Category

LIFESTYLE

You are a Storyteller

In LIFESTYLE

The Wholesome Handbook - Whitespace Writers

I was a storyteller before I knew I was a storyteller.

When I was a girl, I had a CD of cheesy Celtic traditionals that I’d play while trying to fall asleep. When I wasn’t on my belly on the carpet, reading by the beam of light from the space at the bottom of the door, I’d lay in the dark, dreaming up detailed stories in my head to go with the music – foxes in their burrows, epic sword battles between rival warrior princesses, the last harrowing days of Atlantis, packs of wolves on the hunt, a couple locked in the throes of passion.

I didn’t even think writing these stories down was an option. They were just fantasies, distractions. Besides, I was a competitive singer, and spent my days inhabiting other, better stories. In the space of one hour, I could be a woman hopelessly waiting for her seafaring husband to come home, an elderly cat mourning the loss of her youth and beauty, and Evita Peron begging Argentina not to cry for her.

The one time I did dip my toes into writing my honest thoughts and experiences down, my junior high language arts teacher took one read-through and immediately suggested to my parents that I seek counselling. That shut me up pretty quickly.

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Season of the Witch

In LIFESTYLE

 

Season of the Witch - The Wholesome Handbook

Witch. Even the word itself is slippery and wild-eyed, delicious, dressed up all in black.

Witches are bad, bad girls. They’re ill-behaved, impure, messy, full of life. Witches are women who stand out, who are different. They’re the ones that make you a little uneasy and draw you in at the same time. They’re the original nonconformists, either because they can’t help it, or because they don’t care.

For ages, women who stick out have been ridiculed, ruined, tortured, raped, and murdered for being different. For making people uncomfortable. For being too old, or too wealthy, or too wise. For being sexual, for loving other women, for having children out of wedlock. For being too beautiful, or for being too ugly. For possessing unsanctioned knowledge. For being too ambitious, for speaking their minds. For challenging the status quo.

The witch is a woman who doesn’t answer to anyone. The witch is someone who lives outside of the polite rules of society. The witch is someone who knows she won’t find answers in a doctrine or an ideology – she has all of the answers inside of herself, in her heart, in her intuition. She prioritizes that knowledge. She trusts herself.

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Travelogue // Seven States

In LIFESTYLE

The Wholesome Handbook - Seven States
Roadside America is weird and wonderful. The interstates are lined with billboards, some with ominous, sun-faded Bible verses, some with breasty neon silhouettes promising an audience with the Best Girls in the West. Gore flung across the highway lines, porcupines and whitetail deer and fat little raccoons with their human hands. Teenage hitchhikers with big dogs and hulking backpacks, farmboys rumbling along in tractors, grizzled truckers hanging suntanned forearms out of the driver’s side window. All-night diners and gas stations with burned, weak coffee. Every little settlement has a dubious claim to fame – the world’s largest cabbage, a 1973 mothman sighting, a defunct nuclear research site. And every place has a distinct set of unspoken rules, it seems, rules that only the locals know.

We only had seven days. Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana. We didn’t mind. The Road, of course, is at the heart of the concept of a Road Trip, and there’s no better way to see a country, I think, than to explore the places between the places.

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The Poetry & Power of Rituals

In LIFESTYLE
The Wholesome Handbook

Stalking the wildlife…

If there’s one big takeaway from my academic years, it’s that ritual is a powerful thing.

Of course, we see the word ‘ritual’ and we think of a clutch of grubby Iron Age Danes heaving some poor hanged man into the peat bog to sate the bloodlust of the gods. We think of Stonehenge, of Olmec knives in chalcedony, of the Greeks with Hestia’s eternal flame. But our modern lives are still steeped in ritual.

We have rituals marking our major life events. We declare our romantic partnerships with white dresses, a sacred first kiss, a feast. What are stagette parties but modern bacchanals? A baby is born, and we all flock to see it and ceremoniously bestow knitted blankets and stuffed pink rabbits, one by one. A loved one dies, and our mourning is marked with gatherings, speeches, recitations from holy books. We retire from our jobs and are sent off with offerings of gold and cake.

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Travelogue // Abbotsford, British Columbia

In LIFESTYLE

Travelogue - Abbotsford - The Wholesome Handbook

Driving from Alberta to B.C. for a weekend visit with Andrew’s grandparents was like leaping forward in time. As we weaved around and over the Rockies on Highway 1 and the Coquihalla, the world shifted from a humble, budding brown to a raucous, lush eruption of green.

