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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss Warmland.

Posts tagged friendship



My birthday falls a mere two weeks after Christmas, so I’ve always advocated for a meaningful celebration. If I don’t, people tend to be too broke and too “peopled-out” to care about getting together. In my twenties, I started holding “Lyssmas”, a holiday where I’d gather all my favourite people to eat waffles and chocolate, listen to the entire Propaghandi discography on vinyl, and explore outside. Upon invitation, many friends would ask who else was going only to discover that they didn’t know many other people who would be gathering. I’m a person with a variety of interests who occupies many worlds, so I would inevitably derive the guestlist from my favourite people from each area of my life. A couple friends from theatre, a couple friends from university, a couple punks, one or two friends from high school, a few friends I’d met through my partner, some other community-oriented artists. I’d trust that they would all get along just fine, and probably even swimmingly. It was at one of these Lyssmas gatherings that I overheard one of my oldest friends refer to me as a “friend curator”.
Being named a “friend curator” felt like the highest honour. I connected with people who shared my fundamental values and who brought their unique skills and overall essence to my life in a way I appreciated. I really value connecting with other human beings for who they are. I appreciate it from an emotional place, and also from a place of curiosity. I love learning about the inside of someone’s head, especially when their lens is clearly different from my own. When someone brings up an idea or initiative, I can almost always say, “do you know [so and so]? They might be interested in this – do you want me to connect you with them?”. In fact, this is often the most valuable contribution I can bring to a team.

Needless to say, I’m also interested in community. What is it? What does it even mean? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do we prioritize collective care while maintaining a sense of autonomy? What can I bring to the table and what do I need? Who is sitting at this table, who’s missing from the table and what barriers keep them from joining in? Why do the people showing up feel invited? I have a lot of ideas about answers to these questions, but I’m also clear about the fact that there isn’t one simple answer. What I do know for sure is that, when it comes to building community, being a friend curator comes in handy.

When I became a parent, I expected to be able to approach it as a well-connected anarchafeminst. As a friend curator. I expected to be able to meet with and connect with other parents who, again, shared my fundamental values and also brought their own unique skills and outlooks to any conversation around parenting. I expected to be able to reject ways of parenting that replicated the power dynamics that are rooted in disconnection, and therefore, oppression and all that comes with it. 

Having expectations is something I struggle with, because my brain wants things to happen logically. Since I’ve spent nearly thirty years honing my connection-building skills, I expect that I’ll be able to draw on connection when I need it. Unfortunately, expectations don’t normally pan out that way, because they centre our own reality rather than the reality of another person/ other people in the relationship. It essentially actively undermines their autonomy and cheats everyone out of connection. Having expectations as a community-oriented, friend-curating new parent was a big mistake.

The advent of parenthood came for me on the wings of a global pandemic, a time when drawing on my connections looked entirely different than I’d expected, and this was disappointing. Regardless, in the first year of parenthood, I survived and found every gift I could in forming my own unique relationship with my son while redefining other relationships in my life: my partnership, my role as a daughter/sister/niece/grandaughter, my role as a friend, my role as an activist. I was able to come home to who I was as a carer without any background noise of trying to navigate external relationships in person. My world turned virtual, and with that, came the opportunity to practice stricter boundaries. Conversations about consent became more mainstream, as everyone navigated what level of in-person meeting was comfortable for them, depending on a multitude of factors. So many of those blurry answers to that question, “How do we prioritize collective care while maintaining a sense of autonomy?” became simultaneously collective and divisive. Through the pandemic, I continue to receive the gift of the opportunity to expand my own ideas around this question, while I model navigating it for my child. And as is the theme of pandemic new-parenthood for me, it’s a gift to embrace the completely unexpected. 

The other gift that came from the urge to make connections during this time has been through prioritizing connecting with my child. Although I have felt disconnected in many ways, including from the general political climate we’re situated in, I’ve been able to channel that need for community and connection to be centred on my relationship with my child during the formative years of his life. The general culture we’re situated in discourages this level of connection through the focus on working outside the home in order to meet basic human needs. We’re all so busy trying to survive under late capitalism, that we’re fundamentally disconnected from our children from an early age. One thing about the effect the pandemic has had on the way our society functions is that it’s slowed life down in a way that forces us to be with the people in our own dwellings. This can be a good thing in some homes, although it’s also resulted in an increase in domestic violence

I’ve discovered that there are both good and bad outcomes related to being connected to our children without the balance of connection with our greater communities. It’s been a few years since I celebrated Lyssmas, and I really miss it. I do. I feel the absence of gathering with important people in my life, to learn from them and share with them. Still, I’m grateful for technology, I’m grateful to have a place to live, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to build connection with my child. My hope for him is that this creates a radical sense of connectedness, confidence, and a deep well to draw from as he embarks on the work he’ll do in this world and the person he’ll be. My hope for myself is that I use this time to reflect on the same questions I’ve been asking myself for years with an entirely new perspective.

