Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mahalo 2011, Aloha 2012

It is now 10pm MST in my part of the world. In less than 2 hours I am going to ring in the New Year. Today is New Years Eve. I am eagerly awaiting the beginning of 2012. This year I am continuing "the season of change" by spending NYE in my apartment with my bf and our two cats instead of going to my parents or out to a party. It has been years since we have stayed home for a holiday.


This change brought about great things. The bf and I were able to clean up the house, wash, dry and put away laundry, put new sheets and pillows, wash the dishes and clean the kitty litter among other things! I on the other hand paid off our bills, got our calendar sorted and ready for January, deleted ALL my emails and archived the important ones (an amazing feat if I do say so myself) and emailed who I needed to email. HURRAY for us!! Clean house and a clean mind for NYE is a great beginning for 2012 ^_^

My last TO DO list (besides throwing the garbage w/ the bf (symbolic)) would be to write a blog to summarize 2011. As part of our new tradition for our girls get together, my friends and I did a "Christmas Letter" to tell one another what has happened to us in the last year. Through this I have been inspired to write one for my blog. While writing a very personal letter to my friends, my heart and soul lifted into the air since it felt like a great release from keeping everything inside. Putting my thoughts into words has always been a great outlet for me and I can't wait to keep doing this again! It's a great way to take stock of what has happened, to shed the old and welcome the new.

My Journey in Words - 2011

2011 started off looking very promising for me. I had a great outlook for the New Years filled with resolutions to be a better person, body, mind and spirit. Thinking back on it now I did put a lot of pressure on myself. A lot was going on that year. School, new promotion, and lots of stress trying to keep a balanced life.

During this time, I was already in the midst of one of the worst depression periods in my life. It became so bad that I was having panic attacks at work and having major episodes that I couldn't leave the house for days on end. As predicted, shit hit the fan and I ended taking up a sick leave for a while to figure things out and concentrate on my life. My time off was hauntingly creepy yet peaceful. I didn't have the distraction that the office and school offered. I actually had to face my problems and battle my demons. Gladly through the help of family, professionals, guardian angels and through my hard work, I was able to rise above my darkest hole and climb out. The one thing that came out of this was an epiphany - that I needed to go back to school and pursue a higher education so I can have an even better job.
 
 
The same day in February, I met my employer for tea to hand in my resignation letter and in the afternoon I went to my first day of school to upgrade my English. I was able to succeed in this and prove to myself that I still had what it takes to make it and that I was anything but a failure. My teacher had given me a Resiliency Award recognizing my hard work and I ended up having the highest grades in class. Most importantly, I met some cool people with different personalities and they've opened my eyes to so much. They've shared their passions and in turn lit a fire under me.
 
 
Another highlights this year was how many adventures I had by putting myself out there instead of hiding in my bedroom! Friends and I formed a team and joined BeCause, a United Way organization to join their Why?Race inner-city scavenger race. This was such a great cause and an awesome time to get to know my city and spend the day with friends. Another volunteer opp. was being a Stage Manager for the Lilac Festival. Having absolutely no experience, I accepted the job and everything went well! No late acts or boos from the crowd - PHEW!
 
 
I also celebrated my Quarter of a Century birthday this year and it included a summer adventure - a full day of Horseback Riding and White Water Rafting with 8 of my closest friends! It was such an amazing experience!!
My friendships and the strength of my character has also been tested greatly this year. My friend of 13 years and I separated ways. After a lot of soul searching, I made the decision to end the friendship and through the process of getting through the anger and hurt, I was able to realize how strong I was on my own. It made me realize what I was capable off and encouraged me to not only strengthen the friendships I already had, but also to reach out to others I never would have thought of doing. It forced me to define and erect boundaries in my relationships with everyone in my life which before was very weak. It also made me see what kind of friend I had been and make amends and changes to those flawed characteristics as best I can. I realize that to have good friends, I first had to be a good friend myself and a better person in general.
Close to the end of the year I have returned to meditation and it has given me peace of mind and much needed clarity.

