If there has ever been a month built for reading, it has been this past December.
While weather in Edmonton hasn’t been cold, its been fractious. All I want to do is curl up on my couch and read. Luckily for me, I have eyes that see, legs that walk me to the library down the street and my very own borrowing privileges. Life is good.
A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness was a fun read! I see that it’s #1 in a series of 3, and that has me all excited because I really liked it. It’s a book about witches and demons and vampires. It’s romantic and fantastical…and problematic at points- my feminist side was cringing at times- but over all it was a quick and engaging read and I didn’t hate the characters by the end for any of the things that made me cringe, ha!
When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a true accounting of a dying man’s life. Dude is a young doctor and he’s diagnosed with cancer. I was excited about this one because a. reading about death is my jam b. it had gotten rave reviews c. it sounded like it would be touching and thoughtful. I mean, just look at that title! Unfortunately for me, while I felt sad at times, this book lacked depth and emotion. Perhaps I should not listen to hype. May he rest well, at any rate.
Now this one, was very different. The End Of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is about the books Will and his Mum read and discuss while going to Mum’s cancer treatment appointments. Its the story of a life, a family. It was thought provoking and tender. Honest and human. I liked it a lot. Twas a good read!
Ugh! Look! A movie scene cover. I hate that! But I read The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, anyway! And you know, it was good. At first I really found the odd format tedious but after putting it down for a bit and coming back to it refreshed, I found it easier to get into. After that, I was fine. I don’t want to wreck the story for you so I’ll just say this is in an interesting, quirky read with memorable characters. It made me think and want to delve into the history of certain things more. I love it when books do that!
I know right? Whaaaaat?! The Pornographer’s Daughter by Kristin Battista-Frazee was not nearly as salacious as I’d hoped for. Which I suppose is precisely the author’s point. Its the story of her childhood that wasn’t really all that special except for one thing: her dad distributed the movie Deep Throat, had some legal troubles and then later went on to work further in the industry. This was an alright read. There was some magical thinking at work here that I wasn’t able to connect with but it was written well enough and now I know a thing or two about the movie Deep Throat. Ha.
What To Do When It’s Raining by Marissa Stapely is a little book, likened to something written by Nicholas Sparks. I didn’t find that all. The first chapter was great but then it just got complicated and hard to follow. I had to set it down *gasp!
I’ve been watching The Crown so when I saw this book – 99 Glimpses Of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown- on a book list somewhere, I quickly added it to my list. It came in and I read it in one day. It.was.good! Not your average biography and what a relief at that! This book is such a breath of fresh air in the genre and I really hope other authors follow suit. The author paints an honest picture of a complex person and makes them seem all too human, the good, the bad and the ugly. It pulled me straight through til the end.
The Wizard And The Witch by John C. Sulak was weird. I guess that’s no real surprise considering the subject matter. More than that, it was boring to read about two assholes who thought most highly of themselves and treated other people like crap.
Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman WAS weird but delightfully so! I enjoyed this book so much, my only complaint being that it was scarce in details I wanted to know more about! A quick and entertaining read.
I had such high hopes for The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD. It was a little long and technical for me although it tried not to be. Clearly a ME problem 🙂 It held a lot of vital information within and I’ll probably pick it up again sometime.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh is not my usual jam-mystery- but I really liked it. It has a twist that I didn’t see coming at all and deals with a matter that is quite alarming and leads you to think all kinds of things. Love that!
From The Corner Of The Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein was a fun and entertaining read. I blew through in an evening- New Year’s Eve to be exact-and found it well worth my time. It’s part insight look to a way of life I knew nothing about while being a personal memoir. I liked.
Heart-Breaker by Claudia Dey was a total train wreck of a book. In the best possible way. I don’t know how the author took such a strange and twisted story and made me fall in love with it, but she did. A quick read. A read that will stick with you long after you’re done. Go get it!
Becoming by Michelle Obama. I want to be this woman when I grow up! Do you think she’s really as awesome as she seems to be? I hope so. This was a great read! It was honest and inspiring. She just makes me want to be a better person on the whole. Entertaining and enlightening, this was a great read.
Not too shabby for a month, hey?!
I’ve got one book down for January already and of course, a HUGE pile just waiting in the wings. I’ve signed up for the GoodReads Challenge again but that’s Friday’s post. Until then HAPPY READING!
We made it! Well, some of us. Its such a gift to live to see another day.
I honestly feel really uncomfortable saying that. I know for a fact a lot of people don’t think another day is a gift. Another day of suffering. Woohoo. *eye roll. Shelter, food and safety would be the real gift. Good health would be another.