What is community? What does it even mean? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do we prioritize collective care while maintaining a sense of autonomy? What can I bring to the table and what do I need? Who is sitting at this table, and why are the people who aren’t at the table missing? Why do the people showing up feel invited?

I’m going to keep asking these questions and gathering more thoughts in response to them. I’m going to continue to curate friends and to value them for who they are. And I’m going to keep on actively caring for and connecting myself, my family, and for my communities. From the outside, it may look like I’m doing nothing, but I can confidently assert that this is big work. Important work. And I’m proud to be on this destination-void ride. 

Check out my conversation about Sweet Coffee Club with Jeannette Breward!

Sweet Coffee Club is an interdisciplinary creative collaborative between two friends. We create surrealist photos based on original poetry. It’s a project we’ve been working on for almost two years, over the course of both of us becoming mothers alongside one another, and are ready to finally push out into the world. Sweet Coffee is one of the first poems we worked from.

Our work aims to find connection, care, and empowerment through creative expression that centres our relationship with our Selves, our bodies, and a relationship with the earth.

Sweet Coffee Club is unapologetically feminist. This work is about the lived experience of the women we are. It’s political and personal all at once. It’s soft and mean and spiritual and firmly grounded. We are white, and queer, and cis, and anxious, and sore, and tired, and settled, and vulnerable, and honest… but we don’t want Sweet Coffee Club to be just about those perspectives.

You can join Sweet Coffee Club too. Show us, however it makes sense to you, how you, in your body, find connection, care, and empowerment through your relationship with the environment around you. Mention us and hashtag your posts and stories #sweetcoffeeclub 💓

Come visit the in-person exhibit at Happenstance Coffee Pub in downtown Port Hope in November and December!

Check out my conversation with Jeannette Breward and Elle Warren!



We talk about what women empowerment means to us and whether each of the following topics are empowering to women:
– Sex work and porn
– Women only space
– Moms who work out of the house and mom’s who work in the home
– Cosmetic surgery

Jeannette Links:
Previous episode
Facebook
Website
IG

Elle Links:
Previous episode
Facebook
Personal IG
Bon Bon Fashion IG

Content- This essay contains my miscarriage stories and suggestions about what to say to people in your life when they’re miscarrying. This advice is based on my own experiences, but you know your friends best. This is meant to be a starting point and also to generally start more conversations about miscarriage in general, because it’s more common than we think…
IMG_7699
Almost a year ago, my partner and I decided we were ready to have a baby. We’d always talked about wanting a family, and we were at a place where we felt that financially and emotionally we were ready to start it. After 6 months, I took a test and found that it was faint, but positive. I tested religiously the next few mornings and watched the line darken- just a bit. Within another week and a half I was bleeding and a visit to the doctor confirmed that my HCG levels had fallen to 4. They called it a chemical pregnancy.

Two months later, I was pregnant again. I hoped that this was the time, but I was secretly waiting for blood. I started to feel sick, I monitored my HCG levels, and then started to see them rise more slowly than they should. I went to the the hospital for an unrelated reason, and when I told them I was 7 weeks pregnant, they offered to do an ultrasound for me to confirm that my organs were all in decent shape, related to my reason for being there. They weren’t looking for  heartbeat, but they also didn’t find one. I was referred to an OB who sent me for a more in depth ultrasound. It was confirmed that there was no heartbeat. I opted to wait to miscarry naturally, hoping for some miracle baby that was just hiding. A few weeks later, after a visit with my midwife, who I was planning to get my care from, where she answered all my questions, I got my final confirmation. My next choice was to take a medication to help pass the pregnancy or to do a D&C. I was still hoping not to have a D&C, so I tried the pills.  

