2018 — An obligatory New Year’s Day post


It is 2018.  It is January 1st.  Actually, in the time zone I inhabit, by the time I’ve hit publish on this post, it’ll likely be January 2nd.  Thankfully, I’m currently chilling in the Rockies and Mountain Standard Time has gifted me with two whole extra hours — something I’m thankful for tonight, but was annoyed by at this time last night as I set myself a reminder alarm to remember to text my Ontario peeps at 10 pm to wish THEM a Happy New Year!

Anyway, I digress.  Where was I?  Yes; it’s 2018.  Nothing really feels like it’s changed from yesterday.  But yet, so much has, hasn’t it?  We do this yearly.  We wait til January 1st to start things.  We spend the last week of December eating all the junk food in our houses in hopes to start fresh January 1st.  I was a day late with this silly plan and made my last bag of chips my personal mission for today.

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But it doesn’t have to be like this.  Futility doesn’t have to be our best friend as we launch into every single new year.  New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be a to-do list that extends no further than the first week of January.

In the fall of 2016, my dear friend Rachel sent me a link to this thing she’d heard of called Power Sheets.  Lara Casey and her team make them over at Cultivate What Matters.  It’s designed for intentional life planning.  Intentional goal setting.  Progress.  Not perfection.  Rachel and I dove right in.  We each ordered a set and split the shipping (since it has to come from the States and the shipping is steep), and we dug in.  (This year 6 of us ordered and split shipping — highly recommend this if you’re Canadian and want your hands on a set!)  We did the prep work while discussing all of our goals together, and we were ready over the course of about a month of intentional thinking, planning, and praying to meet 2017 head on.  For me, it felt like 2017 was going to be the year I finally got my act together and stopped making resolutions I couldn’t keep.  Resolutions I knew even as I made them I wouldn’t keep.  But it’s what we do, right?

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I can’t say that my Power Sheets were overwhelmingly life-changing in 2017.  Though maybe I can — it’s hard to achieve perspective since I don’t have a 2017 without Power Sheets to compare it to.  I don’t know.  It certainly wasn’t the productive year I’d hoped it to be.  The entire point to Power Sheets is to set goals, track your tending lists, make progress, and cover yourself in grace when you fall short of your own expectations.  After all, we don’t keep pushing into what we want to change when we feel defeated and like it’s hopeless, do we?  Progress.  Not perfection.  But I know they made some difference.  I was able to measure growth in some areas.  Some were more stubborn than others, and I’ve had to re-evaluate what I really wanted to see change in this year to make sure that I was choosing the right goals.  But more importantly, I’ve had to evaluate the why for my goals.  Why am I choosing this?  Am I choosing “be healthier” because I think people will like me more?  Or am I choosing it because I actually want health and I want to be able to do things I’ve only ever dreamed of — like learn to surf.  The prep work at the beginning of the planner for each year asks big questions and makes you look deep into the whys, and I know I got to the root of some of my wishes for 2018.

I don’t have my 2017 book with me.  I don’t have the list of goals I chose for 2017 with me because they’re in my book, and they’re in Ontario, and I am not.  But I do have the goals I’ve chosen for 2018, and I’d like to share them with you.  I’d like to be a little bit vulnerable and put them out into the air for the blogosphere to read.  This year, I’ve chosen bigger, over-arching goals.  There’s a Facebook group dedicated to Power Sheets users where a couple people have referred to them as “umbrella goals.”  They’re more like a topic where I want to do some work in my life this year, and then the more specific goals (which I have a lot of for 2018) will work their way into my monthly, weekly, and daily check-lists for each month.

Without further ado, here are my umbrella goals for 2018:

  1. Finances ~ Saving and not spending needlessly.  Obviously each month will have specific targets for this.  I’d been working on it throughout 2017 as well, and with some careful planning and some good timing, I managed to pay off a pile of debt in May, and have been relishing in the freedom of that ever since.  Can I recommend You Need A Budget (YNAB) to you?  Seriously, it changed my life in March of 2016.  Jesse Mecham, the creator, has written a book and it just released last week.  It’s on my list of things to do in January.
  2. Spiritual Growth ~ Depth.  I want a relationship with Jesus that is marked by reliance, listening, and trust.  That doesn’t come from just thinking about it and hoping it comes.
  3. Fun ~ Responsible Fun; Not running to fun to escape uncomfortable emotions.  This felt like a funny goal, but through a lot of introspection this year I’ve discovered something I don’t really love about myself.  Where I’d perpetually thought I just liked to have fun, it dawned on me that I’m prone to running to fun as soon as I don’t want to deal with something that doesn’t seem fun.  Awkward relationship situation?  I run away.  Work sucks?  I want to switch jobs — it isn’t fun!  Pain?  No fun.  Let’s go on vacation instead.  Where I want to goal-set around fun this year is to make sure it’s not my escape, as much as it is something that is just necessary to live.
  4. Mental Health — This is something I began to take very seriously in 2017, as I battled some anxiety that it turned out had been simmering just beneath my surface for a long time, and I’d never dealt with it.  I’ve started seeing a counselor, and I honestly can’t recommend a professional therapist enough — seriously.  You get to talk about yourself for an hour, and you don’t have to do anyone the social courtesy of listening back to them.  My goals here revolve around leaning into stress and anxiety and the situations that cause them so that I continue to get better at managing and reducing both of these things.
  5. Leadership — I am a leader.  For better or for worse, I’m in leadership positions in my church and at work.  I’m not sure how this happened.  I’m honestly not sure how I got here.  But people see potential in me, and I’d like to harness it for good!
  6. Health — this one is so common.  How many of us set healthy lifestyle New Year’s resolutions?  This one could be a whole post for me, but it’s a very raw spot at the moment, so… nope!  That doesn’t sound fun!
  7. Creativity — Brene Brown once said in a podcast interview I was listening to her on (For the Love with Jen Hatmaker) that “Unused creativity is not benign.”  It hit me to my core.  For a long time, I’ve wanted to write but have been too afraid people wouldn’t buy it.  I’ve wanted to paint but have been self-conscious because I’m not as good as someone else.  I’ve wanted to be a better musician but again, compare myself to others and always fall short.  But if unused creativity is harmful to me, then this needs intentional work as well.
  8. Bravery.  It has occurred to me that I am not that brave.  I’m a pretty big chicken, actually.  So 2018 needs to hone in on some of those areas where I could use some bravery the most.  I read Annie F. Downs’ book “Let’s All Be Brave” (buy it on Amazon here) in November, and I cried through parts of it.  I’m so ready to be brave.  So ready.  I highly recommend the book, but if you’re determined to stay seated in. your comfort zone, it may not be for you.  I’m doing her 100 Days to Brave devotional starting as soon as I get home (as it’s arrived in Ontario before I have).
  9. Adventure — I thrive on this.  It’s linked to my fun, and it’s linked to my finances.  I found a lot of my goals are linked to each other — I actually created a very messy flow chart that reflects that!  But I will have adventure based goals.  Where will I travel next?  Europe is calling — Scandinavia?  The South of France?  Switzerland (the land of my ancestral people)?  Who knows?
  10. Relationships — This is not just the romantic kind — though that’s pretty intrinsically linked to bravery.  I want to be intentional.  I want to be present.  I want to be brave.  In all of my relationships.

