I Quit Coffee for Lent And I’m Still Alive

I quit coffee for Lent

I used to drink at least one cup of black coffee every day. Now it’s been over three weeks, two days, and 6 hours since I gave up my habit for Lent, but who’s counting?

Now, before you worry about an entertainment entrepreneur tackling a religious topic like Lent, I want to say this isn’t about preaching at you, or encouraging you to quit coffee ’cause this shit is hard. This post is strictly about how quitting coffee for Lent has affected my total well-being.

What’s Lent?

It’s the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. Christians take 40 days to reflect on the life of Christ and spend time trying to be humble, ascetic, and reflective. It’s a season that sparked giant raging parties like Mardi Gras, where people try to fit in all the debauchery before limiting themselves from hedonistic pleasures.

Coffee is a daily habit in my life.

Four years ago, I swapped my daily rooibos tea for coffee. My motivation for the day-to-day grind started to wane as my degree program came to an end. It started with the Keurig machine at work. Now, I usually make myself a personal-sized French press every day.

I’ve never thought myself a coffee addict, but I rely on it to get my through most days.

A Lenten resolution challenge.

This March, the priest at my grandma’s church handed me a paper with the words “Lenten Resolution” as I was exiting the chapel. I thought it might be a good time to control some of the things that have been controlling me.

Disclaimer: I’ve never given up anything for Lent in my life. I consider myself a Christ follower, but I’m not a regular churchgoer (sorry, Grandma). I feel at home in spiritual communities where members can openly question, discuss, and think critically about Christian doctrine. Drastically changing my behaviour due to observation of Lent is an anomaly.

So back to this “Lenten Resolution” paper. I made mental notes of which things would be challenging to give up:

  • I love POPCORN. So it was the first thing to go. I can eat an entire bowl to myself semi-regularly!
  • Then, I upped the ante: COFFEE. My daily addiction that would be much more difficult to control.

Coffee and popcorn are currently off limits. I haven’t been physically affected by a lack of popcorn.

Coffee withdrawals are as real as any other addiction withdrawal symptoms.

My first three days off coffee were brutal. I had a splitting headache that I couldn’t shake, my ears were ringing, and I was thirsty. I popped several ibuprofen. And I just wanted to sleep all day.

My body was going through major caffeine withdrawals.

I didn’t feel like I was dying Things started to even out around day three. My irritability and drowsiness were still hanging on. Weird nightmares interrupted my sleep. I likely snapped a few times.

Once finding out I had quit coffee for Lent, friends seemed genuinely concerned about how I could function without it.

One friend asked, “But what about coffee poops?”

I answered, “The first few days were a blur , so maybe there was… er… a kink or two. Other than that, I’m pretty regular.”

Since I quit coffee, I’ve felt a bit anxious and stressed. A pinching or squeezing sensation in my heart started, but subsided.

I still find it difficult to concentrate. For example, I sat down last Friday to write a blog post and was coming up dry for nearly two hours. I settled on a spring bucket list to get some words out. It’s really tough for someone who has to focus as part of their job to suddenly lose that ability.

Mornings are hard, so I’m taking better care of my nights. My routine consists of a cup of caffeine-free tea, washing my face, brushing and flossing, and then reading a physical book. This daily practice is beginning to have a positive and energizing effect on my mornings.

If I can quit coffee, I can do anything!

Quitting coffee has empowered me to look at other areas in my life that could value from a little self-control. If I can quit coffee, I can quit negative self-talk, go to the gym everyday, have that tough conversation, or give back to my community.

But I won’t lie: I smell coffee strongly on people. It’s haunting me everywhere! So I sneak in some Green Tea when I’m desperate.

Lent can be a season of going without, or it can be a chance to examine what’s worth holding on to. It’s a chance to question motivations and adjust daily routines to focus more on things that empower, enrich, and inspire.

I quit coffee for Lent. What are you giving up?

