365 Attempts (At Life)- The Group Project

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Day 365

by Natalie Karneef

My fellow bloggers have spent the week writing beautiful posts about the experience we’ve shared during this experiment over the last year. Thus, in my final - and the final - 365 Attempts post, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

I didn’t realize it was a secret. I thought it was common knowledge. But after speaking to several friends, I learned the truth: very few of you know about the easy way to put a duvet cover on a duvet.

I hear more and more tales of people struggling upside down, grunting and swearing, emerging from the duvet cover without success but with a hairdo that could rival Russell Brand’s and retreating to the kitchen for a large glass of wine while shouting at their partner to do it their goddamn selves. Not necessary! If you, too, struggle with this, the following instructions will help.

                                    image

           personally, I love this hairdo and also Russell Brand is one of my   heroes, so I mean no offence by that statement

  1. Turn the duvet cover inside out.
  2. Reach both hands inside the now inside-out duvet cover and take hold each of the far corners, that is to say the corners that belong to the top end of your duvet, with each hand. (At this point I also recommend you climb inside and make ghost noises, but this is not essential for the end result.)
  3. Now grab the corners of the top end of the duvet itself with these same two hands, from inside the inside-out duvet cover.
  4. Perform a swift flourish in which you shake the duvet cover so it inverts itself to be the right way out and falls over most of the duvet.
  5. Deposit the duvet on the bed and pull the remainder of the cover over the remainder of the duvet.
  6. Have a large glass of wine anyway. You deserve it.

You can also use the same method with pillows and pillowcases.

You’re welcome.

Now, about blogging once a week for the past year.

When I was in my early twenties - as opposed to the very late twenties I’m in now - I spent a summer cleaning houses.

I actually liked the job. There was something soothing about scrubbing a tap until it shined, or vacuuming a carpet until it was fluffy and spotless. But I think the other reason I liked the job is that that was the summer my parents split up, and being in other people’s homes gave me a sense of hope.

I would walk through their living rooms and think about the family who lived here, all crowded around the TV together. I’d look upon their kitchen tables and master bedrooms and imagine them, parents and young children living under one roof, laughing and enjoying each other’s existence. The following year, back at university, I had the good fortune to live in (the rattiest building in) a beautiful old neighbourhood. Every night as I walked home, I would gaze into the big bay windows of the grand, Victorian houses I passed. The cosy living rooms and book-lined walls and big couches, the people sitting down to dinner, smiling as they put steaming platters of food on tables… I was certain these people were fulfilled and completely at peace, and that one day, I would be like that, too.  

I graduated and went traveling. I came back home and fell into the clutches of full-fledged depression. I recovered and left to travel a second time, and broke up a perfect-on-paper relationship with a guy I was by all accounts supposed to marry. Some shitty things happened, and some great things, and I finally came back to follow my dreams and become one of those people. But no matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t happen.

My life didn’t feel fulfilled or at peace. Sure, I had moments, but the goal isn’t moments, is it? It’s 100% A-okay. It’s true love and a wedding with lots of mason jars and a design-blog-worthy home interior and perfect children and a mantelpiece full of accolades from your Top 40 Under 40 career.

The fact that I wasn’t measuring up to this never hurt me more than the summer I got married. Tony and I were arguing night and day, and I was goggle-eyed with anxiety because this was supposed to be the happiest time of my life and instead I was terrified and angry and lost and not actually sure if I would make it down the aisle. I barely shared this with anyone, though, because I was sure I wasn’t “supposed” to have these types of feelings. Certainly not before getting married, but really, not ever.

And yet, I shared it on my blog. I guess it had to come out one way or another. I didn’t relate the whole shebang, event for event, but just wrote a little bit about how scared I was, and how much pressure I felt to be bridey and happy. And some people said, “Yeah, I felt that way, too.” And each time they did, I felt a little bit less crazy.

I began to share more after that. Every time, I pushed the envelope just a bit more. I’d write a post, click “publish,” and then lie down on the floor and think, “I can’t believe I just admitted that. I’ve ruined my life.” And yet, those posts were the ones that got the most responses. The more I shared, the more people shared back, opening up about their own frustrations and family dramas and personal tragedies, or just saying, “Thanks. I needed that today.” And likewise, whenever I read someone else’s truth, I felt more at peace with my own. The more truth that floated around, the more I recognized that the perfect life I was pushing myself towards didn’t actually exist, and that all of this pushing was making me kind of crazy. And I wasn’t the only one.

That’s why I agreed to do this project. (Or rather, that’s why I strongly hinted to Tanya that she should open 365 up to multiple contributors and let me be one of them.) This world we live in is far too lonely and alienating as it is. I really believe that the more truth we share, the easier it is on all of us. 

