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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

the year of unexpected adventures

Everywhere you look right now, you’re flooded with 2014 posts: best of; worst of; this list; that list; red fish; blue fish.

Reflections.

Resolutions.

This isn’t really a post like that. Sort of.

Last year, I was oddly optimistic and hopeful at the start of January. It’s a rare thing for me to feel that way, but I had such a strong gut instinct that things were going to be good in 2014. I was suspicious of my feeling because it was an even-numbered year, and those of you who know me know I don’t have good even-numbered years. But I really did think that 2014 was going to be a positive one.

I was ready to choose my own adventures as they came along. I was going to take chances, and risks. I completed a Spartan Race (hoooboy!), I was enjoying being more creative. I was ready to adventure.

The adventures took a dark turn halfway through the year with the unexpected, and sudden loss of Jinx. My husband’s job search took a lot longer than we thought it would and we had such difficult times. It was so very, very hard to find any positive in the universe. On top of our own heartbreak and grief, was the heartbreak and grief just oozing from the news, all over the world. You just couldn’t escape the dark.

And I am so very, very tired of the dark. I need more light in my life. More sunshine.

Our year ended with an epic road trip – 2110km away – to adopt our newest furry family member. The trip was a much needed distraction from everything going on right now, and we are starting off the new year with an extremely snuggly, and loveable boy who turns three today. He’s a new year’s baby. The road trip wasn’t the most fun ever, mostly because we find traveling rather exhausting, but it was an adventure we will always look back on as our lives move forward. One we will talk about for days to come. We brought new love and light into our life before Christmas. The house feels full again, and there’s a break in the gloom that’s been hovering over us.

I have no goals for 2015 other than to try and find something positive in each day. I’d like to say I will write these positives down daily, but I know that will mean I’ll get tired of doing it, or annoyed with myself if I forget. So I’ll work on keeping track of this mentally.

With the help of  Shawn, my family, and my amazing group of friends, I think this might be one goal that will help make 2015 a decent year.

seven things on a sunday – adventures in june

1. I have been enjoying the spring/summer weather this month. My love of the outdoors and warmer temperatures is a strange, yet pleasant change in my life. Up until the end of June it hasn’t really been all that humid and that makes the warm weather a lot more bearable to me. I have spent more time outdoors this month than I have in any other June in recent memory. Between my outdoor fitness classes, my running, and the gardening with Jinx I have been doing, I’m feeling rather content. The nights are cooler and the days not too hot. (Except, of course, for the last couple of days with ALL of the humidity. Ugh.) I’m trying to make sure I take more effort to appreciate the nice days and things that can be done during them. It’s helpful for dealing with stress, anxiety, and all of the other negative things going on. This might not seem like an adventure, but choosing to be outdoors, instead of hidden away inside as I normally do, is pretty adventurous to me!

2. We’ve got a few home renovations going on, and going slowly, but I think the results will be worth it once they are done. My father-in-law came over to help Shawn put down floating floor in the basement (to cover up the linoleum tiles we found under the gross carpet.)

When you find flooring you love AND you discover it’s on mega-sale. Score!

He’ll be helping with re-doing the basement stairs, too. They are completely unfinished so once we got the carpet off… what a mess! But honestly, anything is better than that gross carpet. While the men were busy with the flooring, my mother-in-law and I wandered around the mall and I got a new dress.

The dress is an adventure in itself because I am not a huge dress person. I wish I felt comfortable in dresses, but I just don’t. Especially not without tights or anything. Thick-thighed girls don’t do well with bare legs and summer. =/ But I adore this dress and it feels like it was designed especially for me. Plus: polkadots!!

3. There have been way too many health issues on both sides of the family throughout this month and it was getting pretty gloomy, so I had the brilliant idea of packing up husband and dogs, and going to surprise my father for Father’s Day weekend! My Mum managed to keep the secret for a week and I took half a day off work on the Friday so we could drive the 3.5 hours to my parents’ place. It was apocalyptically raining for the entire duration of our Quebec journey, and only tapered off about 30 minutes into Ontario, so we were later to arrive than I’d hoped, but my father was surprised when I called him from their parking lot and said, “Can you come help me with something from my car, Dad?” It took him a moment, but the joy in his voice when he said “Are you HERE?” was amazing.

Super happy Father’s Day Surprise selfie!

