Category Archives: Life

Prioritizing My Life List Goals

Have you guys heard of Go Mighty? It’s an incredible resource for goal-setting, created by power bloggers Maggie Mason, Amber Doty, Laura Mayes, and Sarah Bryden Brown. The idea behind Go Mighty is to create your life list there, attach “stories” to goals, and for Go Mighty members to help each other in any way they can to achieve goals. As someone with a life list on my own blog, a list that is constantly being culled and added to and edited, this appeals to me very much.

Over the last couple of weeks, Maggie has been running an online life list class that I’ve been participating in, and it’s had me thinking critically about what it is I want to do with my one wild and precious life. As a major planner, I always have goals but it’s the action where I often get stalled out. There is so much about my life currently that I want to keep building on. It’s been a long time in the works, but this year I finally feel this sense of inspiration and urgency about making some of these changes happen. I’ve already done two big ones this year… I replaced my junker car with the car I’ve been dreaming about for five years, and I moved out of the home I shared with a roommate into my very own two-bedroom apartment. But this is just the beginning. I want this year to really shake things up, now that I’m on a roll and I’m in a good place emotionally to ride the roller coaster.

I have many goals, and often get so excited about all of them that it’s tough to focus and do anything to move any single goal forward. One of Maggie’s assignments in the course was to select five of your goals as the highest priority, to make them happen within the next 12 months or at least get started on them. I have been working through the assignments in the virtual classroom, but I wanted to share this one over here too. The goals I’ve selected to prioritize over the next twelve months are the following:

  1. See Shania Twain perform live. I’m beyond excited to report that this dream for the last 15 years will be coming true next month when I attend Bloggers in Sin City in Las Vegas. My roommate there, Karlyn, and I will be having a good ol’ country night and going to see Shania together!
  2. Increase my annual income by $15,000. This is one that I won’t be talking about too much in advance, more in hindsight… but I have a coffee chat scheduled with a career mentor next week to discuss strategy and options, so that’s a start!
  3. Create outfit “uniforms” for work, upscale/glam, and casualwear. I will be posting about this soon.
  4. Run a seminar or workshop series. My best friend and I have a burgeoning idea for this already! I would be beyond thrilled if we could turn it into a side business venture.
  5. Take a culinary class with Dirty Apron Cooking School. I’m happy to report I’ve signed up for one in October, and cannot wait to attend! October can’t get here fast enough (that’s the first and last time you’ll ever hear me say that.)

So, they’re out there now! I’ve posted ’em in public and now I’m accountable for making these happen. Keep you posted…

What are some of your key goals right now? Do you have a life list? If you do, or you want one, please join me over at Go Mighty so we can connect and help each other.

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March Highlights, April Intentions

Blink and you’ll miss it, right? That was March. It seems to have passed in a blur. Here’s the scoop this month:

March Highlights

In like a lion... Source: Sergey Yeliseev on Flickr

In like a lion… Source: Sergey Yeliseev on Flickr

  • I bought myself a 2012 Mazda 3 hatchback, a car I’ve been dreaming about for five years. And knocked that one off my bucket list. I did the whole purchase alone… yup, this means the whole haggling game with the salesmen. It was intimidating.
  • Attended a good friend’s southern-themed bachelorette party and participated in a hella fun scavenger hunt, chauffeured by limousine.
  • Enjoyed the baby shower for one of my oldest friend who’s about to have her first baby any minute now. And by oldest, I mean the girl I’ve been friends with the longest, not the actual oldest age of any of my friends. Geez, wouldn’t out a new mama like that!!
  • Discovered a new favourite music group: Of Monsters and Men. They’re a great indie folk/pop band from Iceland, you should give them a listen!
  • Spent two weeks packing and kept the stress & panic about it to a minimum.
  • Said farewell to my roommate and began solo living for the first time in a few years.
  • Got the keys to my new place!

How did I do on my March intentions?

