I think I need to try harder…

Wow. I am really not delivering on my goal to publish at least twice a month… At least I have an excuse this time, I guess? Sorta?

Most of the month of April involved dealing with some (what I originally though were) minor health concerns: fatigue, lethargy, semi-unusual aches and pains, etc.  They were causing me enough problems to affect my daily life, so I figured I should probably get checked out just in case. What I expected to be a simple, by the books doctor appointment ended with me having to go for testing for several conditions, including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. My doctor even booked my follow up appointment for me before I even left the exam room. This in combination with his urgency that I go get the blood work done as soon as possible, had me freaked right out. I went for my blood work the following morning and settled in to wait the LONG week before my follow up appointment. During that week, after researching (THANKS, ANXIETY), I almost had myself convinced I had lupus! It was good news, however, when I walked into my doctor appointment the following week. As it turns out, I am quite anemic. Who knew an iron deficiency could actually have serious effects on your life! Since then, I have been on some heavy duty iron supplements, and I am finally starting to notice improvements. I don’t think I have ever been so relieved as I was on that day. Knowing that I am dealing with something that can be fixed with a supplement is a huge stress release.

Before the doctor scared the poopers out of me, I actually made some minor upgrades around home. A new dresser, a bookcase replaced, a new vacuum cleaner… things of that nature. It has felt really good to make these changes around my home and update it a bit. I’ll have lived here for two years come July, and it was time for some little changes to be made. I also have plans to build a new headboard for my bed sometime this summer. I think it is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to have things exactly how I want them!

Along with these minor upgrades, the cats received some extra goodies as well. They now finally have a cat tree to climb and play on! Tobi loves it, and I’ve yet to really see Huxley use it, but I am sure he will in time.

Huxley has turned out to be an absolutely wonderful addition to my little family. He and Tobi play so well together, and he has taken to me as his human as I could have only hoped he would. He is very much a part of the family, and I love to my two babies as much as if he was always here. He has started snuggling in bed with my at bedtime each night, and it makes me so happy. As I always seem to be telling him, he is the best decision I have made in the past two years. He is very comfortable here and he knows he is loved.

Tobi went to the vet this month as well, she was overdue for vaccinations and I felt she needed a proper check up as well. We tried a different one this time, a new veterinary clinic that has opened up a short two minute drive from home. They took to her right away, and were impressed with how chill she was. She was given a clean bill of health, aside from her usual issues, and she got her shots as well. The highlight, however, was her weigh in. She weighed in at 6.6 kg, which is approximately 14.5 lbs. This is the lightest she has been since she was about a year old! After several years, she has finally attained a healthy weight. This new vet had absolutely no concerns about her weight because “she is clearly a large cat.” It felt so nice to have someone else understand that there was NO WAY Tobi could possibly weigh 10 lbs and still be considered healthy. We left the appointment that day with Tobi feeling sufficiently traumatized and me feeling completely satisfied with the service we received. It seemed just the news we needed to gear up for Tobi’s 9th birthday this past Tuesday. I bought the kitties a Meowbox to celebrate her birthday this year. It was enjoyed by all.

Tobi: “Is this all for me?!”

I am home from work today, not feeling well at all. I am taking this opportunity to practice a bit of self care, which included some blog activity, because I do miss it when I don’t write for it. It gets some feelings out there, and it helps me feel more social, being an introvert and all. HOPEFULLY I do a better job of staying on top of things in the future.

In the meantime, I will keep on playing World of Warcraft and reading up a storm. Since I finally  finished the train wreck that was The Goldfinch after a year and a half, I have been reading up a storm and it feels great.

Life Reboot Take Two – An Update 

It’s been two months since Life Reboot Take Two was published on May 15, 2016.The first few weeks were off to a great start, especially regarding food and eating and physical activity. I made it to 10,000 steps in a day for the first time, and actually lost about five pounds! Alas, in June and early July it all fell apart. June was the busiest and most stressful month of 2016 for me, and it really had a detrimental effect. I gained back the weight I lost and then a bit more as a result. I also had some very frustrating issues with my Fitbit which now seem to be resolved. I struggled a lot with having no real consistency in my routine. I wrote the final exam for my CIP course on July 4, and took a few days to recover. This week I am ready to get things back on track. Let’s take a detailed look at how I did with each item I put on my list:

Drink less pop

I did really well with this in those initial few weeks. I only had at most a 591ml bottle once a week; usually just a can. This was in comparison to 2-3 per week or maybe even more. Unfortunately, during June it all went out the window. I turned to pop for a caffeine boost over coffee. It was less intense and I was out of coffee for most of the month anyway. It was just a bad scene all around. 

