Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bloggie Break

Dear readers, I've decided to take a little break from this blog of mine. I'm not sure for how long, but I don't wish to put the pressure of a deadline on myself at the moment.

You see I have a lot on my mind at the moment life-wise so I have not had the mental energy to write thoughtful, well-written posts. I know I've been fairly regular with posting since the new year started, but to be honest my heart has not really been in it. I've felt sort of "lukewarm" about many of my posts and at times have MADE myself sit down and write them even though I was not really feeling it. I think it's best that I take what little time and mental energy I have at the moment and allocate it to working out some personal life details I've been neglecting. Blogging right now sort of feels like another obligation on the list and is only serving to further overwhelm me.

I need to clear my head and make some decisions and I need space in my brain to do that.

Aside from my personal life, I am also taking a break from the blog for a bit because I've been doing a lot of thinking about where I want to go with it. To be honest, I feel I've hit a "plateau" here and I'm not sure I'm still 100% invested in this blog. I still love blogging and want to continue with it, of course, I just feel that I need to reevaluate - perhaps narrow my focus or choose a new one. I just need to think about where I wish to go with it next; I have some ideas but I need to think further on them and figure out whether or not I want to commit to them.

Integrity and quality are two things that are important to me when it comes to any material I put out there on a blog, so I feel it's better to change course rather than have the content (and therefore my readers and myself) suffer. This could mean the starting of a completely new blog, it could mean changing the format of my blogging - I don't know! But once I figure it out, I promise I will let you know! You haven't seen the last of me!

Thank you to those of you who read and comment on a regular basis - you're a big part of the reason I love blogging so much and want to continue with it. Thanks in advance for your patience while I figure some things out.

Stay tuned...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Make Em Laugh

One of the things I try not to do in my life is take myself too seriously. In fact, I don't think anyone should take themselves too seriously. Obviously there are times for seriousness (of course), but I just think it's crazy to take anything or anyone TOO seriously.

We are all human. We all make mistakes. We all stick our feet in our mouths and embarass ourselves and make bad decisions. We all have faults. That's a part of life and we have no control over it, so it's important to not dwell on such things - to work on them, but also accept the things we can't change or control and be able to move on.

Some of you may have heard that the host of this year's GG's, Ricky Gervais, was on Piers Morgan's talk show last week defending the jokes/monologues he performed on the show. I say "defending" because it appears many people complained that some of these jokes were in bad taste (including my mother), and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association went so far as to call his remarks "unacceptable". Many felt that Gervais was "mocking" the stars and their various personal problems.

Considering I watched the entire telecast, I can say with authority that, yes he was "mocking" the stars and some of his remarks did shock me a bit. But I didn't once think "wow, that's going too far". I actually thought he did a good job and I enjoyed his jibes at the celebrities' expense. You could almost feel them squirm at some points and (for some reason) I found that amusing. I guess I thought it was refreshing that he didn't hold back and "sugar-coat" his comments. I'm sure that sugar-coating would have been preferable for the stars and the producers, but it sure would have been more boring. As many people have commented, he was telling the jokes for the audience watching at home, not the people in the room. So, I suppose (as a viewer) at home, I appreciated that.

Ok, I could see how some of his comments could be seen as offensive. But here's my take on it: LIGHTEN UP!! Remember when I said you shouldn't take yourselves too seriously? Well, I'm talking to you actors! First of all, you're not perfect or superhuman; you are not "above" scrutiny. Second of all, the GG's are often described as an "informal" awards show where attendees can relax, so for a so-called "laid-back" event, the atmosphere was rather uptight. Thirdly, you are mocked on a daily basis in tabloids, on entertainment shows and blogs, and other online forums, so shouldn't you have developed thicker skin by now? I guess it's ok when there is some distance between it and you, but when the barbs are flying directly into your face they must pierce a little more sharply. Fourth, you make like a bajillion-kajillion dollars a year and can basically do whatever the hell you want, so quit whining! Besides, you are pretty easy targets for mocking when you think about it, because lets be honest here, some of you make some pretty stupid choices in spite of the fact that you can (as I mentioned) do whatever the hell you want and are AWARE that your every move is being watched.

I would also like to remind you (actors and Hollywood Foreign Press Association - whoever you are) that Gervais is a comedian - that's his profession - and comedians are hired to TELL JOKES. And most comedians have a reputation that precedes them (i.e. they tell a certain kind of joke). What did the producers think he was going to do when he got up on the stage, make balloon animals?
I would also like to remind you (stars) that, whether you are used to it or not, the jokes that were directed at you last week were jokes that have been trotted out about you many times before. The joke about Robert Downey Jr. being of LA County Jail/rehab fame is not new! You would have to have lived under a rock for the past 15 years to not know about his checkered past. So, why all of a sudden is it SO taboo to refer to it?
Besides, look at what he's done with his life since! He's completely resurrected his career and has earned an enormous amount of respect from the public and fellow actors (I seriously have never heard anyone say they aren't a fan of his). Ironically, the comments made about him were some of the more offensive ones of the night and yet he seemed to not be bothered by them in the least. I guess once you get made fun of for being a drug addict and criminal enough times, you just learn to take it with a smile. And this may be news to you, stars, but generally the public will like you more if you are self-deprecating and humble (for me, this is actually part of the appeal of RDJr...though it does help that he's yummy).

