Dear DiaryDress Up

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As if by magic, I’m somehow already over halfway to meeting this baby! I remember when I first got my positive test result and mapped out the trimesters, 20 weeks seemed like a lifetime away, and every moment was spent just wishing my belly would grow enough to show. I remember standing in the mirror trying to puff myself up and constantly worrying I somehow wasn’t actually pregnant.

Yet here I am, heading into week 22 (!) and In a lot of ways it still doesn’t feel any more real – even after that 20 week anatomy scan showing each tiny arm, and even as my belly grows far too big to fit into any of my old outfits. I expected to feel so sick and in a constant state of discomfort during my pregnancy, just like in the movies, but I’ve been so incredibly lucky this past 5 months with how healthy, energetic and happy I’ve felt that I seriously have consistently worried I’m not actually pregnant almost the whole time. I guess pregnancy anxiety in my case is very very real, even if the more typical symptoms haven’t been! Oh and the boobs, I definitely have the boobs as evidence.

SO what happens now? Waiting on that first “for sure” kick has seriously been agony for me. It finally happened late last week (I think? How do you know for sure!?) and I’m still impatient for a more serious kick so I can REALLY FOR SURE know this is all really happening. What can I say, this motherhood thing has been so surreal! I’m genuinely starting to worry I won’t fully believe there’s an actual baby in there until I’m actually in labour/giving birth. Some of my mom friends have even said years down the line, looking at their toddlers, they still don’t believe it!

And of course this process hasn’t been entirely without any lows. Some of my friends who started out supportive when all this was just an idea have since faded or even disappeared completely. I fell down the stairs early on and probably cried harder about the fact that no one was there to pick me up than I did about the actual fall. I’ve had 3 UTI’S (I get them chronically) and this last one has gone on for a month, totally resistant to the few antibiotics I can take. Some nights I fall asleep happily cuddling my pregnancy pillow, and some nights I fall asleep worried sick about my finances and wishing I had a partner to rant to. I may have had an “easy” pregnancy so far, but nothing worth doing is ever just easy, and of course there are times when I’m scared and worried and just want a hug. So I’ve made the choice to stay as positive as I possibly can and focus on all the good in my story, because at the end of the day this is everything I’ve ever wanted, and though nothing is ever perfect, this magical time is pretty darn close in my books!

Some fun new features that have come out since my initial announcement:

My interview with the Unapparenthood podcast here
This interview on the FASHION magazine site here

And now over to you guys! Here are my answers to all the things you wanted to know.

Q+A //

Did you consider other paths to parenthood when making your decision? Such as adopting or fostering? If you did… did you find any barriers in those processes being single? // It was definitely something I thought about, but yes, there are a lot of things about my lifestyle that would make that route pretty difficult. It’s absolutely a lot harder to qualify as a young, single woman who rents her apartment and has two dogs and a cat, with a fairly nondescript job title/business to boot. In all honesty I also really deeply have always wanted to be pregnant myself if it was a possibility, though adopting in the future when I have a partner and the process isn’t so daunting is absolutely still on the table.

I’m dying for nursery sneak peeks! // They’re coming! All setup is on hold until the ceiling mural I have commissioned Johanna for is finished. Once that’s complete and the light fixture goes up, everything else will start to take shape.

Are you finding out the gender? + Have you found out gender yet? // This is by far my most asked question I get, pretty much on the daily, and it’s a bit of a point of contention for me if I’m being real. I have always felt there was way too much focus on gender for expecting parents, and knew I personally wouldn’t want to find out long before I started trying. It’s not just about being excited for the surprise, which I totally absolutely am, but also my understanding of how fluid gender can be and how detrimental gendered parental expectations can be in turn. Let me explain:

I have dated all over the gender spectrum, and I’ve seen so many wonderful people that I care about deeply suffer from the impacts of not turning out the way their parents anticipated based on determination of sex at birth. I understand knowing what you’re having can make the whole baby thing feel more real in so many ways, and a big part of me craves that, but I think in a lot of cases it also kickstarts how you think your child will be and how society starts to perceive your child will be, before they even take their first outside breath, all based on a body part. I dated someone for years whose mother was absolutely heartbroken her child hadn’t turned out to be the straight, feminine woman she had expected to raise, so wrapped up in the fact that her kid wasn’t settling down with a nice man in a white wedding dress that she couldn’t celebrate all the incredible things this person was doing in the world. I remember hearing this story – whenever she did laundry she’d throw out her child’s American Apparel unisex underwear and replace them with frilly bikini cuts. I also had a trans* partner whose parents felt such a massive sense of loss when their child came out to them, constantly struggling with the idea of losing their daughter instead of grasping how truly remarkable, happy, and brave their son was.