...and out like a lamb. Source: A Roger Davies on Flickr

…and out like a lamb. Source: A Roger Davies on Flickr

  • Get movers booked. -Success!
  • Green smoothie habit. -Turns out that it’s far more important to execute Mission: Eat What’s Already In Your House than it is to start a green smoothie habit during the month that you’re moving. Not one green smoothie was consumed. Not even a Happy Planet one. FAIL!
  • Yoga 2-3 times a week, although I will let myself off the hook for this one in the last week of March because I think packing will rule my life at that point. -I averaged 1.5 classes/week. Not terrible considering the amount of time spent on packing.
  • DO NOT ACTIVELY LOOK AT CARS FOR SALE. -Whoa, HUGE FAIL! Totally bought a new car!
  • Have my friend Niki over for dinner. -Seriously, what was I thinking? Entertain guests in the middle of frantic car shopping which fell in the middle of moving month? HAHAHAHAHAA. Ha. No.
  • Enjoy this month’s bachelorette and baby shower festivities, celebrate my friends with frugal gifts and an open heart, and get excited to meet the new little baby that’s coming in the next month! -Yup! And friend baby #1 has made her debut into the world. Still on Babywatch High Alert for baby #2.
  • Move into my new place! -Success!

April Intentions:

  • Hiking season has begun. I’m shooting for one short weeknight hike and one longer weekend hike per week.
  • Yoga 1 time per week
  • Sign up for ballet flow yoga with my friend Ashley
  • Unpack and get the new place feeling like home.
  • Take Magdalena for a real spin! I’ve been too busy to do so yet. (I have named the new car Magdalena)
  • Do a lil’ shopping for this lil’ vacation I have coming up in May

R.I.P. Echo the Rustbucket

I bought my first car at age 22.  I had accepted a summer job waitressing at a golf course on the coast, which was a 45 minute drive away from home and not on any transit routes… and I had no way of getting to work. So OBVIOUSLY, I had to buy a car in order to get to my place of employment, where I would undoubtedly earn far less than the cost of the car. Financial planning at its best, folks. If only it ended there.

I arbitrarily set myself a budget for the car purchase – hilarious, as I had zero savings and very little earning capacity – and went car shopping. I found my Echo at a rental car company’s used car sales lot, where they sold off their rental cars that were no longer part of the fleet. Echo was 2 years old, in really good shape, and the cheapest car for sale there – $4000 over my budget. I test drove her. My dad tried to talk some sense into me, but geez, Dad, don’t try to confuse me with facts. “But she’s so CUTE!!!!” I brought her home a few days later, along with a poorly researched car loan with a horrible interest rate that I was stuck with for the next five years and could barely afford.

Then I proceeded to quit my job. I… can’t even talk about it.

I’ve kept my Echo for the last eleven years. We had a happy partnership for the first several, and I felt determined to keep her for a long time after the unwise car loan was finally paid off, to make it “worthwhile”. I’ve had to pay very little into car maintenance over the years. We’ve driven across Canada in each direction… all the way from Vancouver to Montreal and back, spending one school year in Ontario in between the trips. (That winter in Ontario, with all the salt on the roads, is responsible for Echo’s affectionate nickname, Rustbucket). I slept in my car a couple of nights along the way to save money, I’ve been camping with Echo, we’ve had dance parties at top volume while driving up to Whistler. I know her.

About five years ago, I started thinking of Rustbucket (who had well & truly earned her nickname by that point) as more embarrassing than fun. I began dreaming of replacing her with a Mazda 3 hatchback… but then I got laid off. I went travelling, where I spent all my savings, and came home to an economic crash and a tanked job market. I got hired finally after a year of unemployment, only to be laid off again 9 months later. Followed by a rather difficult foray into self-employment that yet again wiped out all my savings. Mine was a tough road to walk between 2008-2011, friends. Upgrading my car was the least of my concerns.

But finally, finally, things have been a bit easier over the last year and a half. That’s when I created a savings plan toward the goal of buying a Mazda 3 hatchback, and was planning on making the purchase next year. But in the end, Echo made the decision for me. She’s spent a lot of time at the mechanic and nobody knows what the problem is, but she became virtually undriveable in the last month. I could spend a bunch of money to diagnose and correct the problem and keep her running for a few more months, but what’s the point?

Last weekend was it. I went car shopping and pulled the plug on Echo once and for all.

Meet her successor, Magdalena. The car of my dreams for the last five years.

My metallic blue 2012 Mazda 3 hatchback… FINALLY!

My metallic blue 2012 Mazda 3 hatchback… FINALLY!