 

And there you have it.  My over-arching umbrella goals.

Do you set goals?  Do you make resolutions?  Do you keep them?  If you’ve been a successful Power Sheets user, I’d love to hear from you!  I really want them to help me make big changes this year!

Even if you don’t use Power Sheets, I highly recommend both of Lara Casey’s books.  They’re less intensive than using Power Sheets, but still give you lots of great tips and encouragement for living a more intentional life.  Get Make It Happen on Amazon here, and get Cultivate on Amazon here.

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Think and Eat Yourself Smart


I’ve become very interested in nutrition in the last year and a half. After a fateful meeting with a nutritionist in April of 2015, it was suggested to me that the way to fix my gastrointestinal upset was a full-out elimination of all the things that could be causing my issues (wheat, dairy, and sugar) for 8 weeks.

8 weeks. Without wheat.  Or dairy.  Or sugar.

Terrible, right?

Short answer…. yes.

But it turned out that wheat and dairy, while I miss cheese, and pizza, and I miss donuts, aren’t something I’m missing because I feel way, way better than I did in April 2015.

This sent me on a bit of a journey of finding out theories and some research on food sensitivities.  Because I don’t have any allergies.

There are so many mixed opinions, theories, studies, whatever you want to call them… it’s hard to find which way is up in all of the science.

So when I had the chance to read this book, “Think and Eat Yourself Smart” by Dr. Caroline Leaf, I grabbed at it.

I have several thoughts, so readers, please bear with me.

My first is this.  It’s very scientific.  There were parts of it I skimmed through because they were a touch lost on me.  That said, if you didn’t expect that from a book with the tagline “a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life,” I’m not sure what you would have been expecting.  I find the science behind nutrition fascinating.

There were some interesting points on waste. There was a very interesting discussion on genetically modified and organic foods — where I’m not sure that I’m completely in that camp.  I’m not totally anti-GMO, and that might make me a terrible person, but having grown up with grandparents in farming, and having had discussions with them ~ I’ll leave that off the table here because it’s not really the purpose of this post.  But.  Take it for what you will.  If you’re full out anti-GMO, you’ll be right on board with that section.  There was also a bit on the antibiotics infused into our milk and dairy products….. which is illegal in Canada and if found in our milk, it has to be dumped down the drain.

What really got me were the parts about choices and mindset, and how the conscious mind — not the subconscious mind — has the power to change and overcome toxic eating habits.

If you struggle with emotional eating, hurry, weird dreams, anything you suspect might be related to your food intake… I recommend this book.  It’ll give you some ‘food’ for thought.

There are tips and recipes at the back of the book, so it’ll give you a good jump start at your healthier eating adventure.  I just caution you that if you’re not as willing to give up every comfort food you’ve ever found as Dr. Leaf is, perhaps take the book with a grain of salt.  But the book has great general ideas and tips if you’re looking for a deeper understanding of the connection between your brain, your mind, and your eating.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

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31 goals


I turned 31 two weeks ago.  It felt just like any other day.  There was no fanfare, no trumpet blowing, no life-changing ‘a-ha!’ moment to signal that another year had come and gone.  Just some loving friends who made sure I wasn’t forgotten, took me out for dinner, went to wander around the local art gallery’s Christmas light display (which was bizarre with no snow…. weird), and then to Starbucks for a gingerbread latte.

It was lovely.

But at dinner, my dear friend Laurel encouraged me to set 31 goals, as I turned 31.  She said it’s something she started doing at around 27, and she’s really enjoyed it.

To me, it seems almost like having to make 31 New Years Resolutions, because my birthday is a mere 3 weeks from the moment when the entire world notices that another year has come and gone, but that’s neither here nor there.  I’ve decided to take Laurel up on her suggestion, and I’ve decided to set 31 goals.

