Sunday, October 14, 2012

Moving to Wordpress

Just a quick update to let you know that as a result of some thinking that has come out of my enrollment in Blogging from the Heart, I've decided that Wordpress better suits me for this blog going forward and have moved the blog over there. Please follow me!

Here's the new link: A Little Coffee with my Cream and Sugar.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dating Redux, Summer Edition

I've been dating a little over the last few months. I'm hesitant to discuss it sometimes because I feel like the perpetual single girl who only ever finds temporary Gentleman Friends, and I'm not quite sure how I ended up here! I would very much like to have a cuddle-buddy/assumed Saturday night date/person that I make soup & tea for when they're sick/emergency contact that isn't my dad. But I won't find them without some dating shenanigans. And I'm willing to share the good, bad, ugly & boring with all 5 of my readers! Without further ado, here's the installment of all the dates I can remember since May, gosh I hope this is all of them:
  1. Richy Rich the financial advisor: We met on POF and bonded over our mutual ability to spell circles around the other fish and geek out on insurance products. We met for coffee at 8pm on a Tuesday. He showed up in a suit & tie, having come directly from work. He was nice but talked nonstop about how successful he was. Half an hour in, he told me he had to go because he was scheduled for a 10k training run that evening for an upcoming marathon. Who works till 7:30, goes directly to a first date without adjusting your dress at all, then directly to a 10km run late at night?! He said I was nice but he didn't think I could keep up with him. Lucky for me, I had no interest in trying!
  2. The Bobblehead: We met on eHarmony and flew through the 4 stages of communication in one day, no messing around. He gave me his email right away and asked if I wanted to meet up. I did, and we had dinner at a local restaurant. He was really interesting, though I was disconcerted by a habit that he repeated several times throughout our date: I would answer a question of his with my opinion or a story, and when I'd finished speaking, he would pause for an awkwardly-long period of time in contemplation of what I'd said with an amused smirk on his face, before finally answering. Also, I could never get over how big his head was. You might think I meant his ego, but alas, I mean the actual circumference of his head.
  3. Bore McSnore: This one was from OKCupid. He was artsy and had written passionately about photography exhibits, music and films he loved. Had some great photos there too, as well as an admission I should've treated as the warning it really was that he is "a bit of an introvert." We met at a beer tasting room, and while getting ready I got that familiar pit in my stomach that feels like a bad omen. OMG, how does my gut always know if a date will be awful? He showed up 15 minutes late and didn't smile once. I have never worked so hard to keep a stilted conversation moving along... and he made no effort whatsoever. I left starving, realizing within the first 5 minutes that ordering food would have prolonged the date for far too long. Inexplicably, he seemed to want to order second drinks, but I made excuses about needing to head home, settled up, and headed directly to a nearby restaurant where I regaled the server with the tale of my Most Boring Date Ever. I ordered mini-corn dogs and apple pie to drown my sorrows, thinking things were looking up. But then the corn dogs were mediocre, I dropped one of them on the floor, and they forgot to put in my dessert order. Least satisfying date night in my entire relationship history.
  4. Cafe Owner: Oh, this guy. I'm still shaking my head. I met Mr. Cafe at the new coffee shop around the corner from my house about 3 months ago. He's adorable and always made a point to talk to me and my friends when we came in. After several visits, I had quite the raging crush on him that I enjoyed for what it was: a fun excuse to spend too much on coffee that would never amount to anything. Until I found his cafe's Facebook page and liked it, and then he friended me from his personal account, and we started talking and he asked me out to a movie. We had one super fun evening hanging out outside of his work, and then it quickly became obvious he wanted me to be his booty call girl. He threw a toddler-style temper tantrum over text message when I made it clear that he couldn't have his cake and eat it too. I miss the coffee & scones at his cafe.
  5. And drumroll please.... Firemedic! The only guy I have eyes for right now. He's a firefighter & paramedic, works crazy shifts, and lives an hour away from me... which is tough, because I would like to see him all the time if I could. We have some amazing chemistry. Our first date, we had dinner. God, he smelled so good, I remember that specifically. He talked nervously about himself a lot, and then caught himself and made a joke about it at the end, which I found totally adorable. We went out on his speedboat for hours with a couple of his friends on our second date. There were hotdogs cooked over an open campfire, and swimming in the lake. YOU GUYS, HE SAW ME IN A BIKINI ON OUR SECOND DATE. And I felt oddly comfortable with this! Third date: night market and fun street food. We couldn't say goodbye when we got to our cars, and stood there talking in the street for 45 minutes. He came over and watched movies with me at my house on our 4th date, and we finally kissed. Here's hoping date #5 is soon.
There you have it. I'm very hopeful that Firemedic will limit my need to come up with any monikers for other dates for the foreseeable future - I really like this one! He may put out fires, but he generates all sorts of sparks here :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