So we spent the weekend invading the home space of my parents, and their cats lived in the basement for 3 days (and Jinx and Sophie constantly sniffed the basement door), but we didn’t kill each other and I think the weekend went pretty well. It was a nice get-away for Shawn and I, and it was fantastic seeing my parents.  With the exception of my accidentally hitting my father in the face when we hugged (on his abscessed tooth side) and then Sophie pooping on both floors of my parents’ house when we got there, the rest of the weekend went really well. I think I managed to cheer my Dad up a little bit (after the first evening, anyhow. Heh.)

4. At the beginning of June I found out that one of my most favourite bands – A Great Big World – was FINALLY coming to Montreal. Back in 2009, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson (whom I also adore), tweeted a link to a video for This is The New Year by Ian Axel (featuring Chad Vaccarino). This was the first song I heard as the year changed over to 2010 and there was an INSTANT connection to this song and the singer. I frantically searched iTunes for music and was delighted to discover that Ian’s album was due out in only 4 days. Ian and Chad have been through a bunch in the last 4 years, including a KickStarter drive (that I pledged to!) where they officially became a band. (And I got a t-shirt for the pledge!)

Proudly sporting my KickStarter reward t-shirt from A Great Big World.

I would have loved to have gone to this concert with my father, but circumstances prevented that from happening, so my husband – awesome guy that he is – was going to come with me even though he’s not a fan himself (I still love him, though. I’m a big person.) But thankfully one of my besties, Mo, agreed to come with me, saving Shawn from taking one for the team.

Besties waiting in line for the concert – right before the downpour!

We had a fun girl’s date night – complete with fancy shared two-cheeseburger trio and sundaes at McDonalds before the show. We’re so classy.

A Great Big World – Corona Theatre Montreal, June 17, 2014

The show was amazing (to me, anyhow. I’m pretty sure Mo liked it, too!) Ian and Chad are FANTASTIC live and there is so much energy in their show. I was especially excited to discover new music that evening, too. The second opening act, Jukebox the Ghost, was amazing. I came home and bought two of their albums off iTunes almost right away. Both groups have been on constant shuffle-repeat on my iPhone since the concert on June 17!

5. The weekend after I visited my parents, I ended up on a semi-spontaneous trip to visit my Monkey and her husband in Ottawa! Sort of like my visit in December, this was a much-needed mental health recuperation vacation. Again, June has not been the happiest of months, so I was happy to go visit friends and get away from things for a while. Of course, this meant I left Shawn and the dogs at home, but hey, I was just giving Shawn a vacation from ME! 😉 As always Chez Monkey, there was a lot of delicious food – including fresh strawberries, on homemade cream biscuits with cream (that we ended up having for breakfast one morning since we’d gone out for frozen yoghurt the night before). She was also nice enough to run/walk with me on the trails near her house. We went out both mornings I was there and it was so nice running through nature trails.

Post morning run – day 1!

The entire weekend was relaxing and fun. Monkey introduced me to the addictive game Frozen Freefall and we spent a lot of time playing it (each on our own iPad) and just sitting in comfortable silence. There were also random alcoholic beverages. (Like, one a day. I’m so hardcore!) Honestly, friendships that you can just sit in silence and cheer each other on while playing a match game, and listening to 80s-90s playlists on Songza? They are the BEST friendships. If you have a friendship like that, I hope you know how lucky you are.

One the way home, I was one of two people in the business class train car. It was very surreal. I’ve never been in an almost empty train car before, economy or business. It was sort of nice to feel like you have the car to yourself. If I WAS alone, I’d have sang along with all my music. I didn’t think the one other dude in my car really wanted to hear that. Shawn picked me up at the train station and he managed to make me laugh into tears. I’ll write about THAT in my wedding anniversary post later this week!

This also marked the first time I have visited Monkey in her house in a month other than December. There was no snow, no Christmas decorations, and we could sit outside on her deck. It was fun!

6. Because you can never have too much time with Monkey – we met up for lunch in Montreal 5 days after I left her house in Ottawa! We went to Lola Rosa’s for lunch and had delicious food (as always at that place).

Sweet potato & jalapeno quesadilla with avocado. Yum.

I have no idea why only half of that photo is in focus. That is very weird. I swear it was in focus when I TOOK the photo. Oh, well, I didn’t like the rice much anyway, so I’m not too upset that it’s blurry. =p

We also made sure to take another photo of us together since we realized recently that we are bad at taking photos together! (This realization came about because of this post.) It’s almost like we’re doing a Provincial Tour! We need to figure out how to meet up in 8 other Provinces (and 3 Territories!) before the end of 2014!

