Thursday, December 15, 2011

deep breaths

after moaning about not knowing what i should be when i grow up, recently some options have materialized.  my recent flurry of job applications has resulted in 3 job interviews this week.  i've only heard back from 1 of them and i have the option of moving to azerbaijan if that were to tickle my fancy.

and it might.  it is just that i am still not really clear on what my next move should be.  and yet i am also perilously aware that this indecision can turn into paralysis.*  but so many factors need to be weighed.  salary, contract length, career direction, my interest in the roles, levels of responsibility, distance from the people i love.

more than anything, i am wondering if i am ready to relocate after coming to liberia just 2 months ago.  and after another few months in another location, if i will be ready to pick and leave again.  perhaps i could do it for a year or so, but the idea of having a home base once again is rather appealing.

but what is equally appealing is more field-based experience and more travel and adventure (even if adventure means sitting by my pool in tropical heat in december).  and i keep thinking it is a mutually exclusive decision, but maybe i need to think more creatively and explore ways to achieve both a sense of home and stability with the challenge and excitement of 'the new.'

i sense a few pro/con lists in my immediate future.  and more than a few reminders of deep breaths and that this decision, like all that have preceded it, is not the last i will make and that it is just as much ok to say no as it is to say yes.

* paralysis is a rather tricky word to spell without spellcheck.

Monday, December 12, 2011

a reminder

The good fight is the one that's fought in the name of our dreams. When we're young and our dreams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven't yet learned how to fight. With great effort, we learn how to fight, but by then we no longer have the courage to go into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result of our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight. 


Paulo Coelho from The Pilgrimage

Thursday, December 08, 2011

to town we go

i can be as guilty as the next traveller/expat of wanting to have a unique and 'authentic' experience when i am in a new country and yet i recognize that even seeking this out takes away its authenticity and leaves you constantly feeling as you didn't do enough, see enough, photograph enough.

and there are those instances that remind me that authentic experiences are authentic because they just happen.  and they just happen when you are open to them and others.

a bit trite, perhaps, but seems to hold true where ever i have been in the world.

yesterday was one of those 'authentic' days that i will likely cherish.  and largely because it felt so... normal.

motorcycle taxi driver (with sunglasses, of course!)

mary had agreed to take me to the waterside market in monrovia to buy lapas, the brightly printed (and ironically, printed in china) fabrics west africa is known for.  as much as i wanted to add to my collection and feed my addiction to fabric, i also wanted to hang out with mary and have her show me around town.
the first decision was how we would get there.  the shared taxis were an option, but we decided to spring for the motorcycle taxis at double the price because they are faster and a lot more comfortable, especially if you don't have to share one.  mary hailed them down and we got on.  she told me later that she was a little nervous when she couldn't see me, but she needn't worry as the only thing that i had to fend off was another motorcycle's passengers, two men who were fighting over talking to me every chance they got (in the middle of the road!).  it is times like these i need something that resembles a wedding ring in my back pocket.
bustling water street, with wheel barrows for hire
waterside is less of a market and more of a number of streets lined with vendors selling anything you need of your house.  much of the clothing and housewares were used, but there appeared to have been a large shipment of chinese shoes and they were laid out nicely for passersby to take a look.  the thought occurred to me a number of times that all those people at home who think donating t shirts and shoes to 'africa' are unaware they are being sold by the bundle and sold on the streets (in fact, there is a documentary made on this very topic: T Shirt Travels).

merry christmas!
it seemed as though mary knew a number of people around and we had to make several stops to say hello, but it turns out that she used to work there selling food so still knows many of the salespeople and shop owners.  i clearly stuck out, but didn't feel out of place or uncomfortable.  it is a pretty broad statement, but i have found monrovians very welcoming and kind to me.  but i would be lying if i said i was a lot less worried about getting lost or ripped off by having mary with me.

like much of the rest of the shops i have seen, many were owned by lebanese people.  we poked our heads into the ones selling lapas and i found 12 yards of fabric that i plan on using for sheets and cushions.  coincidentally, i got the number of a wonderful tailor today who can hopefully help me out because although learning how to sew (and quilt!) is something i would love to do, i am without a sewing machine.

it is tough to visualize what the fabric will look like as it is overwhelming to see so many patterns at once. and sometimes is very dim light while you are sweating buckets in the stuffy shops.  i picked out some more basic patterns although i might go back for the 'obama' print, which was rather lovely even if it did not have any images of obama on it at all.

in fact, there are some ma ellen prints i have seen around and like the nelson mandela cloth i bought in south africa, i might pick some up just for the laugh and memories of the time i am here.

lapas - the purpose of our journey
as i was unfolding and feeling all the fabric, mary was checking out the shoe selection and making sure my bags didn't get too heavy to carry.  one of my favourite parts of monrovia is the shop signs that are painted on the outer walls of buildings.  i hope to gain more confidence in bringing my camera along to take more photos next time i go to town, but this time i just took some snaps on my phone (which, by the way, have you downloaded the camera+ app yet?! amazing.)

after a wander around, we caught more motorcycle taxis on the way back.  this time, my driver was a shyster and made us pay too much and since we had two drivers, the second being a honest guy, i paid him the same exorbitant rate that the first demanded before taking my money, refusing to give change, and driving off.  i have no idea if he thought he could rip us off because of where he dropped us off, who he was carrying, or just because he was an ass, but neither mary nor i were impressed.  we were also nearly melting so we didn't bother too much and came inside to share a can of coke (which is still one of the most refreshing beverages when it is so hot out!).
this is what i look like on the back of a motorcycle taxi,
if ever you wondered

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

the week ahead

after my complaining about having a houseguest (who is a marvellous cook, i do admit), i will be spending the next week on my own in the big city of monrovia.

truth be told, i wish i was also heading out to the field to see more of the country, but instead i will be making the most of my time.  i have found a few shops that i want to check out: afropolitan and Jola House Creations and i'd like to take a trip to waterfront market to buy some lapas, but am a bit nervous to go alone partly because i have no idea how much anything should cost and partly because i envision it being a cacophonous and seemingly chaotic place.  i could be entirely wrong, but may enlist mary's help to navigate it.

one of the challenges to life in monrovia for me is that there are few options for transportation and i feel as though i can't be as independent as i'd like.  we don't have a car, although i recently learned that we could have one if someone had renewed his license (and knew how to drive standard...).  the yellow shared taxis that ply the roads are seemingly ubiquitous, but also come with a queue of people ready to fight their way to squeeze into the car doors and i'm not sure how exactly payment or the system works, which will cause me quite a bit of stress.

