Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Choose Wisely

Whenever I go to an NA meeting, the one theme that flows through the evening's shares repeatedly is the Value of Friendship. And how your best shot at staying clean is to surround yourself with people just as committed as you are to living a drug-and-alcohol-free life.

And if you're new to the program, you're to look around and watch the guys doing recovery. Who do you admire? Who is inspiring? Who has a good support system in place? Who gives back? Become friends with those people. 

Which sounds alot like a pinterest quote, no?

I just spent the evening with a group of friends who inspire me.

Each of them came into my life at different times and not all of them knew each other until, well, one day they did. We meet about half a dozen times a year and talk. And eat. And every time I drive home, I remember one of two of the conversations during the evening that makes me smile. And spurs me on to be a better person. More forgiving. More generous. More fun. More creative. More patient. More tolerant. More better.

I am lucky indeed.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Pinterest
2. Wisdom
3.  Friendship


Monday, December 15, 2014

7 Lists That Will Change Your Life. #5 Will Shock You.

Just kidding.

No lists.

Nothing shocking here.

This is an experiment to see if a tantalizing title entices more people to click the link. I'll let you know my findings in the next day or so.


Maybe I do feel a list coming on....


A List.

How To Survive December:

1. Get plenty of rest.
2. Watch every single holiday movie ever made; especially ones produced by Hallmark or the W Network. Two or three per night is not excessive. PVRs were invented for exactly this purpose. They are relaxing and allow your brain to sleep while viewing.
4. Prioritize your time and budget your available energy. Be diligent about setting up boundaries. Say "no" more than "yes".
5. Plan ahead so that the bulk of your Christmas shopping and seasonal baking are completed before the first of the month.
7. In anticipation of the heavy meals and yummy desserts coming your way on the 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st and 1st, make sure you diet beforehand, losing 10 pounds before the Christmas meals are served. This is wise advice. Take heed.
8. And for fun? Exercise daily. You will not regret the hours spent doing sits ups and squats when everyone else is wearing their 'Turkey' pants after The Big Meal.
10. Be as inflexible as possible regarding the day you celebrate. Christmas is on the 25th.  Period. Make sure everyone knows, years in advance, so there are no misunderstandings. Easy.

On the other hand, this is How Jane is Surviving December.


1. Sleep 5 - 6 hours a night. More on weekends. I'll catch up on those missing hours in heaven or at the care home.

2. Spend time with people; one on one. Friends or family, either, or. Doesn't matter. There's always someone who needs to laugh. And someone who needs to cry. I'm up for either. Then come home and spend time by myself. To recharge.

3. Am outside every time the rain stops. Fresh air is a good thing.

4. Go to my happy places every chance I get. It helps that I have a long list of happy places.

5. Am spontaneous. It's surprising how extending last minute invitations are sometimes EXACTLY perfect. (Like today. At 2:45:
Me: You busy?
Her: No.
Me: I have an idea.
Her: I'm listening.
Me: Vancouver? Look at the big Christmas Tree display. Walk around downtown. Get a hot beverage when our hands get cold?
Her: Yes,
Me: I'll be there in 15 minutes. )

6. Avoid holiday movies like they are fattening.
Me: I can't watch them.
Her: They are so perfect. IDEAL entertainment.
Me, to myself: I don't think we can continue this friendship.
Me, out loud: They are so predictable. Single woman gets the guy. Broken relationships are restored.
Her: Do you want me to take notes for you?
Me: WHaaaa?
Her: Might learn something about getting the guy. You probably have to be prepared to sleep with him though.
Me: Whaaaa?
Her: Jus sayin like.

7. Ingest massive amounts of Vitamin D. And something else, called Happy. Or Joy. Or Smile. Or something. Trust the lady from the Health Food Store.

8. Change traditions and Christmas dinner plans so that everyone gets a piece of the kids and all 129,874 family members are happy. Feel like a fricken bawse once negotiations are successfully concluded. Celebrate with chocolate and tuna casserole. In that order.

9. Determine that surprise gifts are over-rated. Arrange a shopping date for those you care about most.  It's a win-win solution; time spent with loved one and perfect gift purchased.

