Lucky you, Murphy

In this cold, cold tundra (though today I was informed, “it’s only chilly, wait until winter…”) every bit of colour and positivity counts. I have yet to encounter a blizzard, a long power-out, or the days with 20 hours of darkness, but it won’t be long. I’m working to forge friendships and build personal strength that will get me through the winter.

In my last post featuring positive graffiti, I featured a local artist and someone (unknown) who had changed F*** the police to Hug the police. I found some more today on a photo walk that made me smile and that I wanted to share with you.

Murphy’s law is something that you come to expect and anticipate here. Staff shortages, unpredictable weather, losing your internet if the wind is too strong or it rains. I really like the graffiti I found that says “Lucky you Murphy” because Murphy’s law never leaves you feeling lucky. Things go wrong up here, and you just have to deal with it and keep going. I hope you enjoy these pictures and that you remember that you can get through whatever is going on in your life right now.

If you are clever, you can probably see what the word graffiti used to say before it was changed to something more positive.

“I wish you didn’t have to fly away”

posgraf1

“Shucks, you’re #1″

posgraf5

“Lucky you, Murphy”

posgraf4

“Cook’n peachy” – on a second glance, I realized this probably says “Look’n peachy” … guess I had food on the brain.

posgraf2

“<3″

posgraf3

“you kno you luff it”

posgraf6

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I’m not done making mistakes and taking chances.

“NOTHING GREAT IS CREATED SUDDENLY.” It was just a kitschy plaque I saw at the grocery store, but it stopped me in the aisle. If you read my blog here regularly, you know I am passionate about constantly improving and about following your dreams.

spinsbythesea

When I was introduced to secular music for the first time, I was very influenced by Jason Mraz’s early albums like Waiting for my Rocket, Selections for Friends, and Mr. A-Z. His lyrical prowess was unlike anything I’d encountered in my sheltered musical experience. His flow, storytelling and impressive range in vocal skills made Mraz one of my favourites and remains so to this day.

I’ve been in my new home for two months (a 3,555 km move from the West Coast to an arctic island). Just before I got here I downloaded a bunch of Ed Sheeran’s stuff. Immediately, I experienced the same love of his mastery of words and sounds to tell stories. I might be late to the Sheeran party, but if you look at my iTunes you will see many of his songs show 27-35 plays (and that’s not counting any of the plays on my phone, only my computer). I listen to his stuff one at a time on repeat. There are several songs that have hit me with chills or brought me to tears on the very first listen. There have been songs that have spun me backwards and made me deal with things in my past. There are songs that give me total hope for my creative future.

Why do I love these guys?

They have lived.

I heard Take it Back for the first time today while I was out running errands. I set it up for repeat. I went and bought a coffee and walked down the rocks of the beach over faded yellow ropes and discarded seal skins to the very edge where I could feel the wind hit my face and I was as close as I could be to the water. Me and my black coffee, I closed my eyes and I could feel it all. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It just hits me. I was not discouraged by how inadequate I feel in comparison to his song writing. I feel inspired and I know the more I listen to people who are great, the closer I will get to creating something worthy of further inspiring others.

But it’s not just practice. It’s living. My favourite artists have taken chances, had rough times, had great times, they’ve gone to the university of life and that appeals to me so much. I’m 5th child after a doctor, nurse, teacher and business man. Both my parents have worked at a university. I just want to go places and meet people and keep saying yes. I’m done three years of uni, but it’s hard to think of going back when I have so much I want to do outside of expensive books and minds that are learning so much but reach the world and have no idea what they are passionate about or value. They wrap themselves in their degree and face the world, find someone who likes what they’re wearing and take a safe job to pay for their new condo and pay for the normal life they have always been expected to live.

I don’t know if I can take this route. 

I want to make more mistakes. Learn more through the people I meet. I want to get lost. I want to stay up all night talking to strangers.  I want to buy a ticket and leave with no luggage. I want to write and sing and draw everything I see. I want to extend my heart to those in need. I want to drive until I run out of gas. I want to busk. I want to photograph things that no one but me sees. I want to notice the small details of the world and bring attention to them through art and music. 

For me, there would be nothing worse than turning 30 and feeling like I settled. I am 8 years away from 30. Jason Mraz is 37, Ed Sheeran is 23. I don’t necessarily aspire to fame, but I aspire to create big things. Important or at least meaningful things. Music, writing, art, maybe movies. I want to make stuff that touches people and changes them. That makes them think, like my favourite songs, books and films have made me reconsider my assumptions.

Back to the quote I found in the grocery store at the beginning.

