Thursday, January 28, 2016

And there goes January...

OK, January isn't gone yet.  Still a few days left.  But it's my last day of work for the week, and when I'm back at this desk again, it will be February.  And that's kind of bewildering.

Januaries are weird.  I think I always have this thought as I watch the first month of the year fade away.  On one hand, it's like zip, poof, bam - she's gone!  Where the heck did that month GO?!?  On the other hand, Christmas feels like it was a million years ago, and in that respect, the month seems to have dragged on forever.

The January Blahs.  I've had 'em.  Not that I've felt particularly blue or anything.  I truly do love this time of year, when the weather is cold and the snow has fallen.  It encourages hibernation.  I relish the days of making soup and baking cookies, working on jigsaw puzzles and adult colouring, watching movies or reading, sipping hot chocolate... I've made great efforts to get my ass out of the house (even if it's just across the road to Shannon's to paint), so I haven't totally become a grizzly bear in hibernation, but my instinct this time of year is to curl up in a blanket and disappear, and I really do like to do that.

That said, I haven't escaped the Blahs, either.  As I mentioned, Christmas feels like it was ages ago, and that makes me a little sad.  The warm & fuzzy holiday glow is my absolute favourite, so when it rescinds, I feel a little empty and I hate letting it go.  Then it takes me a while to adjust to reality after the holidays. The first few weeks of January are a little rough as the transition from Christmas to New Year gradually takes place.  It takes me a while to find my feet, to get used to embracing the slower pace, to settle in to the routine of the quieter winter months.

It's not an unwelcome time of year... it's just... different.

I've mentioned to a few people that I seem to have fallen into an odd and slightly alarming pattern this January.  I get home from work shortly after 4 in the afternoon, and I usually read for awhile before supper.  Then I eat, I work on a puzzle or colour, I watch TV or a movie, and suddenly I'm falling asleep on the couch at like 7:30-8:00 in the evening.  I move up to my bed around 10 and then sleep through the night.  I'm getting something like 9-10 hours of sleep some nights.  I've tried drinking a late afternoon coffee (something I usually never do).  I've tried finding something to do in the kitchen.  I've tried keeping busy. But sometimes there really isn't anything to do.

Like, am I seriously becoming a grizzly bear???

When I tell people about it, they usually just shrug and say, "It's that time of year..."  And I guess it's the truth.  It's still getting dark early, the pace is slower, and curling up on the couch sounds like more fun than trying to find a project.  Because believe me, there ARE things to do.  Cleaning closets, de-cluttering the house, scrapbooking, organizing my photos, etc... all jobs I had on my list of things to do this winter that all have remained untouched as of yet.

A whole month wasted?  In some ways, maybe.  But part of me really thinks that's what I'm supposed to be doing right now... hunkering down and soaking up my beloved winter days.  These are the days that many people are wishing away, as they count down the days to spring and pray for more sunlight and warmer weather.

Not me, though.  I'm more of a "gaze out the window at the snowflakes falling" kind of girl.  Hibernating is my thing.  I'll rouse myself eventually.  I'll get things done.  But January was my month to curl up in a ball and hide away.  I think that's the best way to ride out the Blahs.

We'll see what February brings...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Let's Talk

Today is Bell Let's Talk day all across our great country, as Bell uses communication via smartphones and social media to raise money for mental health awareness and care.  For every call or text through Bell, and every Facebook share of the Bell Lets Talk image or tweet of #BellLetsTalk today, Bell donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives in our country.

It's an amazing day.  They started the Bell Let's Talk day 6 years ago, and I have been a willing and proud participant each year.  It's incredible to see the enthusiasm and support this day has received, and how it grows bigger and bigger each year.

I paused to think about it this morning, and how much has changed over the past 6 years thanks to initiatives like Bell Let's Talk Day, as well as organizations such as Do It For Daron, and celebrities and athletes coming forward like Clara Hughes, Howie Mandel, Michael Landsberg, and so on.  6 years ago, mental illness was still very much a taboo topic.  People didn't talk about it like they do now.  People were ashamed.  People were hiding it and trying to act like nothing was wrong.  People were taking their own lives and their loved ones were left shocked and heart-broken, wishing they could have done something to help.

I know that still happens today, 6 years later.  I can think of several people over the last few years that we've lost and had no idea they were fighting demons, waging war against depression or anxiety.  And it makes me so sad, because they were so loved.  They had people who would have done anything to keep them here with us.  They are the ones who leave us thinking, "Was there something I could have done?  How did I not know?"

