We are happy to feature Erika in our The Life & Style of Interesting People series and excited to welcome her to the shop for a Brunch & Learn on Sunday April 7th to celebrate the launch of her book Sound Mind. I've shared more about the book below, but let's get to know Erika first! Erika is a customer who lives close to the shop and is a professional cellist, now author, artist and educator and you can follow her here on Instagram @celloerika or her website here. And here's how she answered our questions:
Q/ How would you define your lifestyle?
A/ I’d define my lifestyle as customized to achieve sustainability: a lifestyle that allows me to engage in my work and creative activities, while prioritizing my mental health and wellbeing. A balance of creative/artistic, minimalist, and structure with scheduled freedom. Hard-working, but with planned breaks to avoid hecticness and burning out. Sleep, nutrition, and self-care are priority #1, and my best life is born from that foundation, which is very different from how I approached my lifestyle before my bipolar diagnosis.
Q/ Is spending time in nature important to you? Tell us why!
A/ Absolutely! Spending time in nature helps me refresh and recharge, and grounds me in connecting with being a part of the earth, and appreciating what a glorious, wide world there is out there. Being in nature is a great place to practice mindfulness meditation, and I especially love mountains, lakes, and oceans. I also love to marvel at the intricacies of complex ecosystems, exquisite plants and creatures, and thinking about how the natural world has evolved from the formation of the planet, to billions of years of evolution. It always blows my mind, and makes me feel insignificant in the best possible way.
Q/ On a scale between 1-10, how ‘Green’ would you say you are?
A/ I’d give myself solid 8.5. My home isn’t any larger than my spouse and I need (a 1 bedroom apartment). We have never owned a car. We use safe, green, versatile products like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in reused foam dispensers for hand/face/body wash and general cleaning. I am really “laundry frugal” and try to get as many wears as possible out of my shirts and pants before I wash them.
We are fervent re-users and recyclers, and always bring our own cloth shopping bags (I despise plastic)! We also cook at home, compost, keep a backyard vegetable garden in the summer, and shop at the bulk food store. If we can make something instead of purchase it, we do. For example, I use cut up t-shirts for reusable “Kleenex”, and household rags, make our deodorant from scratch, and brew my own kombucha.
Any purchases we make are rare and extremely conscious. We try to obtain items second-hand first, and choose items for quality, longevity, and sourced locally if possible.
And for our ultimate green effort, we will likely have either zero children, or only one child. Our planet is maxed out!
Q/ What excites you about choosing a sustainable lifestyle?
A/ The seemingly small choices we make in day-to-day living really add up, and I get excited about the impact that better choices have on our carbon footprint, and also on our finances as we save for an uncertain future. I loathe waste and love efficiency of every kind. Choosing a sustainable lifestyle makes me feel as though I am taking responsibility for my part by operating my life as efficiently as possible.
Q/ If you were to give advice to others about embarking on a ‘greener’ life and style, where/how would you tell them to start?
A/ I’d suggest sitting down with a pen and paper, and take stock of every facet of your lifestyle. Write down what an average day living your life looks like, and look for ways to make a different choice, cut back on consumption and conserve the resources you use. Even a few small tweaks will make a difference, and likely make a difference to your wallet, too, for added incentive. We can essentially “vote” for greener choices with the purchases you make. How many times a week do you really need to use your car? How far did that cheap T-shirt have to travel?
And for really big impact, for those considering whether to have children or more children, it's worth examining the research, and thinking hard about the environmental impact of sustainably housing and feeding more humans. I think it's a really important consideration, especially now that we are 7.7 billion strong, and projected to rise to 11.2 billion by 2100.
Q/ What are you passionate about? Where do you find inspiration?
A/ I'm a passionate educator, and I'm endlessly inspired by my students and colleagues.
Q/ How did you hear about Logan and Finley?
A/ I strolled in one day, years ago. I was exploring Queen West, coming from a gig and schlepping my cello. I was always on the lookout for gig clothes, and I was at a point in my life where I wanted to start building a minimalist, more “adult” wardrobe of quality, beautiful, versatile and easy-to-care-for pieces that would make me feel polished, professional, and comfortable. I was also embracing minimalism to improve my mental wellness, which I write about in Sound Mind. I needed simplicity.
I remember Julie insisting that I try on a super comfortable and tailored Miik Emily blazer, which was the perfect first piece to get me started. I have since found many thrilling pieces, which make up a sizeable percentage of my professional wardrobe.
Q/ What’s your most treasured item from Logan and Finley? Why?
A/ I adore all of my Miik pieces, and love that they are made in Canada, but I especially enjoy the versatility of my reversible tunic-length Miik tanks, (one black, one blue!) They dress up beautifully with a blazer for concerts, or are also awesome casual pieces. I layer them under my T-shirt to create a little skirt that covers my bottom when I wear leggings, and I love that look for when I’m teaching or rehearsing at home. Oh, and I’ve had them for years, and they still look and feel brand-new. Zero wear and pilling!
Here's an excerpt from the publisher about Sound Mind
"Erika Nielsen knew that her real language was music—her truest voice, the cello—by the time she was three years old. She knew she would become a professional musician by the eighth grade. But she could never understand why sometimes she felt as if she was floating on sparkling clouds, enchanted by her own brilliance, while at other times she huddled in a dark, wretched place, sobbing and overcome with her inadequacy. At age 27, she finally found out: she was mentally ill. In this frank and courageous memoir, Erika confronts the shock of her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and chronicles how, step by step, day by day, she walked herself to a place of stability and health. Containing wellness tips and coping strategies to live creatively, productively, and healthily with a mental illness, Sound Mind is a story of hope, healing, and transformation that reminds us that it is not only possible to function with a mental illness, it is possible to thrive. By promoting education, awareness and de-stigmatization of mental illness, Sound Mind helps write a new narrative around mental health and wellness." You can pre-order her book or you can buy one at the brunch and we will be giving away a personalized signed copy as well. Save the Date - Sunday April 7th -event to be posted soon. Erika will be bringing her cello with her as well as sharing her story with us.