Goal: Get back down to a maximum of one can of pop per week. 

Read more

This item went completely the opposite way of my first item. During the first few weeks I read a few pages here and there, which was already more than I was reading previously. It seemed like as I got more stressed, the more I was inclined to read. By the end of June I had finished three books, and made a good dent in The Goldfinch as well.

Goal: Read 100 more pages of The Goldfinch by the end of July.

Write more 

I tried, but didn’t write quite as much as I’d have liked. I worked at journaling a bit, but I didn’t have a whole lot of luck. Through June, I stopped writing completely aside from jotting down the odd to-do list. I picked up with the journaling a bit post-final, but not by much. 

Goal: Write a minimum of half a page each day in my notebook, publish one more blog post in July.

Sleep better/more

I have not been sleeping better OR more all along. The more stressed I got the later I stayed up and the more poorly I slept. 

Goal: Find a sustainable bedtime and wake up time and keep it up for one month. 

Practice better self care

I really need to do a better job at this. It just isn’t happening at this point. 

Goal: Take a minimum of 10 minutes each day to check in with and look after myself.

Eat better foods in more reasonable portions

I did great initially, but again, fell off the wagon once the pressure mounted. I started taking the easy ways out again – ordering take out and the like. I’m still not completely comfortable with cooking for one, and that needs to happen as well.

Goal: No more ordering in/eating out in July and no more than twice in August. 

Exercise more

I got off to a great start with being more active and I really enjoyed it. I started with my main focus being a 10,000 step per goal. That went pretty well until around mid-June or so, when I started encountering some serious issues with the accuracy of my Fitbit. Step goals faltered then, but according to my phone I was still managing about 7000 steps each day without really trying. I even added some periodic workouts. This has continued to slow down and decrease though as it has been quite hot and not exactly ideal for walking. 

Goal: Work back up to 10,000 steps a day, 2 workouts per week (yoga or otherwise).

July 11th was the first day I really focused on turning things back around. On that day alone I grocery shopped, cooked a healthy dinner, did a workout, wrote a bit in my notebook, didn’t drink any pop, and read a few pages of a new book borrowed from a coworker. I am working now to find a new balance, and hopefully one that sticks. I have been writing on a daily basis since the 11th. It is just journaling, but we all need a starting point right? This is a good sign!

I had a lot of other thoughts over this period of time that seem rather pertinent to this reboot. Firstly, that I am thankful for my coworker and super awesome need-friend Jen for being so supportive through all of the stress and whatnot throughout June. I was struggling and had it not been for her, I don’t think I’d have managed nearly as well as I did. I am going to try a new approach going forward: smaller goals that work toward the main goals of this reboot. I am hoping that smaller concrete goals will be more effective than the all-encompassing goals of the reboot as a whole. These smaller goals are what I wrote down after my recap of each large goal above. I may even come up with some small daily goals to keep me even more motivated. 

On another note, this week I am one year single and on own. Some of the memories popping up on Facebook right now are hard to see. I am keeping my head up however, and doing well overall. I have my home (which I love), I also my cat (whom I love arguably more than life itself), I am doing the things I want to do and that make me happy, I am happy at my job (even if it does get stressful at times), and I am (mostly) happy with myself. I have nothing of substance to complain about! 

Anyway, stay tuned for another update in the near future! 

Life Reboot Take Two

About six months or so ago, maybe more now, I was inspired by Wil Wheaton to reboot my life just as he did his. While he has been successful overall, my own reboot was dismal. I have fail pretty miserably on all but one item: using my phone more appropriately. Yay for me, I guess?

I’m feeling worse physically than I did when I set up my original version of this. This time I desperately need to start making some massive, very drastic changes in my lifestyle. It’s time to genuinely live for myself and my health and try not to let my anxiety and depression get in the way of things like I did last time. It’s funny (funny-frustrating not funny-haha) that these are things that will help me improve my overall mental health, and yet my mental illness doesn’t want me to do these things. Mental illness, especially depression is an asshole, yo. But this is my time to win, to beat this asshole for real. I want to not only feel better, I want to BE better, and happy and healthy in my body. It was a huge eye opener for me when I realized that doing laundry was a struggle for me when it wasn’t not so long ago. I really wanted to cry about it, but didn’t and I won’t. I’m fixing it instead.