But I know that is happening less often now.  People are more open about their mental health issues, they are more likely to seek help.  They are more likely to talk to someone.  They are being encouraged not to hide it like a dirty secret.  They are being told they are NOT alone, no matter how isolated and afraid and sad they are.  We are doing everything in our power to erase the stigma, and while I know there is still a lot of work to be done, it is happening.

I hesitate to throw my hat into the "mental health issues" ring, as I know there are people who deal with far worse than I do.  But I do battle anxiety on a daily basis.  And I can trace those feelings of anxiety as far back as I can remember.  I have never seen a therapist about it, but I have no doubt that if I did, I'd be diagnosed with some sort of anxiety disorder, maybe even more than one.  On good days, I consider myself nothing more than a silly little worry-wart.  But there are bad days, usually brought on by outside sources that I can't control.  I have a very big fear of change, I stress out greatly over things I have no control over, I obsess over things I DO have control over, I'm pretty sure I have an issue with commitment (hence why I'm happily single and the thoughts of going on a date makes me want to, quite literally, throw up), and I think I have the ability to become a hermit if I'm not careful.

Coming out of my comfort zone is painful.  I try very hard to keep myself in a calm and relaxed happy place as much as I can to avoid feeling like I'm tied up in knots all the time.  And also to prevent myself from breaking out in hives.  And also to prevent myself from eating all the foods.

I have masked my issues over the years with jokes and humour as much as possible, and I still do.  I downplay it.  I laugh about it.  But it doesn't make it any less real.

I have coping mechanisms.  I have a circle of family and friends that I know I can turn to, and I'm not afraid to talk to them about it.  They know me well enough to know when to push, and when to let it go.  They know when I need a little hand-holding, or a good swift kick in the ass.  I have never been in such a dark place that I felt I didn't have anywhere to turn.  Thank God.

I also have creative outlets that help.  If it's something I can't talk about, then I write.  Writing things down always seems to help ease my worry and strife.  I have learned that artistic outlets, such as painting and adult colouring, also are a big help to me.  And, though it's taken me a long, long time to realize it, I know that exercise is also a big help.  Nothing seems too big or too difficult after a half an hour of sweating my ass off.

And I pray.  I know the mantra "Let go, and let God" might sound corny and clichéd, but I say it a lot.  I talk to God, I bear my worries and fears, and I ask Him for help.  Then I try very hard to let go and let Him do his thing.

I repeat things like, This too shall pass, and remind myself of other times when life wasn't exactly going along lickity-split all smooth-like, and then remember that those bad days eventually faded away and good times came again.  And the good times will come again.  I truly believe that.  There are times when I hold on to that belief like a life-preserver.

I am grateful that a day like today exists now in this world.  I'm grateful for Bell Let's Talk and Do It For Daron and all the people who are spearheading this mission to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.  I am glad they are opening doors and shedding light and allowing people to not be so afraid or feel so alone.

Today, I am tweeting and sharing, not only for myself, but for the people in my life who I understand now so much better because they have felt they can share and try to explain what goes on inside their heads rather than hide it and feel ashamed.  Because of initiatives like Bell Let's Talk Day, they are more open and using their voices to advocate.

I can't help but think of the ones who could not be saved; the ones who saw no light at the end of the tunnel, who fought their battles alone and ended up thinking this world was better off without them. The ones who didn't talk about it. The ones we didn't know about, or didn't realize it was that bad.  The ones who we would have done anything to help, if only we had known.

Talk to somebody.  Talk to anybody.  You are not alone.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Sickies

I stayed home yesterday because I was sick. I was not impressed.  I do NOT get sick!!!  Like, ever.  The odd sinus headache, a few minor colds over the years, but in general, I don't get sick.  So yeah... I was not a happy camper.

The only thing I can say is it was the "good" kind of sick.  And by that, I mean that I wasn't throwing up.  I think I've mentioned here before that I have an incredible fear of vomit - my own, or other's.  Just typing the word gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Seeing someone else get sick can literally ruin my entire day.  There was an incident last winter when I was at Boston Pizza with my family and I happened to be sitting in a position that allowed me to witness a child getting sick at the table.  No one else saw it happen (thank God) but my dinner - and day - was ruined.  Felt bad for the kid, but... yuck.  Took me a long time before I could even go into Boston Pizza again after that.  The only other person I've ever known who has the same fear and anxiety over it is my friend Stacy's daughter, Maddy.  When Stace talks about how upset Maddy gets when someone else in their home is sick, I can totally relate.  I know that nobody likes it, but  I do believe that Maddy and I literally fear it.

So, anyways... my apologies for that gross little paragraph.  The point of it all was that I wasn't "that" kind of sick.  I literally think my body knows that I hate getting sick "that" way so it just doesn't allow it to happen.  (Unless I drink too much wine.  Then it has no control over it.)