For My Grandmother

My amazing maternal grandmother finally passed away about three weeks ago at the age of 101 - yes, she lived over a century and even got a card from the Queen on her 100th birthday (and champagne in her nursing home bed!) This is what I wrote to be read at her memorial service, which happened last Wednesday:
Growing up in Canada, thousands of miles away from my grandmother, I wasn’t able to get to know her well, as many here today will have. This is a sadness for me, but has also been an unexpected blessing in that the rare times I have spent with her have taken on a magical and very special quality. You appreciate with a certain awe the lovely things in your life that you know are rare and precious, and that became the way I treasured time and memories with my Granny.
I’ve sifted through the special memories I have of my Granny in preparation for today, thinking which I could share. There’s the memory of the warm closet where she kept her towels, so at age 5 when I was visiting at her house, she would always have a perfectly warm towel for me when I got out of the bath. I remember how much I loved that simple pleasure.
We don’t have clotted cream in Canada, where I live and grew up, so I remember her going out of her way to serve it with dessert whenever we were visiting, and the ensuing adventure of one particular container of clotted cream as my brother Andrew tried to smuggle it back home on the plane!
There was the time when I was 12 years old and had a crush on a boy for the first time, and I remember thinking that maybe I shouldn’t tell her about him because she might think it was inappropriate or I was too young (even though it was all very innocent!) But when Granny heard that I liked a boy she got quite a sparkle in her eye and wanted all the good gossip! We talked for what seemed like hours that day, sitting in lounge chairs in her back garden.
I saw my Granny for the last time when I came over to travel through Europe for a few months four years ago. She was 97 years old, but still a force to be reckoned with. My uncle and I had afternoon tea with her at her house, and I tried to help out with the food and some light cleaning, but she wouldn’t have any of it – she was still running her own house and very proud of it at that time! I have nothing but admiration for my amazing gran.
More than anything, I’ve always held up my Granny & Grandpa’s relationship as a shining example of what real love looks like. I didn’t get to witness much of it in person, but through stories and my Granny’s actions and words, I knew that what they had was something special. I know that she’s been without the love of her life for 22 years now and she’s been looking forward to seeing him again, and now I’m sure they are together again at last. I only hope to be as lucky as they have been.
I’m not sure I can convey how or why these memories mean so much to me... they are but small, everyday moments in my Granny’s life. But each one shows a snippet of the love, kindness, humour, and tenacious spirit that were all such defining parts of who she was, and that is the woman I hold in my heart as my grandmother. 
I lost my Grandpa on my mother's side when I was just 10 (the husband of my 101-year old granny who just passed) - he was actually born in 1899 if you would believe it! But I had the rest of my grandparents until last year, and all three of them seem to have gone in fairly quick succession. My Granddad on my father's side in January 2011 to lung cancer that progressed and took him very quickly, and then my Grandma (his wife)'s body just about collapsed a few months later... I reckon she died of a broken heart later last year. And now that my Granny is also gone, I no longer have any living grandparents. Last year I was still blessed with three. 

The realization hit me full force today for some reason, and by chance my aunt came into the office with a ring that had belonged to my Grandma. I already have one from my Granny. Now I have one from both of my grandmothers. I love it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Moment the Light Went On

As anyone who's been reading this blog since its inception will have noticed, I have been a very sporadic blogger at best.

Blogging is something I am meant to be doing. Frequently, that little lightbulb goes off in my head that says "this would make a great blog post topic!" and though I want to blog, and sometimes even intend to write that post when I get home, I nearly always have shoved the idea away, consciously, and have been avoiding this blog at all costs.