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I think those that made a stink about Gervais' jokes need to lighten up and stop taking themselves so seriously. And there are many people I've met in my everyday life that I'd like to say these words to as well. Just relax, people! Learn to take a joke. In my experience, most people that poke fun at you are either A) genuinely kidding and don't mean any offense whatsoever, or B) are just trying to get a rise out of you. So, either way, moaning and groaning about it won't help you. The best solution is just to roll with it. I'm willing to bet both kinds of people will have more respect for you if you do.

Trust me, I've done and said some incredibly stupid things in my life, but guess what - so has everyone! NO ONE is immune to stupidity. And it's only natural to feel embarassed and silly in the moment - I have felt incredibly embarassed and stupid at times, so much so that I've hidden in bathroom stalls and bawled. And I'm sure I will again. But I take solace in the fact that, even though I feel embarassed now, I will laugh my ass off about it later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making a List (Checking it More Than Twice)

For those of you that don't know, I made a little list last year I like to call the "30 B4 30", wherein I place extremely high expectations on myself to achieve a list of 30 things before I turn 30 (which will happen - egads - on December 11th, 2014).

Masochism, FTW!

You can read up on my list here (though there have been MANY changes to the list since then).

I pretty much place extremely high expectations on myself all day every day in my life, so you would think crossing things off the list would be easy for me. However, considering I only crossed ONE thing off my list so far (#19 - Got a Capp/Espresso coffee system for Christmas - yay!), I'd say I need a kick in the butt if I'm ever going complete the entire list.

I'm probably crazy for putting this much pressure on myself (some of the things on that list are frigin' complicated and expensive!) but what can I say, I like a challenge. And I really like to try new things and seek out new experiences. Hey, I wouldn't be living up to the title of the blog if I didn't, right?

The way I look at it, it's never a bad thing to set goals for yourself. Plus, I find writing things down (and telling the entire Internet) makes me more accountable. Who knows if I'll achieve all these things, but at least I'm daring to dream that I could!

If there is anything I've learned about myself over the years, however, it's that I'm not the most self-disciplined person around. I tend to be good at talking or thinking about doing things, but not so good at the actual DOING, know what I mean? Or I will at least procrastinate on the doing for a long time then get to a point where I am so fed up with my own laziness that I FINALLY do it (then wonder why I didn't just DO it in the first place because the doing really wasn't that hard).

I seriously want to kick my own butt sometimes.

Anyway, this is something I would like to change this year. If there is something I want to do, I would like to just DO it instead of worrying about whether or not I should. With this in mind, I decided I need to revisit my 30 B4 30 list. And not only do I need to revisit it, I need to choose a few things to focus on every few months. A list is great, but it's very easy to create one then just put it aside and completely forget about it/ignore it. I figure if I break it down then crossing things off will be much more manageable.

It's important to note that many of these goals WILL need to be put on hold until I find a permanent job (call it an excuse if you want, but it is really tough to achieve many goals when you have NO financial breathing room). Also many of them will have ongoing timelines and will evolve given the circumstances. But that's life right?! And I can at least keep them in the back of my brain and lay the groundwork so when the timing is right I can tackle them head-on.

I won't bother pasting the entire list here as you can view it in my left sidebar but here are the items I'm going to focus on for the near future:

5. Sky-dive
I am hoping to do this in the summer! Obviously, since I live in Canada where winter is a cold-hearted bitch, it isn't possible to tackle this one any earlier than that. I know you have to take a "course" that costs about $150 before you can go up as well, so I will have to start investigating that once the weather warms. I plan on talking to friends that have done it to get recos on instructors/locations. (I imagine when the time comes, my expression will very closely resemble those of Jack and Morgan in the above photo, but less wrinkly).

6. Lose 10-20 lbs
Those of you that have been reading me for a while know that this is going to be an ongoing goal. I'm focusing on losing 10 lbs right now to start and I'll go from there. I've struggled with my weight for years now so this is not going to be an overnight achievement, however I'm going to try my hardest to get at least to the 10lb mark because I know I'll feel a lot better about how I look. I think losing 10-20 lbs by the end of this year is a completely realistic and manageable goal.