These relationships were painful to watch as an outsider, and I swore I’d never make my kid feel like they had to dress, look or behave a certain way to be worthy of my love and support, especially when it comes to gender expectations. Of course I will find out the gender of my baby when they’re born, and I will be using gendered pronouns like he/she until my child is old enough to tell me to do otherwise, but I don’t want to get overly attached to my kid being a certain way because of something that in the end isn’t necessarily solidified or all that important. At the end of the day, I just want a baby to love, and I hope more than anything they’re happy and healthy.

As for decor and wardrobe choices well… let’s just say my love of pink does not subscribe to “boy or girl” norms! #allpinkeverything

What has surprised you the most about pregnancy? // Probably how surreal the whole thing has felt. As I mentioned I haven’t really been that sick, sore, or exhausted, which means some days I wake up and before I reach down and feel my belly I have a wave of fear it was all just a dream. I also like being pregnant so much that it’s almost like I can’t image the baby really arriving, like I might just stay pregnant forever? I think I expected to be one of those talking to my belly women but I’m still not fully grasping there’s someone in there to listen.

Are you dating while pregnant? I worry that after I conceive I’ll be alone forever! // Absolutely! I have a whole article on this coming out on the FLARE site very soon so I won’t go into too much detail… but don’t be afraid! NO ONE stays alone forever, and people with kids get together and join their families all the time. Yes, being pregnant and having a baby cuts out a lot of potential partners who aren’t ready for that yet, but if this is something you want, you didn’t want someone who isn’t ready anyway! I think of it as a really great auto-filtration system for my dating life.

Will you be getting a nanny? (no judgement!) // I’m not totally sure yet, but it’s likely I’ll need some help when it comes to running my own business and being a mom. Of course we all hope to have that sleepy newborn who can sit lazily in a bouncy chair for hours while mom gets work done, but I’m going with the “expect the worst and hope for the best” strategy. My family will be staying with me to help for as long as possible and when they head back to Vancouver I’ll have to evaluate what kind of childcare setup I need, if any! Certainly not against the idea, especially if it’s someone who comes to help out while I’m home working so I’m still around for all the milestones.

How long was the process before getting pregnant? // It was pretty quick for me, definitely quicker than I originally expected! I had this totally unfounded fear that I might be infertile because I’d never had any sort of a pregnancy scare, plus my family doesn’t have the best track record with female health issues (hello endometriosis). In the end I tried for three months at home without any clinical intervention or tracking, just over the counter ovulation strips and cycle tracking, and it worked. I guess it was about 10 months from the time I first decided to stop taking birth control until I actually got that plus sign on a test.

How do you maintain a positive body image while pregnant? // This one is tough to answer because in my case it feels really natural to celebrate this new body. It may not be what I’m used to, but I like to think of it as a super body, like my old one but with way more crazy impressive powers. I mean, on top of my daily life this bod is now growing a whole new human! I think staying as active as possible, having fun with how I dress (it’s not everyday you get to layer over a big old bump and huge boobs) and eating healthy have all kept my confidence up, because I haven’t completely lost my old self in this new skin. Doing the things that always made you feel like a confident babe are just as, if not more, important with a baby on board!

I want to know more about your decision to do this alone, I’ve been considering it for a long time // I’m not sure what more there is to say! It didn’t really even feel like a choice to me – I knew for so long this is what I really wanted out of life, and I ran out of reasons not to go for it! Having a baby is always scary, but for me the idea of waiting for the right person and potentially missing my chance was way scarier than going for it on my own.