there are the motorcycle taxis, driven by young men often with a version of trendy (and sometimes lens-less) sunglasses regardless of the time of day.  the un security briefing includes a prohibition against using these, but we tried them out on the weekend and i must admit that it was a much more pleasant way to come home after a day in the city than being stuck to the synthetic seats of a dilapidated taxi.  very breezy and rather exhilarating, if not a bit dangerous.

the typical mode of transportation i use is a car service operated by 5 guys.  their cars are not always so reliable, as we found out while we were stuck for an hour this past weekend, but they are very friendly and a great resource about all things liberian.  they tend to be available when you call, but it means that you have to hire them for short journeys or by the hour.  and when i am in a shop knowing someone is waiting for me, i can't help but rush through my shopping.  i think that this is something that i will just have to get used to otherwise i will spend the next few months rushing about and worrying about how long i am taking.  the other downside is that if you just want to wander about and catch a taxi home, you can't.  i either plan a pick up time or location or call them and hope they are free to collect me when i'm ready.

after my week of living like a bachelorette again, i will be packing my own bags to head to dar es salaam, tanzania to celebrate christmas on the other coast of africa.  let the countdown begin!

Friday, December 02, 2011

top tips for being a houseguest

  • avoid offending your host by rolling your eyes at the mention of the industry she has worked in for the past 3 years.
  • try to keep your unsolicited information and knowledge on how the sugar releases the chemicals in tomatoes to yourself at the dinner table.
  • be mindful of how much you are asking the housekeeper to do and in what you are asking your host to communicate to the compound staff on your behalf.
  • don't let your host know that you approve of her selection in a partner, she likely doesn't care what you think.
  • don't complain about the bedding or the mattress or the curtains.  just don't.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

early (temporary) retirement

i was guilty of asking friends who were not working at home 'what do you do all day?' as though it would be a struggle to fill your days with activities that had to be done and those you wanted to do.  i figured that it must be boring not to be busy, a daytimer full of appointments and to do lists, and a social calendar with other people working full time, regular hours.

and now when people ask me if i get bored without having a full time job or what i do with myself all day, i am sort of surprised because the answer seems so obvious.  i read, i lay by the pool, i grocery shop, i visit with our housekeeper, i cook, i play angry birds, i check facebook and twitter, i send emails, i apply for jobs, i go for walks, i edit photos, i go for lunch, i do yoga, i watch tv series i've always wanted to see, i work out, i get massages and pedicures at home.  but only for a few moments this past month have i felt bored.

i have felt some pangs of guilt that i am not working, not being productive, and not building the years and breadth of experience on my cv.  but then i reminded myself that people generally spend their entire careers waiting to retire and live the life i am living right now.

and it won't last.  come march, i will likely have to get a job either in liberia or wherever someone will hire me and then i remember what it feels like to squeeze in a run after rushing home from the office or wake up to an alarm everyday or not having time to fit all my friends and family in.  i am in no hurry to get back into the regular workforce and a crammed schedule so i am genuinely enjoying my time.  i just wish that people understood that when they ask me what i possibly DO all day!

now if you'll excuse me, i have another episode of Mad Men, the next chapter of The Hunger Games, and a swimming pool all calling my name.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

we are frying, oh!

i was all ready to declare my first liberian cooking lesson a success and then the boyfriend had to go and get sick after eating what my housekeeper and i cooked up.  but i have felt fine ever since so i am still going with the idea that it was a success, but i might include a disclaimer in all future kitchen endeavours.

it is not that i can't cook, i just have no idea what to do with all the greens in the market here.  and i can still count the number of times i have cooked chicken on one hand (three, if you are wondering).  but i am getting better at eating it (it was served a lot on my recent trip to morocco), so there's that.

mary, my housekeeper extraordinaire (and you will recall, currently my closest friend in monrovia) wanted to teach me to cook and had offered to go and buy what we needed at the market.  i figured it was a good opportunity to get a tour of the market so i asked if i could come with her, which she thought was a grand idea and off we went.

i thought our project would be cut short immediately after leaving my house and seeing the opposition party march going down the main street in protest of the recent elections and to mourn their dead from clashes with police a few weeks ago.  i looked at mary as if to inquire on the security of us wandering through the hundreds of people and she, a proud ma ellen supporter, didn't seem concerned so on we carried on amongst the chanting and yelling and shuffling throngs.  in fact, mary thought it might be a good photo opportunity, but i am still shy about whipping out my camera (slr or iphone).

the market is a huge building jammed with stuff and things and bits and bobs.  in amongst the kitchen items, there is a small produce section.  here are your choices: palm nuts, cassava leaf, potato leaf, collared greens, yams, onions, garlic, banana, plantain.  none of which i know what to do with.

mary and i had previously agreed that she'd teach me how to make collared greens so that is what we bought and had the woman in the market cut them up small, small for us with her giant (and incredibly sharp) knife.

after picking up some seasoning, a basin to wash and massage the greens, and onions, we headed back home where mary unceremoniously butchered a frozen chicken on my countertop.  i noticed she kept all the trimmings to take home with her, but otherwise all the chicken bits when into the oil.  my job was to watch her and ask questions and take photos (often at her request).

we fried the chicken with some onion and added the greens into the pot while mary sang 'we are frying, oh!'  in went the seasoning, tomato paste, chiles and then i manned the greens with instructions from mary not to stir too much and add water occasionally.  she got on with making the rice and soon, our meal was complete.

it tasted better than any west african food i have had before and it received positive reviews (apart from the upset stomach...) and was a fun process.  next up, a field trip with mary to the larger market in town.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

home sweet home in monrovia

remember that deal i made with kelsey?  well, i am really crapping out on it, aren't it?

and it is not that i have any wonderful excuses as i am not working a regular job, have more free time than i've had in years, and have had literally thousands of thoughts about life in liberia that i have wanted to share.

view from my bedroom window
i arrived about a month ago and was warmly welcomed into my new home that overlooks the atlantic ocean.  it is a furnished house, meaning it comes with the basics and all the necessary furniture, but little else.  not much on the walls or in the cupboards, but after a few shorts weeks, it does feel like home.

and you can't beat opening your balcony doors in your bedroom to hear the sound of the waves crashing.

waves crashing so hard that i actually cannot swim in the ocean near my house, but yoga in my makeshift hot yoga studio (aka my balcony) is wonderful with the background noises of the sea.

