50 Years…

Today is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Yes, this is the blog of a Canadian… but yes, this is still important.

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said a million times in the last 50 years, but since I did quite a bit of research on this particular period of American history back when I was a History nerd, I thought I’d give you some fun facts.

1. “I Have a Dream” was not Dr. King’s written speech. It was based on a sermon he had given a few weeks before, but even then it was largely off-the-cuff. This is pretty impressive to me given the number and bredth of references that are in it.

2. Dr. King had not intended to give that speech on that watershed day in Washington, but was urged to do so by Ms. Mahalia Jackson.

And that right there was the basis of all of my research in university – Torchbearers versus Trailblazers. While torchbearers bring light to an issue and guides those that follow – like Dr. King – a trailblazer goes first, and carves a path for the torchbearer – and that was the role of women in the Civil Rights movement.

So that’s why I love these two fun facts – that speech is attributed to bringing light to the issue, making the march such a success and making it an issue that many more Americans (certainly not all) could relate to.

But it wouldn’t have happened it if it weren’t for Ms. Jackson.

 

You’ve got a Friend in Me

A little pre-post in anticipation of a lack of wifi and time to write…..
I’ve been thinking lately that it’s funny how friendship works.  Maybe it’s all the Dawson’s Creek I’ve been binge watching lately, maybe it’s the perspective that 12 years out of High School will give you (BTW – OMG 12 years that’s crazy and I’m old). It definitely has something to do with the current events of my little family. Friendship is a really funny thing.
I’m a total introvert.  My best friend in the world is my sister, and other than her I’ve got a few other people that I go to when I need someone, whether it’s for a tea date, a yoga buddy, a confidant, a laugh or a cry. There are very few people in my circle of trust. Most of those people I’ve known for a really long time, and a few newbies that though relatively new, feel like I’ve known them forever, – I’m nothing if not loyal. Anyway, all of these people have responded exactly as I knew they would – that’s why I keep them around.
But there are those that have fallen away.  Not by choice, but more by circumstance. We grew apart, our lives took us to different places, my life was spent in London Ontario for the better part of 8 years post High School graduation.  It’s not only where I went to school, but after I met the Boy there, I spent countless hours on the 401 highway going back and forth every weekend to visit through the summer, and even after I finished and moved back to Toronto, my heart lived in London.  To be honest, I’ve always carried a little guilt around friendships that were once so important to me that I didn’t maintain.
Then Cancer happens.
And it’s funny who steps up and who comes out of the woodwork, to let me know they’re thinking of me, cheering, hoping and sending all of their positive energy my way.  It’s been surprising in some ways – mostly because I tend to hold that guilt, it’s my fault that the friendship is different than I thought it would be, 10, 15 or 20 years ago.  But that’s just part of growing up right?
But then I thought about it, and it’s really not surprising at all.
Because I would do the same.  I would be heartbroken if I heard that something was happening in one of their families.  I would offer the same condolence, the same small messages of hope, of cheer and all of my positive energy.
So without naming names and without getting too sappy.  I just wanted to say thank you.  It really means a lot to me.
I’m pretty big on all things for a reason, in my opinion it’s really the only way to maintain sanity. So if all things are for a reason – I hope this reason is to bring you back into my life.
And maybe we can be friends again.
For reals this time.
Or maybe it’s enough to know that even though we grow up and grow apart, I’ll keep you in my heart and you can keep me in yours. And we’ll nix those guilty feelings for good.
XOXO

ChChChanges

There once was a girl who decided on a whim to stop procrastinating and just do it already – she joined a gym, found a buddy and started working out anywhere from 3-5 days per week. Probably 4 on average plus walks with a giant and a small dog.

That girl is me.

My gym buddy told me to look forward to significant results in about 6 months.  I persevered.

I have increased my weights and I haven’t given up, but results… minimal.  Stronger yes. Weight change – no.  Inches change – barely.