Cat & Monkey’s Canadian Tour 2014!

7. Jeepers, this is a long post. I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t blog for a month and you want to note all of your exciting June adventures. Ok, so just yesterday I had to take some stuff over to my sister’s place for her kids. They just got an 8-foot blow-up pool for their yard and my sister told me to come over with my swimsuit. So I did. I dropped off the stuff, played with the kids some and then sat in the pool with my sister, my (almost) 8-year old niece and my 3-year old nephew. I think we were in there for almost an hour! If it was less than that, I’d be surprised. We haven’t laughed so much in ages. We did not get along in our childhood years. We are totally different people and that often leads to major clashing moments. Plus, I always wanted an older brother and my parents stuck me with a younger sister. I was bitter. 😉 It took a looooong time, but once we both his our 30s we found a groove and don’t try to kill each other every time we’re together. This is a good thing, I believe. So I had a fun few hours with my sister and her family. I even got to read my nephew two books and help tuck him into bed. Those of you who know me and know my fear/aversion to children will probably find this remarkable. I know I did. But he wanted Aunty Cat to read to him and help him into bed, and I have to say, it’s sort of a nice feeling to be wanted. 😉 It was such a nice evening to sit in a pool, in the 30C heat and just talk and laugh with my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids. It was relaxing (I know! And there were children there! Normally I flee in terror from children!) and a really nice end to the day.

After pool selfie!

Enjoy your summer, folks!

spartan sprint: in which 5km was actually 8.5km

Well, hello there! On May 25, I did something crazy and extremely difficult and I keep meaning to write all about it, but to be honest, the last thing I have wanted to do this week (while off work) was sit at my computer, edit photos, and blog. Also, if you’ve been following my blogging in the 10 years or so that I have been doing this, you might have noticed a pattern in which I talk a LOT about something that is COMING UP but then I fail miserably about actually blogging about it when it’s over. I often tend to regret not blogging about events, even though in my mind they are done and I’ve spent enough mental energy on them so that I don’t have the energy to blog about it. Of course I also end up thinking I DID blog about whatever the event was and then kick myself months, years later when I go to search for the blog post only to remember that I DIDN’T WRITE ONE!

So here I am, writing about the Spartan Sprint (sprint! ha! ha!) that I did last Sunday.

Because I knew we’d (read: I would) be in a panic if we left the same morning of the race, we partook of the Spartan deal with Lodge de la Montagne in Tremblant and we had the most amazing one-bedroom suite, with a full kitchen (fully stocked with utensils, plats, pots & pans, etc.) and we ate at a fantastic New Orleans’s themed restaurant called Fat Mardi’s. The hotel room was lovely and I fit in the closet perfectly.

I  mean, I could have moved into this closet and had my own cozy cave.

Just pass me a pillow and a blanket, and I’ll see you in the morning!

My super-duper husband was so supportive, even though terrified of what I was about to undertake, but we had a lovely evening in the Tremblant Village and it was a nice night away for us. (The dogs got to stay Chez PawPaw & MaMa’s.)

 

The next morning I was up, nervous, had breakfast, an energy bar and a Powerade before we left to check out of the hotel and make our way to the other side of the mountain so I could check in for the Spartan. My heat was 11:00 am and they ask you to show up 1.5 hours before then to make sure you have enough time to find parking and get your race stuff.

I was smiling, but internally I was nervous. I’m not great with up-hill and Mont Tremblant happens to be the highest mountain in Quebec. Maybe I’d get lucky and we wouldn’t have any mountain climbing to do? (ha!)

I wanted one shot with Elissa – the woman who always manages to inspire me to try crazy stuff. She has faith in me that I don’t always have myself and pushes me to be the best I can be. She’ll make training programs I don’t think I can do and then I surprise myself by the end of the hour when I did everything without too much trouble. In the end she always said, “I knew you could do this, so that’s why I made this program.” It’s because of her I was able to be talked into trying the Spartan. I knew it would be difficult, but Elissa had faith in me and that made it a little easier to have faith in myself. Elissa is one of the most amazing women I have ever known and the last 10 months of knowing her, I am eternally grateful to call her a friend.