I’ll check back in around this time in 2016 and let you know how I did

  1.  Read 40 books (So far this year I’m at 22 of the 25 book goal I set for 2015.  I think I can pull it off.)
  2. Write every day (summer 2016 — I’m not going to Camp for the first time in 6 years.  I think writing about SOMETHING every day is a solid aspiration).
  3. Be generous.  I’m not limiting this.  I just want to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit and do what He tells me to with the money and time I’m blessed with — things like helping refugees and caring for the homeless.
  4. Actually use my Instagram account.  I just revamped it yesterday.  Follow me if you’d like: @epicwings84
  5. Love deeply.  Who cares if I get hurt?  Hurts heal, but regret takes longer.
  6. Learn to chord on my mandolin
  7. Learn to chord on my guitar
  8. Keep playing the violin
  9. Not hide my piano in its carry-case/bag, but actually play it every once in a while.
  10. Create a music nook in my basement — because 6, 7, 8, and 9
  11. Watch all the Star Wars movies.  I’ve never done it.  I want to know what they hype is about.
  12. Actually read my Bible.  I haven’t figured out what this looks like yet — whether I start a plan or just read, but I want that to be a Dec. 31-Jan. 1 deal, since I already missed my birthday goal start by 2 weeks.  Details to follow.
  13. de-clutter my home.  It’s so cluttered.  I can’t handle it.  I will be removing clutter, filing clutter, giving away and selling clutter.  And if I manage to pull out enough to clutter to have a sale of some sort, I will donate the proceeds to somewhere important — probably to refugees.  They hurt my heart and I want to help everywhere I can.
  14. pray more — not in a “God, this situation sucks please fix it” kind of way.  In a “I lean into the Spirit because the Spirit is in me, and let’s do life together” kind of way.
  15. Start running again.  This is a tentative, hopeful goal.  I don’t know if I can do it, because I wrecked my ankle a couple years ago.  When I stopped running, I then gained a bunch of weight, which leads me to 16….
  16. Lose 50 pounds.  Or more.  But at least 50.  But healthily.
  17. Eat good food.  Goal # 16 does not have to mean I don’t eat good food.  It means I stop eating sour keys and chips.  Seriously — big vices right there.  I just got a Ninja professional kitchen system for Christmas.  And a veggie Spiralizer for my birthday.  And a sweet frying pan.  I seriously feel like I can make anything.
  18. Learn.  I keep saying “if I were to ever go back to school, I would study….” Well, I’m not going to go back to school.  I haven’t paid off round 1 and 2 yet.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t just learn.
  19. do something adventurous and scary.  I haven’t decided what that is going to be yet.  Time will tell.
  20. Play more — do the things I love even if they seem a little childish and like a waste of time.  Like colouring.  Or playing in the rain.
  21. actually stick to my budget.  At the end of August, I created a spreadsheet that’s been really helping me watch where my money is going.  This needs to continue.
  22. Choose love.  Where I can judge, be snarky, be rude, or even just be apathetic… I must choose love.
  23. Practice my French.  I’m not teaching it anymore, and this is the third year in a row that I haven’t been using it regularly.  I don’t want to lose it.
  24. Drink water.  This sounds so cliche and ridiculous, but it’s something I really, really, really need to do.
  25. Take my vitamins every day lol.  See 24.  Also, I’m running out of goals.
  26. Take time to watch the sun both come up and go back down.  I tend to ignore the sunrises, because I firmly believe I should be sleeping, but they’re a part of the natural process, and their beauty is just as profound.
  27. Install a dog door in my back door so Kloe has freedom this summer — something she’ll miss not going to my Mom’s for 2 months.
  28. Road trip somewhere (in Ontario) that I’ve never been.
  29. Write a song.
  30. eat way, way less refined sugar
  31. Choose joy — life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

 

We’ll chat at the end of 2016 and I’ll let you know what I accomplished.  Do you have any goals?

Contemplating Mavericks ~ 1000 Words


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Sometimes I like to contemplate.  I like to just think.  WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge this week was to take one of the four pictures supplied, and write whatever we wanted.

So here it goes!  Yet another work of pure fiction.  These are starting to grow on me, actually…

Jack sat in a deep squat looking over the water.  He thought about how lucky he was to be alive, how lucky he was to even be able to sit the way he was sitting.  27 months ago, doctors told him he’d likely never walk again, never mind surf.  He’d been an avid surfer.  He’d enjoyed hitting the water hours before work, and had always felt that an intense evening surf in the day’s biggest swells was the best way to clear his head after too many house showings, client meetings, conference calls, and bottom line negotiations.  He loved working in real estate, but it couldn’t hold a candle to what he felt like the second he pulled the zipper on his wetsuit all the way up to the back of his neck.

He knew winter time in the Pacific was a dangerous time to surf, but he seemed to be drawn to the danger.  The swells were huge from the winter storms out at sea, and everyone who cared about him warned him against it.  Suicide, they called it.  He’d been surfing for fifteen years, and even though no one understood it, he was training for Mavericks and to get an invitation for that, he had to make sure he could handle the Pacific’s winter waves.

When he’d put his board in the water on December 24th, 2011, he felt exhilarated and nervous at the same time.  Surf conditions were warned to be fairly dangerous that evening, but Jack wanted to try it.  He zipped up his wetsuit, put his board in the water, and paddled out.  The sun was beginning to set in the late December mid-afternoon.  The cold water of the Pacific rushed over his wetsuit as he paddled against the current.

He rode a few fairly substantial waves, the whole time thinking about how angry his family would be that he’d bailed on Christmas once again.  They didn’t understand his obsession with surfing.  They didn’t understand how cathartic it was to ride a wave until it crested, then coast in toward the shore.