February Highlights & March Intentions

Well hey look at that, another month has gone by in a flash. It’s true what they say about time going faster as you get older! This month has been quite emotionally challenging for me but there’s some pretty big, good changes coming soon. Let’s check in on what I did:

Source: Snoopy.com

Source: Snoopy.com

February Highlights

  • Survived RRSP season and helped my clients save more. It was one of the most successful RRSP seasons our firm has ever had.
  • Celebrated 33 years of life. My lovely sister treated me to dessert at a new restaurant a few days ahead of my real birthday, since she would be on a cruise for the actual anniversary of my great debut into the world! On my birthday, I went to Nook for an incredible Italian dinner with my family. We had the burrata appetizer, probably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life. I was gifted some lovely things. I especially loved a new scarf from my roommate and handbag from my mum.
  • Hiked with friends. My ankle survived.
  • Attended my office’s awards gala. My best friend there came runner-up in one awards category – I was so proud of her!
  • Had a wonderful catch-up brunch with friends I see far too infrequently, but with whom we’re always able to pick up where we left off. One of them is now the mother of a 1-year old baby boy now, and another is set to welcome her first baby in just a few weeks. It was quite the babyfest!
  • Realized that my car is going through a pretty slow & painful death and I’m going to have to replace it much sooner than anticipated. But I’m avoiding car-shopping at the moment because one stressful thing at a time is plenty, and….
  • I’m moving to a new place at the end of March. No more roommates. I have mixed feelings about it; I love my roommate, but do miss having my space to myself. I love my current home and the amazing landlords, but I’m super excited about the new place and the new friendly landlords! It’s a 2-bedroom with a dishwasher (NECESSITY. You guys don’t even want to KNOW how lazy I am about washing dishes by hand. I would look like a hoarder of dirty dishes) and in-suite laundry and it’s really nice! I will post photos once the move is complete. I’m also very, very stressed about the actual process of moving to a new home.
  • I also bailed on a lot of social stuff due to the aforementioned stress. I’m not really proud of this.

How did I do on my February intentions?

  • Host an Oscars viewing party – well this is embarassing, but I actually did arrange one, and I cancelled it the morning of the event, spurring much concern among my friends. I had a mini meltdown about my new apartment because I had put down a damage deposit but hadn’t signed a lease yet, and hadn’t been able to get hold of my new landlords for several days. I had convinced myself that they were going to run off with the money and I wasn’t going to get the apartment after all, because CRAZY JERKBRAIN. It turns out they’re just pretty casual people who don’t check their email very often!
  • Book my flight to Vegas in May – Yup, done!
  • Declutter my bedroom – do a big sweep of my stuff and cull anything that needs to be donated, sold or put in the trash. Get it out of the house. – Done!
  • Replace my black cardigan and buy some new lingerie. – Done!
  • Get into a green smoothie habit – Uhhhhh, nope.
  • Do yoga 2-3 times a week. – Giant fail. I think I went 3 or 4 times total in the month of February.

March Intentions:

  • Get movers booked.
  • Green smoothie habit.
  • Yoga 2-3 times a week, although I will let myself off the hook for this one in the last week of March because I think packing will rule my life at that point.
  • DO NOT ACTIVELY LOOK AT CARS FOR SALE. (Unless my car *actually* dies this month, in which case I’ll have no choice. A disturbingly plausible scenario). Putting out feelers by telling people what you’re looking for is ok.
  • Have my friend Niki over for dinner
  • Enjoy this month’s bachelorette and baby shower festivities, celebrate my friends with frugal gifts and an open heart, and get excited to meet the new little baby that’s coming in the next month!
  • Move into my new place!

Peace out y’all, and happy March! In like a lion and out like a lamb, I certainly hope.

January Highlights & February Intentions

I remember looking back over 2012 at the end of the year and having a hard time remembering some of the small but still important things that happened over the course of the year, particularly the earlier months. So I’d like to start doing recaps of what transpired each month so that I’ll have a record of how I’ve spent my time, both the big and small moments. I would also love to set intentions for the coming month. Now that we’re well into February, it’s high time I get this posted!

