Category Archives: Relationships

Home is a Person

The moment has arrived for me to write about some unbloggable things… things that overtook my brain and made it impossible for me to write anything else, but I couldn’t write what I wanted either, so I just quit writing. It’s taken until now for me to feel comfortable putting it out on the public web!

Jurjen and I like to call each other “retro boyfriend” and “retro girlfriend” because we recycled each other from 2000. I mentioned in my last life update post that I had a boyfriend, and that we’d known each other for 14 years. He and I have been back together for about 7 months now and I’m more sure of him than I’ve ever been about anything in my life.

What I didn’t mention previously is that he lives in Ontario… over 4000 km away from me. I attended college in his hometown, and we dated while I was there. I moved back to Vancouver when I graduated, leaving him behind (I try really hard not to play the ‘if only’ game over this one!) We’ve been in a long-distance relationship for the last few months. It’s been great, and we’ve seen each other far more than I would have dared hope, but it isn’t sustainable with so much physical space between us.

In January, my landlord really put this to the test when he put my house up for sale – and it sold in a week! So we had to figure some housing things out, long before we wanted to be dealing with it seriously. Would I sign a lease with the new landlords? Would I get kicked out? Would I get a new apartment here in Vancouver where Jurjen could join me? Would I pick up and move to Ontario? We had so many good options, it was overwhelming to choose among them. The only thing I knew for sure is that my home would be with him.

Well, I’m happy to announce that I’M STAYING IN VANCOUVER! I’m still ironing out the housing details, but it will be here. I’m so happy to have my love join me in my hometown, to discover it again through his eyes and share my favourite spots with him, to be introducing him to all my favourite people, and to build a home together. He is still in Ontario, but we’ll be together in a few short months.

L & J

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A Long Overdue Update

Ahem. Is this thing on?

So I’ve been on a little hiatus. Truth be told, my life has been a (mostly awesome!) mess of Unbloggable Things for the last couple of months, and it’s all I can think about it, so it’s all I felt capable of writing about, except… see: Unbloggable Things. So I couldn’t write about the only things I could write about. So things went dead over here. But allow me to try to separate the wheat from the chaff and blog the bloggable parts of the Unbloggable Things.

Thing #1:

I have a new boyfriend.

Laura and Jurjen

His name is Jurjen (that’s pronounced like “Yurien”) and he’s Dutch, but he grew up mostly in Canada. This is us about a month ago at Shannon Falls on the way up to Whistler for a quick lil’ day trip.

He’s also my old boyfriend! I’ve known him for 14 years and he’s pretty much the best guy I’ve ever met. This, as you might imagine, is quite a long story that I will tell one day. For now, I will leave it at this: I’m just so content. This relationship feels at once comfortably familiar but also exciting & new, and it’s a really lovely combination.

Thing #2:

So many of my plans for the future have changed in the last couple of months and some are quite uncertain right now (UNBLOGGABLE THINGS!), and my planny little brain is having a hard time with the uncertainty. I am finding that in the absence of knowing how the chips are going to fall, my inspiration to work on any big life goals has basically gone up in a puff of smoke until I get some details nailed down. I am a girl who needs to know where my foundation is before I can attempt to soar. So the next few months will be dedicated to sorting out those details.

Thing #3:

I’m going on vacation on Friday.

Monday

I’m headed to Ontario, where I went to university. It’s the most glorious time of year there. Summers out there can be stifling with heat & humidity, and winters are freezing and snowy and drag on forever. But October? Gorgeous. I can’t wait for a break from work, visits to my old haunts, and seeing people I haven’t seen for a decade.

I can’t say when I’ll be back on a more regular schedule, but I will be back. Eventually!

Never Too Late

About a week ago, I got a very unexpected email at work. It was from an ex-roommate who had treated me very poorly, and I hadn’t spoken to her in about six years.

A little back-story: The longest romantic relationship I’ve ever been in lasted four years, and we were engaged to be married for the last year that we were together. (Sidebar: He unceremoniously dumped me for another girl and kicked me out of the house on my mother’s birthday. Happy birthday Mum, your heartbroken and shell-shocked adult daughter is moving back in with you!! He is very un-fondly referred to now as The Prince of Darkness by my family.) When I met him at the tender age of 23, he was living in a 3-bedroom apartment with two roommates, one girl and one guy. After about a year of dating, he had a huge falling-out with the male roommate, and kicked that guy out of the house. (ANYBODY SENSE A THEME HERE?!? Ugh.) He invited me to move in with him, and as I’d been wanting to do so for a long time, I said yes without giving it much thought.