I’ve struggled a bit with it. Strong positive self-image or not, come on – it’s frustrating.  But I’ve basically come to terms that I am a healthier person and even if I can’t see physical changes, they’re happening in there somewhere.

Then it happened.  I discovered a change.  A tangible and significant change. 

 FORE!

The Boy and I have been golfing 3 times this year so far (The Boy has been many more times – but I’m a fair weather golfer).  I haven’t taken any further lessons or maintained any kind of skill level over the winter and yet, I’m now shooting about 10 strokes less than last year.

10 strokes. 

That’s muscles baby.

That’s changes.

 

And that’s worth it.

Learning to sew – the tale of the drawstring bag

Sista and I have successfully completed our first sewing project.  A drawstring bag.  It was a bit of a gong show, but we’ve lived and learned and now I can share the secrets with you.

 

  1. When embarking on your first sewing project since your 13 year old horrible attempt at a pillow made from scraps in the High School Home Ec room – it’s important to have a mantra.  Sista and I agree, the best mantra in this case is – “It’s just a drawstring bag.”  This will get you through all the trials and tribulations to come.
  2. When you go to the fabric store, be prepared for short tempers and generally unhelpful staff.  Someone actually yelled at me.  It was not related to the drawstring bag, but if it was I would have said “Lady, relax.  It’s just a drawstring bag”
  3. It’s important to read the instructions.  Also, determining if you are reading centimeters but thinking inches is key as well.
  4.  A “Fat Quarter” is a piece of fabric that is about 50x56cm
  5. A Half Metre is a piece of fabric that is about 50x100cm.
  6. Here’s a handy diagram to demonstrate – A Fat Quarter is not a half-metre. Fat-Quarter-explanation
  7. Not even close. 
  8. When you have had it with the unfriendly staff, wrong fabric, and generally hideous options head to the city, find a local SMALL fabric store and browse there.  This will go much better. 
  9. Get some cord – for the drawstring.  As I learned – you should check to see if the length of cord that you have purchased is whole or sneakily cut and taped together with masking tape that happens to blend in.  You will notice that one side of the drawstring is significantly longer than the other… this is not a camera trick or the result of pulling it closed.  Sure the cut was roughly in the middle… roughly is the key word there.
  10. Choose a fabric, treat it (i.e. wash it) and cut out as per the instructions.
  11. It will quickly become apparent if you are a good straight cutter – as per Sista, or a terrible crooked cutter as per moi.
  12. Don’t worry – it’s just a drawstring bag.
  13. Make your marks to fit the drawstring
  14. Sew up some sides
  15. Iron.  No one likes a wrinkled drawstring bag – but if you forget this part don’t worry because it’s just a drawstring bag.
  16. Feed the drawstring through
  17. Voila.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The perfect drawstring bag
You now have a perfect drawstring bag… or you don’t in which case – don’t worry at least you tried.
My drawstring bag was intended to be Gordon’s travel bag but since I’ve made it she hasn’t really done any travelling.  Alas, earwax.  Drawstring bags also make great knitting project bags.  Not to ruin the surprise or anything but I’m predicting drawstring bags for everyone this Christmas!
Sista and I have finished our sewing class and I’ll write a couple more posts about our other two projects, a zippered pouch (which is basically a pillow case) and a skirt.  Oh the skirt.  You think I had problems with a simple drawsting bag – just wait.  Just wait.

Catching Up Alphabet Styles

I was randomly thinking of a friend the other day, that I hadn’t spoken with her since shortly after the holidays and now it’s the end of March, so I sent her a little email.  I started off with just a few things to tell her, but my bloggyness came out  and I ended up updating her alphabet styles.  She responded in turn, which made me laugh at my desk, and the result is a slightly modified blog post.