Ok, mushy stuff aside… we found out the day before that the course was NOT 5km in distance, oh, no. It was actually 8.5km and that, my friends, freaked me out. A *little* over 5k I thought I could handle (you know, like, 5.72km or something) but almost 10km? I wouldn’t have signed up if I had known this. I have never done a 5km in jogging and I can’t really walk/jog much more than 4.5km these days without feeling like I need to lie down before I get home. So this made me nervous, but I was going to be a trooper. No turning back once I was there.

We were super lucky with temperature on Sunday, it wasn’t too hot and the breeze was nice. The start of the course suddenly became overcast and it was refreshing as you went through mud – OH THE MUD! (it was delightful! I loved that part!) – and up the hill. Shawn surprised me by updating my facebook status about starting the race as I went along. I didn’t think he’d wait around for hours and hours, but he was there when I got to different obstacles and taking my photo. So these photos (although not the most flattering) are courtesy of him!

And we’re off!

All this time I was worried about not being able to run for most of this, and yet, I hardly ran at all. We turned a little bend (jogging) and were suddenly ini knee-deep (for me) mud, climbing through trees and rocks up the hill. Up, up, up. This uphill wasn’t so bad. It was tough, especially with the mud, but it didn’t freak me out like what would be coming up. So many people lost shoes in the mud, and fell before the first climb was done. We were jokingly calling this the Spartan Hike, because that’s what it felt like. We were clinging to tree branches and rocks to pull ourselves up the mountain. It was slippery and sort of steep, but not at the highest peak yet. I was NOT racing, I was not doing this obstacle course to race, I was doing it to prove to myself that I could do something like this.

I was told we’d be climbing uphill three times along the way. Ok. Tough, but I could get through this, right?

Once up through the mud, we came DOWN through mud. Slippery mud on steep downhill course was a little nerve-wracking to me. I didn’t want to fall and hurt myself, so I was slow. Once we got downhill we had our first actual obstacles. First up was a mesh-climbing thing. (net?) You go up, over, and down. Although it was a little scary coming down, I did this one with zero problem.

Spider Cat, Spider Cat, doin’ whatever a Spider Cat does.

Then we had the Hercules pull, or something. I think that’s close. You had to pull a propane tank up to the top and then let it down (slowly). I believe the “women’s” tanks were about 60lbs.

Julie & I did this together, but she seemed to have left me to lower it myself. 😛

Jumping over hay bales! This happened a few times. I fell off of each and every one. In fact I fell over/off of every single wall I had to go over. It became sort of a running joke in the end. I have a huge bruise on my right hip, but I didn’t really hurt myself seriously. So it was all good!

Then there was this wall thingy that you had to walk across. It wasn’t really made for short people who had never tried anything like this before. Shawn’s comments on FB were hilarious.

Shawn’s comment: Update: Trying some horizontal climbing…

Shawn’s comment: Update: annnnnnnd Burpees!

Have I mentioned how much I hate burpees? I do. Stupid things. And if you couldn’t do the obstacle you had to do 30 burpees instead. Now burpees give me horrible head-rush, dizziness so I never actually did 30 of them. Yes, I know. But I generally got 15-20 in when I was supposed to do 30 depending on my level of exhaustion. So, I did DO them.

We then had to carry a weighted beanbag (pancake) thing up a hill and back. Yes, that is snow. There was still some snow on the mountain. We found it refreshing at times and used it to clean mud off our hands and stuff. This one was tough. I had to sit for a bit at the top of the incline before continuing on downhill.

Then came monkey bars. This is one of those things that you think, “oh, I can do this! I used to be AMAZBALLS at monkey bars when I was a kid!” but you know, you haven’t actually tried monkey bars SINCE YOU WERE A KID.

Wait, you mean this doesn’t just move you forward like an escalator?

And then you make it two rungs and fall and end up doing *cough*18*cough* burpees. The bright side is that Shawn caught me on all of these obstacles right at the start so it looks like I DID get through them. Heh.

Then came the BEST part of the race…

WATER STATION!!

Water is the best thing ever.

