Is chickenscratch really helpful?

Oh hey! It’s the first post to this site in nearly a year!

I started to write about why I don’t keep this site updated (OMG, yawn!) but then realized I was writing an even-whinier version of this post from 2015. So not only boring, but repetitively boring. So enough of that.

Just before my birthday this year, I told myself that I was going to make more of an effort to write. Online, offline, whatever. Just needed to write more. I have so much I want to say and I need to get it out. But first I need to get it untangled. Or I need to emotionally un-constipate myself. Or something. My birthday was at the end of August and it’s taken me nearly six weeks to get to a place where I feel like I can express myself. So here I am.

In mid-September, I signed myself up for some daily writing prompts. Just random topics for free-writing for a minimum of ten minutes a day. To build a writing practice. To loosen up. To play. And I’ve used exactly one of those prompts. They’re interesting prompts, so that’s not the problem. I just put them aside and think ‘when I have the time, I will write’. Then I never make the time. These prompts recommend longhand writing in a journal and I hate it. I found a nice journal and carried it in my work backpack to sneak in some time during my day: whether on my commute or during the work day itself (during lunch of course). And that has been a huge fail. I don’t feel right taking that time while I’m at work, and I can’t get physically comfortable enough during my commute. Then there’s  the longhand writing itself. I write fast and hard, and it either becomes tiresome on my hand or completely illegible. Often both at the same time. I know the point of these free-writing exercises isn’t to read or even remember the writing, but just to write. The one day I did do it (at the end of my lunch break at work, I wrote like I was on fire, and things devolved so quickly into worse-than-chickenscratch that I felt ashamed. Then the cycle of Not Writing began again.

So longhand evangelists: why is completing writing exercises in longhand so beneficial? Does it really help a writer’s growth? Is there any hope for me if I’m so terrible at it?

What I read in 2015

Around August, I didn’t think I would complete this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge. Sean gave me a new Kobo for my birthday (the waterproof one!) and I started reading again and in the last quarter of the year, surpassed my goal of 50 books.

Here’s the list. What did you read? Do you have any recommendations?


Melissa’s read-in-2015 book montage

I Still Dream About You
Stone Mattress: Nine Tales
The Vacationers
Adult Onset
How to Build a Girl
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
The Hour I First Believed
Bold Tricks
One Bird's Choice: A Year in the Life of an Overeducated, Underemployed Twenty-Something Who Moves Back Home
Surrender, Dorothy
On Every Street
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
The Position
Captivated by You
Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth
Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger
The Girl on the Train
When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Bad Feminist
I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame

Melissa’s favorite books »

What I’ve been reading: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

Overwhelmed_BookCoverI finally finished Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time by Brigid Schulte earlier this week. It had been on my to-read list for over a year, which feels about right given the subject matter.

I continued to align with the subject matter as I read the book. As I was going to bed, I checked my email one last time to discover that the ebook was finally available from the library. I set a reminder on my phone to remember to load the book onto my ereader at 6:15am the next morning so I could have it for my commute. When the library’s website wouldn’t work after multiple attempts, I went to make Flora’s lunch and came back to try to download it one more time. That’s when I missed my train and was late for work.

I spent several train trips home reading this book. I was visibly emotional more than once during the early parts of the book. I related to so much of what Ms Schulte was talking about: the fragmented bits of time (called Time Confetti), the feeling that nothing was truly getting done. The Overwhelm. My sadness turned to anger as I read – and related to – the data, stories and anecdotes spelling out what I’ve believed for a long time: the way we work – and by extension, live and play –  is wrong, and we can do better.

I was relieved when the end of the book didn’t end with big promises of a new life, if only you did the following three things. It didn’t read like a self-help book and it didn’t feel overly academic or dry. It was readable and relatable, which explains my occasional crying jag while reading it.

I am so grateful to Ms Schulte to writing such a thoughtful, readable book on something that is so close to my heart at this stage in my life. I am a serious fangirl of her work that I’ve seen and read online. I’m still working on how to apply what I’ve learned but isn’t that always a work in progress for all of us.

Here’s some further reading:


Weird things that make me happy

I recently read the blog post “Embrace Whatever Makes You Happy (Even If It’s Totally Weird)” on Cordelia Calls it Quits. I love this site and how Cordelia/Kelly thinks. This post talks about reveling in the random, weird things you like and owning those likes. More importantly, it reminds the reader that we all have random weird things that give us joy. You aren’t the only one that likes random, weird things and neither am I.

Here are some weird things that make me happy:

Doing errands

This sounds strange, but I really like doing errands. I like making lists of what I need to get done, then figuring out the most efficient plan of attack to get as much done in as little time as possible. Ticking off all the items and seeing a visual representation of what I’ve accomplished feels good. I like doing errands with Flora or Sean (or both, which is rare), but I like it even better when I get to go on my own. I have very few things that I have complete control over so I think this is my way of taking charge of things going on in my life.

Driving with loud rock music playing

When I’m driving alone, I’m a rockstar in my car. I crank up the radio (this my favourite radio station). I sing along. I laugh at the jokes. I tap on the steering wheel. I am that cliché you see out on the road and I’m okay with that. I love pulling into parking lots playing music that doesn’t scream “suburban mom”. I realize that there is no genre of music called “mom” (suburban or otherwise) but there is some sort of irony of Rage Against the Machine blasting on my radio as I pull into Walmart. This happened to me last weekend while I was doing errands. By myself.

Staring at the lake

I’ve lived either on or near lakes all my life. Gazing out into the water makes me feel alive and centered with the universe. Despite living close by, I don’t get down to the lake much these days. It’s good meditation so I think I need to start.

Tell me about the weird things that make you happy.


On Monday, I did yoga for the first time in… a really long time.

I used the Yoga Studio app on my phone and chose a ‘Beginner Balance’ class. I felt angry and ashamed when I couldn’t do every move. I know logically that I was being too hard on myself, but that’s who I am. My inner voice is really mean sometimes.

Any tips on how to calm a cruel inner voice would be greatly appreciated.

As I wrote this, I thought back to this post from 2013. The whole post still resonates, but this part sticks out:

I know I need to move more. I’ve spent the last few weeks (months? years?) figuring out what I’d like to do to be able to introduce more activity into my life. Everything I want to do seems to have barriers: too expensive, not enough time, worry that I will look stupid in front of people who I wouldn’t give a shit about if I wasn’t feeling so vulnerable in front of them.

Monday’s yoga session, while frustrating at times, felt good and I’m glad I did it. Small steps to making my health and myself a priority in my life.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.