A Mid-Year Review of Sorts

I planned to publish this post before June ended, but things have been rather crazy lately. I have two weeks of exams coming up, in which I write 3. I had interviews for a second job, which I’ve been looking for this past month and a bit. I have a possible new job orientation coming up. I’ve been studying for said exams. I’ve been ill with a nasty cold, and now possibly bronchitis. I am writing currently from our city’s urgent care facility, waiting for a chest x-ray.

I wanted to do a bit of a review of the year so far, and I even made notes about the things I wanted to talk about. Those notes are not currently handy, so I guess I will wing it a bit.

I chose 3 words to focus my year around: self-love, self-care, and creativity. All-in-all, I don’t think I’ve done a bad job of keeping them in-focus. Sure, self-care tends to fall to the wayside when I’m stressed, sick, anxious, in a depressive episode, but I think overall I have done well. I have been recognizing when I am in the midst of one of those situations and actively attempt to be kinder to myself and take better care as well. The self-love is getting easier as the year goes, and I think it is in-turn making kindness toward myself easier. This is definitely a positive as I have had a tendency in the past to beat myself up continuously over relatively minor problems or issues that pop up. Creativity has been flowing more easily this year too. A lot less feeling “stuck” and a lot more putting words on a page. I have had some excellent and supportive friends who have helped me a lot with this, and I am very appreciative. Thousands of words of my book draft have been written. THOUSANDS! “Only” a few thousand, but it’s still in the multiple thousands and I feel like that is amazing progress. I may not reach the ambitious goal of a completed draft by the end of the year, but it’s massive progress regardless because I’m ready to write it, and I am. I have no fear holding me back anymore.

As I mentioned earlier, exams are coming up starting tomorrow. I write one this week and two more next, for a total of three. I understand how ambitious this seems, but I’m actually pretty confident. I am going to pass all three of these exams, which will mean I only have ONE MORE COURSE remaining to completely my CIP designation. I have been working toward this since February 2016 and am very much looking forward to completion and no more part-time schooling! I feel like I deserve the break. I have a number of other things I would like to focus my “free” time on, including a second job, and more creative endeavours.

I have had my car for almost five months now, and I am so happy I decided to invest in a vehicle. Being mobile has simplified so many aspects of my life and I am so thankful for that. It has allowed me to be more social and feel less stuck in terms of socializing, and it has made things like grocery shopping and running errands in general much easier. I don’t know how I managed without a car for so long now.

I HAVE been struggling with my depression a lot since about March or so. I know I have mentioned it a time or two in previous posts. The cycles are deeper, though with faster recovery time. The heat takes a toll on me in a lot of unexpected ways. My tolerance for heat is low, and the sun disagrees with me in a number of ways. This has had a negative effect on me this summer and the one past especially. I’ve been trying to work through, but it doesn’t always work out. At least this year I managed to get into a pool for the first time in a large number of years.

This was a massive accomplishment for me, and one I am thankful to a friend for documenting!

Overall, 2018 has improved a great deal over 2017. Changing my focus has made a huge difference. I look forward to seeing where the rest of this year takes me.

 

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Current Thoughts on my Current State

I have been feeling the urge to really make a dent in my memoir lately. However, that has been difficult as my day-to-day life is pretty intense these days. That is not to say that I have some sort of wild social life and am traipsing all over the city having fun all the time. It’s intense in the sense that I have a lot of stressful things coming up. Again. No surprise there, I guess.

Not the least of which is my July CIP exam week. It now includes writing three exams, as I have to rewrite one of my exams from last semester. I failed one of them by a narrow margin in April, and wanted to get the rewrite out of the way as soon as possible. I signed up to rewrite in July…after I already enrolled myself in two new courses. Smart, right? I thought so initially, but now I’m not so sure. It’s the middle of May and I am already studying. I do not want to make the same mistake I did last time. I am determined to pass all three. The good news is, that after passing these three exams, I will only have one course left to complete before I earn my CIP designation. It is very exciting, as it will have been almost three years in the making. Needless to say, I will be taking a break from schooling again for awhile… I feel like I deserve it at this point!

Okay, now that’s out of the way, back to the writing thing. I have a prologue for my memoir! It felt like a huge accomplishment to get the words down. It goes along with the introduction I worked on over the winter. The first 1500 words of my book are out there. Out there being, of course, in a word document saved on my laptop. It’s not out there publicly, and it will likely be quite awhile before it is. It has been shared with a few trustworthy friends at this point, and I am keeping it that way for now. I met with a friend to get feedback on it tonight even. It was a nice confidence boost. I feel ready to write more, but I also am drawing a blank on material. This is the reason I spent so long preparing for this process, but it’s no less frustrating. I will continue with the writing again. Of that, I am sure.

