Tag Archives: black & white checkers

Thank You

You guys. It’s December 31st, which means that this is my last blog post of the year. I’ve made it through almost an entire year of posting an entry every day (well…ahem, sometimes I would skip a day or two and have to catch up — but that was the exception rather than the rule :)

I would like to thank each and every one of you for reading my site. For those of you who took the time to comment and give feedback — you rule! I really appreciate it.

From the entire team here at Mental Skillness, we wish you a very Happy New Year, and all the best for 2013!

NYE Skillin'


Joy to the World

Something cool happened to me today. I woke up this morning and decided to go for a walk. I set out, and then on impulse decided to go to Church. My immediate family is not super religious, but my mom grew up in a fairly religious household and her grandfather was the moderator of the United Church of Canada for a period of time. He was based at the Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto, so our family has always had an affiliation there. My parents were married at the Met (as were my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and most of my cousins); my brother and I were baptized there; and it has been a gathering place for our family over the years.

I like the Met. It is a large church and has a sense of grandness to it — and yet it is also familiar to me, so I feel comfortable there. The Minister’s name is Dr. Malcolm Sinclair and he is an excellent speaker. His sermons are always informal yet eloquent, full of humour and humility, and I enjoy hearing what he has to say. So I decided at the last minute to head over and catch the 11am service.

Just as I was about to walk through the doors, I got a text from my mom saying that she was going to the Met, and was en route via streetcar if I wanted to join her. I had to laugh — we had obviously both had the same impulse. This seemed like a neat coincidence. I wrote back to tell her that I was in fact already there, and would save a seat for her.

The topic of Dr. Sinclair’s Christmas day sermon was ‘Gifts for a House Divided’ and he spoke extensively on the topic of Joy. When I first started this blog at the beginning of 2012, I had in mind the idea of celebrating one thing each day that makes me feel joyful. Throughout the year, I have tried to find joy where I can, even if it’s just in a song or an image — something that makes me smile, or feel inspired to keep working, and trying, and feeling happy. And when I do feel happy, being able to recognize that for the gift that it is. Life can be harsh, but if you can find joy in small things, they do add up over time to create a wellspring of resources you can reach for and connect to in times of difficulty. I like to think of each of the things I have written about this year as a building block, or a brick, that when stacked up next to one another form the foundation of who I am and what I believe in. As I look back on my sources of inspiration over this past year, some of them have been predictable (goths, teen dance movies, and YA lit were obviously going to make the list), some have been revelations (2012 will be remembered in part as the year I discovered that cardinals are great!), but the common denominator is that they all make me happy.

I hope that you, too, are able to connect with the things that make you happy and bring joy into your life. This is my greatest wish for all of you, and for everyone.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

christmas skillin

Peace on Earth

♥ Chuck Taylor ♥


Finding this article in my inbox this morning put a smile on my face. I have long been a big fan of Converse, and this piece is an interesting read, particularly the parts about the genesis of the company and the history of Chuck Taylor.

I mentioned a while back that I was planning on wearing my pink Chucks at Versailles as a tribute to Marie Antoinette.

Et voilà!


Versailles, Part 1: Le Palais

versailles glory

For some reason that I can’t quite explain, in the weeks leading up to this vacation I was obsessed with the idea of visiting Versailles. I’ve actually been there before, but not since I was 17 on a class trip to France. Being your typical high school student at the time, I was obviously totally self-involved and unappreciative of my surroundings. I seem to recall my friend Paola and I spending most of our time in France trying to find opportunities to sneak away from our teachers to smoke cigarettes. Ah, money well spent.

Anyway, Versailles is pretty amazing. I remember that I used to think it was way too ornate — all gilt frames and clashing chintzes — but now I love it. I spent an entire day there and took lots of photos, so I’ll be spreading them out over a few posts.

First up is the Palace itself. Apparently Louis XIV was inspired to move the court to Versailles after proclaiming that the Louvre (the formal royal residence) was, at over 14km in length, “too cramped”. But of course. As you would expect, there are many portraits and statues of the Sun King adorning the walls and corridors of Versailles. Modesty was not a highly-rated virtue during this era (at least, not amongst the nobility) — which is kind of great. After all, modesty could not have produced the dazzlingly opulent splendor on display at Versailles, with all of its decadent glory.

versailles gate

versailles porte

versailles chapel

versailles ceiling

versailles corner

versailles portrait

chambre de marie antoinette

versailles vert

versailles bleu

hall of mirrors

Skillin’ In Wonderland

President Fox lives in the White House now.

If the White House was in Wonderland instead of Washington the South Lawn would probably look something like this:

skillin' in wonderland


Duck and I decided to have our portrait taken for posterity.

The finished piece is hanging in the foyer of Mental Skillness HQ. Let us know what you think!

duck & skillz

Wishful Skillin’: Checkerboard Floors

At this point, all I really want in life is a black-and-white checkered floor.

checkerboard floor

Bonus: walls painted to look like the night sky.