Friday, July 30, 2010


it's goal update time again!  i am officially 29 and a half tomorrow.  and i have a few bones to pick with 29, but i have faith that it will smarten up for its final half.

1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  i am not feeling anxious lately, which is a good thing.  more of a general frustration and without a lot of direction of what the eff i am doing.  some days, i feel confident, sure that i am on the right path, and something is just around the corner.  but then other days, i am lethargic and melancholy and resemble pig pen surrounded by a cloud of gloom.
2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special occasions.  i am doing ok.  not fantastically well, but ok.  and if facebook messages count, then i am on top of my game!  but sadly, that wasn't really the intention of this goal so i am not totally on the ball.  september is a big birthday month in my family though and i am already a little bit ahead of that game, so there's that.

3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  south africa is certainly in the works and i have sent messages to friends in cape town to see if i can visit with them.  and lucky for me, i have two friends coming to me in august and both are friends i knew in nairobi, one who now lives in east timor and the other in darfur, so it will be grand to catch up with them.

i will also get a visit in with my dad while i am in victoria this weekend (and a ride to the trailhead, yippee!) and am planning on spending more time at my family's cabin in the month of august and even though this is not technically what i had in mind with this goal, i am looking forward to it.

4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  um, yeah.  i feel as though this year so far has been the year of opportunities that were not to be, but were so damn close!  there are a few more irons in the fire that could materialise into something, but no word yet on my dream job...

5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  apparently 4 day hiking trips can be expensive.  but other than that, i am saving my pennies and will do until i have to fork out the dollars for my plane ticket to cape town.  until then though, my nest egg is coming along.  my new laptop took a chunk out of it, but full time hours, an increase in my billing rates, and freelance writing work are adding up.

6 - eat more balanced, regular meals.  i didn't even eat dinner last night.  in fact, i ate lunch and that was it.  today i didn't eat until 1 and will hopefully remember to eat dinner too.  honestly, living alone in the summer means that i a) eat out a lot or b) don't eat unless i am starving and then just open the fridge and make a meal out of whatever combination of food hasn't gone bad.  the other night it was spinach pasta with gorgonzola cheese and asparagus on the side.  that is one of the better combos i have come up with, normally they include pretzels and dill pickles.  eesh.

7 - sleep an appropriate amount.  i am sleeping well, even with some of the hot evenings we have had, and have made a point a few nights this month to get to bed early enough to read some of my book before sleeping.  this might sound like something a Normal Person who do Regularly, but i don't and typically end up watching crappy tv (go chris go!) until i am exhausted and haul my behind to my bed. 

oh, this is sort of funny and involves sleeping...  i wanted to try out my new sleeping bag and was lying in it watching more bad tv and i fell asleep only to wake up in a pool of sweat because, hey, guess what?!   my sleeping bag is good up to 10 degrees and it was hot as balls in there when i woke up.  good to know that it will keep me warm this weekend!

8 - maintain my priorities.  i think i am doing well and especially after a spring where i felt pulled in all directions simultaneously, i am approaching a state of balance where i feel i am on top of most things, including my contract positions and my health and fitness (well, apart from the sore hoof).  this applies to all parts of my life except the state of my nest...  and because of the disaster i now find myself living in and because i seem to be able to work my buns off and save my pennies, i figure a good use of those pennies would be to hire someone to keep my nest in a presentable state.  hence, i am going to hire a housekeeper.  da da dun!

i feel slightly like a glutton for this decision, but it makes sense and it will allow me to continue to find balance by being outside to enjoy the summer weather and socialising with my networks while also getting paid work done while i am at home rather than feeling guilty about watching my bad tv when i should be dusting shelves, cleaning fridges, and sweeping floors.  

9 - keep asking for what i want.  i am keeping up with this one.  i haven't asked for anything monumental lately, but i have been giving some deep thought to what it is i do want and putting that out to the universe.  i suspect that when i see something i want, i will have all the confidence to ask for it like i deserve it and that is good enough for the midpoint of 29 as far as i am concerned.

mish mash on a friday afternoon

in perusing my regular blogs (over there on the left),  i found a link to a vso study on why the images of poor, starving ethiopians during the live aid campaign have caused negative implications in the stereotype of africans.  now, this is not revolutionary in idea, but it is good to see research collected on the lasting impacts of that media campaign.  after a full read, i do think the research is biased in that it is totally poo-pooing on the media and on western views of developing countries while also saying that we have so much to learn from them (which may, or may not, be true, but it seems a bit cheeky to push that so much towards the end of the report when that wasn't the stated focus of the research).  but, it is worth a read.