The good news through all of this is that I am in a great mood. I mean, sure I am tired a lot still, but in the grand scheme of things I am in good place overall mentally. It has been a pretty nice change from what felt like the norm. So, crazy busy, but mentally doing better than I have in awhile. Bring on the writing! …Soon…

My “creative director”

 

One of those Days

Do you ever have those days where you just want to crawl back into bed and hide? Or maybe try for a do-over? Today is one of those days for me. I am feeling disgruntled and miserable and frustrated overall, with no overarching reason for it.

Sure, a few small things have not gone…ideally, but other than that things are fine. I mean, poor Hux had an accident this morning and cried about it, and then I forgot my lunch, and then I had to wait on hold for a password reset at work… But since then, things have been going relatively smoothly. Still though, I want to go home and go to bed. Sadly, that’s another thing I cannot do.

After work today I have a semi-long to do list to complete of things around home that are annoying me. My frustrated anxious mind has decided that today is the day to fix all of those things. I guess we will have to wait and see how that goes…

Anyway, I’m going to try and do what I can with the rest of this day. In the meantime, I leave you with some cute art made with a photo of Huxley.

Sunshine! – Some Spring Updates

It appears that Spring has finally arrived here in Southwestern Ontario. After more than another month post-Vernal Equinox of cold weather, snow, freezing rain, wind and gloom, it is nice to finally see the sun and a bit of warmth. Things are starting to turn green and bud again. It has done wonders for my mood, and I’ve been trying to take some extra time to soak up that Vitamin D.

Exams ended on Thursday, and unfortunately, what I thought was a minor cold starting on Saturday has turned into a full-blown painful headcold, complete with a ton of sinus pressure and a sore throat resulting in no voice today. I can only hope that thanks to taking a day to rest today, it will pass more quickly. The good news is I have nothing excessively stressful going on until I have to start studying for my next exams. I can safely say I have a month or so off to enjoy myself and the beautiful weather that will likely accompany the month of May.

On Sunday morning, I took my car to have my winter tires removed. I got to see my car with hub caps for the first time! It’s a small thing, but a very cool thing. Service at the dealership I bought Jeff (my car) at was top-notch just as it has been from the first day I set foot in there. In a few more months, he will be going back for his first oil change. Hopefully I will be able to make a weekend of it and visit some friends in the area as well. I am loving having a car again. As much as driving isn’t my favourite thing, the convenience and ease it has created in my life has been well worth the extra expense.

I have been making so progress with my writing too. I have made some decent headway with an introduction, which felt great. I have sent it off to a friend to read, and am looking forward to some constructive feedback.

I have a busy but positive week ahead of me. Helping out a friend tomorrow with some stuff after work, a continuing TV marathon with a close friend out west, a movie night with another dear friend, yoga class and a book club meeting, and a day with my mom on the weekend. I’m looking forward to it, and I am sure it will give me plenty to write about next time I publish.

Stress & Things

March was a heck of a month in terms of happenings, moods, and health. April got off to a great start too… I am actually just getting back into a regular work routine after three short weeks in a row due to varying reasons, including being sick and writing exams. I still cannot place whatever illness I had, but I am thankful it is over. I am thankful the first of two final exams is over as well.

It was a wild month overall. I wrote a midterm at the beginning of March, and delivered a presentation at work as a part of a major project within the branch.  That week was a hectic week: studying (poorly, I might add), presentation preparation and then both the presentation and the exam rounding out the week on the Friday. Did I mention my birthday fell in there somewhere as well? It was a less-than-ideal week for my birthday to fall in. I failed the midterm, but I rather expected it. Something had to give that week, and studying definitely fell to the wayside. My instructor for the course was terrible to begin with so the motivation to do well just was not there. The good news is I had the opportunity to make it up on April 3, when I wrote the final exam.

Outside of work and school stress, I have been working to maximize the use of space in my apartment, which is never a bad idea, since it is so small. I used my St. Patrick’s Day this year to trek to IKEA and buy myself a larger desk, a file cabinet, a boot cabinet, and a wall-mounted coat rack. I used my desk far too often and for too many things to keep such a small desk. The new one is almost double the size, and I now have enough space to do everything I want to at my desk. The things being studying, writing, working, and gaming.