13. Get a dog and/or 2 cats
I plan on adopting another cat. I had to put mine down last Fall and it was really tough, but my apartment has felt so empty and lonely without a pet I can't wait to get one. I just can't afford to take one on right now. Once I have another cat for a few months I will have to assess whether getting a 2nd cat is possible or if I'd rather get a dog. Getting a dog may have to wait until I move into a bigger apartment with a yard. It's (obviously) not fair to take pets in that you are not completely willing and able to take care of 100%

14. Visit California
Gosh I really hope this happens this year! The man and I have been discussing taking an affordable vacation this Spring, and my mom and I have also discussed a road trip at the end of the year since she turns 65 in December. Both possibilities - as always - depend on many factors, but they are at least possibilities. This could relate to #20 (though we are also discussing a possible drive to Montreal/Ottawa at the end of May for a friend's wedding), and also to #30, so achieving this goal could cross off up to two others on my list! (woo-hoo!).

25. Further my education
I have various ideas in mind under this umbrella, which I won't discuss indepthly. Let me just say that there are several online courses I'm interested in taking to upgrade various skills (and for fun!), and I also have a job possibility on the horizon which may allow me to pursue a Masters degree in my field at a significant cost savings. The details here will remain up in the air for now, but this is something I'm very interested in doing soon.

26. Make painting and/or drawing into a hobby again
This is something I'm actually already working on. Long story short, I used to draw and paint and make stuff all the time and as I grew older I lost touch with that and I've always regretted it. These creative projects always brought me so much happiness and were so important for relieving stress, I really want to tap back into that. I painted a box as a gift for my mom's birthday in December, and I'm doing a painting (plus a small crafty project) for a good friend's birthday coming up at the end of the month. I'm finding that I am not so out of practice as I originally thought, and I still get the same sense of accomplishment and joy that I used to get from creating something pretty and taking an idea from my head and crafting it into something tangible using just my hands and some materials. It feels really good, and I hope I can keep up the momentum.

So, there you have it - these are the main goals I plan on focusing on in the next 6 months! I will continue to update about my efforts on the blog whenever I have an accomplishment of note to share!

Wish me luck!

Do you have a "birthday list" or "bucket list"? What things are you focusing on achieving at the moment? How do you stay accountable to your goals?

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm an "inextrovert"! What about you?

Man, I hate Mondays. I hate them even more after staying up until midnight to watch the Golden Globes. I always say I'm not going to stay up and watch the whole thing ("ok, next commerical break, I'm going to bed...") but I always end up doing it. I live-tweeted throughout the whole evening, which was actually fun! It was like sitting around chatting about the show in real time with your friends. Plus, making fun of celebrities is always a good time. I love how Ricky Gervais can make them squirm! Mwahaha.

Anyhoo, one thing I do like about Monday's is that it means the "Monday Morning Motivator" will be in my email inbox! I signed up for this weekly email a while back when I was researching career coaching. It's sort of an email "newsletter" sent out on Mondays by CareerJoy, a "Canadian Career Coaching Company", and it always contains a short headliner advice article that is usually an interesting read.

This week's email headliner, entitled "Yes, but I'm an introvert...", caught my eye. The article states:

"Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you are in introvert you are in good company. Introverts make up around 25% of the population. Some famous introverts include, Barbara Walters, Warren Buffet & Pierre Trudeau. Carl Jung defined introverts as "inward turning" and extroverts as "outward turning." Introverts are more energized alone, extroverts are energized by people. The classic myth is introverts are not as good with people, as extroverts are. We are all social beings, introverts can in many ways be better with people, they tend to be better listeners, more creative and more analytical. There are many advantages to being "inward turning" I would argue that it has never been a better time to be an introvert. With the rise of social media tools like, blogging. Linkedin, twitter and Facebook, great platforms for the person who is more introverted by nature. Social media is an "introverts" paradise."

This article mainly caught my eye because I've always considered myself to be an introvert. But on the other hand, I would consider myself to be an extrovert in some situations. Generally, I'm a shy person who is really uncomfortable approaching strangers and it takes me a while to warm up to people. However, I also enjoy socializing, meeting new people and having conversations. Which side of me predominates really depends on the dynamics and circumstances of each individual situation. I cannot be around people all the time (I have to have alone time and some social situations give me major anxiety) but I also can't be alone all the time either (I start to go stir-crazy if I don't socialize for a while and I love just being "out" with people where things are happening).

I know this is a complete contradiction but I'm willing to bet that the majority of people are this way, i.e. a mixture of intro and extroversion.

The thing that really gets me is that being introverted in our society is sort of seen as a negative thing. As Alan says above, "The classic myth is introverts are not as good with people, as extroverts are", and as someone who has been  classified as "introverted" pretty much her entire life, this stereotype is frustrating. (this post sort of relates to this one, where I discuss my Myers-Briggs personality type).

In our society, introversion is generally associated with anti-socialness (or at least poor social skills), being uptight and conservative, risk-averse, and agoraphobic, whereas extroversion is associated with being fun, talkative, adventurous and charismatic. For some reason, if you have a quieter personality and are a listener or thinker rather than a talker, than you are seen as wierd, mysterious, or as an outsider. Someone who doesn't like people and isn't open to new ideas and experiences. Just try Googling "introvert" and check out the image results (lets just say many of them are depressing).