My Saskatoon Spring Bucket List

It’s feeling like spring in Saskatoon! After a brutally cold winter, I can’t wait to pack away my winter coat, toque, and scarf. In celebration of this amazing warm streak, I’ve put together a spring bucket list that I’ll be crossing off over the next few months. Join me!

Saskatoon Spring Bucket List

Start a vegetable garden from seeds and plant them

Make a mosaic concrete garden stone

Take a spontaneous day trip

Book sites at Saskatchewan campgrounds for summer RVing

Spring clean closet and donate the rest to YWCA Opportunity Shop

Make a Moss Bag at Wanuskewin

Call dibs on fresh produce at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market or Community Farms Market of Saskatoon

Learn how to cook new Mexican cuisine for Cinco de Mayo

Drop-in jam in the park with the acroyogis of Saskatoon

Tour a part of Saskatoon that’s unfamiliar

Work up the nerve to go for a horseback ride

Tune up bike and hit the Meewasin Trail

Sign up for the Saskatoon Canoe Club

Practice suspension circuit training at Shaw Centre

Get the official pickleball introduction at Saskatoon Field House

Have a board game night with friends at King Me Boardgamery

Create a signature spring cocktail using local spirits

Catch the first prairie crocus bloom on camera

Take an entire weekend off

Make office furniture more cat-friendly

Go for a hike and toast halfway with a champagne picnic

Take a chocolate truffle workshop at Purdy’s

Sign up for a 5K to get into running again

Christen the backyard patio with a crisp brew

What’s on your spring bucket list?

St. Patrick’s Day in Saskatoon 2019

Put on your green pantaloons! The leprechaun inside us all is waiting to be released for its annual feasting, jigging, and celebrating. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so make way for your Irish spirit. Enjoy a pint of your favourite lager, ale, or whiskey amongst the company of friends.

Choose from about 18 St. Patrick’s Day parties happening across Saskatoon this weekend. Check the monthly March event listing for even more events.

Hint: Hit play on the video below to get East Coast Paddy’s Day spirit.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations 2019

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sasktoon’s Best St. Paddy’s Pub Party! at Winston’s English Pub
St. Patrick’s Day (Eve) Party! at Somewhere Else Pub & Grill
St. Patrick’s Day Weekend at The Thirsty Scholar
St. Patrick’s Day Weekend at Bugsy’s Bar and Grill Market Mall
Irish Stew & Brew Night with Saltwater Joy at Nutana Legion
A BITB St. Paddy’s Day Party at The Capitol
Perogie Pirates St. Paddy’s Day Pop Up at High Key Brewing Co.
Irish Night Dinner and Show at Mayfair United Church
Family Ceili 2019 at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall
Shamrock Shaker at Station Arts Centre (Rosthern)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Shamrock Run at Sandman Hotel
Sasktoon’s Best St. Paddy’s Pub Party! at Winston’s English Pub
St. Patrick’s Day w/ Wenches & Rogues ~ Live at The Capitol
St. Patrick’s Day with Kim n’ Jim at The Bassment
St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Finn’s Irish Pub
St. Patrick’s Day Karaoke at Amigos
St. Paddy’s Edition Open Mic at Black Cat Tavern
St. Patrick’s Day! Done St. Pabst Blue Ribbon Way at The Burning Beard
Cooking with Chef Simon: Irish Boxty at Brighton Information Centre
St. Paddy’s Day!

Irish Pubs

O’Shea’s Irish Pub
Yard & Flagon Pub
The Thirsty Scholar
Fionn MacCool’s
Finn’s Irish Pub

International Women’s Day 2019

International Women’s Day is dedicated to making the world a more balanced place. Part of celebrating is acknowledging that there’s a problem that needs to be corrected. The 2019 theme #BalanceforBetter challenges each one of us to improve the gender balance. It’s important that I share this post today because Saskatchewan is Canada’s hotspot for intimate partner violence. There are a lot of reasons why our province should be named #1, but this is one title I would be happy to lose.