So here are my parting words to you, dear 365 reader, aside from – shameless plug – I will still be writing at nataliekarneef.com so please come visit me there anytime:

As much as you can, please tell the truth.

Even if you’re not a blogger, or a writer, or even a talker. Even if the idea of it scares the motherloving pants off you, just try it once, as an experiment. Open up to a friend you don’t know well, but would like to. Share something with a colleague, or a neighbour, or an old friend you haven’t heard from in years, or a good friend you haven’t spoken in months, out of pride or hurt or anger. Reach out and say something from inside your heart. Sing the truth, or dance it, or put it on a cake. That’s what we were put on this earth to do, not to play it cool or pretend we’ve got it all together or keep it all in so as not to trouble anyone. Keeping it all in will kill you. That may be a strong statement, but I believe it with all of my heart.

Tell someone what you’re afraid of, what keeps you up at night, how you really feel about your mother. And then do it again. Hell, tell me! I’d love to know. No one has a squeaky clean life. No one. Okay, maybe a few people, but we won’t talk about them. The rest of us have messy, certifiably insane families, and are laden under the weight of addiction and jealousy, and are rife with indecision and co-dependencies and secrets we’re certain we’d be burned at the stake if people found out. But we wouldn’t. And if someone you tell is still so afraid that they judge you for telling the truth, there are 199 others who will hug you and pour you a cup of tea. I promise.

Stop airbrushing your life. That Instagrammed breakfast looks great, but it’s probably not an accurate representation of your morning. You are far more delicious and unique than the outfit you’re wearing today or the lunches you make your children or what you pin on Pinterest. We care way more about  how you got your stretch marks and scars and cracks, and how you survived them. Because we have them, too. We’re all on this boat together.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading us this year. It was an honour to tell you the truth every Saturday, and to read Tanya’s and Kenneth’s and Carlo’s and Courtney’s and Antz’s and Johnny’s and Nat’s truths throughout the rest of the week. You guys are seriously awesome.

With love,

Natalie

 

 

Day 364: auf Wiedersehen

by Tanya Sa 

Well, lah dee dah. My LAST blog post for another installment of 365 Attempts (At Life).

The experience this time around was completely different. Sharing the ‘word load’ with 7 other (super) talented individuals took a great deal of the pressure off. But it was far more difficult for me than the last run of writing every day for one whole year. The struggle this time was less about writer’s block and more about not really wanting to delve into my personal affairs in a public way anymore. So… I’ve decided no more blogs for me.

I’m very happy to hear that my co-bloggers have found the experience enriching and have used this forum to write through feelings and realizations. I too, have experienced that at different points my first time around. But as I get older, and travel further down the path of my own life, I have realized a greater need for privacy and introspection. This time ahead, the attempt will be to get to know myself for myself.

I would like to thank Natalie for conjuring up this group idea when I was toying with another year of daily writing solo. I do feel her gifted writing was the heart of 365 Attempts (At Life) this time around. She weaves words and thoughts together quite unlike anyone I know and all in all is a pretty remarkable person I’m blessed to call a friend.

To Johnny, Anthony, N@t, Courtney, Pants/Kenneth and yes, even Carlo for your commitment to this project. Writing homework is not always fun when LIFE is happening to you and around you. But you did it and I commend you. (I’m doing the wave…all by myself, but still doing the wave nonetheless). You turned this blog into a colourful mosaic of personality and heart. I enjoyed the slices of life you offered up. Thank you!!!

And so my lovely reader friends, what have I learned about LIFE thus far?
I’ve learned that expectations are a cruel self-inflicted trick. Better to expect the unexpected.
I’ve learned change is inevitable. And possibly not the most terrible thing in the world.
I’ve learned that if you treat your hard earned money with respect you will have enough. If you don’t …you won’t.
I’ve learned that travel is the greatest teacher.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t let anyone dictate what you enjoy or believe in. Respect your own tastes and opinions. Hear them clearly in your mind because that’s your individuality speaking directly to you. 
I’ve learned that family can be a complicated nest of relationships. You can’t force closeness. But you can have an open heart and forgo pettiness.
I’ve learned that it’s better to surround yourself with people who recognize you are evolving. Don’t allow anyone to pigeon-hole you as “that guy” or “that girl”. You are so, so much more.
I’ve learned that this online existence is taking us away from the present. Be more present. Life is way too short not to.
I’ve learned that falling completely in love with someone is a scary, scary thing.
But that that loving yourself is even scarier. And harder.
Most of all, I’ve learned that life is a daily attempt. You have to keep showing up. Stay alive. Breathe. And just do your best.