I have struggled with shyness and self-consciousness my entire life, and I still struggle with it. I've come a long way and I become more and more ok with it as I get older but this is probably something I will always have with me. I'm becoming more and more ok with the fact that it's part of who I am but I can't lie, it's frustrating not being one of those people who (seemingly) feels comfortable talking to anyone about anything.

Much of the frustration that comes from being a "quiet" person stems not so much from wanting to change this about myself but from the judgments that people make because of it. I've had so many people assume that I just don't like people, that I have nothing important to say, that I'm a "goody-goody" who is timid and weak and obviously those things are completely off-base. I have had people even assume that shyness is something that I chose, that I can just snap my fingers and magically be outgoing all the time. Trust me, if it were that easy I would have done it by now. I do agree that my shyness is something I can work on overcoming by putting myself outside my comfort zone (and I try to do that as much as possible), but it's a lot easier said than done.

I just think there is something to be said for being quiet at times. I think there is something to be said for holding some things back, for thinking and listening before talking, for observing rather than interacting, for taking time to recharge and reflect, for having fewer, closer friends rather than a humongous social circle. It doesn't mean I won't chew you out or stand up for myself/loved ones if I feel the need. And you might find this hard to believe, but I actually love going on adventures, having opinionated heated debates, and I've partied too hard many times (hey I've got "skydiving" on my "30 B4 30" list, ok?)

I'm sorry if this sounds sort of "rant-y" as I didn't intend it to be. I'm not trying to get on a soap-box here and rant about how no one understands me. I just wanted to say that (as a traditionally "introverted" person) I have had many people make assumptions about me based on that alone. I may be an introvert, but that's not all I am. And extroverts are much more than their general personalities, too. Human beings are extremely complex creatures and it's not as simple as sticking a label on someone's shoulder and calling it a day.
In any case, regardless of what categories you do or don't fit into, it's not about the cards you are dealt it's how you play them.

Just remember, in games of chance (like life) it is often the quiet, unassuming ones you have to watch out for! (mwahaha) *wink*

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fashion Friday: Man, I feel like a woman*

My favourite outfit this week happened mid-week, which is odd because (and I think I can speak for everyone when I say this) Wednesday is not normally the "peak" day of the week for me. In fact, quite the opposite ("slump" day). Like, you are far away from the weekend on either end, which is slightly depressing.

Anyhoo, I really love this blazer - it's so comfy and instantly makes whatever I throw it onto more polished (I'm definitely seeing a pattern here in what clothes I like/why I wear pieces because I keep writing the same thing every week). It has shoulder pads, which actually I HATE, but these ones aren't too bad. I find the wider shoulder actually quite flattering (I have really small shoulders so I probably should wear padding, but for some reason they always make me feel like a linebacker).

Another pair of flats! Yes, I wear flats a lot. Most of the time actually. I have wide feet and I'm on the go alot so I just can't realistically wear heels like, ever. I LIKE heels and have many cute pairs but I only wear them if I know I'm going to be sitting alot. What I like about these is they closely resemble these popular Tory Burch pair, but were probably 1/5 of the price (thank you, Hudson's Bay Company, which -for the uninitiated-is a great store. Speaking of which, did my fellow Canadians hear that Target is buying up Zellers and about 200 Zellers stores across Canada will be replaced by Targets?! I'm sorry for Zellers, but I'm not going to lie, super excited! I love Target!).

These pants are great too - I got them for (get this) $14.99 on Boxing Day! They are a stretch black cargo pant from Reitmans, which is a chain that sells these great "comfort fit" pants with a comfortable waistline (no buttons or zippers, wide band). And best of all, I didn't have to HEM them! You don't even understand how excited I get when that happens, because...well, it never happens (I'm 5 foot nothing, y'all. No one makes pants for midgets like me so I always have to cut about 4 inches off my pants before I can wear them).

This t-shirt is another one I've had for years - I love the necklace detail on it. It's - you guessed it - comfortable yet polished! Obviously this is my fashion mantra!
I really like menswear looks on women. I don't really know why, I just think pieces like wide-leg trousers, blazers, tweed vests, hats, etc, work really well on women's figures. I find that, since I am curvy and I never like to be too dressy or too "done", menswear looks give me a balance in styling and flatter my shape. I look much better in tailored clothes with some shape - anything too flouncy or fluttery just makes me look like A) a five-year-old, or B) a super-fat five-year-old (either way = bad).

I guess in a way, this kind of look remind me of the '70's a lot, too. Man, I love the '70's. And I didn't even live through them (not even close). Have you ever felt a "connection" to a particular decade? Like you feel as though you should have been there for it? That's how I feel about the '70's. Well, and the '60's too. The '80's were a lot of things, but not a great one for fashion (lets be honest here).