A. Gordon is huge
B. It’s mostly fur
C. She’s actually only about 9 lbs. (editors note: she gets groomed on Wednesday, get ready for some dramatic before and after shots!)
D. Our house is painted
E. With the exception of the upstairs bathroom and the two spare bedrooms (we painted the bathroom and our closet this weekend, LOVE the painted closet – what a difference, so now we have the two bedrooms and 4 closets)
F. And trim upstairs… a lot of trim
G. I’ll be very happy when it’s all done, but the difference already is awesome.
H. Work is Crazy-pants
I. As in really busy
J. I’ve continued to go the gym 4-5 times/week.
K. I’ve seen very few changes. (this is still true, although the Boy did call me skinny the other day… that was nice.)
L. Some changes I guess… but come on! Not impressed. (As a result of the skinny comment I weighed myself at the gym this morning… no change.  I stand by the not impressed)
M. I should go back to sleeping in and sitting on the couch.
N. I took my first sewing class yesterday, last Monday (second one is tonight)
O.  I’m not a natural.
P. All of my classmates (with the exception of Sista) want to be able to sew their own clothes.
Q.  The instructor encouraged this.
R.  I said I just wanted to know how to sew a pillow and some curtains because COME ON why are these things so expensive.
S. She laughed and said, wait until you see how much work goes into those – then you’ll understand.
T.  This was not encouraging
U.  I took this to mean that I should give up now and resign to paying $40/pillow.
V. But sewing your own clothes is reasonable?!
W. Give me a break.
X. I haven’t heard from you in a while – So I thought I’d say hi and see what’s new with you. (this now applies to all of you)
Y. Can you believe I made it to the entire alphabet?!
Z. Blog post?! I think so.
What’s new in your world this week?

 

30 While I’m 30

My 101 in 1001 list deadline is nearly here and I can safely say – I’m not going to make it.

 

I saw this image on Pinterest the other day,  I liked it so much I sent it to the Boy because it reminded me of us and how we’ll often reflect back and think – WOW – look how different everything is now.

That is funny

And I think it applies to the 1001 part of the list.  Sure some of those things I really wanted to do, and some of them were silly nothing things – is my life really any different because I haven’t completed a colouring book?  And of course there are other things on that list that I knew I wouldn’t get to – learning French, learning French enough to actually converse in it. 

But there’s another aspect to it that I didn’t really consider when I set out on my list – my priorities are completely different.  I don’t want to spend my time learning French right now.  It’s not that I don’t have time, or couldn’t do it.  I can – I just don’t want to.  I’d rather cuddle with my puppy or knit.  When my 1001 days are up, and I look back to 1001 days ago, everything will have changed and I’ll have done LOTS of things that I never even thought of putting on a list.  I got married, I bought a house, I got a new job, I increased my income, I joined a gym and actually stuck with it, I learned all kinds of new things, I maintained friendships and created new ones. Yes, some of those things were on my list – but I generally didn’t do them because they were on my list.  I did them because I wanted to, or because the timing was right.

And I’m okay with that.

So what I took from the 101 in 1001 challenge is this – A. it’s really hard.  B. the long timeline is helpful in some ways but in others it doesn’t keep your list top-of-mind or particularly relevant. C. Items on the list really should be measurable and one-offs are best.

I’m still going to see what I can check off in the next few weeks, but I’ve also moved on to a list that I think will work better for me.

30 While I’m 30.

Thirty things that are on my weekly to-do list that generally get pushed to next week, but are actually things I want to do, and are things that I can do.

I’ll be 31 in 2 months – and 30 has generally been pretty kick ass. I thought I would use my birthday as a tangible and realistic deadline to cross a few things off the list.  Nothing major.  No grand ridiculous plans, just a nice succinct list of things that I want to do/finish.

