Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Organizing Makes me Happy

In pursuit of meeting my goals I've been focusing on figuring out what makes me happy. I find the exercise quite difficult because a lot of things make me happy. So I have turned my attention to what makes me unhappy and try and remedy those. One thing I've noticed that causes significant angst is a messy and disorganized home. 

So I read the book that has been popping up everywhere "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and I have fallen for the KonMari Method hook line and sinker. What she says just makes so much sense, and outlines what I imagine is a more thoughtful life.  

I read the book this September and didn't allow myself to start cleaning because I didn't have time and wanted to dedicate more than one day to the efforts (Mari says that this process should take about 6 months!) So I started in October, a transition month sounded like the right time to start. 

So we are now three weeks through November, and I have only successfully gotten through organizing my shirts, pants, dresses and as of yesterday, my undergarments. This process is much slower, mentally harder and emotionally draining than I anticipated. 

So here is the recap of where I am:

So I started on a late Saturday morning... I thought I was ready, but I was a bit tired, and not in the most decisive mood. So it started by piling all of my shirts in the middle of my living room. First of all, I was shocked to see how many shirts I actually owned. The pile almost made me feel ill, thinking about how we really only need a few shirts. All the rest are completely frivolous in order to satisfy a vein need to enhance myself. I realize that for me, having these clothes is almost admitting that I don't like the person underneath enough, that I need to snaz myself up... 

Ignoring these inner thoughts I started to pull of each piece of clothing and ask if it sparked joy... well I can tell you, a lot of items I own, don't spark joy, I actually don't even really like them - I just like that they covered some aspect of body that I didn't like. I wasn't even using clothes as a personal expression of style, I was literally trying to hide myself. I could have probably thrown out another 50% of my wardrobe, but I work 5 days, and well i need at least 5 shirts for work! And I am not willing to go out any buy more stuff. 

Then I found this whole section of clothes that did spark joy, the idea of them sparked joy. They were my romantic, bohemian style clothes, that I didn't wear, and while I loved looking at them, when I wore them didn't spark joy (because they didn't fit the way I 'wanted' them to). It was so hard to let go of this whole section of my wardrobe, because I was convinced that if I kept those clothes then I was still a romantic bohemian, which all who know me, know that is not true. I am an A-type, tom boy, jock who is still in denial. 

So three hours later (and many breaks) I was only 1/2 way through the pile! The KonMari Method was going to take me years at this point! I picked myself up and tried to make decisions on the last ones, but I had left the hardest ones until the end. So each decision included putting it on, holding it, looking for holes... all things that I think are illegal in the KonMari Method. The second 1/2 of the pile took me another 2 hours. 

So 5 hours down, and clothes everywhere... and having only eaten graham wafer crackers and marshmallows I realized I had to devise a plan so that this process would improve into the future. 

So more than a month later here are the key aspects to assess in order to be more efficient!

Here is the list:
  1. Research where I can donate and what to donate before I start sorting/discarding my items. This is personally important because I wanted to make sure that my clothes would not just go in the garbage (which I have learned they sometimes do - which I will elaborate on in another post)  I also found out that it is important to prepare my items for donation. Nicely folded, hung clothes definitely have a better chance of being accepted... 
  2. Realize that this is not the first time I'll go through my stuff. I'll likely repeat this process another 2-3 times before I can get down to 'enough stuff' - speaking of which have you heard of the 30 item wardrobe? Trying it out for a month may help me realize I don't really need more than 30 items!
  3. Show up with the right mood/energy - I was tired and not particularly decisive that day, I should have recognized it and waited until I had one of those go get 'em days
  4. Play music, fun, energetic, bubbly music - I want to make this as fun and high energy as possible because it is draining - and I'll be repeating it several times, so I want positive associations
  5. I don't need a whole day to KonMari my house. If I prep my items into the small sub-categories I need to organize I can do small portions one evening at a time, while I'm not sure it's exactly what KonMari had in mind, I think it will help me feel like the task is less daunting, and attack it piece by piece
  6. Get rid of the stuff as soon as possible - i left my stuff out and when my mom was visiting she convinced me to keep a few item... Which I still haven't worn!
Since doing this cleaning, I have definitely been thinking about it a lot and dreaming about the day when I have completed it. But I think I have to focus more on the process, and less on the result. I think just having a clean house isn't the benefit of this, it's learning how to let things go, how to figure out what I really want and how to shape my life to focus in on what is important. 

