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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Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon 2016

In pursuit of the sub-2hr half.

Sometimes I spend my weekends sleeping in late, and sometimes I wake up at 5:30am and do crazy things. On Sunday, May 1, 2016 I woke up at 5:30am and did something crazy.

I conquered the Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon.

Certificate of Completion | Paper

I had spent the last few weeks training pretty hard and I was so excited to tackle this run. The day before was beautiful and sunny and cool. The course was mostly downhill and I knew that with some beautiful weather, I could finish in under two hours. I woke up on Sunday hoping for another gorgeous day and I was very sad to see cold grey skies and pouring rain.

I ran alone this time, which was both comforting and a little unnerving. I really wanted to finish it in under two hours. My last half was finished in 2:04. I didn’t really plan or train for a certain time at the Scotiabank half. This time I had been preparing. I knew I needed to average about a 9-minute mile for the majority of the race to get under two hours.

I had a little bit of a plan. All the articles I read said to run the first mile a little slower than your average pace, so that’s what I did. After the first mile marker, I felt really good. It was nice running through the city and it felt comfortable. I was so surprised at how many people were running together, and all the people who were cheering on the sidelines with cute signs. Bless their little hearts, if I wasn’t running there would be no way to get me out of bed on a cold, wet day.

Goodlife Half | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I had made a plan to take an energy chew at mile 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10. I checked my pace on my iPod every mile. And, I had a water belt so I could save some time bypassing the water stations. At mile 4, I checked my pace and was so surprised to hear I was only 35 minutes in! This was a perfect pace for me and I was so pumped. I was a little bit ahead of the 2:00 continuous Running Room Pace Bunny for most of the race, and every time their pack caught up to me I made sure to push through to get ahead.

I felt good all the way down Yonge Street, and down Rosedale Valley Road. I sprinted down the hills and took it easy when I felt like I needed to. My pace was good. I checked a few times and I had 5:30/km, 5:15/km, there was even one time I checked and it said 4:45/km. I couldn’t believe it. I was soaking wet, running through puddles, rain in my face, freezing cold and somehow I was on track.

Race Map | Paper Clips by Maggie de BarraTowards the end of Rosedale Valley Road, coming up to Bayview, I slowed down a little to rest. I knew that once we hit the downtown core I would need to pick up the pace and I was trying to conserve a little bit of energy. As we moved west through downtown I started speeding up a little. According to my iPod, around mile 12, I was at about 1:47, so in my mind, I had one mile left and 13 minutes to finish it. This seemed like it was almost too good to be true so I felt awesome. I was pushing even harder so that I could stay at a comparable time.

And then, the sad realization that my iPod was not calibrated correctly, as it announced that I had finished the race as I was rounding Bathurst. I had about another 1.5-2km to go. And my next mistake, not really studying the race map, because as I was coming up to Fort York, I was sprinting hoping to see a finish line any second. And then the Prince’s Gate, and still no finish line. So I was just going full out, I was in the zone and I just sprinted the whole rest of the way.

Goodlife Finish Line | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I jumped over the finish line with my hands in the air feeling triumphant and strong as a horse. I checked my iPod and it said 2:02. Two minutes faster than last time, two more minutes to go. I was really happy with my time. I know that if it was sunny and beautiful, I would have been a little quicker. I know I can finish in under two hours, I just don’t quite know how to get there.

After the race, I immediately felt freezing. I had checked my bag up by Mel Lastman Square and I was expecting it to be on the same truck or under a tent of some sort. I was super bummed out to see a parking lot full of soggy bags and a few pylons to direct us around. That would be my only complaint, they really needed tents for the bags. My stuff was soaked. My phone was okay, tucked in my coat pocket and wrapped up. My change of clothes was damp. I felt a little stupid because I had packed two plastic bags to put my wet stuff in, and if I knew the bags would be sitting out in the open, I would have put everything in the plastic bags.

The line for food was way too long and I just wanted to find my friends and get some coffee and be somewhere warm and dry. I did grab two bottles of the most delicious honey lemon water on the way out. That almost made up for the wet bags.

My post-race routine consists of brunch, a lot of coffee, an epsom salt bath, a pumice stone, foam rolling, and a long nap. The post-race nap is the most glorious thing in the whole world. I do these crazy things for the recommended naps afterwards.

And so, I have now had more than two weeks to recover and I am back in training for the 15k I have at the end of the month. There is no rest for the wicked.