I found extreme joy and hope in this quote. “Nothing great is created suddenly.” There’s no pressure. It’s up to me to remain driven and focused, but I can rest in the fact that I’m on a journey that can lead to greatness with each choice I make. I can achieve what I desire with time and hustle.

What choices do you wish you made? Is it really too late to make them now? What’s holding you back from taking the risks that could change your life?

Here’s the full quote: 

“Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig. I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” -Epictetus

What is the proverbial fig in your life? Are you rushing too much in hopes of ripening it faster? How are you developing your passions and skills to harvest a sweet fig at the end of your hard work?

When I Grow Up

The plan was always to become a writer and an artist. 

I am reminded of this as my nephew who I nanny tells me his dreams for the future. The NHL, an olympic speed skater, American ninja warrior (even though we’re Canucks), NBA… and finally, an artist who sells his work.

chalkAs a nanny, my job description is diverse and ever-changing. My sister did a back to school photo shoot with her boys last week and I got to be the chalk artist for her.

So, technically, I got paid to make art. I didn’t sell anything but my time and talents were valued enough for her to ask me to do it for her. It was an a-ha! moment for me.

I want to keep doing the things I love always. Whether I am paid to do them or not. I must create; I must absorb and learn from other people’s creations; I must keep asking questions.

Now that I am working two jobs, my time to create is somewhat limited. But I try to play some music, do some drawing or writing and some reading every day. It keeps me sane and feeds my soul.

Today, I was off nanny duty, so I started my #radicalselflovebible.  It was great to just curl up in bed, put on an audio book (Harry Potter again, of course, what else?) and create something of importance to me.

I hope you hold on to the dreams of your youth and pursue them with gusto. And if you are having trouble finding what you want in life, hit the rewind button and look at what you spent time doing as a child. What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Developing Confidence to Pursue Your Peak

Four important steps developing self confidence. 

  1. Eliminate the fear that is holding you back. It only takes 30 seconds of bravery to step out of your comfort zone, into the new terrain that will lead to growth. 
  2. Align your actions and your desires. If you make the small choices on the daily that reflect your goals, you will reach them. Remember the saying: “what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”
  3. Unplug. Get away from the game of false projections and the comparing that happens online. Engage fully with people by putting away your phone and making eye contact during conversations. Realize that whatever someone appears to be on Facebook, or other social media, they have insecurities just like you. 
  4. Practice… practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect! Be intentional about improving your confidence and seeking the life you desire.

For more about this, check out my latest video on YouTube, in which I go more in depth into the above points.

The Art of the Playlist

Lately, I’m all about the snail mail. You know, being 3,500 kms away from home does that to you. The internet stops working when it rains here, so that leaves me with a lot of time to write while the boys are playing or napping. 

There are a few ladies at my old work that are just awesome and I miss a lot, so I wrote them letters a few weeks ago. In addition to asking them how the sunny coast was and updating them on #arcticproblems, I also made them each a playlist. 

3 playlists

When Bangerz was just emerging, I watched an interview with Miley Cyrus, and she talked about how she loves to give and receive playlists. She talked about how that was a great way to get to get to know someone. Mixtapes and CDs have been a big part of my musical upbringing. This concept has stuck with me, though it’s taken a while for me to break down the assumption that making a mixtape has to be a romantic gesture. Sounds silly, but I thought it would be weird to just hand my friends a playlist or ask for one. 

I remember my sister making me a CD for my walkman for my trip to Quebec in grade 8.

I remember recording Party in the USA on cassette tape in my room when I started listening to secular radio secretly at night. Oh, 2009. 

I remember someone I danced with loading up my iPod with all of his favourite artists (many of which are still my favourites). I didn’t sync my ipod for 2 and a half years because I didn’t want to lose all that music. 

A good playlist takes time to make. You have to use your own collection and taste and select which aspects to share with another human being. You may be consciously or unconsciously sharing the memories and associations you have attached to this music. You want it to be both novel and nostalgic for the the listener. Maybe some artists or songs they already know, mixed in with things they haven’t heard yet. You want the playlist to flow song to song; order is important (at least it is to me). 