we have a housekeeper who is slowly becoming my closest friend in liberia and i know this isn't exactly how this relationship should go, but it is nice to have company during the days and she is happy to answer all my questions about life in monrovia.  for instance: how do i break a $100 dollar bill? (go to the forex and ask for 'pieces'), where do i find towels in the shops? (the big shop in town has them, it's called Abijala), how do i replace our empty cooking gas canister (give $45 to the groundskeeper and 5LD (liberian dollars) for a motorcar and he'll get it for you).
our street
she was also a wealth of information during the violence that broke out during an opposition party protest a few days before the run off election was held, which was peaceful in the end even if boycotted by the opposition that was crying foul (and also knew they would lose).

before i left calgary, i was worried that i would be bored and wouldn't have anything to fill my days.  i seem to have been wrong and manage to have a growing To Do list on the go as well as very few moments where i am not sure what to do with myself.

i do have work that needs to be completed from a contract i still have from home and i have been enjoying jumping back into the world of research with it.  but otherwise i have been reading books, working out, playing far too much angry birds than is healthy, stocking the fridge and cupboards, reading the internet and sending emails, and utilising the incredibly affordable long distance calling to call friends and family in canada (seriously, i have put $70 on my phone and have made at least 5 calls lasting longer than an hour each and still have $50 left in my account - if liberia can figure out affordable long distance overseas, why oh why can't canada?!).

and, as promised, i will be spending more time writing (hopefully in a coherent manner) about my impressions of my newest home to post here.
how i spend some afternoons

Sunday, October 09, 2011

a lot to process

i am just going to ease back into this blogging thing.  even though i HAVE made a deal to blog twice weekly.

and not that i haven't had about a thousand ideas of stuff to write about as i prepare to pick up my life and relocate to monrovia, liberia in 1 short week.

but baby steps.

and today those baby steps revolve around my panic that air canada's flight attendants have decided to strike as of this thursday.  the first legs of my journey are with air canada so here i am on thanksgiving sunday worrying that i might not be able to get to monrovia.  and this is all complicated with the fact that only 3 days after i arrive, i am booked on a non-refundable flight to casablanca, morocco.  eesh.

and this comes at a time where i am struggling with so many conflicting emotions.  i suppose that it goes without saying that leaving your hometown (again), your job, your house, and your network and friends and family, is tough.  the goodbyes, the realization that i will miss months, if not years, of my new niece's life, and knowing that i am leaving a vibrant social network is sad.

this is tempered with the excitement i have for moving to a new country, a new city, and a new house that promises to bring adventure and hold a bright future.  i am thrilled to be able to enjoy a holiday to morocco, christmas in tanzania, and daily life in a city that will certainly mystify, confound, and surprise me in equal measure.  i was ready for a change, as evidenced by my moaning for months about figuring out what i want to be when i grow up, and here it is.  it just happens to come with a lot of thoughts, feelings, and stress.  but then again, if it were easy, everyone would do it.  and if it weren't a challenge, i probably wouldn't be interested.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

csr, what is it good for?

absolutely nothing?  not quite.

i come at this topic from a potentially unique perspective - i have an academic and professional background in international development, but have spent the last 3 years working in the field that can broadly be described as corporate social responsibility (csr) with an oil and gas company.  and i have to say, the two worlds are not as far apart as one would think.

the last few years have certainly taught me that csr, like development and humanitarian aid, is a diverse field with some fantastic ideas and programmes and a whole lot of crappy ideas and a handful of people who think CSR IS GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD.

while i certainly don't see the pillars of a good csr strategy as a panacea to the world's problems, i don't think that for-profit organisations are anything to be feared and can 'do good' while also making money.

and here's a few ways: demanding clean supply chains, hiring local people and contractors, investing in local talent development, supporting established organisations through donations and sponsorships (commonly called 'community investment'), ensuring a safe and healthy worksite for current employees, and minimising the amount of environmental damage or degradation its operations cause.

to be clear, i don't think that a company does, or necessarily should, do these things out of the goodness of their hearts.  i think there are a lot of intrinsic motivators for businesses to implement effective csr strategies, including enhancing local services and recreation to attract the best staff.  to improve the talent pool from which they will draw now and in the future (essentially, capacity building in the development sense) by supporting education facilities and programmes.  to improve value for their shareholders (however value is described) by demonstrating they are a sustainable enterprise.  to build morale within the companies and appealing to their staff who want to work at a responsible company.

true, companies can leverage their csr initiatives for marketing and to build their reputation with potential customers, and those motivations all seem relatively clear, but i think that csr is too often written off because this is seen as its only purpose.

csr can be done horribly wrong and i would argue, some companies who think they should get into the world of csr don't think strategically or consider it a professional field that comes with years of research, analysis, successes, and failures.  too often, a seemingly 'good cause' is supported through writing a giant cheque or volunteers are sent out for the photo opportunity, with little concern for what impact (positive, negative, or null) it will have.

in fact, the company that i work for has a csr situation gone sideways.  they wanted to improve water and sanitation in a community where they operate and figured they could work with a un agency (because if csr can't save the world, the un will!).  their intentions, unsurprisingly, were good and everyone had that warm, fuzzy feeling that doesn't come often for a bunch of engineers working in an extractive industry.

but those good intentions were not enough.  the project is years overdue, has suffered from high-level turnover at both organisations, and has not had the intended positive effects that everyone had hoped.  in hindsight, i think they realise they bit off more than they could chew and were ill informed with how the un functions (or does not) and what happens when you improve social services in one village and not the rest (surprise, people migrate!).

and why?  because in this case, the company is not an expert in water and sanitation projects in this particular country.  had they hired someone who was, they may have found that in this case, writing a giant cheque would've been more beneficial.

in other words, csr decisions and strategies should be taken seriously and addressed by professionals, not just those who want to go home from work feeling good (which is similar to Milton Friedman's argument that a business behaves ethically by turning a profit), but often are not seen as important enough to dedicate sufficient people and resources.  csr costs companies money, it does not earn companies money.  and i think that as long as that is understood and accepted, csr initiatives have a better chance at success.

and writing this is incredibly self serving as i find myself at a crossroads where i could continue on the csr career path or i could turn back to the world i once knew and work internationally with a humanitarian/development programme.  i am not convinced that either will be a perfect fit for me and each comes with challenges and frustrations, but i do believe there is a role for each in meaningful and effective socioeconomic development and humanitarian aid, internationally and locally.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

watch this space (and that one over there, too)

it appears that my return to blogging has coincided nicely with a new initiative of j at tales from the hood (a blog that you should be reading if you want to learn anything about international development and humanitarian aid).  check out the details of his Aid Blog Forum and participate if you have anything to say.

the first topic up for discussion is Corporate Social Responsibility.  this also happens to be the field i have been working in for 3 years so i am just working through some thoughts in hopes of coming up with something coherent.  by tomorrow because there is also a DEADLINE.  and if you want to get my to do anything, the way forward is to give me a DEADLINE so i can procrastinate my way towards it and ultimately, get it done.

also, i am really sick of looking at this blog's design and am sort of sick of having the word 'blogspot' in its title.  must think on that too.

