Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Oh, my goodness, it's finally here!  And it won't be here again until next year, so embrace the pumpkin spirit while you can :).  Tomorrow is my birthday, and Halloween has always had a special place in my heart, so even though it's Monday and I need to study for some big tests, I'm still very excited just to be thinking about ghosts, spooky movies, and bats.  And Allhallowtide and Dia de los muertos celebrations begin today, too.  I love the idea of candles, marigolds, and offerings in honor the dearly departed.  Do any of you have observe Allhallowtide or Dia de los muertos?

Corpse Bride, one of my favorite Halloween movies EVER.

Halloween is, of course, also a really fun time for costumes even if the fact that today's a Monday renders trick-or-treating a little less appealing.  Is anyone dressing up today?  Right now I look like the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Denim shortalls + t-shirt + mouse ears = my costume.
It's a bit odd considering the fact that I can't drink milk and can't eat many kinds of cookies (not to mention that I find the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to be a little bit demanding, lol), but being different from who you are is one of the best parts of dressing up for Halloween.

This is who I am today, except with no cookie and no demands for milk.

 I hope everyone has a lovely (and slightly spooky) day today and a safe night!

<3 Frances (AKA Cookie Mouse)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Goddesses, Sloths, and Identity

Happy last Friday of October, dears!  It's Scorpio season, and everywhere there seems to be talk of ghosts, spirits, and magic.  I know not everyone believes in all that, but personally I've always felt very drawn to it. Maybe it's because I was born around this time of year that the idea of "magic" is so familiar and comforting to me. 
Quan Yin, one of my hero goddesses
Spirituality can be very powerful when sought out for positive reasons, and having a sort of spirituality can help us to make meaning of things that are challenging and painful.  Everyone's approach to how they process the world is different, but for me, thinking about goddesses and spirits (and even prayers) has been very uplifting and consoling because it gives life a significance beyond just the physical things.  It's scary sometimes to realize how fleeting the physical world can be.  Even those parts of life we find most inherent--like our "identities," for instance--aren't guaranteed to last forever. The other night while studying, I listened to one of Maddy Moon's podcasts that was a recording of her interview on Simple Roots Radio, and she talked about the huge role her spirituality played in helping her overcome her eating disorder. After several years of abusing her body and mind, she reached a breaking point and decided to heal herself, but to do so she had to "give up" her "identity" as a fitness model.  We use the term "identity crisis" a lot in casual conversation, but it's actually a really scary phenomenon because in our society there's so much emphasis on the labels that we associate ourselves with that when we lose them we feel lost and purposeless.  But spirituality--regardless of the form it takes--can help ground us if we understand that the only meaning we really need in life is "love."
Okay, with that said, here's a video of baby sloths.  Because what says love like a baby sloth?

<3 Frances
<3 Frances

Monday, October 24, 2016

Halloween is Almost Here

Today is sort of special, I suppose, in terms of upcoming holidays.  I mean, only October 24th is exactly one week from Halloween, one month from Thanksgiving, and two months from Christmas Eve, and I can't believe that the year is approaching its end so quickly.  Not that a weekend of writing college essays makes time fly by any means, of course . . . .
Homework aside, though, the fact that Halloween is almost here is a reason to be excited :).  There are so many sad things going on in the world right now, and it's really important to be aware of all them, but sometimes it's also important to think about positives. It's difficult to help others when you feel lost and upset yourself, so take a minute to relax, take a deep breath, and think of something that makes you happy.  Carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkin seeds, decorating your doorway, and picking a costume to wear around your apartment all weekend are some seasonal suggestions, but feel free to add more. 
For me, Halloween this year will be spent the way it usually is: at home with my mum, brother, the Great Pumpkin, and, of course, Corpse Bride. And given that I have a major test on Tuesday, I'll probably celebrate Halloween on Saturday so Monday can be a studying night. If you're looking to have a low-key Halloween, too, here are some fun ideas:

  • Get your scary story on!  Edgar Allan Poe and Halloween go together like black-and-white stripes and knee highs.  Other great Halloween authors include Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley.
  • Watch a movie (or lots of movies).  It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! always makes me feel so happy inside because it reminds me of being a little kid, but so do Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before ChristmasEdward Scissorhands is another fun Tim Burton pick.  If you're looking to actually get scared, though, try The Ring, The Woman in Black, Blair Witch Project, or 28 Days Later.  Warning: these films actually are really quite terrifying.
  • Dress up!  Even if you're not Trick-or-Treating, throwing a costume (however makeshift it is) together is always recommended :).  

 Happy Monday!
<3 Frances

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Plaid Skirts

I keep meaning to write things, but then I remember something like an essay or a calculus test and totally forget.  But there are officially less than two weeks until Halloween now, and I think that's cause for celebration.  Unfortunately,  Halloween falls on a Monday this year, but the weekend is still a fun time to dress up and watch The Great Pumpkin and Corpse Bride--even if you happen to be doing homework while they play in the background.  Pumpkins! Pumpkin seeds!  Leaves!  Oh, October!

And speaking of October, plaid skirts are having a bit of a "moment" right now apparently.  But when are plaid skirts ever not perfect for autumn?  They're comfy and can be short or long or pleated or pleat-less, and you can style them in any way. Bohemian, punk, alternative, girly, preppy....the list is endless. Better yet, though, they're soft and make you feel like you're at Hogwarts regardless of where you actually are.  I never got my letter when I turned 12, but I had a plaid skirt and a fake wand, and that was all I really needed.

<3 Frances


Monday, October 10, 2016

For the Love of Bears

It's Monday again, and I'm breaking away from homework (and the morning rush to work) to share about something that not a lot of people know about: Europe's "saddest bears."  I didn't learn about them till just last week, but since learning about them, I've felt devastated.  In Albania, there are 50 bears living in small cages (like in the photo by Hazir Reka shown above) by entertainment sites--restaurant, fairs, etc.--and they're shackled and exploited.  These bears are deprived of nature and friendship and any opportunities for happiness, and they make up part of the global population of bears that are horribly mistreated. My brother is reading Search for the Golden Moon Bear by Sy Montgomery right now, and what he's learned about the "bear bile industry" is frightening.  Bears in Vietnam are kept on farms where their bile is extracted so it can be sold, and many of them have even had their paws cut off.  It's difficult to go into more detail without breaking down and crying.

A former bile bear. Photo by Bogdan Baraghin. 

If you're moved by the bears, too, please sign this petition from the Four Paws animal protection organization. It urges the Albanian government to enforce protections on wildlife and put more restrictions on bear captivity. Albania recently announced it will begin building a bear sanctuary next year, and this petition aims to convince the Albanian government to do even more for bears. 

<3 Frances

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Poetry Break: "Her Kind" by Anne Sexton

Image result for anne sexton
Anne Sexton
Remember that scene in the cartoon adaptation of Alice in Wonderland when Alice gets swept away through the keyhole? That's sort of how I'm feeling right now, so any non-academic writing time has sort of disappeared for the time being. But my mum shared this poem with me and its lines are just so powerful . . . I mean, the combination of "suppers for the worms and the elves" and "rearranging the disaligned" is poignant and perfect, and Anne Sexton's story is a tragic one.

Speaking of tragic--has anyone been following the news about Hurricane Matthew?  It breaks my heart when I see the weather tracker images of it over the Caribbean, and I wish there were more I could do for the people there :(. 
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind. I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind. I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

<3 Frances