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!

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!

2011: A Year in Review

Cities– Waterloo, Kingston, Ottawa, Arthur, Chicago

Books– Getting to Yes, A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance With Dragons, World War Z, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

Discoveries– Trivia at the Drake on Wednesday night, 8tracks, cows, iPhones, instagram

Concerts– Whitebrow, Said the Whale, Broken Social Scene, Weezer, The Tragically Hip, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Lights, Wye Oak, Tennis, Young the Giant, The Naked and Famous, Foster the People, Two Door Cinema Club, The Bloody Beetroots Deathcrew 77, Skrillex, Ok Go, Coldplay, Grouplove, An Horse, Maps & Atlases, Super Mash Bros., Local Natives, Cee Lo, Eminem, The Joy Formidable, Fences, Little Hurricane, Noah & the Whale, City and Colour, Flogging Molly, Boy & Bear, Best Coast, Damian Marley & Nas, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Library Voices, Kanye West and Jay-Z, Born Ruffians, Tokyo Police Club

Fantastic Holiday Weekends– May24 + Canada Day + Thanksgiving

Raptures– None

Lollapalooza– One Amazing Weekend

Steamwhistle Tours– One

Birthdays– 23!!

Oktoberfest– Prosit

Wrapping Up– 2011 was magnificient!! I read some great books, visited a few new places, saw an outrageous number of concerts and spent a lot of quality time with friends and family.

New Years Resolutions– learn how to walk in high heels, see as many or more live shows as this past year, head to Lollapalooza again and maybe Osheaga as well, keep reading great books, take more pictures, win one of these trivia nights at least once, spend as much time with friends and family as possible, get straight A’s, and just try and be a better person.

Cheers to 2012!!!

Schmap Cambridge Guide

Great success.

Almost a month ago I mentioned that one of my photos was nominated to be included in an online guide to Cambridge. Very happy to say this arrived in my inbox over the weekend:

Hi Maggie,
I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo
has been selected for inclusion in the newly released ninth
edition of our Schmap Cambridge Guide

You can see it live on the guide right here, and you can also see it featured on their iPod app here.

Schmap Cambridge Guide Short-List

What a beauty.

Pretty cool email this morning:

Hi Maggie,
I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has
been short-listed for inclusion in the ninth edition of our
Schmap Cambridge Guide, to be published late November 2009.

River Cam

I’ve never heard of this guide, but they want to use my photo and that’s pretty sweet. As long as they give me credit, I say go for it.

Update 11/15/09:
My photo was picked! See it here.

England Shows You a Way Out

Watching out for your health and safety.

 

 Trotting around London I’ve noticed some intersting aspects of the city.

We say exit, they say way out.

We say leash, they say lead.

 We say watch your step, they say mind the gap.

But enough of us and them. Every person I’ve spoken to has been incredibly helpful and polite to a bumbling Canadian tourist such as myself.

The most helpful thing so far: on every crosswalk in London the painted directions LOOK RIGHT and LOOK LEFT.

Update 07/19/09:
Captured a picture of the warning! 

 No accidents so far!