‘I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

Anaïs Nin

The quote above acknowledges that men play a critical role in the empowerment of women. The man Anais chose reinforced how she viewed herself and solidified her individual identity. I envision this person to be supportive and encouraging, while helping to challenge the often monumental beast of self-doubt.

Today, I’ve decided to share a short writing prompt on the state of feminism in the media. I wrote it nearly five years ago as part of my Communications Degree in early part of 2014. At the time, pop artists I admired such as Beyonce and Katy Perry were actively avoiding identifying with the word “feminist”.

Fast-forward only a few years later, and both women came out with clear statements that affirmed their feminism. This shift has taken place over a relatively short period of time. Beyonce and Katy admitted they had no idea what the word meant before the media began asking them whether or not they identified with it.

So, what does “feminism” mean anyway?

Coming from small-town Saskatchewan, I relate to having no prior understanding of feminism before my post-secondary education. How can you identify with something that has never been defined for you? In case you’re curious, I’ve included my favourite definition of feminism below.

‘Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. (…). Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.”   

―     bell hooks

Internalized oppression is a daily battle for women

During my undergrad capstone research, I discovered how a woman’s own internal voice is developed to oppress her from her date of birth. My life and identity were the subject of this study. I’ve been passionate about living as a feminist since leaving school.

You may or may not have thought about internalized oppression before. Let me explain: from a woman’s perspective, it whispers about what you’re wearing as you strategically hold your keys when you walk home alone at night. It nods at you while you’re hissing insults at yourself in the mirror. It tells you to keep quiet when you’re too afraid to speak out against harassment. And it’s the disguise your friends wear when the conversation goes back to feeding self-hatred (i.e. diet culture).

Moving society in a positive direction

The mainstream popularization of feminism is doing something to transform the way we, men and women, live out its ideals. Flipping negative messages, behaviours, and beliefs from the current realities to a new, positive movement.

Empowerment of an entire gender is a big effort. Start with something small and practical, such as paying a woman with the same qualifications and skills as her male colleague the same salary or hourly wage. Or have a willingness to pay self-employed women the rates they command. Or support a woman’s choice to be a stay-at-home mother without penalizing her when she wants to rejoin the workforce.

International Women’s Day: The state of feminism

As I said earlier, the following prompt is what I thought was going on with feminism in the media back in 2014. It’s slightly more difficult to read than a typical Do Sask post, but it gives a good snapshot of how far society has come over the past five years.

“The truth is that we have not reached the point where sexism, sexual oppression and exploitation have become history and yet most young women denounce the term feminist when describing their image. Strong, female role-models (especially Beyonce) have avoided answering the question when asked directly. This may be due to the media twisting the definition of feminism to mean the ‘men-hating, radical, bra-burners’ of the second-wave. The main foundations of feminism are either represented inaccurately or not at all by the media, leading many to believe contemplation of the term to be outdated.

Feminism allows women to share their experiences in hopes that they can individually and collectively revolt against the patriarchy. It is about becoming an inclusive body for women to work towards the goal together, not a system to alienate ‘real women’ from ‘real feminists’. The problem is that ‘fourth-wave of feminism’, the new generation of young, liberated, post-feminism, Generation Y women and men, are unsure of how to categorize their stance on the issue. There have been so many sub-categories added under the umbrella of feminism (race, class, sexuality, gender) that its aura has been diluted. Instead of these groups rallying to continue the struggle to end patriarchal oppression, the hierarchical culture of feminism has torn women apart to scrutinize which group makes better feminists.