(seems my return to blogging has taken the 'then i had a pb&j sandwich for lunch and then i had a really hot coffee and then...' format.  will work on that.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

um, hi

so, it's been awhile.

not quite sure why, really.  i just didn't have it in me to write and i was generally sick of listening to myself go on about 'i don't know what i should be doing,' 'i wish i knew what to do with my life,' or 'i sure hope i figure out the next step soon.'

now, i wouldn't say that i have quite figured out the answers to any of those questions, but i have made a pact to write twice a week.

and well, i am moving to liberia without a job, so i have this suspicion that i might have extra time on my hands for doing things like writing.

this return to the blogging world means that i will also be reading more blogs too, which i am equally as excited about!

Friday, April 01, 2011

a review or two


(march 28, 2011)

everyone had been raving about the young singing sensation Adele since her recent album, 21, came out so when i inadvertently purchased it from itunes (i still don’t really know how i managed that), i wasn’t disappointed.

but after a few listen throughs and i am not sure.  it is good.  it is enjoyable.  i love the song Someone Like You, which is heart wrenchingly sad and exactly what i like in my music, but the rest of the album is a little lacklustre.

nevermind, i’ll find someone like you.
i wish nothing but the best for you too
don’t forget me, I beg
i remember you said
sometimes it lasts in love
but sometimes it hurts instead

eesh, i do love me a sad lyric.  and you might recognize the tune from last week’s episode of grey’s anatomy (sidebar: i am totally up in the air about how i feel about that ending.  really, you are going to tell me that callie might float above the rest of the cast for an entire show while we wait to find out if she is dead?  we’ve been here with meredith and of course, she lives.)

another album i bought recently, after seeing her perform live when she recently opened for Joshua Radin and (no The) Cary Brothers is Laura Jansen’s Bells.  she was an amazing live performer, just her and a piano and the most delicate songs gave me goose pimples.

her album is also in the range of medium, but i do love her cover of Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody and i will always remember her telling the story of cutting her own hair after breaking up with a ‘douche bag’ on christmas when i listen to her song Single Girls (which, coincidentally, is awesome).

a band that is making me get up and move lately is Miike Snow, a swedish group that is great to put on your running tunes playlist.  i have been listening to their self titled album over a glass of wine if i am heading out for a night on the town because it makes me smile.  i have no idea how this album came to me, but my favs on it are Burial, Animal, Cult Logic, and Black and Blue.  awesome.

and as i mentioned, i saw Joshua Radin and Cary Brothers in concert (at the century casino, formerly known as the silver dollar action centre, of all places on a sunday afternoon).  I did my homework and listened to both the singer songwriters’ stuff beforehand and have become more obsessed since.  there’s never been anything that compares to listening to men sing about heartbreak.  and as i announced to the twitter world (or twitterverse, as it pains me to write) the whole evening made me want to fall in love and break up over and over again because they made it sound so wonderfully bittersweet.  my favourite Joshua Radin songs are No Envy No Fear, One of Those Days, the most romantical song Today, which he sang for Ellen DeGeneres and Portia di Rossi’s wedding, and You Got Growing Up to Do, which could regularly bring tears to my eyes if i let it.

wake up lonely with you by my side

what i’d give for that first night you were mine

i don’t belong to you

as for Cary Brothers, I wholeheartedly recommend Belong as another soul draining song of broken love (wake up lonely with you by my side…what i’d give for that first night when you were mine… i don’t belong to you), the upbeat Ride, Honestly, and another for the running play list, The Last One, Break Off the Bough, and Someday.

i have also given a thorough listen to the newest Arcade Fire album, Suburbs, recently and i do believe that it deserves all the accolades it received at this past weekend’s Juno awards.  those dudes continue to rock.

and with all these amazing artists, life is just too damn short to waste listening to bad music.

Monday, March 28, 2011

vote compass

i am sure there will be detractors somewhere that will say that this is unscientific or overly simplified, but i think that the vote compass on the cbc website is one of many tools that we can use during this election season to figure out who we are going to vote for.  if we didn't know before.

i did the questionnaire and wasn't terribly surprised with the results, but what i loved was that you can go through your answers and see where you compare to each of the 5 federal political parties.

there were a few of the questions that i had no opinion on and a few that would have more weight in my final decision, but i think that this is a great tool, especially if you are wondering who will get your vote this may!

let's get voting!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

getting serious?

not sure what my globe and mail horoscope refers to, apart from the person i am semi-stalking on twitter!


AQUARIUS (Jan. 21 - Feb. 19):
You seem unable to decide whether to get serious about a relationship or whether to keep it at arm’s length. You will have to decide one way or the other by the end of the week, but for now just keep thinking.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

what a weekend

with weekends like the past two i have had in calgary, i could be convinced never to leave the city.

my weekend started a little early with a shopping trip that ended with new sweaters, a dress i can wear to a stampede festivity this july, tights that remind me eerily of my figure skating days, new fashionable belts, a few little things for my future niece, and a feather for my hair.

i got to try out the new kol3 in kensington for vietnamese crepes and iced coffees with a good friend i met through my current job.  and we followed it up with a cold beer at molly malone's to continue our conversation about all things relationships, career directions, house shopping, women's rights, office gossip...  not sure that we solved the world's problems, but we certainly had a great time catching up.

saturday morning was chillier than i had hoped, with spring shyly poking its head around the corner this past week, so after running back into my house to add a layer, i headed out for a lovely morning run.  even though there was some pesky ice on the pathways, i had a great run paired with non-stop chatting with a dear friend facing some pretty daunting challenges at the moment.  more listening than talking on my part, but that was just fine.

i headed out to my neighbourhood pub on saturday evening with a new chum from work to see a local band play.  the band was pretty medium, but the company and laughs were pretty awesome.  getting a taxi home at the end of the night when the snow started falling, not so awesome.