Sub-2, I’m coming for you.

Breaking Up with Facebook

It’s not you, it’s me. No, actually it is you.

Breaking up with Facebook

I did something amazing this weekend – I quit Facebook! I finally deleted my account. Well, technically I deactivated it which means I shut it down for an indeterminate amount of time – hopefully forever. Deactivating puts your account on hold but keeps all your stuff (photos, contacts, etc.) if you ever need to go back and it keeps other people from taking your name and impersonating you – another one of my great fears.

I had a long chat with my sister at brunch on Saturday and I realized during our conversation that deleting Facebook was the right move for me. And while I was at it, I also abandoned my Instagram account.

I’ve thought about deleting Facebook for a long time. It has been on my list of New Year’s Resolutions for ages and I am so happy I finally did it. I love reading The Minimalists blog and their ideas have stuck with me for a long time, and I can’t wait to read Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I realize that the only things I want in my life are the things that make me happy and I really believe that I already have everything I want and need. And, Facebook and Instagram are really doing nothing for me.

Why Did I Quit Facebook?

1) I hate Facebook.

2) Facebook adds absolutely no value to my life in any way.

3) Facebook is a colossal waste of time and energy that could be better spent on other things I actually like and find interesting.

4) I am too interested in my own life to care what anyone else is up to.

Facebook and  Instagram are both perfect examples of what I like to call Fake Life. That carefully curated collection that you put on display for friends, family, strangers, etc. Everything you put on there is fake. I can see what you’re doing and you’re not fooling me. So, I’d rather just step away and not engage any more.

Friends?

It took me a long time to get to this point. I’ve been on Facebook for over nine years. Are you kidding me?! If something is going to occupy almost a decade in your life, it better be worth it.

So that is that. I truly feel like an incredible weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I am so looking forward to this newfound freedom.

What about you guys? Do you think you’ll let Facebook take up space in your life for much longer? Let me know!!

Would You Rather Be Busy or Bored?

Exploring the space between stress and stalemate.

Boring

People love to say they are busy. Often, it is a self-inflicted state. We do it to ourselves, to make us feel superior, more important, or more in-demand than others. In reality, most of us are not that important at all. So why do we do it? Do we really need to cancel on friends and family, or sacrifice eating or sleeping to finish ‘work’ or attend ‘events’? Or, are you simply packing your schedule to the breaking point so you can ricochet between these appointments only to breathlessly declare how busy you are. You’re not fooling me.

I have been busy before. The kind of busy where you say yes to everything even though you should not. It doesn’t always feel good, being at the mercy of the schedules of other people. What is productive or positive about losing sleep, or skipping healthy meals, or missing workouts, or rain checking quality time with friends, family, or yourself? Nothing is worth it.

Priorities

There are few things that stress me out more than looking at my agenda on Monday, and seeing something booked for every night of the week. That sends a signal to my brain that this is going to be a stressful week. That there will be no downtime, that I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling, and that I’ll have to be “on”, so to say. It means there won’t be time for family meals, or my favourite classes at Goodlife, or even just some time to finish my current book. And there will be feelings of begrudging anger because I did it to myself, by booking things in advance and taking up all my free time.

I have really made a conscious effort over the past few years to plan ahead so I can carve out my own free time. Days where I don’t schedule anything. Where I can either get all my chores finished, or do all the things I couldn’t do during the week, or just to do nothing at all. My motto is “Saying no to others is saying yes to yourself” and I try to push it on to all the people who I hear complaining that they are simply swamped this week, that this month has been crazy, and their weekend is going to be hectic. It’s as easy as planning ahead, allotting time for yourself to do the things you love and the things you want to do, or to simply do nothing at all. The choice is yours.

Now, sometimes it’s not always this easy. And sometimes things pop up unexpectedly and are unavoidable. But if you’re cultivating a habit where you make it a priority to schedule time for yourself, it will not be as draining when those truly busy weeks pop up, and you will appreciate your downtime even more.

Time

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have also languished in the drudge. I have quite literally been bored to tears in those mind-numbing, soul-crushing positions where there is nothing to do but count the seconds as they tick away slowly. Is there anything worse than waste? Waste of your time, your talents, or your skills?

