Tagged: blog

Thirty-One Thoughts

1. Starting this blog was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Regardless of whether or not my random posts are being read / enjoyed / appreciated / contemplated… This weird little corner of the Internet is a documentary of my adventures and gives me incredible perspective through the long lens of my posts over the last few years. I recently reread my Thirty Thoughts when I was feeling low to remind myself of some of the big ideas I had and I was so grateful to have that list available to recapture where I was and what I thought around this time last year. Lots of things have changed (and lots of things have stayed the same), so I feel compelled to complete this exercise a second time, adding one extra thought for this last yearlong trip around the sun.

2. Let’s all try to be grateful. The gratitude I felt as I was reading my thirty-year-old lady musings from 2016 stemmed from a conversation I’ve had with a friend several times over the last year about how we must remember to be grateful for what we have and to practice that gratitude in our day-to-day lives. I am thankful I have a roof over my head, food to eat, clean water to drink, my health, and the best family and friends a person could ask for. The rest is inconsequential, so I do my best to focus on and say a silent thank you for the things that I am fortunate to have. And speaking of gratitude…

3. Vacation days are literally the best thing ever. OK, I know this one is obvious, but I’ve realized that there are some people in the world who don’t value their vacation time, and that is just CRAZY to me. When I take days off work, I am OFF. No email. No phone calls or texts from co-workers. No thought whatsoever about what is happening at the office. Completely disconnecting is the healthiest thing I can do for my brain and I always come back to work refreshed and happy with a positive attitude. (That might also have to do with the vacation days being spent in the best places in the world with my favourite people… but that sort of comes with the vacation territory, right?)

4. Exercise = Improved Mental Health. In the last 2 years I have started to prioritize loving my body by treating it to exercise and good care… and while the exercise has changed (Dear Yoga, I still miss you and I promise I will come back to you one day), the resulting endorphins are consistently wonderful. It became glaringly clear one day a few weeks ago when I had a would-be terrible day at work paired with a speeding ticket on my lunch hour, and I found myself laughing it off. When I later questioned how it could be that I was so upbeat, I remembered that I had done a heavy round of resistance training that morning before work… and voila, happy me. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

5. I am happiest next to a body of water. Ocean, lake, canal, whatever. Give me a spot in the sand with the rhythmic sound of waves crashing loudly against the shore, or let me find a quiet spot along something smaller to take in the smell of damp earth under the ripple of ebbing waters… I’ll take anything.

6. Every year gets better – even during the hardest time of my life. In the last couple of years I ended a long term relationship, gave up my animals, said goodbye to the beautiful home that I built with my best friend, and pretty much turned my entire life upside-down. It was sad and hard… but somehow when I look back on 2015 and 2016, I can say with complete certainty that they have been the best years of my life. Sure, I lost a lot. But I gained so much more – a greater perspective about my life and priorities, a freedom and drive to explore all the things, new friends, and a newfound positive attitude that was missing throughout my twenties. It feels like every passing year has been better than the last and I’m inclined to believe that this upward trajectory continues as we get older. (Like a fine wine? 1985 was a good year after all.)

7. I might be a little bit psychic. Seriously. I dreamt of a poster for Montreal’s Osheaga music festival featuring Radiohead and Lana Del Rey’s names side by side, and 3 days later THAT POSTER WAS RELEASED. I’m telepathic. (And I bet I know what you’re thinking right now – that I’m nuts – am I right? Psychic, I told you!)

8. Music and dancing are core to my existence. Last year I swore that I would dance more and… oh, did I dance. 2016: year of the dancing emoji. I discovered new genres of music that filled my body with ecstatic joy, I swayed to my all-time favourite musicians (and discovered a few new ones) at Osheaga, I tore up the dance floor at weddings and parties, and I realized that the best and last boyfriend in my life will always be music. I sang at the top of my lungs pretty much every time I was alone in my car, shamelessly sang karaoke (loved every minute and am hoping to do it again soon), and even braved an open mic night after a few drinks (which I did not love as much… lack of lyrics in front of me and messing up the words to Blackbird = awkward and disrespectful to The Beatles). 

9. Turning 30 was the beginning of an enormous life shift. It’s not like I woke up at 30 and suddenly everything had changed, but as I approach 32 in a few months time, I’ve realized that I’ve started on a new journey in the span of 2 years and I don’t think it is a coincidence that it coincides with the start of a new decade of my life. It’s sort of wild to think that we can suddenly change and grow and evolve every 10 years, no?

10. Having a mortgage is cool but not having one is fine too. Home ownership was great in so many ways, but selling my house and walking away from that heavy commitment was liberating. I’m glad to have seen both sides and to know what each experience feels like.

11. Living alone is fantastic. It was funny reading about my adjustment to living in an empty because my post last year was written only a few months after my ex had moved out. Forget the thought that “living alone isn’t so bad” – all said and done, I lived alone for 15 months and I genuinely loved it by the end.

12. Being scared is life affirming and exhilarating. Two experiences taught me this lesson. First, I repelled down a rock and climbed back up the rope on a hike in beautiful British Columbia. It was steep. I was sure I was going to fall and cut myself open and bleed out in the woods or smash my head or break a limb. But I didn’t. I was strong and powerful and I did it. Second, I got lost in a mosh pit in the middle of a rowdy set at a music festival and was separated from friends in a sea of people. It took 20 minutes to break through to a clearing on the side of the crowd and another 5 to find my friends, who were traumatized. But me, I felt a natural high. I actually threw my head up to the sky and yelled, “WE’RE ALIVE!!!” Does that mean I’m a little bit crazy? Maybe. But in both cases, my pounding heart and the hot blood coursing through my veins gave me an appreciation for life unlike anything I have ever felt before.

13. Being brave sometimes means you need to be a little vulnerable. Yes, doing the scary and life threatening things means subjecting your body to being its most vulnerable and fragile. But, even more terrifying is the bravery it takes to get vulnerable with your words – to really speak your truth without holding back. I can’t always get there but I’m doing my best.