and i should send it to the next person who tells me they want to go to africa to volunteer in an orphanage.

in other news, i have found a travel partner to join me in south africa, my mom!  yay.  i am even more excited about this trip now!  so much to sort out before then, but lots of time to do it.  should we visit the wineries, should we go to the district six museum, should we go up table mountain, should we go to simons point for breakfast and to see the penguins, should we visit my friends in the townships???

and speaking of trips, i am all packed and ready to go for the juan de fuca trail...  i have two sets of insoles for my hiking boots in hopes that one of them will avoid my crying due to foot pain and i bringing along a bottle of extra strength advil, which seem to do the trick.

i just need to pop out and see if i can find some 2nd skin and then i am off to victoria!  eek.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

inflamed, not fractured

i spent 4 hours in the urgent care clinic yesterday and, after a kind visit from a friend who works near the clinic and utilising the wireless in the waiting area to get some work done, i finally had my foot x rayed to see if i had a stress fracture.  and the good news is that my bones are in one piece.  the bad news is that they suspect i have plantar fasciitis.

and when i googled it, the phrase 'very painful condition' came up often, great...  but it makes sense because i was hobbling around this past weekend and hadn't experienced pain that affected my mobility so drastically.  call it a learning (and humbling) experience.

and even though i am not thrilled about having an inflamed plantar fascia, i was happy to hear that i did have something wrong with me because then i felt like i wasn't wasting the time of the doctors, nurses, and emergency room staff and i was impressed with how quickly i was able to get x rays taken and read and a diagnosis made.  and it made me think that if this had gone down in the us there would be a substantial bill to pay and i might have opted against x rays because i do not have health insurance from my employer at the moment, which would mean i would have had to cancel my hike for fear of exacerbating a fracture.  scary.

my next steps are to rest my foot this week, make an appointment to see a podiatrist, and wear my birkenstocks (thank god for birkenstocks!).

have you had this or know someone who has suffered from plantar fasciitis?  any tips on what to do or not do to decrease the inflammation?    or prevent it in the future?  or how to complete a 4 day hike without pain next week??

ouch. and eek.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

icy cold on a hot summer's eve

here i am again, sunday evening.  home alone.  and thrilled.  honestly.

one of my recent issues that has contributed to the wobbly moment has been the pressure i have felt to make the most of the summer months in calgary.  to take advantage of every opportunity to get outside and socialise.

and like last weekend, i feel as though i have managed quite fine.  a solid run followed by beers on the patio of one of the city's best pubs with far too many laughs between friends, a luxurious morning sitting on my own patio with coffee and a smoothie while reading my book, a saturday afternoon at the calgary folk fest listening to adorable boys play their guitars from the big rock beer gardens, and a sunday of huevos rancheros at my local breakfast spot with some mountain equipment co-op shopping in preparation for the juan de fuca trail next week and a walk in my community with an iced coffee.

but (and this is a rather large but that could alter the course of my next few weeks), i am currently sitting on my couch watching pvr'ed tv and am not cleaning my house or going for a run because i am icing my foot and ankle.  i have no idea what i have specifically done to it, but i know that it is a recurring injury that i normally keep in check with good running shoes, but wearing cowboy boots last weekend seems to have exacerbated the situation.  and standing in rubber flip flops yesterday was exceptionally painful and i am my worries continue to grow that this will not be cleared up by this friday, which is when i fly out to vancouver island.  eek.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

knowing a thing or two

hello.  and welcome.  to the hundreds of people who have passed by my corner of the internet these past couple days.  i suppose i should have had this message up before, well, now.  but instead all those newcomers to my blog, thanks to a rather kind link from flotsam, see me whining about my life and being in a funk...

but (but!) here i am, trying not to be wah-wah-wahing for once in a bit of a while.

what a day i had.  it started off with a message that my slow cooker had arrived and was ready for pick up. and a day that starts off like that is bound to be a good one.  what is better is that my slow cooker was free (remember that laptop i bought?  i put it on my credit card and earned enough points to order a slow cooker!) and that it matches the rest of my kitchen appliances, which pleases my obsessive sensibilities.

i began my workday at noon (because i can!) and headed to a townhall meeting with some of the executive of our company and was thrilled that some of my work was not only mentioned in the quarterly update, but praised as good company practice.

