All posts by Danica LeBlanc

Finally, Some Good News

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything, and a lot of that has to do with thinking that I can only write when good things happen. I’m not disproving that today, unfortunately. I am a long way from writing when I’m down, or when things are awful, because I had to keep a lot inside over the past few years and I’m not ready to be “okay” with writing it out.

Let’s stick to the good stuff, and keep on pretending that I’m a-ok and don’t have hundreds of dollars of future money that will need to be spent on therapy.

June was good. It was nice. I even like all the thunderstorms we’re having. Brandon and I are closer than we’ve been in the past, and we’re communicating better, too. It’s not perfect, but what couple is? Tell me your secrets, Perfect Instagram Couple (though still know that I hate you and your perfect-looking life). Rationally, I know every couple has their problems, but DAMN it is a bitch with everyone only putting the good, beautiful moments on social media. Makes a girl feel like no matter how great her relationship is, it is still garbage, and she should just pack up and die alone already.

I FORGOT. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE GOOD THINGS.

Brandon’s an amazing man who has stuck by me, even when he shouldn’t, because I am awful. He loves me for some reason, and I am a cold, unfeeling robot who can’t function properly. This is self-diagnosed right now, but give me time, friends. I’m pretty sure I have dysthymia, which is a low-level depression that can last for years. Starting a business and being a high-functioning depressive is not a great combination, I’ve learned.

Since I’m talking about the store, it’s going really well.  Could always be going better, so if you know anyone who hasn’t been yet and likes reading, please pass the Variant Edition information along. I find when we say we’re doing great, people assume no growth is needed. More customers is always better. ANYWAY, we are doing better. Since the move, the store has been more balanced and only gives me the normal level of stress. Which is the say, high, but not emotionally draining on *top* of all that like before. We’ve been in the west end for about 9 months, and I’m looking forward to celebrating our independence anniversary. A lot of strings have been cut in the past year, and it’s only been onward and upwards.

I’m thankful every day for the friends and community that rallied around us, and happy they still come to the store, week after week. There have been constant new faces, and I’m excited for our first summer in the new location, because there are more people who live nearby, more families, and we’re on a better road for both car and walking traffic.

The store has been beating last year’s numbers every month (and if we don’t, we come very close), which as an business owner means a lot to me. It mean we’re growing at a steady and healthy pace. More money in the bank means I can bring in new and unique product, that I may not be able to take a chance on otherwise. I can take more risks, and put money back into the store. This year, it was new lighting and our custom Alberta shelf (can you link to a picture from our Instagram here?). Over the next year? To start, I’d like to expand our All Ages section, and create a more movable store so the shelves can be moved for events and I can rearrange the store easily to keep it fresh and interesting. We’re growing bit by bit, and claiming the space as our own. Making it as unique as myself and Brandon. Making it “us”.

This next good thing is *well* overdue. Brandon and I are taking a vacation in August. I’m so happy to let Randi take the reigns for a week this summer. We’re leaving the store in good hands. My parents are even filling in a few hours that week, so I hope it’s fun for them.

Until next time.

I Ran Away Last Week

I ran away last week

 

I began reading a book

 

I took a walk down to the lake

 

I tried not to think about the future

 

I annoyed some geese

 

I watched a lot of X-Files

 

I tried not to think about the present

 

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die

 

I bonded with a black cat

 

I tried not to miss my own cats

 

I finished the book

 

I tried not to think about the past

Hopeful and Empowering Comics (Or) Take That, Patriarchy!

I’m making this list because… last year was really, really hard. I think it was hard for most people – and I wanted to share the comics that helped me push through all of the muck in 2016.

These are some books that allowed me find some power within myself.

MOCKINGBIRD (Marvel)

by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk & Various

Elevator Pitch: Bobbi Morse is living her own life, and men try to ruin it. Something something corgis something something Bobbi saves the queen.

Recommended Because: It’s a book that emphatically states that women can and should be the stars of their own story. Bobbi is in charge of her life and makes her own story, and the comic’s reality often reflects that. Also there are so many corgis.


FAITH (Valiant)

by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage & More

Elevator Pitch: Nerdy blogger who can fly, saves puppies and fights for the greater good.

Recommended Because: Faith is a superhero that’s like me and a lot of my friends – and while she’s not all powerful, she still tries her very best – an important lesson to remember.


PRINCELESS: RAVEN – THE PIRATE PRINCESS (Action Lab)

by Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins & Ted Brandt

Elevator Pitch: Group of women create their own pirate crew and seek vengeance, while learning about each other a long the way.

Recommended Because: It features a group of women who fight for what they believe in within a world that tells them they shouldn’t. Very empowering.