Yup, I moved in with my boyfriend AND HIS FEMALE THIRD-WHEEL ROOMMATE.

He assured me that he’d run this scenario by Third Wheel and she was totally fine with it, and I’d always gotten along great with her. But from the moment I moved in, she was a Capital B Bitch. Minor spats and palpable tension between us grew for months, culminating in a blow-out fight between us and then we simply didn’t talk to each other after that. Ever. For any reason. If we were in the same room we just gave each other the silent treatment for over a year. It was the worst, and made my life at home very unpleasant. She finally moved into her own place after two years of living with my boyfriend and I in a very unfriendly environment. I never knew why she was so awful toward me.

The email I got last week was from her. She’s married now with a child, and she lives three hours away. She’s felt guilty about how she treated me for years, and finally decided to look me up and apologize to me. Apparently the Prince of Darkness did indeed ask her if she was okay with me moving in, and she had said no! But in his typical style, it was his way or the highway, and so he told her that was too bad and that I’d be moving in anyway. And then he never told me that Third Wheel didn’t want to be a third wheel. She was writing to me to let me know it was him that she’d really been upset with, but that she’d taken it out on me, and she was deeply sorry.

I was very touched that she reached out. Truth be told, I privately forgave her years ago, though I never spoke to her to tell her so. I don’t believe it’s healthy to hold onto anger that no longer serves you, so I forgave her for my own mental sanity. But I’d always been confused as to why she had acted that way.

I am glad I’d been able to give myself closure prior to this, or the new information about my ex might have upset me. But it was nice to have an explanation. Nice to hear the apology. And nice to hear what her life is like now. It takes a big dose of humility to admit you were wrong, especially so long after the fact. I think she’s a truly good person who just didn’t know how to handle being treated as totally inconsequential to decisions about her own living situation, and I got the brunt of it because she felt like she couldn’t stand up to him. (I often felt that way with him myself, so I can relate.)

We’re getting together for coffee next time she’s in town, to reconnect with a clean slate and on better terms. I’m so glad she reached out. It’s never to late to right a wrong.

Bloggers in Sin City

A few months ago, I signed up to attend Bloggers in Sin City, and it finally happened this past weekend in Las Vegas. It was the best. And to illustrate just how great it was, this is going to be a photo-heavy post!

Honestly, the impetus for attending was not to meet or hang out with the bloggers, though I was certainly anticipating that to be an awesome side perk. I’ve been to Vegas twice before. I thought once was enough for a lifetime, and I had already doubled that quota. But, seeing Shania Twain perform live has been a big life dream for me ever since discovering her music as a teenager, and she hasn’t been performing for years – over a decade, I believe. I’ve said for ages that I would spend my last penny to attend her concert, and then she got a show in Vegas. I knew I *had* to get there to see it, but who to go with? Enter BiSC.

I had so many fun experiences! Stayed at the Flamingo in a baller room, and would stay with them again in a heartbeat. I went on a rollercoaster. I played Cards Against Humanity to break the ice.

Best Cards Against Humanity haiku: "A defective condom; Leaving an awkward voicemail; A disappointing birthday party."

Best Cards Against Humanity haiku: “A defective condom; Leaving an awkward voicemail; A disappointing birthday party.”

Cocktail mixers and brunch buffets.

Welcome mixer at Serendipity3. Source: Karlyn Williams

Welcome mixer at Serendipity3. Source: Karlyn Williams

Cheated and wore grey to the white party!

Cheated and wore grey to the white party!

Reading in the VIP section at the pool. Day drinking Bloody Marys. BLOWN AWAY by Cirque du Soleil’s aquatic show “O”.

No photos allowed during the show, but this was the opening montage before the curtain rose at Cirque du Soleil's "O"

No photos allowed during the show, but this was the opening montage before the curtain rose at Cirque du Soleil’s “O”

Danced half the night away with my fellow BiSC-uits. Partied on the rooftop of PURE nightclub at Caesar’s. Did a tasting of nine whiskies at the Whisky Attic.

The knight in shining armour, guarding the largest collection of whisky in North America!

The knight in shining armor, guarding the largest collection of whisky in North America!

Flight of 9 whisky taster shots

Flight of 9 whisky taster shots

All of us also enjoyed a great swag bag. Check out the table full of them waiting for us at registration, with bonus snacks!