but that is not all.  i was mildly dreading heading to yet another meeting with an organisation that i volunteer with after my shortened workday, but was again pleasantly surprised to find that i was regarded as an expert and advisor to a locally based international foundation.  this was all well and good, however, until i had a one-on-one conversation about an upcoming initiative that i not-so-affectionately called voluntourism-lite.

the same qualities of voluntourism are apparent: the focus put on the travellers' experience, no lasting impact or clear outputs of the visit, short term stays in communities, and time and energy put out by the host organisation that is likely motivated by a desire to show that they really are a great organisation doing really good work (a sort of self preservation and marketing to the foreign visitors).

i got in quite a heated discussion about this and i just kept coming back to the question of why?  why is this happening?  to try and head off those who would otherwise seek out a true voluntourism experience and offer them something a little less corrupt and possibly more meaningful?  but that is not what a foundation should be doing.  a bad idea remains a bad idea.

and why is it so hard for people to accept my opinion that if you want to go to africa, go on a wicked vacation full of beaches, safaris, museums, and sights?  there is no requirement that you visit a slum, an orphanage, or a hospital to make it worthwhile.  we don't expect tourists to canada to visit our poorest communities or our underdeveloped first nations reserves so why do we expect canadians to do similar things on their holidays abroad?  and doesn't this continue to perpetuate the same stereotypes that africa is nothing but a continent full of dirty, black kids with flies around their eyes?  and (and!) offering such a programme doesn't acknowledge that many middle and upper class residents of africans don't feel compelled to visit those communities in their backyard, so why would canadians?  and, more than anything, what right do they have to go sniffing around in someone else's backyard?  and again, for what purpose?

eesh.  the whole conversation just made me want to bang my head against a wall.  but (but!), it did make me feel good in the sense that i actually know a thing or two about this and i felt strong enough in my opinions to express them and stand by them.  and that i can make some things better, just by being a part of them even if they frustrate me at times.

and that, along with today's positive feedback, has made me feel as though the wobbly moment might almost (dare i say it?!) be coming to a close.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

number crunching

i posted a comment over at flotsam, where on her fifth year blogging anniversary she ran some numbers.  a good idea i thought, so i am posting my comment here with a few more items that i have thought of since.

children conceived: 0
live babies acquired: 0
men married: 0
apartments lived in: 5
books written: 1 (if you count a thesis)
degrees acquired: 1
unfamiliar countries visited: 17
unfamiliar states visited: 0
couches owned: 5
pets felled by disease/neglect: 0
days admitted to hospital: 0
literary rejections received: 0 (but i have received a number of professsional rejections!)
pounds gained: -10
kidney stones passed: 0

and a few of my own:

humanitarian emergencies survived: 1
doctors dated: 3
soldiers dated: 1
teachers dated: 1
statisticians dated: 1
pilots dated: 2
hunters dated: 1
houses purchased: 1
heartbreaks suffered: 1
countries lived in: 4
tropical diseases contracted: 1
blogs maintained: 1
social networking profiles created: 3
social networking profiles maintained: 1
bottles of wine consumed: even if i remembered to count, i wouldn't have had the capacity to at the time
laptops owned: 3
cars named dieter driven: 1
grandparents lost: 2
jobs held: 3, 2 concurrently
tattoos inked: 2
bites of chicken consumed: 3 +/-
itunes songs collected: 4715
languages learned: 1/8
photographs taken: 1000s, maybe even 10,000s
friends met, books read, and tears shed: statistics unavailable until technology improves!

i would love to hear what you have to say about your last 5 years!

Monday, July 19, 2010

seeking book recommendations for qualitative research methodologies

it would make a lot of sense to post this on facebook, but for some reason i don't want my worlds colliding at the moment.

so, blogging interwebs, do you have any recommendations on good books that give a good overview on social science research methods, with particular reference to survey and semi-structured interview question design?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

sunday evening

normally, i detest sunday evenings.  call it a case of the sundays, but lately the thought of having to face another week while hanging out at home alone watching pvr'ed tv has made me cringe.

but this evening, i am feeling quite content with my weekend after a rather lame week.  a solid 7km run followed by drinks with an old friend on friday night accompanied by encouragement to go to law school.  breakfast and great chats on saturday morning and then my posse and i hauled ourselves to the nashville north tent at the stampede where i lasted until the wee hours and only left when my feet were too sore for anymore dancing.  then a sunday morning hike with a lovely lady and an afternoon with tours of my mom's garden and a vietnamese sub (because i have no food in my house!).