In a post-feminist media context, popular discourse actually reinforces the powers that have been holding women back for eons (Foucauldian internalized oppression, self-monitoring). The most repressive aspect of feminism is to deny that young people care about the term, which can lead many to believe that the time has come to silence the topic entirely. Extraordinarily, Miley Cyrus may be the most famous young woman to publically declare herself to be the “biggest feminist in the world”, while Katy Perry says she is “not a feminist, but believes in strong women”. In most cases, the media is acting as a repressive force by choosing the victim as their scapegoat while perpetually representing women as damaged, manipulative and promiscuous.

This leaves every day women perplexed as to how to identify with feminism at all. On one hand, young women should be able to wear whatever they choose without fear of harassment. On the other, revealing costumes, hyper-sexualized lyrics, and pastiche-porn performances reinforce the idea that women are sex objects.  Strident feminists who criticize Miley Cyrus for her behaviour should realize that she has outwardly supported feminism, albeit in her own way, while other female stars have shied away from it. Cyrus understands that in order to make money for herself and her record label, she needs to capitalize on the systems created within patriarchy. After all, the type of sex Miley is selling is atypical; aggressive, confrontational, masculine characteristics. The trouble is the audience lacks the ability to observe the thin line between parody and acquiescence.

Popular media figures such as Joseph Gordon Levitt, Lena Dunham, and Pink are other examples of celebrities who have taken a public stance in affirming feminism. Their individual representations have been showcased by creating art from their own experiences. Joseph Gordon Levitt challenged damaging labels of masculinity and femininity in Don Jon, a mainstream movie about porn addiction and objectification. Lena Dunham writes about her realistic and relatable experiences as a 20-something in New York with Girls. Pink has constructed her image by speaking out about the patriarchal demands of the record industry and being a strong woman. These artists have gleaned inspiration from the movement as modern individuals.  

When celebrities choose to bring feminism to the forefront of their work, they also bring it back into the spotlight of the public sphere. Strides are being made by social media to unite women around the world by having real-time discussions about ongoing cultural issues like slut-shaming, violence and the gender gap. Women are still dealing with issues that were being tackled by second-wave feminists (sexual harassment, rape, reproductive rights, etc.). When celebrities dismiss feminism as something to be ashamed of, it makes the continued mistreatment of women (and all of the other categories of feminism) right. As more prominence is given to feminism in the media, the term will become less about isolating it to academics and more about making it accessible to women and men from all walks of life.”

Happy International Women’s Day!

March Events in Saskatoon 2019

March 2019 Saskatoon events

After an entire month of Extreme Cold Warnings keeping you cooped up indoors, you’re ready for any excuse to get out of the house for a few hours.

Enter the Do Sask March events in Saskatoon 2019 listing, ready to inspire you with a variety of reasons to step outside. Living in Saskatoon isn’t as bad as the windchill makes it seem. If anything, locals are forced to come up with new, creative ways to keep busy indoors.

The remedy to a dismal winter could come from taking the plunge to explore the community around you. You’ll find eclectic choices in live theatre, such as SCUM: A Manifesto, Boeing Boeing, or Kinky Boots. Live music is happening throughout the month with everything from classical symphonies and deathcore metal to folks singing the blues. Plus, try new skills like cupcake decorating, or training to become a female triathlete.

This March, Do Sask is hosting two Speed Dating events at the Hose & Hydrant and the free monthly Book Club meeting at McNally Robinson. Join in on the fun!

Skip to:Tuesday, March 12
Skip to:Tuesday, March 19
Skip to:Tuesday, March 28


Friday, March 1, 2019

2019 Blues Festival at Various Locations
Augmented Experiments at PAVED Arts
Boeing Boeing at Persephone Theatre (until March 13)
Turn Out: Jeneen Frei Njootli at Remai Modern
Caribbean Connection Fridays at 360 Lounge Bar & Restaurant
Genesis Piano Fridays at The Bassment
Board Game Fridays at Amazing Stories

