One Moment, Please …

Just thought I’d surface from the depths to say hi.

To those of you visiting this site for the first time: greetings! Also, I’ve written many posts since the one that probably led you here. This blog isn’t dead, it’s just been … semi-dormant. (I’m working on that now.) But please – feel free to look around!

To those of you who I know, or who have been checking from time to time for any new posts: yes, I’m still alive. I just haven’t had a lot to write about lately … or the time to do so. Sorry about that.

Which brings me to this post.

I’m going on vacation in a few weeks. Where? Well, you’ll have to guess. (Unless we know each other in real life, in which case, I’ve possibly already told you).

But all this preparation has reminded me (once again) that I’ve had two previous trips I’ve never written about.

Well, starting this week, I’m aiming to fix that. I’ll be posting the first of a series of “throwback travel” posts – starting with the trip I took to Cuba in 2016. (Yes. Almost 3 years ago. I know.)

My goal is to post every 2-3 days, but you know what’s been said about best-laid plans. I’m going to try to post most of them before I go. Plus, I’m hoping it’ll help jump-start my motivation for writing … at least, while I travel.

I’m calling it my own brand of March Madness.

So check back here, starting on Monday, for new material from the vault. See you then!

 

 

 

Purging a Little Bag-gage

Some of you might only know me from this blog, or perhaps my podcast.

But if you know me in real life (and some of you do), one thing you’d notice is that I rarely go anywhere without at least one bag on my shoulder or crossing my body.

How many I carry at once depends on what I’m doing. You might be seeing me right after work. Or going to a clothing swap. Or going to work out. Or lugging groceries … you get the picture.

Which leads me to today’s post.

My name is D, and I have a bag hoarding problem.

I have a number of fabric/reusable bags in various stages of use or disrepair. But my real problem lies with my collection of plastic bags.

But D, you ask, you do know you can recycle plastic bags, right?

Um, why yes, I do. But I hold on to plastic bags, because you never know when they’ll come in handy (and not just for disposing items).

I recently decided to do a bit of cleaning and discovered just how many bags I’ve saved for such occasions:

20180213_163216Um. Yeah.

Believe me when I say that this photo doesn’t fully show the scale of my “little” problem.

There were bags within bags, shoved into other bags, crammed under my desk, balled up in one of my closets.

I’d been putting this task off for months, simply because it’s so time-consuming. But about two weeks ago, I got tired of it.

So I pulled up my sleeves, pulled out all these bags, and got down to sorting.

I started with the obvious: recycling bags that have holes or have disintegrated over time.

(Something I learned: over time, biodegradable plastic bags pretty much become plastic confetti that gets everywhere.)

Then, my floor covered in plastic, I made piles according to size and shape.

20180213_175532

Another thing I learned:

I’ve spent a lot of time at Popeye’s Chicken — and I do mean a LOT. It’s a dangerous habit and I need to watch myself.

After arranging the sea of plastic into something a bit more orderly, I went from pile to pile, counting how many of each I had in total, and then cutting down those piles by at least half, but usually much more. So if I had, say 30 bags, I tried to limit the pile to between 10 and 12.

The only exceptions to my arbitrary rule were shopping bags big enough to line my garbage cans, and clear produce bags I could use for organic food scraps.

I also had some big sheets of plastic (former dry-cleaning garment “bags”), which I stored in case I need to paint or re-pot something. (You never know!)

I’m sure there’s a faster way of doing this.  But to make any headway, I chose to do it this way, because seeing what I was doing as I was doing it helped make the task a little less overwhelming.

I spent maybe an hour and a half, two hours at most, but I think I made a decent-sized dent.

The shopping bags meant for garbage cans were stuffed in a small cardboard box that will act as a dispenser. (This was something my mom did in her previous home.)

And after a few trips to the recycling bins in the basement, I felt a small sense of accomplishment.

That is … until I went to store a couple chairs in one of my closets and found this:

20180213_192111**sighs**

See? I told you I had a problem.

Having run out of steam, I shoved it in a corner out of mild frustration, but I did tackle it last week.

We’ll see how long this period of reduced-bag living lasts.

What “problems” or tasks have you put off, and are going to tackle this year?

It could be on your spring cleaning to-do list, or perhaps it’s something that’s been hanging over your head for months, and you’re finally going to do something about it.

Let me know in the comments, if you have time!

Getting A Little Creative

March has just begun, and man, it’s starting to feel a bit busy!

Last month – when I’d originally planned to release this post – the year was still fairly new, and not much was going on.

I was going to reflect on how I hadn’t been feeling particularly creative over the last year, how – despite recent changes at my place of employment – my job, and the duties it entails, have sort of remained the same.

But as I was about to type my intentions into existence … things already have started to shift. Kind of.

Before I get to that, let me back-track a bit.

Last year was supposed to be when I finally started making changes at work – even if they were temporary ones. I contacted a more senior colleague to pick her brain, and perhaps throw my name out there.