I live with someone who thinks his life has gone on way too long and considers death, the real gift. The impulse to scold him or try and “inspire” him to change his mind is strong. I’ve since learned its actually pretty fucking hurtful, annoying and not the least bit helpful to do so. Not to mention totally disrespectful and reeking of my good privilege. Gah!
How’s this: If you’re happy and grateful to have another day, YAY! Let’s do this!
If having another day brings you nothing but sorrow and suffering. I’m sorry. May you be free from suffering. I love you.
You all know what camp I’m in! I am excited and grateful for another day, another week, another month , another year. Hopefully I get all those!
You see, I’ve got some plans 🙂 Some things I’m looking forward to.
Its six months until Lune, my birthday month. One whole month devoted to Moi. An entire month of intentionally devoting my days to the joy of being me in this world. I highly recommend all people celebrate themselves this way. 1. its fun 2. the very act of doing so shows others that you know you are worthy of respect and love 3. you get to act the fool for a month and GET AWAY WITH IT 4. you totally deserve it! 5. It really fosters a loving relationship with yourself, over time. You might feel silly at first but it wont be long before you’re planning fucking trips to Europe for your 50th. 6. It spills out positively in other areas of your life.
Planning my garden. I want to grown some more unusual -for me- things this year. And I cannot wait to eat the shit out of my asparagus patch ❤
Being all creative. I’ve got an idea for some paintings and some bracelets and some scarves and some decorations and some rocks…
Book Club! We’ve got some good books picked out and the ladies in the club are just the BEST. I’m excited to get to know them better. I’m excited for more fun and shenanigans!
Mr. OV and Ms. Sassafras turn one and five. I’m excited to watch them as they grow and develop further.
Walking and hiking in nicer weather. Our winter thus far has been lovely! If only people would CLEAR THE FUCKING ICE OFF THEIR SIDEWALKS! Ahem. Sorry. I’m looking forward to stress free walking and hikes in the woods.
Our road trip to a little mountain town and a couple of zips on a coaster!
Getting back on my Hubs motorcycle. It feels so good to zoom through the warm air with nothing between me and the sky but my clothing.
All the little holidays and celebrations that are coming up.
Family dinner, lunches and brunches.
Meals out with friends.
My big solo trip to one of my favourite places on Earth. Just me, my ocean and my trees. Back to my Sea Witch roots 🙂
Opening up my big jar of good memories for the year.
Becoming my own boss. I mean I am, already. I just don’t get paid for it. Ha ha. I’m talking about earning all the moola as my own boss.
More bird song. Kinda like more cow bell.
Every new recipe I’m going to try.
Every new drink the coffee places bring out this year.
More time with the people who love me.
The funny memes that make me laugh, the inspirational quotes that shore me up and the poems that empower me.
The moments of wonder in Nature that stop me and fill my heart and soul.
Lazy days of reading.
Hectic days of doing ALL THE THINGS!
Camping. Hopefully. If we get a new hoopty or fix the old one.
Becoming stronger, stable and more bendy.
Those weird little moments in life that make you think and feel.
Geesh! I could go on and on 🙂 Now, its your turn! What are you looking forward to?
Where and how were you most helpful in this world?
What brought out a sense a wonder in you ?
What was your greatest mistake?
What was your greatest success?
What scared the crap out of you?
When were you brave?
How did you best love yourself?
How did you best love others?
Name one embarrassing moment!
Brag about one thing shamelessly
What was your biggest lesson in 2018?
I love lists and I love reflecting. Won’t you join me in doing so? Take my questions and answer them here or on your own blog. (Please be sure to link back to me so I can see them!)
Name the hardest thing you experienced this year? Choosing between people I liked, loved even, and my strong moral code. The choosing wasn’t hard, I knew what I was doing was right, it was hard because I went against the wishes of people and that hurt them. My work child and her mum, especially.
Name the easiest! Spending time with and loving the stuffing out of my grandbabies. Enjoying my pets and finally having enough in me to give them their due!
What friendships inspired you the most? I have a friend, I met at work who is the softest, kindest, least judgemental person on the planet. Just being with her, is like being in a perma-hug. We’ve never been close but this year, she really figured prominently in my life with her kind words and her soothing way of being. She inspired me to keep opening myself up to softness and vulnerability.
Where and how were you most helpful in this world? With people. My main agenda in life is to inspire, empower and encourage others. I am your biggest fan. A perpetual cheerleader.
What brought out a sense a wonder in you ? Nature. Always Nature. In particular the sky and the animals I met in Tanzania.
What was your greatest mistake? Staying at my job longer than my expiration date and living in the past.
What was your greatest success? Quitting my job to shock of EVERYONE who knows me and travelling as my weird and witchy self 🙂
What scared the crap out of you? Flying into and landing at an airport in a wee plane, sideways. All skitchy and out of control!