and today, a day of phone calls and catching up with friends far away and family nearby was followed by some comfort cooking.  after stirring and stirring and adding and adding liquid, i created a most delicious risotto paired with homemade pesto that i whipped up in my food processor (without cutting my finger this time).  i needed some time in the kitchen to relax and forget momentarily about the state of the world, which was weighing heavily on my shoulders after following the stories of cote d'ivoire, japan, libya, yemen, bahrain, and haiti on twitter and the news this past week.  sometimes having a constant stream of information can work against your sanity and sense of contentment and if there is a silver lining in this cloud it is that i am getting better at recognising when that is happening to me so i can take a step back.  and that is what i did tonight with fantastic results and a lot of leftovers!

the need for distance and perspective is at the heart of my intentions in giving up impatience for lent.  it has been a good practice thus far and i have not only recognised when i begin to get antsy or worrisome about my future, but have reminded myself not to allow that anxiety to creep in and that if i really want to worry, i can do it in a few short weeks.  reshaping my thinking around my future and how i can get so anxious about it has also helped me appreciate what i do have.  the grass might be greener for me elsewhere, but it is pretty damn green where i am right now as well.  and having a weekend full of pretty wonderful friends is part of that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

wherein i use a few caps

ever since i woke up on january 1, 2011, i have felt a change a'coming.  i have no idea what it will be nor when it will come, but i feel ready for it.

going to new york inspired me to get my arse in gear to get out into the world again and find something else to to for a little while.  to not be afraid to leave the comforts of my home town again and to explore a little more, knowing that there is a whole lot of awesome to come home to anytime i choose.  the beauty of an economy fuelled by a commodity-driven industry that is on the up once again, i suppose.

i cleaned out my closets, giving away a bunch of stuff and consigning some others (wherein i chose not to consign my clothes at one shop because they give all the unsold merchandise to an 'orphanage in africa' and couldn't answer me which of the 50+ countries they were referring to nor why they made the orphanage pay for the shipping of the clothes to their magical unnamable part of the continent).  i updated my vaccines, passing out in the process, so that if i feed the urge to up and leave to a yellow feverish place, i will be covered (in fact, the reason i am up right now, even though it is midnight and i have a week full of early morning and it is the day of the year that daylight savings kicks your ass is because i forgot i have to take a live typhoid vaccine on an empty stomach and well, my stomach is not empty.

i have also decided to give up impatience and self doubt for lent.  yes, i know this is not in the typical spirit of lent, but i needed a time frame and well, it was conveniently timely (is saying conveniently timely redundant??).  i am reminding myself that everything has worked out thus far and will continue to do so, in a time frame that is never going to end or stop and as i have always said, there is no finish line and the whole success is not a destination thing (i think you can find some lame quote from me on the interwebs about that, actually).

i am trying to remember that an opportunity will come my way.  no sense in worrying or fretting that time is passing me by (I AM GETTING OLDER, OH MY GOD, I AM BEHIND... you get the idea).  if the past two years are any indication, opportunities find me and i do my best to put myself right in their path as best i can.  i feel as though i have done that now and so now i just wait.

but waiting is not so bad.  last week i braved the -20* temperatures and went to the joshua radin, cary brothers, laura jansen show and it was amazing.  as i said on twitter, it made me want to fall in love and break up again and again.  well, not really, but they sure did make it sound poetic and romantic and wonderful and heart wrenching.  and a concert at the former silver dollar action centre?  not so bad, especially if you like a little greasy pizza with your handsome singer/songwriters.

i followed that up with so many pints, breakfasts, coffees, and dinners with so many inspiring, intelligent, and hilarious people this past week that i was pleasantly reminded that i am surrounded by a community of people and i have a few greatest fans out there, which is always a nice boost to the confidence.

oh, and i ate at boxwood, which was a chorizon/polenta delight, had breakfast at wake in kensington, where they brew a strong cup of coffee and make mean eggs benedict, and had a perfectly poured latte at vendome cafe.  so if you are in the city, go try those newcomers to the ever expanding culinary/coffeehouse scene around these parts.

Monday, March 07, 2011

ready for this

apart from a really kick ass trip to an amazing city, my visit to new york was actually for another reason entirely and i just appended my own fun to the end of a 5 day training session.  as these things often do, it certainly had its ups and its downs, but my overall impression was a positive one and i felt that i walked away with practical skills and a pocket full of contacts that could potentially be helpful for future professional gigs.

i prepared myself before going that i would likely be the odd one out, the one who is not currently based 'in the field' and who doesn't have scathes of emergency experience, but has been selected just like everyone else to attend.  surprisingly, this didn't feel like an impediment throughout the time and i am not sure if that was because i was ready for it, i am more confident now than when i was last in one of these situations, or the other participants and facilitators weren't dickheads.  i think it was a little from columns a, b and c.

the best part of it all was that at a few different points, i thought to myself, i can do this.  and not only can i do this, i think i could do it well.  as someone who regularly battles with self doubt, internal criticisms, obsessive thinking, and anxiety, this was good, very good.

the best part of the entire experience was a few days after it finished and i was wandering my way around new york city (rather than long island, where we had been holed up for the training), when i got an email telling me that i was an asset to the training and asking if i was interested in potential positions that could come up.  with a resounding yes, i politely responded and there was a little back and forth.  i suspect it all comes down to waiting on funding, but i was happy to be considered after what felt like a 5 day job interview.  i guess i passed.

but.  of course there is a but!  but, now i haven't head for a few weeks and i am terrified that all this momentum is going to come to a screeching halt and i will be Stuck.  with a capital S.  and that is the terrifying part.  i have spent the better part of the past 2 years rebuilding, settling and repairing.  and now i am ready to head back out into the big, bad world.

last year i thought that i wasn't strong enough or interested enough or something enough to start again in a new city or a new country alone.  for a long time, i had in my head that i would only ever being doing that with someone.  well, that someone isn't around and hasn't been for a few years now, but it took me awhile to feel strong enough and excited enough to uproot again and start a new job and build a new life in a new place.  and now that i feel that i am there, i am scared that an opportunity is not going to come my way.  i will keep applying for things that interest me, but the anxiety is creeping in.

and this after i had some serious conversations with myself about what i would be giving up if i left calgary now.  the stability, the money, the closeness with my family, the familiarity, the nest...  and although i am still not sure how i would manage all that change, i feel like i would figure it out.  but now i just need the opportunity to allow me the chance to figure it out.

eesh.

and there you have it, interwebs, that is what has been on my mind for the past few weeks since returning from new york.  i needed a shake up, but i am also feeling impatient and just want to get on with things now that i have made a decision.  so, universe, are you listening?