10. Pray. Cover the whole month in prayer and hope for the best.

Two lists done.
Like a boss.

And one more for good luck:

Three Things I'm Thankful for:

1. People and places.
2. Thick, warm bathrobe.
3. Songs that affirm the feelings.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sat errrr Day

I'm on a roll.

Christmas shopping with Clint on Thursday night.
Christmas shopping with Max today.

Pretty much done now. Haha.
That was easy.

We were finished by 4, so as he drove east to go back home,

I drove west to watch the sun set ....

and to think about a few things ...

Someone who I've been praying for, someone I celebrated clean time with, someone who had chalked up a number of sober years, got loaded, made a mess of things, ended up in jail and I am just sad.

And I read a HUMANS OF NEW YORK profile on Facebook where a young man's interview piece includes:
“She settled me down for a little while, but soon my demons caught up with me. I started getting bored, so I started going out in the evenings. Ever since I was young, I always had this fear that if I stayed home for the night, I was going to miss out on something. So I’d go out drinking, then I’d wake up the next morning with her wagging her finger at me, and I’d feel bad, which would make me start drinking again. The final straw was when her six-year old son saw me drunk. He’d never seen me drunk before, and it scared him. So she broke up with me. That’s when I really went crazy. After a couple years, I checked myself into rehab. After I got out, I met a new girl. But after awhile my demons caught up with me.”

... and that makes me sad too.

I guess I'm just going to keep on praying for the folks I care about who are struggling with drug and alcohol addictions.

I don't know what else to do.

I also had a bit of a chat with God out there on the beach.
2014 is ending soon.

Am I where I'm supposed to be?
Am I living my best life?

Is this what He had in mind when He created me?

It's a little embarrassing to admit but I had this niggling of an idea that when I ended up here, at my mom's place, with all my books in boxes and all my assets in the bank - that God was preparing me for a grand adventure.
Or death.

I was OK with either.



I read too many books. I understand story arcs. It felt like the plot of my life was moving towards something significant.

Life in Surrey isn't so much of an adventure. It's mostly just ...
well, living.

24 hours at a time.

Which is lovely. And awesome.
And, 16 years ago, I would not have expected it.
("It" being a good life.)

It's just that it felt like I was being prepared for something different.

So, I daydreamed a little. About all the possibilities.
And all the options.

And I tried to be realistic, (yes, I was attempting to control my daydreams and keep them realistic) but my imagination can be creative when it sets its mind to and my daydreams turned to fantasies and well, OK, they were crazy.

(And example? Well, this isn't it, but would be considered just as outrageous... I'd be working for a magazine publisher, as a part time special projects manager and part time as a photo journalist, writing articles on travelling as a single woman. And I could choose the locations. So I would only go to interesting ones. .Where I could wear flip flops and tank tops.  And I'd have a flat stomach. And I'd do 6 features a year. And I'd live in a penthouse. Near an ocean, lake or river. And it would never rain again.)

Like I said, that wasn't one of my daydreams. (This is why I loved the Walter Mitty movie so much. I SO get the 'zone outs'.) But probably just as silly.

Anyway, this week, my favorite fantasy came to a crashing halt. I think God may have been fed up with the amount of time I spend living in an alternate reality. This week, He said 'no'. "No, Jane. That is not the life I have in mind for you. Please stop thinking about it."


I may have cried a little.

I know He's not being mean. He has a plan specially designed for me. And it probably involves staying in Surrey, working at Focus, living with or near my mom, visiting my dad, spending time with my kids, walking and talking with friends, and praying for everything I can't control. Like I said, a good life. But not one that includes teaching folks on cruise ships how to create photo books with the pictures they've taken.

Anyway, there at the beach tonight, (pffft. "Tonight". It was barely 4:30 in the afternoon) I gave it all back to Him.

"OKFINE. I'll trust You in this. My life is in Your hands. Could You give me a new daydream? Something fun to think about?

And to confirm. I am living the life You want me to, correct? I am where I should be? Doing what I'm supposed to do? Because if I'm not, just go on ahead and make some adjustments. If I'm not moving through a door You opened, then give me a push. Or if I'm pushing against a locked door, then pull me away from it. YOLO, so I want to do it right."