When were you brave? All of last year. Every day. Living each moment. Experiencing the unknown.
How did you best love yourself? I spent the last year, keeping my promises, listening to my body, heart, soul and mind and really cultivating boundaries and a personal code of honour.
How did you best love others? I have tried my best to become a better listener and to love people exactly as they are.
Name one embarrassing moment! Ha! The time I got “trapped ” in a washroom in Amsterdam behind a door I was pushing on when I should have been pulling. It had a very strong magnet as well as a lock so when I did try to pull it, I wasn’t using enough force. I called out to the loooong line of ladies waiting in the common area and they assisted me. *groan!
Brag about one thing shamelessly! I am brave, kind, loving and wise. I am a badass divine being of light. (You are too)
What was your biggest lesson in 2018? You have to take full responsibility for your life and everything in it. Your experience is entirely up to you. You own you. You owe you. Blaming other people is just a waste of your precious time. If you want something YOU have to make it happen. YOU are responsible for your own happiness…your own … everything!
October was a challenging month for me. It was the two-year anniversary of a trauma that re injured my brain AND it was the first whole month in which I was not in Tanzania. Waaa! I had some readjusting to do, under stressful circumstances. BUT it wasn’t horrible. I’m here, alive and kicking in November. I learned some things and made it through. My goal for next October is to thrive rather than survive. But you know that’s my goal every month!
ANYway, I got thinking about it all and the good things that happened and really wanted to showcase that. Do a roundup exercise of all the awesome. Because our brains are wired for the negative, no problem there, ha ha but the positive…that’s a thing that needs cultivating. And that’s a thing that’s really, truly worthy of my attention 🙂
The Best Savoury Thing I Ate In October:
Tanzanian Pepper Beef Stew. I invented it based on my memory of a meal I ate whilst in Tanzania. I’m fine tuning it for my recipe book and will share it eventually, but if you want to make something similar, it’s basically beef and peppers with lots of black pepper and onion. At first bite, I was proud. So proud!
The Best Sweet Thing I Ate In October:
A banana crepe with Nutella at Cora, with two dear friends on a sunny Autumn morning.
I’m not usually a sweets person but there was something about this warm, chocolate fruity glop of deliciousness that really hit the spot. A rare but welcome thing.
The Best Hot Drink I Drank In October: My last attempt at recreating spiced tea. It was almost perfect. Perfect spice, perfect sweet… I just need to tweak the milk – I’m going to try shelf stable milk – and see if that does the trick – but drinking it whilst reading a book in the warm sunlight, knowing I was so close was dreamy. At this point if the milk doesn’t make it so, it’ll be alright because it’s a damn fine cup of tea anyway.
The Best Outing I Had In October: This is a toss-up between two. The first one was a walk in the river valley with two friends. The sun was shining, there was a chill in the air, the leaves were crunchy and we were surrounded by birds and squirrels doing important animal things. I found the BEST sticks to add to my collection and there were lost of laughs and insightful realizations and just good fun.
The second one was a surprise motorcycle ride with my man. He came home early on a sunny afternoon and asked me out. We didn’t go anywhere special, just out and back through an area close to the city but it was fun to be zooming along in the sunny air. There was a slight chill as we sped through traffic, turning into curves with total acceptance of whatever was to be. You can’t resist the turns on a bike, even as a passenger so I really had to surrender to them. Would we crash or remain upright and keep going? Only one way to find out. That was fucking scary and liberating at the same time.
Best Social Interactions In October: My fun and chatty conversation with a lady at the transit station who gave me doughnuts. I’ll detail it fully in another post but here I can tell you that it was really nice to have an honest, kind conversation with another human being, especially as we seemed to just click in seconds. People think it’s all weirdos on transit but that’s not true. I’ve met a lot of lovely humans as well.
Going to a new book club at my local library. Everyone was open and friendly, welcoming and engaging. Their words and their actions matched and it was just a really nice night.
Smartest Thing I Did In October: Get our wills made up! The sense of relief I feel is … well, relieving. I feel just a titch more grown up 🙂 One less thing to feel anxious about.
Coolest Thing I Bought: A Namaste Skeleton!
The dead and dying in me see the dead and dying in you. Its perfect! I buy a lot of my regular home décor during Halloween sales. Ha Ha.
Best Shows I Watched: So yes I’m totally late to this but OH EM GEE …
I’d tried to watch it once before with the Hubs but just couldn’t get into it. I think watching it was my man was the problem because I had no issues revisiting it on my laptop with my headphones in! I’d read the books years ago and really enjoyed them. I’m happy the series is holding my attention the same way.
