Like many, 2020 has been problematic for my mental health. I made the decision early on in the year to try new ways of combating my struggles. I’ve changed some of my habits and learned new methods of self-care which have helped me substantially over the last few months. Here are my top four which I’m excited to share with you:
A year ago I was one of those people that believed “I could never do meditation because I get distracted too easily.” In acting school, we’d have classes focussing on meditation and breath, and I always struggled with allowing my mind to be calm. I’d become frustrated and ultimately concluded that I sucked at meditation.
In the last few years, however, I kept meeting people who praised meditation and encouraged me to give it another shot. I knew I couldn’t just meditate by myself. "There’s absolutely no way I can sit in silence for ten minutes! Are you mad?"
Essentially, I needed help. So, I looked on Spotify and youtube for some guided meditation tracks. I figured there would be a much better chance of me paying attention to some random voice than complete silence.
I started practising regularly and after some time, I finally started feeling the benefits. I encourage everyone to find a meditation practice that works for them. It might not work immediately, but with patience, I’m certain you’ll see results. (I mean, I did, and if meditation can work for me, it can work for anyone.)
2. Limiting social media first thing in the morning
I used to have this habit where I’d wake up, check my phone, grab my coffee and breakfast, and then peruse my laptop while eating and caffeinating. One day over the summer I decided to switch things up a bit. After waking up I’d still check my phone for notifications (I mean, what if someone SUPER important was trying to reach me?!) But, instead of perusing my laptop while eating and caffeinating, I listened to an audiobook. This ended up be such a huge benefit to my mental health that I continued to do it. It’s no secret that social media is detrimental to your mental wellbeing, and limiting it in your everyday life can be extremely beneficial.
3. Practising gratefulness
Honestly, if you told me a year ago that I’d be writing about ‘practising gratefulness’ I’d almost certainly be rolling my eyes at you. I never thought I’d be that person who meditates and practices 'gratefulness.' Ew. Except, here I am. Gratefulness is something I did take from my mediation practices. Also, if you’re a fan of the Netflix adult animated series Big Mouth you’d know that they touched on the subject in their most recent season. (Honestly, though, if you haven’t seen Big Mouth I couldn’t recommend it enough, especially for the way they handle subjects around mental health.)
If you don’t know what practising gratefulness is it’s a pretty simple concept: you list things that you are grateful for. It especially helps with combating depression and anxiety because it forces you back in the present, whereas feelings of depression and anxiousness typically stem from being lost in the past or the future. It’s called “practising’ gratefulness because it is something you need to practise. The more you do it the more it becomes natural.
4. Releasing expectations of happiness
Do you know what the problem with all these self-help books and ideologies are? They give you the impression that you need to be happy all the damn time. I spent so much of 2020 researching ways to help make me content and happy. I looked at all the self-care methods and gushed in jealousy over all these people I found online who found their “perfect” method and are now absolutely and wholly content in their lives. I kept hearing people say “happiness is a choice,” so I tried so bloody hard to choose to be happy before I realised: I’m HUMAN! It is practically impossible to be happy all the damn time! Those content people cannot be and are not always happy. They have their bad days as well as their good days, like every single person on this planet. Instead of being in a constant state of joy, they might just have an overall more content quality of life. They’ve found methods to help them achieve happiness, but they’re not completely absent from misery.
Meditation, staying off social media, and practising gratefulness are all excellent tools that have helped my mental health. However, I think what’s been most beneficial to me is realising that there is absolutely nothing that can cure me from being human, and negative feelings are unfortunately apart of that.
A few months ago I was with my mum and I had made some sort of mistake. I can’t remember what the mistake was, however, that fact is irrelevant. What I do remember is saying rather hotly, “I’m an idiot!” My mother then looked at me and said, “don’t talk to yourself like that. You’re not an idiot.”
My mother’s words allowed me the ability to notice each time I would say that about myself, which, as it happened to be, was a lot. It was like a habitual tick, scoffing “I’m an idiot,” anytime I messed up: Forgot something? “I’m an idiot.” Spilled something? “I’m an idiot.” Didn’t get a joke? “I’m an idiot.” It was just something I was so used to doing I had never really thought about it until that moment with my mother.
