Tali Yalonetzki / Tush Tush

Remember the heady early days of Etsy? I used to favourite new shops and items daily (and sometimes, feel an urgent need to splurge almost daily too). I was smitten with all of it; the vintage wares, the small-run designers... but most of all, the affordable art. Some of the art I bought back then still hangs on my walls, but many of those $25 prints came and went - especially when I did away with my salon-style wall.

One of the artists who endured and holds a special place in my heart is Tali Yalonetzki. I bought the original of her "Young Lady" portrait (above) in 2012 and it has been prominently displayed in my home since (many people on Instagram have asked if it's a portrait of me. It's not, though I suppose it maybe bears a small resemblance to my old profile pic if you don't know me in person).

I don't browse Etsy daily any more. But I did wander over to Tush Tush store last week and found another original called Dancers At Rest (above) and treated myself. It isn't the dancing so much (I'm no bunhead), but the intimacy and separation between the women that spoke to me. I've been thinking a lot about female friends lately, especially my closest female friends. They're the most intimate relationships I have but, at the same time, I feel very unlike all my friends and that's often underscored when we get together, just as much as our closeness and deep affection for each other. And not that I think this painting is portraying all this, but it seemed to capture what's been on my mind.

My favourite work from Tali's shop has a recurring feeling of an old family album. These prints and paintings remind me of pictures I've seen of my parent's childhood, even images I've seen in family albums of people I could no longer name. There's a universality of feeling associated with such images, and yet I don't seem them only as romantic nostalgia. There's also a feeling of regret and loss, perhaps even of damage behind such images for me. But these feelings only make these images so much more beautiful and poignant.

Sunday best: Height of summer

It's the very height of summer. My neighbourhood empties out every weekend and, for all I know, my addiction to kale chips is the only thing keeping the over-priced grocery in business. I have a bunch of leftover vacation days to use before the end of August and, suddenly, not being there on Fridays suddenly doesn't seem to matter that much.

Languor like this feels like the ultimate luxury and I love the looks it conjures - worn and soft but accented with gorgeous finery. Right now, I'm listening to a distant thunderstorm. They scare me but we need it to roll in and clear out the humidity. When it's gone, the air will be bright and clear and I'll stroll down the hill for an evening coffee. What more could one ask for?

Products: Mimi Holliday by Damaris bra from Net-a-Porter | Leaf bracelet from Anita Ko | Slim Broken-in Boyfriend Cone Denim Jean from J.Crew | The Uptown Girl Luxury Palette from Charlotte Tilbury | √Čtoile Isabel Marant Axel top from Net-a-Porter | Bamboo Daily Leather Top Handle Bag from Gucci | The Lip Slip from Sara Happ | Aquazzura Belgravia Suede Espadrilles from Shopbop

Lake Louise

One of the little splurges on our trip was a night at the Chateau Lake Louise. There isn't much to Lake Louise -- it's not a town like Banff or Jasper. There's a strip mall with a bakery I always make a point to stop at, but the main attraction is the lake itself and the various hikes to Lake Agnes and Moraine Lake.

I've been to Lake Louise in the depths of winter and the height of summer and it's a fairytale in all seasons really. I'm sad to say that I've never paddled the lake - something I had hoped to do this time... But in a way, it's nice to leave something for another visit.

It's interesting to think back to when I first visited here. I was matching up the reality with images I'd seen in postcards and Lonely Planet guidebooks. It was hard to even tell whether it met up with expectations - the mind is so unprepared for such sights. Did I expect the lake to be more turquoise? The mountains to have more grandeur? No - it's just like a first reading of a book that you're unequipped to process: You have to go back when the mind is better equipped.

Now I go and there's no shock of the new. But there's still a stunned sense of the beauty, which is breathtaking, no matter how many times you see it.

P.S. To read more about this part of the trip, check out my story on Driving.ca

Sunday best: Poolside dreams

It's that time of year: The time of year when I stand at traffic lights, eyes closed, picturing myself diving into deep, dark saltwater. The time of year when I lie, hot and listless waiting for sleep, only to wake twenty minutes later with kicked sheets knotted around my legs.

