About Me

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If who we are is what we do, then like most people, I am a mixed bag of personas. Writer, bookworm, friend, are what first come to mind. Equally apt would be potty mouth, dog walker, Guinness drinker, swimmer, storyteller, political animal, baker and proud Canadian. Mostly though, I consider myself simply insanely lucky to have a small posse of near and dear ones who put up with me and my curvy, creative, curly haired, opinionated self. I started this blog several years ago with the idea to challenge myself in a myriad of ways. Years in, despite the sporadic entries, I still like to muse about the absurdity of life, what inspires surprises and angers me, books and other entertainments, my menagerie, my travels and any other notion buzzing round in my head.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Life in January

Walking the dogs this morning on our usual routes through the sunny and snow covered neighbourhood, I couldn't help but smile at remembering one of my favourite Calvin & Hobbes cartoons. While the snowmen series are brilliant, this one seemed perfect for today.

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 for 10

Looking back on it, 2009 was an extraordinarily good year in my little part of the universe. I am incredibly blessed to have people in my life to love and who love me, a cozy little place to call my own, robust health and a good job. Today, in this moment in time, I am happy and grateful and feel inspired on many levels.

I do not ascribe to the notion of New Year’s resolutions. Last year, for the first time in years, I made one – to avoid all discussions of the weather. For the most part, I stuck to it. I continue to refrain from weather smalltalk. We live in a northern climate. We have four distinct seasons and the weather changes from day to day. None of this is new or newsworthy. I would much prefer to chat about something someone read or saw or experienced; something someone is thinking about rather than the fact that it’s cold out or wet out or humid.

So no New Year’s resolutions to be made by this Chiquita. But in lieu of that, a wee recap of 2009 and thoughts for the coming year...

I began blogging last January with a project in mind, to read more and to try to lose weight. I set a seemingly achievable goal of 50 pounds and 50 books for my year’s project. One pound and one book per week, approximately. While I did not make my goal in either regard, I had a fabulous time trying and am still quite pleased to be a consistent 13 lbs lighter and having read about 24 books this year that I would likely not have read otherwise. In retrospect it was more like a pound a month and a book every two weeks give or take. Not too shabby all things considered.

Goals are important. I realized just how much so this past November, during my novel writing challenge. I am a person who needs goals to accomplish things. I like the structure, the accountability, the timeline. So I set goals for myself. And strive to meet them. Last year, I read a blog where the author chooses a defining word at the beginning of each year. Something to guide her, focus her attention. It’s a cool idea. If I had to pick a word for my 2009, it would be creative.

Without a doubt, the highlight of my year was the NaNoWriMo writing challenge which I participated in during November. I learned so much about myself as a writer in this exercise. I can actually see that writing is a real possibility for me as a career and life’s occupation. I have written a novel. It’s a messy, badly in need of several re-writes, research and massaging in every way, piece of work. But nonetheless, a novel it is. I am supremely proud of this achievement.

2009 was a year in which I also:

  • Passed my exam and got my Project Management Professional certification
  • Shared juicy stories and embarrassing moments, worries and triumphs sitting comfy on patios, at kitchen tables and on the couches of Postridge, Battenburg and Hibernia
  • Drank sangria sitting on La Ramblas in Barcelona and walked happily and aimlessly along the beaches of Sitges
  • Took in the magnificence of the Cliffs of Moher once again
  • Cried happy tears at the wedding of dear friends
  • Successfully lead several implementations at work which I believe benefit patients coming to hospital for chemotherapy treatments, pre-operative assessments, mental health consultations and cardiac procedures
  • Became better acquainted with Annie Dillard, Alice Munro and David Sedaris
  • Said no more
  • Saved some, spent some but came out ahead
  • Welcomed Matilda to our peaceful household in all her she-devilish, spunky, sweet chocolate lab beauty
  • Shed quiet tears at the loss of another member of the family’s old guard
  • Overanalyzed the nuances of politics domestic and foreign sipping pints at the Imperial and chatted books and religion at Dukes city wide
  • Realized I need bifocals, made real peace with my curves and counted myself lucky to enjoy curls