I haven't been sure why until just recently.

A little backstory here to catch you up on my life at the moment: I'm currently on a working vacation in Hawaii. Vacation, because it's been four years since I've taken a real holiday. Hawaii, because I have never been to a tropical beach location and have been dreaming about it for ages, and it fits the bill for the type of activities that jive nicely with a work retreat. And why am I working on vacation, most of all? Because I needed to work on my business rather than in it. To do that, I needed to get away from work and away from all my regular life distractions, so I can strategize... and if I'm going away physically, I'm killing two birds with one stone and taking a holiday!

I needed to do business strategizing because I've been unhappy with the process and results of two specific parts of my business, and I needed to find a way to make them work for me instead of feeling like I'm fighting against them all the time.

It's become clear to me while working on this strategy that:
  1. I had resigned myself to mediocrity in my career due to my lack of solutions to these business processes that weren't working.
  2. I'm not actually okay with mediocrity, however.
  3. There are still avenues I haven't exhausted for new processes in the areas of my business I've been unhappy about, so I have no business throwing in the towel and pretending they're unfixable. And, interestingly:
  4. While my primary focus with this strategic planning session on my day job, I've been hearing this clear voice that keeps telling me that blogging needs to be a regular part of my life. It doesn't need to be part of my job strategy, but it needs to be a part of my life strategy.
 And in seeing all four of these insights together, I realized that the avoidance of this blog has been due to my resignation to mediocrity. I may have settled in some aspects of my life, but I am really passionate about blogging (I know! I don't actually even participate in my passion. The irony is not lost on me) and I was not okay with having a mediocre blog. And I think I had started to believe that I could do no better than mediocre, so it was easier to just not blog at all than to do it poorly. There's also some fear that this blog will not measure up to the one I wrote previously, before starting my business. If you don't try, you can't fail, right?

WRONG. So, so, so wrong. Not participating in your passion = GIANT FUCKING FAIL.

Another thing I do that is pretty dumb, when I have the presence of mind to actually think about it? Believing that past results determine future results. It's a sign that I'm a bit jaded and have been bashed about by life a little bit, but that doesn't make it true. It doesn't matter how many times I have failed or will continue to fail at things in the future, or how many times I don't live up to my own hopes. That doesn't mean I should lower the bar, and it doesn't mean I can't ever succeed at anything, though I'd say it's pretty likely that I won't if I stop trying.

In the words of Thomas Edison,

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Maybe You're Gonna Come Back

The lyrics from the song "Maybe" by Ingrid Michaelson are really hitting home for me today. This song says to me that you can't keep someone by refusing to let them go... so you let them go, and hope they might come back one day. In the meantime you get on with your life. I know that Mike is not coming back, and that I probably shouldn't want him to. But I am still sad and I still miss him every single day. Sometimes I just want him to show up on my doorstep unannounced, envelop me in a bear hug, and tell me he came to his senses and will never walk away again.

I don't wanna be the one to say goodbye
But I will, I will, I will
I don't wanna sit on the pavement while you fly
But I will, I will, oh yes I will

'Cause maybe in the future, you're gonna come back

You're gonna come back around
Maybe in the future you're gonna come back
You're gonna come back

Oh, the only way to really know is to really let it go

Maybe you're gonna come back, you're gonna come back
You're gonna come back to me

I don't wanna be the first to let it go

But I know, I know, I know
If you have the last hands that I want to hold
Then I know I've got to let them go

Oh, the only way to really know is to really let it go
Maybe you're gonna come back, you're gonna come back
You're gonna come back

I still feel you on the right side of the bed
And I still feel you in the blankets pulled over my head
But I'm gonna wash away, oh I'm gonna wash away
Everything till you come home to me

Oh, the only way to really know is to really let it go
Maybe you're gonna come back, you're gonna come back
You're gonna come back to me

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My "Balance" List

I've been thinking a lot about how to start addressing the parts of my life that need attention, to stop being so disappointed, to bring joy back into my life.