As a first step in fixing how I feel, I want to try this again. Sadly though, I’ve really been beating myself up a lot over it, and the self-loathing is hanging like a massive dark cloud over the whole project. I hope that writing about this will help me work through those feelings, I know I can’t possibly be the only one struggling with this sort of things. I’m really hopefully that writing about both the struggle and my progress will help me work through the whole larger problem – working through severe lack of motivation due to depression…anxiety…illness…feeling bad physically…etc…etc…etc…

So, let’s start with a new list of things in my life that need rebooting:

Drink less pop

In my original reboot, I had “drink less pop and coffee” on the list. I was drinking far too much of both. Caffeine in the coffee was doing bad things to me, and pop is…well, pop. It’s basically a ton of sugar and is completely detrimental to what I am trying to accomplish for myself here. Looking back, I was actually very successful in cutting back on coffee. I now only drink caffeinated coffee periodically on weekends or on especially bad mornings, while I normally drink decaf coffee most of the time I choose to have a coffee. The struggle now is cutting back on drinking pop. I drink far too much of it. I am having a can or a bottle of it two to three times a week. That is far too often. My goal is to make pop more of an occasional beverage, rather than a regular one. I intend to replace it with water and/or tea. I have started buying lemon to spice up the flavour of the water, and the majority of the teas I have are decaf and/or herbal and overall very healthy. I also intend to increase my daily intake of water to approximately 2 litres ideally. Putting less sugar into my body should have a multi-faceted result: decreased anxiety, and helping jump-start weight loss. Drinking more water should help get my metabolism going as well as decrease water retention. I struggle with swelling hands and feet periodically. The whole change should be a winning one.

Read more

This one was on the list for my original reboot as well. I’ve been trying to read more for ages, even after it was apparently my original reboot was an utter failure. It has been shockingly difficult even though reading has been one of my favourite things since I first learned how to read. Over the past months, I did start paying attention to possible reasons WHY I was reading as much as I would like. I came to a surprising realization, something I didn’t expect: I spend a lot of time in front of the TV watching/catching up on TV shows. Somehow TV had become a higher priority than reading. I’ve also developed an annoying habit of starting books and then forgetting about them. I think, to be successful with this list item, I need to focus on changing these habits. I need to and will be focusing a lot less on watching television and more on trying to read a few pages here and there when I have a free few minutes. I also plan to finish the books I’ve started and forgotten before I move on to the rest of my to-read list. I have high hopes I will be more successful with this list item since I have pinpointed the major issues that were curbing my potential success in the past. Next will just be making time regularly to pick up my book/e-reader.

Write more

I have had a bit more success with this list item relatively recently, actually. From early March to early April, I actually participated in a 30-day writing challenge. Over those 30 days I wrote at least a few lines every day and it felt great. I haven’t done quite as well as that since the challenge ended, but I have found myself putting a lot more planning and passion into posts for my blog, with some of them taking days or even weeks (like this one! I’ve been working on this post for close to a month now!) to be written to my satisfaction. I guess you could say I’ve been feeling something along the lines of “inspired”, and when it comes to writing from and about life. I also think the quality of my writing has greatly improved. With this list item, I would like to start writing at least a few lines each day, as well as publish posts to my blog on a weekly basis at least. It’s a tall order for me, but I think it is something that will be easy to keep up with once I get into a routine. I’m excited to pick things up with this because it’s another thing I love.

Sleep better/more

I feel like the general consensus on this one is no one seems to get enough sleep or good quality sleep. I can definitely say I am one of those people who doesn’t get nearly enough good quality sleep. I’ve been working on that in general because sleep is super important. I’ve been trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and not consume any caffeine of any kind (if I do that day) after noon. I have noticed some improvement, but I feel like I still have a long way to go. I plan to try some different things to try and be successful with this list item – they include aromatherapy, and creating a bedtime routine to stick to. I am also hoping that I will be able to find a way to keep track of the quality of sleep I get. Adding these, or variations of these to my plans for better sleep will be a winning combination.

Practice better self-care

This is something I don’t do well with. I never seem to take great care of myself and it’s something that causes me a lot of problems along the way. Not practicing self-care leads to breakdowns related especially to my anxiety; it leads me to isolating myself from my friends and family when things get bad, it leads to not eating well, not sleeping well, and a boatload of other things. It’s just not pretty when I don’t practice self-care regularly. So, for this list item I will be putting more effort into self-care; doing things that are good for me, good for my body. In putting together this new collection of things to reboot in my life, I did notice an interesting overlap: all of the things I will be doing fall under the umbrella of self-care in one way or another.  Adding the specific list item though, creates intention to work harder at it in the other ways that are not included in the list. I need to remember to do more things that make me feel good about myself: hair appointments are a perfect example. If I don’t love my hair, I am definitely less happy with myself. I love experimenting and trying new things with my hair, so it’s something that is important and therefore something I can’t forget to do. There are other things, but this is a very easy example. I am also going to revisit the list of self-care items I developed with my therapist, as I found it very helpful. Self-care needs to be a priority and I intend to make it happen!