Around this time I also started meditating and using affirmations. I’d use guided meditations and the voices behind them would encourage me to say positive things about myself: “I love you, ”you matter,” etc. At first, I thought it was a bit silly. They’re just words, after all. But, the more I did it the more I could feel a change. Initially, I was hesitant, like I didn’t believe the words I was saying. My body resisted them. However, as I continued to practise that resistance went away. As I continued to meditate regularly, my overall outlook on life became happier. I started finding peace within myself that I hadn’t felt before.
Words have an immense power that often goes unnoticed. Contrasting the popular saying, “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,” words can absolutely sting, cut, and burn. Words don’t necessarily have an instant effect, however. Their form of torture is more subtle and subdued, taking longer to seep their teeth into our bones. If we hear something regularly, we have an increased chance of believing it, whether that something is positive or negative. This has a huge impact on our lives. If you hear “you’re fat,” all the time, there’s going to be an increased likelihood that you’re going to be self-conscious of your body, resulting in possible life changes as serious as eating disorders.
We don’t have the power to control what others say to us, but we are absolutely in control of what we say to ourselves. I still say “I’m an idiot,” when I make a mistake, but now I catch myself and combat the negativity by following up with, “no, I’m not.” I urge you to be more self-aware of how you talk to yourself. You might be surprised at what you might find.
So, your favourite childhood author turned out to be a bigot. Yes, it’s disappointing. For years growing up, you thought of her as royalty who could do no wrong. After all, she invented your favourite characters and plotlines that you obsessed over for years. You grew up with the characters who you wished with all of your heart were real. You went to book launches and movie premiers, and you dressed as one of the lead characters for Halloween. You have a plethora of memories as a result of this story, which, ultimately was invented by an author who is a bigot.
So, what do you do?
Do you throw out all of the books? What about the adapted movies? Or the branded items of clothing you bought years before? Do you disassociate yourself from the franchise altogether? You can, absolutely, but what ultimately will that accomplish? Those books have already been bought, and the shirt has already been sold. The movies, too. At the time you purchased these items, you didn’t know any better. You didn’t know the author was a bigot. Well, you know now. You know not to purchase any other items in which this author will profit from. This includes books, games, t-shirts, etc. Voting begins at the cash register and choosing which brand you vote for begins with awareness.
Is it still okay to still love the story? Of course. It’s absolutely okay to separate the artist from the artwork. Knowing what you know about the author now doesn’t change how special those books were for you as a child. Those memories are sacred, as well as the love you had, and still have for the characters.
So, your favourite childhood author turned out to be a bigot. It’s a shame, but what you can do is show your support for all races/genders/sexualities by not supporting bigotry.
Earlier this year I wrote a blog post explaining why I don’t want to get married. In that post, I discuss the large divorce rate growing across the Western population and that I, too, come from a family of divorced parents. You might think my outlook on marriage is influenced by the fact my parents divorced when I was young, and that I don’t have positive role models when it comes to long and happy marriages—and you’d be right… sort of. My parents, and many other divorced and unhappy couples I know have influenced my opinion on the practice. That is not to say, however, that I don’t have people in my life who have shown me what it truly means to be in a long, and happy marriage. I do. Those people are, in fact, my grandparents.
My grandparents just recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. August is actually a huge month for them because not only is it their anniversary, but it’s also both of their birthdays. My grandpa turned 91 and my grandma, the big 90. (They pride themselves in both being Leos.) Along with their marriage longevity, what is also amazing about this couple is that they are both still living in their massive house my mum and her brothers grew up in. The house has hosted many holidays over the years, including their milestone anniversaries—at least, the ones I’ve been alive for. This year was no different. Well yes, it was. I take after my grandma in a lot of ways. We’re both stubborn and we both love to sing. I’ve also inherited her love of being a social butterfly. If she had had it her way, there would have been a massive party in their backyard full of family and friends. (That’s how they usually celebrate these things.) Thanks to COVID, though, that wasn’t an option. We had to settle for having a small family gathering with people in our ‘bubble.’