I was wondering how you selected a donor and what was important to you? // I struggled super long and hard with this one because it’s a huge responsibility, and I genuinely date all sorts of people (I can legitimately fall in love with anyone), which means gravitating toward my “type” wasn’t an option. In the end I tried to choose someone a lot like me, so hopefully I will have as much in common with my kid as possible. Yes I could have gone for an academic or sports star, but without that second person around to identify with and nurture those traits I was worried I would fall short, so I went the more creative route to be safe. Who knows what I’ll actually get, but it was my attempt to be responsible!

What are you most nervous about as you become a mom? // Probably the concern of developing really bad PPD. I’ve struggled with mental health issues my whole life and the idea of feeling detached or down when I meet this baby sort of terrifies me. My mom also had a particularly bad case, which ups my risk of having it too. Luckily I live in a city with a ton of really great resources and lots of help for new moms so even if it does come up, I’m confident I’ll be able to get it under control!

What song puts you in a good mood no matter what? // Not pregnancy related haha, but I can always count on Kokomo by The Beach Boys!

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Outfit credits:
Shein Overalls (search ID 393457, get EXTRA 15% off with code “randomac15”
Mother’s are Magic t-shirt – Bee and Mae
Earrings – Shop Machete
Checkered high tops – Vans
The Motherhood Club pin – Bee and Mae
Don’t Make me Blush pin – Shop Ban.do
Empowered Women Empower Women Button – Paper Heart Calligraphy

Dear Diary

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WHAT. A. WHIRLWIND.

In all honesty I had a whole other blog post written to share today, but as the week unfolded since my announcement Monday I decided something more raw and less bubbly-blogger was needed. Yes, of COURSE I’m so excited, and this is everything I’ve ever dreamed of coming to fruition, but there’s a LOT more than that to say!

First – thank you, thank you, thank you. I had been counting down to when I got to share the news with my followers since pretty much day one, and I spent countless hours trying to mentally prepare myself for all of the judgemental, scary and maybe even cruel responses that were sure to come. I know my story is controversial in a lot of ways, that it doesn’t fit what society expects, especially from a blogger, and when I put my post up Monday I was ready to go to war for my right to be a mother on my own terms.

And then something strange happened. Love.

You guys showed me so much love it almost made my heart explode. Yes I was absolutely sure this was right for me, but I absolutely expected the general population to find it, well, a bit crazy. Instead my comment sections were filled with words like “so proud of you”, “empowering stuff” and “love this story”. I had a massive flood of messages from other women who have similar plans or are already on their way to being single parents too. A few even mentioned how isolated they’ve felt for wanting to be moms from a young age. So many happy tears were shed, stories shared and questions politely and respectfully posed. So above all, thank you – I really expected the worst earlier this week, and I ended up feeling like reality was even better than my best case scenario.

Of course nothing is ever ALL positive, especially when challenging the norm is at play and this conversation ended up spreading far past my amazing, supportive, sparkly feminist community, all the way onto Wednesday’s episode of The Social (a popular Toronto talk show, for the non-Torontonians here). It was super interesting to see the dialogue that came up when my story was shared with a totally different audience, and though the commentary from the hosts wasn’t all positive (you can watch the clip here) I think they all raised really good points… a few of which I’d love to speak to, because I’m sure other people have the same criticisms in mind! Here’s what stood out to me as comments to address:

If you’re going to do this, you have a responsibility to ask your parents and friends first, because they’re all going to have to chip in //
Yes, community is absolutely crucial in this choice, whether it involves your blood related family or not. I am extremely lucky to have a massive, strong support system comprised almost entirely of people who jumped at the chance to be a part of this baby’s life. Their faith in me and my ability to be a good mother played a big part in my decision making process. It was not something I “just decided”, it was something I hashed out and contemplated with my people for years before taking any steps toward making it a reality.

It’s a selfish decision //
This was the criticism I was most afraid of when I went public with my story, and though I can understand where Sonia is coming from as a single mother herself, I think she made her comments with the assumption I had made this choice on a gust of whimsy, without a real consideration of the sacrifice and hardship involved. Now I am the queen of whimsy, you guys know that, but when it comes to children I do NOT mess around. I thought about this every hour of every day for literal years – it consumed me in ways I didn’t know that something could. I weighed out my options and I know that for me, personally, dealing with the heartbreak of a divorce would be much more detrimental to me and my child than me building up my life, doing this thing on my own and worrying about finding that big love later on. Of course it would be nice to have met the love of my life, had babies and stayed together forever, but I wasn’t going to try and force that only to watch it go up in flames, potentially impacting my child’s ideas about love in the process. I say if the shoe doesn’t fit… make your own more realistic, better-fitting shoe!