Betty Draper

“Only boring people are bored.” One of my favourite Betty Draper quotes, but I disagree with her. I align closer to Laurie Helgo who said, “I am rarely bored alone; I am often bored in groups.” Just because I prefer a lifestyle that may appear boring from the outside, it does not mean I am a boring person on the inside. I see these as two separate issues. Just as a boring person can have a very full schedule, periods of rest can be either active or passive depending on the person. You can waste your time, or, you can cherish it by reading, writing, learning, or just existing. It is the sweet spot of being alone, but not feeling lonely.

Bored

My advice would be to start small. If you are in the habit of always saying yes to others at the expense of yourself, start by giving yourself permission to say no. That, in and of itself, is a huge step. As you begin to feel comfortable with that, start by picking a few nights each week where you schedule time for yourself. Pick one weeknight, and one full day on the weekend. Say Wednesday night, and Sunday during the day. If your friends want to go for dinner this week, any day but Wednesday is fine. If someone wants to grab a coffee this weekend, you can only do Saturday during the day. Stand up for yourself and put your foot down. Remember, each time you say no to someone, you are saying yes to yourself.

It will take time before this starts to feel natural for you, but once it does you won’t look back! Welcome to your newfound freedom!

If You Aren’t Outraged, Then You Just Aren’t Paying Attention

Ignorance is Bliss.

Not Afraid

I understand, I think, for the first time why most people prefer those sugar-coated, mind-numbing movies and TV shows packed with celebrities and other pleasant things.

Watching the National last night, I realized that Peter Mansbridge and his guests were not discussing the possibility that this is our “new normal” – they were confirming the obvious. An over-used term, but still applicable. These recent attacks, homegrown and ruthless, in Ottawa, in Sydney, and now in Paris are horrific and terrifying, to me anyway. I feel like we are all at risk now. This is our normal, we of the post 9-11 generation. Which city will be next and when? London, Washington, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo? Toronto has been spared for now, but for how long?

I remember learning in journalism school that therapists and journalists have higher levels of something like secondary PTSD. While they may not be experiencing these events first-hand, their exposure to first-hand accounts on a regular basis can generate a wave of similar symptoms.

Watching all these news programs, reading these articles (some fantastically well-written, answering the questions I didn’t think to ask), following the chaos of Twitter – it can be exhausting. I found relief last night during the commercial breaks of the National, with previews for silly shows about space, animals, and consumer trends. It was like a dose of comfort before getting back in the ring when the program started again. I felt like a character in Brave New World, but it wasn’t taking hits of Soma that made me feel better, it was television. And with it, the promise of a familiar-but-novel distraction, spread to the masses to keep us somewhat entertained, but mostly chained to our couches, away from the news, newspapers, books, and somewhere out there, the truth.

O Canada…

The True North Strong and Free.

Parliament Hill - May 2013

We are in unchartered territory and I don’t really know where to begin. A situation that is still ‘fluid and unfolding’. My beloved Ottawa, my home for four years, in lockdown and under attack. One of the longest days. Watching, listening, following along feeling helpless and horrified. And now, more than twelve hours later, we are still in the dark.

War Memorial - Nov 11 2009

My former journalism student instincts have never really gone away. I love Twitter, and I continually browse headlines during the day to keep an eye on things. It makes me feel like an adult to have a basic understanding of and ability to form a valid opinion on current events. I have taken to reading news on the CBC website, one, because it’s still free, and two, it seems mostly free from partisan bias. Around ten this morning I gave the CBC home page a quick browse, and felt my stomach plummet. Quickly pulling up Twitter, what followed was one of the darkest hours I’ve ever experienced, filled with misinformation, graphic and disturbing photos, and several first-hand accounts from Canadian politicians and journalists on the ground. This whole day has been surreal.

Parliament Hill - Nov 11 2009

I am lucky to follow some truly fascinating people. Their collective commentary during any major event, be it an awards show, the Olympics, any major breaking news, Ferguson in the last few weeks, and now today, is always on point. My carefully curated group of journalists, politicians, key contributors, and news makers, and those who they follow, are always witty and informative. After spending four years in Ottawa, I am following a lot of folks on Parliament Hill, and too many of them were caught up in this fray today. They provided terrifying and viscerally real accounts of what they saw and heard. For me, Twitter is not filler, it is often the most up-to-date and reliable source of breaking news, much more than cable tv or radio news. These people are on the ground and they take their jobs seriously.