Day 363: The Final Thursday Natstallment

By: N@ Lauzon 


Holy annum, Batman!  Heh, I totally wanted to use the word ‘annum’ because it’s a word that sounds AND looks dirty!  ANNUM! ANNUM! ANNUM! Whee!

But wow.

How quickly a year passes!

This is my final weekly post for the 365 Experiment.  Happy to say that aside from one helluva snow storm in which I had no innernets connection, I have posted every Thursday for an entire year.   Goal = accomplished!

Starting out, my hope in pursuing this project was that it would keep my writing muscle limber. I used to blog my head off way back in the day - and I figured this would be good upkeep.

What happened here turned out to be more for me.

I had no idea at the outset of this, that my writing would become more of a catharsis than anything else.  In February, a scant 4 months into this project,  my 9 year relationship ended abruptly.  I know people go through break ups (and worse!) all the time.  My sitch is nuthin’ special.  But I have to say, because of this forum, I was able to really push some things out that were very healing for me. It was a level of writing I’ve never been to before.  And when it resonated with you - it felt like another level, still. A certain kind of support or comradery, even. 

When I look at me then versus now - I know I’ve come far.  Mostly because I’m not crying in random places like the Dollar Store and/or self-soothing with various forms of food and beverage. :)

I’m strong!  Mentally and physically.  I feel focussed.  I wake up grateful.  I try to recognize those awesome moments while I’m in them.  I’ve got my proverbial ‘shit together’ and I’m really excited for what comes next.

365 turned out to be 180. 

What a year. 

I’d like to thank Tanya Sa for asking me to be part of this project and thank my fellow bloggers for offering interesting, heartbreaking, creative and humourous reads over the past year.  I know they’ve each had similar poignant experiences resulting in pieces they are proud of. Deservedly so.

So, what now? 

I’ll be posting about stupid stuff on Facebook. Continuing my voiceover business. Playin’ on the radio machine.  Helping animals.  And most importantly, enjoying this front row seat in the story of my life. 

Thank you so much for reading.  

____

What…?

More? 

If you’ll indulge me, here are a few more of my favourite personal blogs this year: 

———-

natlauzonvoice@gmail.com 

___

fin. 

Day 362 : raison d’etre redefined

By: Johnny Sa

Happy full year Wednesday readers!

Thank you for opening the little door at the back of your closet and taking a peak inside the mind of Johnny Sa.

I’ve had a very difficult year and to tell you the truth I could use a couple more posts to help me get through the rest of it, but hey that’s someone else’s journey now.

My overall experience with this blog was very personal. 

Every week I wrote an original piece whether it was journal style / fiction / venting or poetry.

I gazed upon my monitor and re-wrote post after post until I felt I had something in front of me worthy of submitting.

Yes, there were times where censorship got the better of me and I couldn’t cry out to the world the way I liked but for the most part I realized something amazing. My sister told me that you have to write like “everyone else is dead”. I disagree. The one thing I learned after a years worth of weekly posts is you have to write for yourself. Find the inner fan and write for them. Make a point and stick to it. Finish that thought and run with it and when you start to chicken out, go a bit further.

Writing every week gave me a better concept on how time passes, I would finish writing and then wake the next morning only to discover it was my turn again. Routine is not a word you generally associate with Johnny Sa but it became so and it was a positive change. I looked forward to writing. I dreaded the lack of creativity that I had sometimes and would sometimes wake Wednesday mornings 10 minutes before my alarm and think about possible topics. Why?

I’m not a writer, I can try to be, I can pretend to be, I can probably tell you a good story and make you laugh or put my twist on something but a word smith I am not.

I agreed to do this because my sister Tanya asked me to and I am not nearly as close to my family and siblings as I would like. I agreed and was honored and excited to be part of something that excited my sister. It would be the equivalent of your daughter or son asking you to take part in their hobby fulltime; it’s a straight up honor. When the scope of the exercise came to fruition and the cogs in the machine came to life I widened my eyes in fear and said a quiet “What the fuck now?” to myself.

Imagine yourself; seriously picture it, writing every Wednesday for a fucking year! Whether you’re sick, at work, angry, having sex, breaking up or drunk as hell…you gotta write! Its tough!

Tracking software told us at one point we had over a thousand unique page views a week! 1000 possible readers a week! That’s amazing, incredible and unbelievable to me. I remember one morning I sat in front of my computer for 6 hours writing, yes I took it that serious, 6 hours! How my sister did this everyday for an entire year I do not know. I was blown away and intimidated by my fellow bloggers and to be honest sometimes disappointed by varying commitment levels.