Then we went back up the mountain. This one was tough and I wanted to stop. I had to take breaks. My friends helped encourage me along and I just wanted to give up. I saw the MILE 2 sign and wanted to cry. We’d only gone 2 miles? There were THREE MORE to come!? We went up, up, up. Finally there was some downhill but first – we had to go over an inverse-wall. This means the wall slants down on the OTHER side. I got boosted up and then I just slid down… BOOM! Landed on my hip and rolled over and up. Everyone asked if I was ok and although it stung a little, I was fine. We went down more mud and rocks and had to go “over” giant, muddy ruts in the ground. The athletic people jumped, I walked through the mud. 😉 I think there was something at the base of the mountain again? I can’t remember. But we started back UP HILL by crawling UNDER a wall, in the mud.

Then came the Never. Ending. Climb. OMG.

It got so steep I learned something about myself. I apparently have a phobia of steep inclines. Mostly going UP. I got vertigo and I was already tired from the climbing and once the anxiety began, I couldn’t stop it. I was hyperventilating AND breathing hard from the climb and that’s when I just broke down. I collapsed into a ball and just started sobbing and gasping for air. I couldn’t feel my tongue, my hands were tingling. A friend’s husband got me up that mountain. He’s also a police officer and I think he’s totally in the right profession. He talked me up that hill and didn’t leave my side. He got me from tree to tree and the entire time I just wanted him to go on a head and catch up with his wife. He stayed by me, talking me through my panic and through my I Give Up breakdown. A day later I realized that my body was in shock. I recognized how I felt and my reactions as how I felt after my trauma in March 2013. That last part of the climb up nearly did me in and I was so embarrassed and disappointed in myself. I am ashamed of that breakdown but once I was up on the top of the mountain? I was fine. All panic subsided. I was DESPERATE for the next water station – which was still 3 obstacles away. (There are a few things about this event that I did NOT like and the lack of water stations AND personnel along the course in case of emergency, etc are my two biggest problems.)

The next obstacle was parallel bars. Women could go along sideways on one bar. Sliding themselves along. Even after that breakdown on the mountain, I was ready to try this one and I made it about 3/4 of the way across and I was SO PROUD. But because I fell I was supposed to do burpees. Well, I took my 3/4 of the way as a completed task because there was no way I could do a burpee then. We then crawled under what we thought was the “barbed wire” obstacle. It was a net, low to the ground, covered in fake vines. So you pretty much crawled along on your stomach or hands and knees in some places. The ground wasn’t too muddy there.

Then we went down a very steep part of the mountain where there were two more obstacles. A boulder roll (plus burpees) or boulder carry (men) and a javelin toss. I admit, I skipped the burpees when I missed the target from the javelin. All I wanted was water. WATER! I was so fatigued by then I was shaking. My body was coming down from the panic on the mountain AND tired of the physical stuff, too.

Then we climbed up AGAIN but it wasn’t so bad. It was a tiny, muddy and rocky path through trees and it was sort of fun. Then came the barbed wire crawl. DOWNHILL, through trees, and in the mud. That I enjoyed. (Yes, I liked all the mud stuff.)

Photo credit: Epic Action Imagery

They tell you at the top of the run that there’s a photographer at the end, so try and look alive. ha!

More downhill, we were in the home stretch! I even jogged for a tiny bit of this!

Somewhere in there were more walls and more hay bales. I went over (with help) – and fell off of, each one. I don’t remember where they were though. That last mountain climb sort of fogged everything up for me.

I think the hay bales were right before the fire jump. I really wanted my fire jump photo to be ready before this post was done, but our half-hour block seems to be the only gallery NOT completed for the jump. I had two false starts before I was able to overcome my fear of being burned to a crisp. That fire was a LOT higher than I thought it would be from looking at past photos. I’m short. I don’t jump. So I was sure I was going to fall into that fire. But I didn’t. Not only that, by my second start/stop, the crowd around the fire obstacle started cheering me on and when I DID jump (and didn’t fall!) they all cheered loudly and someone even yelled, “You are a Spartan Warrior!!”. That made me feel great.

Unfortunately, Shawn was still standing in a spot where we’d come down the second hill and missed me finishing the race. He wanted to get me crawling under the wall but somehow missed me. 🙁 Alas. I met up with him after we were all done. So I have three more official photos to get from the Spartan site – the fire jump, slip ramp and finish line.

After the fire were rings/rope and I just walked right past that and did burpees. I knew I’d not be able to get that one. I got 15 burpees in before I thought I was going to pass out. Then I just casually walked away to the one obstacle I was dreading the entire time I signed up for this…

The slip wall.