They caused some bleeding, but nothing like what I was expecting. A scan a few days later proved me right, I was still pregnant, but there was no baby. I tried another version of the medication and I had a day of pure hell where I thought it was all over with, but my next follow up showed that there was still tissue inside of me. They told me they would do a D&C that day and I texted my partner asking him to come to the hospital. When he had to go to work, my dad showed up to drive me home and make me soup and walk my dog. When my partner got home, he sat with me and we talked for a while and then went to bed early.

**Important side note: the “abortion pill” became approved and available in Canada over the last few years and is only covered by six provinces. Without OHIP, each round of drugs would have cost me $337.25.

All in all, it’s been one hell of an experience trying to expand our family. My partner and I had been of the mindset that is was something to be open about with the people close to us, since it was something that was a huge deal in our life and support (or at least understanding) would be nice in the case of a loss. What we found when we told people about our losses, was that most women we knew had their own miscarriage stories. We also found that, like with any loss, people rarely know what the “right” thing to say is.

The short answer is that there’s no right thing to say because there’s nothing that can be said to change that your friend/family member/whatever has experienced a loss. That’s not always the most practical (or sensitive) thing to say in the moment though. The only thing I heard more than people’s own miscarriage stories was “people really need to talk about it more”. And we do, and I gotta tell you, it felt good to hear that my story wasn’t unusual. because grief is lonely enough without acknowledging that miscarriage is such a common reason for so many people’s grief.

Here are some ideas for things to say when someone in your life has had a miscarriage:

1. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

As someone who has experienced a decent amount of significant deaths around me, I feel pretty confident saying that this is solid way to respond in any situation where someone is grieving for any kind of loss. You acknowledge that they’re going through something and it’s appropriate, regardless of your relationship with the person or how close you are to them.

2. Do you want to talk about it?

If you’re fairly close with this person, it’s worth asking if they want to talk about it if you have the emotional capacity and physical time to take that on. If you don’t have that emotional capacity or physical time, just don’t offer.

This shows that you’re able to hold that space for your person and encourages them to process what they’re experiencing. Even early loss can feel like crap (to say the least) when you’ve been trying to get pregnant and found out that you were. Some people don’t process through talking about it, or they may just not  want to in that moment. By asking, you’ve given them the option to talk about it or not with you.

3. Do you want some company? I’m available at [time, days].

This is another way of identifying a way you feel capable of being supportive. Sometimes it can be lonely when you’re grieving and it helps to have people around physically. Sometimes it’s nice to have a distraction from feeling bad to talk about completely unrelated things.

Miscarriage can be an intense experience, both physically and emotionally, at times, but it’s important to consider that even grieving people are whole humans and their grief isn’t all that’s going on for them. It can be a really helpful way of supporting your person.

4. I get that you’re going through a lot right now. Take whatever time you need.

We live in a society where we put a lot of pressure on women to carry on with their lives during their pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, which people are typically expected to hide. My experience of early pregnancy was that it can be pretty challenging to carry on with everything in your life when you’re exhausted and nauseous. Miscarriage can be painful, physically and emotionally.

Sometimes, knowing that people realize you need a little more gentleness or time or space or care can be really helpful, whether that’s an extra day off work or understanding around missing a meeting.

5. What kind of soup do you like?

Bringing people food is rarely a bad idea, especially if they’re sad or not feeling well. Soup is warm, comforting, and most people like at least one kind. Be a friend. Bring soup.

I often feel compelled
To do as much as this
Glass picture frame that
Houses
My ever-moving self
Will allow me to do not
Because I feel obligated but
Because I feel true and honest
Joy
When my finger tips graze the
Energy of your toe tips
When our voices mix
Like cream blends into fresh coffee
My joy is not fleeting
Because it has roots
So when my chest caves in,
Instead of speaking my truth,
I am called to rest.

amy.jpg

Check out my interview with Amy Anderson-MacArthur (@veganmomofmany) about:

– Her favourite story form her bartending days
– Moderating a Vegan Keto group, “Vegan Keto Made Simple“, (and why she eats the way she does)
– Managing chronic illness naturally
Having a stroke during her fifth pregnancy at the age of 30…and life afterwards
Sobriety
– Using CBD oil and cannabis vs. Wine Mom culture
– Being happy and the attitude it takes to get there
– Parenting a child with Sensory Processing Disorder
– Encouraging autonomy in children

Featuring Fresh Nova Scotia Tunes:

“Frantic” by John Rodgers and Julian Warme (Written in one night!)
“On Crutches” by John and Belinda
“Chips” by HighJinx and J-Hooligan
“Butts” by Brock MacArthur