I'm now re-energized and excited to provide update number two!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

If only....

The last few weeks have been quite tough. But I really believe that struggles provide us moments to stop and examine ourselves...Hopefully taking a pause makes us stronger for the future. Even if in the moment it definitely doesn't feel that way!

There are a few themes that have been reoccurring in my thoughts lately - They definitely relate to finding what makes me happy and outdoors. Two of my H2 goals. 

First, let's set the stage a bit. Friday was a rough day, I was at a pretty low point - living on very little sleep, dealing with a lot of work stress (and performing poorly), and not dealing with some loss that had occurred the week prior.  I went home and to bed post work meetings, and then returned to work for a strategy meeting where I managed, against my better judgement to say some thoughts very inelegantly that were probably better not said. So Friday night was full of exhaustion, shame, feeling of inadequacy and grieving. I had very little control of my thoughts or feelings. My view of the future was very very bleak. 

Theme 1: Nature's healing power
But on Saturday, despite a poor Friday nights sleep, I went for a hike with my family. While the weather was rainy, cold and windy and we hit mud and snow on the was an amazing hike. As you can see from the photos, it was not awe-inspiring, but the action of being in nature was so cleansing and rejuvenating. I felt the trees take my negative thoughts and feelings and send back positivity and optimism, just like they do with our breath. I wanted to hug the trees and thank them for all the healing they preformed. By the end of the hike I was my usually talkative, happy self. I was cold, and wet and my feet hurt, but it was fabulous.  
Blistery on Burstall Pass
The hike make me even more sure that nature really does make me happy, not just a superficial happy, but a deep down feeding of the soul happy. It takes ones soul to be really banged up to have you realize how much a day amongst the trees and mountains and open skies really does create strength deep within. All feels okay when I'm in nature. 

Theme 2: Connecting
After the hike, two of my very dear girlfriends met me for drinks and dinner. It was so amazing to connect and talk with two intelligent, thoughtful ladies. I felt so isolated for the past week, that having moments to share my fears, sorrows, and dreams with others that truly care took such a weight off of my shoulders. (and funny enough putting them down on here does a similar thing) Instead of thinking "I'm the only one, no one will understand, I can never get out" I left the evening thinking that we all have struggles and that it is all manageable. It's just called life. 

Theme 3: There Are No Short Cuts
This is definitely something that I knew all along, but it never really hit me until recently. I have been struggling with my skin. It turns red, is splotchy and generally quite sensitive. I thought going to a specialist getting this special cream etc... would help me with my issue. I thought it was a 'condition' but last week, with the wonderful creams and a doctor having me on a strict regiment, my skin was still terrible. I am seeing that it's not going to be a quick fix. My skin reacts to the way I treat my body. Lack of sleep, water, and stress show. So a path to clear skin is more in my lifestyle than in my cream. There are no magic creams. It all comes down to fundamentals. Realizing this with my skin is something I can also translate into health, lifestyle, work... everything. 

But then I wonder - how can I have it all? The answer is editing. Pick the most important things and don't stress the rest. I've heard it before, but making that list of 'top - top priorities' is probably the most difficult thing I have to do. 

Theme 4: No More Struggles Than The Next Guy
One of these amazing girls that I had dinner with said something that made me take a moment. We have no more struggles than the next person. I definitely fall into this trap. With a demanding job, I constantly say - if I had more time, if I exercised more, if I... then I would be happier. But really, I have no more constraints on my life than anyone else. I'm healthy, physically able and definitely have been provided with the most amazing opportunities to do what I would like... So the only thing in the "if I..." that is stopping me from that happiness is the I. There is not going to be an Aha! moment when I finally become happy. There are always going to be constraints on time, money, people... And everyone has the same constrains (well many have more, but of the people around me), so the difference between the person who is seemingly happy next to me and me, is me. No more excuses. My life is no harder than anyone else, I should stop trying to make it seem that way and use it as a crutch to achieving happiness. 