Canada Day - 2012

I checked in with my friends who are still in Ottawa and who spent the day in lockdown (thankfully, they were all okay), and admired the quiet authority of Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, during the RCMP press conference. My news feed was overflowing, and I couldn’t refresh fast enough.

Canada Day - 2012

My Parliament Hill has a stray cat sanctuary, and free yoga on the front lawn, and concerts on Canada Day with accompanying light shows and fireworks. My Ottawa has a free skating rink running through the middle. My Ottawa is clean, beautiful, vibrant, and safe.

Parliament Hill - Gold Medal Celebration 2010

I had hoped that these foreign threats would never touch our shores, and now twice in one week, members of our armed forces have been singled out and murdered. We must watch in fear and feel helpless as our enemies walk through our front door. I feel flashbacks to the first few days of grade eight, when we came in from first recess with whispers of an attack. Where my teacher, Mr. Mele, sat at the only computer in the classroom trying to access CNN’s website. The computer was big, white, and clunky, and the internet was fledgling and slow. We couldn’t get beyond the homepage. We had no access to information and no updates and we were totally in the dark. When I got home from school, I sat in front of the TV in disbelief for hours, simultaneously mesmerized and horrified by the loop footage of the Twin Towers.

Today, I rushed home from work and have been watching television coverage for the past few hours. I am older, but still feel afraid. Unable to take my eyes away from the footage of my beloved Ottawa under attack.

Canada Day - 2011

I am of the generation called the Millennials. I am the post 9/11 generation. Raised on Harry Potter and MSN Messenger. Early adopters of new technology. Living under the looming threat of terrorism. You don’t have to tell us to ‘stay vigilant’. We get it. We’ve already had it for a long time. We’ve been maintaining constant vigilance since Moody warned us about the Death Eaters back in the day.

Doubting myself, wondering if my unfortunate heavy double dose of patriotism and sensationalism was causing me to overreact, I felt isolated and alone today. Nobody in my immediate vicinity seemed to know nor care about the situation unfolding in Ottawa. I feel like I need to divide the people and influencers in my life by our shared values. Today was an exercise in that. My close friends, and some fellow former journalism students on Twitter, shared my concerns and I felt comforted by their shared reactions.

I want nothing more right now than for Peter Mansbridge to fold the nation in his warm embrace and tell us all that we’re going to be okay, and that everything will soon be well.

Canadian Flag

❤ Ottawa ❤ Canada ❤ you too, Toronto

Tomorrow is another day, and we must remain the True North, Strong and Free.

Canada Day

* My apologies for disconnected and incomplete thoughts. Written after a stress-filled, anxiety-ridden, very emotional day, while flipping between CBC, CTV, Global, and TVO for six hours straight, heart aching, head pounding…

2013: A Year in Review

There are no walls but those we build ourselves.

2013 was a year of great personal growth and change. I feel that I have become a better person along the way, and I recognize that I have a long way to go.

Re: last year’s resolutions: I pushed my long run to 13 miles, just about the distance of a half marathon…; I did not get my driver’s licence…; I managed to make two trips to visit friends in other cities; I took many photos, read a decent number of books, and saw all the movies I wanted to see. I like to think of the resolutions as suggestions, and not rules.

Music

Freelance Whales, The Knocks, Passion Pit, Tame Impala, Alt-J,Whitebrow’s CD release party+ Church show, He’s my Brother, She’s my Sister, Vampire Weekend, the Arkells, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Phoenix, Beyonce, and Kanye West.

I didn’t see as many concerts as some past years, but, I consider myself lucky that I have seen just about every band that I could possibly imagine. I already have Jay-Z and Arcade Fire lined up for next year. Arcade Fire is really the last big band that I want to see, but have not yet had the chance to do so.

Passion Pit

I saw Passion Pit at Lollapalooza in 2012. Their show was in the early evening. It was their first show back since their brief hiatus. It was a lovely summer show. In February, I was lucky enough to see Passion Pit again in all their glory at the Kool Haus during the middle of a spectacular snow storm. Their show is made to be experienced indoors, with all of the lights and trappings.