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Beaches in winter
2. Tonight's entertainment: Frozen. (LOVE this movie. Hahaha.) A Long Way Down. (Quirky and painful at times, but hope-filled and inspiring.) (Side note. I tweeted that I'd enjoyed the movie and added one of the star's names to the tweet. He tweeted back, "thanks, x.") (Cheap thrills on a Saturday night.) And I Capture the Castle (which I LOVED as a book.)

3. I am loved by He who created the heavens and the earth. That's no small thing.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Vancouver in December

The rain stopped.

So I went outside.

And it was good.

On Thursday night, Clint and I went Christmas shopping at the downtown Costco. And then out for dinner. After I dropped him off at his office, I drove over to Science World, parked, and wandered the sea wall for a few minutes before heading over to Max's to drop off some food.

The city was just shimmering with loveliness, and I had a longing to return. With someone. To walk the seawall with. Earlier in the evening.

22 hours later, I was back again with a friend.

We walked for 2 hours.

... and had the seawall to ourselves.

We stopped at Urban Fare for macaroons:

... which we ate OUTSIDE ...

.... in December.


We walked back.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Days with no rain.
2. Friday nights.
3. Vancouver.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pssst. You're beautiful.

A friend is having a rough time communicating with her lawyer about her separation.  I am absolutely heartbroken for her and the pain she's in. Her marriage is over and her life will never be the same. Her children and grandchildren's lives will be affected forever. And she is a hot mess. So I offered to draft a letter for her.

And I owe another friend one last chapter review on the book she's writing.

And I'm negotiating Christmas gatherings and family time and I'm wanting to be selfish but will aim for being fair.

And I visited with my dad this evening for a few hours and he was relaxed and happy to have me push him around the building for an hour before we settled in to watch Crocodile Dundee. And as we relaxed in his room, one of the residents wandered in with a vacant look in his eye, touched a few things and shuffled out again. "Poor guy," my dad says with compassion and it makes me cry. My dad with his huge heart, especially for the 'underdog'. He's always had a soft spot for the forgotten. The lost. The picked on. The unpopular. (I think James Dean's affection for the loser kid in Rebel Without A  Cause is what inspired him to care for those who get beaten up.) Haha. James Dean mentored my dad.

Anyways, all of these things were on my mind all day, but all took a back seat to this thing that kept jumping to the forefront. It was a blog post I saw on Facebook. Read it here.

I forwarded the link to a friend and we chatted online about it for an hour. We went back and forth and around in circles talking about beauty and marriages and self confidence and love.

For the better part of my life, I have believed that I was ugly.
When I was young, I was skinny. Too skinny. So skinny that I was at the doctor's often because my mom was worried about my health. I was pale and thin and gawky and shy and insecure and thought there was something wrong with me.

Then when I hit my teens I got some nice boobs and a defined waist and a cheeky bum and didn't look so skinny anymore. But oh. The acne. SO MUCH ACNE. I was at the dermatologists office at least once a week all through my high school years, because my face. Such a mess.

Then I got a boyfriend who thought I was beautiful. Very beautiful. He told me often and I believed that he thought I was. And really? A girl only needs one boy to make her feel beautiful. Doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks. Doesn't even matter what she herself thinks.That one boy? Makes all the difference.

That blog post reminded how awesome it felt to have a husband whisper, every morning,  "I love you, Beauts" in my ear before he kissed me on the cheek while I was still in bed and he was on his way to work.

And that blog post reminded me how devastating it was when he quit.

And that blog post made me happy for the writer, because she is loved. And a loved woman? Is stunning.

I'm this many years old. And for ten of them I felt acceptably pretty. And the rest of them? Not only did I feel 'not pretty' ... I believed I was ugly. I shied away from cameras, people, social situations, mirrors, pretty clothes, jewellery, men, my kids, because I was not attractive.

That's 80% of my life.

And it wasn't until a year ago, when Max asked, "Why don't you sign up for online dating"?
And I replied, "Seriously? Why would I put myself through that? Look at me. Haha. No one is interested in this..."
And he looked stunned. "WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? You look like a normal mom. You look like everyone else your age."