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were sitting having beers in their backyard before dinner. I interrupted the lighthearted conversation when I asked my grandparents, “so, what is the secret to 65 years?” My grandma sighed and said something along the lines of ‘I was sort of expecting to give this speech today.’ She then continued on speaking, as if having said those words multiple times at different anniversaries. (Now that I’m thinking about it, I vaguely remember her saying this at their 60th… Anyways, I filmed it this time and took notes to share with whoever is reading this, in case you—or someone you know—could use this advice, too.)
My grandmother said it wasn’t about finding the perfect person. It was about finding the perfect person for you. She added that growing up she had this idea about who her ‘perfect’ husband would be and that he would check off all these boxes. What she found in my grandfather, however, was not a perfect man, but someone who could completely attend to her needs. (He does bring her coffee and chocolate in bed every morning which is pretty perfect if you ask me.)
My grandfather then contributed by saying that marriage is a corporation, with both parties giving 50% of the shares. “You have to realize that your partner has certain specific strengths, you let [them roll with theirs, and they need to do the same for you.]” Essentially, you’re both investing in a business; the business of marriage. In order to make it successful, you need to let your partner hone their skills, and you need to do the same. The best partnerships are those who’s skills and weaknesses complement one another. I later thought about how true this was for them. My grandma, the extraverted excitable woman that she is, compliments my grandfather who’s temperament has always been more subdued and patient.
I also wish to emphasize that after 65 years, they are still very much in love and are completely happy. At the end of the day, however, 65 years is just time passing. It’s completely possible to be married that long and not be happy. There’s no secret to that. There’s just regret.
During this conversation, my grandfather also mentioned the importance of being a “good person with good character.” That’s some damn good advice, in my opinion.
A few weeks ago my good friend Hugh posted on his Instagram TV show where he discusses Five helpful tips for happiness. This inspired me to join in the positivity with creating my own list. This year has been one hell of a ride so far, and I think everyone could use a little more happiness these days.
So, without further ado, here are my 5 Tips For Positivity:
1. Drink Water
Did you know when you’re thirsty your body is already dehydrated? A lot of the times we don’t even know our bodies need water until we get that pining for it. Whenever I’m feeling down I chug some water and 9/10 times I feel better. Yes, you have to pee a lot more, but it’s absolutely worth it in the long run. I carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go and make sure to drink from it throughout the day
2. Sweat Every Day
This was advice from one of my college teachers. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, but get that heart rate up. When you exercise endorphins are released throughout your body to make you feel better. It could just be jogging up a flight of stairs a few times, or dancing in your bedroom. Whatever it is, moving your body helps your mind.
3. Stay Off Screens
This has been something I’ve been trying to do a lot more recently. I have this bad habit of opening my laptop and not closing it until hours later. This has been severely damaging to my mental health, and I notice my eyes start hurting afterwards. What I’ve been doing to combat this habit is leaving my laptop and mobile in my bedroom for a few hours. I don’t go back in for them until after I’ve read a couple of chapters of a book, or spent time talking to my family (and cuddling my dogs). I’ve become a lot happier since doing this.
4. Limit Coffee/Alcohol Consumption
Last year I took some time off of coffee and alcohol, two things I thought I could never give up. I was actually completely coffee free for a couple of months and felt amazing. My anxiety had gone down and I noticed I was more alert and, generally, happier. I gradually started incorporating it back in my life, and before I knew it I was an addict again. I’m back drinking coffee, however not nearly as much as I used to drink. Also, caffeine inhibits the absorption of iron, making us more sluggish and fatigued overall, which is the opposite of what we want when we drink our hot cuppa in the mornings.
Alcohol is not something I could ever give up permanently, but taking a breather from it every once in awhile is something I always recommend. It’s ironic how alcohol is used as a tool to make us forget about our troubles, and yet when we drink it we become even more depressed about them. (So much for drinking to forget, right?) This is because alcohol is a depressant. If you want to be happy, why would you rely on a depressant to help? Not to mention the aching hangovers that make us even more miserable. Lastly, what both coffee and alcohol have in common is that they both dehydrate the body, which, as we all know, isn't good for our mental state either.