a nyc success

hello internet!

yes, i am still around and apparently still have a blog.  i have been spending a lot of my internetting time on twitter lately, so if you haven't already found me there, go on and do it now.  it feels a bit like the lazy person's blog, but i also sort of love it, especially as i had been on a bit of a soap box with all my sharing links and it is a great platform for that.

let's get back to that trip i took to new york city though.  and how amazing it was.  i felt quite at home in a way, in a city where it seems everyone belongs, which i hadn't felt in some time.  and i just enjoyed it.  the along time to sit and think and walk and think and just be and think was much needed.



it was a little chilly for me, but i managed to bundle up and hit the pavement.  i did a few touristy things that i suppose someone out there would say that you 'have to do' like thetop of the rock, which was over priced, but did offer a good view of the city at sunset.  one of my favourite things was the greenwich village food tour operated by foods of new york.  not only delicious, but really interesting and well worth the money.  i also went on a walking tour with the lower east side history project, also fascinating.  and it all was made more relevant because, like the dork i am, i was reading the historical fiction creatively titled new york that covered the various periods of the city and historical events that shaped the city and its communities.  a good historical account of the city, if not a little long.


i also had the opportunity to meet up with friends and friends (and in one case, an ex girlfriend of a friend) and although it could have felt like an awkward blind date, each of the three women i met up with for a day of sightseeing and photo-adventuring, coffee in midtown, or dinner and drinks in the village were absolutely delightful.  it was with these awesome canadians abroad that i rode the staten island ferry to see the statue of liberty (she's so tiny!), got the perspective of a student and a lawyer working in the city, and ate at the most delightful french bistro whose name i have forgotten, but really wanted to link so i will try and recall it in the coming days and update this.

new york is certainly a place that i could imagine living one day and one that was not nearly as intimidating as i had thought it would be.  i even made friends with an eye doctor and his staff as we bonded over the edmonton oilers (even though i am decidedly not a fan and he certainly is) and got a brand new pair of specs that just arrived in the mail last week.

my apologies for the disjointed post, but i wanted to have some sort of documentation that i in fact did go to new york, did love it, and can't wait to go back.

and here i had hoped blogger would've made it easier to upload and format photos, sheesh.  they are all over the place!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

stuck in chicago

but hopefully not for long!

just a little weather delay, i hope.

one of my biggest irritations about canadians is their belief that they can somehow speak really derogatorily about americans as though we are inherently better by the simple fact that we are not americans.  it is lame and goes against all that we like to pride ourselves on as canadians.

but.  but, i have been at the chicago airport for only a few hours and i am already finding myself want to assert my canadian-ness.  either by being overly polite or enunciating my words or refraining from overusing the word 'like' in conversation.

i am not quite sure why.  i hope it is not coming from the same place that allows canadians to get smug and self righteous.

and a real shame that i couldn't have planned with this delay in mind because they i could've wandered out of security and visited one of my favourite chicago residents!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

29 + 12 = 30!

i made it!  survived 2010, a sometimes trying year, and my 29th year.  i warmly welcomed my 3rd decade with a wonderful birthday with deliveries of flowers and cupcakes, hilarious ecards, wonderful presents, and well wishes from across canada and the united states, ireland, georgia, kenya, south africa, the philippines, australia, the uk, italy, thailand, mexico, bermuda, africa's newest country of south sudan, japan, france, and afghanistan!


and here is how my 9 for 29 goals shaped up (or, in a few cases, shipped out!):


1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  this last month of 29 has left me feeling content and calm, not normally my modus operandi, and at peace with my future.  part of that has come from knowing i get to go to new york next week for more un speak and potential career connections.  i certainly have had some down days, but overall, i feel as though i am entering my 30s in a much more solid place in terms of anxiety and stronger than recent years in my 20s.  exciting and reassuring.  but as i have said all year, this battle might be won, but there will be a constant war against anxiety in my world.


2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special occasions. i can't really remember the motivation behind setting this goal, but i feel as though i managed ok.  i am not sure that i improved much on previous years, but i maintained my thoughtfulness and tried to observe special events and occasions of those around me.
interestingly, i find this much more difficult now that there are so many ways to communicate with your friends, family, and acquaintances and more places to store information.  i used to have 1 daytimer and a phone that received calls.  now i carry a blackberry, an iphone, AND a daytimer and i need to streamline this whole system so that i know when people's birthdays are without having to rely on facebook to tell me.


3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  this year, i got to visit a friend in vietnam, my dad on vancouver island twice, and many friends and near-family in south africa.  i had intended on doing more travelling within north america, but the cost and timing didn't work out during 29.  i STILL have washington dc and chicago on my travel list and am hoping to get to at least one of those in the coming year.  i will get to see some old friends from my nairobi days while i am in new york next week and that should be lovely.  


4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  remember what i said last month?  yes, that 2011 will be the Year of Direction!  i hadn't done a lot of work to get to the bottom of this goal in the last year.  i did a lot of thinking and a lot of worrying and even a little daydreaming over the past year, but not a lot of the work that i think will be necessary to help me to get to where i want to be.  or figure out where i want to be.  that might be a better place to start.


5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  the nest egg is there.  but it is more like a robin's egg when i wish it was an ostrich egg.  i think that as long as i stay in calgary, this will be moved higher on my list of priorities.  as life planning goes, this is one of those elements that needs to be there so that i can do whatever it is that i want to do (once i figure that bit out...).


i am not bad with money per se, i am just still unsure of how much money i should be spending on my house, on entertainment, on food, on travelling, on savings, on investments...
but i have a new(ish) friend who is a financial planner and i might hit him up for some advice or business once i am back from new york.


6 - eat more balanced, regular meals. i don't know what has happened to me over the past few weeks, but i have been a human garbage can, eating cheeseburgers, chips, pizza, chocolate, and ever other bad thing within my reach.  i am not normally a compulsive eater, but i can't seem to stop once i get started (typically in the evenings) and nothing satisfied me.


i hadn't been cooking, but i am back on that train and have brought out the slow cooker and my newest addition to my kitchen, a kichenaid food processor (that did nick my finger during its installation on my counter resulting in a lot of blood).


throughout the year, i fluctuated between eating really regular and healthy meals to forgetting to eat until 4pm or munching on crap late into the night.  this will likely always be the case, but man does it feel gross if my eating habits are not in order (like now).    