GIANT DAYS (Boom!Box)

by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Max Sarin & More

Elevator Pitch: Four women in university, living through school and boy drama, and having silly adventures together.

Recommended Because: This series provides a comforting place to live. When you’re with the characters, it feels like you’re visiting friends. Not only  is it the only comic that still makes me laugh out loud during every issue, it provides a good reminder to appreciate the friendships that we build into our lives.


GROOT (Marvel)

by Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger

Elevator Pitch: Groot goes on a journey to find Rocket; finds a group of misfits along the way.

Recommended Because: It’s relentlessly positive. The main character might not be able to talk, but he more than makes up for it through his ability to empathize. It’s a story that’s pure and innocent, providing a reminder of just how good we can all be.

These comics are full of hope and resilience – and they provide bravery when you think you don’t have any. They helped me get through the year, and if you’re looking to be uplifted, they might help you too.

Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

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6 Ways My 2016 Didn’t Suck

Let’s be honest. This year has been so much more than a garbage fire. At times, it’s felt like all the post-apocalyptic YA’s novels we’ve been reading have come true, except with no choice between two equally drab men. During 2016, my depression hit a new low, I discovered new and awful triggers to my anxiety, and my relationship with Brandon had a wedge driven into it. So I thought, why don’t I try and focus on the positives? Good stuff HAD to have happened this year. How the hell did I get through it if it didn’t?

  1. I left an emotionally abusive relationship where I was treated as less than a person, repeatedly reminded my hard work was worth nothing, lied to and gaslit afterward, and finally screamed at when I attempted to change the situation to something positive and quasi-functional.
  2. I started a part-time temp job with an agency in July, and the company took me on as a permanent part-time employee in November. It’s a small company, and the people are nice. They understand that the majority of my time is focused on Variant Edition, and I work hard and am present the two days of the week I am in the office.
  3. I paid off my student loans back in July. I had been paying them off for nearly 8 years, and they had become an expense I felt was going to be a part of my life forever. Even though I was making very little money the last couple years, it felt really good to take control of one thing in my life and I guess detach myself from at least one financial stress.
  4. I’ve begun to take the occasional day off from the store. It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m trying to ease back into taking some time for myself.
  5. I see friends more often. Money still holds me back from a lot of hangouts, but a lot of people understand I’m working with a really tight budget right now.
  6. I saw the goddess Beyoncé in concert! Even though the weather was horrid, it was still quite the experience. I’ll remember it fondly forever.

When the world feels like it’s falling apart, there’s not always an incentive to pull up my bootstraps and keep going. I hope 2017 is better for me. I say that every year, but I think we all do that. I may not have positivity, but I will try to have hope. Oddly, those two things are quite different for me.

In 2017, I will find some hope.

Minimalism is a Privilege

I’m usually a big cheerleader of minimalism. But what if it’s the only realistic option?

Brandon and I have been paring down, spending less, and trying to minimize every part of our lives over the last few years. Although I still believe I can always get rid of more Stuff, I’ve hit the point where I have to stop. For now, anyway. Even though I have completed my student loan payments(more on that later in this post!), because I’m making very little income, it’s hard to truly appreciate the moment. I’ve started to wonder if I need to start selling things to continue experiencing my current lifestyle. Let me tell you, that lifestyle consists of having an apartment and occasionally buying bus tickets for temp work – I’m not extravagant, even when I can afford it. I’m understandably a bit concerned about my future, but mostly worried about when the hell I can get my hair cut again. Serves me right for getting an asymmetrical cut that I need to get trimmed once a month(I love it, but probably should have waited until my income was more stable).

Think about all the minimalism tips out there. Think about all the ways to “save” money. Go thrifting instead of buying new – yes, but you’re still shopping and spending money. I generally hit up the Goodwill once every season, but only if I need something specific. The Latte Factor only works if you are already spending $5 a day. That would be a luxury for me right now, and I find it wasteful even when I do have that extra cash(it’s…been a while since I’ve had extra cash). Clothing swaps are the best and, in my opinion, the most fun way to find clothes – but it’s a gamble if your friends aren’t all the same size(which isn’t realistic to most friend groups anyway).

While my current minimalism may be somewhat “enforced”, it’s not the end of the world. Even if I feel like I’m struggling, I know I’m not alone. Brandon and I are going through some tough times right now, but we’re going to make it to the other side together. Things will even out, mainly because I believe they have to, after all the drama we’ve been put through. (Seriously 2016, why are you so awful for everyone?)