5. Feed Your Soul
Do you love playing an instrument? Or dancing? Maybe your thing is knitting? Whatever it is, do it every day. Last month I did a 30 days vocal warm-up challenge, where I worked my voice for a minimum of ten minutes every day. I sang multiple different songs and improved my vocal ability considerably. I noticed that even on the days I felt the worst, for those ten minutes I felt amazing. Everything in our bodies is connected. By feeling your body and your soul, you also feed your mind. We need to remember to take care of our whole selves.
Let me tell you the story of these two people I know. Let’s call them Alex and Riley. Alex and Riley both like each other- a lot. Alex can’t stop thinking about Riley, and Riley can’t stop thinking about Alex. However, despite each other’s mutual interest, they refuse to be honest about each other’s feelings for one another. Alex will act indifferent to Riley flirting with someone else, even though it kills them inside. Riley will wait all day for Alex’s texts, but then wait another hour to reply for fear of appearing too ‘eager.’ Both of them want each other, but without clear communication, they’re constantly running in circles around each other while both getting hurt along the way. Frustrating, right?
Alex and Riley aren’t just two people I know. I’ve been them. I know many people who’ve been them. They symbolize an entire generation of people who cannot articulate their emotions.
I grew up watching Jane Austen movies with my mum. I’ve noticed in every film, no one has difficulty conveying their feelings. When two characters are in love, they announce it to one another. (In particular, Mr. Darcy’s speech to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice comes to mind.) What’s the difference between Jane Austen’s time and now? Why have emotions suddenly become this taboo concept that people are terrified to talk about? Is it fear of rejection? That is absolutely a key element, however, that fear was certainly alive hundreds of years ago. I’m sure Mr. Darcy was terrified Elizabeth would reject him. (If I remember correctly, she did at first, right?)
As I mentioned in my blog post, Fighting Fear, fear of rejection is rooted in insecurity. We’re scared people will reject us because they see the flaws we see in ourselves. Insecurity is such a powerful concept. It can completely take control of our lives. When we hate ourselves, it shows. We self sabotage and get into toxic habits that are difficult to break. It not only affects us, but it affects everyone else around us. Feeling the need to overcompensate and pretend our feelings don’t exist pushes the people we actually want to be in our lives away. However, this only increases our self-loathing because by pushing people away we are in turn giving ourselves more reason to believe we are unloveable. We forget that every single person in this world wants to be loved and accepted. No one wants to be completely alone.
Another reason for dismissing our emotions is because we like control. We are a society that thrives on being able to control our day to day lives through apps and other technologies. (I know I’m not the only one who freaks out the moment I lose mobile service trying to get to my destination and google maps doesn’t work.) Emotions, however, aren’t predictable. They suddenly creep up on us without warning. The moment we divulge our feelings onto someone else is the moment we lose our control. Giving our heart away gives them the power to do what they want with it, whether that means holding and cherishing it or crushing it with their foot. At least by keeping our feelings to ourselves we already know that we’ll end up broken-hearted.
In recent years I’ve become someone who thrives on emotional transparency. I hate not knowing things, and because of this, I feel like I need to be completely honest with other people. When someone knows exactly how you feel, their actions from then on in define who they are as a person. If they’re completely aware of your emotions and they still hurt you, you know their intentions were completely sincere. Feelings are often misinterpreted as a weakness, however they are what make each and every one of us human. Expressing your emotions is allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and that in my humble opinion, is one of the bravest things you could ever do.
There’s a cardinal that appears regularly in my mum’s garden that my mum is certain is my deceased father reincarnated. I think the idea is a bit far fetched, but I would never slander her belief since it brings her joy thinking my dad is there watching us.
Belief is a funny thing. I don’t believe in God. For years I identified myself as nothing but a skeptic and an atheist. If I couldn’t see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, hear it, or feel it, it didn’t exist. Not to say anything against anyone else’s belief systems, of course. You could believe that bunnies rule the planet and I wouldn’t care. My issue is when those belief systems infringe on people’s rights and are used as a tool to control the masses. (This could easily segue into how I despise religion as an institution, however that is for a whole other blog post.)