Saturday, March 2, 2019

2019 Blues Festival at Various Locations
5th Annual YXE Vintage Crawl at Various Locations

Saskatoon Youth Orchestra Musical Dividends at Convocation Hall, U of S
Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids at the Broadway Theatre
Anna Haverstock w/ Lyzanne Foth, Justin Ryan at Amigos Cantina
Boeing Boeing at Persephone Theatre (until March 13)
Kerfuffle Koncert at Holy Cross High School
Latin Urban Nights at 360 Lounge

Sunday, March 3, 2019

PIGS: Canada’s Pink Floyd – Outside / In at The Broadway Theatre

Monday, March 4, 2019

Saskatoon Soaps – Level II Improv Workshop at Emmanuel Anglican Church
LadyBits Improv Comedy Collective: March Mayhem!
WCSS Monday Night Dance Party at Toon Town Tavern
Monday Night Trivia at Hose & Hydrant Pub

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Decal Cutter 101 at Saskatoon Makerspace
Trivia Tuesday at Earl’s

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Pubstumper’s Trivia at Fionn MacCool’s

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox at TCU Place
SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Cribbage Nights at High Key Brewing Co.
Comedy Lab Open Mic at The Crazy Cactus
Open Mic at Fionn MacCool’s
Karaoke at Amigo’s Cantina
Tournament Trivia at Thirsty Scholar
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 Viewing Party at Diva’s

Friday, March 8, 2019

Bush Party with The Great Fuss at Blue Mountain Adventure Park
Two Worlds Colliding – Tasha Hubbard at Remai Modern
SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Caribbean Connection Fridays at 360 Lounge Bar & Restaurant
Genesis Piano Fridays at The Bassment
Board Game Fridays at Amazing Stories
International Women’s Day!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Uptown Stomp Swing Dance at Free Flow Dance Centre
Ness Takeover 2019 Auditions at Capitol Music Club
Coeur de pirate at Coors Event Centre
SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Valley Equestrian Centre 2nd Annual Skijoring Competition 2019
Latin Urban Nights at 360 Lounge

Sunday, March 10, 2019

SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Public Lecture, A Healthy Response to Climate Change at Station 20 West
Open Mic at Black Cat Tavern
Trivia at Dino’s Grill

Monday, March 11, 2019

WCSS Monday Night Dance Party at Toon Town Tavern
Monday Night Trivia at Hose & Hydrant Pub
Trivia at Hudson’s Canada’s Pub

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Trivia Tuesday at Earl’s

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Speed Dating for 24 & Up at Hose & Hydrant Pub
Pubstumper’s Trivia at Fionn MacCool’s

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Arrogant Worms at The Broadway Theatre
SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Cribbage Nights at High Key Brewing Co.
Comedy Lab Open Mic at The Crazy Cactus
Open Mic at Fionn MacCool’s
Tournament Trivia at Thirsty Scholar
Karaoke at Amigo’s Cantina
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 Viewing Party at Diva’s
Pi Day!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Raeburn w/ Dylan Cooper & Lyzanne Foth at Black Cat Tavern
SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Caribbean Connection Fridays at 360 Lounge Bar & Restaurant
Genesis Piano Fridays at The Bassment
Board Game Fridays at Amazing Stories
Trivia at Revolve Cafe

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sask Soul Winter Fest in Regina
SRDL 2019 Home Opener at SaskTel Sports Centre
Enterprise Earth And Aethere With Dusty Tucker And Cryptorchids at Black Cat Tavern
Have Your Cake… Cupcake Decorating at Holly Decker Makeup Studio
SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Latin Urban Nights at 360 Lounge

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Women’s only Triathlon Training with Just Tri-It
Shamrock Run at Sandman Hotel
SCUM: A Manifesto at The Refinery
Ride ‘n’ Slide Skijoring at Grasswood Horse Park
St. Patrick’s Day w/ Wenches & Rogues ~ Live at The Capitol
St. Paddy’s Day!