Is another one I’m liking. It’s on Netflix and its a fancy little cooking show -kind of, sorta – about how if one masters these four elements, Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat, one can transform their meals. I really like the host Samin Nosrat and the whole thing is just really interesting. If you’re passionate about food and people and places, this is a show for you.
What were some of your highlights in October? I’d love to hear all about them!
BUT in my 16 years of long, hard winter hating living, I’ve learned a few things a person can do make the cold seasons, a little less shitty. Sadly, I don’t have a magic wand to make it ALL go away – you could move South?- but if you do a few of these things a day, you too can survive until Spring. (Spring, Spring. Not the date on the calendar. We all know Spring doesn’t really come to Edmonton until June. Ugh)
ANYWAY. Here we go!
Ignore it. Seriously. Don’t look outside. Don’t watch weather reports. Don’t complain about it. Don’t engage in conversation about it. Don’t even acknowledge the outside world. Pretend like it doesn’t exist. The weather is like a bad ex you see on the street. Avert your eyes and walk on by. You’re better than that! They don’t deserve your attention!
We may be ignoring the -20c but we’re not stupid. Buy yourself some warm gear. Spend the money, if you can, on a good jacket. Buy those cute (warm) boots, buy a colourful scarf with hats and mitts to match. Hell, buy several! The dollar store is your friend here. The trick is to put as many warm things as you can between your skin and the asshole weather. I hear layering is a good thing. Do that!
Remember the transition period is the hardest part. Once you acclimatize from Summer to Fall, you’ll feel better. Let yourself be grumpy. Take extra care of you during this time. Trust me, 5c is going to start feeling warm soon and then you’ll know you’ve made it! I’m only miserable for ten minutes until I warm up! Time how long it takes you to warm out and celebrate your success as week by week you acclimatize too!
Drink warm liquids. Make an event out of it. Soups, teas, coffee, whatever. Add these into your day as a time just for you. Embrace the warmth of the cup, the flavours, the coziness of the break in your day. This is how we get by, sip by sip.
Movies! Movies are your friend. Preferably in your own house so you don’t have to go outside. Movies are a great way to kill a few hours of yucky weather AND if you choose a documentary you’ll learn something too! You’re going to be a genius by the time this is over!
Exercise. Yeah. Lame. I know. BUT exercise improves your mental health and in order to survive something challenging, we need good mental health. There are lots of things we can do indoors. Hell, sometimes on really cold days I just walk in circles in my home, like the caged animal I am. You could go to a mall or find a gym,or go online, or lift weights or do yoga or get yourself a treadmill…move that body. Your Spring self will thank you.
Take advantage of the sun. No, no. I’m not asking you to go outside. All I’m saying is that IF the sun is shining, go get yourself some rays. Sit in the window. Let your body get some Vit. D. You may very well find yourself inspired to go outside. And that’s ok too! Just don’t become one of those smug assholes who does nothing but talk about how much they loooove winter while the rest of us sit there miserable. Gah.
Don’t force yourself to go outside. Don’t force yourself to love Winter. You feel what you feel and that’s OK. You might even find once you stop shoulding on yourself you WANT to go out and do things. It could happen. Yesterday I chose to walk to the mall after choosing to hole up inside the day before. Balance people! Oh. And choice. You have free will. You don’t like the cold. That’s just fine. It doesn’t make you bad or negative. It’s just a preference and its yours. ignore those smug Winter lovers, I betcha they’re lying anyway.
Have you heard of Hygge? It’s a whole thing about coziness and comfort and WARMTH and LIGHT and fun with an emphasis on well-being. It’s perfectly suited for the cold season. Go find out for yourself. And then hygge it up!
Stay connected with the humans. It’s very tempting to isolate oneself ( I’m looking at you Lael) Resist the urge. It just makes these dark days all the darker. Get out there and be social. However that comfortably looks to you. Doing stuff with friends, even just coffee, makes the time go by faster. My friends are sometimes the ONLY reason I make it in a day and I love them for it. And hey! YOU could be the reason someone else makes it. You never know…Just get out there, at least twice a week and be social. You can be a hermit the other 5 days. Trust me, Winter will go by faster.
Hang in there. Dec 21 is the Solstice AND the start of Winter. This used to depress me until I realized that on the Solstice, THE LIGHT COMES BACK! Sure, it’s still freezing ass cold but its on its way out. The light comes back and with the light comes more hours of sun. And with more hours of sun comes the heating. And with the heating comes the Spring. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “Winter? Did we even have a Winter?” Back in glorious denial but hopefully a little wiser than the year before and ready to face the cold weather once more. YOU CAN DO THIS.