7 - sleep an appropriate amount.  there were some weeks there in the fall that i could have slept for hours and hours and right through the morning, but lately i have been getting by on less sleep and that is probably a good thing.  mostly because i have actually been getting out of bed when my alarm goes off and waking up relatively rested and ready for the day.


part of what makes it easier not to sleep and sleep and sleep is not being on any anti-anxiety medication, which makes me rather sleepy (although i do still miss the technicolour dreams) and being busy, which means that i don't have the option of hitting snooze (well, more than twice) and have to get my arse out of my bed.
one thing that i do notice is that if i haven't started the week with sufficient sleep, i play catch up all week and never feel as though i am well rested until friday night where i am useless and just want to put pyjamas on and sit beside the fireplace.


8 - maintain my priorities.  perhaps one of the challenges of this goal was that i never officially stated my priorities, but i do think i made sure that when i was becoming overwhelmed with one job or the other, that i took a step back and did something for myself.  one area that i feel as though i should've made a stronger effort to prioritise was physical fitness and running.  after my half marathon training ended last spring, i ran a little bit here and a little bit there, but without any specific goals or program.  i like the fact that after a few weeks without running, i can hammer out a 10km run without much difficulty, but i know i need to replace running (or something physical) back in my list of priorities moving forward.


9 - keep asking for what i want.  i did a really good job of this during 29.  when i wanted something, i asked for it.  most often, i got what i asked for, and the times that i didn't didn't turn out so bad either.  i am heading to new york next week because i asked for something and i have already asked a few people there to meet with me to explore opportunities and chat about life in new york.


i started my 30th year with a job offer in my inbox (but sadly, i do not speak the francaise, which i really should get back on one of these days...) an even though that wasn't a suitable post for me, i do feel as though that once i figure out what i want, i will certainly be asking for it!


***


i am not sure if i will draft goals for my 30th year.  if i do, i want them to be more specific so that i can use them to stay on track rather than recap what i have been up to and see if it fits.  i think goals are important, but i do thin that to make them effective and useful, i really should spend quality time unpacking what it is that i want and how that would translate into goals for the coming year.


work in progress, i tell ya!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

google traffic circle

the number one google search that leads to my corner of the intertubes is some variation of does ice cream cause stomach aches?

and judging by the sheer number of people wondering this and my own experience, my scientific conclusion is YES.  YES ice cream causes stomach aches.  no, you are likely not lactose intolerant, it is just tough for many people to digest including me and you, obviously.

so there, internet, is your definitive answer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

new york recommendations, please!

i have been negligent in my trip planning, which is rather unlike me as i typically spend more time planning for a trip than actually on a trip.  call it a hobby, if you will. 

and now i am need of a) a place to stay in about the ~$100/night range that offers a fantastic location, good atmosphere, the opportunity to meet people, and enough space that my 5'2" frame can sleep comfortably.  b) ideas on places to eat that are absolutely delicious, not particularly fancy or expensive, but just tasty.  c) your thoughts on what attractions/sights/museums/events that are not worth my time/money/energy.

for instance, if you were going to travel to san francisco on your own i would offer you the following advice:

a) stay at the mosser where you might have to share a bathroom, but the rates are completely manageable, and the location is ideal. 

b) i would insist that you go to the ferry building martketplace and sample the delicious fish tacos at taylor's automatic refresher (which, a google search tells me has been rebranded as gott's roadside, but i would still insist you eat there because its owners are the same), have a pannacotta at miette, and a cup of coffee at blue bottle coffee.  i would also suggest grabbing a newspaper and hitting the neighbourhood of north beach to savour something on a cafe's brunch menu while you people watch. and i would also suggest going to knob hill for a cappuccino and to poke around the boutiques.  eat anything mexican, mexican sounding or otherwise latino in mission and make a stop at tropisueno for more authentic mexican food. 

c) i would suggest that you make fisherman's wharf your last stop and fit it in only if you need to kill some time, do alcatraz if you really love prisons, self guided tours, or really chilly boat rides, and give the bridge a miss unless you need to see the thing up close.

how do you feel about new york city?  i have 5 days to bust a move about town after spending a week on long island holed up in a conference facility, no where to stay, no itinerary as yet, and a whole lot of scarves to wear to keep warm during february.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

a little stuffed, but doing well otherwise

how was 2011 been for you?

i have only one thing to complain about so far.  and it is this damn cold that i can't seem to shake.  it began in my sinuses, moved to my chest before christmas where it stole my voice and turned me into someone who sounded like they'd worked in a smoking lounge for 30 years, and now it is back to my sinuses and my head.  maybe it is a new cold (not sure how exactly this medical science thing works when it comes to cold viruses) or if it just won't leave, but it sure is frustrating.  a lot of sneezing, a lot of congestion, and not a lot of drainage.

other than this damn cold, i am enjoying 2011 so far.  i woke up on new years morning with an email saying that i have been selected to attend training in new york city on gender based violence programming and coordination in emergencies and i am really looking forward to learning more about the field, meeting some interesting people, and exploring the big apple for the first time.

and, as always, i am hoping that some sort oracle emerges to tell me what i should doing with my life, where i should live, and what i want to be when i grow up.  hopefully this training and this trip will help me do that.  but the idea that i have something on the professional and personal agenda is enough to tie me over at the moment

oh yeah, and it will also be a good way to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

'adhd hadn't been invented in the 1930s'

yes, i am indeed compiling a report of an 8 member team, much of it monotonous, mindnumbing desk work that i cannot concentrate on exclusively.

thus, another great ted recommendation.  (and yes, i realise that you could just as easily go to the ted website yourself, but as this is my blog, i am also using this as a place to record interesting bits of the www that i might want to revisit one day).