Are you romanticizing the notion of motherhood a little too much? At 27 it’s going to impact every single aspect of you’re life. She doesn’t know what yet because she’s not there //
Of course NO person can prepare for the insanely difficult, messy, stressful, terrifying journey that is being a first time parent, in any situation, but I have done my absolute best to try. I work in childcare with my church, I spend a ton of time with my friends who are moms, I have a line of candid conversation open with my own mom about her struggles with postpartum depression and parenting, plus I have this amazing community of moms on the internet at my fingertips that have already been so helpful! I have heard the horror stories, I have wiped the tears, I have witnessed the sleepless nights – I get it, this shit isn’t “cute”, its the ride of a lifetime… but I’m as ready for that ride as I’ll ever be, and there isn’t anything more important to me than this adventure.

If she’s taken the time to build her village before, then I have more respect for her choice, but I don’t know that she’s done that //
As mentioned above, I wouldn’t dream of having a baby on my own without a kick ass community to help me do it, and I am thankful every moment of every day for the expansive village that has built itself up around me in this journey. I can’t wait for this baby to meet all of the inspiring, strong and talented role models who are so unwaveringly a part of our lives.

You bring a child into this world, you need money! You need stability! //
Of COURSE this is the ideal scenario, yes, and luckily I have the privilege of having a great financial situation and lots of stability without a man. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive, stability and not having a relationship – it’s entirely possible to have one without the other, and had I had a child with one of the men I dated over the years, I always would have been the one with the financial stability in the relationship anyway. What can I say – I work hard, and I’ve been saving for this dream, for parenthood in general, for a long time! Not to say that’s mandatory though – so many people, single or coupled, have babies on a budget and make it work!

And now, onto YOUR questions! I’ve always been an open book when it comes to my writing, and I really want to create a lot of dialogue around this subject specifically, so feel free to DM or comment below if I left something out and I’ll make sure I address it in the coming months!

How did friends and family react to this decision? //
It was genuinely shocking to see how many people in my life were immediately on board, I think because the people closest to me know how badly I want to be a mother for such a long time now. Of course there were doubts and lots of really helpful critical conversations where friends and family brought up their concerns and we worked through them together. Being able to hold my own in these conversations only further solidified I was on the right track.

Did you have any fears? Such as will it be harder to meet someone? Sad? Lonely? //
I have this blessing/curse where I commit to an idea and don’t look back, which really came into play here. My biggest fear, above anything else, was to miss my chance to be a mother. Every other fear faded into the background when compared. So I made a mental switch to create my own happy ending, not something sad or lonely or disappointing, just a different romantic narrative. Here’s what it sounds like:

We live in a world where women are told we can be anything we chose, masters of our own destiny, so why should becoming a mother still be dependant on finding the right man first? I have no doubt at some point I’ll find a life partner, or at least have a handful more great loves down the line, and in my books having a baby doesn’t contradict that, it compliments it. Someone who doesn’t have the same goals, values and desires simply won’t date me, which automatically weeds out anyone I would have wasted my time on. I think a massive part of my problems when it comes to dating were rooted in pressure, because it was so undeniable that I knew what I wanted and generally it was terrifying to potential suitors. I constantly felt held back and slowed down, limited by love, and I’ve always known that if I waited for “the right person” and found them too late, I’d never forgive myself.

I have faith my great love will come along, they’ll just have to be ok with fitting into the family I’ve already built instead of building it from scratch with me. The right person will only love me more for being a proud mother.

How long did it take before you felt fully ready to make this decision? //
I seriously thought about it every day for years, but I only felt pushed to make some sort of official plan a couple years ago around age 25. Having a deadline and a strategy made me feel more in control of my own destiny, and when I hit 27 and the need for a baby was effecting everything in my life (relationships, career choices, holidays and special events), I knew it was time to actually take the leap.