Eat better foods in more reasonable portions

This exact item was on the previous list. It makes its return because I have failed this one miserably and continue to do so. Living on my own has made this one incredibly difficult because it is SO hard to find the motivation to cook for one. I’ve done tons of reading on ways to make it easier but they haven’t done a thing to motivate me. At this point, I think I have to find/develop the motivation from within. This is going to be hard. It also seems, through a bit of research (admittedly though, not a doctor diagnosis) that I may struggle with disordered eating, so this list item is two-fold: eat better by cooking more for myself, and create new healthy eating habits by overcoming this disordered eating. I don’t think this item will be easy for me at all. To help me get started though, I made myself a colourful little poster with a list of reasons why I should cook for myself at home rather than order take out. I think it is a good jumping-off point for me. The first step is to get me to stop ordering and cook for myself. I’ll admit though, this item may be one of the most difficult.

Exercise more

This final item was also on the previous list. It’s also another item I miserably failed at for a number of reasons. For one, I am not an athletic person.  I’m much more the clumsy type. And the biggest reason: again, with the lack of motivation. I’ve done many things in many attempts to get moving more. I bought a gym membership. That was the biggest step I’ve taken toward exercising more. Turns out, I do not enjoy the gym and therefore hasn’t worked out so great so far. I am going to give it another go though, I think. Most recently though, as in within the past couple of weeks, I think I discovered the key to keep up my motivation to move. I am in a fitness group on Facebook, and not only are they very encouraging, but a large number of people in that group swear by their Fitbits. About a week ago, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I installed the Fitbit app, which can still be used with just my phone and no device linked to it. I found it to be excellent. Through my phone it was able track basic stats like steps taken (as long as I keep my phone on my person) and distance travelled. It was really neat to see. Having these stats at my fingertips seems to be the key to keeping me motivated. I also participated in my first couple of challenges. I was in a challenge last Thursday with seven other people, and WOW, all I wanted to do was move! It felt fantastic. With the success of it using my phone only, this weekend I went out and bought an actual Fitbit device. I mulled over which model to get for several days and finally settled on the Fitbit Alta. I’ve been using it since Saturday afternoon and I LOVE IT. In the short time since I’ve been using Fitbit I have already increased my average number of steps per day from 4000 to 5000. I have a long way to go to the doctor-recommended 10,000 steps per day, and I also need to start exercising and sweating much more frequently. The cool thing is Fitbit can track that too. Awesome! It seems that I have found the key to getting me to move more, and that is so important right now. It’s a great start to exercising more.

And so, there we have it: a new and improved life reboot list. I am going to keep track properly this time because I want to make real progress. I want to be happier and healthier, and it has become such an important thing for me. I’m 30 now, and if I don’t take control of things nothing is going to get better. I will continue to feel terrible, I will gain weight, my health will deteriorate… I don’t want any of these things to happen. My goal is to be the happiest and healthiest I have ever been and to develop new healthy habits to keep it going. Being successful in this, I will also be in a much better mental and emotional state than I have ever been and that is definitely something to look forward to. Here’s to my second stab at a life reboot!

img_3539
Probably the most recent photo I have of myself. I don’t feel great about it, but I am ready to change that with this “reboot”. We’ll call it the starting photo…

 

 

Updates

Things have been a bit of a struggle lately. My depression has hit hard… Yet again. Things have fallen behind and been neglected a bit as a result. The good news is I am aware of it now. And now I am trying to focus on getting things under control again. That being said, it’s been a wild few weeks and I’ve managed to do a lot.

Starting on my first day at the new job, which is going GREAT by the way, I started going to the gym and getting my eating under control. I’ve started the process of losing all the weight I’ve gain since I moved out on my own. I have set the goal of reaching my goal weight by the end of the year and to get in MUCH better shape. It seems like a lofty goal now, but I will stick to this and it’s going to be a pretty amazing change come the end of the year. I’ve promised to take myself clothes shopping once I reach my goal weight. I’m also hopeful it will do wonders for helping me manage my depression and anxiety. I did have a nasty cold last week which put a wrench in things for a short period, but things are back on track.