Monday, March 18, 2019

WCSS Monday Night Dance Party at Toon Town Tavern
My Writing Life: Katherena Vermette at Convocation Hall, U of S
Monday Night Trivia at Hose & Hydrant Pub

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sustainable Speaker Series at Frances Morrison Library
Trivia Tuesday at Earl’s

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Pubstumper’s Trivia at Fionn MacCool’s

Thursday, March 21, 2019

HomeStyles Home Show at Prairieland Park
Real-to-Real Film Festival at The Broadway Theatre
Cribbage Nights at High Key Brewing Co.
Comedy Lab Open Mic at The Crazy Cactus
Open Mic at Fionn MacCool’s
Tournament Trivia at Thirsty Scholar
Karaoke at Amigo’s Cantina
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 Viewing Party at Diva’s

Friday, March 22, 2019

Real-to-Real Film Festival at The Broadway Theatre
Caribbean Connection Fridays at 360 Lounge Bar & Restaurant
Genesis Piano Fridays at The Bassment
Board Game Fridays at Amazing Stories

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Indivisible at The Broadway Theatre
Latin Urban Nights at 360 Lounge

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Body of Art at Albert Community Centre
Trivia at Dino’s Grill

Monday, March 25, 2019

Book Club at McNally Robinson Booksellers
WCSS Monday Night Dance Party at Toon Town Tavern
The Bicycle Film Festival at The Broadway Theatre
Royal Canoe at The Broadway Theatre
Monday Night Trivia at Hose & Hydrant Pub
Trivia at Hudson’s Canada’s Pub

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Canada Wide Women’s Empowerment Tour at Outter Limits
Trivia Tuesday at Earl’s

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Speed Dating for 30 & Up at Hose & Hydrant Pub
Empire of the Son at Remai Arts Centre
Pubstumper’s Trivia at Fionn MacCool’s

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Write Out Loud at Frances Morrison Library
Learn to Camp – Cliff Wright Branch at Cliff Wright Branch Library
Women’s Adventure Film Tour at The Roxy Theatre
Empire of the Son at Remai Arts Centre
Cribbage Nights at High Key Brewing Co.
Comedy Lab Open Mic at The Crazy Cactus
Open Mic at Fionn MacCool’s
Tournament Trivia at Thirsty Scholar
Karaoke at Amigo’s Cantina
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 Viewing Party at Diva’s

Friday, March 29, 2019

Gerry Dee at TCU Place
Caribbean Connection Fridays at 360 Lounge Bar & Restaurant
Augmented Experiments at PAVED Arts
Saskatchewan Blue Cross Gardenscape at Prairieland Park
Empire of the Son at Remai Arts Centre
Genesis Piano Fridays at The Bassment
Board Game Fridays at Amazing Stories
Trivia at Revolve Cafe

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Childhood Anxiety: Helping Children Heal at HGI Saskatoon
DJ BL3ND at Coors Event Centre
Kinky Boots at TCU Place
Saskatchewan Blue Cross Gardenscape at Prairieland Park
Family Pysanka Morning Workshop at Ukrainian Museum of Canada
Empire of the Son at Remai Arts Centre
Latin Urban Nights at 360 Lounge

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Saskatchewan Blue Cross Gardenscape at Prairieland Park
Kinky Boots at TCU Place
Empire of the Son at Remai Arts Centre (until April 10)

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Why Valentine’s Day is the Worst Date Night of the Year

There are 365 nights in a year, so why is Valentine’s Day the absolute worst date night of them all? Before I get into my reasons, I’ll start with a story.

One of my favourite Valentine’s Day memories was when this guy I met asked me to be his Valentine. Ignoring the fact that this was a totally cheesy move – I was legitimately excited. We had met a few weeks earlier and hit it off quickly which had taken me by surprise. Up until that day, I had never been asked to be someone’s Valentine before, so I didn’t know how to react or what to expect.