Such is indeed the makings of a good year and I look towards 2010 richer for the experiences I have had. Much is made of the passing of the decade. In chatting with friends about this particular new year, I had really forgotten it was a decade marker until reminded of it in our conversation. Time certainly does pass us by quickly, which only serves to remind me of the importance of living in the present, fully engaged and aware. It reminds me of that Henry Miller quote about living. An apology for the misquoting but it goes something like: the aim of life is to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Joyously aware sounds pretty good to me.

Despite that it is customary, which somehow conveys to me ordinary, I am not immune to the notion of setting a tone for the coming year. So in lieu a resolution and in honour of the decade that has past, here are ten ideas that I wish to make mine moving into 2010.

Read – Already I am all over this one. Whether newspapers, magazines or books; be the format online, soft or hard cover; purchased from independents (preferably) or big well stocked conglomerates, reading still provides me with one of the greatest joys and sources of inspiration, knowledge and food for thought. I look forward to the undiscovered joys that reading will bring to me.

Explore – Travel feeds the soul, at least this soul anyway. Unscheduled, aimless exploration of new parts of the world, different ways of communicating, eating, celebrating, depicting our history await me. The experience of it will alter me in ways I do not even know yet. But isn’t that part of the fun of it?

Write – My chosen form of expression, my bumpy struggle, exhilarating and more frustrating a journey than any I know. My hard won achievement, my joy and my challenge. I could easily have used the word communicate here or create or speak, rather than write. As hard as it often is, I cannot see a day without writing in my future and look forward to the excruciation and the bliss.

Present – I still have to remind myself every single day to try to remain present; to focus my energy and my attention on the here and the now. I know that yesterday is over and cannot be altered. Worry over tomorrow just takes away from today. Who I am with. Today. What I have to do. Today. What beauty surrounds me. Today. What help there is to give. Today, I strive to live presently.

Nurture – I am not a mother, but I do have a wee one at home these days. Not a baby, but a puppy. She’s a beauty and needs guidance. This year will be much about teaching Matilda to be a good companion, well mannered and easy to get along with as Murphy is.

Connect – Frequently I muse on the blessings I have in friendship and family. Relationships take work and while we all manage somehow to stay connected I recognize the importance of making time to venture westward or drag my arse out of the house and away from the computer for brunch so as to enjoy the personal bounty that has been bestowed upon me in the lives of these wonderful people.

Persevere – I am not the most disciplined person in the world. Far from it. Procrastination is still very much a regular in my arsenal of coping and copping out mechanisms. I learned this year that to just keep on struggling through provides you with, if nothing else, the sense of achievement at never having given up. I will write on, slim down, save and never, not ever, give up!

Gentle – Strength is good. But sometimes tenderness and a gentler approach work wonders. I am not good at this. I embrace my strength and wrap myself up in a coat of confidence that I know could do with some time spent hanging in the closet. What would my world look like if I was gentler with the earth, listened more to others, was less hard on myself and sat quietly observing rather than doing?

Conserve – Frugality is not something that comes naturally to me. I can certainly dial it down and do not really live outside my means. But balancing between what is necessary to truly live well and happily and thoughtless spending for the sake of the moment is worth considering.

Calm – It is not so much that I wish to be a calmer person, although there are times when I feel this would help me. Calm here to me means seeking rest, rejuvenation, quieting down and taking time to slow the pace and simply be, enjoy and think… calmly.

I have no idea what 2010 has in store for me or those dear to me. Peace on earth doesn’t sound too bad. I would hope to grow. I prefer that to a static state. Whatever awaits us, I know it will be an adventure. Regardless of where I find myself at the end of 2010, I am looking forward to the ride.