Category Archives: Personal Style

Heat Wave

Being stuck at home several months into a pandemic and multiple weeks into summer heat wave, I’m finding photography to be my only real outlet for achieving some sort of emotional equilibrium. It’s too hot now to exercise outdoors, too hot to work on the house, too hot to make candles and have them cure correctly. Work has been slow but steady with unique challenges and constant adjustments. I’m connecting with some of my social group and only sporadically. I feel like the one thing I have to fall back on right now is my love for experimenting with cameras.

Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster

On a sweltering midsummer evening, after waiting all day for the sun to crawl across the sky and filter through the climbing hydrangea just the way I wanted to play with, I dressed up in colours that matched the flowers, poured an equally paired cocktail and started taking pictures. I had fun moving around in the sinking light, listening to neighbours catch up with good friends and occasionally spilling my sticky drink down my arm because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to it. I don’t normally present my pictures like this, but it felt right. Here they are in the order that I took them.

Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster Heat Wave | Sophster-Toaster

Glasses Warby Parker

All photos by me.

Ambivert

Ambivert | Sophster-Toaster

I can never quite figure out if I’m an introvert or an extrovert. Myers-Briggs tests always put me right down the middle of every category – I joke that, on paper, I have no personality. I know that I’m not nearly as introverted as others, because I need to connect with someone to find inspiration, bounce ideas off someone to focus my thoughts, and engage with others to feel relaxed. At the same time, I know I’m not quite as extroverted as the people in my life who, despite generally enjoying their company, can still make me feel bombarded and overwhelmed.

At first, I really enjoyed having my husband and neighbours around while I worked. It was a welcome change from working alone all day and having to connect with someone through text when I wasn’t feeling creative or motivated. Now, though, I’m really starting to struggle with the pressure of feeling like I have an audience every time I try to experiment with or explore my creativity. Taking pictures in front of curious neighbours and then editing at a desk I now share with my husband is exhausting me more than I thought it could. I’m going to share my finished product, and engage with the world, that’s the whole point of it, but there’s something about having my process exposed and intruded upon now that’s draining my muse.

I read that in isolation, people tend to double down on their personalities: introverts become more internally driven and extroverts need more outward stimulation to thrive. I’m not sure where this leaves the ambivert; how one becomes more ambiverted. There’s a shifting balance somewhere that I can’t seem to grasp just yet.

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T-shirt Camp Collection (different colourway)
Glasses Warby Parker
Socks American Apparel
Shoes Vans

All photos by me.

Garden City

Garden City | Sophster-Toaster

I’ve never owned nice workout clothes before. I’ve always just worn an old/free t-shirt and what ever pants I found in the discount bin, of an already discount store, while admiring the cute outfits other people assembled for themselves.

Last year, I started learning how to play roller derby. I had to invest in the gear so I couldn’t afford to give up my old top and cheap bottoms look just yet – I also wanted to make sure I was going to stick with new routine. This spring, after a year of intense weekly workouts, full contact scrimmages and lots of seasonal outdoor skating in my flimsy rags, I finally bought myself some cute, matching, well-made activewear.

Garden City | Sophster-Toaster

I was immediately drawn to the colours of these matching leggings and sports bra and then completely charmed by the garden print. They aren’t team colours, but they’re my colours – and I just adore that they are on theme for my team’s name. I also love that they are made in North America and come in a slew of beautiful prints for when I’m ready to add to my collection.

All I can do for now is skate around my neighbourhood in these gorgeous new duds, but I am so looking forward to wearing them to practices and games.

Garden City | Sophster-Toaster Garden City | Sophster-Toaster Garden City | Sophster-Toaster Garden City | Sophster-Toaster Garden City | Sophster-Toaster Garden City | Sophster-Toaster Garden City | Sophster-Toaster

Glasses Warby Parker
Leggings & Sports Bra Pineapple Clothing*
Protective Gear Impala Rollerskates

*Use coupon code “melihar” at checkout or click this link to get 20% off your own new spring activewear from Pineapple Clothing!

All photos by Matt Harrison.

Workspace

Workspace | Sophster-Toaster

I’ve been working from home for years, so my space and routines were already set up when the rest of the world suddenly joined me. I had lots of time to work out the kinks of having my workspace within my home. From starting my business in a tiny apartment, to working out of a larger apartment, to now a house, I kept a few things constant throughout the years to help foster creativity, productivity and work/life balance. Here are my tips for working from home in the long term.

Workspace | Sophster-Toaster

Keep your workspaces and home spaces defined.

For me, my workspace is currently a whole room upstairs and a few shelves in the basement but, in the past, it has been just a corner of a bedroom. Keeping your work stuff in its own place, and not letting your personal things gather there either, will help you keep the spaces separate in your mind and help you avoid the stress of living at work.

Take breaks outside of your workspace.

If possible, avoid working, eating and entertaining yourself all in the same place. It’s easier to be productive at work, and relaxed at home if you can divide these places by activity.

Try to keep your home tidy.

It’s difficult to concentrate in a cluttered space and those chores that need doing will nag you in a whole different way when they’re all around you. It’s best to keep on top of things now so they can’t overwhelm you later.

Set a schedule and stick to it.

Get up at the same time, take lunch at the same time, stop working at the same time, everyday. If you have pets at home, this will also help them get onto an agreeable routine.

Get dressed.

I am my most creative in the morning, so I will frequently start working in my pajamas, but I always feel like my serious work day starts when I’m dressed, brushed and ready to meet the world.

Set goals for how much you want to get done in a day, in a week.

You know when you’re at work, and out of things to do – or out of inspiration – but can’t go home yet, so you just find busy work or distractions to pass the time? Those moments will happen at home too, but you’ll actually be able to do something useful with that time! If you have all your goals plotted out, you’ll know when you can take a break to catch up on home stuff or, conversely, when you really need to stop chasing those distractions.

Set boundaries with friends and family.

People will think that because you work from home, you are always available. Don’t be afraid to say no to random drop-ins or doing things outside of your job, outside of your scheduled working hours.

Workspace | Sophster-Toaster Workspace | Sophster-Toaster

Glasses Warby Parker
Shirt Sophster-Toaster
Jeans Angry Rabbit
Shoes Vans

All photos by me.