The main indicator that something was wrong with me?  My stomach felt so blech that I didn't want to eat.  Like, at all.  And if Jill doesn't want to eat, then we know we have a serious problem.  I had a few sips of coffee in the morning, but most of it went down the drain.  I forced a few bites of brown rice and a banana at lunchtime, just because I knew I had to eat something.  I planned to have the same for supper but thoughts of it made me cringe.  I made up some Jello, and then decided on Kraft Dinner for supper because nothing else sounded appealing.  I only had one little bowl.  Even  my beloved cold water, which I down like a drug on any other day, was ignored for the most part.  Just reaching for the cup seemed to be too unappealing.  

This is EXTREMELY abnormal for me, folks.

I was weak, I was lethargic, and I feel like I slept all day.  Literally.  I'd muster up the energy to put on a DVD, and then I'd sleep through the movie.  I'd find a daytime talk show that I normally don't get to watch, and then I'd sleep through it.  I made myself sit up and start reading "Wuthering Heights", but I don't think I got through a paragraph before I'd fallen asleep.  At one point I'd decided the couch was not comfortable enough, so I moved back up to my bed to watch a movie there, and dun-dun-dun, asleep in minutes.  I forced myself several times to sit up and do some adult colouring, if for no other reason than to say I did something other than sleep.

It was so bad that I was sure I would be wide awake all night considering all the time I spent sleeping during the day, but as it turns out, it wasn't a problem at all.  I slept right through the night, no problemo.

This morning, I woke to my alarm and I instantly recognized that I felt much better.  I suppose almost 24 straight hours of sleep will do that?  I got up and did a light workout, and it was then that I realized that even though the tummy issues had settled down, I still didn't have much energy.  Just getting through a non-strenuous half-hour walk/jog DVD was a struggle.  Also, food still holds no appeal.  I keep thinking of all that stuff I prepped on Monday that I was so proud of, and excited to eat.  It's sitting in containers in my fridge, and I have absolutely ZERO desire to eat it.  Those Mexican burrito bowls I was going to try out for suppers this week - well, just the thoughts of it makes me want to cringe.

I'm back at my desk, because I think if I slept another whole day, I might be clinically dead.  The worst is over.  Here's hoping my appetite comes back soon, because food is the joy of my life, and without it... well, let's just say I need to get excited when I think about pizza or else things just aren't right in the world.

Pizza. BLEH.  Yeah, obviously still not 100%.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Fun Winter Weekend

As most of you know, I'm on my "short winter week" work schedule right now, and I do believe that plays a big part in why I love winter so much.  Having Mondays and Fridays off during the months of January, February and March opens up so much free time!  I like to maximize my long weekends as much as possible, and I must say, this past one was great!

Friday morning, I headed off to do groceries in a neighbouring town, and I brought friends Caryl and Shannon along with me.  It was a productive shopping trip, and I got almost everything I needed on my list, including lots of healthy foods to stock up on.  Last week went well in the healthy eating department, and I wanted it to continue!  We had lunch at one of my favourite local places, Cafe 349, and my panini and salad were divine.  Since I just tooted my own healthy eating horn two seconds ago, I won't mention the giant, drool-worthy slab of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake I had for dessert... (omg it was good!!)

We were home early afternoon, so I had time to get my house tidied up, baked some of my new favourite chocolate chip cookies, and got supper prepped, as I had my friend Sara and her three adorable kiddos coming over for supper and a visit that night.  We had a great chat and a fun picnic-style supper on the living room floor - pizza muffins, bacon bunnies, veggies, chips and dip, and cookies! I was so glad to finally have them over, as I'd been wanting to have them for a long time!  I especially loved it when I took my camera out to capture a "picture of the day" for my Project 365, and Charlotte, Daniel and Hannah really hammed it up for the camera!  Too cute!

I got an iPhone this past weekend.  It was a weird and almost unsettling combined with exciting change for this longtime Blackberry user.  Lindsay and Sam popped in for a visit Saturday morning, and after they left, I literally spent hours sitting on the couch trying to figure out the new phone.  I eventually had to force myself to go get showered and ready for the day.  My plans for making a pot of soup flew out the window, as the phone became my main occupation.  Crazy how time can just disappear when you're playing around with something like that!  I finally have Instagram... I still don't really "get it", but I have it! ;)

Can you tell I have no clue what I'm doing?  #myfirstinstagram

Saturday afternoon, my mom and I headed off to my sister's place, as we were celebrating my BIL's birthday that day.  We had a great time, and enjoyed a delicious spaghetti supper and his favourite cherry cheesecake for dessert.  Yum!

