Welcome to threehundredsixtysixdays.com

Three hundred sixty six days (3 hundred 66 days) is a year of my life I am devoting to month-long social experiments.  Check out “About threehundredsixtysixdays” above for more details.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Update: I have finished my year of month-long social experiments (read my 366th post here for a recap of what I went through and what I learned), but I am still blogging every Wednesday about the process of writing the book, my life and other fun facts about the topics I covered.  

Moving / It’s just “stuff”

I’m sorry I haven’t written on the blog in awhile.  I haven’t really being doing anything of my normal routine lately: partly to do with the upset with my agent, but mostly because I just moved in with my boyfriend.

Moving.  Man, it’s hard.  It’s really hard.  It’s harder than anyone ever remembers it being.  I think we all block it out once we’re in a new place.  It shouldn’t come as a shock how difficult it is, but for some reason it always does.  How do I have so much stuff?  What do I keep?  What do I give away? Then of course there is the actual act of packing, moving, then unpacking.  I know this is a first-world, middle-class problem.  I’m ashamed that I have so much.  (Although most of it is used, hand-me-downs, so I feel a little better that I’m helping keep things out of the landfills.)  Seriously, how did I accumulate so much in four years?  

It’s overwhelming all this “stuff”.  It weighs me down physically and mentally.  Part of me would love to just get rid of it all and live with only a couple of suitcases worth of belongings like I did for many years when I moved to England, then to Vancouver, then to Australia.  Do I really need all of this?

Probably the worst thing in this particular move is moving into my boyfriend’s apartment when he already has his rooms full.  I will never ever move into a boyfriend’s apartment again.  I’m trying to carve out my own space, but it just feels like I’m staying over and never going home.  Besides the fact that he’s been away on business since I’ve officially been living here.  It feels like I’m house-sitting in a way.

It will be better when he gets back and we can figure out together where things can go.  There are stills boxes everywhere and an extra couch we are trying to get rid of that I have to step over to get around.  I am living in a maze in which the walls could possibly fall over on me.

I know it’s just “stuff”.  Things aren’t important. People are.  Love is.  Experiences are.  The way we live our lives is important.  Things are just objects.  They shouldn’t affect me so much.  I know that logically, but those things are overwhelming me right now and it’s affecting everything in my life.  I need my sanctuary, and I know I will find it here, it will just take a little time and a little more unpacking.  And getting rid of some more of this “stuff”.

Today I took my first few steps, did yoga for the first time since I moved in, wrote this blog, cleaned a space for myself in his apartment that I can write in and feel like it’s mine.  Today seems a little brighter than it was yesterday (and it is literally sunny out, while yesterday was rainy: pathetic fallacy?).  There are tons of sayings about if you don’t take the first steps, you can’t ever get anywhere.  I’m taking the first steps to get my life back on track.  Today I decide not to be overwhelmed by the “stuff” and to do something about it.

Seven hundred and sixty-five

Blessing in disguise: the end of my relationship with my literary agent

Sometimes things don’t happen the way that you planned, or you wanted, or you expected them to.  Sometimes those things initially shock, disappoint and upset you.  Sometimes we all need these moments to grow and to learn.  Sometimes they are blessings in disguise.

I have officially ended my relationship with the literary agent and agency I was working with.  Perhaps one day I’ll write about my experience, once it’s all sunk in and I can look at it with a little less emotion than I feel at the moment.  Needless to say it wasn’t a happy ending; the ending that I dreamed when I got an agent right away and I hoped a publishing deal would follow within the year.  It wasn’t a fairytale ending, but I did learn a lot.  My ex-agent helped to motivate me and edit my work and I am grateful for that.

I admit I was too naive, trusting, and didn’t listen to my gut six months ago when a nagging feeling started to tell me things weren’t right.  I waited around, was patient and understanding, was trying to be a good person.  I guess in business good people don’t finish on top.  It’s sad.  I’m sad.  But, as the saying goes: this too shall pass.

The more I think about it, the more I can see the happy ending.  It might not be the one I had expected, but it’s there.  And now I have control of my own work again.  I don’t have to wait around.  It’s up to me now.

And so, here I go on a new journey with the book/blog.  I’m not sure where it will take me yet.  I need a few days to figure out this new path I am on.  Perhaps I will self publish, or look for a different agent and agency.  I’ve started writing another book, so maybe that will be the one I take with me now.  As my friend said to me today, just because I didn’t think this is the way it was all supposed to go down, doesn’t mean it’s not the way it’s supposed to go.  It was a learning experience from the very beginning with this blog and every up and down has taught me a lot about myself and the world.  This is just one bump in a series of them.

Today I am allowing myself to mourn the loss of the way I dreamed it would go.  Tomorrow I begin steps towards something beyond my dreams.  I believe now, as I have always believed.  It will happen with more hard work and faith.  Even if today I’m a little sad.

Seven hundred and fifty-three

Okay, I’ve decided to continue to blog.  Well, at least for now.  I’ve had a lot of support from online and real life sources, and I do believe that it’s important to have a variety of different voices out there in the blogosphere.  Besides, sometimes I just have to write and share my feelings.  Especially about topics I feel passionate about.  If I offend someone, I am sorry.  I will follow my internet rules of conduct (which I wrote as “code of contact” last week – oops, I guess I was feeling really passionate if I didn’t pick that up in my proof read!  I fixed it, but I’m happy I can laugh at myself and my own silly mistakes.) and be kind and be open to other people’s opinions that are not my own, even if I disagree.