I am reminded of a Wheel of Life diagram where you rate on a scale of 1 to 10 your satisfaction in each of these areas of your life: Career, money, health/fitness, friends/family, significant other/romance/intimacy, personal growth/spirituality, fun/recreation, physical environment. At the moment, when I complete this exercise, I score the lowest in health/fitness, fun/recreation, and significant other/romance/intimacy. So I've thought about what I can do to improve how I feel about these aspects of my life.

Here is the list of things I've come up with to get things back on track:
  1. Create some systems around eating, cooking, and being healthy to make this easier to stick to.
  2. When I'm down or overwhelmed, I have a tendency toward the path of least resistance (i.e. cereal for dinner because it takes 30 seconds to make, letting laundry/cleaning/tidying/chores build up rather than addressing them as needed). So maybe I can jumpstart a mindset of things being back on track by putting in the time and simply acting like things are on track. Take the time to prep food for healthy meals. Do one chore per day. I'll be busy enough that I won't have so much time to dwell on the negative!
  3. Date for fun for the next couple of months. FUN ONLY. Nothing serious. And in that vein...
  4. Join a singles social club. (Not a dating service! Just fun activities planned for members, all of whom are single). 
  5. Take a culinary class with Dirty Apron Culinary School.
  6. Yoga, twice a week, every week. Exceptions only if my disc flares up and makes it impossible.
  7. Walks or moderate hikes. My goal is to do something active at least 4 times a week. Yoga above obviously counts towards this! Use my wall calendar at home to keep track of days when I've done this.
  8. Try some water sports in the summer. Go kayaking at Deep Cove. Take a paddleboarding or windsurfing lesson. See if you can get out on a boat.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Turning Negativity On Its Head

I'm not going to sugar-coat it; the last two weeks have been a hellish roller-coaster of emotions for me. I broke up with my boyfriend of 6 months, but not because I wanted to or for any particular reason that I can identify. I still don't fully understand what happened; it's just the way the cards seem to have fallen.

I am angry, I deserve better treatment than I got, I love him, I feel ignored, I regret my mistakes, I want to fix things, I miss him, I'm in denial, I am devastated, I want to make him feel guilty, I want to be heard & understood, I just want him to be happy, I want to be happy. I feel all these things at once, or in very quick succession from moment to moment. I'm surprised by the intensity of my feelings; I've only known him for six months, but I thought he was It. I fell so hard and fast for him, it seems I lost track of just how much distance I covered in that fall! Over the last two weeks I've felt confused... so VERY confused. I've had moments of happiness, inspiration, and motivation. But mostly I've cried oceans of tears. I've taken a day off work because I woke up last Friday with an emotional hangover, my eyes so red & puffy from crying all night that they were nearly swollen shut. I do not like this upheaval. I miss his physical closeness. I miss talking to him. I just miss him.

Beyond my romantic partnership falling apart, I have been unhappy in several aspects of my life compared to where I think they *should* be. Feeling so bereft because I miss Mike naturally makes me think about other ways I also feel disappointed... it's that downward spiral thinking we all do from time to time. Sometimes I get so trapped in it that climbing out of the negative spiral seems like too much effort. I climb out anyway, because being down there sucks out my soul, but then I'm so spent that I'm certainly not about to go fixing all the areas of my life that clearly need attention. Which, ironically, is exactly what I need to do to prevent that type of thinking again in the future.

All this emotion spilling out of me makes me hyper-aware of my thoughts, my surroundings, the consequences of my actions and decisions. I feel more alive than usual, because I'm feeling things so deeply right now.

I think I'm starting to accept that I'm single again, that this is my new reality, and the dust is beginning to settle. But before I go back to feeling neutral, I want to channel the alive-ness into action.  All those corners of my life that I've given up on fixing... I want to dust off the cobwebs there and do something good while I'm paying attention. I want the phrase "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" to actually MEAN SOMETHING to me. It hasn't before; what hasn't killed me thus far has definitely made me weaker.

I'm going to change that.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Makeup for a Breakup

The ongoing dilemma of my week: While going through a particularly emotional breakup, when putting on your brave face for the day, do you try to cover up your puffy red eyes with a full face of makeup and particular attention to your eyes? This way I think you'll look your best right up until the moment that song comes on the radio and your mascara ends up leaked all over your face. Or do you go minimalist and possibly look moderately awful all day, but never risk the look of black smudged tearstains?