As it turned out, the guy cooked me jambalaya and pralines. He realized as I arrived that he needed to go on a mad rush to buy a corkscrew for a bottle of wine. When he got back, he served our dinner on a pop-up Rubbermaid table that he bought especially for that date. Later on, we went for a blisteringly cold walk under the stars.

If I had imagined what modern society promotes as the perfect Valentine’s Date Night, I probably would’ve been disappointed. But because I had no expectations and was open to trying something new, I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Was it messy? Yes.
  • Was it romantic? Yes.
  • Was it everything Hallmark tells you it should be? Absolutely not.
  • What did I do for him? Carved his Valentine into a banana (he won that round).

That guy is now my husband.

Excuse the fingers, but this is the actual banana Valentine of 2014.

Before this happy memory, I’d been alone on many a Valentine’s Day. While I made an effort to bake cookies and give cute cards to my friends and colleagues, I often felt lonely and sad on February 14th.

Maybe it’s because I’m an easy target for advertisers.

The gift-driven holiday is designed to make people believe that most people in the world are in love, so that you can look forward to expressing your love with the “perfect” gift for your future soulmate. But these gifts are just superficial tokens with inflated price tags.

The town of Singleton always feels like a population of 1.

The reality is that it’s closer in size to a metropolis. A large portion of the world is now living independently. According to 2016 Canadian census data published in the Globe and Mail, “the number of one-person households… surpassed all other types of living situations“. If you’re single and living in your own place, you definitely aren’t alone.

Valentine’s Day seems more like an item on a to-do list than an act of love.

Love can be dirty and downright confusing. The Hallmark kind is just fine sometimes, but it doesn’t capture the actual feelings you have for someone. Love – true love – isn’t about the amount you spend on a date. It’s so much more than a box of candies, or a swanky dinner over candlelight. It can’t be contained in a heart-shaped box, or within the limits of a bank account.

The more intimate love, the kind that wakes up at night to check on you when you’re sick, the kind that encourages you to speak when every part of you wants to remain quiet, the kind that makes you laugh until you cry… is the kind of love that can only creep into your day when you least expect it. And odds are good (about 364 : 1) that day won’t be Valentine’s Day.

The need to continue Valentine’s Day for “tradition’s” sake.

Here’s the thing: traditions start as brand new ideas. You and I get to decide whether or not they’re worth doing again.

I mean, we go on regular date nights the rest of the year. We purchase gifts for each other just because. Should we wait around for one day to pay a premium for things we do all. the. time? (Here’s a hint: date nights make great everyday acts of love with lower price tags and expectations!)

If singles feel isolation like I did on Valentine’s Day, and couples just want to check off a box to satisfy their relational duties – then what is the actual point of keeping Valentine’s Day around for another year?

What if more of us let go of the idea of a perfect Valentine’s Day and welcomed messy memories? That’s what I want this tradition to symbolize for you this February 14th.

6 of the Latest Do Sask Book Club Reads in Photos

A.K.A. Six Potential Titles to Add to Your 2019 Stack

Most people interested in joining the Do Sask Book Club ask what titles we’ve read recently. To be honest, we read a wide variety of genres depending on who submits their #1 book to the draw. This keeps the club on its toes and exposes us to a number of different viewpoints.

Curious to know about the latest titles read by the Do Sask Book Club? Today, you’re in luck! And you don’t even have to leave the house.

See also

At the end of every book club meeting, we have a tradition of rating each title out of five. Those who haven’t finished the book keep their fists closed. This post will give you a photo of the ratings each book was given at the time of the meeting. Most book club members like to remain anonymous, so no faces are shown.

6 of the Latest Reads from The Do Sask Book Club Shelves

Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Some didn’t finish reading, but the majority who did gave it a 3. It takes a long time to get into the story, but the ending makes it worthwhile.

