Quitting + Faking your own death + Josephine Baker
May I recommend
Just giving up
Sometimes, things are really hard but you just have to grit your teeth and battle through. These things include giving birth (even with the drugs its pretty alarming) ; finishing the swim across the whole lake when you’re halfway there and realise you’ve grossly over-estimated your lung capacity and cardiovascular fitness; raising an increasingly surly and alarmingly hostile teen and driving long distances to get to nice places. Once you start those things, you’ve just got to bear down and get ‘em done. Pro tip - podcasts and gummy bears can help in most situations.
However, there are a lot of things that you don’t have to do. Often, when something is hard and unpleasant, I highly recommend cutting and running. Life is difficult , sad and actually quite short, don’t spend it doing stuff that makes you unhappy.
I can already see the puritanical rage steaming off many people’s cellphones and I get it, because I struggle with the judgement and sense of obligation, too. We’re taught that it is morally improving to do hard things and succeed, but our world isn’t fair and often the hard things we’re supposed to do: work a stressful job, nurse an unrewarding relationship; support the Montreal Canadiens — are actually actively hurting us for others’ gain. In those instances, the healthiest thing you can do is opt the hell out and quit.
Quitting is tricky, because it makes you, well, a quitter. The first big thing I quit was tree planting in northern Ontario. I did it for two weeks. The work was brutally hard and I was inept.. At one point, I found myself suspended upside down from a fallen log, all my saplings tumbled from my bag. My hard hat slipped from my head. Quitting that job was difficult. I abandoned the friend I had persuaded to join me (apologies, again, Serena!) ; I had to tell my foreman and the whole camp that I was quitting; I had to organize transport for myself back to civilization (North Bay) ; I had to swallow the cost of my specialised equipment: steel toed boots, tree bag thinger, shovel etc and I had to live with years of teasing about my failure.
The thing is, though, I never felt bad about my decision. I have lots of regrets in my life, but quitting tree planting isn’t one of them. I now see it as a gift, because it taught me that I can leave things and still be a moderately interesting, sporadically successful person. Quitting that job liberated me to quit more things, and actually improved my life.
Doing something you loath or that is sapping you strength? Try giving up and walking away! It might just be your best failure ever.
P.S. Only after I wrote this whole piece did it occur to me that it has a lot of resonance with the latest newsletter from the wonderful Liv Stratman who is extremely funny and also wise. You can check her take on quitting (and lots of other things!) here.
What have you given up on? Share your defeat in the comments below!
The Wild World of Faking Your Own Death
Very interesting article on exactly how people fake their own deaths - apparently it’s more than you’d think!
In one case, Ahearn was monitoring the bank account of someone when he noticed a recurring charge from Match.com. Curious to see whether the deceased was still trying to get it in from the afterlife, he signed up, built an attractive female profile, and started searching for men that fit the man’s age and background. After searching through hundreds of profiles, he found the guy. Clearly emblazoned on his profile was the following description: “Businessman relocating to Cyprus.”
Josephine Baker: Nazi fighting badass
There’s a reason that Josephine Baker is one of three featured real life divas in my novel, THE HONEYBEE EMERALDS, and that’s because she’s a flipping badass who hated Nazis before it was cool.
Josephine was acutely aware of the need to stand up to bullies like Hitler and all he espoused. Nazi Germany’s actions were “criminal,” she would write and “criminals had to be punished.” As war engulfed Europe, she would declare herself willing to kill Nazis with her own hand, if the need arose. Of course, her recruitment as an Honourable Correspondent gave her the means to strike back, without necessarily ever needing to draw blood.
Sneaky art thieves, ancient relics
This is a wild story about relics and theft.
“When they realized what it was, that you in fact cannot sell it, they knew they had to get rid of it,” Brand told the AFP. He suggested, even, that the person who contacted him feared divine retribution. “To have the ultimate relic, the blood of Jesus in your home, stolen, that’s a curse.”
Secrets in ancient jewellery design
OK, I am mildly obsessed with all things Tudor (well actually, I am more interested in the War of the Roses, but the Tudors do in a pinch) and this story about Catherine of Aragorn, who really got the shaft, is quite interesting.
Using a process she called “early modern Wordle,” a scholar claims to have uncovered a hidden message from Catherine of Aragon in a book of jewelry designs.It has long been a beguiling and mysterious treasure of the British Museum: a collection of sketches for jewelry and other lavish ornaments, commissioned during the reign of Henry VIII from the artist Hans Holbein, for a time the court painter.
Some of the designs are ciphers, or coded symbols, entangling the initials of Henry and his many paramours. Some of the most elaborate have never been decoded.
Still hitting up the old Book Clubs - if you want me to join yours, either virtually or in person - get in touch! I find people are really interested in talking about the writing/publishing stuff - how long it takes to write, how the editing process works, where the ideas come from etc. I love talking about that, so don’t be shy!
I was at the Pinecrest Indigo in Ottawa yesterday and to be honest, I was kind of dreading it, because I thought I might be ignored and forgotten and end up feeling sort of depressed and defeated. But lots of kind Ottawans came to talk to me and some even bought books and the whole thing was actually incredibly affirming so yay!
I know I wrote a whole post about quitting and not doing hard things, but sometimes it’s good to do things you don’t want and it’s a contradiction and we dwell in multitudes and life is a rich tapestry!
Take a nap
I DID need to know this
The ineffectual tea towel
Bear in woods
Introvert dog park
This is epic
Oh, how I laughed
Again, let us eat the rich
Having lived in both countries, this tracks.
Thanks for reading my newsletter.