B.C. is a land of plenty. It’s crowded with dense hills and heavy clouds, and you can smell the ocean salt in the air. After 10 car-bound hours of podcasts, coffee, and rain, the eldest Reists welcomed us with their legendary Strawberry Birthday Cake, studded with saran-wrapped loonies, and we chatted long into the night.

Our first morning, we breakfasted on homemade raisin bread and blackberry preserves picked from the cemetery bushes across the street – does anyone feed us better than our grandparents? Afterwards, I managed to drag the boys out to the gloriously muddy Bloom Tulip Festival, and had to fight every one of my instincts to just lay down in the muck and roll around like a happy piglet. Spring makes me a little wild, but then again, I suppose it does that to all of us – Beltane has its reputation for a reason, after all.

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A Spring Mood

In LIFESTYLE

The Wholesome Handbook - A Spring Mood

I awoke this morning to rain.

Before coffee, before the sanctuary of the shower, even before the ghosts of last night’s dreams had slipped out of my mind, I had to feel it. I ran outside to the gray dawn in my robe and bare feet, and tilted my face up towards the sky, my husband laughing at me from the kitchen. God, it felt so good. I can’t even begin to tell you.

Rain. Not half-frozen sleet, not the tentative drizzling the sky’s been experimenting with lately – but real, relentless rain.

Later, wrapped in a shawl at the window, bitter coffee steaming up from the mug warming my hands, the rain turned to snow again. Spring is messy like that, especially in this place, this unpredictable land between the mountains and the prairies. But the white on the ground can’t erase the fact that for a moment, I had rain. Spring is here, and life is changing again.
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Travelogue // Banff, Alberta

In LIFESTYLE

Travelogue - Banff, Alberta - The Wholesome Handbook

Banff is a tourist town. There’s no way around it. The streets are sardined with over-bundled crowds toting cameras and rented skis, several different languages echo haphazardly off the pavement, and most of the shops will cheerfully command 10 bucks for a fridge magnet. Still, though, I can’t really be bitter about it. Every time we round that familiar curve on the Trans-Canada and the road opens up into the first blue valley of the Rockies, I think to myself – oh, of course. Of course people flock from all corners of the planet to see this place. Of course.

I never tire of the mountains. When I was younger, I’d imagine the white-capped ridges were the spines of great sleeping dragons, or visualize the thousands of wolves and bears and moose hidden in their dense, forested skirts. As I got older, mountains taught me of my own smallness. They taught me reverence. To this day, every time I visit them, I feel like I’m coming home. The dramatic slope of Mount Rundle, the rippled bulk of Cascade Mountain, the almost comical peaks of the Three Sisters – these are the faces of old friends. Heading to the mountains felt like a good way to start 2017.

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What I Read // 2016

In LIFESTYLE

What I Read in 2016 - The Wholesome Handbook

When I think back to my girlhood, I think of books. I think of words illuminated by the thin beam of yellow hallway light under the door, long after I was supposed to have been asleep. I think of laying under the shade of the giant poplar tree in my front yard, my arms pleasantly sore from hoisting the newest Harry Potter over my head for hours. I think of the looming, mysterious slopes of the glass-walled pyramid library near the shopping mall, and how my heart would flutter in my ribcage when I entered those doors. I think of the agonizing punishment I would receive for misbehaving – my books locked away until bedtime, and nothing to do but (o, horrors,) interact with the other neighborhood children.

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The WH Guide to 2017

In LIFESTYLE

The WH Guide to 2017

After years of maintaining thirteen small, tidy heart-shaped leaves, the old philodendron in the corner of my apartment has exploded into life. Her stalks divide and she unfurls a profusion of waxy new leaves every week, reaching her long arms into the room. She’s outgrowing her pot. She’s restless, I think, and so am I.

These days, I can feel a rumbling under my surface, like great tectonic plates crushing into one another at the beginning of the world, rearranging my lithosphere into something unrecognizable. But it feels good, this cracking and crumbling, this molten rock bubbling to the surface. To be honest, sometimes I just get so tired of softness.

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The WH Gift Guide // 2016

In LIFESTYLE

The Wholesome Handbook - 2016 Gift Guide

This year’s gift list is for the gal in your life with poetry in her soul. You know the one. The dreamer. The one with her head in the clouds and her feet (which are usually bare) only skimming the ground. The one with stars in her eyes. She’s always off in her own world, probably riding a celestial unicorn or something, but sometimes she touches back down to earth just long enough to make it onto your Christmas list.

This collection was curated to inspire her, spark her imagination, and to make her feel as pretty as Cassiopeia herself. There’s a bit of sparkle, some artisan charm, and I can’t believe it, but I’m disclosing my favourite under-the-radar antique place. Continue reading