my wobbly moment continues, however, and i had to give myself permission to opt out of a work stampede party last friday without any guilt or remorse because i just was not in the mood to make merry and pretend that i was happy to be at a bar.  there is not one thing i wish i could change and if there was, i would be working my arse off to change it.

i have yet to hear back about my most perfect job and part of me just wants to the universe to show me where i need to be and what i should be doing.

but in the meantime, i continue to prepare for my hiking adventure and that means soaking my poor cowboy boot feet tonight and finding time to get my buns back up those stairs, hopefully this time without stopping.  menu planning, airport pickups, and a little mountain equipment co-op shopping and i should be ready to go.  it is nice to have something to look forward to!

Monday, July 12, 2010

turning a corner on pop culture?

my newest guilty pleasure, and i am truly embarrassed to be admitting this, is watching the bachelorette.  some girlfriends were talking about it a few weeks ago and i decided to check it out during my wobbly moment.  and i sort of like it.  i don't like the melodrama and the heart-to-hearts onscreen, but i do like watching the different relationships develop (although, how are those men not strangling one another each time they return from a date??).

my pick is chris and although i didn't come close to winning my world cup pool, i will be shocked if i don't win this one (not that i am in a pool, but i would join one next time around as i am afraid i am slightly addicted to this ridiculous show).

this is all a little hilarious to me as i didn't have tv for years and was so out of the pop cultural loop for ages!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

ready or not, juan, here i come!

i am not sure if i have committed myself to something that is far over my head, but in three short weeks, i will be hiking the juan de fuca trail on vancouver island.  i haven't done any overnight hiking in years and haven't been running or doing much of anything too active for weeks, so this might turn out to be the stupidest decision i have ever made or the challenge that i need right now.

it is less than 42km and we will be doing it over 4 days so that is less than 12km per day, which sounds rather doable.  until, of course, i consider i will be carrying everything i need on my back!

i have expressed my anxieties about this endeavour to my friend who i am going with and he has assured me that he will carry the heavy stuff and will be there to make sure that i get up all the hills and across all the puddles.  but still, i am scared.

but considering my recent wobbles and general attitude about my life lately, maybe this is what i need?

it didn't help that when i googled the hike (on my new, as yet unnamed, but beloved) laptop, i found the following quote:
"The Juan de Fuca trail is one of the most difficult trails I've ever hiked. There's tons of mud, puddles, rain, difficult-to-negotiate exposed roots, steep up and downs, blow-downs and cobbles." He also admits, "It's one of the most beautiful regions I've hiked through, but you earn it, that's for sure."
all i am going to say is that there may be tears.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

she's so shiny and new

she is my new mac book pro.  and i love her.

but she needs a name.

i am not really sure how to use her effectively just yet, but i also got aperture, apple's photo editing software, and am hoping to do some fun things with my photos.

and for her price tag, she had better make me dinner and rub my feet!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

29 + 4 update

ever since i decided to stop moping, things have really taken a turn for the better.

and in some random hope that the power of positive thinking actually might work, i just wanted to let the interwebs know that i have asked for something that i want as per goal #9.

i found a job i want.  i found a job that could potentially meld my education and international experience in development with my nearly two years' worth of private sector corporate social responsibility knowledge!  i found a job i want in new york city.

so i applied.

and if you are so compelled, join me in sending some positive energy in the direction of the un headquarters in nyc in hopes that they overlook my lack of the requisite 8 years of progressively responsible experience and interview me based on my ballsy cover letter and unique skill set!

she's purdy...

but not built to last, it seems.

this new format for my blog is nice and i have liked it so far, but since i changed it, my blog seems to be eating comments so if you don't see yours here, fear not!  i did receive it in my inbox and have no idea where it has gone, but i certainly did not delete it!

and thank you too, while i am at it.  my wah, wah, wah posts seem to bring out a lot of internetly support and that is swell.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

29 + 4

1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  remember last month and when i was thrilled with my ability to kick anxiety's ass?  wow, what a difference a month makes.  and as i just mentioned, i do not feel as though i am winning.  no specific anxieties, just a general sense of anxiousness pervading my days.  and i can't kick this idea that time is running out.  time to do what?  i am not sure.  but i do feel like i need to get on with something.  just not sure what that something is.

blah.  working on it, but blah.