Ken Robinson should be a stand up comedian.  but instead, he is an expert on creativity and a ted fellow.  you might enjoy what he has to say about the way that schools are crushing our creativity, i certainly did!

a reminder to myself and others

this ted talk by Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives is a good reminder that when we break down our differences into a simple matrix of what 'we' believe and how 'they' are wrong, we all loose.

i often need this reminder, perhaps more than most people.  especially today when i received an email from a volunteer telling me about the trip her church is about to take to bring their youth group to a developing country and 'visit with the victims of trafficking staying in a rescue centre' as an educational opportunity.

blah.  i may not be right all the time, but i feel quite justified in saying that reeks of another form of exploitation and although it is not as traumatic as the first likely was, it will still have lasting impacts on a macro level.  ew.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ted on a tuesday

you know it is a rather monotonous day of work when i come up with more ted talk recommendations.

as my go to website that i am allowed to stream video from at work (there are not many), ted has a few gems up on its main page at the moment.  take a look if you too need some stimulating background noise to desk work that you are not particularly thrilled about.  or if you just want to watch some inspiring talks by two humble individuals.

i love a lady who isn't afraid to drop an eff bomb if it makes her point clear (although she refrains in this talk).  peace activists don't always get a lot of credit from the 'establishment,' but i think that Jody Williams can speak their language and to boot, she is not an avowed pacifist.  which means she gets my vote.  for what, i don't know, but a vote nonetheless.

a canadian kid whose life didn't go quite as he planned (ever heard that one before?) turned it into an internet sensation and then a best selling book.  Neil Parischa talks about the As of awesome and how no one is immune to hardship or negative experiences, but that being authentic is one of the ways to get through it.  this should be required viewing.  for everyone.

medium thumb

i saw Black Swan!  another movie on my Movies To See 2010 spreadsheet that i created over the holidays (no, i am not kidding).  and i did it on the comfort of my own couch (maybe i shouldn't be announcing this on the intertubes, but i just heard on a ted talk that about a bazillion (or maybe something like 15,000?) blogs are started everyday so i am sure my corner of the www is relatively safe from bill gates or whoever it is that patrols the internet looking for people who admit they download and watch pirated movies.

besides, i used to buy this shit at the market in nairobi, which i never saw as being wrong as i was all the way over there in africa (the country), you know.

anywho, back to the movie.

it was ok.  it was not fabulous.  but i sense that everyone is going to go on and on about how fabulous it is simply because it is raw, interesting to watch, a little bizaare at times, and has a famous actress playing a dark role.  and sometimes, that is what art is all about (isn't it?).

the acting is good, i suppose.  the costumes and dancing are fun to watch for someone who is addicted to So You Think You Can Dance (but finds the acronym SYTYCD a little cumbersome).  the story is lame and never gathers enough steam.  and the sex is vulgar and not particularly entertaining.

but the ending is good, so if that is any reason to watch it, there you have it.

i had high hopes and let me just say that i am glad i didn't pay to see it, but that i am glad that i saw it.

Friday, January 07, 2011

best movie of the year

ok, so i am not a prolific movie viewer and many of the ones i do see are the only palatable ones offered on my cable provider at home.  but i have had a craving for movies in the theatre lately (and not just for the buttery popcorn) and gathered up some friends to see The King's Speech this week.

and it was phenomenal.  i call oscar nods for both of colin firth and geoffrey rush.  i have never been disappointed by firth or rush and i am convinced that they are so instrumental to this film's success that they deserve all the accolades that come their way.

the story of the british monarchy is fascinating, the cinematography of a post-war london is stunning, and there are more than a few laughs.

i hope you will spend a few hours, watch this movie, and learn a little bit of 20th century european history. awesome.

today at work

here are some of the things that happened today at work (x2) that make me love my jobs:
  • my boss and i figured out the percentage of time that humans have been capable of rational thought and then came up with a tonne of examples on how we screwed ourselves over by evolving (never underestimate having a boss that has also studied evolutionary psychology)
  • my boss also saw me at work, dressed in skinny jeans rolled up with chuck taylors and asked where my skateboard was.  then my colleague (and friend) had to educate him in current fashion and the term 'hipster.'
  • i found out that i can access twitter at work!  this is great as i think that i am addicted.  i used to think it was simply a way for people to tell the world they just took a whiz (and for some, it likely is), but i already feel incredibly connected and have been referred to a number of great resources and links.
  • i was approached by another volunteer, bringing my total up to 98 volunteers.  (this is not necessarily one of the reasons that i love my job, in fact it makes it exponentially more difficult and less rewarding the more volunteers i collect, but demonstrates i am doing something right, i suppose).
  • two of my favourite volunteers invited me out for dinner and drinks tomorrow.  and although that might appear like a slight conflict of interest, i am confident it is not.  i trust it will be a great.
  • i am getting a whack of american dollars at the current wicked exchange rate for my upcoming trip to... new york city!!!  (yes, i got the spot on the training!  and i suppose that the cash is not a result of my job, but a good friend's job so i am throwing it in here).

Sunday, January 02, 2011

29+12

1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  considering the craziness the holidays can bring, i felt relatively calm.  i think my anxiety had to take a back seat to my head cold right before christmas as i laid low and tried to get well before the holiday season took over.

2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special occasions. i hope that everyone liked my gifts for christmas, i feel pretty good about that what i chose to give (apart from the gift card overload for one brother because no one ever knows what to get him).  having spent the past weekend at a wedding, i feel that those around me knew how important they are, it really was lovely.

3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  as much as i want to visit friends and family who live in different places, i now have a spare room and a sofa bed to welcome guests!  

4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  i have deemed 2011 the year of the life plan.  a year where i hope i find my next path that will provide me with direction towards a goal.  i am still debating about a potential career opportunity and mainly because i am still struggling to answer the question where do i want to be? and what do i want to do?

5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  not planning international travel makes it a little easier on the budget.  christmas was pricey in some regards, but i am starting 2011 with a small nest egg and some organisation around my finances, although there is certainly a long way to go and a lot for me to learn.

6 - eat more balanced, regular meals. i have not been cooking too often as there have been so many meals to be eaten with friends and family recently, but they have been pretty stellar and i have eaten well, if not made the healthiest choices...  in my post-new years day wedding hangover, i ate wendy's today and as i was dipping a chip in ketchup, i realised that i also had chips with a burger yesterday afternoon for lunch!  whoops.    

7 - sleep an appropriate amount. while battling my pre-hoilday illness, i slept a lot.  i think it helped.  and it was quite lovely not to wake up to an alarm to be in the office during my recent staycation.  i am not one to make new year's resolutions or to believe the new year really begins in january (i still contend that the year turns over and new beginnings happen in the fall), i think that getting my life in order is at the top of my list.  less going out, better sleeping patterns, and making sure that early mornings are not a rarity but a regular occurrence.

8 - maintain my priorities.  i have enjoyed a slower december and like i just said in #7, i am going to get my life better organised in hopes that it will bring clarity of what 2011 will be about.  and more importantly, what i want it to be about.  i guess i have not so much maintained my priorities, but set myself up to nail down some priorities.

9 - keep asking for what i want.  i applied to go to new york in february with unicef for training and the first email that i got on new years day was confirmation that i have been selected to participate!  i suppose that is a pretty good way to kick off the new year.  but what is most important is that i need to do better at figuring out what i want to ask for.  that is what 2011 will be about.  or so i hope!