Just look what this look did for Woody Allen's career:
If you don't know who this is, then I'm sorry you need to read more magazines and watch more movies. Now!
This look is a little TOO masculine for my taste, though. The key for me is to incorporate lady-like accessories when I wear menswear, to ensure I don't look silly (like I'm wearing my dad's clothes). As you can see above, my flats and jeweled top tone down the masculinity/sharpness of the blazer and pants. It's a great trend to follow if you want to look effortless and not too dressed up.

Here's some other gals who I think pull off the women-in-menswear look perfectly!

Via Harper's
Janelle Monae is just adorable! I would look completely ridiculous in the outfits she wears, but her look suits her perfectly and is really stylish (and she wears pretty much ALL menswear ALL the time)

Via here
Ralph Lauren Rugby
LOVE the middle look. Via here.
Another icon of menswear for women (Marlene Dietrich).
Have a stylish weekend!

*please excuse the stupid title. I'm not really a Shania Twain fan in particular, it just worked for the post. This is the most originality I can manage for a Friday, sorry.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And if it hurts to be so blind, why don't you try bein' kind?

This video (discovered on this site this morning) made my day:

Isn't that heartwarming? I know, some of you are probably barfing from the cheese-overload, but I admit it, I can't get enough of this kind of thing. These random acts of kindness and fun that you occasionally see in our over-sexed, over-violent, over-isolated world.

Perhaps that's why they warm my heart so much - because sometimes it seems you don't hear about or see them happening very often. Well, I think the truth is that they happen all the time but we just need to pay attention to them more and give them more value.

When was the last time you did something kind for a stranger? I'm sorry to say I can't even remember when the last time was for me. It's funny though because anytime a stranger has done something nice for ME, I remember it ALWAYS (and I have a terrible memory, so that's saying something). For example, I still remember the time a few years ago when my mom and I pulled up to the drive-thru window at a local coffee shop and were informed that the woman in the car in front of us had paid for our entire order! We were both completely dumb-founded, and to this day thinking about that small, tiny gesture makes me grin like an idiot.

Or that time my car got stuck on a hill while driving home in a huge snowstorm, and a man walking by (as well as one from the car behind me) pushed on my bumper until the tires were freed.
These are all incredibly SMALL acts in terms of effort and time. They were not sweeping acts of society-altering reform, but things that only took a few minutes and affected only me. But look at the lasting impact these small acts have had on me! The fact that I still think and smile about them years after they have occurred just goes to show how much gestures of kindness can mean to another person.

It can be so easy to get caught up in our own "stuff" and in the negative occurances that happen in the run of a day, that we often forget that there are other people around us and that they are dealing with their own negative "stuff". Everyone has a story, everyone has something weighing on their mind and everyone needs a pick-me-up now and then.

I don't mean to lecture about how we should all treat each other better, because trust me, I'm very guilty of not engaging with others as much as I could. I tend to be shy and keep to myself and rarely engage with strangers in any case, let alone to do something nice for them. I'm just saying that watching the video above and reading the linked post opened my eyes to the fact that I (and human beings in general) close myself off an awful lot and that is not always necessary. It made me want to go out and do something nice for someone I've never met, and I think this is something we should all consider doing at some time or another.

Who knows if I will actually do this; chances are I'll forget all about this video and lesson in a few days, caught up in those errands I have to run, that car that cut me off, or that cashier that barely looked at me. That's usually what happens with these kinds of lessons, of course; they become overshadowed by life and its everyday annoyances.

But, hey, I still remember that lady at Tim Hortons, don't I? So, perhaps there IS a chance I'll remember this lesson too and do something nice for someone this week. And perhaps you will remember to do this too. Chances are if you and I go through with it, someone else will pass it on, then that person will pass it on, etc, etc, etc. And if that happens, think about how much more love will be out in the world.

Who knows, you might just make someone's day. And isn't that enough of a reason?

For more on how to make someone's day (and yours), visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website (oh yes, it exists).  Or check out this song.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fashion Fridays: Baby, It's Cold Outside

That's right, Fashion Fridays are back, baby! Back in November I decided to start doing weekly fashion posts on Friday featuring my fav outfit from the week, as well as some favs from the webs and general discussions about fashion, etc. Well, I did that exactlyyyyyy once. I hate to use the usual excuse but I just got busy and I found it too time-consuming to take outfit photos. Plus, I did not really have proper equipment to take decent outfit photos in the first place.

But it's a new year and I have a new attitude (read: I now don't give a crap about the above things). I thought 'who cares?!'. I wanna do fashion posts so I'm gonna do fashion posts! Lack of time and equipment be damned! This isn't freaking Vogue - no one expects magazine-quality photos from you! It's my blog, I like fashion, so I'm going to blog about fashion. Period. I'm excited to bring it back! (can't ya tell?!)