Christmas Eve 2011 had been different, though.  He’d been out four times and was headed for a fifth.  When he found the right spot in the wave and got in position to stand up, something didn’t feel quite right.  It was too late, though.  As he stood up, he wobbled.  He lost his balance and he wiped out.  He plunged into the chilly water, scrambling for the tether to his board to try to find the surface.  With the sun setting, it became very difficult to figure out which direction the surface was, and the waves just kept pounding.  He hit the sea bed with all the force of the swells above him, and felt a sharp, pointed rock pound into his lower back.  The pain was blinding.

He must have lost consciousness because when he woke up next, he was lying in a hospital room with doctors surrounding him.  There was talk of surgery, mention of paralysis, and a sober-faced doctor who looked him right in the eye and told him he might walk again, but he’d likely never surf another wave as long as he lived…. though living was something he was lucky he was still doing.

It had been a long, grueling 27 months of Physiotherapy and pushing through pain limits he never knew he could push through…. but Jack had done it.  He was given a clean bill of health by his physiotherapist and his doctor.  They both agreed that given the physical fitness he had managed to get himself back into, they saw no reason that he couldn’t try surfing again, though they recommended much tamer waves, and strongly cautioned that Mavericks should be taken off of Jack’s table indefinitely.

So there he sat, contemplating.  He thought about the risks.  He thought about the rewards.  He’d taken up running, but it didn’t offer the same release that surfing did.  He pondered — could he find something as therapeutic as cresting a wave with nothing between his feet and the ocean but a perfectly sculpted piece of fiberglass?  He looked out over the ocean and contemplated.  Was it worth it?  He was scared, and his fear could mean his death.  He remembered the pain of a rock in his tailbone.  He remembered the panic that came from not being able to find the surface of the water.  He remembered the feeling that his lungs might explode because they couldn’t get oxygen.

He stretched out on the rock’s surface and let the sun warm his chest and face.  It was February, after all, so while it wasn’t cold by any means on the California coast, it certainly wasn’t hot.  The hoodie he’d chosen that morning wasn’t quite enough to brace the wind until he got right down flat on the rock.

He stared into the clouds.  Maybe he’d take up hang gliding……

 

 

 

Disclaimer:  Please note that I know little to absolutely nothing about surfing.  I’ve been thinking about it a little bit the last few days, because I just updated my Mac OSX to Mavericks, and it reminded me of the Gerard Butler surfing movie, Chasing Mavericks… (which was fantastic, by the way).  This picture reminded me of that.  Any information I didn’t know (pretty much all of it) I got from Wikipedia’s pages on surfing and Mavericks… haha so if I’m wrong on the details, please don’t pick it apart.  This is what came to mind when I saw the picture.

 

The End.

 

To Be Continued…


“Get our mouths watering with a description of your favorite dish, but make us wait for the recipe.”

That’s one of the several options for WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge this week.  I haven’t done one of these in a while, but this topic grabbed my attention.  Mostly… I’m excited because I tried a new recipe tonight and it was delicious, and I will make it again and again, I’m sure.  Easy enough to look up how to make it… but with a twist.

So I made Spaghetti Squash.  I’ve never made it before, and I loved it.

It’s a pretty simple concept, really:  Replace your pasta with a vegetable if you don’t want the carbs that convert to sugar that convert to fat, which I don’t.

Here’s a link to a blog post with pretty similar instructions to mine, but this blogger took much better pictures as she went along, so if you need the visuals, here ya go 🙂

Step 1:  Buy a spaghetti squash.  If you’re like me, and you’re totally useless in the kitchen and by extension, in the grocery store, you’ll want to take a friend with you to show you how to pick out a ripe one.

Step 2:  Cut spaghetti squash in half.  This may actually be the most challenging part.  Use a good, strong knife.

Step 3:  Scoop all the seeds and stringy-ness out.  Like you’re gutting a pumpkin to carve it.  Side note:  Has anyone ever toasted the seeds of a spaghetti squash?  I had no idea its innards looked like those of a pumpkin.

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Step 4:  In a large-ish, glass baking dish, put a couple inches of water in the bottom, and place your spaghetti squash on the bottom so it looks like you have two yellow domes sticking out of your dish.  The part you just cleaned out should be on the bottom.

Step 5:  Put in an oven preheated to 350 for 45 minutes.

Step 6:  Remove from oven.  Take a fork, and shred all the spaghetti-like but totally vegetable goodness out of the shell of the squash.  Careful!  The baking dish as well as both halves of the squash are VERY hot.

Step 7:  Serve with your favourite pasta sauce, here’s what I did for mine.

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*Note:  Even though it’s all vegetables (and I added some meatballs), it’s deceptively filling.  I will never presume that I can eat half of a squash on my own again.  I champed it, but I was full.  I either need to buy a smaller squash, or split it into three meals.  I think without the meatballs I’d have been fine, though.  Who knows?  Maybe my portion sizing is way out of whack.  I don’t care, it was all I was eating.

Sauce.

Step 1:  Buy a can of crushed tomatoes.  Not spaghetti sauce.  I’m trying to ditch sugar, here, and this is one of many good places to cut it out.

Step 2:  heat over LOW heat.  Make sure you either cover your pot or stir constantly.  I forgot this step, and had to scrub crushed tomato sauce off my cupboards when I was finished.

Step 3:  Add the most delicious blend of spices I’ve ever concocted…. that I’m not going to tell you about.

There’s your cliffhanger.

To be continued.

The dreaded 2014 budget.