2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special events, days, occasions.  i don't think i have done much of this this month as i have been a little preoccupied with keeping my life together.  one thing that i have done is take on some additional work as my supervisor is going through the death of a family member and i have been happy to do it.  but i still owe my bro $40 because i forgot to bring cash to put in his card and i sent my step-dad a birthday text a day late.  sheesh.  i need to get this one together!

3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  i got out to vancouver island for a long weekend of family time and it was absolutely stunning.  my trip to south africa is still in the most initial stages of planning and there is a small, small hope that i migth get to visit friends in another city yet this summer.  fingers crossed!

4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  let's just say that this one is on hold.  opportunities are coming up with my day job and i managed to get a raise at my part time job, but i am working on the other details.

5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  unlike previous months this year, this is going better than the rest.  i have been working a lot, which is good for my bank account, and i have not been spending too much (except for that little spree last thursday... oh, the sales got the better of me!).  it helps that tax season is over for me and i have a clue about how much i will have to pay in coming years and can save/spend appropriately.

6 - eat more balanced, regular meals.  just spent the weekend at my fam's cabin and that did wonders for my regular meat eating.  but still when i am at home alone i eat garlic dill pickles for dinner and that likely won't change any time soon!

actually, after the inspiration of regular meals of the cabin, i cooked shrimp for the first time ever tonight.  it was deceptively easy and i will certainly do that again.  because unless i continue to have vegetarian friends over for dinner (as i did a few weeks ago), i will have to expand my cooking repertoir past meat (and by extension, any shell fish) free dishes.

7 - sleep an appropriate amount.  the jetlag from asia took me quite some time to get over and that put a bit of a damper in my sleeping schedule, but since then!  i have managed to get it together and haven't even been napping much lately.  oh, except for after returning from a conference in banff for work where i certainly did not get enough sleep between 7am meetings and 2am bedtimes.

with stampede around the corner and a few parties already planned, i will surely need to plan for a few extra hours during the 10 days of partying in this town.

8 - maintain my priorities.  i am doing my best to stick with my priorities, but i am afraid that i have not been exercising as much as i should lately and a lot of my energies have been spent on work and on people who might not deserve them so a check is in order and i feel as though i have already started putting things back where they should be and remembering what is important.

9 - keep asking for what i want.  the first thing would be to figure out what it is that i want!  and lately it seems like a moving goal post...

been gone but not forgotten, i hope

(july 3, 2010)

i met someone once (and who it was, i cannot recall, which worries me ever so slightly) that instead of asking how you were doing would question, ‘are you winning?’

and lately, my answer would have been a bellowing ‘no.’ hence my silence on the www front. not that i didn’t have a whole lot to say, just not a lot of motivation to share it with the world.

i am not sure exactly what kicked off the wobbly moment, as my friend so eloquently called it, but it has lasted a good month now and i am one hundred times over this melancholy blue mood.

there are certainly a few things that exacerbated the situation and instead of listing them here, let me just say that there were a few text messages sent to friends recently that said I HATE DATING or I AM GETTING A CAT.

those of you who have been visiting my place on the interwebs for some now will know that i go through periods of not knowing what i want to do be when i grow up. and that, along with text messages in capital letters, seems to be weighing me down lately.

i realise that i don’t need to know exactly what i will BE when i grow up and anyone who meets me would know that i am already rather grown up, if i do say so myself. but i have always required some sense of direction to motivate me to strive to work towards it. and right now, i have a good job, but not one that i can imagine doing in years to come. i have a great nest, but not one that i necessary want to stay in forever. and i don’t feel as though i am living my life as fully as i could.

the logical answer would be to figure out what is ‘missing’ and find it. but that process seems to be tougher than my type a brain would like.

in a strange way, the warmer weather and increasing availability of stuff to do is overwhelming me and making me feel as though i am not taking advantage of my current situation enough. enough, enough, enough, i would like to take that word out of my vocabulary and replace with something that echoes contentment and satisfaction, but i am afraid i won’t be able to until i solve the mystery of what would be enough, enough, enough.

i remember feeling this way when i was coming to the end of the masters degree and in a twist of fate, i was offered a job that previously did not exist in kenya. i am trying to hand this one over to the universe too, but for the last 6 months or so i have felt as though something was just around the corner and now that i am metaphorically around that corner of time and nothing has emerged, i am feeling a little panicky and that sucks a big old egg.