I was soooo not feeling motivated to look nice this week - it's only a 4-day week and it is post-11-day-vacation. However, it seemed as the week went on I woke up a little bit more, which meant that by the time Friday came, I actually felt like putting effort in! Hence my fav outfit of the week being from Friday! There's just something about Fridays anyway, isn't there? I don't know about you but I always feel more laid-back and upbeat on Fridays and I think that translates into what I wear those days.

Why, yes, that IS my closet behind me hence the closed doors. Trust me, you don't want to see in there. You will have nightmares for a week and I can't live with that on my conscience (besides, the clash of clothing would distract from my ugly mug, and that would just be tragic *rolls eyes*).

I have had most of these pieces for a while and tend to fall back on them when I'm not sure what to wear. I think I've said this before but I freaking love these jeggings. Yes, that's right, I wear jeggings. I'm one of THOSE girls. Now, don't judge! They can be cute and flattering if you wear them the right way! Plus, they actually look quite polished (as long as you don't wear them with a giant sweatshirt) and they are really comfortable. I was feeling a bit girly and artsy today, hence the necklace and shoes.

I LOVE these shoes! They are so comfy, and lets face it, super cute! Plus they go with everything, and you can throw them on with any outfit and it instantly looks more cute, girly and polished.

I'm not feeling the most motivated to put outfits together lately also because it's FREAKING COLD!! Have I mentioned I hate winter and cold? Well, I do. The only good thing about the cold in terms of fashion is you can create visual interest with cozy layers and I do love winter accessories. One of my current favourites is hats. Like this one I just got on Boxing Day:

I LOVE this colour. For some reason I just love the look of these slouchy berets; I have no idea why. Maybe they make me feel french or something. I also just bought this little number:

I just love the feathers on this hat! So cute! And this hat is like the shoes above, it goes with everything and makes any outfit look instantly polished. Not to sound conceited, but I'm one of those people that looks good in hats, but I just never used to wear them often because they made my hair a staticky-frizzy mess. I'm embracing them more and more over time though (especially since they are great for days you don't want to wash or style your hair, but don't wish to look like a homeless person!). My 2nd favourite winter accessory is definitely scarves, and I have WAY too many of them.

I realize cold is something I should be used to since I'm Canadian and have lived with half a year of winter since birth, but I'm sorry you just NEVER get used to it, I don't care what anyone says. I'm always shocked when I run into tourists or see license plates from places like California and Florida around here - I always want to go up to those people and just ask "what the bleep are you doing here?! I mean it's a great place to visit, but do you realize you have summer year-round?! A) why would you want to leave that behind and, B) would it have KILLED you to bring some of that shiz up here with you?! Gawd!!

Anyway, I'm always fascinated by ladies who can manage to look great in the winter because it's really tough. Case in point:

Glamorous, right? Here are some ladies who actually do cold-weather dressing well:

OMG her hat looks just like mine! I guess it does make me look French!

I really want to stroke her hat like a kitty...is that wrong?

Ahhhh I really really want her cape! Alas I lack money, but if I had any I would probably buy this one.

Have a fashionable (and toasty) weekend!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Royal Flush

I have been experiencing Monarchy Overload lately.

Between Kate & Will's engagement (another one bites the dust *le sigh*), seeing the King's Speech the other night (which you MUST go see if you haven't already, by the way), and watching a documentary on Princess Margaret last night I've quite had my fill of the royal family and it's various idiosyncracies.

However, it also got me thinking, not about how jealous I am of all their money, ponies and mansions (even though I am...Harry, call me!) but about how their entire existence revolves around OBLIGATION and DUTY. Sure they have lots of money and admirers and lead very glamourous lives, but they also have an awful lot of expectation resting on their shoulders.

There is one particularly heartbreaking scene in The King's Speech where Colin Firth (aka King George VI) sits down to review the program for his upcoming coronation. He opens the folder, begins to read...and bursts into tears, moaning about how he didn't want this. I felt so sad for him in that moment I just wanted to reach through the screen and give him a big hug and it occured to me how overwhelming it must be to be in a position of prestige and power. It's one thing to come from nothing and to build yourself up TO a position of prestige and power, but it's quite another to be born into it (and therefore expected to uphold it whether you like it or not, or risk being completely ostracised).

The idea of being a Princess is certainly an appealing one in a romantic sort of way, but there is no WAY I would want to live a life of constant scrutiny, nor have everything I do and say be dictated to me by other people. No wonder families such as the royals and Kennedy's are plagued by such dysfunction!