What are you most looking forward to as a single parent? I find that most are asked “what’s the scariest thing about being a single parent?” but I’d love to see the narrative turned around to things to look forward too rather than things to fear. //
LOVE THIS! I think I’ll have to say living in our own magical little world of make believe without anything to get in our way. No drama or parental disagreements, no relationship stress, just fort building and snuggles. Pure, uninterrupted play time where it’s just us and our imaginations. Some people may think being alone with a child sounds sad or scary, but to me it sounds like freedom from all things adult, if only for those small special pixie dust moments.

Are you still with C3 church? Do you plan to raise your baby Christian? //
Really great question! I do still attend, though some of the policies on the C3 global site have raised a lot of concern for me and until I get more answers from my church leadership I’m not totally sure about what particular Toronto church I will continue to grow with. I love my C3 Toronto family so much, and it absolutely feels like home on a personal level, but I just can’t be a part of an organization that opposes gay marriage, even at a distant top level. That said I do plan to raise my baby with some aspects of modern, inclusive Christianity – I think believing in something bigger than yourself and having a strong moral compass, whatever that means for you, is really super important. I will never force my child to attend church or believe what I believe however, those choices will be up to them when they’re able to decide, the same way my parents left my own spirituality up to me.

Did you rely on any sort of support system in making the decision? //
Absolutely. As much as I’d love to say “whatever, just go for it”, I think it’s endlessly important to have a lot of really dedicated, loving people on board if you’re going to take this route, not only for the sake of your future sanity, but so your child grows up with lots of different role models from different walks of life too.

How are you functioning with morning sickness? //
I have been one of those rare lucky women who didn’t really get that sick – sure I’ve had food aversions, but I never actually threw up a single time, and now that I’m in trimester 2 I feel pretty close to 100%. I will say eating small amounts of plain foods ALL the time really helped the first couple months and hydrating heavily was another big one. Also, don’t deprive yourself of naps! If you can, nap, nap all the time. It helped me so much to snooze here and there, and it’s good new mom training too.

Will you be finding out the sex of the baby? Or let it be a surprise when you give birth? //
No gender reveal parties here folks – we’re all just going to have to wait and see until the moment baby is born (yes, even me.) I love a good surprise and this is the ULTIMATE one!

More Below…

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How did your parents first react to your decision? First shock and then excitement? Or only excitement to be grandparents, love and support since the beginning? //
It was definitely a process. My parents are super supportive of everything I do, but we also have a very open honest relationship, so if they’re skeptical of something they say it. When I first suggested the idea to my mom she raised all the usual points like “Alyssa, it’s going to be really hard, you have no idea”, and insisted I’d needed to move home to Vancouver for support if I was serious. As my mom warmed up to the idea with time, listening to all the reasons I was confident it WOULD work, my dad refrained from chiming in, though as one point when I pushed the issue he said something like “it just seems really forced”. They were unsure about my plans to say the least, but I think the more serious I was about it the more seriously they started to take it. In early Spring they came to visit me at my new apartment and it was clear by then that my mom was fully on board, but my dad still sort of kept quiet on the subject. Apparently on their car ride back to the airport my dad turned to my mom and said “You know, I was worried about this plan Alyssa has, but seeing her home and the life she’s built, I really do think she can do it. I think she’s ready.”

I got pregnant two weeks later, and my dad likes to think it was his blessing that sealed the deal. They were still definitely in shock when I called them crying my eyes out screaming “I’m pregnant” into the phone so soon after their visit, but within seconds shock turned to nothing but excitement. They’re probably reading this and crying happy tears / shopping for baby clothes right now (there have been a lot of those in my family lately).

How do you deal with negativity towards your decision to be a young single parent? //
I think I’ve accepted negativity as an important step toward widening the conversation. If someone is being negative, they likely feel their views are being challenged in some way and rather than get down about it I see it as an opportunity to stretch their perspective a little, if only an inch. Chances are if someone has a concern it’s something I’ve already thought of myself and then worked through while preparing for all this, so it doesn’t scare me.

What are you most excited for and least excited for as a mom? //
I’m definitely most excited for our future adventures, to show this baby the magical world around us with music, vacations, stories and snuggles. In my books, it’s never too early to start teaching them how to dream!