It’s that time of year again.  Even if you’re like me and decided not to make ‘New Years’ Resolutions’ per se, and you’ve only chosen one word, the beginning of the year is still valuable for some things.

Budgeting, alas, is one of them.  I have a tendency to start out strong, and make these beautiful budgets up and determine how many thousands of dollars I’m going to save or put extra onto my debts.  I do it every January.  I calculate, number-crunch… what have you.

And by February, I’m wondering why I don’t know where my money went again.

I’d like to say that I want this year to be different.  It’s my hope that by sharing my intentions (and some of the resources I found today) on here, that people who love me and read this (*cough* my parents *cough* wink wink nudge nudge) will keep me accountable to this goal.  I like the idea of seeing where my money goes.  Knowing where every cent has been spent or used (either well or poorly) makes me happy on the inside…… but this hasn’t always been true.  Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up A LOT this year.  Maybe it’s because I have a plan in mind for all those extra cents (I am redecorating in March, plus I really want a new violin), or maybe it’s even because I am working on getting myself ready to someday be married, and managing my own finances is a huge step toward being able to help manage a family’s finances.  Whatever the reason, I want to be a good steward of what I’ve been given.  It’s all part of valuing myself (see my One Word post), knowing that the time I spend working for all that money is worth something, and there’s an end product that doesn’t need to be squandered at fast-food joints and clothing stores.  That’s right — squandered.

Anyway, I thought I’d show you some of the nifty resources I found while I was perusing the internet (with a purpose!) today.

I made a budget binder.  In it, you’ll find the following things.

First of all, a financial checklist for all the bills.  I find I have a terrible time remembering whether or not I’ve actually paid a bill.  I set reminders on my iCal and on my phone, but sometimes those arrive at inopportune times, and I think it’ll be very helpful to be able to look at this on Saturdays (my proposed budget review day), and go “yup, I’ve paid all those that were due.  Excellent.”

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Secondly, a printable budget sheet that is broken down into every category imaginable.  I didn’t have to use them all, but it’s fantastic.  And if I need them in the future, they are there!  I printed 12 of these, and they are all labeled with the correct month.  This one doesn’t have an image, it just goes right to downloading the PDF, so check the link out here.

Thirdly, an expense tracking sheet so that I know precisely how money was spent and where, especially in the areas that weren’t budgeted… like my copious trips to Subway and Wendy’s.

found at http://couponsnob.net/2011/12/25/free-printable-expense-tracker-and-instruction-sheet/

Fourthly, a monthly calendar template, which I also printed 12 of, so that I can write down when each bill is due and put a check mark in it when it’s paid.  I’ve also highlighted the bills that DO NOT come out of my account automatically, because I believe there are only 3 or 4 left in my life that aren’t automatic withdrawal.  It may surprise you, but these tend to be the ones I forget to pay 😉

found at http://eprintcalendar.com/monthly-calendar-template-pdf/

Lastly, and this is not budget related, I printed a weekly meal planner.  Well, I guess it’s sort of money related… because I suspect it will save me money at the grocery store, knowing exactly what I need to buy for the week instead of just guessing.  I have a terrible habit of over-buying and then I can’t eat everything I bought before it all goes bad, and I have to throw stuff out.  It disgusts me.  I’d like to stop doing that.  Never mind my hard-earned money, it’s just such a disastrous habit, and the money I save in not doing it could be funneled into a charity that takes care of those who lack enough food to eat on a week-to-week basis… and isn’t that a bigger issue than just “I bought too many baby carrots?”  My meals are planned for this coming week, and I’m going grocery shopping after church tomorrow, buying ONLY what is on that list.

found at http://domestic8d.blogspot.ca/p/printables.html

In completely unrelated news… in an effort to value my health, my life, and the piles of money I spent previously on clothes that used to fit me and now truly don’t, I am dropping refined carbs and sugars like they’re hot …. and I’m dropping them cold turkey.  I can’t see any other way to do it.  I know they’re my stumbling block to weight loss.  Bread, pasta, candy, and chocolate always have been.  I know I need to lose weight — not to ‘look better,’ but because I refuse to buy new clothes again when I can just eat better, and because I know I felt better thinner.  I don’t have a goal weight in mind, I just want to feel better physically.  Sadly, I know the only real and effective way for me to do this healthily is to eliminate the foods that cause me to keep weight on.  Everyone’s bodies are different.  Mine likes to hold on to simple carbs like there’s no tomorrow, and it doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try to wean myself off slowly, I also crave them intensely.  It’s not just a sugar problem, though.  I wrote a post a year ago today after I finished reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made To Crave, about how I use food in a way that it shouldn’t be used… and I’ve slipped back into bad habits.  I need to give up these things, and go to God with my cravings when they show up — not the cupboard.  That being said, if we have to cross paths in the next little while, I’m sorry…. because the sugar withdrawal is hard to go through for the first few days.  I’ll do my best to stay pleasant and not take it out on innocent bystanders….  but it must be done.  Pray for me, friends?

One Word for 2014. Some goals, and my favourite posts from 2013.


I had actually already thought about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 when I read She Loves Magazine’s One Word idea for the year.  I’ve decided to combine this with Mama Kat’s writing prompts, and add in my top 12 blog posts from 2013 and to talk about some Resolutions, or anti-resolutions if you will.

Here’s what I love about this one-word idea, to get myself back on track.