Beyonce

All my dreams came true when I finally saw Beyonce live. We were the first show since the surprise release of her new album. Her voice was powerful, her dancing was sharp and energetic, and the girl power in the room was off the charts. I paid homage to her earlier in the year when I dressed as Beyonce in her single ladies video for Halloween. The costume did not go to waste, as I wore it again for the concert. We were the only people in the 300s to dress up. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Kanye WestKanye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me preface this next part by saying that I am Kanye West’s biggest fan. After postponing our show just over a month due to unforeseen technical difficulties, my sister and I were able to catch the last show of the Yeezus tour on December 23rd. We had amazing seats in the 100s, and it will be hard to enjoy a concert from any other seat going forward. His latest album was experimental, and while there were a few good songs, I felt it was mostly wanting.

Kanye punctuated his energetic, oldie but goodie songs with show stopping new songs. I mean literally show stopping, as he would cut all the music and talk for minutes at either end. His performance seemed lackluster to me, but I probably just didn’t get what he was going for. He seemed in disbelief at our response at times, as if we weren’t giving him enough energy, or singing along to the level he wanted. I feel like you should expect to receive the energy you give out, and seeing how he sang 3+ songs lying on the floor and talked for longer than he sang (including a 20+ minute rant about the Grammy’s), I left the ACC feeling really let down. He did bring out Drake for a few songs, which was awesome, and I think the crowd loved that more than the rest of the show.

I was hoping for an energetic performance like Eminem at Lolla in 2011, or the last two times I’ve seen Macklemore. Maybe Kanye thinks that he is already at the top of his game, so he doesn’t have to work for it anymore. Macklemore on the other hand is hungry, and as I was sitting in the ACC, I was wishing I was back at Echo Beach with Macklemore and crew as they shocked all of our senses with their magnificent show. Things to consider for the future…

Theatre

I was able to take in one musical and three plays this year. Cats at the Panasonic Theatre, and three shows in Stratford: Romeo and Juliet, the 3 Musketeers, and Othello.

Romeo and Juliet was exactly what you’d expect. The 3 Musketeers was swashbuckling and funny. My favourite has got to be Othello. The set design was innovative and all the actors were on point. The tension during the last scene was so powerful it gave me chills. I am really looking forward to next year’s season.

Sports

4 Jays games, 2 Leafs games, and 1 Rock game.

Halifax

I spent four days in Halifax in March. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the Split Crow and I cooked my first Lobster.

Halifax

Ottawa

I celebrated the May24 weekend in Ottawa with a kayak and a hike.

Dow's Lake

Parliament

Tobermory

In June, we visited Georgian Bay and went cliff jumping in the Grotto. The water was freezing, but it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

Grotto

The O Course

My coworkers and I were crazy to sign up for the O Course. After a little training, we tackled a 45 minute boot camp work out, a ~7k run, and a ~2hr obstacle course. It was the most physically exhausting feats I’ve accomplished to date. In the first half of the course, during the run, I was in 5th place out of the women. By the time I reached the second half of the course with the major obstacles, I fell to 77th place! This race is no joke. I thought I was in decent shape but I was put in my place. I’d like everyone to experience this just once so that they can take themselves to their limit, and break through it.

Miscellaneous Adventures

Friday Night Live @ the Rom – The Mesopotamia Exhibit @ the ROM – The AGO – Parkinsons Super Walk – Canada Day at Turtle Castle and Burrits Rapids

Toronto Fashion Week

Fashion Week

Boat Cruisin (count the cranes!) + Winning a Limbo contest

Toronto

Birthday

Birthday Card

I am 25 years old. I am officially older than all of my favourite literary characters.

Ice Storm 2013

Ice Storm

On December 22, we woke up with no power and no heat. The whole city was covered in ice. I sent a tweet to Toronto Hydro late on the 23rd, and on the morning of Christmas Eve, we were shocked and surprised to hear the buzz of the power turning back on. I’ve never been so happy for a hot cup of tea before in my life.

That being said, it was nice to spend some unplugged time with my family. We played board games by candlelight for eight hours straight. We learned that our candlesticks burn for five hours.

Blackout

New Year’s Resolutions:

To continue in my transcendentalist spirit of self-reflection and self-improvement:

Read one book per month, plus whatever is on the docket for my book clubs.

See more movies and more live shows. I think I’d like to head to Osheaga this summer.

Visit one Toronto attraction/museum/exhibit per month.

Go to a Toronto FC game.

Run a Half Marathon!!! So ambitious, but it would be nice to say I’ve done it at least once.