Which was the closest thing to a compliment I've heard about my looks in twenty years. And it was the spark that initiated a decision to stop beating myself up. I've been forcing myself to take selfies (hahah) this past year for two reasons:
1. To get used to seeing photos of myself and not cringing everytime. (It took a whole lot of courage to post a photo of my face on Facebook as a profile pic. Prior to this year? It was usually just my hair. Or a sunset. Or an out of focus image. Or a pic of  younger me.)
2. To have photos for my funeral slideshow.

The last thing about that blog post that I love?
My friend Tricia (blogger from Florida/North Carolina) had just posted on her blog that she'd gained 15 pounds and didn't want to be photographed in any of her outfits. HER HUSBAND found this article (on husbands saying their wives are beautiful, which is over a year old), and posted it to her facebook page and said,  Tricia -  If you won't believe me, maybe you will believe this. 

I get all puddly when I hear of men who still love their wives after 30 years. If you've got one, go give him a hug. Or something.

And if you've got a daughter? Raise her to believe she is beautiful and worthy even if a man doesn't whisper it in her ear.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Bloggers.
2. Men who love their women well.
3. This day is done.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

And December Marches On

And so the season begins.

That chaotic season of never-ending busy-ness...

Work has been crazy. SO many unexpected challenges on every project.
(Aaack! Twenty five thousand yellow BRE's are stuck in Winnipeg! Forty thousand letters were printed with only 95% black ink! Thirty thousand magazines were delivered to the wrong warehouse! Six hundred, but possibly thousands of shells are missing the red ink! And so on.)

My days have been filled with looking for good Plan B's.
Exhausting I tell you.

Thank goodness my evenings are fun.


My favorite moment from this week was the hour I spent at Vivid having Danica pamper my head. When I arrived, she was working on Emma's hair:

OH MY GOODNESS, I absolutely the colours.
SO vibrant.
SO rich.
SO playful.

I loved watching her work.
Such confidence. Such skill. Such joy.

After Emma left, she did mine.
Way more boring.
But age appropriate.

From there I popped in to see Drew:

He had a decorated tree all set up and a Christmas village on display. Hockey game on the TV, and a pizza on the way. He's a pretty happy camper in his basement suite.

From there, I went to my first Christmas party with Focus.

Food was delicious. My table mates were awesome. And it was over before 9.
Everything you'd want in a work party.


My next most favorite moment.
Eating Mac and Cheese from a FOOD TRUCK.
Oh, My. Goodness. SO, so, so very tasty.

There were about a dozen trucks to choose from, all parked outside the PNE forum which was home to the Vancouver Make It show. (Which was pretty incredible. Seriously talented artisans selling their unique creations from creatively decorated booths. I was time warped back to the '80's when my mom and I used to do all the local fairs, looking for products for Billie's Country.)  Anyways, those food trucks? All sold meals that looked and smelled divine.

And now that I've tasted a sampling?

I will be keeping an eye on where those trucks park this summer, and plan my weekends following them around. Because the food is worth it.

And I have a shallow life. Following food trucks around? YES PLEASE.



Speaking of food...

Mandi and I walked to Guildford to buy a loaf of bread.
Her idea.
And I needed the exercise.

So we bundled up. putting on way too many layers and walked for an hour to get to the mall.
And then we bought that loaf of bread.
It was from Cobb's.
And it was their Cinnamon Loaf. WITH NO RAISINS.

She handed me a slice before she put the loaf into her backpack.

That bread? Tastes like heaven.
I could've eaten half a dozen slices right then and there. But she didn't offer.

I will go back to the mall tomorrow.
And buy my own loaf.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1.Got to play around in the photo studio at work this week, using the white back drop and those big lights. Realized I have so much to learn about taking head shots.

I took a gazillion shots of the kids above (not kids, really. Very talented designers is who they are. Very patient people, too. They moved lights, adjusted settings and were Extremely Kind about my lack of skills.

In the end, the goal was to get one good shot of this guy:

2. I am thankful for the kitchen tables at friends' houses. So many good conversations take place there. And, well, the food on those tables is pretty fine as well...