And that's the gist of my 2011 so far. It was a year of twist and turns and lessons learned. I was able to rise against the obstacles life threw at me, and now I am here awaiting the possibilities of what 2012 will offer.
I have no resolutions this year.
My slate is clean and I am choosing to keep it that way so I can better adapt to what's to come.
As my fave go to quote says: "God never gives me anything I can't handle." All I need to do is believe in myself that I am strong enough to handle anything and yet humble and grateful enough to enjoy life's many amazing blessings.
Have a great 2012 everyone and may it be a prosperous one full of happiness and contentment.



Off to watch coverage of the world ringing in the New Year cozying up with my man and a glass of wine in my hand. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meaningful Gift - In Lieu of Christmas cards

Dear friends and family,

In lieu of giving out Christmas cards this year, a donation has been made in your name to the Living Gifts program via Ten Thousand Villages and The Mennonite Central Committee.

The money that would have been used to purchase christmas cards including increasing costs of national and international postage -  instead bought a Maasai family in Kenya's Rift Valley a Goat of their very own!

Photo courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages

Taken from Ten Thousand Villages website:

"In Kenya’s Rift Valley, Maasai families have for generations traveled with their cattle and goats, migrating for grazing pastures and water. Today, as Kenya’s population grows, families must find ways to support themselves in one place. MCC is working with partners to train Maasai in agricultural practices and livestock management, providing families with goats that are bred for their ability to resist disease and produce high milk yields. Families give the first-born goat kid back to the program. The goat’s future offspring may then be used to build their herd and produce more milk or may be sold to pay school fees or buy additional food for the family.

Your gift of food does more than provide an animal. It gives families and communities the power to improve their own lives."

Rest assured that you have not been forgotten. May this gift bring you joy as it has given hope to someone in need.

Sincerely,

Gracelyn

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And for those that are interested in doing something like this, I very much encourage you to do so!! There's a whole bunch of them out there. Here's a list of the ones I've come across:

  • Ten Thousand Villages - Living Gifts = A fair trade organization that "...creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships." They partner with MCC. This is my second time donating to them and have never had issues. First was in one of their fair trade locations which has a bunch of neat stuff you'd never find anywhere else! This year I purchased online. Both methods have been hassle free!
  • Unicef - Survival Gifts = Lots of very interesting choices you'd be surprise people in poor countries actually need and prices ranging from $10+. During previous years, I usually buy their Christmas cards at an Ikea kiosk and the money goes towards aids, women empowerment, school supplies, etc. And the cards are beautifully done.
  • Plan Canada - Gifts of Hope = An organization that matches your gift! An example is a gift of Mango Trees for $100 is matched to be worth $700! Amazing!
  • Mennonite Committee Central = Usually I stay away from "religious" based charities, but the convenience of their partnership with Ten Thousand Villages gave me no choice. They do great work around the world and at the end of the day, charity is charity, no matter what religion you choose or not choose to follow.
  • World Food Programme - Gift of Hope = Give a gift that feeds hunger in Ethiopia. Your donation is matched by the folks at LG.
  • UEnd:poverty = I found this by fluke. The barrista at a local organic coffee shop introduced me to this charity. Very interesting concept where you can donate by country and by cause. LOTS to choose from that covers pretty much all causes that may be dear to your heart.
And of course there are charities that are closer to home. Check your local charities, food banks, shelters, etc. to see what you can do to help!

Giving a gift of hope to someone is a very rewarding experience. I am very lucky and blessed to be living in a prosperous country and in my own little way, this is a chance to spread my blessings.

Do you know of any charities to add to this list? I welcome your opinions, experiences and suggestions!!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Oyster

Another brilliant poem from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul





THE OYSTER

There once was an oyster                        
Whose story I tell,
Who found some sand
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
But it gave him a great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they're so plain.

Now, did he berate
The harsh workings of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?

No--he said to himself
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled around,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
Destiny--stew.

And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral;
For isn't it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?