First world problems. I would like to know the answer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

With Apologies to Sean Kingston

Photo credit: Life's a Blog
Drive. Spark. Fulfillment. Joy. Fire burning, fire burning on the dance floor. It's all about one thing: Following your passion. Can we talk about this for a minute? I have a beef with it.

Follow your passion, say all the career advisors and life coaches and self-help junkies. Do what you love and the money will follow. If your job is not related to your purpose for being put on this earth, you will regret it. It's pinned all over the "words of wisdom" Pinterest boards, for Pete's sake. And, cue eye rolling. It happens so often these days I'm afraid my eyes might get stuck back there like my mother warned me as a kid.

In my life, I've held 17 different jobs. 10, if you don't count the ones I had for 3 months or less. In that illustrious collection of employers, I have had exactly one job that I genuinely loved. (Coffee barista, for the record). I hated one job so much, it left me with more damage than the emotional baggage accumulated by the combined sum total of my teenage years and the endings of three serious romantic relationships. Man, that job really was toxic to my soul. But the rest... well, meh. They were fine, I made some friends, and I was glad they afforded me the ability to do some interesting things with my time when I wasn't on the clock.

One of those cool things I've been able to do is travel. And I've done enough of it to learn that people in most countries view work as a way to pay for the things you need and want in the parts of your life that aren't spent working.

Somewhere along the way our culture has become OBSESSED with the notion that your paid work must also be your one true passion. And ironically, while we have collectively deemed this the most worthy way to spend our working life, we also accuse each other of "selling out" when we accept compensation for doing what we love. Maybe it's inevitable that we'll attack those who have managed to achieve the dreams we have for ourselves, as a way of offloading the jealousy without having to acknowledge it; I don't know. Regardless, this business of following your passion during your working hours has become the new golden standard.

Now, a disclaimer: If you have a job that feeds your soul as well as your bank account, hats off to you. I'm not saying we should AVOID doing this for a career. But, I do think it puts a lot of pressure on people who probably already have perfectly decent jobs. I think it might be harmful to insist it is the only route to happiness (as though Happiness is some sort of destination with only one correct route... be careful, stay left at the fork or you might inadvertently end up in Hell! And you can't retrace your steps if you go the wrong way, it's all or nothing!)
What I've learned from my own work experience is this: the only REALLY important thing is not to spend half your waking hours doing something you actively loathe, that conflicts with your core values and makes you feel like a miserable failure with nothing to offer the world. Don't take that job, and if you have that job, find another. You can take any other job, because you don't have to get all your joy and fulfillment from the thing you're paid to do. And I am SO SICK of feeling like my job is not good enough because it's not my "calling."

I have several problems with this, really. For the sake of brevity, which I'm failing at miserably with this post, let's go with bullet points:
  • This notion of having just ONE true passion is silly. You can be happy doing any number of different things. (Guess what? I like my job just fine!)
  • I have a feeling that my "calling," if I have one, is to be a mother. But the time is not right for me to have a child yet. So does that mean I should just crawl into a hole and not work until I have a child to care for? Does my work in the meantime have no value?
  • Tying your earning power to the activity you are most passionate about can put a lot of pressure on the object of that passion. Now you're not  just doing it out of love - you are required to, even if your creative reserves or ideas are dry.
  • Some passions can only be monetarily successful if you are an expert (i.e. acting, writing, singing, cooking). If you are passionate about something for which your enthusiasm exceeds your skill, this may not make for a very fulfilling career.
  • The argument for following your passion as a career is often that it takes up half your waking hours. Well, what about the other half? What's wrong with devoting that time to your passions instead?
In the end, this is all a very self-indulgent argument. We worry about these things because we are privileged enough that we don't need to worry about food, water or shelter, so we have time to think about our maximum potential beyond just staying alive. But have you ever noticed that with options comes a lot of stress? The happiest kids are the ones kicking around a soccer ball in the dirt in rural Africa, not the ones being shuttled from piano lessons to baseball practice to a math tutoring in an effort to find their passions.