You have to pull yourself up a wall with a rope. The wall is on an incline and it’s super slippery. I was SURE I wouldn’t make it up, but it was the LAST thing to do before crossing that finish line. And my rule was – try everything you know you can’t do before giving up (I skipped the rope climb and the rings, I tried everything else!) so I took hold of that rope and started to climb up the wall. My first foot slipped and my self-doubt came back really strong, but I put my foot back up on that wall and I got up to the top in ONE shot! I have never been more proud of anything. Even getting through this course paled in comparison to my walking up that wall. Once up, you have to shimmy/slide down a rope. It was a lot higher up there than I thought it was (9 feet maybe?) and of course, I FELL down that rope. I just slid down like a stone in water and landed on the guy who was holding the bottom of the rope for me. Heh. I didn’t hurt either of us though. Pat (the guy who got me up the mountain) was behind me and joked “Well you had to complete the set” or something to that affect. It cracked me up.

All I had to do then was take a few more steps and cross that  finish line. I was looking all over for Shawn, not knowing he was still waiting for me to pass in the wrong place. I had really hoped he’d seen me get up that wall and cross the line. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, but when I met up with him afterwards I was so happy to see him!

I was wet, covered in mud, exhausted, still embarrassed about the breakdown on the mountain, but I was DONE. I made it. I didn’t let anyone pick me up on at ATV and drive me back down the hill. Some amazing participants also stopped while I was down and gave me some water and encouragement. So many people helped others over and through obstacles. I finished the course in 3 hours, 40 minutes and although that’s probably really slow to some, to me? To me it’s AMAZING.

This was the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken in my life and with the exception of that uphill nonsense, I think I sort of enjoyed most of it. I really loved the mud stuff. heh

I wear my battle scars proudly. I am covered in all sorts of bruises and scrapes that I didn’t even know I had gotten.

Way more bruises on my legs and arms now than the day after. They all appeared throughout the week.

I knew about some, but others were a surprise. Plus I had two triangles of sunburn on the backs of my legs. I didn’t sunscreen there because I knew I’d be covered in mud. Turns out the mud must have rubbed off on those two places. It wasn’t too bad, just a surprise. 😉

And with the exception of my socks? Everything else survived the mud.

One wash and everything (except the socks) came out good as new! I was surprised about the shoes, I was worried they were goners.

And so, that was my race. I should have done some running this week, but I was sore most of it. I did go to my Interval Training classes on Tuesday and Thursday though. Tuesday my legs didn’t want to hold me up, but I got through it somehow. Taking a lot of breaks and being frustrated with myself for taking breaks on things I KNEW I could do without one. However my muscles were sore and TIRED.

I’ve spent a lot of this week outside though gardening and yard work, and just sitting in the fresh air. I go back to work on Monday and I’m sort of bummed about that because I really love day time puttering and exercising.

I survived and I don’t know if I’ll do this again ever. Sometimes I think I will and other times I am all, “No way!” I’d like to try it again if there weren’t as many steep inclines. I have been having nightmares about that last hill much of this week. Ugh. Some other participants said that this was the hardest Spartan they have done and they aren’t all this mountain climby. Maybe I’ll train more this year (work on those monkey bars!!) and think about it later. The farther away from Sunday I get the more I think I enjoyed most of what I did. It was exciting and scary and I have now experienced both the most physical challenge of my life (Spartan) and the most mental challenge of my life (jumper guy trauma) in the last year and a half and I know I am a stronger person because of this. Friends help a lot. They are what makes all of this possible. With friends, and determination, you can get through anything.

Also, my husband is amazing and I would be lost without him. He’s my rock and his support means the world to me. I love him.

Home, exhausted, showered, and *almost* all mud-free!

new things

In continuing with my current quest to heal myself and get over this stupid PTSD crap, and in the spirit of my motto for this year, “Choose Your Own Adventure”, I am trying out some new things. Last year I started challenging myself to do things each month. Much of it was fitness-related but there were other things in the mix as well. I didn’t always blog about it, or talk about it because I find that if I talk about something too often, I tend to lose interest in it. This year I’d like to challenge myself to try new things. To expand my colour palette so to speak. Step outside of my comfort zone once in a while.

And that “outside the comfort zone” thing? It’s scary. Obviously. But without doing that, I can’t see myself having many adventures.

I’m not talking about doing CRAZY! new things. No bungee jumping or sky diving for me. Nope. Not at all. I’d just like to try more things that interest me that I never really tried before because I thought I couldn’t succeed or was too scared to try for any other reason.