You pick one word for 2014.  Not a bunch of New Years’ Resolutions.  Not a bunch of lofty probably unattainable goals that you’ll be discouraged over later.  No.  One word.  I had already thought about it.  I had already given 2014 enough thought to decide that the only thing I’ll be ‘resolving’ is this:  value.  I will value myself.  I will value those around me.  I will refuse to devalue myself on account of things of this world.  I will wrap my value up in things of Christ, knowing that that’s where my true value is to be found.  I described this idea to my parents as “I will be less hard on myself,” but when I saw the One Word idea put out by She Loves, I wracked my brain for one word.

So the things I’m not resolving to this year, because I’ve resolved to them every year and failed:

I’m not going to put a number on weight loss.  Instead, I’ll value myself enough to make healthy choices, and if that results in weight loss — awesome.

I’m not going to put a kilometre goal on running.  I haven’t been able to run in such a long time because of a stupid ankle injury from LAST CHRISTMAS that I may stick with boxing and take up swimming instead anyway :p  I will value myself enough to know that I don’t need to obsess, and that if I don’t get in a certain number of kilometres or minutes or whatever… accomplished in a week, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that I should be so hard on myself.

I’m not going to put a ‘I hope to be in a committed relationship before I’m 30’ marker on this year, because that doesn’t value my singleness or myself AS a single individual.  I will instead recognize that I have value whether single or coupled.  Besides, I’m currently rocking the preferable term, ‘independently owned and operated.’

I have a few things I’d like to accomplish this year, certainly, but these things have less to do with beginning a new year, and more to do with being a person who likes to set goals for herself.  Most notably, I’d like to rock the violin this year.  I’m starting a 52 week money saving challenge with the end goal being a stellar (probably refurbished) violin which was not made in China and which will not break as easily (mine’s currently with a repair guy and I have a borrowed one.  Handing it over to a stranger was like turning over my baby.  It was sad).  I actually may have a resolution for 2015… I’d really like to enter the Canadian Open Fiddling Competition held every year in Shelburne.  I went with my Grandparents for the first time this past August… and I was enraptured.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for this August.  Maybe next year though 😉

Ann Voskamp summarizes really well my thoughts on heading into 2014.  I want to fall forward, not stumble backwards.  Check this out.  Wonderful words, here.

And as I get ready to usher in 2014 with One Word, I’m going to bid 2013 farewell with a few of my favourite blogs from this year (both my posts and those that I follow).  I’ll do 12 of each.  One for each month, I suppose.  Check out Sarah Bessey’s post along the same idea.

First:  Blogs I followed.

Tim and Olive, Olive To Run, A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp), Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Megan Gahan, Sometimes Screaming Helps (Sarah Richardson), Holley Gerth, She Loves Magazine, The Young Woman’s Bucket List, Mama’s Losin It, Darcie the Kindred Spirit, The Road To Rome, Avoiding Neverland (I know… that’s 14.)

Second:  My top 12 posts from 2013.

1.  My ‘2nd Blogiversary Post — I Will Not Humour the Cray Crays.‘  I wrote this just kind of summarizing my most recent dating experiences, and didn’t expect it to get kind of out of hand.  Blog Her picked it up and featured it and it got like 1300 views or something insane like that.  For a fairly newbie blogger, it just blew my mind.

2.  I Am Not Bible Barbie.  This was another one that kind of blew up on me.  I had decided that I’d had enough of being held to this impossible standard by potential suitors, and some friends and I were talking about it at church, and this happened.  And then 450 views happened.  It was my first big post, and the first one that blew up without help from anything else.

3.  The More Boys I Meet, The More I Love My Dog.  I’d been on an AWFUL date.  Seriously, read the story.  I decided that I’d better channel it into good writing that would get new readers, lest I sit around and mope.  It was good therapy 🙂

4.  I Don’t Want to Marry Bible Ken.  The day after I wrote I Am Not Bible Barbie, it occurred to me that I had picked on guys for holding us women to this impossible standard, when we do the same thing to them, and that I don’t want to keep looking for the ‘perfect’ guy.  Read on to find out why 🙂

5.  Singleness is not a disease, nor a curse, nor an affliction… nor is it a problem of mine for others to solve.  I wrote this post about a year ago.  Someone obviously had a ‘solution’ to my singleness problem.  I haven’t re-read these posts, so I don’t remember what prompted it, but it sounds angsty.

6, 7, 8, and 9 were parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a series of stories I wrote about a girl named Anna (fictional) who was sold into the sex trade.  I wrote it for The Exodus Road, an organization which works to spread awareness about sex trafficking and the work that’s being done to combat it.  Read Part 1 here.  Part 2 is herePart 3 is hereAnd Part 4 is here. Please read them.  They were hard to write because the details were supplied by Exodus Road, and I knew they were technically fictional, but it was gut-wrenching to think that even though I was making this up, it could very easily have happened in real life.

10.  How I Feel About Endings — A Tribute to My Buddy, Jack.  Hardest post to write this year probably.  I wrote it in the days before we had to have one of my Mom’s dogs, Jack, put down… he was very sick, we had no choice, really.  But it was really hard.  So hard.

11. A Picture’s Worth A Whole Lot… Apparently.  I updated my profile pictures on the dating sites I was registered on because a friend of mine showed me how to use makeup…. and like magic, I had a whole bunch of interest generated.  It caused me to reflect on the value we place on looks.

And tied for number 12 (yes, I know that means I have 13… but I have 4 tied into one story that took 4 months to finish, so I think it’s fair.  Also — it’s my blog.  #idowhatiwant)  “My ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment about Rob Ford’ and ‘A Duck Call for Love.’  Both of these posts were written in response to public figures blowing it in view of the entire Western World, and how I feel like there has to be a better way to do things than we’ve been doing it.  As Christians, we’re called to love, and that’s what both of these posts are aimed at.

favourite TV

Bones, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago Fire, Rick Mercer Report, Elementary, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and… apparently there are only 11 of these.  That’s ok.