What couldn't we do
If we'd only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finding Solitude in nature



When I was in junior high I used to borrow a bunch of Solitudes CDs from the library and play them in the background while studying. They always put me at ease after a stressful day of navigating school work and a part-time job. Best of all they calmed my raging teen hormones quiet well. Thinking back on it now, thank goodness for Solitudes!!

So last night after work, for the first time I decided to listen to relaxation music while going out for a walk. WOW what an AMAZING experience it was!

Relaxing music + soft breeze and fresh air + quiet white surroundings = Pure Bliss! ❤

 Here are some pics I took while on that walk.


Winter is such a magical time, not just because of the holidays, but of how peaceful the landscape is. There is a hush, a quiet stillness of the earth hibernating and the peacefulness and serenity of it all. It may be freezing cold, but walks during the winter almost beats walks in the summer.


Caught a glimpse of the sunset! What a great pop of color amidst all that white.




Footprints in the snow! Mine and a bunny rabbit's.  The one on the right is an attempt to show how deep the snow was on some parts of the hill. This part was up to my knees!


Winter is here and I'm planning to enjoy EVERY minute of it; blizzards, frostbites, late buses and all!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gift Wish List


It's that time of year again!! Christmas is just around the corner and some of us are racking our brains trying to think of what to get that person on our list. If you're the gift giver, you know how frustrating the quest to get the "perfect" gift can be! As if we need more to worry about during this ever growing stressful season.

On the other hand, ever been asked a kazillion times "What do you want for Christmas/Birthday/?" When I get asked this, I draw a total blank! How cruel can faith be when you've got this long list of wants...eerr.."needs and must-haves" and nothing, NADA, zip comes to mind!? And what is up with the guilty voice that choose to come in that moment! This is what goes through my head: "How selfish am I if I say something? What if this person can't afford it? What if it's going to take forever for him/her to find it? What if they don't even know what I'm talking about and end up getting me that ugly sweater that can moonlight as a backscratcher!?" :-O Oh dear!!

So this year things are going to change. It's going to be more organized. Below is My "OMG I just HAVE to have this or I will diiiiiiieeeee!!! List.


P.S. Lovely friends and family, feel free to take notes. And for those that want to give us a "Couple Gift", don't despair. It's at the bottom. See how thoughtful I am making this super easy for y'all? he he he ^_^


*** Let me be clear: THIS IS A GUIDELINE. In no way, shape or form am I forcing anyone to buy me anything! ***



 House booties from Superstore
 I ❤ the tribal pattern on these. Super cozy for my cold toes for only $12. What a steal!

These two above are from Bed Bath & Beyond. One on the left unfolds into 3 different sections for necklaces, bracelets and earings! The one on the right is strictly for necklaces which is encased in a glass plastic case. Perfect for my collection ^^

I ❤ these! I first saw something similar to them at Banff years ago for $40! These are only $12 at Winners! My favorite is the lady in the red gown. Next is the one on the right with the tutu silver skirt. Perfect for necklaces!

I may not own a lot of makeup but nevertheless, my makeup "collection" needs organization at its best! Has spots for brushes, lipsticks, etc. Having them all organized and laid out properly could inspire me to be the next Promise Tamang! .....ok..that is reaching..but a girl can dream =D

Roxy Biker Jacket in Bronze (Medium) - Winners $27.99
My black biker jacket was stolen at the mall recently T_T. This would be an awesome replacement! So soft and feels like leather.

Tea Tree set for acne prone skin - The Body Shop
I have always wanted to try out a Body Shop face regime.

 Cosmetic Warrior by Lush
I love love love their product!!

Bedazzled Card Holder from Winners for $9.99

Patent Leatherette Chainstrap Handbag in Coral ($27.80) - Forever XXI
I have had my eye on this "FOREVER" (yeaaaa..wink wink). So close to buying it before but the only one they had instore had a scratch. But I'm super glad I waited because the price dropped from $35!


Above are GIFT CARDS galore! STILL can't find a present to get me? Here are some GCs that I would ❤ to get and would actually use!
1. H&M
2. Cadillac Fairview shop card for Chinook Mall
3. Core TD Square mall GC
4. Forever  XXI Gift card

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