I saw writing as so many different things. It became a catalyst for change. It became a place to make a statement, a shout to the heavens or an echo-less cry off a cliff. It was a forum for proclamation:

I WANT TO BE GOOD!

I WANT TO SUCCEED!

I WANT TO BE HAPPIER!

I MISS THOSE IVE LOST!

When you speak to your friends you do just that, speak. When you talk to your parents and family you vent or listen. When you write to the unknown masses, you proclaim.

When you take part in something like this, especially as a group, your words have weight.

And oh how heavy the weight can sometimes be…..

One negative side effect of writing, which I admittedly should have seen coming, was the open forum debates my posts would have in friend and family settings. I would enter a room and hear things quoted back to me. Friends would tease me with my most personal of lines and finally I would get chastised by those closest to me about revealing too much. My in person debates would be easily nullified with “So what are you gonna blog about this now?” and to top it all off I even had a business meeting completely turned on its head by someone commenting on my relationship problems which they found on my blog.

How did I deal with this? I didn’t!

I would listen and disarm.  Usually later via various messaging services I would respond as “the writer”. The voice I used was that of a vessel for “in the moment expression”. If I did anything other than what was alive in me at that exact moment then I lied. And what worth holds the words of a liar?

What’s next?

My last post is being done in tandem with the finishing touches of my short film, which will hopefully be in a short film festival near you soon. My teaching career is new and exciting, I am a Fine Arts Focus Specialist at Heritage High School on the south shore. I love my students and I could not have asked for a better job in the entire world. I wake up happy, excited and afraid each day.

This is my 365 Attempts at teaching!

As for my personal/social/family/business life well you’ll have to stay tuned. My exploits will be documented on my new upcoming blog:

How to not make it to America.


This blog will cover the frustrations of any artist trying to make a living off their craft. I will continue, in pen name, my journey as an actor but will also attempt other huge artistic goals, which in truth I have no interest in. “To better gauge the luck factor in our field.”

Goals and link to blog coming soon!

 

Finally I would like to thank you.

You!

Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day and making me feel less alone.

You took my words and made them your thoughts and held me in your mind, even if it was for a minute, thank you! I love you for it.

You made me feel important and you gave me something to look forward to in times when I really really needed something to distract me.

So seriously, thank you, you fucking awesome person you!

For being someone who took a chance on a random actor from french-canada and read his thoughts aloud.

Goodnight but not Goodbye ;)

Bows.

Spot light dims.

Curtains.

Day 361: Felina

by: Anthony Imperioli

Wow. Are we really here?
My final post on this blog.
I’m at a loss for words.
And let’s talk about words for a second;
because they’ve been the subject of many of my posts
as well as being entirely made up of them.
Words.
Words are the spells we use to conduct the world;
words can destroy and elevate.
I fell in love with words,
and digging into them.
At the base of words are what they’re trying to convey.
And the funny thing about words
is that they point to the very things
that you can’t use words to express.
Words are the songs of experiences.
Deep within words is the truth they’re meant to represent.
The words we use today are evolved words;
they’re the ‘LOLs’ and ‘LMFAOs’ of another time and place.
When we peel back the layers of the evolution of communication
we lay bare the true meanings of words.
We see what words were originally meant to convey.
Now our words convey a conveyance
and as we evolve
these words will be words
conveyed by new words.
So as this comes to an end,
I’ll leave you with the word origin
for the word ‘word’
(searching for this was a Google adventure!)
'Word' used to, and in some ways still does, mean 'promise'
And so here I am, with all my words,
all my promises,
and you.
Thank you for listening to my ‘promises’
and if I were to leave you with one thing,
it’s this:
be mindful of your words,
take yourself with a grain of salt,
take others with a grain of salt,
but learn to listen to both.
Everyone is always revealing the truth they seek;
and when you can hear the truth in other people’s words,
you’ll hear it in yourself.

With much love and respect to all the readers and my fellow bloggers,
Anthony

P.S. Tanya and Nat - thank you kindly and deeply for making me part of this amazing experience.

Day 360: Fizzle Away

by Courtney Wing

Hello and Goodbye,
It has been a fine year writing to all of you who have spared valuable moments of your social media minutes to read bits and pieces of my thoughts. Thank you for taking the time, I hope some of it pinched you in the heart and bum bum. 