Don't put so much pressure on it. Just have fun with your life.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Radio Silence

I've been having an internal struggle regarding the launching of this new blog over the last month, hence the radio silence while I quietly grappled with it. I'm not sure what it is about me, but I always do this... get super GUNG! HO! about something new and rush full-steam-ahead with it with no regard for pacing myself, only to (obviously!) run out of power, ideas, or desire.

It's not in my nature to want to do things anything at half power, and blogging is no  exception. I can't muster the energy or commitment to post every day, so I just didn't post at all. Can someone explain to me why once or twice a week seems so ludicrous to me? I suffer from this same predicament when it comes to healing my back from its herniated disc... I want to go all out exercising or else just sit on the couch for a year until I can.

But I am slowly learning about moderation, in all aspects of my life, and it's a good time for this lesson. Really, this utter avoidance of things I want to do if I can't give them 100% is about fear of failure. I've felt like a failure so often in the last few years that I'm not sure my heart can take it if I add any more endeavours to the pile, so best not to try, right? But come on now, we're talking about blogging... there is no failing at something I do for fun. Maybe if I allow myself to just enjoy writing for the sake of participating in blogging, I can consider that a success, even if I'm not Winning At The Internet.

I am not going to commit to any posting frequency. But I will commit to blogging. I know this is one of my passions. I feel like I'm living a fuller life when this is part of my life. I need a creative outlet; I want my story to be heard, I want to connect with others. I want this little dusty corner of my own on the Internet. I want to pretty it up and may even do just that in the near future.

Please say hello so I know who's out there!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest Post at Yes & Yes!

Well hello there, I wanted to give a shout out to all the readers visiting here from Yes & Yes! I hope you'll stick around. I'm not new to blogging, but this blog is new, as I've taken a bit of a hiatus from writing for the last couple of years.

For my own readers, yesterday Sarah von Bargen of Yes & Yes fame was kind enough to allow me to guest post the Web Time Wasters feature over at her blog. Head on over to check out some fun links!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Living a Full Life with Chronic Back Problems

One of the defining aspects of my life over the last year and a half has been the development of a herniated disc in my lower back. I've had problems with back pain for most of my life, but disc issues are not something to mess around with. Though I've never particularly enjoyed exercise, I've always been at least moderately active. I took pride in being strong enough to lift heavy boxes myself, keep up with my dog on a run, take the stairs instead of the elevator without being out of breath, etc. I also really enjoy food and was able to eat whatever I want as long as I burned it off at the gym. That worked out fairly well for me until my little hernia friend reared its ugly head.

All of a sudden, I found myself in a position where any physical exertion at all was likely to render me immobile with pain. After one particularly black weekend when I couldn't move off the couch for two entire days without sending excruciating pain shooting throughout my body, I realized I needed to respect this injury and allow it to heal on its own schedule.

So I rested. And rested. And rested some more.

I would try my hand tentatively at going back to the gym or running here and there, always with awful, painful results. And so eventually, I resigned myself in frustration to being a couch potato, thinking I could never exercise again.

But that was just anger and denial that I had to deal with this problem. I've now accepted that this is a (albeit annoying) part of my life, but my herniated disc is not going to steal all of my health. I cannot work out like I used to, and I may never be able to again, but that doesn't mean I am limited to being an immobile lump. So, some lessons that I've learned about nursing myself back to health in the face of physically limiting injury:

Respect Your Boundaries: Don't do anything that will cause you to hurt yourself further. Don't say yes to snowshoeing with friends because it sounds fun, if you know it will probably sideline you for weeks. Be careful in the sack, if you know what I'm saying - share your limits with your partner! Know when it's better to rest with a warm bath than go for a run.


Test Your Limits:  I had this idea that if I couldn't do the workouts that I used to do, then I couldn't exercise, PERIOD. Well, I've had to reframe the idea of what exercise involves. I'm not running on the treadmill at top intensity or squatting a hundred pounds, but I want to be an active person. It turns out I really love yoga and I can go for hour-long walks without negative repercussions. So I do that.