Sunday morning was church, and then after brunch, Mom and I decided to go out on a tour of the back roads so that I could take some winter scenery photographs.  We came home and had homemade pizza for supper, and just relaxed and watched TV.

Yesterday was another busy and productive day for a Monday off!  I got up early as if I was going to work, and got my exercising in before the sun came up.  Once I was showered and dressed, I did a few loads of laundry, and I also hit the kitchen to do some meal prepping for the week.  I made a big pot of stuffed pepper soup, a pot of brown rice, I roasted some butternut squash for Mexican burrito bowls that I want to try out for supper this week, I got some veggies cut up and ready for quick snacking, and I also made some energy balls to have in the fridge for snacks.

Then I was off next door to Shannon's to do some painting!  I've been taking some private art lessons with her, as she's helping me do a bigger version of one of her paintings that she's featured this month during her Paint Nites.  My mom and some of her friends were there painting yesterday, so while they were working on their birch tree paintings, I was working on mine too.  I got a lot more done than I expected, and I can't wait to have the finished project hanging in my home.  Another few sessions and I should have them finished! Yay!!

 This is how my project looked when I started yesterday - I don't have pictures uploaded from how it looked when I was done for the day!

I stole this from Shannon's Facebook - it's the finished work of my mom and her friends.  I think they did a great job!!

I got home late afternoon, and spent the evening reading, relaxing, and catching up on a bunch of PVR'd episodes of Criminal Minds. I'll say it again... Oh how I love my winter long weekends!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Random Thursday Thoughts

My mind is kind of scattered all over today, so why not do a little random rambling?
  • Yesterday was not the greatest day of my life.  Not the worst either, so I guess there's that, but it was kinda sucky.  I got my first flat tire when I was driving to get the mail in town, and of course it happened on probably the coldest day of the year.  Thankfully, I was only a few minutes from both home and work (the beauty of only working 5 minutes from home lol) - so I had several rescue options.  I went  with my first choice of calling back to Mountainview to see if someone could come help me.  Within minutes, two of the guys who work out in the shop, Denis and Mitch, arrived on the scene, and had me fixed up before I knew it.  They didn't even let me get out of my car, told me to sit tight, keep it running and stay warm.  (which kind of made me nervous, because my car manual said to never stay in a car that's being jacked up... but all was OK. lol)  I made them these chocolate chip cookies as a little thank you gift.
  • For the record - while I waited on the guys, I read my manual and tried to figure out if I could change a tire by myself.  For the record:  No way, no how.  Not a chance in hell.
  • I also realized yesterday I had made a mistake in my weekly social notes in our local newspaper.  I hate when I accidentally screw up in my notes.  I took something someone had submitted to me and made a little change to it which I thought was cute, but ended up being a mistake.  Just wasn't thinking.  Felt like SUCH a bonehead.
  • Then, a friend of mine sent me a message to tell me she was reading my Resolutions blog post, and was giggling because I said I was going to "Netflix and Chill".  She told me to google it.  Sure enough - "Netflix and Chill" does not  mean what I thought it meant (which, of course, was watch Netflix and relax).  Again, felt like a bonehead.  An OLD bonehead who isn't up on the street talk anymore apparently.  And I was worried about how many people had read it and were giggling to themselves about it, but thought it was funnier just to not tell me and let me continue using the term "Netflix and Chill".  *sigh*
  • If you read yesterday's post, you would see where I declared at the end that the one pop culture biggie that I will never attempt is Star Wars.  And then my friend Sarah commented and said it was one of the best movies she'd ever seen in her life.  Up until now, the only people I'd heard raving about it were already Star Wars fans.  Sarah was not.  So I take that opinion a little more seriously, and I'm now thinking maybe I do need to see it.  She strongly suggests seeing it in 3D, so I guess if I am going to see it, I need to do so soon while it's still in theatres!
  • I'm reading our next Book Club book "Furiously Happy: A funny book about horrible things" by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) and I'm really enjoying it.  I love her rambly style of writing - all my life, I've been told by teachers and other writers that I ramble too much, so it's kind of cool to see that Jenny has made it an art form.  I love her sense of humour.  I love how she can take a very serious matter like mental illness and address it as a very serious matter and yet still poke fun at it, find the humour in it, tell funny stories, and laugh at herself (she had her own variety of serious mental health issues going on, so she's allowed).
  • I had PVR'd a movie called "10 Years" off the W Network a while back, and while I was down on the couch with a headache the other night, I decided to turn it on.  I had never heard of this 2012 release, but it starred names like Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, Chris Pratt, Kate Mara, Scott Porter, and so on, so I figured it was worth a watch.  It was about a 10-year high school reunion; all these friends get back together for one night of drinking & reminiscing, and while it wasn't anything wow-worthy, I really enjoyed it.  There was a moment in it that has become my new favourite romantic movie moment.  I recommend you see it if you are a bit of a chick-flick fan, or a bit of a "big romantic moment" fan, or even just a Channing Tatum fan will do. ;)
  • It's so nice to be on Winter hours right now.  I enjoy the slower pace of the winter so much - more free time, more time to do what I want, time to shop and watch movies and make puzzles and relax.  I'm doing groceries tomorrow and I'm excited to make soup sometime this weekend.  I think I'm going to try out this Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe I found on-line.  It sounds yummy & on the healthier side, bonus!
Hope you are all having a great week :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Broadening my Pop Culture Horizons