In other news, I turned 30 a week ago on Saturday. Holy crap, I’m 30! It was a really amazing day; better than I could have hoped. I got to spend the day with my best friend and another old friend from high school who I haven’t seen in ages. We had a great time gallivanting about: we went to a local art store, we went out for lunch, we wandered around an office supplies store, an art galleryIMG_2649, and spent an excessive amount in the best yarn store known to man. Then we relaxed and chatted and caught up before we went our separate ways. I think it’s going to become a more regular thing. It was a lot of fun. Bestie and I grabbed a quick dinner at Wendy’s on the way back to my place. As she was getting ready to leave, I got a text from a friend who was supposed to be coming over, asking me if I was busy. I said I wasn’t and was just waiting for her to come over. She talked me into going out to a bar not far from my place because she had a “surprise guest” waiting there for me. I agreed, and Jess dropped me off on her way out-of-town to head back home. The special guests turned out to be some friends I haven’t seen in a couple of years, and it was so great to visit and catch up with them over a few drinks. Add some late night Burrito Boyz burritos and it was a pretty much perfect day. The next day, I spent the afternoon with my dad. We went for dinner at a great English pub, and then we went to go see Deadpool. It was my second time and my dad’s first. He got a kick out of it, so I’d call it a successful outing. Happy 30th birthday to me!

Over the span of my birthday weekend I acquired some new things, birthday presents, I guess they would be, even though I bought some of them myself. I have a few new books to readIMG_2661, a new colouring book and IMG_2700pencil crayons, some new candles, some new journals (of a couple different natures: a Moleskine journal and a Wreck This Journal!), and a new video game: The Witcher 2. I have played it for a few hours so far, and those few hours went by SO fast… I can’t wait to keep playing. Hopefully, a bit this week. I hope to write a bit more about the game in the near future. I just want to get back into the routine of posting regularly again first. That, and play more than I have.

Now, back to the job. I am about to start week 4 at said new job, and so far it is going very well. I have met some great people, the hours are treating me well, and the workload and difficulty of the work isn’t too far from what it was at my old job. And for more money. So, all in all, it’s great! Changing jobs was an excellent decision for me. I enrolled for my benefits with this job last week, and I also enrolled in an RRSP. Guy! I have retirement savings started! I adulted so hard and I am so proud of myself. It’s not much just starting off, but just the fact that things are started makes me breathe a sigh of relief. At least the ball is rolling now.

As you can see, it has been an eventful few weeks, all while struggling more than usual. I did a few things to help myself through as best I could. I will continue doing what I can to help myself pull out of this rut. This weekend I managed to clean my apartment from top to bottom and get things under control at home, and I’ve spent a lot of time relaxing by way of colouring.IMG_2699 It has definitely helped, in combination with the gym and generally taking better care of myself (as much better as I can manage…it’s still by no means exactly what I need). I’m not where I’d like to be mentally, but I can say that I am doing much better than I was even a week ago. I just need to continue making positive progress. And with the way things are going now, I will.

 

The To-Read List…

I spent a couple of days this week going through my books because I was close to finishing one of the ones I’ve been working on. It turned into compiling my to-read list or rather, my to-read pile. Now that it’s together, it’s quite intimidating!

Three of the books are books I have read in the past and want to revisit, but the majority are books I have never read before.  There are twelve in total, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you look at them…

img_2349The photo is terrible, but the list is as follows (from top to bottom):

  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
  • The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • From Hell by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
  • Spontaneous by Joe Harris & Brett Weldele

Since taking this photo earlier tonight, I also added The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien to the list, I started reading it well over a year ago and still haven’t finished it. It’s time to work on that one again, along with the rest of these. Three of them are already on the list to read for my 30 Before 30 list, and here’s hoping I will still be able to finish them in time. An update on that will be coming probably next week, since time is becoming short. Only a few more weeks left before my 30th birthday! Wow, how time flies!

It’s been a crazy week, and a not-all-together bad one! Hopefully more details on that in my next post as things develop.

A 30 Before 30 Update

It is about five months into my 30 Before 30 project, and I thought it’s about time I wrote an update. Not all items on the list are easy to write about, and not all are worthy of posts of their own. A few of the items are quite difficult to write about while they are in progress. So here I am, writing an update post so I can include all of those things. A lot has happened and I am excited to finally write about it all.

As written about in earlier posts, I have learned to crochet. As of a couple of weeks ago, I started my blanket! It’s a bit of an eclectic thing, this blanket I am crocheting. I am using a random collection of yarns scraps and small balls of yarn I have acquired over the past few months. They are different colours and textures, and I think this blanket might end up being the ugliest blanket I have ever seen!wpid-wp-1435100108442.jpgBut it has already proven great fun to crochet, and it is also teaching me how different each yarn is, so it has been an excellent learning experience so far as well. I think it is something I will be very proud of when finished. I am using the corner-to-corner afghan pattern I practiced before. It’s a very pretty pattern and I feel I have made the right choice in choosing it. Starting this blanket was a big accomplishment for me, and it’s just the beginning!

wpid-wp-1435100119716.jpgSeveral weeks ago now, Jay designed and printed an art piece for me for the bedroom based on something he included with my Valentine’s Day gift. I love it. It now sits on my nightstand, but it may move. That’s still to be determined. Either way: mission accomplished. I have more art in my bedroom!