My financial goals are small. I’d like to be making enough income to start saving again. Literally any amount would be acceptable – even $5 a month. I’d like to have a bit of money socked away by October, so Brandon and I can take 2 or 3 days off for our anniversary. A vacation isn’t realistic until next year(fingers crossed we have the time and money for a whole week off), so I’m keeping my expectations low. I’ll say I’m going to pay off my credit card by the end of the year, but I’ve been putting more money on it lately, so I will simply see how close to $0 I can get. Next year, I’d like to be able to pay it off every month. But we’ll get see what the next 6 months bring us, yeah?

***

Now for some good news! I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOAN!!!


I want to thank everyone who left comments here, on Twitter, and Facebook. Writing about this kept me motivated, and I kept it a priority because of you. While I am not left with a lot of money now, it’s been a huge relief to get that debt off my proverbial plate.
Here’s hoping July and the last half of 2016 is better for all of us – financially and emotionally.

The Long Road

I’ve known I needed to get back into therapy for nearly two years now. This was at the same time as I was opening a business. I’ve been funnelling all of my money, time, energy, and mental bandwidth into the shop – with great results. Unfortunately, I have less and less to give. A big reason I’m working temporary contracts is the ability to save some money. Eventually, I’d like to have enough to start spending on myself again. And while nail polish is fun to purchase sometimes, I’m aiming for something that truly relaxes and reinvigorates me. I don’t mean to diminish anyone. If nail polish is your self-care, you do you. When I have time to sit down, and the world doesn’t feel too hopeless, painting my nails is one of my top choices for making myself feel a bit better.

I’ve tried a few different things that people seem to respond to during self-care, but so far, nothing works better than a few hours of Netflix and not thinking about my problems. Which I’m pretty sure is more avoidance, rather than taking care of the problem(whatever it may be that day). Whatever, I’m a long way from getting proper recovery, and this is what I can afford and have time for at the moment.

Pretty sure I worried some of you in my previous post. I’ve been dealing with depression all my life – you think I’d be able to handle it by now – and This Too Shall Pass. There are some things in my life I can’t control, and I’ve improved at not focusing solely on those factors and scenarios. Doesn’t mean the stress and horror of life doesn’t paralyze me occasionally, but I’m getting better at concentrating on that tiny little light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, I desperately need someone to talk to, but we are all going through something right now, and my patchwork explanations must be focused at one person as soon as they comfortably can be. I’m going to try my best to write sometimes, and hopefully, the whole story can come out at some point(if you want to hear it).

Hey, remember when I used to write about organization and decluttering? That was fun.

Anyway, please leave your preferred type of self-care in the comments below. I’m curious what everyone does to get through the day.

Going Through The Motions

So….

I’m averaging a post once every two weeks or so, and that’s pretty much all I can give you right now. My depression and anxiety have kicked into high gear, and I’m going through way too much to properly deal with. This will not be a post about getting better, faking it til I make it, or any other mental health bullshit that I simply cannot handle at this time. All positivity has left the building.

Not sure what’s worse. All the triggers I’ve discovered lately, or the fact that a lot of days, I don’t want to get out of bed. I have created Store Danica for this purpose. She is functional, cheerful, and everything is Great! She is how I get by. If you’ve been in the store, that’s who you get. Not sure if I should keep her a secret, but since my face doesn’t hide emotions well, I’m pretty sure a lot of you know something’s been going on. Currently, I have no ways of coping with any of my mental issues, so a lot of Netflix is being watched. Reading is tough for me. I can’t concentrate, and I end of skimming most things – which means less enjoyment. I used to be able to immerse myself in stories. I could imagine a tiny movie in my head while I read. Now, the images are scattered and few. I’ve lost so much.

In addition to all this, my imposter syndrome strikes daily, and of course my problems aren’t important. Of course others have it worse, and what even are you complaining about, you stupid girl? You’re a bit sad. You’re not dying. You’re not being shot. Everyone else deserves self-care, a healthy body image, and fun. You, who are unworthy of relaxation and joy, must suffer through your days. I am trying SO hard to find that tiny light of goodness – you know, the one at the end of the tunnel that isn’t a train?

Pretty sure it’s worse now I have a support network of kind and caring women – that I am totally ignoring because they can’t know the real me. If I haven’t called or tweeted you in a while, it’s because I’m horrid and push away everyone good in my life when the depression hits. Even my goddamn cats. I say terrible things to them, and have a short fuse even when I’m home. I love my cats more than anything in this ugly, violent world, but that’s apparently not enough to be kind to them.

I have no more kindness to give, friends. I cannot bothered with your life problems because I am too busy not dealing with my own. I’d say I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the energy. My brain is full of depression, anxiety, thinking about how to make the store better, trying to get to sleep before midnight, loneliness, sadness, and trying to occasionally be a useful human adult person. It’s not going well.