I do a lot better in the heat than I used to. This year, I've truly embraced it: I've given up trying to stay freckle-free. I've even taking to tanning a little. I'm not reckless, but it is freeing to stop fighting the sun and just give in to season's offering.

Still, I crave a body of water. It doesn't matter what; artificial or natural. I'm as envious of my pool-owning neighbours as I am of lakeside cottagers, as I am of Instagrammers by the sea... All invitations are welcome ;)

Products: Eugenia Kim fedora from Net-a-Porter | Mexico swimsuit from Marysia | City Block Sheer SPF 25 from Clinique | Twin Pearl Studs Earrings from Satomi Kawakita | Patio Dress from Lemlem | Adonia Sandals from Ancient Greek Sandals | Porter Magazine

Emotional intelligence

I sometimes confuse being emotionally literate with being emotionally intelligent. I think that being able to categorize and articulate the nuances of my feelings means that I’m intelligent about them. But I read this (thanks Ginny for sharing on Facebook) and realized that emotional intelligence goes a step further. It’s not just about the power of awareness and description but also about the ability to exert agency over emotional states; to assess, utilize, and sometimes discard, the visceral emotional reactions we all have. To make sure that emotions aren’t undoing larger goals and endeavours.

I’m an insecure person and I’ve long been aware of that. I’m also sensitive. I didn’t feel a lot of support around me when I was younger and it made me bolshie about what I wanted to do, but also stopped me ever reaching a state of easy confidence or feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Since then, I've learned to understand the origin and contours of these feelings. I recognize patterns in my own behavior and I recognize too the hyperbolic, compensating protestations of my own ego, which often make me feel I'm unkind or hard on others. I understood that the real me is somewhere between these two voices and I try to allow myself to register both sets of feelings and ultimately learn to walk away with the temperate in-between conclusions.

What I didn’t think about was changing those emotions; eliminating the self-doubt and the compensating ego and just moving forward without so much knottiness. I pride myself on my mental acuity, my ability to reason through complex concepts and ideas, to learn, adapt and change my mind, to evolve from one complex system to another. But when it came to emotions, I thought intelligence was more passive; it was about observation and empathy but not agency. I focused on learning to accept myself for getting angry or being sensitive or insecure.

Moreover, I thought it was wrong to make value judgements about emotions or to "should" oneself about how you ought to feel. It's not that I've completely changed my mind about that. And I don't think sadness or anger or other so-called negative emotions are "bad" or should be negated. But I also think there are emotions that don't have much utility and, especially when those emotions are a go-to reaction, they can halt progress and even run contrary to what we're hoping to accomplish.

There was an article in the New York Times recently about empathy being a choice. I wouldn’t want to deny the viscerality of some emotions, perhaps all of them, or think whole dispositions can be rewired through a simple act of volition. But I find it interesting to think about emotional intelligence as deciding what feelings to indulge; learning to concentrate on those feelings that support larger goals, learning to fortify oneself against an emotional existence that's toxic or halting.

It’s interesting too to realize that I’m drawn to people who seemingly have this ability. I think it's often because I admire how much more effective they are at just blazing ahead and getting done the things they want to get done. I think about all the times my own lack of emotional intelligence (and perhaps my tendency to dwell on articulation) has been the undoing of things I’m intellectually and physically capable of. Around my birthday I started thinking it’s time to just go. It’s time to stop waiting for approval or perfect timing. Maybe I’m already becoming more emotionally intelligent.

In the past few years I’ve become better at shaping my own feelings. I was so absorbant of other's feelings and judgements before, even when I questioned their reasoning. Now I'm much more discerning. I’ve also realized, in a very basic way, that no two people can really, fully understand and empathize with each other. Waiting around for ringing endorsements is futile. And this isn’t about adopting a “could give zero fucks” attitude, though it may outwardly look like that. It’s more about realizing that you can only give so many fucks before you move on.