2016: A Year in Review

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

2016, the year of some of my highest highs (Coysta) and lowest lows (November 8). I sure am glad this year is over. Let’s put this thing to bed.

Good Vibes Only

Yukon Blonde

Yukon Blonde

Wintersleep

Wintersleep

Drake

Drake

Whitebrow

Whitebrow

Ellie Goulding  Tragically Hip (no pics but they did happen)

WayHome Flags

WayHome!

WayHome 2016

Reading Rainbow

I got through 15 this year. Take that, Goodreads. In order from most to least favourite:

  1. Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari
  2. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
  3. My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem
  4. So Sad Today, Melissa Broder
  5. Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler
  6. Belgravia, Julian Fellowes
  7. The Nightengale, Kristin Hannah
  8. The Witches, Stacy Schiff

Honourable Mentions: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Tiny Beautiful Things, A Stolen Life, Bossy Pants, Exit, Pursued by a Bear, All My Puny Sorrows, Is it Evil Not to be Sure?

Heaps of memoirs and non-fiction with a few novels here and there to keep things light. Reading with the kindle makes things so much easier because I can hold it in one hand on the subway and a pole in the other so I don’t fall over. Not as easy to do with a book. The future is now, friends. I also discovered the timer at the bottom so I can see how many hours and minutes are left in each chapter/the whole book and that motivates me to finish things faster.

I Like Sports and I Don’t Care Who Knows

Jays, Raps, Argos, Team North America etc. etc.

Team North America

Is there anything better than October baseball?

Jays 2016

One Tough Mudder,

Tough Mudder

One O-Course,

Fit Factory O Course

One Ping Pong Tournament, Two Half-Marathons, Two Obstacle Courses,

The Young and the Restless

Four MEC races (the greatest deal of all time).

MEC Toronto

The fitfam is alive and well.

Tough Mudder

Costa Rica – The Best Week of my Life!

I graduated from university in 2010 and college in 2012. Then I sat down at a desk and didn’t move for four years. I was long overdue for a vacation and I finally got everything that I wanted and more. My sister Kay and I picked Costa Rica (which we have been affectionately calling Coysta since Kay spent a month there in high school) because it seemed like the perfect blend of the beach front/all-inclusive scene together with the hostel-dwelling/backpacker travelling experience.

Tamarindo Costa Rica

We escaped to Tamarindo for a whole lotta sun, sand, surf, and cervezas.

Maggie de Barra

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we did spend the entire week reenacting Blue Crush at every possible moment. I left my heart in Tamarindo and I will need to go back sometime very soon to collect it. Everybody moves a little slower and everyone is happy and free! Nobody rushes, stray dogs are friendly, life is beautiful.

Tamarindo

Pura ♥ Vida

Philanthropy 

My proudest accomplishment this year is all of the wonderful charity activities we organized through work. We raised money for breast cancer, a Thanksgiving food drive, and we collected presents and gift cards for our adopted Syrian refugee family through the Holiday Angel Program at New Circles. I also managed to gather a table for the Hearts for Syria fundraising gala. And, we already have so many plans for next year – Bell Let’s Talk, Prom Dress Drive, Spring Cleaning Clothing Donations… It was a wonderful year and I was so touched by the incredible generosity of my coworkers.

Hearts for Syria

Election 2016

File under ‘worst experiences of my life’. If you were looking for a wake up call, this was it. I was living happily in a bubble, surrounded by people who act and think like me and it was a very rude awakening. The only thing to do now is move forward and keep fighting for the causes I love and support. We can’t fix everything. We can’t help everyone. We can pick one issue and throw ourselves into it. Scream from the tallest buildings. Write letters and emails. Show up. If you are an ally, make it known. Vote. Participate. Be an active citizen and protect the Canada we know and love. We can’t let this happen again and we cannot let it happen here.

Anything and Everything

December is always exhausting and I’m really looking forward to recalibrating and resting in January for a hot minute. 2016 was the best and the worst for so many reasons! The days are long but the years are short, so they say.

Blue

Did I accomplish any of my new year’s resos from last year? Nope. My only resolutions for this year: read more books and be a good person. Go on one trip – I’m thinking Bali or Bust

Blue Mountain

The Theme for 2017 is Bacchanal

*goes to Central America once*

*loves Soca music*

Let me preface this next bit by saying I have a minor in Greek and Roman studies so I know what I’m talking about.