You know, it’s really exciting to say that I have money in a savings account now. It isn’t a lot, but it is definitely there. It will come and go as I save up and buy various things, but just that there is a plan in place for saving money for one purpose or another feels pretty great. Strike that one off the list!

As of yesterday, I officially started attempt number two at a writing course. This course isn’t a “creative writing” course, but rather an effective writing course. I’ve completed the first module, and I already feel like this is a good choice now. I definitely won’t regret it. It’s a course  reviewing the basics of speech, writing and grammar; the “tools of the trade” so to speak. I figure it never hurts to review the basics periodically. This course will give me a good foundation for future writing attempts.

Reading a lot is also very good for writing, and so far I have managed to read two contemporary fiction novels out of the goals of five I set for myself. They were The Luminaries by Eleanor Carton and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I also have two now  in progress: The Quest by Nelson DeMille and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have actually surprised myself with how quickly this item on my list has moved along.

I find I am always learning new things these days. It’s hard to find just one thing I’ve learned to share on my list. I’ve found that a lot of the things I have learned have been about personal growth. Others are interesting facts or skills. Here is my list so far:

  1. The Bystander Effect – the more people there are around, the less likely a person will react to a situation (i.e. seeing someone being attacked) (Jan 2015)
  2. I can control my path. I’ve just kind of let things happen for so long. I know now that I have complete control over where my life goes and what I do with it. My confidence has increased since I learned this. (Feb 2015)
  3. I have a lot more value than I think I do. I don’t often think about the impact I have or have had on others’ lives. A few conversations have taken place recently to help me have a better grasp of the value I do have – to myself and others. (Mar 2015)
  4. I learned the basics of building a Magic:The Gathering deck! (Apr 2015)
  5. Set backs do not equal failure. I had a major setback this month, with the help of Jay and my therapist, I have come to better understand that a setback is just that: a setback. It doesn’t mean I have failed at the task at hand. (May 2015)

I will soon be adding June’s item. Not sure what it will be yet!

I’ve added another local restaurant and new food to the list as well. I wrote about them both just last week. Here are the lists so far as a recap:

Try 3 local restaurants I’ve never tried before:

  1. The Byron Freehouse
  2. The Early Bird Cafe

Try 5 brand new foods:

  1. El Diablo hot chocolate – Feb 14, 2015
  2. “The Closer”: a deep-fried chicken sandwich – Apr 18, 2015
  3. Turducken Deli Club – Jun 13, 2015

I will be sad when these items are completed. It has been so much fun so far.

This next item, I am not at all surprised that I have crossed it off the list. I have watched twelve new movies already. It was incredibly easy to complete this item. I didn’t even have to try that hard. These are the movies I watched:

  1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Jan 11, 2015)
  2. The Fault in Our Stars (Feb 6, 2015)
  3. There Will Be Blood (Feb 21, 2015)
  4. Jupiter Ascending (Feb 28, 2015)
  5. Kingsman:The Secret Service (Mar 6, 2015)
  6. Anna Karenina (Mar 7, 2015)
  7. 21 Jump St (Apr 20, 2015)
  8. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Apr 25, 2015)
  9. The Host (May 16, 2015)
  10. Mirror, Mirror (May 16, 2015)
  11. Legion (June 6, 2015)
  12. The Great Gatsby (June 8, 2015)

I enjoyed some more than others. My favourites were probably The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Watch them!

As I wrote about way back in February, I am  still hoping to host or at the very least collaborate on a proper game night at some point this summer. I had originally discussed planning it as a joint venture with my sister, but I am unsure. Currently the time and place is yet to be determined. I also hope to have more games to play along with Forbidden Desert, even though it is a great game.

As you have read here, a lot of movement has been made on this list, even though it doesn’t seem like many things have been crossed off. The items I have made progress on are the ones that tend to involve many steps, and may seem kind of daunting. Thankfully it wasn’t! It has been quite fun and enjoyable so far. I look forward to continuing to tick things off my list, and sharing more of my progress here on the blog.