My journey into becoming more spiritual started with astrology. I’ve always identified with my sun sign, so much so that I got a tattoo of the Aries symbol when I was eighteen on my hipbone. Like any true Aries, the tattoo idea was very spontaneous and I didn’t really think it through before going to the tattoo parlour. (I am happy to report, however, despite my impulsivity I don’t regret the tattoo one bit!)
Despite my interest in astrology, it was never something I truly believed in. It was fun, but not something I lived my life by. Then, a few years ago I learned the full extent of astrology, discovering the entirety of my birth chart. It blew my mind how accurate it was. Nevertheless, I still struggled with completely accepting this as a belief system because of my strict secular values.
It wasn’t until last year when everything changed for me. Coincidences started piling up like lego. Things happened exactly when they needed to. I laughed it off the first couple of times, my critical brain taking over and trying to see reason. But then it started happening again, and again… and again. I was in a toxic relationship last year which I shouldn’t have been in. A few months into it, events and coincidences kept popping up disallowing us from seeing each other. It was if the universe was telling me ‘this isn’t right.’ Towards Christmas, I tempted fate by meeting up with him despite having a tonsil infection and looking like a chipmunk. I remember thinking, ‘the universe is probably telling me not to do this, but fuck it.’ That night I made out with him. (I still don’t know how that was possible considering I could barely open my mouth to fit a teaspoon.) We also said some words which stained our relationship further, leading to even more heartbreak on my end down the line. The universe was right.
Last year I also attained a keen interest in Tarot. The accuracy of some of the readings astonished me, even, sometimes, to the point of tears. Despite all of these coincidences and signs, there is a large part of me that is still ruled by my rational brain. I know that humans are a species that yearn for understanding. We invented Gods as an explanation for day and night before we learned about the sun and the moon. Believing there is someplace to go after you die lessons the fear of death. There’s a comfort in knowing something bigger than us is out there watching over us, whether that be a deity or just energy from the universe. I’ve since opened my eyes from being a hard atheist to someone who’s accepting of spirituality. No one knows what’s out there. Claiming that nothing is without certainty is proving arrogance.
A few weeks ago I was bored during my two-week quarantine after arriving back in Canada from the UK. Like I’ve done on many occasions, I ended up watching random youtube videos, which eventually led me to a YouTuber who had claimed to have made thousands of dollars from signing up to Only Fans, just by posting photos of herself in her underwear.
Let’s be clear about something first. After modelling for the better part of a decade, I have many photos of myself in my underwear. My initial thought was: “Wouldn’t it be funny if I created an Only Fans, and just posted my modelling photos, and people actually paid me for it?"
First of all, I should probably explain what Only Fans is. It’s a subscription-based website similar to Patreon, but it has gained the reputation of being a platform for sex workers to sell their exclusive content. Despite its reputation, people use it for a variety of purposes that aren’t sexual. I knew I was never going to use it for porn-related content, but I wanted to see if I could earn anything from it with the content I did have: photos of me in my underwear.
The first day I signed up I advertised it on Instagram and twitter. I made $30. What I soon realized was that my modelling photos weren’t going to cut it, simply because even though I had a lot of those, they weren’t going to last me to sustain a suitable income. Also, they were all old photos representing my past self. My subscribers wanted a present-day version of me. So, I started taking photos myself. This is when I really started enjoying it.
Having a reason to put on makeup and take photos and videos of myself in a variety of lingerie sets has been incredibly empowering. It’s also allowed me to get my creative juices flowing. Sometimes I’ll just dance in my underwear and receive encouraging comments from my subscribers, and if I’m lucky, a tip. There are many ways you can make money on Only Fans. The first is obviously the subscription, which is a personal choice when setting. I have mine at $13, but often put it on sale. This is when I find I gain most of my subscribers. Another way of making money is through pay-per-view. You send a photo or a video through your DM’s to your subscribers at a price, which is blurred out for them until they pay. Lastly, you can make money through referrals. Only Fans takes 20% of your income, but each content creator has a referral link. For example, if you used mine to set up your account, that 20% Only Fans would normally take would be split in half. They would take 10% and I would take 10%. (This is my referral link, let me know if you use it! onlyfans.com/?ref=41606592 )
The hard truth is that right now the market is oversaturated, especially now after Covid-19 hit. Many people who never thought they’d ever need to turn to sex work are now stripping for money. A lot of these sex workers are also putting their content up for free, or charging next to nothing. You need to be able to compete with that. Also, customers can’t afford to pay sex workers the same as before the pandemic, which makes it even more difficult to make an income from it, especially if you’re not using it for porn- like me. Essentially, I created it with not much of a following on my other social media accounts. Many people who subscribed have been people I’ve met in the past. Some of my subscribers found me through twitter or reddit. Most of the work involved in creating an Only Fans is self-promotion. If you don’t already have a massive following on social media, you are going to have to self promote like a boss. It’s the only way you’ll be able to make an income. There comes a point when you just have to say "Fuck It" and not give a damn about what people think.