Shortly after, I replaced my desk; I discovered that my wireless keyboard stopped working. I had not used it for about a week, while I was building my new furniture. I discovered it on the Thursday while I was trying to get set up for my online class. No matter what I did, it would not work, and I ended up having to replace it. I bought the keyboard I have wanted for ages, and am very happy with my decision. It sounds cool, and looks pretty too. It was money I did not plan to spend, but it is what it is. The result should be a keyboard that lasts me for many years to come.

While all this was happening, my car was mysteriously being covered with a weird sticky clear substance I could only assume was tree sap. It made opening doors and windows quite annoying for just about two weeks or so. The first proper spring rain-washed it all away, thankfully.

The end of the March brings us to Easter Weekend. There were no big family dinner plans this year, because everyone just seemed to be busy. It happens with most of us being on our own and doing our own things. I agreed to help my mom tile the tub surround in her bathroom. Tiling is something I have never done before, but I am game to try anything once so long as it does not involve extreme heights. We started on Saturday morning and worked through the day, and finished off with grouting on Sunday morning. The result looks great, and we are super proud of our amateur tiling job.

I headed home from my mom’s around lunchtime on the Sunday and made the decision to do a quick run through the McDonald’s drive thru to grab some lunch so I could focus on studying for the afternoon. As it turned out, that was not going to be what happened at all. While I was in the drive thru, the person in front of me backed into me. Me, in my brand new car with less than 1,500 kilometers on it. I was so frustrated and upset. Thankfully, the person who hit me was cooperative and he is paying for the repair. The car goes in tomorrow to repair the cracked bumper. I will be happy when the whole process is over.

I wrote the first of two final exams for this term on Tuesday April 3. I am happy it is over, even though I do not think I did particularly well. I am hoping I passed the exam. As long as I pass the exam, I pass the course. I should find out my grade in the next couple of weeks.

Huxley’s anxiety also has not let up in any way at all. I took his shirt off early this week because it needed washing, and by the next morning, he had barbered himself a brand new bald spot complete with raw skin! I feel so bad for him, but I am also at my wits’ end in terms of ideas to help him. I bought him a Thundershirt, and I am hopeful it will do the trick. Keep your fingers crossed, mine are!

In other news, I spent this past weekend at home focusing on self-care and studying for my next exam. As a result, my house no longer feels like a complete disaster to me, and I have managed to stick to the study schedule I have created. I am super proud of myself for both of these accomplishments, however small they are. I feel like I am in a better mental space. All of the stress of the past month took its toll on me. In an effort to help myself feel better physically and mentally, I have joined a book club that meets once a month at the Starbucks about three blocks away from me. I am excited. This month the book is Animal Farm by George Orwell, my favourite type of fiction! I am looking forward to some stimulating discussion around the themes of the book. Finally, I have signed up for a 9-week beginner yoga session starting next week. I found it for a VERY reasonable price through the city parks and recreation department SPECTRUM program. It was very affordable, which excited me, as it is hard to find affordable yoga classes around the city without being aware of the existence of this program. I love yoga, but have trouble sticking with it without the benefit of attending class. The SPECTRUM program seems to give the perfect solution!

So, here’s to a slightly less stressful April. I hope that it doesn’t take the same turn March and the early part of this month did!

 

Big News

You may recall a few weeks ago that I mentioned something big was coming in the near future.

On Valentine’s Day last week, it finally happened. I took delivery of my new car!

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I bought myself a 2018 Hyundai Elantra.

I have gone eight years without owning a car; basically as long as I have lived here in London. I decided that it was high time I did something for myself to make my life easier. I originally had plans to buy a house in the next year or two, but after weighing the pros and cons, I decided that I would benefit far more from owning a car again. I have had it for less than a week and it has already made my life infinitely easier. It was an excellent decision!

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Betwixt and Between

February 6, 2017 was the opening of the latest art show by the Shadowood Collective at The ARTS Project. The Shadowood Collective hosts a show at this location in the “dead of winter.” The theme this year was Betwixt and Between the Monsters We Dream and the artists who participate in this show are artists who specialize in dark art: monsters, and whatnot. Two of my favourite artists, both of whom are relatively local, were a part of the show (Vincent Marcone a.k.a. My Pet Skeleton, and Sarah Legault). I attended my first Shadowood Collective show last year with my stepsister, and attended again this year on my own.

There were some perks to arriving at the show early (and purchasing a VIP ticket). As I walked in the door, I received a pin and a poster. The pin is huge, and gorgeous.

img_5802The poster was for the event itself and showcased the art of some of the artists participating in the show. The art is really beautiful, and I cant wait to have it framed along with the poster I received from attending the show last year.