Here we go:
  1. Take Gordon for 30 walks
  2. 1 week moratorium on Starbucks
  3. 2 week moratorium on Starbucks
  4. Finish the ottoman
  5. Make a jewelry solution
  6. Unpack my backpack (the last “real” box from our move)
  7. Organize purses/purge for easier rotation
  8. Build a desk
  9. Clean/organize office
  10. Take wedding dress to be cleaned
  11. Update resume
  12. Take a long walk on the Tom Taylor Trail with my camera
  13. Organize photos on new computer
  14. Frame canvases from Lisa
  15. Decorate bathroom
  16. Go to a spin class
  17. Set up a regular RRSP contribution plan
  18. Have Kristyn, John and Logan for dinner – or bring dinner to them
  19. Organize knitting patterns
  20. Finish Tanis sweater
  21. Finish cowl
  22. Finish baby girl sweater
  23. Stencil bedroom
  24. Clean hall closet
  25. Surprise Dan with a present
  26. Clean and shelf paper linen closet
  27. Vacuum and clean both cars
  28. Plan a front garden
  29. Get kitchen table and chairs
  30. Make cupcakes – just because.

Will I do another 101 in 1001? I don’t know – maybe.  I guess I’ll see how 30 While I’m 30 goes and decide from there.

Let me know – What’s on your endless “to do” list??

 

Bell Let’s Talk – A Recap

Tuesday was Bell Let’s Talk Day. It was by all accounts very successful. Bell committed to donating 5 cents for every long distance call and text message sent with your Bell phone.  For those who don’t use Bell as their phone carrier – participation was still possible through Facebook shares and on Twitter using #BellLetsTalk.  The results are in, over 96M messages, calls, shares and tweets were made.  That translates to a commitment from Bell of $4.86M in donations to mental health programs in Canada. 

It gets better. That’s in addition to the $50M over 5 years that Bell originally committed to.  All this together means their new grand total is $62M in financial commitment.  That’s a huge number.

But the best part? 96M messages, calls, shares and tweets can go a long way to end stigma of mental health. But it doesn’t happen in a day and it’s important to keep talking, sharing, tweeting and messaging… and blogging – which is why I waited to Friday to talk about it again.

Now of course there is criticism.  Legitimate critique that Bell has struck gold with a brilliant marketing plan – the hashtag wasn’t just #letstalk, it was #bellletstalk.  As far as branding and brand recognition – Bell had a very successful day of marketing and nothing more.  But you know what – I don’t care.  $62M is a lot of money and can make significant difference.  And 96M messages particularly the Facebook shares and Tweets about mental health help.  They help fight stigma and they help those who are struggling realize they are not alone.  If all of those messages encouraged 1 person to reach out and get help – then go ahead and relish in your brand recognition Bell – you’ve earned it.

As for the documentary I wrote about earlier this week – well, now that I’ve seen it I can attest to its impact and the value of the message. I knew it would be great (it was), and I knew I would cry through the entire thing (I did), but I could only hope that it would impact people that didn’t know James the same way.  I’ve got to believe that of the 12500+ people who have watched the film on YouTube in the last 48 hours – they have been impacted, and hopefully those that need it have found some help and comfort in the message of hope.

So for the cableless or those that don’t get TSN or CTV here it is – Talk to Me: The Story of James Patrick Peek.

Thank you to everyone that contributed to Let’s Talk Day – and please continue to spread a message of hope for those affected by mental illness.

The Buddy System

I joined a gym.  Again.

Here’s my challenge in general with exercise.  Laziness.

I know it’s necessary and I have aspirations of being a fit and truly healthy person, not just a healthy eater. This mindset has brought me to the gym in the past.  In theory it’s all one would need, a place to exercise, classes or machines, pair it with a financial commitment and anyone should be good to go, especially someone with aspirations of fit and healthy.

Of course it hasn’t worked in the past, of course it hasn’t since that’s how gyms make money!

An additional motivator, a few months ago I read a birth story over at Healthy Tipping Point. Caitlin wrote about how she didn’t know how she could have gotten through a natural birth without staying physically active throughout her pregnancy. Well, since that’s my goal (although not anytime soon) – I’m pretty sure becoming a physically active person in your first months of pregnancy is a. not ideal and b. not bloody likely.

I’ve also decided, I’m really at a now or never point.  If I don’t put a regular exercise routine into my life now – it’s not going to happen after life get’s busier. But it isn’t any of these rational reasons that are getting me to the gym this time. This membership has been successful for one reason and one reason only.

My buddy.