So those are the things I have been thinking about lately. I'm sure I haven't had enough time to flush them out, but over the next few weeks, I'm sure I'll keep on thinking through them. Hopefully with the help of a few good friends xo
No short cuts. One step at a time

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August Angst

Now that it is September, I can write this post - while I'm in my August 'state' there is really no point to talk about it... I only grow more angry! But thankfully August and the angst has past. 

Around the middle of August, I tend to get antsy, have angst and am generally kind of angry, I'm angry at the weather for not being super hot, I'm angry at the sun setting earlier, I'm angry at work that is keeping me indoors, I'm angry that people won't drop everything to go outside with me, but mostly I'm just angry at myself. I always feel like I have not done enough in the summer and disappointed for not making the most of the warm, long days.

I can't decide if this is a normal reaction to the closing of flip flop season or if it is actually a function of actually not getting my plans together and not fulfilling my outdoor summer desires? Even this summer, which found most of my weekends since the beginning of June booked and out of town, I'm still feeling this August syndrome. So it may just be the natural reaction to an all too fast transition into winter (last year it snowed on September 9th!). And it may be the natural reaction, but I'm not going to accept it, just yet. 

But what does one do to avoid this angst and anger and enjoy the last few weeks of the season? I have tried booking vacations at the end of August, planning for winter, and diving into work, but none of those things have abated this feeling. 

To be honest, even when on summer holidays, they don't feel as good as summer vacations should, or as how I remembered them. So what am I doing wrong? I'm at the cabin, the water is warm, the weather is nice, but it just doesn't feel right. What is the missing piece? 

Cabin time this year. Beautiful, but in need of some adventure.
What made summer vacation so special when I was younger?... It was that I was able to do things I couldn't do the rest of the year. I would build forts in the forest, go tubing and water skiing and play kick the can with all of my cousins, staying up late and having wayyy too many marshmallows. It was the adventure. Summers will filled with adventures - biking to random destinations, back country hikes, kayaking between islands I didn't know existed a week prior. Adventures. Check. I need more of them. Problem solved. 

But is it just adventures? I also remember people (one can't play kick the can by ones self!), large groups of family and friends together laughing, sharing stories, food, drinks... 

So maybe the answer is adventures with friends/family. Which, in our hectic world means planning ahead. So maybe for me avoid August Angst desire will involve more adventures, and more friends/family more planning! 

I'm going to test this theory and head out to the mountains in September for a moderately epic trip with a friend and see how I feel after that. And if there's positive feedback, then let the adventure planning for summer and winter begin in order to avoid this August angst. Besides I hear angst is not good for ones heart! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The World in Watercolour

I haven't posted in a long time (clearly not achieving my goals). It all started when I didn't think I had anything to post about, I honestly thought that there was nothing post worthy going on in my life or in my head... but as the deadline came and went, I realized I there were several items I wanted to share! It's interesting how so often when we quickly look back at a week and see nothing inspiring, or interesting, or at all noteworthy but in reality there are so many activities or thoughts that are worth additional reflection, if only we give ourselves time to reflect. 

This week I want to talk about one of my (many) recent fixations: Water based art. Both 'by the sea' type art as well as watercolours. There is something about the light, breeziness, and whimsical nature of these pieces that really draw me in. I think they signify a bit of an escape - from the routine, from the grid of the city and from having to keep everything 'inside the lines'

Here are some of my favs:

For the wall:

Tulum Mexico Photo, Ocean Beach Photo, Mexico Travel Photography, Caribbean Sea, Art and Decor Print
I recently purchased this piece from Danielle Aquiline and love the soft edges, water colours and random pattern of people
Marta Spendowska's paintings remind me of geology class where we would have to look at thin sections of rocks and some of them looked like this. Art imitating nature? I also love the sense of fluidity in the images
Image of waikiki no.7
Max Wagner is the master of the water shots. He has some similar to Danielle's above as well. I also bought this one from him a while ago, and absolutely love it
For the table:
Glacier Hand Painted Porcelain Dessert Plate with 14K Gold Luster, Peach, Pink, and Navy Blue // Perfect for an Organic, Modern Kitchen
Red Raven Studio's dinnerware is so fabulous, it may not be watercolour technique (I have no clue!), but it makes me think of watercolour paintings and the deep blue totally mimics our deep Canadian lakes
Yao Cheng has amazing piece of artwork, but I just love the tea towels, they really add some colour to a kitchen without having to make a long-term bet on your colour tastes 20 years from now!