I love pop culture.  I like watching entertainment TV shows like ET and eTalk, talk shows like The Social and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, I like browsing entertainment websites and magazines like People and TMZ, checking out viral Youtube videos, watching awards shows, reading best-sellers, and just being "in the know" when it comes to pop culture.

I love music.  I love TV.  I love movies.  I love books.  I find celebrity news fascinating.  I get obsessed by it and can't get enough.  This is how I know that Netflix is going to totally change my life.  I seriously can't decide what I'm going to "binge" on first.  I keep changing my mind.   But that's a post for another day (as Netflix is still probably about a month away from being in my life...)

Despite my adoration for pop culture, there is a lot I've missed out on over the course of my 32 years.  I think it's bound to happen, right?  Certain movies, certain musicians, certain TV shows... I mean, you can't stay on top of it ALL.

But I've sort of added another New Year's Resolution to my list in respect to this.  One of my 2016 goals is to broaden my horizons, and make it a priority to "get caught up" on some big pop culture milestones that have passed me by in my lifetime.

I've already made a few big check marks on my list thus far.  

On Saturday night, I saw Back to the Future for the first time.  That's right... the first time.  I grew up with Michael J. Fox as a mild crush of mine; I was a fan of Family Ties and always thought he was a little hottie, but had never seen possibly his biggest movie ever (or any of its sequels).  This past October, there was a lot of buzz on the 21st - "Back to the Future Day" - as that was the date Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled into the future in the DeLorean in Back to the Future Part II (released in 1989).  I felt a little left out that day.  I didn't know what all the hype was about, I didn't even know what "the DeLorean" didn't mean a thing to me.  My friend Lindsay felt the same way, and so she ordered the Back to the Future Trilogy that day and we decided we were going to watch it!  Plans for a Back to the Future Marathon in November fell through, but we finally got the first movie in on Saturday night, and it felt like a major accomplishment.  Bonus:  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would!  I always thought it was a sci-fi time-traveling movie - probably why I never bothered to watch it before - but as it turns out, I enjoyed the story line - especially the era they traveled back to!  I think I was meant to grow up in the '50's and '60's!!  I'm already looking forward to watching the next two installments.

Then on Sunday morning, I made another massive accomplishment when I finally - finally - finished the last season of Seinfeld.  Seinfeld was another one of those pop culture biggies that I had turned a blind eye on.  I was a Friends girl, and from the snippets I saw over the years when it was actually on TV, I didn't "get" Seinfeld.  Didn't find it funny, didn't understand why it was so big, didn't get why many said it was the greatest TV series of all time.  But in recent years, I decided it was time to give Seinfeld a shot, and borrowed the seasons from my Seinfeld-lovin' brother-in-law.  Now, I still will always rank Friends ahead of it on my list of all-time favourite TV shows - but I am glad I finally watched it.  I think maybe I got the humour better now than I would have in my teens anyways, so it was probably a better time for me to catch on to Seinfeld.  And it's nice to finally "get" the many Seinfeld-isms that still get dropped on a regular basis.  "No soup for you!"  "Yada yada yada" "These pretzels are makin' me thirsty!" "Festivus for the rest of us!" ... I'm officially in the know, and I can appreciate it now.  

And the last check mark that I'm going to discuss today?  Billy Joel.  OK, I'm not a complete ding-dong, I know who Billy Joel is and I love "Piano Man" as much as the next guy.  But when Jimmy Fallon had him on his show last week, I was struck with the realization that aside from "Piano Man", I didn't know much about him.  I was wowed by his duet with Jimmy doing the Stones' "Beast of Burden", I loved the clip of the impromptu doo-wop sing-along that broke out during a commercial break, and then he performed "Scenes from an Italian Restuarant".  I had never heard of that song.  Jimmy seemed so excited about it, and I was just like, "huh?  Why not Piano Man?  No one knows this song..."  As it turns out... I loved it.  And it got me wondering... how many other amazing Billy Joel songs are out there that I don't know about?  I spent Sunday afternoon looking up lists of his greatest hits, downloading and making playlists, and becoming a fan.  I have been listening to Billy Joel all week and I'm amazed.  Definitely a long-overdue pop culture discovery that I'm happy I've finally made!

