, “such a great ride, I learned so much about film and being a leader. I really bit off more than I could chew and sometimes it was messy and sometimes it was victorious.”

True to form, that’s not all she has on the go, with an ambitious online project next on her horizon.

“I’m also just beginning a venture called Herstory 101,” she explains,

“It’s going to be an open source website where people can contribute stories in any medium on women through history – scientists, artists, pioneers, travellers, rebels, villains, lovers (think comic strip of Joan of Arc, infographic on the women’s lib movement, a short film about Alice Guy Blanche, one of the first filmmakers ever, man or woman). Basically, we are going to rewrite history in a way that celebrates the contributions of the many badass women that have come before us and changed our world. I want all of Toronto to be involved.”

I asked Imogen if there are any benefits to pursuing her passions independently of a 9-5. Her answer is an emphatic, yes. “I’m starting to get spoiled by the amount of creative freedom that comes from writing and directing for myself (rather than for a studio etc.) I make whatever I want! Like a big baby!”

“I also like writing for other people though, too…because they pay me,” she adds.

Still, she says, balancing that independence with making a living, isn’t without its challenges. I asked her where she finds the energy to do creative work after coming home from a brunch shift.

“I don’t,” she admits. “I come home from a brunch shift and curl up in a ball for three hours. But then Monday comes, and I’m definitely energized for the week ahead.”

Then of course, there are the challenges of not knowing what’s coming next, not having weekends free, or paid vacation time and of budgeting when paid projects are not on the table, and she has to rely solely on restaurant work to pay her bills. And of course, there’s the kind of worry that comes from not knowing if a project she embarks on will succeed or fail miserably.

Luckily, along with those challenges, Imogen finds great rewards. For her the most exciting moment that’s come from facing them was watching one of her projects come to life before her eyes.

“[The most exciting moment so far was] last year, sitting in a movie theatre with the lights down, and watching my first short film on the big screen. It affirmed for me that the biggest personal challenges come with the biggest rewards. I was proud of myself,” she says.

Imogen’s advice for anyone who doesn’t find fulfillment in their 9-5, but isn’t sure how to go about discovering what inspires them outside of it is simply to share themselves with people.

“Share what fires you up, what you want to change in the world, what you want to spend your time doing. Just keep doing that and then listen to the universe when it starts throwing giant bones at your head.”

And how does such a busy, hardworking 5-9er define success?

“Getting it done. Just getting it done the way it was meant to be done. At the 75% mark of any project, I want to give up. So when I push through that and actually fulfill on the dream that I had a long time ago, without even knowing why I’m doing it anymore…it feels like I’m Jodi Foster in Contact when she comes back to life after dropping out of the centre of the earth in that weird space ball. Like I’ve done something really scary that seemed impossible and have found a new part of myself.”

Beautiful.

Follow Imogen and #Cold on Twitter, check out some of her other work here, and if you’re interested in contributing to or learning more about Herstory 101 (seriously, how awesome does that sound?), send her a quick email. She’d love to hear from you, (and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments)!

 

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