So here are three playlists I made for friends back home, along with one word to describe the people they are made for.

for a dancer

1- Colors Amos Less
2- Orphans Kingdoms Brooke Fraser
3- Put Your Records On Corrine Bailey Rae
4- Leisure Suite Feist
5- Flapper Girl The Lumineers
6- Mercy One Republic
7- You have been loved Sia

for an adventurer

1- Little Black Sandals Sia
2- July, July! The Decemberists
3- Opera Singer Cake
4- Mushaboom Feist
5- Walt Grace’s Submarine Test John Mayer
6- You Give Me Something James Morrison 
7- Mama Do Lorde

for a free spirit

1- Mermaid Train
2- White Winos Loudon Wainwright III
3- I Never Knew You (Live) Jason Mraz
4- Brandy Alexander Feist
5- O Valencia! The Decemberists
6- Half of Something Else The Airborne Toxic Event
7- Los Angeles, I’m Yours The Decemberists

You can see the some of the same artists cropped up throughout these three little playlists. That’s what I was in the mood to share and have been listening to this summer. 

Playlists capture your tastes and preferences and mood for a moment in time. Maybe you make it for a road trip where you won’t get any radio reception in the car. Or maybe for a wicked dance party at your new place. Or maybe you make it for your significant other. Whatever the reason for the playlist, it’s a snapshot of a moment that can be enjoyed over and over again. 

Do you like to make playlists? What is one of or some of your favourites?

I’d love to know in a comment below, I’m always looking for new tunes. Hope you found something new, or were reminded of a song you forgot about.

P.S. Anyone want to buy me this? Thanks. 

Like this? Check out my last music post: SHAKE IT OFF, TAYLOR.

aksarnerk | aurora borealis

Either God was up late painting, or there’s an alien invasion on it’s way, but they can’t decide where to land. 

Tonight I got to see the Northern lights for the first time.

NL2

During my last shift, someone at work told me the lights had been good the night before. Around 11:30pm I remembered this, and I peeked outside… to a glorious green-streaked sky.

First, I got shivers all over. Then, I knew I needed to grab my camera. I brought my camera out onto the deck and was trying to use auto focus and it was obviously not working, so I just stared at the lights and there may have been a few tears. Disbelief, gratitude, amazement…

Back inside the house, with the help of light, I managed to figure out my camera settings and brought my conveniently just-made cocoa and a blanket outside to keep watching and hopefully to capture some of this beauty. I am very happy with the shots I got. Even if they aren’t totally clear, it was my first time seeing the northern lights, and I’m thankful I got a few shots.

NL5

NL4

NL3

After a while, I came out from behind the lens and just sat back to watch. I reflected again on a word I’ve been writing about frequently in my journal: transient. It’s a word I like so much I’m contemplating getting it tattooed. So much in our life is transitory, temporary, just here for a brief moment in the wide scope of time. Even us, we are just passing through. But it is in the impermanent that there is so much beauty and we can appreciate and remember the temporary moments, people, experiences that brought us the most joy. I am all the more grateful for things that I am unable to hold in my hand. I am more grateful for things that I have lost. I am more grateful for the passing and changing beauty of the world around me than anything solid.

It was a beautiful night to be alive, really.

Once again, thankful to be where I am in this moment, and looking forward to everything that the year will bring.

Thugs, Hugs & Dumpcano

Magical narwal!graf2I will always find graffiti intriguing. I have never done large-scale art, I have always been more at home with my nose in small sketch books at home and scrawling on paper napkins when eating out. Iqaluit has been great for the street art (not only graf, but there are also stone and metal sculptures everywhere). My brother in law’s friend was commissioned to do these murals. These ones pictured are on the side of the fire station, I have yet to photograph the very large mural near the hospital, though that is another one I must get some pictures of.

graf3This is one of my favourites. It’s completely magical and I just love it. The colours and concept are amazing.

graf1Some other non-commissioned street I’ve come across include “HUG the police” on the side of a shed, and “west coast Thug Life” on a shipping container. I could make a whole album of things I find in the tundra. One of the most interesting so far was that plastic boot. There is a lot of litter, I wish I had the time and resources to repurpose them into something cool. But they are fun to just come across when I’m running too.

Dumpcano, you ask? Our dump has its own Twitter account, because it’s on fire. It has been for months. I can read about the drama in the local newspaper. I have only really skimmed our newspaper, though that’s something I’d like to be more diligent with, in order to connect myself better to the community.

thugshugsdumpcanoLife in the North has thus far been an incredible thing. I feel healthier, happier, and more whole. I’ve met some first-class people at my job as a waitress. I can easily walk to work, the store, the library, the ocean. My runs through the tundra are challenging and breathtaking. My love bank is filled every day by three amazing little boys who want to draw and play and dance endlessly with me. I have stuck with my vegan lifestyle. The 6 weeks I’ve been here have flown by.

I’m feeling endlessly inspired by this new environment. I can’t wait to share more through blogging and YouTube!

Thanks for reading!

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jessihall1
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Instagram: @jessihannahjay