There's still so much out there that I need to catch up on.  For instance, news of David Bowie's death rocked the world on Monday morning, and the only real connection I could make was through Jimmy Fallon.  I mean, he does a pretty good impression, and he joked last week that Bowie had stolen his signature "Thank You Note" writing move in the new video for his song "Lazarus".  Of course, I know a handful of songs:  "Changes", "Heroes', "Golden Years"... the one that goes "This is ground control to Major Tom"... But with the outpouring of shock and sadness from so many in the wake of his passing, I felt, once again, like I'd missed out on something.  I now need a David Bowie education.  I need to understand better what so many are mourning this week.

So yes, in 2016, I plan to broaden my pop culture horizons... explore some of the big "hits" that I've missed out on.  From music, to TV, to movies, to books,  I'm excited about spending more time learning and growing when it comes to pop culture.

Oh, but I do have one excpetion:  Star Wars.  Never seen it, don't get it, don't care.  That one's not gonna change. ;)

Do you have any pop culture biggies that you've missed out on and want to get "in the know"?  Music?  Movies?  TV?  Books?  Share in the comments!!  You might just give me some more ideas!!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

2016: The Resolutions

So, it's 2016.  Like, for real.  Seriously, though... when did that happen?  How can it already be 2016?!

Last year was a whirlwind.  It flew by so fast that it kind of leaves me reeling just thinking about it.  It was a year of ups and downs, good days and bad, just as any year is, I guess.  But looking back on all that happened - and all that didn't happen (*cough*cough* weight-loss-maintenance *cough*cough*) - has made me really want to take a second and think about what I want to accomplish in this coming year.  What can I do to make this year better??

Yeah.  I'm a resolution maker.  I don't necessarily follow through on my resolutions, but I think it's good to have a list of goals; sort of a guideline of what I hope to accomplish on this trip around the sun.

So here are some of my hopes & dreams for 2016:
  • We'll go ahead and get the annoying one of out of the way first: living a healthy lifestyle.  Let's face it, 2015 didn't go so well in this department.  I have gained back quite a bit of the weight I had lost over the two years prior, mainly from stress-eating and...well...just not giving a shit.  I had two bridesmaid dresses to wear, and I struggled to maintain well enough to fit in them.  Once Sarah and Sue's weddings were over, I threw caution entirely into the wind and spent the last few months of the year indulging way too often, way too much.  My goal for 2016 is to get back on track and lose some of that which I gained back - but I want to do it differently this time.  I don't want to get obsessed.  I don't want to count calories, I don't want to track everything I do and eat with Myfitnesspal, I don't want to be stepping on the scales every second day.  I want to continue to exercise 5-6 times a week for a minimum of half an hour a day, and I want to make healthier choices with food while still allowing room for treats.  My plan is going to be loosely based on the 21 Day Fix, which I already own and half-ass use - I love the workouts, but have never bothered to learn how to use the container system for food.  There's no calorie counting - if it fits in the containers, and is on the list of "allowed" foods, you can eat it.  I'm hoping it will help me re-define what a proper portion size is, as I've lost sight of that somewhere along the way.  I'm not going to take "before" pictures, I'm not going to weigh or measure... I'm just going to float along and try not to get too worked up about it, and hopefully someday down the road, I realize that my pants fit again, and that I'm not out of breath from running up the stairs.  Will it work?  I don't know.  The best success I ever had was when I was "obsessed" with it, and maybe that's the only way it works for me.  But I want to give this method a shot.  My family will laugh when I say "I'm going to start on Monday" - because I kind of say that all the time, and I even said it last week, but it didn't really happen.  Still too much holiday junk floating around.  So I'm giving myself the rest of this week/weekend to clear it out, and then Project: Get Healthy (again) in 2016 will begin on Monday.
  • This WILL be the year I come out of the Dark Ages and get the Internet & Netflix.  This one is in my sites right now.  Once the Christmas bills are paid off (giving myself another two weeks to accomplish that), I will be calling a local Internet service provider and finally getting myself hooked up.  Then will come Netflix.  And then, you may not see me again for the rest of the year.  I'm ready to get my BINGE on!!!  I just don't know where to begin... Scandal?  Orange Is the New Black?  Making a Murderer?  Downton Abbey?  All I know is that I HAVE to have it by the time Fuller House starts on February 26! ;)
  • *EDIT* - this is coming a bit too late, but I originally had put that I was going to "Netflix and Chill".  And then a very gracious friend sent me a message to tell me what that means.  I thought it meant watch Netflix and relax.  I was wrong.  So, no, I doubt I'll be "Netflix and Chilling" in 2016... Just watching Netflix.  yeesh!  
  • When I do turn off the Netflix, it will be to embrace my creative side.  I have really enjoyed going to Paint Nites at my neighbour Shannon's, and I have a project that I'm going to be working on with her help over the next few weeks.  In 2016, I hope to continue painting and making art as much as I possibly can. I find it therapeutic, and I've enjoyed re-discovering the artistic side of me that I basically turned my back on after high school and college art classes were over.
  • Speaking of being artistic:  I have a project that I really want to complete this year, and that is a scrapbook for my niece Danica.  I made one for her older brother of his first year, back in the days when I was big-time into scrapbooking, and had all the materials and pictures set aside to make one for her too, but it just slipped through the cracks.  I have been meaning to do it for years, and just haven't found the time.  She is 7 now, and I know it would mean a lot to her to have her own book, so I really want to work on that and have it to give to her either at her birthday or Christmas this year (which gives me almost the whole year, so it's doable!)
  • Photography!!  I love my camera, I love taking pictures, and that's not going to stop this year.  I'm still working towards my Project 365, which, if all goes well, will be completed in August.  I haven't missed a day yet, and I think this should be a goal I reach successfully, knock on wood.  My blog pal Nicole gave me the idea to create a photobook at the end of it to document my 365 days of photos, so I hope to do that at the end of the project.  I also want to get more pictures printed, framed, give them as gifts, and maybe finally create a photo gallery wall like I've always wanted to do in my home.  And of course, I want to keep taking pictures for friends and family.  I feel like I get better with each photo shoot I do, and I hope to just keep practicing and learning more and more with each session I do.