I did not know much about Princess Margaret before watching the documentary on her last night, so I was unaware that in the 1950's there was an enormous sensation concerning who she could marry. Most of the documentary focused on her relationship with Peter Townsend, with whom she had a slow-burning romance in her late teens/early 20's. You can imagine the issue even if you're not familiar with the story either - they wanted to marry, but according to royal law at the time they would have to either a) get permission from the Church of England (which did not allow divorce) or b) Margaret would have to renounce her title and life as a member of the royal family. *

There are many more details to the story, of course, but the important thing to know is that in the end, she chose to keep her title and NOT marry the man she loved. Never mind the fact that he was a decorated and well-respected war hero, as well as a friend of their family for many years, the fact that he was divorced and a commoner overwrote everything and it's almost as if the decision was final before it was even made.

The fact is, someone in that kind of position cannot make their own decisions, or at least not make decisions based purely on their personal desires. Their decisions are manipulated and managed by "handlers", their inner circle, and the wants/needs of the people of their country. How devastating it must have been to walk away from love to fulfill duty (the heartbreaking photo above provides some insight into the pain she must have experienced). In my mind it would take a very strong, brave person to make such a choice. Imagine having to consult a panel of people for every major decision in your life! (Dear God, shoot me.)

The point is (never mind my overarching opinions about the monarchy in general - that's for another post), I feel sorry for these people. It seems to me that there are more burdens on the shoulders of people like them than we "commoners" will ever know or understand. It's not all carriages and hunting trips and balls and banquets. Underneath the veneer of shimmer, smiles and crowns there must exist a lot of anxiety, loneliness, and resentment. These are, of course, emotions that we all deal with and have to hide at times, but the difference with "average" people like you and me is that we're not doing so while living underneath a glass dome.

If it's one thing I've learned from the royal family this week, it's that there is something to be said for being common.

(although having a pony would be pretty freakin cool)

*not sure if these rules still apply - anyone know?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Ok, so this post is rather "late" compared to most of the blogosphere. But what do you want from me, my brain got into major "vacation mode" and I was not into doing much other than eating, sleeping and watching movies. Actually my brain is still in that mode, but unfortunately I was forced to come back to work today against my will. Anyhoo, I must say it was rather nice not to follow any blogs or any such thing for 10 days. It's good to "unplug" and give your brain a break once in a while...

But back to reality! New Year - New You. That is the current refrain on everyone's lips right now.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about New Years resolutions - I think it's great to set goals for yourself and this is as good a time as any to do so, however I think many people put unnecessary pressure on themselves to meet very high, unrealistic expectations (trust me, I know; I have a lot of practice in this area). I think a lot of it is setting yourself up for failure, and what's the point in that? Also I think it's important to be constantly thinking about what you want to achieve and reevaluating that based on circumstances rather than painting yourself into a corner once a year because you feel like you should (but don't really want to).

It's possible to take stock and set goals for yourself without going overboard. It's important to be realistic about your personality and lifestyle, and what you can reasonably accomplish within those parameters. It's also important to place importance on small victories and not just huge, sweeping changes; you don't have to completely turn your life and who you are around in order to grow and challenge yourself.

Before the holidays when I was in a "gung-ho" mood, I made a huge list of resolutions I wanted to follow in the new year, complete with sub-goals and headings (dork alert!). But something shifted over the holidays so that when I looked at the list again a few days ago (keeping in mind that copious amounts of chocolate, gin and laying around could have something to do with my new apathetic attitude) I balked at the ambition of it. Again, nothing wrong with ambition, but there comes a point when ambition becomes crazy and goals become completely overwhelming and therefore, unachieveable.

I decided 'screw that' and decided to severely edit my list of goals.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to meet all of the goals on my original list at some point and they have not all been completely taken off the table. I just felt there were particular goals that were more immediately important than others. I can always revisit the others at another time, but I think it would foolish to put them all over my head right NOW. I am opting to "generalize" the list, both to leave wiggle-room and to not make my brain explode with pressure. I think this is more fair to me, and as a result I feel I'll be more likely to actually ACHIEVE these goals (and at a gradual pace, not overnight). I mean, that's the whole point of them, isn't it?

Some of these goals are ongoing and are things I'd like to work on over several years not just one, but I at least want to get the ball rolling on them. I have specific tactics in mind for some of these goals, but for many I'm leaving the specifics open; I have various ideas about how to achieve/work on them, but have yet to decide for sure which are best. Just as I am a work-in-progress, it is only fair to look at my goal-meeting as such.

In this spirit, I hereby present my (general) list of goals for 2011:

1. To relax - Generally speaking, I'm a worry-wart. I mull things over and over, look way too far ahead, obsess about silly details like what the people around me are thinking about me, what is going to happen with this or that, etc. I carry a lot of tension in my neck, jaw and shoulders and tie my stomach into indigestive knots. I can be a very anxious person and can actually make myself so nervous that my chest tightens, heart beats fast, breathing becomes laboured and my head hurts. Furthermore, I'm very impatient and can sometimes have a short fuse (e.g. I snap at my sister more than I should) so I need to work on stopping and checking myself before reacting.