Prioritize Your Health: It was easy to let my health take a backseat for awhile because I was also newly self-employed at the time, and that was time-consuming. But leaving an injury like this to languish just lets it get worse. Throwing some dollars and effort at the problem is worth it to me now, knowing how much it can help! I didn't give up until I found what worked for me either. I tried chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, naturopathy, swimming, Pilates, and kinesiology before I settled on a combination of yoga and massage therapy that really works for my body. It's kind of expensive, but I got a group benefits package that covers the massage and I decided that I can't afford not to pay for the one type of exercise I like and can handle.

Prevent the Consequences from Spreading: What I mean by that is, this is a medical health issue. It's going to affect your medical health, there's no way around that. But here's what also happened to me: I didn't reel in my food consumption to account for burning fewer calories, and I gained weight. I started to hate my body. I didn't feel strong. I didn't want my partner to see me naked or have sex with me. I didn't want to go on a tropical vacation because I'd have to wear a bathing suit. I got depressed when I couldn't go hiking with my friends - one of our favourite activities beforehand.

This was dumb because I love trying new recipes and can still enjoy the same quantity of food if I make lighter (not less delicious) recipes. My boyfriend thinks I'm beautiful and wants to have sex with me, and wants to go on vacation to a tropical destination with me. My friends, it turns out, don't really care if I can't go hiking, they just want to hang out, and there are lots of fun things to do together. So... this problem didn't really didn't need to spill over into my weight, my mental health, my sex life, and my friendships, did it?

Being active and taking care of the pain with massage therapy, and being proactive about making other areas of my life positive have all helped immensely to keep my back problems from negatively affecting my whole life. These have been hard lessons to learn, though.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Rebellion

I hate Valentine's Day. I've never met a guy who actually likes or looks forward to the occasion; I mean, flowers & chocolates? Those are for the ladies, amiright? Valentine's Day for men would look a little different: Steak, blowjobs, and gifts of video games. (Don't tell my boyfriend I told you that.) If that was Valentine's Day protocol, how many of you are still on board?

Anyway, I'll be honest, I like being the low-key girl who truly doesn't care one iota about the occasion. I'm not just saying it, I really mean it: we can go right ahead and forget about it. Treat it just like any other day. Pinky swear, I don't mind. In fact, I prefer it.

So I staged a little talk with The Boy about it a couple of weeks ago.

Me: "Hey, honey, how do you feel about Valentine's Day?"
Him: "Uhhhhh...." *Deer in headlights look*
Me: "Because I think it's a marketing ploy by retail corporations teaching us to equate love with dollars spent on this one arbirtrary day of the year, and I kind of hate it."
Him: "Oh good. Me too. I don't really like it. I kind of hate it, actually. A lot."
Me: "So we're not going to celebrate it then. Right? I hate it, you hate it, let's just ignore it."
Him: "I guess."
Me: "No definitely. Don't do anything."

Cut to today. I genuinely have no plans or expectations for the day, and I'm kind of happy about it.

I text him a Happy Hallmark Commercialized Love Day message, JUST as the flower delivery guy walks in my office door with red roses for me. But the note was what really got me:

"Nicole!! I'm so glad we met each other. I know we said we wouldn't do anything for Valentine's Day, but you deserve these, and I don't like doing as I'm told."

God I love that man.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fresh Start

Well here we are. This post has been over a year and a half in the making, and somehow it seems so much more difficult to write because I've been thinking about it so long... like it must be EPIC! because it's been rattling around in my brain forever. The fear that it won't be good enough, that it won't be perfect, has kept me from starting.

But this is not my first rodeo. I know that fear is rarely a good reason to avoid something... in fact, though counter-intuitive, it's usually a signpost guiding you towards the things you really need to do. It keeps you in your comfort zone if you let it rule you. But growth and happiness exist squarely outside that little comfort zone, in my experience! So in the interest of just getting over my fear and letting good enough be good enough, here I am again.

This may appear to be a brand new blog, but I've been in the blog world for years. I've been reading blogs since the days that Dooce was dooced and I've penned a handful of my own blogs under my real name as well... which became my undoing. Having a personal blog in my profession can be a liability, and my time was short when I first began work as a self-employed financial planner, so blogging had to go. I miss it as a creative outlet though, and I now find myself with more time to spare for activities other than my day job. I hope that this time, I'm here to stay.