3. I am thankful for answered prayer. And I'm surprised by answered prayer too. WHY IS THAT? And I'm thankful for church. And Advil. And washers and dryers. And clean sheets. And fresh air. And long walks with wonderful nieces, who carry home the Christmas present you unexpectedly bought after she got a loaf of bread. And I'm thankful for this warm house. And left over soup from last weekend's Bake Off with my kids. And I'm thankful for Christmas Cards. And words. Oh my goodness, I love words. So thankful for people who know how to use them wisely, creatively, purposefully, carefully.

Shalom friends.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Currently - Nov 2014

I am currently:

Obsessing over,
Working on, 
Thinking about, 
Listening to,
Praying for,
Happy about.  

1. I am currently obsessing over:
  • My right heel. Haha. Pretty sure I've got a bone spur on it. Man. 
  • I am currently obsessing over NOT obsessing about Christmas. 
  • My retirement. I recently celebrated my two year anniversary at Focus, meaning I now qualify for their RRSP program. Using a handy calculating tool, I was able to see how much money I should set aside each month in order to retire with the lifestyle in which I've grown accustomed. Good gracious. I need to set aside 80% of my income. So. Lower my expectations. Or work until I go to heaven. Or probably both.

2. I am currently working on:
  • Getting walking back into my life again. (Which admittedly, will be difficult, what with the bone spur on my heel.) 
  • Learning how to use all my remotes. 
  • Sticking up for myself now and then.
  • Writing out Christmas cards. 
  • Reviewing the last chapter of that book on book on Apologetics. It's very good, by the way. 

3. I am thinking about:
  • This season. And how hard it is for some. I'm embarrassed by my whining. There are others with broken hearts, broken lives. I'm thinking I need to shut up already. 
  • Dating. And recent conversations I've had with friends who are meeting men on Match and POF. And no part of their experiences sound like fun. Even though they are enjoying themselves, the whole thing just sounds scary awful to me. But they're both extroverts, so maybe that's a key element to the whole online dating process.
  • I am thinking about Sunday afternoon. First day of Advent. And how the kids were over. (To bake and cook. It's our new tradition. TWO YEARS IN A ROW, DOES SO MAKE IT A TRADITION.) And I am thinking about my highlights from the afternoon: 
  • a. There were two girls here. Smelling lovely and adding a touch of pretty to the proceedings. 
  • b. Drew, unexpectedly, and for no reason, as far as I could tell, gave me a hug. A long one. He hadn't just arrived. He wasn't on his way out. It was just a spontaneous hug. In the middle of kitchen. In the middle of the day. 
  • c. Clint. while rolling out dough, looked up said, "Mom? You got some great shots at the wedding. Really good."
  • d. As we were dividing up the soups and baked things at the end of the day, Max took his big tray of baking, removed a few items for himself, and said he'd be sharing his tray with folks who turned up to that evening's NA meeting.

4. I am anticipating:
  • December. I'm anticipating December. And all that this month brings. Dinners. Movies. And shopping. And probably more shopping. And Christmas carols. And seeing my kids. And no travelling to warm destinations. 
  • I am anticipating 2015. NEW LISTS. NEW PLANS. NEW EVERYTHING.
  • I am anticipating watching OUTLANDER in April. On the TV in my basement den. 
  • And other than that? I am anticipating nothing.

5. I am listening to:
  • Additions to my playlist this month include selections by Martin Smith. 
  • And Christmas Carols by Pentatonix

6. I am eating:
  • Nothing right now. BUT earlier? Christmas baking. Eis Gipel by the OBros. And shortbread too. PLUS, we made HUGE batches of two different types of soups. Everyone took home icecream buckets of soup. Because it's almost winter. And nothing says I love you like soup on a cold day. 

7. I am praying for:
  • Martin Smith's UK concerts this month.
  • Upcoming Christmas services and the folks who are leading them.
  • The folks who are turning to drugs and alcohol to help them get through their days. And their families. 
  • My kids. Their friends.
  • My friends. Their kids.
  • The entertainment industry; specifically a few actors, directors, producers, musicians, writers...
  • My Compassion kids.
  • My retirement. Haha. 
  • My kids. 
  • Folks I love who need meaningful work.
  • NA and AA meetings around the world. 
  • My dad and mom.
  • My kids.