14. I am always hungry. Actually starving. Dying to eat at all hours of the day. Will always answer “yes” when asked if I want to eat. Thinking about what I will eat next, when in the middle of a meal. Can I blame this on all that extra exercise? Why is my stomach growling right now?

15. Everything changes but some things stay the same. Yes, I know that’s an oxymoron. But it’s true, no? When I was packing my entire life into boxes late last year, I came across some old journals and found entries from over 10 years ago that captured a lot of things about me that remain true to this day: I hate making decisions. I am boy crazy. I feed off of and respond to the energy of people around me. While I was just a kid then with little understanding of what was ahead and how much I would grow and change, I still hit on some fundamental things about myself that are consistently part of who I am.

16. There are very real #relationshipgoals in my life. I find myself stepping back lately and observing the healthy relationships around me and thinking about how modelling after the people I love in their interactions with the people they love is a very real goal for me. The couples are all different and have their ups and downs, but they have these admirable qualities that show me what a great relationship should look like: Caring for your best friend, seeking out adventure together, sweetness in all your interactions, openness and trust in your journey together, and crazy-head-over-heels-madly-in-love love for each other. #relationshipgoals right?

17. Single or spoken for are both perfectly fine. Don’t get me wrong, although I’m writing about some serious goals for my next relationship, I’m also extremely content with this single lady life I’m making for myself. This is a pretty big deal for me because I pretty much spent all of my late teens and twenties going from one long term relationship to the next, and I’ve never really spent that much time alone with myself. It’s wonderful. Sometimes hard. Sometimes amazing. Always fascinating. And often confusing, because in this adjustment to single life I find myself going back and forth between an impulse to find a partner and a desire to continue on this solitary journey – at least for now. 

18. The struggle to decide between two options is extreme for me. Certainly the debate of single vs. taken is a good example of this challenge, but it goes much deeper. I can always look at both ends of a spectrum or see both sides of a story, and I consistently find myself stuck somewhere in the middle, unable to settle on which way to go. A friend of mine helped me realize how extreme this is for me recently when she said that everyone struggles with making choices but that it seems to her that it’s somehow much harder for me… And I was so grateful that she said it because it has made me feel crazy for the longest time. It doesn’t change my inability to decide but at least knowing that I have this greater affliction keeps me a tiny bit saner. And…

19. There is always a third option. This was one of those big “AHA!” moments in a discussion with my friend where we hit on this incredible concept that we never need to feel locked into only two choices or two ends of a spectrum. There’s always another angle to consider, always an alternative we haven’t looked at yet, and always a third option. We just need to remember it’s there.

20. The dynamic of public and private is perplexing. We’re more than half way through my brain dump of random thoughts (with hopefully the teeniest bit of wisdom) and I’m starting to realize that I’m really baring my soul with this one. It’s a strange thing, to be so open and public on this blog when I tend to be very private and shy in real life, always hesitant to talk about myself and quietly protecting from – what, the world? Two ends of a spectrum and I guess I’m somewhere in between, as usual.

21. “Girls doing whatever the fuck they want” is a bitching motto. Speaks for itself. My thanks to The Wing for this one.

22. There are parts of my job that I actually really love. It feels sort of strange to say it, but it’s true. There’s been this huge project at work that I’ve been leading for almost a year and it’s sort of taking over my life, but somehow I’ve gotten to the point that I’m starting to enjoy it. We’ve hit a stride and we are making progress. Organization and producing work are my strongest qualities and I’m getting to stretch those muscles on a daily basis. I’m working with really smart people who get the goal of the project. I am challenged every single day and pushed harder to produce, and it feels great.

23. But… I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life. It’s nice to be in a place where I feel like I don’t hate my work but I still know that this isn’t my forever career and that I’ll need to eventually make a change. But, see above point #18 – I’ve got this little problem with making big life-changing decisions, so I’m still feeling a little stuck. Will it ever be easier? I’m not sure, but I’m really trying.

24. Letting go and letting things be is sometimes best. While I’m still totally lost and unsure of where I’m going and what I’m doing, I’ve decided that easing up is better than forcing it. Trying to define and decide and figure everything out is doing nothing for me and a friend recently suggested that little steps are perfectly fine. This revelation isn’t really new but it’s something I seem to always forget and rediscover on an annual basis – going back to nonetofigo (no need to figure it out, it’s a thing, don’t question it), doing one thing at a time and believing that it will all become clear and that things will reveal themselves naturally.

25. Different types of love are possible. Alright, I’ll be honest, I stole this line from Desert Island Disk off of Radiohead’s new album (did Thom know I needed this beautiful collection of songs last year?) but the words are perfectly true. We can love and be loved in so many different ways, yet I think we often feel constrained by the concept of a traditional love story. It’s not always boy-meets-girl-they-fall-in-love-they-break-up-they-get-back-together-and-live-happily-ever-after. It can be complicated or obvious or challenging or simple or hard or fun or gut-wrenching or thrilling or feel both right and wrong and everywhere in between. It can be different from one day to the next and it can change with alarming frequency. And in all these different types of love – whether confusing or crystal clear – there is still a persistent and underlying joy in the act of loving. Thom!! How do you always know!?

26. Marriage and babies are starting to make me feel like a grown up. Let’s be clear. I’m not married. I have no babies. I don’t think either of those things are anywhere close to possible in my current world but seeing people around me going down that road definitely makes all us big kids seem a little bit more adult. It’s totally weird.

27. “Tell me about yourself” are 4 words I often dread. How can I possibly summarize all the things about me that I feel are important, and how do I bypass all the boring things that I think are meaningless? I’m generally terrible at small talk and meeting new people – socially awkward for life, yo. And yet, I absolutely love getting to know new people. There’s something exciting about someone being a blank slate, like a mystery that you get to solve in your own unique way. It is fascinating to encounter another person and know nothing about them, slowly piecing together who they are by hearing their stories and asking the kinds of questions you hope they might ask you. (My questions are usually food-related, are we surprised?)