With this final submission of words, I feel as though I should be feeling like I’m leading a marching band to a finish line with a victory song in tow, one in which perseverance and dedication are represented by rolling snares and thundering bass drums, the many moods between melancholy and righteousness expressed with lilting violins and swelling trumpets, and an epic roaring cadence with every instrument that ever existed finessed with a couple of toot toots on a sterling silver whistle to conclude the victorious finish line crossing. Oh how it would be marvelous to feel such triumphant revelry, but I don’t really. Instead, I feel chill and grateful for the fabulous opportunity to write for the first time. I’m also grateful to fulfill one of the next dreams of my life - to live on a beach under a warm Hawaiian sky with a surf-able wave and hopefully someone special to delve into the depths with.
So long people. Live fully because this is all we got before we fizzle away.
Courtney 
ps.  If any of you would like me to send you the three albums I’ve made in digital format, please send me a little hello in an email to info@courtneywing.com and I would be more than happy to share them with you.

pps. Thank you to Tanya, the founder of 365 Attempts at Life, for inviting me to write for one year. Tanya is a very lovely woman with a golden smile that pretty much beats most smiles. 

DAY 359: Real Men Cry

by Kenneth Voss

When I went to school one of the cardinal rules for young boys was you never, ever cried. I remember times I wanted to so bad but I willed my little eyes to keep the water in until it was absorbed, because a single tear running down my cheek would’ve been seen as a sign of weakness. I was an emotional boy, most men are (don’t let anyone tell you different). The few times where I couldn’t control the  tears was during fistfights. Then it became at a pure release for the sadness and frustration. It was a clean release.

So that simple rule got so hard wired that by the time I was a teen/young adult, crying became an optional exercise. A movie with a touching scene, brush it off. I couldn’t go out to see a friend, break something. A friend or family member passed….put your head down, say little, and stay at the periphery. Don’t feel. Stay numb. It was what I was supposed to be doing as a man.

Except somewhere along the line it stopped working. The frustration built and built and I was a powder keg. There was intractable anger roiling away below the surface and at times it would bubble out and over the cauldron. Pouting, venting, isolating myself, yelling, bullying. I became a stereotypical young man in crisis. Thank god for releases. Sports, where I could run and compete for hours, leaving that energy and frustration out on the field while not hurting myself, but more importantly not hurting others. Books, where I could submerge for weeks, in imaginary worlds full of ecosystems, chemical reactions, business plans and come up for air only when I wanted to see if others still remembered I was there.

I fooled myself into believing that I could live an entire life like this. That somehow, by avoiding situations where I needed to feel deeply, by not dealing with things that made me uncomfortable, by not letting people get close enough to hurt me, I’d be safe and happy. It worked for a while but when it started to fail, it failed miserably. I had  no self-awareness, no sense of the notion that it was ok to be unhappy and feel sad about it, that you could deal with issues without using anger, that life was going to be full of setbacks, of hurts, and that you couldn’t control and you couldn’t numb them because these setbacks are food for the soul.

At it’s worst I fell to pieces, a depression and then some. In that moment there was a darkness so thick and so severe I gave into it completely. It took time and a lot of work but slowly the veil began to lift. I’d like to take credit for all the big changes in my life but I can’t. What I can take credit for is wanting to change, and seeking the help of professionals. Their challenge was to take a boy who spent his entire life trying to feel numb and to make him feel again. I learned to be in the moment, to be aware of what I’m feeling - even I needed to write it down, of sharing what I’m feeling with somebody else, and allowing myself to feel.

I cry now. I cry a lot. I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I hear an emotional song on the radio, I cry when I watch movies, I cry when I read a touching article,  I cry when I go to funerals, I cried watching Undercover Boss last night - deep, heart wrenching, sobbing. To be honest with you, I cried a little as I wrote this. 

I gotta tell you, it feels pretty good. This is the most whole I’ve ever felt. I wish I’d ignored the rest of the flock and cried when I was younger. But we need to do a world of re-educating before we get there. And believe me, we need to get there. Because another thing I learned during therapy was that anger masks sadness; as boys we’re taught, “When you feel sad (want to cry), react with anger.” And we’ve become really good at that. Rape, war, homicide, abuse. Mostly male driven. Or better yet, learn to manage your anger - and we learn to numb it - drugs, alcohol, meds, depression, obesity.

Be honest. What’s the first thing to come out of your mouth the second a kid comes running to you crying? Don’t cry. Stop crying. It should be, ‘what’s wrong?’ or ‘do you feel better now?’ or ‘how can I help?’ Seeing our kids cry makes us uncomfortable. It should make us happy.   

I’ve learned to cry and I can honestly say I feel like a real man again. 

So what are you waiting for? Be a Man. Cry.

photo credit: Jimmy C (Jimmy Cochran) 

http://andberlin.com/2012/05/08/jimmy-c/