Books:  Confession ~ I didn’t read anywhere close to 12 books this year.  I’d like to read more in this next year.  I guess that comes with valuing my intelligence and not squandering so much time on Facebook?  We’ll see how that goes.

Pirates of Savannah, The Sacred Search, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Made To Crave, Every Body Matters, The Sweet By and By, Love Lifted Me, Softly And Tenderly, Flabbergasted.  I can’t think of any more that I read this past year.  There might be more, though that number in itself kind of shocked me.  I have a giant stack beside my bed to get through still, so… we’ll see how that goes :p  Next on the list, which I’m really excited about (just have to finish The Sacred Search first), is Real Men Don’t Text, by Ruthie Dean.  Can’t wait.

Movies: I should preface this — I’m not super picky when it comes to movies.  I’m pretty easy to please.  The only one I really didn’t like was The Heat.

The Hobbit, Frozen, The Butler, Captain Phillips, 12 Years A Slave, The Family, Oz the Great and Powerful, Gangster Squad, Safe Haven, Olympus Has Fallen, 42, Runner Runner.  Those are just ones I saw in theatres.  Like I said, I’m pretty indiscriminate.

Music:  I could never pick just 12 songs.  I guess I can pick 12 artists, though.  Note:  I fell in love with Eastern Canadian Folk Music this year.  So…. get ready for this.  That’s right… The Rankins are in there.  Classic, 1990s Rankin Family.  On repeat in the car for the last 5 days.  Straight.  Legit.

Charlie Worsham, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, The Rankins, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Third Day, Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, Duelling Fiddlers, The Piano Guys, Lady Antebellum, Lindsey Stirling.  I know, I know, that’s 13.  It’s the best I could do.

And that’s it, guys!  That’s it for 2013!  Stay tuned for January.  Another NaBloPoMo kicks off January 1.  Am I insane for taking the challenge during a Report Card month?  Probably, but it could lead to some really entertaining (albeit brief) posts 😉

Placebo Effect: Daily Post.


Yesterday’s WordPress Post-a-day challenge was about Conflict.  I wrote mine from the point of view of an elementary school teacher who happens to teach pretty young kids.  It’s hard not to use my kidlets as a filter to think and write about things, so today’s post will be similar.

The Placebo Effect.  I see it in full force DAILY.  You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

If you have young kids, you’ll know quite well how much a band-aid and an ice pack can cure.  This was my first thought when I read the word ‘placebo’ in my prompt email this morning.  The number of times I’m asked daily for a band-aid for a week old scrape, just because it hurts… or for an ice pack for a scrape….

My first couple of years teaching, I spent an inordinate amount of time arguing that band-aids aren’t necessary when there isn’t blood, and that ice isn’t necessary when there isn’t swelling…. well, I folded this year when I switched to primary.  I now hand out ice when they ask, because, you know what?  Placebos work.  When the kids feel better, we all feel better, so they can have their ice and band-aids if it makes them stop crying.  By the time they’re a little older, I start to explain the purpose of band-aids and ice, but not when they’re super little.  The littles don’t get it.

So, if I could create a painless, inexpensive cure that would take care of a single ailment… hmmm… what would I ‘cure?’

My first thought is stupidity.  Can we please come up with a cure for stupidity?  I’m not sure if that qualifies as an ailment, but I’d love to cure it.  That, or bad driving?

I don’t know.

The obvious answers are things like cancer, ALS, stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, MS, Cerebral Palsy …. and the list goes on and on and on…

But that’s not very creative, now is it?

Unfortunately… I googled “cure for stupidity”…… and I have some bad, terrible news.

I found more of the following adages than I did cures:

  • Duct tape can’t cure stupid.
  • Your diagnosis is stupid; I’m afraid there is no cure.
  • **Breaking News:  Common Sense is now an endangered species.  Stupidity has taken over the world, and unfortunately there is no known cure.**

Image is Everything (I’m Done)


I follow a lot of other bloggers’ blogs.  I find it gives me inspiration for topics, it informs a lot of my stylistic choices — I would never have thought to bold things that I want to stick out on my own… and also — I have learned just how verbose and overly wordy I can be when I started reading others’ writing.  1000 words…. I can say that in 6000!  haha… I digress.

I read a post just now… about five minutes ago… on OlivetoRun.  I love this girl’s writing so much.  She speaks to me.  She pretty much slays me with her serious posts, and her confession posts make me laugh.  Her workout ethic inspires me, and I just love following along with her.  This makes me sound creepy and #awkwardfangirl ish…. but I promise, I just really admire her as a writer because I feel like she’s real.

Tonight’s post that fell into my inbox was about healthy being the new skinny.  I opened it up, thinking to myself “there will be nothing new here — people have been saying this for a while now.”

I tell people I believe that… but when I really look into the core of who I am, I don’t.  I would almost always rather be skinny than healthy if I got to choose.  I’ve talked before about my own journey toward a goal weight, that ended disastrously in my almost controlling myself to an eating disorder.  Disordered thinking ran rampant at the very best.  (I can’t link it, I don’t remember what post it was.)

But read this…. read it twice if you have to to get it to sink in.

I read it, and I wonder how much of my poor self esteem and my poor body image and my self loathing every time I look in the mirror rub off on the precious minds of the beautiful young children that I teach.  When I try to scooch through two chairs and don’t fit, and tell the kids jokingly that “I’m not that skinny” (even though I’ve never seen anyone who is skinny enough to fit between two back to back chairs that are almost touching), I wonder what kind of a message I send.