28. My head is always in the clouds. I mean… I might be a tiny bit obsessed with skylines, and my favourite sunsets are those with a cluster of clouds. The layers of colour and dimension are out of this world when clouds pile on top of each other and I suppose I am attracted to the dreamlike quality of these fluffy puffs of air that are constantly moving and changing and reconfiguring in a beautiful slow dance across the sky. I can’t help but stop sometimes to tilt my head up to the sky and take it all in. Am I just a dreamer who refuses to be grounded in reality? Or does this just mean I have a deep appreciation for beauty? Probably both.

29. There are things that are impossible to describe or explain but can be felt with complete certainty. This is probably what most would describe as a gut feeling. But it’s something more – it’s an unspoken communication that is felt. Whether that communication is individually with ourselves, with another person, or with the entire universe – it is intensely powerful and a little bit magic. Sometimes we can’t find words to express a feeling or a thought but it’s there, like it’s on the tip of our tongues… And that inability to put it in words isn’t a failing, it’s the nature of the thing being so huge that we can’t even define it. If that idea feels wild but somehow makes sense (because really, how can I put into words a thing that is founded on being unable to speak the words), then just wait, because…

30. There is an unspoken third element in every connection we make with another person. You are an individual human being on this planet with your own unique experiences and perspectives that you can and do try to share with others. And every other person in the world is exactly the same – we all see things differently, even if we are aligned in our values and beliefs, and no matter how hard we try, we will only ever understand others through our own lens. But, we crash into each other every single day and those differences somehow fuse together to create this powerful and unspoken third element that connects you with that someone else. So when you make a friend or find a lover or pretty much interact with any person anywhere at any time, you create a relationship with this person that is made up of that magical connection of you and them combined – and that third thing binds you together in a way that cannot be explained, only felt.

31. The universe is magic and gives us exactly what we need. Have I made this statement on this blog already? I think I probably have and I don’t care if it’s repetitive. (I love repetition, remember?) There is no doubt in my mind that things happen for a reason and that the universe is constantly conspiring in our favour to make magic, happy coincidences, powerful connections, and all the good things in between. And, in the darkest times when I question all the ugliness and bad feels in the world, I still know deep down that this is the universe at work, turning and moving toward something new and better. I know, I know. I went all magic crazy with my last 3 thoughts but… Magic is something you make, and I think we all need some magic in our lives.

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Repeat Offenders and New Inventors

The other day I was listening to my (perfectly) curated “Fall Fall Fall” seasonal playlist made by yours truly on Spotify and as one of my favourite tunes came on I had this unexpected epiphany about the song that sent me into a spiral of random and interconnected thoughts about repetition. Herein is my attempt to summarize those thoughts in a (hopefully) coherent and eloquent manner for no reason other than getting it out of my brain and onto (virtual) paper. Let me repeat: This is random, but it is interconnected. Or if anything, it feels interconnected. Let’s start by playing this song on repeat:

This lovely track by The Morning Benders has been a favourite of mine for a few months – it inevitably makes it onto most of the playlists that I put together and whenever I hear it I always get all sorts of feels. It’s got all the good things you want to hear in a great song: A slow build up at the beginning, a rolling drum that prevails through the course of the 5 minutes of song, a bridge that sucks you in by dropping most of the instruments and focusing mainly on layered vocals before building back up with all the sounds… It’s a goodie. I’ve listened to it countless times (often on repeat) and love love love it. But something clicked for me the other day when it came on that I had never noticed before. Right around the 40 second mark, after that awesome introductory build up at the beginning of the song, the music swells with strings and a very familiar melody comes into play… Do you hear it?

Did I imagine it, or is there something resonating in those strings that sounds just a little like the strings in this endlessly classic love song? It isn’t exactly the same but there’s this slight familiarity that suddenly became very apparent to me in that moment and I haven’t been able to shake it since. This isn’t to say that I think “Excuses” is copying “At Last” – it’s been years since I’ve read sheet music but I’m sure if you put these two songs side by side they would differ – and it’s quite possible that nobody else will hear this the same way that I do. But to me, the connection is there and it only made me love the song even more.

This newly born enhanced admiration is fascinating. Why is it that I love something even more now that it reminds me of something else that I’ve loved for ages? Is it the familiarity? Is it like the comfort of an old and trusted friend? Is it the fact that repetition is something that I love and embrace whenever possible? I’m certainly guilty of incorporating repetition into my life on a regular basis – songs are repeated multiple times across the playlists that I create on Spotify, I’ve re-read books that I adore countless times (can I get an amen from other HP fans out there?), I will happily watch my favourite TV shows or movies multiple times to the point that I can throw out obscure quotes without any prompting, and I even feel the act of writing this blog to be one of the most feel-good repetitive activities in my life. And now, as I write these words, it is starting to occur to me that it’s not really surprising at all that I love repetition, because it allows me to fill my life with things that I know I adore with complete certainty.

If we apply this idea universally, I think it explains why we see (and more importantly, accept) repetition in so many areas of our lives. We all love the chorus of a song because it’s same words repeated over and over, allowing us to recognize, appreciate, and sing along. It seems like every other song on the radio these days includes a sample from an older song that we all know and love… And because these new artists are drawing from classics that are timeless, they are sure to pull in a wider audience – even the kids who don’t know the original may feel a nostalgic familiarity when they hear the music, perhaps from that one time on the radio when they were quite young or at a distance from an older sibling’s bedroom. Reboots of old movies and sequels seem to achieve the same thing – it’s like all of Hollywood collectively had a realization that remakes and extensions of stories = box office gold. What’s not to love? A classic story is timeless, so retelling it with a slightly new spin is just another way to relive it again and again.