8. I am reading:

  • Gathering Blue for the next book club meeting.

  • Plus, in November, I finished: The Funny Thing Is by Ellen Degeneres, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, Road Ends by Mary Lawson, The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

9. I am remembering:
  • A very good month. Even though it did start out rough with that tooth extraction 'n all... But Disneyland! Palm Springs! Wedding! Concerts! (Oy. What the heck? Four exclamation marks?)
  • I am remembering last year at this time: First Sunday of Advent - All the kids were over and we baked. And it was a good nite.

First Advent: 2013

Grey Cup Sunday, 2006. Max, sharing his story. 

10. I am happy about:
  • My mouth has healed. It doesn't look like this anymore:

  • This unexpected gift from a friend. It's a cream. That smells like CHOCOLATE. And I'm using on my hands at work. AND I LOVE IT.

  • And I'm happy about my ongoing photo year book project. I thought I'd lost it, but phew. Nope. Picaboo just has a weird saving system. I've formatted 22 page spreads for the months of Jan - April 2014. 

And that's it for November. 

Shalom friends. Peace to you -

Sunday, November 30, 2014


I took Friday off.
And cancelled that doctor's appointment.
And stayed in bed til noon. 

Know how to waste a day off.

Mandi and I walked in the afternoon:

(Notice the blue sky.)

By the time we got back, 15,000 steps and two hours later:

Because I am out of touch with the real world, I thought I'd zip up to Guildford to pick up Q-Tips and make-up.



The whole world was at the mall.

I got what I needed, stood in line for eternity, then met Jenn and Yaunna to see a late movie.

And when we got out of the theatre at midnight:


Snow, in a pretty, not at all annoying sort of way.

SO thankful I spent the $1000 on Tuesday to get my truck all winterized. 

And when I got back to my mom's:

And when I woke up today? (Saturday?)

Back to blue skies again...

Bipolar weather.

I like it.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. My sister. She does my hair. And I never, ever worry about what its going to look like. And she sometimes feeds me cake.
Her: Try this?
Me: Sure. What is it?
Her: Something from Pinterest.
Me: WHAT? You actually tried something from Pinterest.
Her: I wanted to have something different for dessert for Christmas this year.
Me: Thissss isss good. What's in it?
Her: Brownies. Smarties. Ice Cream. Whip Cream....

Christmas dinner is gonna end with an awfully delicious dessert.

2. I'm thankful for how pretty our world is:

3. Thankful for Christmas Carols. I KNOW! I never thought I'd ever say that, but tonight at church? They were exactly perfect. Upbeat. Hope-filled.

And I don't know if it's because I saw Whiplash this week or not, but I was very attentive to the drumming, and well, I think tonight's band had a very fine musician pounding away back there.

4. Thankful for friends who don't mind waiting til 7:30 to get together on Saturday nights. 

Friday, November 28, 2014


Her, at 4 pm today: Actually, you have TWO flex days left this year. You'll have to use one in November and one in December.

Me: There's only one work day left in November ...

Her: I guess you'll be taking tomorrow off, then?


So, yes.
Unexpectedly, I will be taking Friday off.
I have no plans.
I am going no where.
And I have no one to do nothing with.

I am wasting my November Flex day JUST LIKE I DID LAST YEAR.
(Last year, in case you're not into clicking links, I ended up getting a mamogram , blood tests and an eyebrow threading.)

Funnily enough, I have a doctor's appointment for a complete physical, scheduled weeks ago, for late tomorrow afternoon. I am so not interested in 'wasting' a Flex day on an examining table. And, you know. Having, erhm, stuff done.

I'll probably get up early, just to cancel.


When I went back in the archives to Nov 2013 to find the post that I linked above I ended up reading about my November last year.
WHOA, I did a lot of walking. Last year? We had a lot of beautiful, clear nights. This has not been the case this year.

This year? In November? I've seen alot of movies:

And read a few books:

Which is why my bum is bigger this year than it was last year. 

Three things I'm thankful for:

1, An unexpected day off.
2. Advent. This Sunday. Kids are coming over to bake. 
3. He is bigger than.

Shalom friends.