Summer Reads: All My Puny Sorrows

If I could only read one author for the rest of my life it would be Miriam Toews. In a heartbeat.sorrows

This passage in her latest book, All My Puny Sorrows, had me sobbing from that weird sad-happy-nostalgic-overwhelming feeling that you get when you passively witness something that makes your heart so happy but also breaks it at the same time. After reading this I just wept and wept. Maybe I’m a total weirdo, but maybe not.

…the other day when walking down a back lane near my place I saw this old couple trying to reach something that was near the top of their garage door. I got closer and saw that they were trying to erase some graffiti but I didn’t know what it was. And then I saw that the man was standing on a really low stool, it was only six or seven inches off the ground, and the woman was standing behind him, like spotting him, holding on to his hips so he wouldn’t fall. I just wanted to cry. They were so old. And so concerned for each other, and just wanting to have a nice, clean garage. they were helping each other like that and the stool was only half a foot off the ground, but it would have been a disaster if he’d fallen. 

That’s beautiful, said Elf. Her eyes were closed. I hope their garage stays clean forever. 

It won’t, I said. It’ll be covered in graffiti again soon. 

Hmmm, said Elf. 

But what’s so moving about this couple is that they  keep trying to get rid of it. I guess they’ve been doing it all their lives, hoping against all odds that for once it’ll stay clean. 

So many of Toews’ characters just float through her books making the best of the losing hand they’ve been dealt in this life. Maybe that’s why I relate to them so much. Which is totally ridiculous because my life is perfect and amazing.

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Happy Monday…happy summer

So, it’s officially summer and that’s rad. Despite the officialness of it all, my week was rather unsummerlike.  I mean it was, but it wasn’t. There were no weddings, no BBQs, no friends from out of town. There was however, plenty of time outside enjoying the long summer nights, some farmer’s market shopping and fresh flower picking and plenty of face time with those that mean the most to me.

I’m happy to say that with regards to the summer goals I made for myself the other day, I am right on track. I saw an opportunity for balance this week and I took it. I embraced the downtime and held it near. And I even threw in some spontaneity late Sunday afternoon. 🙂

Full disclosure: I’m trying so hard not to list off what I did this week because I know it would be horrendously boring for anyone who doesn’t know me. Or anyone who is not me, really.

So with that I’ll just stop.

For your eyes: 35 Practical Steps Men Can Take to Support Feminism. I can’t tell you how much I loved this. Men, if you truly believe in gender equality, please read this. And if there is anything on this list that you don’t already do, start doing it.

For your ears: This is perfect. 

For your health: I don’t know what to say. It’s summer. I’ve been getting outside a lot for runs and hikes and that’s great. I’ve also been taking rest days instead of pushing myself when I probably could have been pushing myself. I’ve been eating mostly healthy but also eating out a lot and really enjoying that. I don’t know. Balance?

For the win: I made my first financial investment last week. I’ve been contributing to an RRSP for quite a few years now, but it’s never done anything other than just sit there. On Thursday I went in to increase my monthly contributions and take that money and put it some place that might offer me more than 1% return. I opted for a low-moderate risk mutual fund. It was terrifying and a small first step.

Best Summer Yet…

Oh heck yes. The summer of 2014 is prime to be my best one in years and I am so freaking excited about it. Why, you wonder? Well, there are three glaringly obvious reasons:

  1. I only have 1 job and don’t usually work much more than 40 hours a week. This time last year I was lucky if I logged less than 55 hours between my two jobs. It’s hard to enjoy all the extras of summer when you barely have free time. At least it was for me.
  2. I’m not carrying any debt. We all know summer is expensive, but my goodness, it is so much less stressful when you’re not worrying about how all the fun activities are going to set you back in your debt repayment schedule.
  3. I’ve been more or less insomnia free since January. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without sleeplessness and it’s absolutely amazing. There will be a blog post on this in the next month or so.

Plus I’m committing myself to the following:

This summer I will enjoy all the things. You know what I mean by things right? BBQ’s, out of town guests, weddings, festivals, weekends away. Summer things. This year I’m committing to really enjoying each and every one of them. Last summer I caught myself feeling so burnt out that I was actually dreading all these awesome summer things as they approached in my calendar. Like, ugh another BBQ with my awesome friends tonight? I’d rather not. This summer will not be like that.