In my English Literature days at university, one of my graduating seminar courses was all about those epic stories that we retell over and over thematically with only minor changes in the plot. The fight of good against evil. The flawed hero. The journey to a distant land and triumphant (or sometimes bittersweet) return home. The evolution of a character from naive youth to wise (or disillusioned) adulthood. Do we tell the same stories and love them unconditionally because their formulaic beginning, middle, and end are predictable but still surprising in their minor variances? What’s that saying? “We are creatures of habit.” We embrace the repetition because we know what to expect and are delighted when what we thought would happen transpires exactly as we predicted.

It’s such a funny concept, because we love that predictable and comfortable feeling of repetition but we are equally thrilled when we are presented with something completely new. Every album by Radiohead is drastically different than the last and nothing ever sounds like anything they’ve done before… And while that consistency of newness is an act of repetition in itself, that novelty produces a feeling unlike anything I can get out of listening to a favourite old song on repeat. The same goes for a film or any type of story that shocks us with a surprise ending or twist along the way that goes against the conventional story-telling that we’ve come to expect in our repeat-saturated society. I love a movie that ends with the main characters not reuniting after a ridiculously romantic grand gesture. I adore stories that end abruptly with no clear indication as to the resolution or aftermath of the climax. I like it when we abandon the repetition every now and then.

This tension between the conventional and unconventional has been on my mind for a few days. I know without question that I love repeat offenders. But I know that I have an equal passion for that which is brand new and unfamiliar – I’ve even written about embracing that type of discomfort on this very blog in the last year. And while the focus of this post has been purely around stories and music, my line of thinking extends to how we live our lives and interact with each other. So much has changed in my life in the last year and while I’ve settled into new routines (thereby grounding myself in repeating familiar daily and weekly activities), I’ve also found myself venturing into unknown territory that’s far from the standard mould of life that I (or society) believed was the only way of living. I followed one template for life (and lived it well) for many years and then it fell apart… Leading me to question if that template is the right one for me, or if there is a different template that exists that I ought to follow, or if I just need to live life without any template at all… Which would be a life of zero repetition in the act of doing things differently and embracing the new or unknown. (Scary! Maybe Exciting!)

As I run through the list of things that repeat in my life that I love passionately, #1 on the list has to be the changing of the seasons. The consistency of observing one season melt into the next is probably one of the most beautiful markers of the passage of time in my life. Spring will always follow Winter. The leaves will always change colour as Summer transitions to Fall. The sun will set in a different spot in the sky throughout the course of a year. In this corner of the world, I know with certainty that the seasons at their very core will always be a constant in my life and that’s incredibly comforting. But, at the same time, I know that every season will be a little bit different than the last… We can know without question that it will eventually snow here, but when and how much is unknown.

So maybe that’s the trick to finding a balance between repeat offenders and new inventors. We can embrace repetition by acknowledging and nodding to things that occurred in the past while simultaneously valuing and striving for something just a little bit different and somewhat new within the act of repeating. For all I know, “Excuses” is an intentional riff on “At Last” (I think that they are both hopelessly romantic in their own way within their respective eras). This blog is often an unintentional source of repetition – whenever I write a post, I question if I’ve used the same words too many times or if I’ve repeated certain phrases or ideas in older posts, but even in that doubt I know that there’s a unique story in every post, even when it refers back to something I’ve already spoken about. And anyway, I think I’ve decided that repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing… In fact, I actively embraced it today. (Did you notice the repeated use of brackets? Didn’t I already have a blog post title that refers to repeat offenders? Did I use the word repetition a lot? Did I ask several open-ended questions?) Let me repeat: This is random, but it is interconnected.

Thirty Thoughts

2015 was a big year. I turned 30. I travelled to my favourite places and saw my favourite people. I celebrated the (very) bittersweet 5-year anniversary of purchasing my first house (also known as the end of my first mortgage term) only a few months after agreeing to end the 7-year relationship with the man who shared that home with me. I learned how to live alone. I felt like I was really growing up in a way I’ve never felt before.

It was a doozy, and who knows what 2016 will bring… But it seems fitting to kick off my first post of the year with some random thoughts that came to me over the course of 2015. Call it 30 years of “wisdom” (used with overly enthusiastic air quotes since I feel neither wise nor old enough to give advice). Or more accurately, call it a cumulative list of musings gathered from countless discussions with family, friends, myself, and readings from this brilliant female duo you may be familiar with – Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey.

Here, in no particular order, are an aging 30-year-old lady’s thoughts:

1. Meal planning is quite possibly the best thing I did for myself in 2015. I’m so glad that I committed to sharing my menu adventuring on this blog because it made me accountable to myself and my invisible online friends to keep it up and I benefited by building a repertoire of meals and techniques to maintain a (relatively) healthy diet and stable routine. I’m still at it in 2016 in a different kind of way – but I feel like I laid the groundwork for keeping this going for the rest of my adult life. On a related note…

2. Being an adult is hard. Why does nobody tell you this when you’re a kid?! Seriously. This is no walk in the park. Meal planning, making and keeping a budget, working hard and trying to find work-life balance, maintaining adult friendships, being in a long-term relationship with a partner, trying to be responsible while simultaneously trying to enjoy life… None of it comes easy. I still haven’t figured out this whole grown up thing, and I’m not sure I ever will.

3. Nobody ever grows up and nobody ever really feels their age. The week I turned 30, I told my mom that I still felt like a teenager and she responded that she still feels like she’s 30, so I am now convinced that age is a weird abstract concept and that nobody anywhere in the world actually feels like a real-life grown up. (Anyone care to argue this point? Are there any responsible adults reading this blog?) I think the reality is, we just go along year after year and figure it out as we go. At certain points in time we stop and realize that years have passed and in those fleeting moments we see that we are constantly growing and changing without realizing or understanding how. Really, we’re all just big kids.

