I’m Not Special, and That’s Okay.


This last birthday, my 28th, was rough.

That beautiful June day, I woke up at five in an anxious sweat, pulled on a sweater, climbed the hill, and watched the sun rise over the city. And although I knew that I should be relishing the wet dew of the morning, the apricot light glinting from the face of the Bow, and the fact that I managed to make it another year without pitching my life into total disaster, I sat on that hill and I cried and cried and cried.

I remember joking as a teenager that I’d never live past 27, because what was the point? All the greats die young, and I was certain I was meant to be great. On that hill, tear-stained and panicking, all the nasty little voices that like to hang out in my head repeated it again. My life is over. I wasted it. I’m used up. I missed all my chances.

I went back to bed. And I spent the entire day there, sleeping, thinking, and mourning. I mourned what I saw as a wasted youth. I mourned my ‘deteriorating’ looks. I mourned my worth as a human being – turns out that being cognizant of the fact that women are socialized to understand that our societal value (read: our fuckability) plummets after 20 doesn’t mean you’re immune to feeling like crap about it. I felt shoved off of a throne I didn’t even know I sat upon. I mourned opportunity. I mourned wonder.

Birthdays used to feel like a new opportunity, every new age a new identity to try out. Now they’re just terrifying. I used to laugh at women who dreaded getting older, chalking it up to vanity and frivolousness. Now I get it. I do.

When you’re young, you feel like you’re going to be young forever. And then one day, you’re not.

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Things I Loved in 2016


Things I Loved in 2016 - The Wholesome Handbook

2016, by all accounts, was a bit of a dumpster fire. We lost Leonard Cohen, Alan Rickman, and Carrie Fisher. The United States voted in a terrifying fascist cheeto. The economy in my city is floundering, and everywhere, social and political tensions are high. But I need to be honest with you, dear reader – 2016 has been one of the best years of my life. It was the year I took control of my destiny, the year I learned to trust myself, the year of risks and rewards and rebirth. This year, I stopped engaging in things I didn’t believe in, and started to work towards telling my own truth. The year I decided to not allow anything but the best for, and from, myself.

I feel like a completely different person than that lost, world-weary girl from last December. She is almost unrecognizable. I’m still a bit of a mess, don’t get me wrong – but for the first time in my life, I feel a little like a grown-up mess. Like someone who knows what she wants, and has the stones to go out and get it. And it feels good.

So here are a few things that defined this transformative year – the things that inspired me, the things I was drawn to, the most important moments, my highlight reel – the things I loved.

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Discovering Your Ghosts


Discovering Your Ghosts - The Wholesome Handbook

Before Hallowe’en was Hallowe’en, it was All Hallow’s Eve. The day of the dead.

On this night, the veil between worlds is so gauzy and tattered that you can almost see through it. This is the night that spirits slip between the cosmic warp and weft and return to the world of the living. This is the night for ancestors and ancients. This is the night for ghosts.

They spill into the streets, laughing. They’re giddy with the stink of life, the flush of remembrance, the heavy warmth of being. They remember their hands, how they gripped the hipbones of lovers and soothed the foreheads of fevered children. Their pale tongues cold against their teeth, they remember butter and peaches and mama’s famous borscht. With featherlight feet, they dance ceili and bhangra over the treetops. They shiver with pleasure to once again gaze up at the moon.

What a fabulous night.

For years, my ghosts have followed me. Every October, I am inexplicably drawn back into the thrill of discovering them. There is no greater yearning of my heart than to unveil the lives of the people that came before me, and to attempt to retell their stories. To find bits of myself in these people, and to find bits of them still living in me.
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paige andrew married 0386

On September 5th, we were married in a relic of a hay barn, surrounded by century-old schoolhouses, a clutch of little marks on an endless stretch of Alberta prairie. The heavens gifted us the good omen of torrential rain and freezing winds.

Nothing on this day was not touched by the hands that also made us. My mother, with an army of our nearest and dearest, hung swaths of silk from the rafters and laid vintage saris down for an aisle. My aunt crafted the most beautiful florals I have ever set my eyes upon. My grandmother guided my hands and told me stories from her farm-grown childhood as we baked 20 pies together in my mother’s kitchen, a dozen dogs patiently waiting at our feet for scraps.

My little brothers worked tirelessly – escorting folks through the rain, running errands, rescuing bridesmaids. Our brother-in-law married us with the kindness and humour we love him for. My girls kept me sane. Every last person helped us set up, party, and tear down.

And our incomparably talented friend Brittany captured it all for us. These are a few of my favourite images from the day.

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Travelogue – Bali


Travelogue Bali - The Wholesome Handbook

Bali is smoke and chaos and colour, ancient and dark and so beautifully alive.

Our wedding went by in a blur, and I don’t truly think I will be able to reflect on it properly until we see it captured in photographs. I remember the good omen of heavy rain, feeling like a warrior-queen in beads and furs and precious stones, my husband taking my hand from my father at the willow altar. But that, of course, is a story best saved for another time.

We arrived at Nandini after 30 hours of travel, a clutch of ylang-ylang roofed villas nestled in the middle of the jungle. We’ve never stayed in a resort before, and likely never will again, so this was a rare treat and a true luxury. The head of staff, Mr. Iwan, reminded me distinctly of M. Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel, an almost startlingly warm, eccentric, resourceful individual running an extremely tight ship.

We indulged in punishing massages, candlelit dinners, and a private river at the bottom of 200 precarious stone steps. And when we craved something less luxurious, we weaved our way through the mayhem of traffic into the nearest town, Ubud.

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My partner and I have been engaged for almost a year and a half, and this October we went on an adventure with an old friend and her camera. I cannot recommend Brittany enough to Albertan couples- yes, she’s a friend, but she is also incomprehensibly talented, dedicated to truly capturing the essence of your personalities and the love you share, and an all-around incredible soul.

These are a few of my favourite images from the day, and you can see more on Brittany’s website.