- by Alyson Shane
Yesterday I spent my Thanksgiving surrounded by some of the people who matter most to me. We made dinner, had drinks, shared stories, and otherwise enjoyed each other's company. It was a terrific way to wrap up the long weekend, and I'm still glowing just thinking about how much fun it was.
This is the first Thanksgiving I've had without my family in a long time, and as we move into a season where, traditionally, we spend more time with our families, I wanted to talk a little bit about creating a Family of Choice, and how it's helped me.
For those of you new to this blog, I haven't communicated with my parents since last winter. Shortly after the new year I decided to seek out therapy and to start to work through a variety of anxieties and issues related to self-worth that were the result of my relationship with my mom, and one of the things my therapist suggested was to take some space from my mom while I focused on healing.
Needless to say asking for space didn't go over very well, and the fallout was that now neither of my parents speak to me. As a result I don't really speak to any of my extended family, and have very limited contact with my two younger siblings.
I don't talk about it very often because it's a difficult topic to discuss; most people have pretty solid relationships with their families, and even the ones who have rocky ones generally maintain some level of contact with their families despite regular drama and other issues that families deal with.
On being 'No-Contact'
I think that one of the hardest things that adults face is whether or not we should keep negative people in our lives. For many of us, there's that one relationship that we know we shouldn't maintain, but we do so because (often) we feel guilty about not maintaining it.
Think about that one "friend" who you don't really like, but always get invited around because they've always been there, or that family member who you despise but still invite to Christmas because you "have to."
Stop the madness! You never "have to" do anything that upsets you or makes you feel uncomfortable.
If someone is making you feel bad, guilting you, or otherwise upsetting you on a regular basis, you don't have to include them in your life. Getting to be a part of your life is a privilege, not a right.
For example, I have a family member whose way of "helping" was to challenge me on every single thing I did - I shudder to think about the hours I spent defending all of my decisions, from who I was dating, to my career choice, to where I wanted to go on vacation. It was insanity! I'd see their name pop up and my blood pressure would rise just thinking about the argument that was going to ensue.
If someone in your life is making you feel this way -your parent, friend, colleague, whatever- you have a right to ask them to stop. If they respect you, they will. If not, then it's okay to not politely explain why they don't get to be privy to your life and decisions anymore.
Creating a Family of Choice
"Family of Choice" is just what it sounds like: the people you choose to have around you in your life, and who are close to you. These people differ from your "Family of Origin" which are your blood relatives; mum, dad, siblings, etc.
I've heard lots of people make comments like "friends aren't the same as family" which I think is total BS. I really feel like many of us use "they're family" as an excuse to put up with meddling, guilt, and other nonsense that we wouldn't otherwise put up with from anyone else. How insane is that?
Being blood relatives doesn't (and shouldn't) make maintaining one relationship more important than maintaining others, and just because someone isn't related to you by blood, that shouldn't diminish the importance of the relationship.
Being close to your Family of Choice is just as good as being close to your Family of Origin, if your situation permits it - there's no law stating that just because you weren't born into the same family, that you can't care about someone the same way you would a blood relative.
Creating and cultivating my Family of Choice has been a really important part of navigating this whole No-Contact experience for me. Knowing that I have a handful of close friends whom I can turn to in a crisis helps alleviate feelings of loneliness or isolation which I occasionally feel when thinking about my present circumstances.
In addition to being a support system, a healthy Family of Choice can also serve as a benchmark for other relationships in our lives. Why would we want to spend time talking to or putting up with people who make us feel bad, or tear us down, when we have a support system of great people we can reach out to instead?
Why does all of this matter?
It matters because we have a right to be happy, and to surround ourselves with kind, positive people who care about us and want to see us succeed.
Most of the time this is pretty easy to do; lots of us are lucky enough to have defaulted into families who are supportive, and manage to find great friends, partners and colleagues whom we care about, and who want the best for us, as well.