Grunt by Mary Roach (Got Distracted by Cake – No Rating)

“Roach … can take any scientific topic and make it clear, human, and even funny. In this case, she tackles the science of war, but not in the way you might think. On the weird and winding path she takes, she never loses sight of the sad reality and humanity of soldiers and war. ” – Member Ashleigh

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale

This one made us laugh and cry. It was almost bittersweet how real and relatable it was to all of us. Highly recommend 4/5.

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

“There are lots of great pop culture references, and I applaud her for trying to change the way society frames women’s friendships, but … I found her making sweeping generalizations based on her personal experiences. Even as she’s fighting against stereotypes…, she’s using them to back her own arguments.” – Member Ashleigh

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

We liked the clear, simple language used to explain complex topics like climate change, poverty/class, migration, and world population.
It gives science-oriented hope for the future.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The 1st Anniversary of Do Sask Book Club also had the most readers out to date. 
Michelle’s story is oddly relatable, considering the extraordinary life of America’s first black first lady. We highly recommend it for your stack this year.

At the February Do Sask Book Club meeting, we’ll discuss Educated by Tara Westover (seats currently sold out – join the waitlist). Check out the event listing for details on subsequent meetings. 

2019 is ripe for reading! Fill it with friends, a few drinks, and some literature at the Do Sask Book Club. Please contact me if you’d like more information about upcoming meetings. 

Updates to Do Sask’s Blog Policy

New Do Sask Blog Policy

Do Sask values transparency – and you! So, I want to let you know about the new Blog Policy that’s been released this month.

You can read the policy by clicking the link above. I’ve outlined some of the highlights below:

New Blog Policy

  • Audience Insights: Traffic data is collected by Google and Facebook. 
  • Advertising: Paid display advertising is available. 
  • Sponsorship: Sponsored posts include a statement of disclosure.
  • Comments: Blog comments are currently shut off to manage spam. 
  • Contests: Prize providers take full responsibility for delivering items to contest winners.

Thanks for being a Do Sask reader. 

January 30 is #BellLetsTalk. This is my mental health story.

10 years ago, I started seeing a counselor after I was laid off from my job. Prior to that moment, I had only been taken to counselling for a short time as a child. I didn’t know how to open up as an eight year old girl, so it didn’t lead to any results.

My first regular adult counsellor took the time to understand what was going on. As it turned out, there was more to unpack than the feelings associated with job loss after the economic crash of 2008.

Since then, counselling has become a regular part of my life. Just like seeing the dentist, doctor, or RMT. It has given me the skills and ability to change my perspective of the world and to catch my thoughts before they start slipping into darker territory.

I tell people: without counselling, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. That job I lost was a gift because it’s the reason I started doing it at 21 years old instead of waiting until it was too late.

I may not have been diagnosed with chronic mental illness, but I understand that being proactive about my own thoughts can help reduce my chances of acquiring one in the future.

On a serious note, I’ve personally witnessed what depression can do to someone if left unchecked. It can contribute to much more serious diseases such as dimentia/altzheimers and psychosis.

When my thoughts spin and I ruminate, I know it’s a good time to reach out for a hand to help me out of it. It’s also a good idea to have an annual mental health checkup to catch things you may not have even been aware of before it’s too late.

Mental therapy is a form of self love. It’s meant to help you when you can’t help yourself.

This story doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s taken a lot of nerve to write this post, when it should be as banal as telling someone you went to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned. That’s why I need to share. For the people who are suffering silently.

End the stigma.

Edit: I want to add that counselling would not have been financially feasible for me at the time (2009) without support of the employer who laid me off and the counselor herself.

Even though I was working full-time, I barely made enough to cover my essentials. My severance package covered 8 sessions and I was able to add a few extra at no charge. Another centre I used in Calgary offered hourly sessions on a sliding scale based on annual wage.

Counselling is a service everyone with a provincial health card has equal access to in Saskatoon. I wasn’t aware of this at the time I began my counselling journey.

Free counselling resources in Saskatoon:

This post was originally published to the Do SASK Facebook page on January 30, 2019.