4. Impatience is an ugly trait and I need to remember to slow down. You’d think I would learn from the past – the whole time I was a kid and teenager I just wanted to grow up so I could be an adult and live my fabulous life. But, uhhh, see above, point #2. Being an adult isn’t that much fun and I wish I could go back in time to tell myself to stop rushing. And here I am now, just as impatient as I was all those years ago, wanting to move forward and race through this totally weird and uncertain time in my life even though my future is just as ambiguous. I’m impatient ALL THE TIME – whatever I want, I want it NOW. It’s something I really dislike in myself and need to work on.

5. I don’t care as much about making my hair do things it doesn’t want to do. I used to blow dry my hair every other day (I’ve got a bad case of straight hair envy) but since the day I turned 30, I sort of stopped caring about wasting my time trying to tame my crazy curly-thin-but-sometimes-thick-wavy-can’t-decide-what-it-wants-to-do hair. As soon as I let it go I got all kinds of compliments, and, even better, I started to feel more like my real self – as though I was saying to the world, “Yeah, this is my frizzy hair. It’s part of who I am. Deal with it.” Now I can’t imagine myself wearing my hair any other way. (Although I won’t lie – when I get my hair cut and professionally blow dried, I still looooove the look of that silky straight hair.)

6. I am starting to love my body by appreciating and caring for it as though it is a temple. This is happening in a few distinct ways. I started to moisturize my whole body on a daily basis. I floss my teeth almost regularly. I now jog / run / walk a few times a week on a treadmill at the office gym. (It is soooo boring but feels so good to be exercising!) And the most special treatment my body gets is the wonderful practice of yoga, at least twice if not several times a week. Yoga. Wow. It feels amazing and it’s one of those things where I really can’t find words to describe how it makes me feel, except to say that I come out of every session feeling powerful and in control of my body and life.

7. There really is not enough time in the day. With my new routine of treadmill or yoga after work, I’m getting home later than ever so by the time I make dinner and clean up, it’s almost time for bed. Now that my house is for sale, I find my weekends are occupied with keeping the house tidy and clean (while fitting in yoga in the morning). I still have the weekend cooking parties that I adopted in my year of meal planning but the process is even more rigorous so I can pre-cook as much as possible ahead the weeknights knowing that I will be home so late. No matter how hard I try to get up early to tidy on workdays when I have a visit at the house, I somehow get into work later and later. How does one fit in everything they need to do on a daily basis? Getting back to writing the blog has felt nearly impossible, not to mention trying to get myself out more so I don’t become a crazy cat lady who lives alone forever without friends or acquaintances or lovers.

8. Let go of what doesn’t serve you. This is one of the many wisdom nuggets I have picked up from my yoga practice and it’s a beautiful thought that the instructor repeats at each of her sessions. When I feel a negative thought or emotion bubbling up inside of me, I acknowledge it and I feel it in its entirety because I know there’s a reason I feel that way in that moment. But once I’ve felt what I need to feel, I try really hard to let it go. Holding onto anger or sadness or bitterness (or any of that bad stuff) will do nothing to make your life better – it will only bring you down and it gives you no power to move forward. It doesn’t serve you, so move on.

9. Living alone isn’t so bad. The last few months I have adjusted to living alone and I actually quite enjoy it – you can sing as loud as you want, choose what to watch on Netflix, set the menu, and do whatever you want, whenever you want. You make your own schedule and get into your own groove, and keep your home exactly how you want it without negotiating or checking with someone to see if what you’re doing works for them. It’s actually very liberating. (But it can get a little lonely sometimes.)

10. Being alone and being lonely are different things. I learned this fairly quickly as I got used to being single and home alone in a house without another human. Alone time is great. (See above!) You can use the quiet time to reflect on your life, yourself, where you are and where you want to go… all things that sort of get lost in the background when you are surrounded by others. Being alone is a good practice. But being lonely – that’s a different story. Longing for company and feeling like you are missing something by not being with another human isn’t healthy in the way that being alone with yourself is. I think we are made to have companionship, so loneliness is natural when we are left alone for long enough.

11. Dancing is always a good idea. There hasn’t been enough dancing in my life and I intend to make up for lost time in the coming years. When I get those lonely feelings during my alone time, I blast music in my living room and have a solo dance party and immediately feel better. Last weekend I was terribly sick with a cold but I danced out some of the sickness with friends. Dancing is always a good idea.

12. Apparently I have a little feminist rage inside of me. I am acutely aware of what it means to be a woman in the workplace and how it is a different experience for men. It is so subtle and institutional (and certainly not always intentional) but it is always there, underpinning the way we interact with each other. Witnessing it is almost unreal – to sit in a meeting and state a valid opinion and see it get dismissed, only to be acknowledged minutes later when a man says the exact same thing is unbelievable (and insanely frustrating). GIRL POWER!

13. Friends that are gems of the world are precious and we must hold tight to them. This is the sweetest thought that my sister shared with me from a friend of hers and it is the simplest but strongest sentiment to summarize how important it is to hold on to those really special friends in our lives that bring us light and positivity and joy. On a related note, making friends is hard! So hard. It makes me appreciate my gems even more. Now move home, would you? (You know who you are!)

14. Turning 30 felt like no big deal, but turning 31 in a few months feels REALLY OLD. Why? Aging is so weird.

15. Keeping a clean house is a pain but sooooooo nice. Ah, the joys of trying to sell your house. It means that you have to be continually ready to have strangers walk through your home at any given moment… Which is a pain and quite frankly, starting to get really old. I know… it’s a necessary evil… but on the positive side, I have learned that I actually really like to have a tidy and immaculately clean living space. In the past I wouldn’t bother with it but now that I’m in the habit of cleaning up after myself on a daily basis, I just can’t stop. It’s so refreshing and serene to come home to a de-cluttered house.

16. Remember empathy and love for others, always. Empathy hits me like a punch to the gut sometimes and I feel so much for others when I hear about a personal tragedy, but then I tend to forget about maintaining this in day to day life. Having gone through my divorce and spending many, many days in a total daze at work or out and about on the weekend has taught me that we must always try to remember that we never know what someone might be going through and we should always be kind to each other.