However, it's easy to start to fall into the habit of allowing negative people to start to infiltrate our lives, and to start giving them too much weight and authority over our thoughts and our actions. This can be especially true if we've grown up in a family, or have that one family member, who makes us feel like shit. We put up with it because we're used to it.
Creating a Family of Choice means that you get to choose the people you want to share your life and experiences with. It means taking control over your own happiness, and ensuring that everyone who touches your life does so in meaningful and positive ways.
I didn't write this post to encourage you to cut out your family or anything like that, but I wanted to write something to let you know that we can look to outside sources (friends, partners, colleagues, mentors, etc) to help us feel fulfilled and loved. It's hard, and it's a weird process, but it does work and it's worth doing if you aren't getting the supports that you need from your Family of Origin.
We all have the tools at our disposal to build the kind of families and lifestyles that we want to have - what that looks like is entirely up to you.
Have you ever struggled with letting go of a difficult relationship? Was it a friend, family, or loved one? Tell me in the comments, or if it's too personal, send me an email - I'm always available to chat.
- by admin
In case you missed it The Poutine Cup was a badass event held at Fort Gibraltar where a bunch of the best restos in town made fancy poutine and competed for the title of Best Poutine.
This gentleman took me and we had a blast drinking beer and eating poutine and otherwise making the French proud.
Everything's better when you share it with friends.
Especially when "everything" means poutine with the fanciest toppings and seasonal craft beer from yr favourite local brewery.
The place was packed to the tits
(sold out, I believe?)
and there was so much all you can eat fancy poutine that yr girl had to drag herself up the stairs to the top of the fort wall to take this photo.
By the end of the evening we were all standing around and loudly exclaiming how full we were
while still sipping full glasses of PunkNFest, of course.
Later in the eve there was live music to serenade us while we munched away and then later while we bemoaned how much we ate
which was completely worth it, but you know.
At the end of the night they announced the winners:
Yr girl voted for Marion, as did the boys, because we know our shit.
Looking back it was an incredible night:
I got to hang out in an old fort, eat all the poutine I could eat, drink amazing beer from my favourite brewery, and do it all in the company of some of my favourite people.
What else could a girl ask for?
- by admin
The wedding was Mike & Alicia's and was at a fancy country club and was beautiful and moving and everything you hope a wedding should be.
We dolled up fancy and danced until our feet ached and smiled until our faces hurt
and had the most wonderful time with the most wonderful people.
Afterward John and I climbed up a play structure outside my apartment, still in our fancy wedding clothes, and looked at the stars and talked about our future together.
It was the perfect way to end the perfect day and was 100% worth the resulting hangover.
Congrats Mike & Alicia! Thank you for letting me be a part of your special day!
yr girl Shaner
- by admin
- Road rockets
- Giant, walk-through colons
- Underwear Robyn dance parties
- Nip slips
- Hula hooping
- Leopard-print jean-looking tights & dress shoes
- Being spices (Oregano & Chili Flakes forever!)
- Too many trips to the wine store
- Sunshine & sunburns
and so, so much more.
yr girl is a lucky lady.
- by adminso, naturally, we went to one of the best watering holes in town, The Yellow Dog
(which I first went to with Colin, of course.)
I first met Colin years ago now, back before we were both students and were
(I'd like to think)
significantly less cynical than we are now.
But I could be mistaken there.
We met through Twitter and the first time we met face-to-face was at a Secret Handshake gathering and he told me that I would know him because he would be wearing
"a TMNT hat and shirt"
which turned out to be true -Colin owns a tshirt with a giant Ninja Turtle face on it as well as a hat with a giant Ninja Turtle face on it
and I was impressed not only that he owned two such pieces of clothing, but that he'd worn them out in public together
so I knew we'd be friends immediately.
Since then we've had many brunches, beers, and adventures together
and hopefully now that we've both graduated from our respective areas of study and have big-kid jobs
we'll have even more.
Happy (belated) birthday, Colin!
You'll always be my favourite baby-faced friend from the internet.
yr girl Shaner
- by admin
One of those bands was called Sewing with Nancie which was a band that one of my ex-boyfriends happened to be obsessed over.