Long story short, we couldn’t align our schedules, so I didn’t get to meet with her until mid-July. (The story’s a bit complicated, but it was out of my hands, and I won’t bore you with details.) That meeting led me to dropping by other people’s offices to chat. So at least people know I’m still here.

I’m still struggling to build that bridge, so I’m in the same spot as before. I’m trying to find a way to work on my skill set in my current position, but it feels awkward and uncomfortable.

Maybe I’m suffering from a fear of change, of failure, and of imposter syndrome, so I’m sabotaging myself. Perhaps there’s a part of myself that believes – wrongly – that I’ve worked hard enough and am now entitled to things that I probably haven’t earned.

Colour me conflicted.

Outside of work, I wasn’t achieving creative fulfillment, either. I mean, I had been working on the ongoing podcast I do with my friends Renée and Kath. But it was the only outlet, and I wasn’t parlaying that into other endeavours.

I think a lot of it was probably the result of feeling drained after long days at work, which meant a lack of motivation. If I spent time away from social media, it wasn’t to work on my writing – I spent more time watching Netflix, YouTube and *cough* other sources of TV streaming.

Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with watching Netflix and YouTube as a release. But I didn’t balance it with anything else. And the time I could have spent cultivating another creative outlet, I chose to spend it watching the fruits of other people’s labours.

So this post was going to serve as a type of self-pep-talk …

Which brings me to the present.

I suppose I’ve somehow been putting this sentiment out into the universe … because while things work-wise are still the same, things outside of work are actually starting to pick up.

For starters, the podcast started its third season in January. If  you’ve been visiting regularly, you’ve come across my recent post(s) promoting the most recent episode(s).  I’m trying to do a better job of showcasing it this time around.

(If you’re on my main blog page – not the page for this entry – scroll down for the most recent episode.)

Also, one of my other friends – a very talented writer/screenwriter – approached me in February about joining a project she’s connected with. I’m at the beginning stages of this journey, which means I’m simultaneously excited, and terrified.

(That’s all I’ll say about it for now, but I’ll reveal more further down the road.)

So I’m taking teeny, tiny baby steps toward being more prolific. It won’t happen overnight – far from it. But this is a very good start.

 

Why I Travel

IMAG0426In mere hours, I’m getting on a plane for my second – and final – trip of the year.

Destination: Italy!

But I’m not going alone.

For the first time in my adult life, I’m taking a trip with my mother.

In a way, it’s overdue. You see, she – in large part –  is the reason I travel.

When she was in her early 20s, she travelled thousands of kilometres from Jamaica to northern Wales to study nursing and midwifery.

She ended up living and working in the U.K. for seven years before making the decision to move to Canada.

But for those seven years, all she really did was work. Not once did she set foot upon the European continent.

From what she’s told me in anecdotes, it wasn’t out of a lack of interest, or for lack of trying. On a handful of occasions, she tried to make plans with friends who were fellow nursing students. But they never came to pass.

When in Canada, she did take a handful of trips to cities like New York and Montreal, and made a couple of trips to the Caribbean.

But when she got married and us kids came along, travel abroad was greatly reduced to taking us to Jamaica to visit relatives (when I was 6, 12, and 16).

Even when she retired, she didn’t really travel that far until about five years ago, when she started visiting her good friend (also a retired registered nurse) in Maryland. As it turned out, that friend was an avid traveller, booking a trip every single year whenever she could.

Meanwhile, I spent my early 20s dreaming of travel, but not really getting anywhere. I once applied for a six-month media job in Cambodia with a non-profit organization. But (perhaps to my parents’ absolute relief) no dice. Another time, a high-school friend spoke of going to Japan, which helped re-ignite the desire the travel deep within. I even bought a travel guide in anticipation. But she changed her mind and went to Taiwan. I stayed in Toronto.

I was 26 by the time I finally left on a trip – with my friend Jen – for a one-week, all-inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic. It was a safe choice, and a welcome break after 17 months of continuous casual work. But it marked the beginning of my torrid six-year love affair with travel. At the beginning, I’d either go someplace to visit friends, or go somewhere with a friend.

But the way I travelled changed the year I turned 30. It was supposed to be a trip with a group of friends. But, one by one, each dropped out until, in the middle of July 2007, staring at airfares on a computer screen, I asked myself, “Should I or shouldn’t I?”

And that’s when I remembered the stories my mom told me of being a young twenty-something in the U.K., travel opportunities passing her by because some friend had let her down.

I think I knew where my heart was leading me when I ran it past my mother, and her response to me was less than enthusiastic. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember raising my voice angrily in response. My choice had been made, and it was the best one ever.

In the years since, I’ve travelled to more places than I thought I would (even though it’s all generally in the same hemisphere),. mainly with tour groups. I took a break after 2009, but resumed my travels with gusto in 2012.

Which brings me to this trip.

I wanted to go with my mom because I wanted to share the experience with her while she’s still around and still active enough to see a little part of the world.