Ultimately people tend to not try new things out of fear of failure. I am so tired of fear in my life these days that I am working on lessening it through little baby stepping new thing ways.

Direction

I’m doing a Doodle-a-Day challenge this month. I’m just drawing without thinking too much about the outcome. I see the word prompt and I draw. First with pencil and then with Sharpie and so far it’s been making me happy. I’m no professional artist, but spending that 15-30 minutes on a small doodle has been pretty cathartic and helpful for many reasons. I love colour. I love creativity. I need to do it more often. It’s fun and it makes me happy.

My profile on ipsy

I joined this thing called ipsy where you get a little bag full o’ beauty products each month. This is a very new thing because a) I don’t normally like to pay for things and b) I don’t wear make-up. I really don’t. I will wear it when I “dress up” to go somewhere and I will occasionally wear eye liner and mascara on a work day if I’m feeling motivated to be “fancy” before work, but other than that, nada. I’m not a huge make-up fan, but I also know nothing about it. I saw a friend sign up one day on facebook and I checked it out. They ship to Canada and although the shipping isn’t free, it wasn’t insane. So, for $10 (plus $4.95 for Canadian shipping) a month, I’ll get some stuff in the mail that will amuse me. (Shipping within the US is free!) I’ll be receiving my first bag o’ beauty products sometime next week. I’m pretty excited about this for some reason. Also it turns out there are oodles of videos of how to put on make-up and achieve different looks and there’s something about watching people put on eye make-up that is really hypnotizing. Maybe they should have a monthly feature where you don’t only get the bag of products, but you also get a person to come over and put this stuff on you. I’d pay for that!

Things my sister made me.

I want to learn to sew. Or knit. I see posts like this one and I am instantly enamoured with the idea of making something I could wear myself. (Granted, this particular person is crocheting and not knitting…) I am never happy with the clothes and accessories I see in the store and I always think, “If I could make something, it would be cheaper and I’d be a lot happier with the item!” My sister knits very well, so does my friend Monkey. Both of these ladies have a talent for knitting that I am not sure I’d ever have, but I’d like to try. Maybe I’d like an infinity scarf if I could make it myself! Or a nice summer dress or skirt that actually fits. I don’t have a sewing machine or knitting needles, but I would like to obtain one or the other – or both! – this year. I’d like to give this a shot.

And sewing, knitting, drawing… will all give me something else to do other than sit on the couch surfing the internet. Another new thing I’m trying (slowly) is cutting back on my mindless scrolling through social media sites. I am trying (slowly) to limit the time I spend on facebook and twitter to about 15 minutes a day (each). I have disabled notifications on my phone for facebook and it’s not bookmarked anywhere on my computer. I will probably be moving the apps from the first page of my phone to a second one so they aren’t immediately in my sight when I open my phone. I am constantly annoyed by things I see online and it’s just not healthy to be that annoyed by things that do not matter. I don’t want to be so plugged in all of the time. I need to take breaks from the world more often. It’s amazing how quickly these things suck up your time and you don’t even realize that it’s happening.

I will journal on pen and paper. I will blog more often when I want to update the world on what’s in my head. I will create and look for inspiration in col0urs and words. I will continue to exercise and OMG! prepare for the Spartan Sprint race I am crazily doing in May. (Look! Another New Thing!) Now that I am a stronger person physically than I was last year, I will work on trying to re-strengthen myself mentally. I will do this. I can do this. New things are an adventure and not to be feared, right?

sometimes you need to go a little insane to stay sane

I have been trying to handwrite journal for a while now. I have always felt like something was missing. When I found my super amazing new 2014 planner I knew WHAT was missing.

(Yoinked from my Hourly Christmas post)

Everything about this agenda called to me. I love the entire layout. I love the message.

Live Simply.

Only it’s too small to use as a journal so I’m not going to use it for both purposes. Problem is that I can’t find THIS in a larger size without calendars in it. I don’t think the company makes it. I spent about 45 minutes the other day in the Journal/Agenda section of Chapigo looking through all of them to find something that was right. I found journals that were sort of right, but not quite. I felt a lot like Goldie Locks and it was making me cranky and anxious.

Yes, I get anxious about these things.