Reading Some Contemporary Fiction

One of the goals on my 30 before 30 list is to read five contemporary fiction novels. A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished the first. It was a hulk of a book, almost 850 pages long. It has taken six whole months to finish this book. It was a satisfying finish though, well worth the time it took to get to it. It also felt good to return it to its owner!  I borrowed it from a coworker who recommended it to me after reading it herself. We both share similar tastes when it comes to reading, so we tend to trade recommendations and lend each other books. It’s a good system we have going. I have already read a few books I wouldn’t have read if it hadn’t been for her recommendations.

TheluminariescoverThis book I speak of is The  Luminaries by Eleanor Catton; winner of the 2013 Man Booker prize. This author is only 30 years old, and the youngest author both short-listed AND winner of the prize. What an achievement while still so young! Funny enough, I was reading around the internet recently and learned that Eleanor Catton was born in the city I have called home for the past five years. Talk about an interesting tidbit of information!

The Luminaries is an interesting story: Walter Moody arrives in Hokitika, New Zealand in 1866 and stumbles upon a secret meeting between 12 men connected in a some ways through recent events around the town: the death of a hermit, a rich prospector’s disappearance, a suicide attempt by a well-known prostitute, and the discovery of a large fortune in the dead hermit’s cabin all on the same night. All of the events and the men are linked, and their goal is to find out how. A tale of intrigue and deception is woven in the months after the four strange events and the men, including Walter Moody, work together to try to put it all together.

The Luminaries is the best book I have read in a very long time. It kept me wanting more and it made me think, trying to fit all the events together. It was very satisfying to get to the end of the book and discover I was on the right track! Ms. Catton’s writing style was excellent as well. The layout of the book was compelling as well, in keeping with the themes of the story. The chapters at the beginning were very long, often more than 40 pages, and as the book progressed the chapters became progressively shorter, being as short as a half-page by then end. It kept reading the book very engaging. I hope in the future to buy it for myself, as it is a book I would like to revisit again in the future.

I’ve been on a bit of a reading kick, and just this past week, I finished my second work of contemporary fiction: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a book published in 2012. A much shorter novel than The Luminaries, I read this one because of another recommendation; one from a fellow blogger this time. It’s a fast-paced novel with an interesting plot, making you want to keep reading it right to the very end.

Clayton Jannon is a designer finding himself unemployed in the midst of a grand recession. He spends months looking for work with no luck, but stumbles on a help-wanted sign in the door of a strange-looking bookstore.24-hour bookstore cover  He gets the job based on his ability to climb a three-story ladder, and becomes an employee of Mr. Penumbra working the night shift. While working for Mr. Penumbra, he fields odd requests from Mr. Penumbra himself, some even more odd clients, and he starts to come across some bizarre secrets. These secrets lead him, his best friend and the girl he is dating, Kat Potente, to a book cult called “The Unbroken Spine” and decoding the “codex vitae” or life book of the found of the cult, after overcoming several obstacles including the cult’s leader, a man who believes computers don’t have a place within it.

Though an interesting book, I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed The Luminaries. I enjoyed the story and the general concept of the connections between technology and books and what place they have in society both now and in the future; it had some interesting implications. It was, at the very least, a book that made me think.

I am hoping the next will provoke some more thinking. I can’t believe that I’m almost halfway done with this particular task on my list. Three more contemporary fiction novels to read, with one currently in progress. It has been really nice to start reading again. I went for months without being able to finish a book, and in the past two weeks I have managed to read two. It was like going back to when I was younger. I felt the passion for reading again like I haven’t felt in ages.

 

Reading All of the Books!

To move forward with the 30 before 30 project, I realized that there are a number of things that I need to do and put in place to really make it happen. One of these things was making lists. Many lists to keep track of all the things and to figure out some starting points. The first list I tackled after the initial list of things I need to do to get started, was the list of books I own that I haven’t read yet. I had to go through my shelf and make a list of books I have yet to read. It took a bit of time as my bookshelf is quite full. My book collection used to be much larger too, believe it or not. Many of my books are in storage currently, and a couple of years back I donated some and sold many more to a used book store for credit to buy yet more books. To put it plainly, I love reading and my home would simply feel empty without the books I have in it.

I was actually surprised at how few books there are in my bookshelf that I haven’t read. There were exactly 3:

  1. The Plague Dogs – by Richard Adams
  2. The English Patient – by Michael Ondaatje
  3. The Phantom of the Opera – by Gaston Leroux

I feel like this task will be daunting, nevertheless I am going to do it! They are slightly heavier reads, being that they are mostly classics. I will come out triumphant and will be very excited to be able to cross this off my list when it is accomplished. Let’s get this project started. 🙂

My 2014 Reading List – So Far

Reading plans for 2014 have commenced and I’ve gotten started on this year’s reading challenge as well worth one book completed. I wrote about it in my last books post because I do issued it on New Year’s Day… Close enough all around – to write about for 2013 and contribute to 2014’s challenge.