Gift Bags

Gift Bags

My favourite two sponsored items in the gift bags were the Stackwines and the Firmoo sunglasses. Stackwines have a brilliant concept: A stack of four disposable wine glasses, pre-filled with wine, stacked together in a package. You can have a glass of wine (to go! All the better, as this is allowed in Vegas!) and leave the rest unopened & fresh. Karlyn and I enjoyed a glass each evening while getting ready for festivities. I hope they sell it in Canada. And we were able to select our own sunglasses ahead of time from Firmoo and received them in our gift bags. I am in love with mine and highly recommend ordering from them if you’re in need of some shades.

We were all sporting our Firmoo sunnies at the pool. Source: Karlyn Williams

We were all sporting our Firmoo sunnies at the pool. Source: Karlyn Williams

It was all incredibly well-organized and great value created for all of us by the inimitable Nicole and Doniree. But in the end, the sponsors and the events added up to something greater than the sum of their parts. BiSC became more to me than some fun stuff to do and fun people to do them with.

I’m a fairly low-key, introverted person. I can be a lot of fun, but primarily in one-on-one or small group settings. I do not shine at group events of this nature; others usually form stronger bonds than I do. For the most part, this was no different. I haven’t spent a lot of time in conversation with a lot of the BiSCuits reading this. In some cases, I was too intimidated by their big Internet presence to approach them and say much. I listened to everyone cry at our farewell brunch and talk about having all the feelings; there were genuine crushed hearts at the thought of saying goodbye to each other. I had a hard time with this, and wondered if I missed out. The truth is, I just can’t connect with 65 people in one weekend well enough to feel crushed at seeing them go. But I did make a few great new friends. My roommate Karlyn was the best roomie and Shania accomplice I could have possibly asked for. I felt genuine kinship with the lovely bloggers and excellent humans with whom I did share deeper conversations.

But I’m not one to dwell on goodbyes and I couldn’t deal with the sadness, because I just know that we’ll continue the friendships and if we really connected, we’ll see each other again. I cannot wait to road trip down to Portland with Dominique and Simone to visit Larissa. I am ecstatic that Megan is coming to Vancouver soon and I’ll be able to see her again. I was delighted to make a new friend in Chicago because I want to travel there, and to hear stories of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro! And my fellow Canadians, you have my heart. All my BiSCuits, you’ve been special to me.

Instead of sadness, what I felt at the end were the stirrings of inspiration. This is an amazing group of people who have collectively achieved so much and revealed such raw honesty, and the result was a real lightbulb moment for me. So many seemed to have experienced – or are still experiencing! – very real struggles and obstacles along the way to their goals. These struggles are usually hidden from public view. I have run up against obstacle after obstacle over the last several years and have noticed myself shrinking my goals and settling for less, because I started to believe that’s all I was capable of… that successful people don’t repeatedly fail and struggle as I have, and that I’m simply not destined to fulfill my bigger dreams. What I learned – something that wasn’t an intellectual shock but I had never really internalized before – was that everyone wades through shit to get where they want to go, and that the only way to reach big dreams is to keep wading through. I’d started thinking that the continual struggle meant failure, but it just means I’m alive. And it made me realize all that I want is possible.

That was the real value of this weekend to me. It was exhilarating and invigorating not for the break from work or the drunken shenanigans or even Shania, but because my BiSCuit tribe gave me permission to dream big again. Thank you to you all for that incredible gift.

All images are my own unless otherwise indicated.

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.

Quiet: Insights to my Strengths and Opportunities

Image source: Goodreads

Image source: Goodreads

I’m currently reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and really enjoying it. I have long described myself as a “social introvert,” sticking that word, “social” in there to dispel assumptions others often jump to when they think of introverts. I’m not particularly shy or quiet. I’m not afraid of public speaking or public performances. I’ve conducted seminars at work and spoken to groups as large as 200, and I’ve acted with lead parts in school plays and excelled in those arenas. I like parties.