My Shopping Ban: Is Done!!!

Welp, May was something else.

Reasons June will probably be better:

– I might get a day off work (more time for reading and Netflix!)

– my student loans are completely paid off (more on that in a moment)

– Time with friends (schedules TBD)

– more money coming in if I get a contract (savings? Currently unfamiliar with that term)

– maybe maybe maybe spending a little bit o’ money on my self (thinking pedicure)

Let’s start with the big news. My student loan. It’s done. Paid. Gonzo. The last automatic payment was transferred early this week, and I couldn’t wait to get rid of the rest. Made a payment for the last $88 yesterday, and look forward to receiving one of those nice letters congratulating me on paying off the loan. My next step? Paying off my credit card by the end of the year and saving money on top of all that.

May wasn’t a very spendy month. The Beyoncè concert (which was bloody cold, but amazing) resulted in a $55 tank top, which was lower than what I originally budgeted for merch. After buying a denim jacket for $8 (it fits my She-Hulk shoulders!!), I visited Winner’s (after Goodwill did not have all the items I was looking for – always try secondhand before buying new, friends) a knee-length dark denim pencil skirt and a navy blue knee-length knitted vest(with pockets!). Haven’t bought new clothes in a long time, but I’m happy to report I’ve been wearing both a couple times a week since the purchase. With that purchase of $52.48, my clothing expenses came in under my desired budget of $150.

I’m not going all out like I thought I could previously. Instead of spending $200 on myself in June, since I spent over $100 on myself in May, I’ll fold that into my “reward budget”. Which is why I’m going to attempt book a pedicure this month. That’s about all the self-care I can handle right now.

As of this posting, I’m hopefully relaxing and reading on my day off from work – but more likely cleaning the house because why would I ever stop doing things? Ugh, I need someone to fix my brain BUT AT LEAST MY STUDEN LOANS ARE PAID OFF.

Later, nerds. 🍷

Quick updates on life

Haven’t written in a while. Currently working two jobs, the second one ending at 10pm – not much time for writing. Or rest. But some money is coming in, so the next couple weeks should feel a bit better, financially.

My student loan is around $300. I put $15 in this morning, and have been pretty good about keeping that habit up. Another $200 will go out about 10 days from now, and then I’ll pay off what’s left with part of my latest paycheque. After that, I’m setting aside a bit of fun money (may be more like $100, rather then $200) and spend a bit on myself in June. Then back to crushing my credit card debt. I’m hoping to start saving a bit every month as well, because that would be smart and I should have been doing it all along, but whatever! Life sucks, but I will start saving money for when it gets better at some point. 

So, two jobs. My agency called me last week because a call centre had been set up to answer Fort McMurray fire related questions, so I’m there until the end of the month. Again, tired, but it’s not a bad job. People are nice, and I can read when the phones are slow. 

Speaking of reading! In the last week or so, I’ve finished “Black Widow: Forever Red” by Margaret Stohl, “Dead Girls Don’t” by Mags Storey – both amazing YA mysteries. Would highly recommend you seek them out. 

My Shopping Ban: 6 More Weeks

As of this writing, my loan is at $620.65.

Hard to believe this weight will be gone from my life in 6-7 weeks. I looked it up and I will have had this loan for 7 years and 7 months by the end. Silver lining? Shorter than I thought. I had always rounded up the time to 8 or 9 years. It really does feel like I’ve been paying it off so much longer. Now that I’m so close to the end, there’s a part of me that just wants to fall off the wagon. Who am I if I’m not paying student loans? Who am I when I don’t have debt one day? I’m weirdly uncomfortable with those thoughts.

My mixture of financial feelings are as follows:

1) The overwhelming sense of freedom. I’ll have $200 extra dollars a month! I can go places and do things with all the extra money!

2) The crushing realization that I still have to dig myself out of the hole I’ve put myself in. I have barely any savings after putting everything into the store, and haven’t been making a lot of money over the past year.

The happy medium? I’m going to keep getting contract work as often as I can. I’m going to continue paying my credit card off, but not as hard and fast as I am with the student loan. I am going to add to my savings and when I have reached a comfortable place, then I can hammer down my credit card debt.

In between all that, I want to have fun with my friends. Go out to dinner, see movies, go for small trips. Since I’ll be more relaxed about paying off my credit card(it’s not too bad, only about $1300 owing on it), I’ll create new goals to keep myself motivated. My next goal after June is too see if I can save $1000 by the end of September.

Do you have a summer financial goal? Leave a comment below, or find me on Twitter.