With that said, I’m feeling in the photo mood and not as much the writing one.  (I’m actually formulating a good rant on a topic that is really upsetting me at the moment, but it needs some work and I’d like to post something this week.)  I’ve been looking through old photos to pick a few to put up on the walls in the new apartment and came across these gems.  These were taken with a small point-and-shoot camera in 2008 in the New Forest, in southern England.  My boyfriend-at-the-time and I were camping and I woke up early one day to find ponies grazing on the misty field right outside our tent.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  In a time when the world can be an ugly place with bombings, hate crimes, complicated politics, pollution and too much anger, it’s nice to be reminded that some things are so serene and simple.  Looking at these photos brings me back to that moment and that feeling of calm and beauty that I need to deal with the onslaught of horrible things going on around the world.

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Seven hundred and forty-six

Afraid of blogging?

I guess my new blog day is turning into Fridays.  I’ve actually been avoiding blogging a little over the past few weeks.  It’s not that I don’t have anything say (all my friends and family can tell you I always have a lot to say).  And it’s definitely not because I don’t want to write – I love to play with words.  It’s that I’ve become increasingly aware of the impact of those words written on the internet and how they can affect other people.

When I started blogging a few years ago I figured no one would read what I had to say besides my mother and best friends.  I wrote how I felt and how I would have talked to them in person had we been in the same room.  I didn’t really think of other people I didn’t know reading my posts.  I started doing “the project” and slowly gained followers, but most of the topics were fun and people enjoyed my silliness.  I found out during good deed and poverty months that my opinions can really hurt people and that I should make sure I watch how I phrase things and what I choose to write about.  However, I kept going: in the name of art, truth, and being true to myself.

Recently, though, I’ve been aware of many bloggers writing sometimes seemingly harmless things and other people taking offence.  There was a vegan blogger who wrote about how she had to stop being vegan because her body needed her to.  That blogger got death threats from vegan activists, and ultimately she shut down her blog for the safety of her family.  She was just saying her opinion about her own journey and talking about the food she eats.

I just read a different blogger’s post about being depressed and angry at the person who wrote 21 Habits of Happy People.  She argues that it’s not that easy and those “happy people” are essentially being bullies.  (It’s a very interesting argument and worth a read).  She had so many responses from “happy people” telling her she is wrong that she wrote a follow-up post, and a subsequent 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed.

In many of these instances people are just writing how they feel, from the vegan blogger, to the depressed woman, to the happy people.  Yet, they are hurting other people.  I’m so very aware right now that what I write might be upsetting someone else, even if I’m just writing my own story, that it almost stops me from writing anything.  I’m so stuck between the need to share, the idea that more shades brings a more complete picture, and not wanting to indirectly hurt someone.  It’s almost making me rethink blogging as a whole.

I’m even more aware of the power of words and images on the internet by the stream of young people committing suicide after being cyber-bullied.  In these instances the people doing the bullying were intentionally trying to hurt the other person, unlike what I was talking about previously.  These sad cases (which disturb me to the core, considering my experience with being bullied) are an extreme, but they do highlight a major problem with the way we communicate on the internet.  In our age of putting everything online, we are forgetting that those words, images and videos are accessible everywhere and sometimes spread like wildfire, and can be very hurtful.

As a journalist, though, I also think about where we draw the line.  Should happy people stop saying the reasons they are happy?  Should vegan bloggers not be able to say that they think their body wants a bit of animal?  Should depressed people not be able to say their side of the story too?  Being able to publish how we feel is an amazing right we have, but it’s also a responsibility.  Now that day-to-day life is posted online, there needs to be an internet code of conduct written.  Don’t cyber bully, don’t be mean to someone, don’t discount their opinion straight away because it’s not your own.  But, yes, let’s have open discussions about topics like veganism, depression, bullying.  Because that is both the beauty and the curse of blogging.  But let’s also not forget that what we say can directly affect other people, sometimes hurt them.

As I write this, I am still struggling with whether I can keep putting myself out here on the blogosphere.  I don’t want to be a bully, directly or indirectly.  But I also want to share my story with the world.  How do I reconcile this in myself to continue to blog?  I’m not sure.

Seven hundred and thirty-nine

Well, I’m two days late for my blog this week.  I wrote a post on Wednesday in the heat of the moment, ranting about something that could be both controversial and something I feel extremely passionate about.  I walked away after writing, glad to get it off my chest, but not entirely sure I wanted it to be on the internet for all to see.  I came back, tried to edit it, still was feeling very vulnerable about the emotions behind the words, and ultimately decided not to post it Wednesday, sleep on it and see yesterday what I thought.  By that point I was calmer, wanting to rephrase a few things in order not to come across as hurtful to some people in my life.  I’m still not happy about it, so here I am, writing about writing it.  I will post it, but not this week.  It needs time to be said properly.  Blogging can be great for those intense emotions, but in this instance I want to present a well-rounded argument, instead of just my gut reaction to a situation.

That’s one thing I miss about straight journalistic writing.  When you interview someone else or write an article about an outside subject, you are trying to take an objective view of the situation.  Of course, no writing is ever completely objective, and the writer is always in there somewhere; however, it’s less personal, less intimate.  Writing this book and this blog has been really hard for me at times.  Do I really want to let the world in this much?  How much will people judge me?  How do I communicate how I honestly feel and connect with the reader?  I feel so vulnerable every time I look at the words I write about myself, my journey, and my opinions.

I’ve chosen this path, though, and I’ve come so far in it.  I’m proud of what I’ve done, even if it is a struggle.  It’s the struggles that help us learn lessons.  And many a lesson I have learned since I started blogging and sharing my life with world wide web.  Today, though, I feel exposed and scared, unsure of what has happened and what is to come.  Today I don’t want to post my most intimate secrets, and yet somehow I think I have done just that.  But today is also one day in a hopefully long life.  I’ll have many more days like this, I know, and yet I still want to continue.  I feel a need to write, to share, and to grow, even if I’m scared to do so.  I have a feeling I’m not alone in this.