  • My reading goal for 2016 will be the same as last year's:  I want to read 20 books.  I fell short last year, only making it to 15 - but that was more than the year before (I only read 12 books in 2014), and as I've said... it was a frigging busy year!  I think 20 is attainable.  I've already got one under my belt (Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was so juicy, I couldn't put it down!) and I'm well into #2 (Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson) we'll see!
  • Will 2016 finally be the year I clean out my closets??  I'm a bit of a hoarder, and I really need to de-clutter.  As my roomies moved out, I overtook their old rooms, and I now have stuff crammed into every closet in the two-storey, 3-bedroom Manse that I rent.  I am only one person.  I do not need to have closets in every room of the house jam-packed.  The main goal is to sort through the piles of clothing, give away what I can, sell some of it maybe... but it's time to get it organized and get RID of a lot of it!
  • Writing... I think I say this every year, but I want to write more.  And not just blog posts and the social notes for our local newspaper. I want to write a novel.  I want to be a writer.  It's time.
  • The Money Challenge.  This will be the third year I have done this, so I know I can do it successfully.  A dollar the first week, two dollars the second week, and so on.  It gets tough towards the end - 52 bucks right at Christmas sucks, let me tell you - but it's nice to have a little pot of savings at the end of the year (or to use during the year if need be).  The first year it bought me a new TV and paid off Christmas bills.  This past year, it went towards my trip to Nova Scotia and paying off Christmas bills.  This year... maybe a trip South?  It's been five years since I went to Cuba, I think maybe I'm due? ;)  I also want to finally pay off the last of my line of credit that has lingered for far too long.  I want to say good-bye to that debt, and finally be able to start saving instead of paying off.
  • I have joked that I was going on Sabbatical in 2016, and while that's not entirely true - I mean, I HAVE to work for a living - I do want to focus on myself more than I have in recent years.  Selfish?  Maybe so.  But I just want to spend some time bettering myself.  Relaxing more, enjoying life more than stressing about it, doing what I want to do instead of what others tell me I have to do.  I want to spend more time on hobbies, doing what I love, and just taking it all in.  Breathing deep and soaking it up.  Watching Netflix.  Painting. Walking.  Reading.  Writing. Going on Sabbatical.  Yes, indeed. ;)

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Christmas & New Year's Re-cap

Happy 2016, everyone!!

Back to work, back to reality... yesterday was my first day back in a routine, and I have to admit, I kind of liked it.  It wasn't as difficult to get my butt out of bed at 5:45 to work out as I thought it would be, and I spent the day at the office playing catch-up.  I felt very accomplished by the end of the day!