January Highlights

  • While I did not stick to all my Clean January rules all the time, I succeeded in breaking below the 180-lb plateau and reframing the way I think about food. I find myself really thinking of pasta and sweets as treats now rather than everyday fare, and I actually want to keep eating mostly vegetables and healthy stuff for my meals.
  • I had a really magical dinner experience: I was invited to have traditional Malaysian-style hotpot dinner, cooked by Malaysian friends, in a floating home at a marina. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather and we were treated to the most incredible sunset view out the window over the water.
  • I had a really wonderful month in my relationship with my mum. I’m quite close with her but we often don’t see eye to eye on many issues and tend to get under each other’s skin. We argue quite a bit, but not this month. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun with my mum.
  • Saw Life of Pi 3D in theatre. What an incredible, beautifully made film. Is this a story you love?
  • Went snowshoeing! What a blast. It’s a nice winter alternative to my preferred summer “sport” of hiking.
  • Got a small raise and increased my contributions to my TFSA, RRSP, and loan repayment.
  • Bought an ankle brace and finally feel secure that I won’t sprain my ankle while hiking.
  • No cavities at my last dentist appointment!
  • Bought a ticket to Bloggers in Sin City and to see Shania Twain live in concert while I’m there in May. Shania was the driving force behind the decision to attend BiSC… seeing her perform live has been on my bucket list for over a decade and I’m so thrilled this is finally happening!
  • Read three books: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. My favourite of these was Code Name Verity – review to follow.

February Intentions

  • Host an Oscars viewing party
  • Book my flight to Vegas in May
  • Declutter my bedroom – do a big sweep of my stuff and cull anything that needs to be donated, sold or put in the trash. Get it out of the house.
  • Replace my black cardigan and buy some new lingerie
  • Get into a green smoothie habit – that is, if I can find any good spinach and kale!
  • Do yoga 2-3 times a week

Well, there you have it! Cheers to a happy February.

33 Lessons Learned on my 33rd Birthday

Today is my 33rd birthday and I wanted to share with you 33 lessons, observations, and truths I’ve learned along the road.

  1. Your parents will fail you in some ways. This is because they’re human. You must learn to find the different types of support you need from the people and places who can provide it. This will sometimes be your parents, and it will sometimes involve actively leaving your parents out of it.
  2. Scary things are only scary because they’re outside your comfort zone. Your comfort zone always has room to expand if you just find the courage to press against its walls and stretch them out.
  3. On that note: Overwhelmingly huge goals can seem quite manageable when broken down into small steps. You should take one small step toward something that’s important to you every day.
  4. Life without carbs is not very much fun!
  5. You should not take the advice of someone who doesn’t share your values relevant to the issue at hand.
  6. Set your alarm clock 5 minutes earlier than the time you think you’ll need to get up.
  7. Clothes that must be ironed are essentially disposable. Ironing boards are purely for extra shelf space.
  8. Trust your intuition. It knows what’s best for you, even if it’s not what you want to hear.
  9. Do not give up what you want most for what you want right now.
  10. A grateful,  positive attitude goes a long way.
  11. Pay yourself first and save a little more than you think you can manage (you’ll surprise yourself and manage it just fine). And don’t wait until you’ve paid off every penny of debt you ever incur to start saving. You’ll never save anything that way.
  12. On haircuts: Call me boring, but stick with what you know works.
  13. The way your body looks does not actually matter all that much.
  14. Read everything before you sign. Don’t sign something you don’t understand.
  15. Not everyone is going to like you, and in general you won’t like the people who don’t like you. This is not a problem, it’s a natural screening system to help you find Your People.
  16. Having a practical skill or two will save you many dollars. Learn to change your own car oil, cook a great meal, hem your own pants & skirts, do your own web design, or SOMETHING.
  17. Travel. It will enrich your life in ways you cannot imagine.
  18. If you can’t afford actual travel, read a book and you can be in far away lands in mere moments. Bonus points if you can read in the sun, or on a beach.
  19. Friends are the most precious resource you’ll ever have in life.
  20. Puppies are the cure for EVERYTHING.
  21. Your job doesn’t need to be your life’s passion. (But it needs to not actively make you miserable. That is toxic.)
  22. If a person’s words are out of sync with their actions, pay attention to their actions.
  23. Don’t grind your teeth.
  24. You will not always agree with the decisions of others. If it doesn’t actively affect you, stay the hell out of it. Live and let live.
  25. Most of the obstacles you present as reasons to lose your shit because you’ll never achieve your dreams are completely surmountable. (Not that I had a recent temper tantrum worthy of an overtired toddler because I kept spraining my ankle and would NEVER! HIKE! AGAIN! When all I needed was an ankle brace. That would never happen)
  26. 4:59pm on Friday is the best moment of the week.
  27. Keeping an old car that’s fully paid off is a good financial decision, until it reaches that point that it becomes a money drain due to repairs. At that point, get rid of that sucker ASAP.
  28. You will hurt people if you reject them, and you will hurt them even more if you try to soften the blow by giving them hope that things will work out when you know they won’t. Sometimes it’s cruel to be kind. Just be respectful but blunt and tell them it’s over.
  29. A walk in nature will connect you back to yourself if you feel out of sorts.
  30. Life is a constant game of trade-offs.
  31. The sexy 4 inch heels that you can barely walk in and pinch your feet will never see the light of day. BAD IDEA. ABORT MISSION.
  32. It will make you feel really old to know that kids who were in kindergarten when you were in college are now in college. Despite this…
  33. 33 is not old. I’m not really sure how it happened that I became a 33-year old person. I swear I was just in high school, and then I blinked and I was here.

