Getting started

Don't expect words of wisdom or earth shattering revelations, just my thoughts and observations about living in Ottawa, being a public servant and trying to live life every day to its fullest

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shopping - I have given up shopping. I went cold turkey September 1st and am now only purchasing consumable products and cosmetics like soap, shampoo, tooth paste, alcohol. There are a few caveats; I can spend on house and car repairs, I continue to pay my bills and I can shop when I am not in Canada (you should see the boots I bought in London). I can replace essential items of clothing that might die and I can buy presents for friends and family ... not as extreme as some other environmentalists, but it is a start.

Why did I give up shopping? I was feeling to sucked into the consumer cycle of buying for the sake of buying - plus I kept coming home with purple sweaters and kitchen implements. I was spending $100's on little things here and there on a weekly basis that have done nothing to improve my general quality of life. Here in Canada we have a very high standard of living and our lives are pretty sweet - mine is fantastic, and while that fancy garlic press makes my life really easy, I never needed to buy it, or the matching ice-cream scoop, pizza slicer or peeler.

Now that I am no longer shopping, my weekends are not filled with miscellaneous trips to Canadian Tire to buy something for the house (I have started to improvise) or trips through malls battling with hundreds of other people for the same top from some generic store. The urge to spend is being replaced with a calm acknowledgment that the pleasure of whipping out my credit card lasts as long as a cheap Le Chateau top.

I am very lucky and have a fantastic quality of life and access to what I want, when I want it. Now I am taking the time to take stock of what I have a prioritize things. Not purchasing for the sake of purchasing means that I buy what I really need - not what I think I need. I have found myself thinking of all the things I need to buy next year when I start shopping again, but I forget them soon after I put them on my mental list, a sure sign that I never needed them in the first place.

Quick math: If I spend on average $200.00 a month of stuff I don't really need, in a year I save enough money for a return trip to Thailand AND a live-aboard scuba diving trip, talk about being really lucky and having a fantastic life! It could be worse - I could have eight purple sweaters instead of just four!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

AGE - I was at a concert last night watching the lovely Hannah Georges and Royal Wood. Royal Wood is an interesting character and liked to talk to the audience. At one point he decided to talk about how being over 30 is fantastic and he feels like he has come into his own. The first thing I thought was "dude; know your audience!" There were a significant group in the room who were obviously way past 30 and the remarks did come across condescending, I was slightly indignant for their sake. But I got to thinking about the deeper message and how being over 30 is fantastic.

I have to say that 30 was my best year yet! I had a blast. 31 has just not lived up to the expectations brought on by the party last year. Not that 31 has been all that bad and I would rather be here than anywhere in my 20's. I had no problems turning 30 and look forward to turning 32. Full disclosure; the fact that my YOUNGER sister is turning 30 this year freaks me out.  My sister is fighting the "big-30". She wants to stay 29 forever and apart from that fact that staying 29 is so 1980's and overdone, I am not sure why people think the 20's is where it was at. If she wants to hang out at any age, I have suggested 33, although I have yet to try that vintage.

Royal Wood proclaimed (yes, it was a proclamation) that a lot of the insecurities that come along with your 20's seem to be left behind when you hit your 30's, and looking at the last 20+ months, I can agree. While it is not an overnight revelation, I do believe that I have settled more into who I am and what I want. I am willing and able to just go out and get it, set my own path, regardless of what people think.

I went to TimeKode (an monthly Ottawa dance party held in an Ethiopian restaurant) for the first time on Friday and I danced like I was back in University except without the need to get drunk. 2.5 hours just rocking it to the loud music and jostling with people for space to do my own thing. Part of the appeal is that TimeKode is just about the dancing, unlike clubs where it really is a meat market, but I think for the first time in my life, I just let it be and danced. At points I lost my friends in the crowd, and that didn't matter. It was 100% about dancing and just letting go and having fun. I know I would never have been able to do that in my 20's. If a 20 year old is dancing in a club without any of their friends to see them, are they still cool?

Now I am me. I am in my 30's and (at least sometimes seem) to have my life together. Sure, there are things I want to do and places I want to be, but I will make it happen, me. At 30 I am more aware of who I am, what I want and am willing to take responsibility. My learning from last night; delivery can kill an important message and that it really does get better with age.

Monday, November 8, 2010

London vs. Ottawa - I just got back from London (UK) and I am torn. I am 100% a BIG city girl. I grew up in the best city in the world; a city that truly never sleeps, where the lights and energy are always on, and which changes drastically every time I head back - Hong Kong. In three years who new areas emerge, links on the transit system appear on the subway maps and the system for crossing the boarder to China has changed drastically and yet it feels like home as soon as the airplane touches down. My heart has always been in Hong Kong and I probably will never be content until I can spend more than a week there. I live my life with "no regrets" and yet not returning to live in Hong Kong could be my one regret.

London is pretty fantastic too. I have not been there in over three years and yet I still knew my way around the core, I understood the rhythm of the city and the pace of life. Heading to a short play last minute after work, followed by a search for somewhere quiet in Soho for dinner at 9pm on a weeknight; perfectly normal. Walking in the rain, stopping for coffee, dodging taxis and buses along The Strand, just part of the fun. Sure, my knowledge of London is as someone experiencing the city in short bursts, but it reminds me of my true-love lost; Hong Kong. I miss real cities. (Sorry Ottawa, but you are only a large town ... a great town, but still just a town). I need the bustle and variety, I need people ... and underground public transport. I need shops and small little backstreet markets, I need dirt, grit and the under-belly. It makes me feel alive.

Now I am back in Ottawa. I love this city too ... while I miss the hustle and bustle of activity at any time of the day, the ability to slow down, relax and seek nature easily here in Canada's Capital speaks to me and makes me smile - I am eager for the winter and all the wonderful things I can do (none of which would be possible in Hong Kong or London). But I miss the ability to speak to people who have "real" jobs out in the "real" world, no gov-speak; and yet I couldn't think of anything I would rather do that be a public servant for the Government of Canada.

What to do? Where to go? Is it possible to live in London (or Hong Kong) and still spend as much time playing outside in the snow, or hiking? Can I make a difference and contribute for the larger good of Canadians while not living in Ottawa? The choices are endless and the lure of the unknown is great and yet part of me is comfy just hanging here in my house and making my up the civil service ladder. The golden handcuffs are too hard to shake and the possibilities with the public service are endless ... and yet I am starting to feel boxed in - like this is it and my skills might no longer transfer to the world outside.

I feel change brewing on the horizon. I just need to figure out what is really holding me back.