The MVP for our Costa Rica trip was DJ Private Ryan, the DJ who creates the best gym podcasts. He creates mixes with top 40, Soca, hip hop, reggae and more and they are almost all over an hour long so they really go the distance (etc. etc.) during training. They are also great “getting ready” playlists and we always have one playing when we need something to pick us up a little bit. There are a bunch of songs on these playlists that I had never heard before, some are not popular on the Toronto stations and I had never heard them out and about in the city. I never paid any attention to these songs while we were listening to the podcasts before but I was absorbing them the whole time without realizing.

Cut to a scene on the beach in Coysta where Shakira and Enrique Iglesias are still hitmakers and they only play dance music – everywhere! Kay and I unexpectedly recognized all or most of the songs from DJ Private Ryan’s podcasts and it was such a sweet throwback to Goodlife exercise room sessions and bedroom dance parties.

There is a recurring theme in Soca music that reveres the idea of Bacchanal. I appreciate the way Soca artists use this word which refers to the celebrations of the followers of the ancient Roman god of wine, Bacchus. These festivals were called Bacchanalia and they were supposedly very scandalous and for heathens only – just like Tamarindo!

The modern interpretation of Bacchanal as it is used in Soca music is a little different. The ScotiaBank Toronto Carnival Lexicon describes Bacchanal as: uninhibited fun, laughter, and revelry. That sounds absolutely perfect to me and that is all I want for the next year.

#Bacchanal2017 – be there or be square!

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Meeting Hillary Clinton

Something wonderful happened yesterday.

I met Hillary Rodham Clinton. We talked. We made eye contact. She smiled at me. She signed my book.

My alarm went off at 4:00am on Monday morning. I, in typical fashion, snoozed until 5:00am. The subway was not even running yet, so I walked to the Indigo at Bay and Bloor. I was one of the first in line around 6:00am. I waited in line for an hour or so. A very nice lady from the Starbucks inside passed me a coffee. She said: “It’s our Blonde Roast!” I thought: “How are you so peppy right now?”

Among the other rules of the signing, you had to show up early, buy the book in the morning, get a wristband, and return in the afternoon to get a signed copy. I happily paid and put out my wrist for a bright yellow badge of honour.

I returned to the lineup at noon. The Indigo event staff, plus the security teams and Secret Service (indeed), really ran a top-notch show. Our bags were checked, I brought a handy stool to sit on, and the lineup was mostly pleasant. Sun News was walking up and down the line asking loaded questions.

Following her speech at the Board of Trade, a video of which can be found here, along with her Q&A session and her interview with Peter Mansbridge on the National, Hillary Clinton traveled to our local store for a signing.

We were led in groups of ten through the store, down the steps, and snaked through the bookshelves. Hillary was wearing a bright turquoise outfit, and she was smiling, laughing, and engaging with the folks ahead of me. She was flanked on both sides by aides and security, but they were in good spirits as well, smiling and pleasant.

I snapped a few pictures from the line, but we were told to put everything away and to have nothing in our hands as we approached. Somehow, she signed 900 books in one sitting.

There was one man ahead of me who had a nice chat with her. But the next person did not ask or say anything, so all he got was a signed book and barely a look. The trick was to engage her first, and ride the wave. I approached, trying to hide my beaming smile, trying to appear like a normal adult, and keep my fangirling to a minimum. I stepped up to the table.

“It’s such an honour to meet you. Thank you for coming here today,” I said. She signed my book with a blue pen.

“Well, thank you. It’s nice to meet you too.”

I was chuffed that she responded, and then started to mutter something along the lines of “Hope you enjoy Canada… ” and then went on my way.

I feel very lucky that I was able to be in the same room as one of my idols, heroes, and role models, let alone be able to speak to her face to face.

She is beautiful, poised, eloquent, friendly, polite, and gracious. Everything I could have hoped that she would be, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her.

I greatly value the strong female role models in my life. Hillary Clinton has been one of these role models for over a decade. I remember being a university student, back in 2008, and watching her primary speeches, alone in the basement of my family home. I wept with pride and joy as I listened to her messages. She moved and inspired something in me that I carry with me to this day. I really wanted her to beat Obama, and I was so sad when she did not.

I am hopeful and excited at the thought of being able to listen to her primary speeches once more.

Clinton 2016. Let’s go.