17. I’ve stopped being afraid of saying what I want to say. This has been a really big leap for me. I used to worry about rubbing people the wrong way, or scaring them off, or revealing how “crazy” I am, or putting myself into the vulnerable position of being let down after being totally honest and open. But I’ve tried really hard to let go of the fear and just say what I want, when I want. (Of course, always thinking before I speak! I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want to be honest and truthful to myself.)

18. Everyone’s path is different and it’s important to stay focused on your own. Facebook really challenges this idea because it is a daily reminder of all the things people are doing and achieving – or at least, what they are choosing to publicize. I went so far as to delete the app off my phone for a couple years because I started subconsciously berating myself for not being in the same place as people I went to school with. But then I remembered that we all glamourize our lives online and it really doesn’t matter where others are compared to me, because their lives ultimately have no impact on my own. We’re all on different roads going at a different pace, and that’s OK.

19. It’s easier to care less about what people think the older you get. Or at least I hope it is – there are some days that I question if I have really gotten to the point where I can safely say that I don’t care at all, but sometimes it really feels this way. In the last year, I’ve gotten tattoos on my wrists, starting saying whatever I want at work (and outside of work), I’ve stopped worrying as much about what people think of my appearance by focusing instead on what makes me happy and comfortable, and and and… it’s liberating.

20. It’s also easier to be more sure of what you want as you get older. Maybe it’s the divorce talking but things have never been clearer to me in terms of what I want in a partner, how I want to treat that partner, what I want in life, what I want RIGHT NOW and what I want tomorrow. It doesn’t mean I can have those things immediately, but the clarity is wonderful. (Even if that clarity sometimes gets blurred and confused – which it tends to do!)

21. I’m still a hopeless dreamer and romantic who believes that something great is ahead. I mean… I know my life isn’t like a movie (no life is) but I still believe that I will eventually have a great love, a great career, a great home, a great life… Is that foolish? Optimistic? Basic? I don’t really care. All I know is that I believe that loving hard and wanting to love and be loved is a beautiful thing, and sort of the whole point of our crazy existence. I believe it is out there for me, not only romantically but in the way I want to live the rest of my life.

22. A well stocked wine rack is a blessing, but also dangerous. So very dangerous.

23. Logic and emotion are at opposite ends of a spectrum that I cannot master. These guys do NOT see eye to eye but in my brain they are equals, fighting each other constantly with the same weight and pulling me from one end to the other. The emotional side makes me feel ALL the emotions in the most extreme way while the logical side makes me reason with and explain the emotions, either telling me why I shouldn’t feel a certain way or helping me to understand the emotion even if I can’t pull myself out of it. These guys really need to buddy up. It would help me feel a little less crazy. Speaking of opposite ends of a spectrum…

24. Life is paradoxical and confusing. Is it just me? Is it because I’m a Gemini? It seems to me that we are surrounded by paradox and that we must constantly negotiate between these battling juxtapositions whether internally or externally. For example: My current mood includes frustration at myself for being indecisive about a good number of open questions in my life at this exact moment while also trying to hold onto my laid back mantra of “nonetofigo” that tells me to sit back and NOT decide, trusting that things will work out. I feel a strong desire to be alone now that I’m single, but an equally strong desire to have someone special in my life. I feel the need to propel myself forward into a new phase of my life but also feel terrified at the thought of moving forward, instead opting for the safety and comfort of standing still.

25. There could be something to astrology. When I was younger, I remember reading my horoscope in the newspaper nearly every morning, but none of it ever made sense or really seemed to apply. I’ve always sort of appreciated astrology at a distance – not really paying too much attention but knowing the details at a high level. But more recently I find myself really seeing myself and others as those cosmic signs attributed to the time of year we are born. Really though. I am SUCH Gemini. My twins are constantly fighting each other in my head or tagging in and out in my dealings with the world.

26. It is good to challenge yourself to say yes, but just as good to challenge yourself to say no too. I believe so strongly in trying to live with yes energy. It’s this special attitude focused on positivity, an openness to saying yes, and a constant endeavour to push that yes out into the universe so you can give and get it back. For a Gemini like me, it’s hard to keep at it all the time (that evil twin comes out, and she can be a real downer). But I’m working hard to try to say yes more, keeping in mind that it’s OK to say no. A friend reminds me regularly to practice saying yes, but not to forget to practice saying no when something doesn’t feel right or just isn’t what I want.

27. Being uncomfortable can be a good thing. It means that you might be pushing yourself to try something new. It means that you might be opening yourself up to an incredible experience because you’ve said yes instead of no. It means that you might be on the verge of some significant personal change and growth. It means you might be accepting that change sucks but is something we gotta do. Or it might mean that your jeans are too tight. That’s a bad kind of uncomfortable.

28. You have to keep pushing yourself, ALWAYS. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You can be encouraged by others (directly or indirectly) but at the end of the day, they won’t be there to nudge you forward. Push out of your comfort zone, push to keep doing the thing you want to do (or don’t want to do but know you need to do). Push past the fear of saying what you really want to say. Push yourself and great things will happen. But, pushing ourselves isn’t always easy… I know this from experience…

29. Pushing to keep this blog alive is a challenge. Just like pushing myself to run or go to yoga, just like getting myself out of my comfort zone to enhance my life, just like everything that requires giving myself a nudge, I love writing this blog so much and it feels so great to do it… but somehow it just doesn’t come easy. It’s like knowing how good I will feel after yoga but really having to force myself to go sometimes – I’m still working at it.

30. Just Ride. Lana Del Rey knows what’s up: “I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast, I am alone at midnight, Been trying hard not to get into trouble, but I, I’ve got a war in my mind, So I just ride, Just ride… I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy, I’m tired of driving ’til I see stars in my eyes, It’s all I’ve got to keep myself sane, baby, So I just ride, I just ride.”