However, I do need time to recharge after social events or public speaking by spending time alone with a cup of tea and a book, my laptop or just my thoughts. If I don’t get that time, I am C-R-A-N-K-Y. That’s the biggest telltale of my true colours as an introvert, but there are others. It’s one thing for me to be the centre of attention onstage, where my role is very structured and defined, but I hate it in social settings. I’m fine hanging out in large groups, but I let others drive the discussion while I hang back listening and speak only when I have something important to contribute. I despise small talk and find it very difficult to get to know others who are not open to more meaningful topics right off the bat. (I’m one of those people who, upon meeting you the first time, can talk immediately about the fight you just had with your mother, but if you try to talk about the weather I’ll clam up after a few moments). I’m pretty terrible at persuasion; if my points don’t speak for themselves, I’m not someone who shows enough charisma, outward passion or confidence in my ideas or services to be able to convince someone who has doubts. This has been a career challenge in recent years as there has been a large sales element involved, and I prefer the control of self-employment to working for a company.

Not everything in this book applies to me, but I see a lot of myself in it. I have read a lot about introversion in the past so I wasn’t sure if I would learn much new in this book, but I like Susan’s angle of playing up the strengths of introversion. This is an angle I haven’t seen many places before. Introversion is usually described as a barrier to overcome, an obstacle to your success that you can learn to work with if you tame and mold it, but never is it seen as a shining light to be celebrated and embraced.

This passage’s excerpts (related to a surprising discussion of how Guy Kawasaki outed himself as an introvert on Twitter in 2008) was a particularly interesting insight to me personally:

On August 15, 2008, Pete Cashmore, the founder of Mashable, the online guide to social media, weighed in. “Wouldn’t it be a great irony,” he asked, “if the leading proponents of the ‘it’s about people’ mantra weren’t so enamored with meeting large groups of people in real life? Perhaps social media affords us the control we lack in real life socializing: the screen as a barrier between us and the world.” …

Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online… to say that they can express the “real me” online… The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of 200 people might blog to 2000 or 2 million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.

Though I’ve been a very inconsistent blogger who has not, in fact, shared much online in this little space lately, I’m pretty active on Facebook interacting with friends and organizing social events. I have a very active Pinterest page and adore Goodreads for sharing and learning about others’ book choices. I meet potential suitors almost exclusively through online dating, much to my (very extroverted) mother’s  derision, and I’ve never been able to explain why the Internet has been so important for my social life. I never would have pinned it on my introversion! And better yet, I love the implication that the computer/Internet as an intermediary in interpersonal relations provides an opportunity for introverts to thrive in leadership and sales roles where previously they may have floundered.

I wonder how I and fellow intro’s might use this insight to boost their careers. Can we thrive in sales by making a concerted effort with online presence? What changes can be implemented online to bring in new clients? Can we direct clients via a newsletter to a referral system on our website so we don’t need to ask in person? Some food for thought.

May 2013 bring prosperous wealth and personal growth to all, whether you’re introverted or extroverted!

Love for Phoenix

I’ve been spending considerable time lately on a fundraising project called Love for Phoenix and I wanted to share this with my readers here as well.

My sister and I used to work with this fabulous lady, Jenn del Rosario. I didn’t work with her for long… she quit just about 2 years ago, shortly after I had joined the company, but she came in to have lunch with old colleagues after leaving and I heard some of her news through the grapevine, so she’s stayed on my radar. Jenn had a young daughter named Phoenix when I met her, and I learned about a year ago that Phoenix was battling leukemia.

This is Jenn with Phoenix earlier this year

Phoenix did so well through treatment – fighting so hard enduring aggressive therapies after relapsing in November 2011, remission in March 2012, then her stem cell transplant in April, and then finally home from the hospital in late June of this year.

Unfortunately this September, she began complaining of fevers and pain. To the family’s horror, they learned the cancer was back and this time, she wasn’t well enough to go through treatment again. Phoenix, Jenn and Rahman (Phoenix’s dad) moved to Canuck Place
about a month ago, a hospice for children where they can receive the care they need in a much preferable environment to the hospital. I’m sad to report that Phoenix passed away in the early hours of Friday morning, October 12.

Jenn & Rahman have been financially devastated by Phoenix’s illness. Unable to work due to the care & time required, bills kept mounting and insensitive collectors have been calling. There was a segment on Global TV news recently featuring their story. The reason we set up the Love for Phoenix site, in addition to providing a central place for Jenn & Rahman to update friends about Phoenix, was that it also provided a place for people to donate to a trust fund that will help.

Now in addition to their existing financial burdens, they are also dealing with the extraodinary grief of losing their child – something no parent should ever have to face. If you would be kind enough to read about how you can help and consider sharing Phoenix’s story, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for caring for my friend during this tough time.