He was from another smaller Ontario town and had also moved to Winnipeg and was super into punk-rock and used to make me listen to Sewing with Nancie as we drove around in his Kia Spectra so naturally when I found out this weird connection my brain went like this:
I didn't meet John through my ex.
I met John how you meet all of the best people: while drunk and at a large social event with friends.
I was at the Winnipeg Wine Fest with Tyrone and my regular posse and he was there with my friend whom he was dating at the time.
Somehow between being outrageous and slamming back teeny glasses of wine we found ourselves skulking around port table together and (naturally) a friendship was born.
Since then we've had a plethora of ridiculous experiences which include but are not limited to:
romping in onesies
going on road trips
having inappropriate moustache parties
drinking beers in a giant blanket fort
eating KD on Pope's Hill watching the sun rise at Folk Fest
hanging porn up in other people's tents
curling in a bonspiel
skating and drinking SoCo
meeting a freaking astronaut
and a million other random, amazing things together.
It kinda goes without saying that he's one of my favourite people in the world, and I think I can safely speak for Tyrone and say that we both feel really lucky to count him as a friend.
So happy birthday, John.
May your synths always be poppy,
your leggings always be outrageous,
and your life always be full of good coffee, good beer & good times.
yr girl Shaner
- by adminWhich is curling speak for "frantically sweeping the ice in front of the 40lb granite stone sliding down the ice so it gets to where you want it to go while your friend, the skip, yells at you".
It's ridiculous and a ton of fun, as I discovered when Tyrone, John, Bree and myself went to the Granite Curling Club to practice for the Manitoba Music Rocks Charity Bonspiel next weekend.
Because we decided to sign up to curl in a bonspiel without ever having curled before.
Luckily everyone involved with the sport is kind and amazing and the manager of the club let us use the ice and equipment for free, and the three older guys who had been curling for 40+ years and were there to practice for their badass team took time out of their day to teach us how to properly play the sport and not just mess around stupidly like we had been doing previously.
Even though curling is a Scottish sport it feels so Canadian.
Before you play you shake hands with the opposing team and say yr name, so now everyone's friends.
You don't yell or jeer at the other team to break their concentration.
Or otherwise be a sportsing asshole.
You drink before the game
during the game
and then after the game the winning team pays for drinks for both teams.
It's basically polite people being polite playing a nice game of sliding heavy rocks down some ice and one person on each team yelling stuff like
and others that I don't remember while getting outrageously drunk
It might be the best sport ever.
Big thanks to the Granite Curling Club and the fabulous gentlemen who made my introduction to the game such a fantastic one!
- by admin
Post-gym we met up with @adriantrimble to catch up on stories and giggle like schoolgirls.
The last frame is empty because our server was so efficient that she cleared away my empty bowl before I could take a photo.
I was impressed/annoyed.
Cheap okay-ish beer. Suitable for a Thursday, though.
Fortunately Adrian is much taller than me and blocked a lot of the wind as we walked home in a snowstorm.
Still had time for a selfie, though.
- by admin
One of them is Skot Deeming aka mrghosty, who I met years ago through Tyrone and currently stalk via the interwebs since he moved away to Toronto and now to Montreal to earn his doctorate and become drghosty.
Today though he was in town to give an artist talk at Videopool about curating games and game-based networks as you can see in the above photo.
Because in addition to being a grad-and-now-phd student studying digital games (among other things) he's also interested in having conversations about games as art, the physicality of games, the ephemeral nature of pop-up arcades, and a multitude of other intellectual subjects pertaining to gaming that most of us don't think about day to day.
As an avid gamer myself I'm always interested in what Skot has to say, and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear him speak.
My Toronto peeps should make a point to check out Vector Gave + Art Convergence Festival which runs Feb 19-23 and everyone should make a point to keep up with Skot's work is through his twitter @mrghostyx.
As always Skot, it was a pleasure seeing you and getting to witness all your smarts.
xox yr Shaner