And then I saw Monkey write something about a Smash book. And I looked them up. They seemed pretty cool and almost exactly what I was looking for. So I went out to Michael’s Craft store today to take a closer look and well… I didn’t like it up close and in person. It was too big. Too heavy. Not enough pages. Wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I spent way too much time in that store and still ended up with over $100 in purchases (AND I had a $25 gift card!). I had decided I would make my OWN journal and take ideas from my agenda, the Smash book-type scrapbook and journal.

Only I couldn’t find the right sort of blank journal to buy. I wanted a blank page, artist sketch book sort of thing but the covers were all wrong. Too hard. Too soft. Too brown. Too big. Too small. Too heavy.

I was getting really agitated by this point and I didn’t want to spend more money but I just wasn’t connecting with ANYTHING. And yet, I wanted something RIGHT NOW. (Because that is who I am. Obsessive Girl.)

I kinda, sorta need to make a crafting room now.

I ended up with a lined, soft-covered moleskine book. In hindsight, I should have gone with the blank, sketch book because the paper is really thin and I can’t (don’t like to) doodle on lined paper. But I’m trying my best to make it work. I also bought some scrapbooking paper (one of which was on MEGA sale) and a lot of the accessories from the Smash and Snap book collections.  What I really want to get is the pen-slash-glue-stick that comes with the Smash folios, only they didn’t have any in the store. Drat. I see an Amazon shopping spree in my future.

This is taking a lot of double-sided tape (which ran out and SUCKS. The stuff I get at the dollar store is way better and costs way less. So I’ll be buying ALL of their stock my next trip. Ugh) and a lot of cutting and pasting but I am slowly making myself a scrappy book sort of thing. Although I am still really unhappy about the lack of thicker card-stock, unlined pages. Ah well. I’ll figure something out.

I’m going to paste my Doodle-a-Day doodles in here as well. I’ll have to actually WRITE on other paper and stick it in, I think. I haven’t quite figured this all out yet. Hmm.

This isn’t perfect and it’s not exactly what I am looking for, but I am pretty sure I will be able to make this work for me. It was a very frustrating and fruitless day as we shopped. I went out for two specific things – a journal and a new bag/purse. I couldn’t get either thing I was looking for. We were out for a ridiculously long time. Almost five hours (we did eat in there though) and I was so wound up and anxious by the time we got home I just sat on the floor and started cutting and pasting.

I think I want a sketch book. A small one. But then I’ll have to carry way too many books around. This one, my agenda and the sketch book. So I’m not sure what I’ll do. Plus I want to be able to carry around a BOOK type book in my bag, along with my many other every day things (phone, keys, work keys, advil, pens, etc…) Thank goodness I don’t carry around make-up or anything like that!

So, even though I really wanted a larger, less calendar-y version of my agenda, I think I can get into the groove of this new journal. I’m trying to figure out how to leave some pages blank and lined-only. Maybe I can doodle or decorate around what I write. Although I was trying that with my other, smaller journal and it wasn’t right. I don’t know how to explain what RIGHT is in this instance, but I know it when I feel it. The energy and colours are all aligned and my mood is stable.

Also, I am not sure how long this book will last as the pages are already starting to rip out a little. Argh. This is yet another reason why I’d wanted thicker paper in the book. I also wanted something spiral-bound but the spirals were all wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Too big! Too small! Spiral bound covers were too HARD! Too the wrong COLOUR.

I am so obsessive compulsive about things and I’m always worse when I am already having a difficult mentaly time (aka now with the PTSD crap).  I just want a place to create but I need my creative space to be JUST RIGHT. I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. I know there are others out there like me, but they might actually be able to create their spaces and objects better than I can. But I’m trying because I think the challenge of creating a journal space for myself might be creative enough to keep my anxiety prone brain in line.

And now it’s ten at night and I still haven’t written anything IN the journal because I needed to blog about it. Oh, me.

And perhaps this isn’t the best time to admit to the world that this is the year I want to take up sewing? That I want a sewing machine and feel pretty strongly that I’ll get one before the middle of the year? Yeah.

Oh! And as for my little agenda that I love to pieces. I made that ribbon bookmark because I wanted one AND I made it a pocket, too!

Now I have all sorts of fun stickers and post-it notes handy when I need them! (And then I discovered today I can BUY already made pockets for a lot more money than it took to make my own. Of course these were on sale for $1.99 or something, so it wasn’t so bad. But I like mine more.)

I’m trying to stay sane, I just went a little insane on adventure to get there…