A New Chapter

This will be difficult. It’s been a few months since I’ve written and whenever I have felt a longing to come back to the adventure project, I have found myself stuck and unsure of what to say when so much has been happening. Life can be hard. As my Queen Lana says: “Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough, I don’t know why…”

This blog is supposed to be my creative outlet for rambling essays and fun life projects, and I told myself when I started that I wanted this to be a positive space void of negativity. But hey, life can be a bitch sometimes, and occasionally we have to deal with “projects” that are totally unpleasant. Like… divorcing your partner of 7 years and selling your beautiful home and basically ending your entire life as you know it. That’s life. Sometimes it sucks and sometimes it’s great.

So it’s the start of a new chapter in my life and I have no idea what happens next. Thankfully, I have insanely wonderful and supportive family and friends to keep me afloat as I drift aimlessly through this strange new world where everything is uncertain and unclear. They’ve taught me that it is OK (not to mention incredibly important) to manage life day by day and to focus only on small tasks directly in front of me, rather than looking at the big picture and my unknown future life.

One day at a time. That’s been my mantra for the last few weeks and it’s keeping me sane. Today you will clean your bathroom. Today you will buy those light fixtures you need for the bedrooms upstairs. Today you will buy groceries and get back to eating real food. Today you will reach out to old friends and make plans to get yourself out of the house. Today you will put a for sale sign on your lawn. Today you will talk to your ex about who is taking the animals. Today you will clean out the closet in the hall. Today you will make a new budget. Today you will start writing again.

The divorce project was never something I imagined I would tackle and I certainly never thought I would feel the need to talk about it on this very public forum (although really… I always envision crickets chirping when I try to visualize the online world’s reaction to this little blog). But here we are, and even though it is an intensely private situation, I feel compelled to speak about it here. Maybe it’s because I have a faceless audience online compared to the unbearable pain of seeing the reaction on someone’s face when I tell them what’s happening. Maybe it’s because writing has and always will be a cathartic and beautiful process for me. Maybe it’s because this blog has inevitably become my 21st century form of journaling and I know that I will read this one day in the future and feel satisfied with how this journey unfolded. Maybe it’s because some small part of me hopes that this post will help somebody else feel better about starting their own new / scary / overwhelming / exciting / crazy chapter in life.

With that in mind, here are some thoughts on divorce – some good and some bad.

  • Good: You get to be selfish and make decisions all by yourself.
  • Bad: You no longer share your life with someone and there’s a big hole in your heart where your best friend used to be.
  • Good: You can sprawl out in bed because you’re sleeping alone.
  • Bad: You’re sleeping alone and it’s totally weird for at least a few weeks.
  • Good: You start to appreciate hardcore gangster rap.
  • Bad: Sad music feels EXTRA sad. (But that’s OK, because music makes my heart feel good even when it makes me want to cry.)
  • Good: You come to understand what REALLY matters in life and stop stressing about the small stuff.
  • Bad: Instead of stressing about small stuff, you are stressing about BIG stuff. (Like putting your house up for sale.)
  • Good: You feel really good some days and get excited about what the future holds.
  • Bad: You feel really bad some days and get sad about the past, present, and future.
  • Good: You have family and friends to remind you that you are loved and will be OK and you believe them.

See what I did there? I ended on a “good” note! Still got it –  the blog remains a (semi) positive space, largely thanks to the people in my life who have given me nothing but love through this difficult time. Family and friends, I love you. Thank you.

New Year, New Adventures

Happy New Year! I’m not really big on making resolutions at the start of the year – by mid-February I usually completely forget or abandon what I set out to do, so the entire endeavour seems pointless. That being said, I do want to commit to one basic goal in 2015 – keeping myself nourished by meal planning on a weekly basis.

I know. This shouldn’t even qualify as a goal or resolution since nourishment is a critical human requirement, but weekly meal planning just doesn’t come naturally to me – something I both want and need to change. A few weeks ago I shared some tips for meal planning and since then I’m happy to say that I have been keeping it up! (This might have been due to the fact that I also had some time off work so was able to dedicate more time than usual in the kitchen, but I still feel proud of myself.) There are so many great reasons to meal plan: saving money by planning meals with common ingredients so you waste less food, preventing the dreaded black hole of take-out and delivery, better controlling your diet by planning healthy meals, growing your repertoire of favourite recipes… All good stuff.

So while it’s a basic goal that probably comes naturally to the rest of the operating population around me, my intended adventure for 2015 is to continue making weekly menus so we don’t starve… And I’m taking it a step further by making myself publicly accountable on this lovely global platform. Moving forward, every menu written on the chalkboard in our kitchen will be featured here, combining many different loves in my life, all in one place – writing on this blog, playing with the chalkboard, food, food, and more food.

menu-01-04

Here’s my meal plan for this week.

Sunday: My man has dinner covered tonight so I’m going to spend the afternoon in the kitchen making a double batch of my all-time favourite Bolognese sauce and freezing most of it so we can have some on reserve over the next few weeks. I’m also going to try out this Chickpea Feta Parsley Salad that I found via Pinterest so I can have a hearty salad for lunch during the week.

Monday: A fantastic Beef and Broccoli recipe (also found on Pinterest) which is a perfect easy weeknight meal that I’ve made once before. When I’m home from work I’ll make the marinade quickly and then let the meat sit for the hour it takes to cook the brown rice and prep the rest of the ingredients. It comes together really quickly and tastes amazing.

Tuesday: Knock-Off P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps (also found on Pinterest). There’s a bit more prep work with this recipe (I’m looking at you, ginger and water chestnuts!) but it cooks so fast, it’s worth it. We like to eat these with a small portion of white rice on the side or even wrapped up with the lettuce and meat.

Wednesday: Leftovers and/or scavenging. I’ll probably have a smorgasbord of the previous two nights of food but I’m betting that my man will defrost some spaghetti sauce even though we’re planning that on…

Thursday: Bolognese for the win!

Friday: Amir take-out for some delightful shish taouk chicken and garlic sauce yummmm. (Is it Friday yet!?)