So, how much money have I made?
It’s been two and a half weeks and I’ve made $180 USD. ($245 CDN.) Most of that was in the first week after I got a lot of my subscribers from my existing social media. The rest has been a gradual push from twitter and reddit. Also, I’ve kind of been on and off when it comes to promoting myself. It does feel weird promoting on my existing social media, which is why I’ve been doing it scarcely. The reality is though, that’s how I’ve made most of my money.
If you really want to create an Only Fans, I absolutely say ‘do it.’ You have to understand, though, that what you put on the internet is forever. You need to have hard limits to what you won’t do because subscribers will request things and they’ll offer a lot of money for them. At the end of the day, though, you can’t put a price on your morals.
My Only Fans: onlyfans.com/meganrxo
To the girls who didn’t have amazing dads. To the girls whose dads abused them, in any form. To the girls who’s relationship with their fathers are too complex for anyone else to truly understand.
I hear you. I understand.
I understand the confusion Father’s Day brings. I get how it’s difficult for you to articulate it with your friends who cannot relate because they were lucky to have fathers who treated them the way a daughter should be treated. I understand.
And to the daughters who’s abusive fathers are not on this earth anymore, I understand you, too. I understand the mourning of a father who you still loved even though he mistreated you. I understand the struggle of wanting to linger on the good memories, but having his words “bitch” and “whore” overtake them with force, like a knife popping a child’s birthday balloon.
I understand that no matter how awful he was, there will always be that part of you that misses him because he was still your father. He still raised you. And there will always be apart of you who wishes he could have been different. But he wasn’t. He was an abusive father, and he will always be.
I’m here for you. I get it. I am one, too.
I’ve been racist.
I grew up in a predominately white town. There was one black family in my neighbourhood. I was never taught about race growing up, but I knew that those kids didn’t look like me, and I didn’t know why.
When I was in middle school, my friend and I filmed a video project for school where she was playing Oprah. I put dark-coloured makeup on her to make her look more black. I didn’t know this was wrong.
During my first year of university, I dressed up as an Indigenous woman for Halloween. This is before I learned about intersectionality and cultural appropriation in one of my courses less than a year later. I remember feeling sick to my stomach when I found out. I almost deleted all the photos from my Facebook in embarrassment. However, I didn’t, because at the time, I didn’t know it was wrong.
We are, without a doubt, an incredible species. We’ve built huge machines that can fly from one end of the world to the other. We’ve discovered ancient burial grounds and fossils from animals living millions of years ago. Heck, we’ve even put a man on the moon. We are a smart species, a species whose learning capabilities are beyond that of any other animal on the planet. It should not be this hard to learn acceptance. It should not be this difficult to acknowledge that we have not always known right from wrong. That we are constantly developing and moulding into a better version of ourselves. I’m a white person, and I’ve been racist. I know this. I know I’ve benefited from the colour of my skin in all areas of my life. I know that I can never know what it’s like not to be white. I know that I am still learning, and will continue to do so throughout my lifetime. White people, we need to do better. We need to put our ego aside and stop saying “I’m not racist,” because the fact of the matter is racism is so ingrained in our society that we all have benefited from it, whether we’re aware of it or not. What matters is not what we’ve done in the past. What matters is what we do now to make a better world for the future. I’ve been racist, and I’m sorry. I will do better.