A New Outlook on my Biggest Dream

I love goal-setting and resolutions, but I didn’t want to make too many this year. I think it’s better to focus hard on a handful of things that I’d really like to accomplish, rather than spread my efforts too thin and end up with a mostly unfinished to-do list by the end of 2013. So, I asked myself what I wanted the most right now, and one of my answers surprised me so much, I made a huge change to a couple of the things I’ve always been working towards and dreaming about. I decided to forgo an annual resolution list and came up with a 5-year plan instead. My surprising wish was this:

I want to be free of feeling that I’m on a deadline to find the love of my life.

Whoa, right? This is big. I feel like I’m on a deadline because more than anything else in the world, I want to have children. I don’t need to have them right now, but I need to feel that it’s going to happen for me in my lifetime, and I’ve been feeling a rising panic that I’m running out of time. I’m not too old yet, but this feeling is not crazy. I’m nearly 33 years old and I’m single. If I met my perfect man tomorrow, we’re not realistically going to be trying for kids for at least a couple of years, and that’s with pretty swift procreation plans! That puts me at 35 before I am likely to start trying at the earliest: the very age that we’ve all been warned is the time that a woman’s fertility begins significantly declining.

I don’t like dating with this mindset. It makes me feel like I’m just in it for the sperm donor, though I do also want to find love. I am sick and tired of dating in general, as a matter of fact. I miss sex and the comfort of a loving partner, but I haven’t made an effort to meet any new guys in months and I do not  miss going out on worknights to spend an hour or more in awful conversation with a guy 5 years and 30 pounds over what his profile claims, when I knew 30 seconds in that it wasn’t going to work out. I do not miss wasting money on dates with guys that I don’t care about much or at all. I like putting that money towards saving for a new car instead, and spending my time reading new books or laughing with my besties.

But how to be free of that fertility deadline? I still hope that I might be blessed with the experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and having my own biological child one day. But more than that, I want to be a mother. That kid doesn’t need to look like me or share my genes in order to give me the experience of parenting.

I’ve decided to work toward the goal of taking in one or two foster children within the next five years, and let go of the goal of finding a partner who would ultimately the future father of my children. I can do this on my own, and there are many children in awful foster and family situations who need someone stable and caring to give them love. I would like to do this with the idea of eventually adopting children and being their forever home, but I have a lot of research and preparation ahead of me for the next several years in order to make this possible.

So the real steps that need to be taken to make this a reality for me are:

  • Increase my income to a level where I can afford to rent a 2 bedroom property on my own, without the help of a roommate or fostering income.
  • Increase my emergency fund savings to $20,000 without compromising any other aspect of my financial plan.
  • Research the foster care system and possibilities for fostering to adopt in BC. Read about parenting on an ongoing basis. Spend lots of time with my friends’ children and ask other parents about the day to day reality of caring for children.

I’m really enthusiastic about the freedom and stress relief I’ve created in my life by shifting my perspective on what it means to be a parent and how that should happen. This has lifted a big weight off my shoulders and made room for a new possible future that has my heart singing right now.