I wonder if any of them go home and think “I’m not that skinny, either.”

Maybe I’m being over dramatic.

But maybe I’m not.

And if my bad attitudes about food, weight, and self esteem negatively impact even one of those precious kids…. isn’t that enough damage?

I read the opening quote, “I weigh myself three times a day. Once when I get up, once when I get home, and once before bed.” and I thought “yeah… that’s bad… no one should be that dependent on the number on a scale… I check a few times a week, but…”

And I kept reading.

And when I read that that quote came out of the mouth of a ten year old girl, my heart broke.  Shattered.  I literally sat alone in my rec room and gasped for air for a second because I couldn’t fathom how a ten year old girl got to a place where she felt that she needed to make sure her weight was in check three times a day.

I don’t ever want to be even a contributing factor to a kid who feels like that.

I want to help kids see their pure beauty.  The beauty within, and the beauty on the outside.  I mean, when I look at people with a God-centered focus and I get rid of my worldly lens, I find it truly difficult to be able to label anyone ugly.  It’s time I start looking at myself through that very same lens and I go back to trying to be healthy, rather than skinny….

I will not worship a number on a scale.  I will not look in the mirror and call myself fat, ugly, or disgusting.

I will not make self deprecating jokes in front of my precious little kindergartens, grade 1s, and grade 2s…. especially the girls, but all of them.  I refuse.  I won’t contribute.

This ends here.

p.s. this was written Monday, October 21st.  I have discovered the joy of being able to schedule the publishing of blog posts so that I can write four posts in 2 days and not release them all on top of one another.  It’s amazing.  (You might be a writer if….)

#bestweekendever


This weekend was the best weekend…. quite possibly of my entire life to date…. I seriously can’t remember a time where I’ve had more fun, laughed harder, or been sadder when it ended.

I did a Color Me Rad 5k in Hamilton this weekend… well, at Christie Lake Conservation Area… and I’ve never been, but it’s beautiful, and I’d love to go back and hike/wander at a time when it wasn’t being overrun by runners.  haha I’m punny.

I ran it with two dear friends and a new friend.  Now this new friend is unlike any other new friend.  Have you ever met anyone where the second you’re introduced, you know you’re going to be mega bummed when you have to part ways?  I’ve only ever had it happen one other time in my life.  But it happened yesterday.

I met Jeannie right before we got in the car to drive to Dundas.  We’d been informally introduced by Ange on Facebook, but boy oh boy Facebook does not do this new friend justice.

#iminlove

Oh, bad habit we fostered this weekend… I now hash tag at completely inappropriate times and I think it’s hysterical.  I’m sure not everyone will agree, and I’ll have to try really really hard not to say “hash tag criss cross applesauce” tomorrow, I’m quite certain.

We hit up Starbucks pre-race, because everyone needs a little caffeine, sugar and whipped topping to course through their veins before a 5k.  (Please note, most of us are not hardcore runners by any stretch of the means, and this being a fun run, we decided to maximize the fun and minimize the run).

We weren’t quite sure where to go, but stopped at a stoplight, to what did our wandering eyes did appear, but a lovely young lady with “RAD” tattooed on her face.  I yelled out from the backseat…. “FOLLOW THAT SUBARU!”  And we did.  Thankfully, they knew where they were going!

We arrived, took copious selfies as we got all layered up and warm and ready to #beastit.  Walking toward the check-in point where we picked up our swag, Becky yells out “I HAVE A CRAMP!” and the laughter started all over again.

I also have to admit that for the first time in my life, I fell prey to the duck face photo… I’ve never done one before that wasn’t clearly mocking everyone else who’s ever done one… and I’m looking back through the pictures now to realize to my own shock and horror that I duck faced… on my own phone… and I kind of like the picture an awful lot.

We stopped along the way, took many more selfies, asked strangers to take pictures of us, and we laughed and laughed and laughed….

We changed in the parking lot… legit.  Well, now me…. I chickened out and changed in an outhouse.  I should have changed in the parking lot…. it was gross.

We went for lunch and professionally carb loaded.  East Side Marios anyone?  I don’t think we truly deserved it since we didn’t run that hard, but meh!

Then, after some time apart (mostly to spend the whole time showering to get the corn starch dye off of everywhere…. seriously… it went through two shirts.  EVERYWHERE!), we met back up at Value Village and then back to one of our houses to continue the fun.

The fun spilled into today, but then Jeannie left.  And while I still have other amazing friends here, and I do not take them for granted, I love my new friend already.  It’s like I’ve known her all my life.  And I hope I see her again soon.

And — if you’ve never done a colour run — I highly recommend that you find the nearest one and sign up.  Amazing.  You don’t need to be a runner.  You don’t need to run the whole thing!  The first one I did, a lady did it in flip flops and her wedding dress…. seriously… do it.

Please enjoy the pictorial recap of what I just wrote to you…. and I have not included the picture of what my bathtub looked like at the end…. but it was gross.  (ps — the pic of me running is me imitating the Phoebe Run from Friends... I don’t actually run like that…. I hope…. and I definitely didn’t run into a horse)

1275868_10151927642560240_1023442542_o 1391677_10100301476037300_1288295131_n 1392048_10100301476052270_284288669_n 1410693_10151927642895240_2012514323_o1400180_10151927652345240_193553838_o 1402056_10151927647480240_1915548991_o1399144_10151927650985240_1755436195_o856605_10151927657275240_382768421_o1399411_10151927659730240_604759945_o

oh… and the dye is Gluten Free!  (random fact)