No. Not the Boy.

It’s my friend from work.  She’s a gym guru and knows what she’s doing, plus I sit right beside her, so if she doesn’t see me in the morning – you bet I’m going to hear about it when I get into work.

My Buddy told me the other day – “A goal without a plan is just a dream.”

I like it.

So I’ve been going at 6:40am for the last 2 weeks.

Here are the pros and cons.

Pro – I can feel myself getting stronger.

Con – I’m sore.

Pro – I have someone who knows what to do and is teaching me how to do things properly.

Con – It hurts me.

Pro – I’ve always thought that the best workout time for me would be first thing in the morning – but couldn’t really motivate myself to get my butt out of bed first thing in the morning – but when I know my buddy is waiting for me it’s no problem. So I’m actually going at my ideal time.

Con – my new wake up time is apparently 6:00am regardless of the day of the week.  This resulted in my getting up and staying up at 6:30 last Saturday morning. This makes me feel older than when I go to bed at 10pm… on a Friday.

What goals are you planning right now?

Do you need a buddy? Or is exercise your alone time?

 

Happy Friday & Happy Movember

It’s November.  There’s a chill in the air and the sun hasn’t been see in days.

Must be time for mustaches.

My colleague sent me this TED Talk to kick off Movember and since I love me some history – I thought I’d share.

Any boys out there participating? Now you’ll know just how getting your Mo on got started.

Like all great things – over beers.

Happy Weekend Everyone!!

Everyone needs a role model

Have you been watching the Olympics? It’s pretty impressive what all of these athletes can do with their bodies and their brains and while I’m not a sports person AT ALL, I’m all for kids and adults alike looking up to athletes. They work hard and if this YouTube video is any indication – they play hard too.

But I’m not here on a Sunday to talk about the Olympics or the validity of athletes as role models, or pop stars, authors, or anyone else for that matter.

Nope. This Sunday post is for Ginger Mom and Ginger Dad! Today is their 40th wedding anniversary. 40 years is a long freakin’ time and worthy of  a Sunday post at the very least.

My parents have a love story that, as they like to say, only works 40 years ago. “if you did what we did – we would worry. The world’s just not the same.” I don’t know about that – part of me thinks if Mom’s parents weren’t distracted by 9 other children they’d have been a little worried too!

Mom headed to Northern Ontario, (further North than we are now – I know it seems impossible) to mend a broken heart. She stayed with family and they introduced her to a bean pole ginger in thick black-rimmed glasses with huge, HUGE muttonchops. Who would have thought that would be just her type!

They spent the week or maybe 2 together that summer and then Mom headed back to civilization.

They chatted on the phone, and Dad met the family at Christmas. Imagine pulling up to a house with 9 kids arranged by height staring at you in the front window. He passed the test and they started talking about marriage.

Disappointed that they couldn’t get it together by Valentine’s Day, they took things slow and got married in August instead.

A year may not seem like a super short time to go from “my name is” to “I do” – but what about 6 weeks? Does that seem short? Because 6 weeks is all the time they spent together in the same city.

6 weeks.

6 weeks and then Mom left civilization and moved to Northern Ontario.

It seems to have worked out for them though since its forty years later and they’re still going strong.

Mom and Dad have been awesome role models for my siblings and me. They love each other and their family. The only fight I remember them having when we were kids was about cheese. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about cheese but I remember thinking at the time – they never fight and they’re fighting about cheese? Weird.

They taught us to love our partners first. Speak to each other with kindness. Laugh a lot. And how to work in a true partnership.

Whenever The Boy is away for the weekend or we find we’re on opposite schedules, my Mom says “don’t worry that you’re spending a lot of time apart. It’s good for your marriage. You should both have your own lives.” Dad seems to agree – but then Dad always agrees (maybe that’s a secret to success too!)

The Boy and I might only be in our first year of marriage, and 40 seems like a long what away. But that’s the great thing about role models – they let you know what’s possible.

Congratulations on your 40th anniversary Mom and Dad!

XOXO