While not the kitchen table, this would be amazing on my desk, love the mixture of geometric shapes with watercolours, it really softens up the pattern
All this talk of water makes me want to jump in a lake! And it's only Monday....

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Well I'm one day early on this blog post. That is a first for me. Although it does mean that I am delaying other things, so kind of a net net. But still meeting a deadline before the deadline is definitely a novelty around here...

Unfortunately this post will definitely fall on the 'less inspiring', but it's still a good touch base for the goals. So how has this week gone? Well can I tell you, my goals are conflicting. For example this weekend, I definitely picked the take time for myself over be outdoors.

I had all these plans to do great outdoor activities on Sunday, but then it was kind of drizzling in the am, so I started to read... not clean, not fix stuff but take time for myself. It was lovely, until I looked up, it was sunny outside and it was 2:00pm. 2:00pm!! I had definitely missed the boat on a larger outdoor activity that day. (I did make it out for a walk/run with my dog, who seemed to refuse to go faster than a doggy trot.)

On a positive note, I was outside for most of the day on Saturday and slept for 9+ hours on Saturday night.  So I think I checked a few of the goals off for the week. I'm definitely going to try and keep some consistency in this, since I didn't get to bed too early during the week!

I've also noticed that one thing that makes me happy is having a clean house, it doesn't have to be clean to most people's standards, but neat, and with items in their place (I am only mentioning this because its definitely not this way now). I typically only clean when it gets dire or when I have guests over, but I'd really like to have anyone pop by whenever and have it in a state I would be proud to show to anyone. I'm not sure how I am going to do this, since I have a natural habit of dropping things rather than placing them carefully where they belong, as well most of my messes occur when I'm in a rush, or popping in and out. Which happens more often than not. So I imagine a clean house will be more of a reflection on a larger lifestyle change than just a small change in my house tidying activity. But none the less, it's going on my goals list! Let's see if I'll have as many positive things to report on next week as this!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Back with Goals

Well, 4 years later, and I here I am. Writing again. 4 years ago, I quit my engineering job, packed up my ocean view Vancouver apartment, sold all of my furniture and my beloved Jetta, Charlotte, said so long (but not farewell) to many beloved friends and moved east to Toronto to embark on a new challenge - My MBA. Fast forward 4 years and I am 2 years post-MBA living in my first house (still rented) in Calgary working in the finance sector. It seems like things are so much different, and they are, but at the same time, they aren't. I still struggle to figure out what is important to me, how to manage work/life/goals/morals and values while still fitting into society's structure. I'm happy to note that many topics I wrote here 4+ years ago still resonate today. But fulfilling those ideas still pose a challenge. So I am back to continue this journey.

Talking to a close friend last night, she discussed her method for acting purposefully this year. She established goals and PUBLICLY shared them. I was blown away by the dedication and the willingness to expose this vulnerability.

She has clearly inspired me to take steps in the same direction. So here we go:

H2 2015 Goals

  1. Blog once a week - It doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to be inspiring. Hopefully it will allow me a moment to explore topics that peak my interest
  2. Sleep - Get more of it. Make it a priority. Go to bed earlier. This is probably something I struggle with the most. 
  3. Be outdoors - I heard a quote this morning, perfect timing: "We are better outdoors". So simple, So true. "I've never seen someone with trail rage, but I definitely have personally experienced road rage."
  4. Take time. For myself. Make it a priority.
  5. Recognize what makes me happy. Do it with abandon and without judgement. 

So that's it. 1 - 4 probably meet the SMART goal setting guidelines. 5 will be a be more difficult. But I'll definitely know every time I achieve that one... I'll have a huge smile.

I'm excited for the next 6 months!