This summer I will not get trapped in routine. I love routine, so much so that I have the tendency to get overly attached to it. This just doesn’t jive with the summer months, months filled with last minute plans to play lawn games in the park and months filled with vacations and friends in town. Being married to the notion that, for example I do an 8km trail run every Wednesday is not going to work. This summer I’m going to take a chill pill and be more willing to go with the flow.

On that note, this summer I will be more spontaneous.  This summer I want to detach myself from plans and assumptions and just roll with it, say yes to to fun last minute invitations with excitement instead of stress. Or say no when it’s not how I want to be spending my time.

This summer I will strive for balance. In the midst of all the things and good times and spontaneity, I still want to have time for what’s important to me and what keeps me centred–time with my most important people, exercise, and quiet time to myself. This summer I won’t get swept away, instead I’ll stay grounded by prioritizing what keeps me that way.

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

I Support BC Teachers

Full disclosure: Both of my parents are retired BC teachers. 

For any of you who think this strike is about anything other than the kids, please read the words of my friend Jess:

Did you know?

  • A completely dependant child with special needs does not receive enough funding to cover the day? Even if they are known to self injure?
  • Children, with extreme behaviours, including violent outbursts and bolting, only get 6 hours of extra help a week?
  • That children are coming to school that we literally can’t understand and they only qualify for 1 half an hour session of speech therapy a week for 6 weeks, if they are lucky?
  • More children are coming to school with behaviour and sensory needs but they are closing Occupational Therapists’ positions?
  • That it can take up to 3/4 years for a child to get tested so they can be designated?
  •  That we teachers care so deeply that we buy school supplies, shoes, clothes, food, books, and birthday presents for those in need? 
  • I believe your children deserve a good education. So does every other educational professional I’ve personally had the pleasure of working with. That is why we are in this predicament. That is why I will risk not being able to pay my mortgage. We believe.

This is a woman who would make an effort every morning to wear nice clothes, do her hair, and put on perfume even though she was teaching a room full of 5-year-olds, because she felt these 5-year-olds deserved her utmost respect. What kind of respect is the BC government showing her in return? Shame on you BC Liberals.

If I ever have a child I can only hope that all of her teachers will be like Mrs. McPhee.

 

 

 

 

Happy Monday…from a girl who happily lives with her boyfriend

This week had me so thankful that Kurt and I took the plunge this April and moved in together. With the exception of Sunday afternoon and evening, the only time we saw each other over the last seven days was in passing. My evenings were filled with outdoor activities, and friends from out of town, and work stuff, while Kurt’s were filled with sports. He is a sports lover if I’ve ever known one and with the NBA and NHL play offs on top of his usual squash, lacrosse and basketball games, I’m lucky I even saw him in passing. 🙂

On the weekend we both took separate trips to Vancouver. Him for more sports that I will not elaborate on for fear that you judge my wonderful man. Me for a family reunion. My family is…complicated. The fact that 22 out of 28 of us were able to gather togehter for several hours without blood being drawn was a great thing and I’m so happy I got to be there for this historic event.

For your eyes: I work for a non-profit with a very traditional marketing strategy. Sometimes I feel like I would give half my salary to hire someone who could come up  with something as innovative as these ads. But then I remember how much I make and that plan is scrapped pretty quickly.

For your ears: The CBC’s First Listen of First Aid Kit’s new album Stay Gold is no longer available online, but you can listen to the first single here. With this latest album these young women are showing their talent and maturity. It’s beautiful.

For your health: I was thinking of writing a post like this one, but I didn’t. This is probably better than I could do anyways.

For the win: Rounds 3 and 4 of Friends in Town happened and it was great. My friends Laura and Steph both vistited the island this week. Both amazing women who moved to Calgary for their careers. Both can’t wait until they can move back.

 

Healthy Food That Tastes Good: Esquites

 

esquites

I only first heard of Esquites, or Mexican Corn Salad, in March when Kurt and I were down in Texas. We ordered it to “share” at the recommendation of the bartender, and like all delicious food we decide to split, I immediately ate almost all of it. I felt very happy because it was so delicious, but also sad because I didn’t think I’d ever get to eat it again. It never occurred to me that I could make it myself, until this week.

Because I literally made no modifications to the recipe, I’ll just give you the link to avoid any plagiarism accusations.

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad) Recipe

The above serves 4 and has about 275 calories per serving if you use low fat mayonnaise.

Ok, maybe this isn’t the healthiest meal around, but it certainly isn’t the worst. And it tastes so good! To make sure you’re still getting all your other nutrients, I’d suggest pairing it with a big salad and a bit of protein.

Enjoy!