G1? Maybe…

Delete Facebook. I have been trying to wean myself off Facebook for some time now. I think it is a waste of time and energy. I think now is the opportune time, before any more engagement rings or babies start showing up in my news feed.

And with that, I will give a fond farewell to 2013, and a hearty hello to 2014.

2012: A Year in Review

Raptures in the rear view mirror. Twentythirteen on the horizon. 

When I think of all that has happened over the past twelve months, I see a film in fast-forward with clips of my beautiful family, my brilliant friends, endless concerts, good books, delicious food, new experiences, hearty laughs, real chats, and some much needed self-reflection.

Re: Last year’s resolutions: I can walk in high heels now; I saw as many, if not more, concerts as I did last year; I did go to Lollapalooza again; I read some good books; I took a lot of photos; I spent some quality time with the people who matter the most; I did get straight A’s; I did not win any trivia nights; but I still think I am a good person.

Milestones:

Shows

My goal for 2012 was to see as many or more shows as possible. Here is my list [lolla in brackets]:

Whitebrow, Yukon Blonde, the Lumineers, Carly Rae Jepsen’s sound check at Much (does that even count?), [Animal Kingdom, The White Panda, Dr. Dog, Zedd, SBTRKT, Passion Pit, M83, The Black Keys, FIDLAR, Jeff the Brotherhood, Givers, Neon Indian, FUN., The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avicii, Hey Rosetta!, Nadastrom, The Walkmen, Sigur Ros, Doctor P, Florence and the Machine, Zeds Dead, Kaskade, Jack White, and Justice!] Ellie Goulding, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Wolfgang, The Royal Concept, Grouplove, Plants and Animals, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Band of Horses, and Joel Plaskett.

Lolla

Not too shabby I’d say.

Blue Jays

Blue Jays!

Just one! But I would say it was the best one of the summer. The best summer day for sure because it featured lots of friends, and two magnificent concerts, and a sunny day with no sunburns, so that is a bonus.

Jays!

Graduation

Graduation

I graduated from the Paralegal program at Seneca College in June of 2012!

Canada Day

Canada Day

I spent the Canada Day weekend in Burritts Rapids, Ontario, a beautiful little island on the Rideau River outside of Ottawa. What followed was a spectacular weekend filled with lazy river tube floats, some fishing, a bunch of board games, and the most beautiful trail walk on the Tip-to-Tip trail.

BR island

We also got to spend some quality time with J. Douglas Struthers, the Mayor of Merrickville, where we congratulated him on his very entertaining Canada Day celebrations, and the beauty of his little town.

Mayor

Europe

This summer I spent two weeks with my family in Paris and Dublin. There is so much beauty, history, culture, and style everywhere you look. Everything at home seems entirely plain in comparison. It was a wonderful trip.

Paris

trio

there are a lot of people at versailles today

My sister, Caroline, and I went up to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. It made me feel superhuman to be up so high, and also so cowardly at the same time because I had no idea how very scared of heights it turns out I am!

eiffel tower

view from the top

My little sister, Kathleen, and I spent a wonderful time quoting every line from Marie Antoinette while we spent the day at Versailles. The best part of that day was when decided to rent bicycles to travel to the Petit Trianon! Biking through the grounds of Versailles is really the only way to do it! As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a little wary of biking, but this time was entirely wonderful, and safe.

Versailles

bikes!

I spent one lovely afternoon wandering around Montmartre, near the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur, and discovered, as many have before me, a packed artist’s market on top of a hill. There were rows upon rows of portrait artists and happy patrons with their likeness taken down in pencil, or chalk, or charcoal. Seeing as I had all the time in the world and a desire to indulge my vanity, I decided that now was as good a time as ever to have my portrait drawn.

portrait

I don’t actually look like that. It’s a beautiful, stylized version of myself. But one day I will hang it up when I’m old and be able to say to my grandchildren, “Look here, this is what Grandma looked like when she was 23 in Paris. How lucky I was and I didn’t even realize it at the time.”

dublin

Ireland was very green and very jolly. I will say that I expected to feel some kind of overwhelming feeling of patriotism, seeing as my family is so closely intertwined with our Irish heritage. But I did not feel that.

guinness

We went on the Guinness Brewery tour. It was very well done and highly recommended. I can now say that not only do I enjoy the taste of Guinness, which I never used to, I actually understand the craftsmanship it takes to produce and appreciate the history behind it.