Least excited… definitely sleep deprivation. I really, REALLY love to sleep.

Have your pets noticed a change? //
I don’t think they have yet! I am working with K9X, an amazing dog trainer, to get Mylk ready for baby because he’s SO big and still very young. I want the whole fur family as prepared as possible!

Do you have a birth team? //
Yes! I’m with Kensington Midwives and LOVING it, plus I have the most awesome Doula, Birth Boss.

Would you share how potential sperm donors reacted when you approached? //
Oh gosh, was that ever a funny experience. I spoke to a lot of different men long before I had actually started trying, gauging interest. A couple guys said they were up for it but then backed out when it was actually go time, others had their own timeline in mind that didn’t work with mine. All of them took some time to think about it and speak with their partner (in the case they had one) and all were surprisingly logical and respectful. I’ve even had some men in my life come to me since the announcement and say “hey, why didn’t you ask me!”

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Photos by Ainsley Rose

Dear Diary

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Buying art is intimidating for just about anybody, especially when you’re young and unsure what it’s all about. I’ve always known I wanted to be the kind of adult with a well-rounded art collection, but what does that even mean?

Over the years I’ve spent so much time around art and artists between partners, friends and colleagues, and I even worked in at an art shop for a short time packing up precious works to mail all over the world. I’ve come to have such a deep respect for artists and what they do, often pulling entirely new realities out of their imaginations and turning them into something tangible. I have never second guessed the value of investing in an artist and their work, but I’ll admit even with everything I know from connection in that world, I’ve always been unsure where to start when it comes to investing outside of my friend circle.

My best friend (and artist! Check out her work here) Johanna often introduces me to new bodies of work and creators, inviting me to gallery openings and sending me links to installations she’d like to visit one day. When she invited me to go see Rebecca Chaperon’s work last summer I jumped at the chance, automatically drawn into her spooky pastel world on Instagram.

From the moment I walked into Rebecca’s Toronto show I knew this was the kind of work I wanted to invest in, and when I met Rebecca herself the need got even stronger. At the time I didn’t have any space left on the walls in my sad Toronto condo, so I shelved the idea, but her hauntingly beautiful pieces never really left my mind. For me, art should evoke an undeniable feeling, and in my case the feeling I reach for is escape. Rebecca’s rainbow slides that lead out of the frame of her paintings, or mysterious portals do just this – they suggest an escape, like if you look into one of her canvases long enough you might find yourself somewhere else entirely.

Also from Vancouver, Rebecca and I connected almost immediately, and stayed in touch over the past 365 days. Our conversations touched on upcoming shows and magical life milestones, and when I signed the lease on my new dream apartment I knew no one’s work could do the mantlepiece justice quite like one of her pieces. She ended up making me a custom piece, the most beautiful pink beach portal, and we both liked it so much that she made a a special limited pastel collection inspired by our partnership! They’re the first five works shown below, but warning, one has already sold, so get on it if you want to add one to your collection too!

Ways to shop + see Rebecca Chaperon’s work //

TORONTO, ON // Today’s Paper group show, Angell Gallery, runs July 27 to August 25 (opening reception is Saturday July 28th from 2-4pm)

ABBOTSFORD, BC // The Reach (public gallery), up until September

ONLINE!!! I have a *super special* discount code to offer you guys for the next couple weeks! Get 20% OFF all existing original art in Rebecca’s online shop here. Not applicable to prints, expires AUGUST 15TH at midnight. Use code “PASTELLOVE” at checkout!

Scroll down to see the pastel collection, and to read my interview with Rebecca too!

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How did you make the decision to commit to being a full-time artist? Did you come across any challenges getting started? //

For me, it’s been a process of becoming more and more devoted to making my art – to the point where it now takes up most of the space in my life. Before quitting my job to make art full-time, I was in a place where I felt that everything, except making art, was crowding my schedule. And, for a long time, I didn’t let the possibility of being a full-time artist cross my mind, though I really wanted more time to work on my art. I eventually understood that I couldn’t make art in the way that I wanted to AND have a job. I really love making my work and I’ve always had a lot of ideas but it took me a while to get comfortable with the logistics of selling art. So that was a learning curve! My work has always been a little unusual/weird so I really had to have faith in my creative vision and that it would connect with enough people that I could make my living. There have been many challenges (occasional breakdowns!) but many moments where my luck went the other way and I thought to myself “It’s really working!” I’m lucky to have been encouraged by some incredibly kind people along the way. It’s good to have a community of artists as a support system and I definitely have that.