I sense it is time to sign off. All this talk of food is getting me hungry, and with the dreary cold outside I am anxious to get cooking so we can get some heat going in the kitchen, literally and figuratively. Cheers to food and adventures in 2015!

The Unintentional Hiatus

I’ve taken an unintentional hiatus from the adventure project. Not because I have run out of things to say (HA! That will never happen!) and not because I want to take a break. There’s a four letter word to explain my hiatus, and it ends with the letter K…

Way back at the beginning of September, I was on vacation and filled with aspirations of thoughtful, fun, and provoking posts for this blog – but the reality of going back to work quickly crushed those plans. My first day back was a straight dive into the deep end of an enormous and complicated project. It happens rarely, but once every few years a huge work project like this one comes along and it feels like it takes over my entire life.

Scrap that – feeling like it is taking over my life is an understatement. I know it is taking over my life, which is troubling on several levels since I have always maintained that a person’s home life is infinitely more important than one’s work life. But how does one find a balance between work and home when (for most people) the largest portion of our time is spent at work, and not at home with those we love? It is a dichotomy that I have never been able to get a handle on, and sometimes I wonder if I will ever figure it out.

The complexity of finding a work life balance already baffles me, particularly in these hyper-connected modern times. It seems impossible to really end a day at work when the phones that we carry contain access to work e-mail, ready to load at the tap of a finger. Don’t get me wrong, I fully acknowledge that these are first world problems and I am the first person to say that I love my phone – but I also recognize that this is a convoluted relationship, especially as it relates to bringing work home, whether intentional or not.

Throwing this huge work project into the mix has tipped the scales in favour of my work life taking over and my home life is suffering, to say the least. Fortunately, I have wonderful people in my life who help by giving me unconditional love and support – my man, who never complains about the late nights at work, making dinner and keeping the house under control (as much as it can be with three wild animal children); my friends, who remind me to get lots of sleep and focus on getting through one day at a time; and my sisters, who make me laugh when I want to cry.

I think we’ve passed the mid-way point of this crazy project at work, provided that we don’t get an extension, so hopefully I will find myself back on a normal schedule in the coming weeks. Until then, I am on an unintentional hiatus from this adventure, and I cannot wait to get back.

One Year of Adventures

Well, it has been one full year since I started this online adventure – I got a little message from my friends at WordPress this morning wishing me a happy anniversary and as always, I am shocked that 365 days have passed already. Apparently time flies, regardless of whether you are having fun or not! The passage of time seems to increase exponentially every year, but I rarely stop to really appreciate it and consider how much can really happen in the time it takes for the Earth to circle the Sun.

I’m not the type of person who pauses to reflect at the start of a new year or when I reach my birthday and turn a year older. If you ask me how my year was in December, I will struggle to remember what even happened in the span of twelve months and usually will only comment on how fast it all goes. (Yes, I have a terrible memory. My best friends will confirm this emphatically!)

When I was a teenager, I always had a journal and would document as much of my life as possible. I was determined to capture the happy times and the miserable times, to make sense of things, and I suppose to be able to give myself a glimpse into that time in my life years down the line. As I got older, I abandoned the activity of writing in a journal – this was probably around the time that I graduated from full-time student to full-time employed “grown up” – and it has been years since I have filled the pages of a notebook with random musings about my life, my dreams, my failings, and everything in between.

This makes my one year anniversary with WordPress feel really special. I set out to take time to focus on the things I love and to write about them, and I did. But something else happened, that I didn’t expect. I inadvertently started another journal, documenting my life over the last year in a new and very different way. Years from now, I won’t have to struggle to remember how I spent the last couple of years of my twenties, because I will have this online adventure to remind me. Sure, it doesn’t cover the mundane day to day and it certainly skates over the terrible days that we all have over the course of a year. But that was a calculated decision on my part – the Internet is already filled with too much negativity, and the goal of this blog was to focus on things that fill me with joy and passion.

So here’s what happened over my last year, courtesy of This is an adventure.*

  • 52 posts.
  • 898 views of the site.
  • 93 people following the blog. (Thank you, Followers! You sure know how to make a girl feel special, even if this isn’t a huge number by the Internet’s standards.)
  • 310 tags.
  • 1 category. (Oops. Guess I will start adding some categories on here!)
  • Most viewed post: Sweet Eats (108 views, yum, I guess we all love brownies.)
  • Top 3 most used tags:

*Data from my WordPress.com Stats.

That’s the raw data. Now, a few thoughts from my perspective.

  • It isn’t surprising that Food is the most used tag on here. I love eating and I love good food, and I have tried to share that as much as possible on this blog. A Bolognese of My Own is probably my favourite food post, because it is truly my own recipe, made without any need to consult with an ingredient list or directions.
  • I feel this strong need and intense desire to do more posts featuring Arts & Crafts. I only completed a few projects over this last year, but they were all so much fun and gave me a boost of creative energy. That can’t be a bad thing. Here’s to more Arts and (Crafty) Organization for the coming year.
  • If I had to identify one thing that I am proud of in the last year (apart from actually keeping this blog alive), it would be that I made the garden happen. Maybe it was the very public promise to myself (and the Internet) on this blog that made me accountable after years of claiming I wanted to plant food in the backyard – and if that’s the case, I’m glad I did it. Because, yum.
  • The online community is an incredible, at times overwhelming, and unexpectedly welcoming entity. As I have made an effort to engage online more and more in the last year, it has been fascinating to observe how interactions and connections play out in this cyber world where we are all anonymous but equally public individuals. It has been refreshing to participate on the positive side of the Internet, and I’m enjoying learning something new every day. (Forever slow on the technology uptake.)

One year of adventures. One year of writing. One year of creativity and hopefully growth. As I look back through my archives and scan the titles of the 52 posts, I feel satisfied that I have achieved my goal, insofar as writing about things I love. Have I figured out what to do next? Nope. But I’m certain that it will be something great – and somehow connected to writing, food, or arts and crafts. Maybe all three? We’ll have to wait and see. This is an adventure.