Lollapalooza 2012

Lollapalooza 2012

I did it! I wanted to go again and sure enough I did! We saw a million great shows, [see above] and it was another fabulous weekend in Chicago.

Canada!

Carleton Legacy Lives On

 I happily got to move my little sister into residence at Carleton, and I got to see my other sister working away as a Frosh Head Facilitator on the same day. I haven’t felt so proud of them, possibly ever. They are a wonderful addition to the fabric of Carleton, and I am so happy to say they are my sisters. I am still waiting on my recruitment fee…

sisters

Birthdays

I am 24 now! What in the world…

Halloween

I paid homage to my two pets and masqueraded as a cat for six hours. Worth it.

Other Terribly Scary Things

I set my hair on fire in the bathroom. No permanent damage, just wonky bangs. And I got electrocuted! Sadly, no super powers.

New Year’s Eve

We rang in the new year in Huntsville, Ontario in a cottage surrounded by friends. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to 2012, and welcome 2013 with open arms and open hearts.

nye

We decided to write little notes to commemorate the day. I wrote “There are no walls but those we build ourselves. Cheers to 2013!” This statement is meant to inspire and challenge me over the next year. I really believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough, and the message stands to break down the barriers in my life because I am the only thing standing in my own way!

New Years Resolutions:

Push my run to 13 miles; Get my driver’s licence; Visit friends out West and down East; Take more photos, read more books, see more movies; See as many concerts as possible; Devote myself to being a better friend; Just keep trying to be a better person in every way!

Anything could happen! Girl Power! Cheers to 2013!

Quarterly Review

So far, so good.

It’s strange to think that I have just one month of school left. It’s scary to think that I’ve been out of university for two years! That is frightening. Reminds me of the good old days blogging for Maclean’s. I think I summed up how I’m feeling right now here. One month of school, four weeks, four exams and that’s all folks. It is overwhelming and I sympathize with my fellow graduating students.

The first quarter of 2012 has been pretty great so far.

Re: New Years resolutions- I’m trying to take lots of photos, waiting with my fingers crossed for the Lollapalooza lineup, and happily managing the stress of my final semester through painting my nails, writing exercises, transcendental meditation and working out on a regular basis.

Here are a couple of things that have helped to make these last few weeks a bit brighter:

world peace crossword
inspirational fence signs  monday morning crosswords

valentines korean bbq
homemade doily valentines korean bbq at korean village restaurant on bloor

toronto map flowers
• 
craigslist antiques breakthroughs beautiful flowers on the walk to school

combo royalewords with friends
live music  73 point words

Big Thoughts Hurt My Brain

When Free Association meets Stream of Consciousness.

I was lying in bed last night and I had one of those moments when you start thinking something simple like “I wonder if there are any good movies playing this weekend.” and it mutates into “I wonder if I should buy my own website domain.” 

My mind just started to wander through all the things I have to do and things I want to do and two hours later I was still thinking. What kind of leaders will my generation be when we are all grown up? We live our lives on Facebook and YouTube and have no concept of privacy but a great understanding of popularity and the power of view counts. What will we do in 30 years when somebody pulls out a cached store of Facebook photos of the next Prime Minister? What is wrong with us? I could go on. Uhh the internet. It freaks me out sometimes.

Things I was thinking about last night that I still remembered when I woke up this morning:

  1. I sold a textbook at Haven!! I was cleaning my room earlier this spring and I was just transfering my big textbooks from my side table to my bookshelf to my desk to the floor. After a while you just have to be honest with yourself and admit that as much as you loved your Intro to Archaeology class there is no way that you will ever pick up that thousand-page book for a little light reading any time soon. So I put them all up for sale and now when I get back to Ottawa I will have a little surprise waiting for me in the form of a cheque. Money in the bank.
  2. I want to start a podcast. I get about this far into starting in and then I get distracted. I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.
  3. I want to try Tumblr. They say it’s “the easiest way to blog.” And they give you 21 reasons why you will love it. They make a convincing argument, but then again, I am easily impressed. What is up with Tumblr and Flickr and why don’t they want to buy a vowel? Ahh! Ok I just did it. I feel like I am spreading myself too thin. I would rather be really good at a few things than mediocre at a lot of things. I am going to justify this venture by saying that I want to try out a new blogging platform.  (I’m sorry WordPress. Don’t cast me out just yet. This is field research. Archaeology remember?)