Tell me a bit about your world, both within your paintings and in your real life. How are they the same, and how are they different? //

I have a bit of a one-track mind: making art ! So I often feel a bit boring because I spend most of my time alone in the studio. On the other hand, my studio is a pretty amazing and magical space. I have an area set up with a little candle altar and, lately, every day I meditate and do yoga to help balance out my brain. I think this balancing comes out in my work as well, in different ways. There is a weight to them and a floating, ephemeral quality as well. I use colour to create this relationship as well as composition. Other times I focus on building a world, a place with a strong feeling to it. I welcome people into these strange liminal spaces as viewers in an effort to share my love of all that is mysterious and magical. I’m here today, working as an artist, because I believe in finding time to dedicate to what I am passionate about and that has to be balanced out by movement and centering myself in quiet so I can let my mind get into a calmer and more spacious place. I want to offer a little bit of that magic and spaciousness to people through my art. A positive kind of escapism can be so useful at times.

How do you feel about the idea of using art as a way to escape within your home? //

I’m all for it. I think that it can be very therapeutic to have an image to “rest” your mind on. If you have an interesting image to look at and think about it can be a place to focus when thoughts and feeling are racing through your head. In my home I have a few, select pieces made by my friends that I will treasure forever–each of the pieces bring me a different feeling and the fact that they made these works with their own hands makes them seem to be brimming with friendly magic. I think that spending time looking at a painting over the years in your own home is very special. Your appreciation for it will change and grow and you’ll notice different aspects of it. It’s a good idea to move the art around after a few years and you’ll notice it again in a new way.

As a young person looking to invest in art, what should someone look for? //

Get to know artists you like and follow them through social media. Also, it’s not a bad idea to find out if those artists work with galleries and check out their work in the gallery setting so you can see it in person. If you really love an artist’s work then reach out to them and let them know. If you are ready to collect then set aside a budget and go do some studio visits with the artists whose work you are most interested in. I keep a mailing list of people interested in my work so that I can keep them informed about art shows, and new available work. The main thing to remember is that the art is one of a kind, so if you see a piece you fall in love with you have to be ready ~ get in touch as soon as you see the piece on social media or via their mailing list. If you don’t have a big budget for art then you can always purchase works on paper, that tends to be less expensive.

What are you thinking about when you’re working on a painting? Do you put intentions and feelings into your work, or is it a bit more methodical? //

I definitely put a lot of feeling and intention into my work. It still surprises me the way I feel when I am painting. There are times when I’m in a very strange state of envisioning as I work while being open to what is happening in case the painting starts to suggest another direction. There are other times where the work is very picky and methodical…for example, trying to get a colour to be perfectly flat or an edge to be very clean. I tend to think about stories from my life or books/news, films, music – things that suggest a narrative. I’m interested in conveying less of a specific narrative and more the general feelings I get from a story. Sometimes when the painting is coming together there is a real relief and release that can be very beautiful and so fulfilling and I hope that energy comes through to the viewer.

You have a great eye for pastel colours, but also employ a lot of darker colours and themes. Can you tell me about the battle there? //

I am such a hoarder of colour. I mix my own colours but I love premixed colours as well. I love is to switch between palettes to change the mood or feeling of the work. I find that it is nice to work for a while with dark colours and then switch back to light. Often in my work you’ll find a light composition with one very dark element or a mostly dark space with some brightly lit thing in it. Not all of my work is that way but I love the high drama of that contrast.

Any events or shows you have coming up this year that you’re excited for? //

I have 3 paintings on paper in a group show called Today’s Paper in Toronto at Angell Gallery that runs from July 27 to August 25 and the opening reception is Saturday July 28th from 2-4pm.
I also have a longer exhibition at The Reach which is a public gallery in Abbotsford BC which up until September – it is a show I am really proud of and has quite a wide timeline of my work up as well as some larger pieces.