She also hasn’t had the best of travel companions. She took a cruise a couple of years ago around the British Isles (and one stop in France), and while she did  enjoy herself to some extent, she had the cabin-mate from hell, who’s a longtime family friend. I’m hoping that Italy will be a better experience.

I’m sure I will enjoy the trip. But to be at my mother’s side as she experiences Italy’s sights and sounds is the thing I’m looking the most forward to.

Only time will tell. If we’re still talking to each other after 12 days, then I will gladly declare our trip an overwhelming success.

But enough blabbering on. I’ve got more packing to do. Enjoy the rest of your September, and I’ll be back posting in October. Arrivederci!

2011: Quit It.

Yep. ‘Tis that time of year.

When folks like myself – glad to be rid of the year that’s just ended – look towards the 12 months that lie ahead.

We hold our heads a little higher. We stand a little taller. We have a bit of a spring in our step, and we even allow ourselves to be a little bit happy, because of the idea that a new year holds all this promise and possibility.

Of course, the novelty will wear off in a matter of days.

But as for right now?

I can’t speak for anyone else. But for me, 2011 is like this huge pile of Play-Doh in my lap. It’s brand-new. It’s a little cool to the touch, but pristine. It’s just sitting there, ready to be shaped.

And just thinking of getting my hands on it, in it, around it, makes me simultaneously giddy and overwhelmed.

I mean, honestly – where do I even start?

Well, I think I have a slight idea.

I remember this article I read in Maclean’s a couple months ago.

It was actually a story in the business section, about how workers will start looking for new employment as economic confidence rises. But the sentence that stuck with me was that 2011 was “shaping up to be the year of the Big Quit.”

So what’s that got to do with the new year?

Well … how about this.

People use the new year as a jumping-off point – or maybe an excuse –  to quit things.

Like smoking … overeating … drinking … swearing … whatever.

And then, I turned to my first post from last year, to see what kind of expectations I’d set up for myself.

It was lame. I just sounded kind of lost. And vague. And completely wishy-washy.

I said maybe I should go with the flow. So I tried to do just that. But all I seemed to do was just float.

I haven’t fallen behind. But I’m not entirely sure I’m that farther ahead, either.

So now what?

Maybe I should just … quit.

Quit kidding myself.

Quit telling myself what I want to hear, in hopes I’ll eventually get what it is I’m looking for.

Quit procrastinating. Quit thinking about coming up with a plan – and start doing just that. Come up with plans of action for myself. Start executing things.

Start getting things done.

Some of the things I’d like to see happen for myself this year, is to:

Quit the three-hour commute. Yeah, yeah, I know. How long have I been saying this for now? Well, here are the cold, hard facts: I stayed at home another year to save more money and then buy a place. I certainly succeeded with the “save more money” part. It was the latter part of my goal which didn’t happen. And it’s probably not going to. Which leaves me with only one other alternative. So this year, I’m going to stop being stubborn and proud, suck it up and get on with it.

Quit filling my life with clutter. This goes hand-in-hand somewhat with the previous point on my wishlist. I’ve actually already started on this, in a way. If I pick away at it weekly, perhaps when I finally leave the nest, the squawking from my parents to take ALL my things with me will be minimal – maybe even non-existent. We’ll see how much I accomplish.

Quit taking my health for granted. Since the 2009 holiday season – hell, who am I kidding? Probably since the summer of 2009 – I feel like I’ve just been eating anything and everything, without using an iota of moderation – eating when I’m bored, or following a stressful moment at work or wherever. And the only form of exercise I get is during my weekly visit to the physiotherapy clinic. And even then, I really don’t want to be there. Plus, my sleeping patterns – especially on work nights – are horrific.

Quit this city – and this country – once in a while. No, I don’t mean move to another country or anything like that. When I decided to save more money to buy real estate, it meant saying sayonara to travelling for a while. And I literally haven’t been ANYWHERE outside the GTA for non-work purposes probably since August 2009. This year, I’d like to make up for lost time. I don’t know how much I can travel – because I still have to watch my finances – but I have to rectify this.

Quit being complacent at work. If someone had drawn a cartoon version of me, I’m sure their interpretation would have included a dark cloud that perpetually hovered over my head during the last 14 months. That has to end. Either I suck it up and find something I like about my job … or I pull up my socks and find a new one, on my own terms.

Quit having NO interests. If you were to ask me what my hobbies and interests were, they’d literally be something along the lines of: reading, eating, partying. No, really. I think part of it has to do with the fact that the amount of time I spend commuting, I could be using to learn a sport, a skill, or language … or even volunteer. Plus, I’m really lethargic on my personal time, because I live at least 20 minutes away from anything of interest to me. If or when the first item on my wishlist is rectified, perhaps I can remedy this.

Quit occasionally blogging. I was particularly bad this year when it came to writing. I guess I wasn’t motivated … and probably a bit down and didn’t think I had anything worth writing about. I need to snap out of it, and make more of an effort.

So, there’s my list. And it’s a tall order.

But this year, I have to quit moping and start living. Because no one else is going to do it for me.

Time to start gettin’ ‘er done.