The thing with my anxiety is, it's ALL in my head. It's how I REACT to the things around me rather than what is actually happening around me that causes this. And most of the time it's completely unwarranted. I want to learn to take things as they come, only worry about things when they happen (not before or after), be more spontaneous, laugh more, and think more positively.

Tactics to start: Contemplating giving meditation a try (someone turned me onto a 6 week workshop online that could be easy/good intro). Other than this, no specific tactics aside from practicing more positive/relaxed thinking. This is obviously something that will be tough to change but a mind-set IS something you can control if you really try and are patient, so those are two things I plan on doing (trying/being patient). This is an ongoing goal.

2. To lose weight - I know, I know EVERYONE wants to do this at the beginning of a new year, but this is an issue I've struggled with for a few years now. It's nothing new; I attempted to kick myself in the butt last year but only lost about 5lbs and completely fell off the wagon after about a month. This, of course, is the constant dance for overweight people - one step forward, two steps back. All you can do is pick yourself up, run after that wagon and get back on as many times as it takes. I'm certainly not excited about this goal and who really knows if I will stick with it this time either, but I have to try and a new year seems as good a time as any to start. Besides, I have a couple of things in my favour: One, I'm actually a fairly healthy person - I don't have any chronic health problems, food allergies or medications that add fuel to the fire. Two, I have a small frame, which means I can lose less weight and make a bigger difference to my physique (compared to taller, larger framed people). I don't need to make a HUGE life change in order to look and feel better - I just need to make some small daily changes, and stick with them beyond a few weeks.

Tactics to start: I would like to focus on losing 10 lbs to start, as I feel this will make a huge difference in how I look and feel and meeting this goal will motivate me to go further (though I should note it's not so much about the number on the scale as how I feel and how my clothes fit). To start, I'm simply going to limit my sugar and carb intake (I eat A LOT of this kind of stuff), focus on eating more veggies and protein, and get more regular exercise (I currently walk to work, but I also need to build muscle by working with weights a few times a week and doing more consistent activity (e.g. I sit all day at work so need to make more effort to get up and move outside work hours). I would like to get back into yoga (once p. week) if I can find an inexpensive, convenient class or some other workout class (I took Zumba a couple of times in the Fall and it was really fun). Until a get a new job (see 3rd goal below), I will be limited to exercise options that are either free or close to free, but I can always take walks or hikes, and watch workout dvd's or videos online. One thing I know I need is variety and flexibilty so I will most likely change up my workout routine each week/month depending on my schedule and options. Other tactics include: family friends are doing a weight loss challenge I am thinking of participating in. I would also like to become better at cooking and this will relate because I will be (ideally) eating more home-cooked meals. Other small daily gestures such as taking the stairs, drinking lots of water, and not buying junk when I get groceries will also help keep healthy eating habits going. This is an ongoing goal.

3. To make strides in my professional life - 2010 was an extremely frustrating and demeaning year in this area. Long story short is I have been struggling to find a job since last March with no luck and with constant refrains of "you don't have enough experience". Basically, my career is non-existent. The last half of 2010 I did a lot of reflecting, thinking, researching, talking to people, etc, to attempt to figure out what I want from this part of my life in the long-term, while conducting a job search in the background. So, technically this is a goal that has already been put into motion and I simply want to continue building on it in 2011. I have two job possibilities that I'm currently waiting on, so a lot depends on what happens with those. In any case this is something I really hope to make progress on in 2011 because having a good career is really important to me and I feel I've paid my dues.

Tactics to start: First order of business is to find a new full-time job (my current temp position does not pay enough - I'm struggling financially - not to mention it's completely devoid of challenge, creativity or flexibility, which are all things I need in a career). Once this happens, I will go from there, but I know one of the first things I will want to do is improve my financial stability (buy an RRSP, pay off debt, develop a strict budget, start putting money into savings). In addition, I haven't taken the possibility of further education off the table. I have a couple of options in mind (I wrote about my explorations in this area here and the advice really helped me come to some realizations), but am leaning towards a program I can complete part-time and through self-study so that I will be able to continue working full-time during completion. I would simply like to expand my skill-set and have a service I can begin offering on the side to make extra money and keep my career options open. This is an ongoing goal that will continue to morph based on developments over the next couple of months.

I have many other goals, both large and small, that I would love to achieve this year (paint and draw  more regularly, work harder at cultivating new friendships, build the blog), but I figured these three were enough to focus on, at least for now. Again, it's all about being realistic and not putting too much pressure on myself. Also, I know that if I improve in these three areas that the empowerment, increased self-esteem and improved physical/mental well-being I will (hopefully) experience will reverberate throughout all areas of my life and therefore make achieving some of the other smaller, more specific goals easier.

*EEK! Sorry for the long-windedness! Perhaps that's something I should work on in 2011 too...*
Here's to challenging yourself and always striving to grow and live fully!
What are your goals for 2011? Do you make new years resolutions?