If your body of work was a song, what would that song be? //

I’m going to choose the song Gunung Bromo by Faru. It’s a dreamy ambient soundscape that goes on for about eight minutes and contains a very dark rich heavy feeling and then part way through the track there is a slow shift to long uplifting major notes. My work often contain light and dark moods so I think its a good fit. If you have a chance to listen to the whole album Through Darkness Comes Light – it’s transformative : )

When you picture your work going home to a new space, what does that space look like? Where do you think your art belongs? //

I think my art goes into spaces in every form they take but I’d like to imagine that some people are using them to “create” a space that has a little more magic. So perhaps my art is just a part of a space they are curating with other beautiful objects. I like to imagine my work in resting spaces – like living rooms or near sitting areas. Also mediation “nook”s if you have one of those. Of course I don’t know if I have ever seen the art matching the space as well as it did in yours Alyssa ! Your home is a pastel dream : )

Here’s a few Canadian female artists doing exciting things: Aimee Henny Brown, Genevieve Dionne and Annyen Lam

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Home tour photos by Scarlet O’Neill, art photos provided by Rebecca Chaperon

Dear Diary

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And just like that, 102 web pages later, it’s been 5 years of RAOP here on the blog. I have poured myself into these pages, whether I’m just musing about a cute outfit combination or spilling tears over a recent heartbreak.

It’s not often I take the time to look back on what I’ve published over the years, but this past long weekend I decided to take a trip down memory lane, back to page 102 where I published my very first introduction post. It’s funny how much has changed since July 3, 2013: I lived with a partner I fully intended to marry in a house just around the corner from where I live now, I’d just finished school, and I had no idea how to edit a photo (see the hazy nature of my photography for the first chunk of posts!) Even with all the changes, so much of what I set out to make RAOP into has remained true.

The last sentence of my intro post reads, “May I ask, do you like glitter? Ballet slipper pink? Baking cakes from scratch? fresh cut flowers? If you answered yes to any of the above, stick around: I think we might just be friends already.” I want to take this moment to thank all of you, whether you just stopped in for the first time today or you’ve been here from the start, thank you. Without your support, my magical pastel world would stop turning, and I can’t wait to show you what the next 5 years will bring.

Below I’ve listed some favourite posts from over the past five years! Let me know your RAOP favourites in the comments below.

Vegan Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches Recipe

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Rainbow Magic Outfits for World Pride

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Pastel Pool Party

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Fiesta Burrito Bowls (still one of my favourite lunches to this day)

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One of many Disneyland posts

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DIY Bejewelled Tights

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Las Vegas City Guide

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Cut From The Same Cloth

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Disco Ice Cream Social

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Gingerbread Cookie Cocktails

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Pastel Christmas Par-tea

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The Madonna Inn

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City Guide to Nice, France

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Apricot Jam Recipe with Kitten and the Bear

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Hound Collection and Honey (this one makes me tear up now)

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Pink Moon Party

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#EatYourPastels Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

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Dear Diary

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I don’t want to give too much away because my official #heaveninhighpark home tour goes live somewhere super special THIS WEEK (keep your eyes out!) but I couldn’t help but share a sneak peek.

The last few apartments I’ve lived in I never bothered to throw a housewarming party. It’s not that I wasn’t proud of each space, because in every place I’ve lived I’ve added my own special touches, but I never truly felt like I had a home worth celebrating (never mind one that would fit everyone I care about!)

When I moved into #HeaveninHighPark everything felt totally different – I knew I was finally home. After a month of intensive decorating, painting, furniture shopping and art hanging I was finally ready to show off the space, and went to town planning a big housewarming party to celebrate this next step in my life with all of my nearest and dearest.

Just like the apartment itself, this pastel party came together so perfectly and I don’t think I’ve ever agreed so clearly that home is where the heart is. I seriously can’t wait to show you guys the rest SO SOON!

Special thanks to our event sponsors:
Ace Hill for Beer
Hey Y’all Spiked Iced tea
Fresh Wines
Subway for catering
Balloon Bar for Installations
Wildhood for florals

S/O to Delta for making our sink of drinks look extra pretty with that dreamy gold faucet!

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