The art on display was amazing. If I had the money to purchase every single piece for sale I would have. I got there early and was able to make a full round of the gallery before it started to get busy.  I am glad I went early, as once the gallery started filling up, my anxiety started getting the better of me. I had to leave sooner than I wanted, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the show. It was great to get out of the house and do something that interests me. It was a nice change of pace from just going back and forth between home and work with maybe a few errands in between. I felt enriched by the experience, however short it was.

I always love the art I discover at these shows. I even discovered a new favourite art piece by my favourite artist. It is in the larger photo above, and it is called “The Children.” I wish I’d had the $390 to throw at it and take it home! But alas, it is not in the cards. Maybe I will be able to buy a print of it in the future.

The show runs Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 5pm until February 17th at The ARTS Project and admission is free. If you have the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend dropping in!

Newly Mobile

I recently made a rather significant investment and I think it will be life changing. It goes together with a few different things going on in my life.

The first thing, is that I recently realized that I am much more productive in writing when I am away from home. I think I just associate home a lot more with relaxing and not working. I can accomplish a lot more if I set myself up in a coffee shop for a few hours with some WiFi.

The second thing is my new side hustle. I am pretty proud of it and how much I have managed to do already. In addition to my full-time day job, I have started editing and proofreading on the side. My first ad went live on January 31st, and to date I have already worked with two clients and am negotiating with a third. It’s exciting to have a bit of extra cash from doing something I enjoy that isn’t too time consuming!

Anyway, back to this significant investment. I bought myself an ultra book. It’s the smallest laptop I could buy without having to resort to a Chromebook and I am already very happy with it. It’s an 11.6 inch body with a 13 inch screen, and is incredibly portable. It even fits in a purse to carry around on a day-to-day basis! Having this ultra book will enable me to be much more productive with my writing endeavours and it will also allow me to work from anywhere with my side hustle. I can go and meet clients anywhere.

I think this investment is a win. I’m so happy I decided to do it.

Please ignore the mess. I took the photos right after unboxing!

Cooking Win

I recently received my first GoodFood crate. I got a half off deal on my first one, so I figured it was worth a try. It arrived this past Friday, and I cooked my first meal from it last night: A ground pork bulgogi with jasmine rice and marinated cucumbers.

The kit came with all of the ingredients I needed to cook the meal, and boy was it delicious! It was surprisingly simple as well.

Since I live alone, and have for a couple of years now, I find it difficult to find the motivation to cook myself hot meals, let alone healthy ones. Grocery shopping is one of the banes of my existence since I depend on public transit. Ordering in is an easy way out that I take far too often and gets far too expensive. I subscribed to GoodFood in the hopes that receiving recipes with all of the ingredients for the meals would provide me with the much-needed motivation to cook a healthy hot meal. I tried the first recipe last night. And guess what:

IT WAS FUN.

I enjoyed cooking my dinner last night, and it tasted so good. The payoff was huge in the amazing combination of flavours and ease of the actual meal preparation. It took about half an hour to make, and I ended up with 3 portions in the end, which means I have lunch and dinner for another day as well as what I ate last night. I am definitely calling it a win!

I have to more recipes to try, and I am so excited now. I think I will be making GoodFood a semi-regular thing in my meal rotation. I’m thinking every other week or so!

It is really nice to have a reason to cook for myself! I think trying new recipes is probably the best possible reason to get excited about cooking.

Who Needs Resolutions

I tend to be the type of person who does not make resolutions for the new year. They stress me out. I do, however, usually create goals plans for the coming year. It’s less stressful because it’s less “I NEED to do this” and more “I WANT” to do this.

For 2018 I have created some plans, and even a couple of goals. One of which has already been achieved. (That will be a separate blog post in the near future.) I noticed something interesting this year though.

A little history first: Late last year, I transitioned from bullet journaling to an actual planner. The Happy Planner by Me and My Big Ideas has become my planner of choice. It’s more fun and a lot less stressful for me because I don’t have to worry about creating a new spread every single week. With my planner, I can just write down what I need to and I can jazz it up with colour and stickers as much or as little as I want. It’s working beautifully for me.

And now, back to the interesting thing I noticed: Since I joined the online planner community I have seen the intriguing trend of choosing WORDS to live by in the new year. I think this is such a fun idea. You can choose your words and live by them in whatever way works best for you. I decided to jump on board with this trend. Why the heck not, right?

I have chosen three words for 2018:

  1. CREATIVITY
  2. SELF-CARE
  3. SELF-LOVE

2018 is the year of taking care of myself. This is the year of focusing on my personal creative endeavours, of taking care of myself both mentally and physically in every way possible, and learning to truly love and accept myself completely for who I am. I feel good about this. I think this will be a great approach to the year.