I plan to finish the two books I have on my currently reading list first and foremost. I’m making significant progress with A Dance with Dragons at the moment, while I am still waiting to get The Book Thief back. I hope I get it back soon. I am now number 21 of 70 in line for the book apparently.

My reading list (aside from the two above) for this year has six books on it and of course, more will be added. This year seems to be the year of series and trilogies for me so far. My reading list is as follows so far:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent #2)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3)
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (MaddAddam #2)
MadAddam (MaddAddam #3) by Margaret Atwood
The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams

I had a hold on Insurgent at the library and got my hands on it a couple of days ago. It was another quick, fun read like Divergent was. I now have a hold on Allegiant and hope to be getting my hands on it soon. It may be a little while since it is a new release and the line seems to be rather long…

I had a copy of The Silmarillion when I was about 12, and I have absolutely no idea what happened to it. Jay being awesome, remembered me telling him this and gave me a new copy for Christmas along with my new copy of Cat’s Eye. I’m not completely sold on Margaret Atwood as of yet; I’ve read three books of hers so far and loved two. I have heard good things about Cat’s Eye from more than one person and am looking forward to reading it.

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The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam are the next two books in the trilogy started by Oryx and Crake – one of the two books my Margaret Atwood that I loved. I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. I’m getting excited about these books. I think it is going to be a good year for reading!

Also, as a side note, after Oryx and Crake FLOORED me, I insisted that my best friend read it. She’s not a huge reader like I am, but so far she is loving it.

Reading in the End of 2013

Though I didn’t accomplish my goal of reading 40 books last year, I still managed to read quite a few. I read a number of them near the end of the year. From October to December I started six books and finished four.

Of those six books started, I am still working on my second read through of A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It is unusual for me to take longer than a month to read a book, but I think these two are special cases. I find that because I am so attached to some of the characters in the Song of Ice and Fire series that I read it a bit more slowly than most other books. I guess I want to be sure I don’t miss anything! With The Book Thief, it’s a bit more complicated than that.  I borrowed it from my local library’s electronic collection where there is no option to renew your borrowing term. So after my initial borrowing period with this book I had to return it and place a hold on it. I am waiting now to get it back again. Last time I checked I was number 32 of 50 people waiting to get their hands on it, so it could be awhile.

I did manage to finish four other books during that time period aside from those still in progress. Well, technically three since one was a play. In fact, I was dabbling in my first bit of Shakespeare since high school. I didn’t miss it as it turns out. But that’s neither here not there at the moment.  The books/play I read before the end of 2013 were:

  1. The 158-Pound Marriage by John Irving
  2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  3. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. White
  4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

The 158-Pound Marriage is one of John Irving’s early novels and it was actually quite a short one compared to the other books of his that I am familiar with. I do have a small collection of his books in my ever growing library! It is a story about two couples who swap partners – referred to as a “menage a quatre” in the synopsis on the back of the book – and its effects on their relationships. I found it a bit slow at first, but it did pick up and made for an interesting read. By no means my favourite John Irving novel, but still a decent read.

I received Divergent as a part of my secret santa gift from one of my co-workers in mid-December. I delved into it right away and finished it in about two days. it was my first foray in to the YA genre since The Hunger Games. The concept of Divergent is an interesting one and it did make for an interesting read. I found the writing style was definitely much younger than I am used to – kind of a cross between Twilight and The Hunger Games in terms of how it is written I think? I can’t quite place it, but it feels familiar.  Regardless, it is a good enough read for me to be waiting on a copy of the next book from the library.

I found Pollyanna on my Kobo app for free. I love the movie as a kid, so I decided to give the book a go. Little did I know, there are several, but I won’t be opening that can of worms. It was written very much like the movie is styled with a few minor variations. I also read this one quite quickly. Not an amazing book and the writing wasn’t very good, but I think I enjoyed it for the sentimental value. It brought me back to my childhood and sleepovers with my grandparents watching the movie.

Lastly, I read A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I did not enjoy Shakespeare in high school and I’ve learned I’m still not a fan. This will probably be the last Shakespearean play I read. Everyone has their preference. Shakespeare is just not one of mine.

The end of 2013 was a very busy time for me in terms of reading. I definitely did quite a bit of it! Now, I am looking forward to lots more reading in 2014. Stay tuned for a post about my reading list so far this year… Coming soon!