It is fond Christmas memories that keep me going in these early days of January, when the post-Christmas let-down starts to seep in and make me feel blue.  I'm still clinging to the holiday glow, as I'm apt to do... I hate letting it go.  My decorations are still up, and I just haven't yet been able to bring myself to take them down. I'm just not ready yet...

It was a good Christmas, although not one but TWO of my biggest Christmas fears came true.  The first, of course, was the whole green problem.  No snow, not a single flake.  Not only that, it was record-breaking warm on Christmas Eve.  I think we hit something like +17?!  It was nuts.  Depressing for a snow-lover like me... but kind of fun to see everyone posting Christmas Eve pictures of their families out biking, playing outside in t-shirts, on the beach, in bathing suits... I saw it all that day!

Took this pic of the kids on Christmas Day on Mom's front lawn... ridiculous!!!

Then, after church on Christmas Eve, we had plans to stop in at a few of our cousins', but at our first stop, Caden announced he wasn't feeling well.  Luckily, we were just next door to my mom's, so my sister rushed him home.  He had a headache, and he had turned ghastly pale... I was sure he was going to spew, and of course, that made me want to spew.  Ick.  My mom and brother-in-law decided to stay home with the kids while Kara & I went on to our next stop.  While we were gone, Caden did get sick, but only once and then went right off to bed.  I was sure it meant we'd all be hit with the flu, but he woke up the next morning literally bouncing with excitement and feeling just fine.  Luckily, no one else got sick.  Phewf!  We think maybe his headache was just so bad that it made his stomach turn.

 Before Caden got sick, we had fun with Patti & Randy's pup Alle showing some Christmas affection lol

It certainly didn't slow him down.  He was the first one up on Christmas morning (aside from me, of course), and after a short time of me trying to keep him quiet as he scouted all the presents under the tree, the rest of the famjam joined us and Christmas was ON!!

We opened our stockings one by one, enjoyed our traditional sticky bun breakfast, and then headed to the living room for present time.  It's so much fun to have two "believers" in the house at Christmas - I know our years of that are numbered, as Caden is 10 and Danica is 7, so I soaked up those special magical moments with them.

For the record, my family did a wonderful job of knocking a few items off the wishlist!  I got my adult colouring book and pencil crayons, I got one of the books I need for this year's book club (The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom), a really nice ceramic travel mug, a warm & cozy onesie (which has been getting plenty of use this week during our cold snap), two pairs of fleece-lined leggings, lots of great useful stuff in my stocking... and the best part is, the Breadmaker can still go on the Wishlist for next year.  Because as my blog pal Stacie said, "It wouldn't be Christmas without a Breadmaker on Jill's Wishlist!" ;)

My sister's family headed off to her husband's family Christmas after lunch time, and we spent the rest of the day relaxing - I napped, watched Christmas movies, read, and just enjoyed the quiet time.

Boxing Day was our family get-together, and it was wonderful!  Kids running around, the smells of turkey roasting in the oven, colourful pieces of wrapping paper flying through the air as kids opened gifts... so much fun!!

There was much-needed down-time between Christmas & New Year's, as well as a much-needed SNOW STORM!!!  Yes, folks.  I got my snow.  It wasn't a White Christmas, but on December 29th, the snow came down fast and furious, and I was one happy kid.  I shoveled, I went for a walk, I made macaroni, tomato soup & cheez whiz (a snow day comfort food from my childhood), I watched episodes of Seinfeld, I made a puzzle, I did some adult colouring, I made a pot of soup and a loaf of cheesy biscuit bread... it was bliss.  Pure BLISS!!

My sister's birthday falls on New Year's Eve, so as has become our tradition in recent years, we spent the evening hanging out at my mom's, watching TV, eating snacks, enjoying a few drinks, and just enjoying the company of family.  Caden decided to run a bar in the basement, which he called "Caden's Big Bar" and he made up a menu for his drinks on our old big chalkboard.  It was so funny - Diet Pepsi was 50 cents, but Diet Coke was a dollar... Bud Light was also a dollar, but Coors Light was two dollars.  Wine was only 40 cents.  We had lots of fun going down to order drinks, and he made a few bucks in the process... good times!

New Year's Day was spent sliding in our lovely fresh-fallen snow, and probably my most favourite meal of the year:  tourtiere, ham, hasbrown casserole, baked beans, coleslaw and buns.  YUM!  We had Dairy Queen ice cream log for dessert in honour of Kara's birthday.

The rest of my holidays wound down as we attended Chris's dad's surprise 70th birthday party on Saturday, church on Sunday, and then a day of  vegging on Monday.  It should have been take down the Christmas decs day, but as I've already said, I just couldn't get motivated...

Still can't.  Please, Christmas... don't leave me yet!!