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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Living the winter - at 5:50pm last night I was at the bar for my regular Friday after-work drinks and less that 90 minutes later I was on the ski hill! Winter, for me, is really about as much snow time as possible. It was a random last minute trip. At 5:30pm last night, when asked my plans for the evening, my response included a home cooked meal and catching up on reading. And while Friday night at Vorlage was not "epic" it was really the perfect way for me to finish a week. 

The first time I tried a carving board, I couldn't stand up on the thing, my shins were chewed up from the ski-boots I was using and I spent more time on my ass than on my feet, but I couldn't stop smiling. There was something about the grace and speed that just made me feel alive and I wanted more. Last year I bought boots, was using a very old and stiff board and borrowed bindings. And then my board "found me". I was not in the market - but I described my dream board to a few people. One day I was lent a board to demo which was the board, my board! I now believe in love-at-first-sight and sole-mates! I ride a Coiler, it is a hand-made Canadian carving board and is covered in flowers, big blue flowers. I am convinced that my board is the sexiest thing I own!

Last Saturday, friends texted me wishing me a great day rocking it up on my carving board - but I wasn't there (I avoid weekends because of the number of people, unless I can be there for first run). But they knew that was where I wanted to be, the know where my heart is this winter - starting a run on my beautiful Coiler and just listening to the wind run through my helmet. Even riding solo after work in the cold with terrible run and terrible run, there is no where I would rather be.

I know I might have a problem ... once the snow starts to fall and we sink into January, all I can think about is when I will be on the hill again, I lust over going fast, carving, feeling the board find the edge and curve around flexing under my boots.  I fall asleep wondering when I will on the hill again - and I am now doing something I have never done before - I just go out alone for a few hours of snowboarding after work! I have found a fire where for a long time none existed. Something I wake up for, something I crave, something that makes me happy, something that is mine - something I can do and it doesn't matter how good or bad I am, I just love every second out there pushing it hard.

Tuesday I went to Tremblant with my sister for a day, next week I am driving to Osler (about 6.5 hours away from Ottawa) for a day of carving with 60+ other carvers. I am hoping that I can take some more random mid-week days off to hit more hills, to just be. It is my moment, where I am just me ... nothing else and no one else exists (apart from that skier snow-ploughing slowly down the hill in front of me). I am.

I love my snowboard - I love carving. I love winter ... and no; I will not break anything this year - so you all owe me dinner!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

MaoAversary - This week I celebrated my three-year anniversary with my buddy, Mao. I replaced a boy-friend with a Mao. My mother has called it my up-grade. The role is roughly the same; I feed him, drive him around, clean up after him and in return, he is very independent, in need of a lot of personal time, and affectionate when he chooses.

For a few years I had wanted a cat, and while I would ask "can we get a cat?" the answer was inevitably "really? Why would you want a cat?" Well, my housing situation changed and suddenly I found myself living alone for the first time in my life. Once again I asked "can I get a cat?" and the answer this time was "sure - you live in your own place!" but then I had to reflect ... did I really want a cat, or was I asking because I knew the answer would always be no! Did I really want a cat? 

I spent two months thinking about it and decided that I would adopt an older cat from the Ottawa Humane Society shortly after Christmas. My thinking was that everyone wants a kitten and there is usually a deluge of animals after Christmas as people "up-grade" their pet choices; leaving older animals in need of a home. The issues associated with cats never really dawned on me; jumping onto surfaces including kitchen counters, digging in plants, chasing birds, trying to attack my fish, scratching my furniture .... a cat was a little beast that slept at the end of my bed, keeping my feet warm at night, or snuggled next to me while I read.

On Saturday January 12th, 2008 I found myself at the Humane Society looking for a new house-mate.

The cages were filled with cats of all shapes and sizes. How to choose which animal I should take home with me? How was my arbitrary criteria going to find me the "perfect" cat? I looked at all the people playing with the kittens and walking away with them, I circled the cages with older cats and then I saw a little tabby-cat; much older than I was expecting. He was depressed, hiding at the back of his cage which had been his home for over six weeks, but when they put him in my arms he snuggled, started to purr and then licked me!

He loves to snuggle and follow me around the house. He doesn't jump on any hard surfaces, ignores the fish, doesn't touch my plants and has only killed one bird - a very impressive feat for a de-clawed house cat smaller than most of my hand-bags. He isn't too bad in a car which makes it easy to drive the 4.5 hours to my parents place, and he has learned to hang out with dogs. He snuggles in the morning, and curls up around me feet when I am reading. He loves people and is curious when I have parties, meeting new people and melting into their lives. He can be a bit of a slut and as soon as someone new arrive at my house Mao has a new best friend, and occasionally he is vocal about his desire to hit the deck. But honestly, I couldn't ask for anything more in a cat.

He is my plug-and-play cat; I brought him home and he just was perfect. In the lottery of adoptions I have hit the jack-pot! I have the best cat in the world..

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Resolutions - 2011 and everyone is making resolutions! I have only made one resolution that I have ever kept; to stop making new years resolutions! So here are my reasons for why new years resolutions are a bad idea and I no longer participate in the annual ritual:

1 - If there is something you are committed enough to resolve to change it in your life, why wait till January 1st? If it is important; do it. Waiting is just an excuse and January 1st is an arbitrary point in time. Why is any day better in the year to decide to make your life better ... I like the idea of not procrastinating and just doing it; not waiting around for some magical date on a calendar.

2 - How many people do you know who have actually kept new years resolutions? By setting definitive goals, I am deeming myself to fail and will end up feeling bad! Change is hard and proclaiming on January 1st that I will do (or will never do) something in definitive terms with no wiggle rooms is basically a proclamation that I am not going to succeed, seen from a glass-half-empty point of view; it is a proclamation that I am going to fail! Change should be introduced slowly as new habits take time to form. I find it far more rewarding and I am more likely to be successful if I go slow and not beat myself up for slipping up now and then, instead of failing on my resolution in the first few weeks (or day).

3 - Suddenly embracing a new life-style at the same time as everyone else puts a huge strain on the system! This is me being selfish, but I hate yoga in January ... because suddenly everyone else is there. Or how about trying to get food at the grocery store, suddenly all the good stuff is gone because everyone has resolved to "eat-better this year". I find starting a new habit is easier at other times of the year. In the gym, the place is empty in the spring so I can slowly get comfortable, and set-up my routine. Or I can be healthy with my shopping habits starting in the summer, where there are so many options and making use of local food is easy.

4 - New years resolutions suggest that life isn't great the way it is. Sure, we all could look in the mirror and identify things in our lives that could be improved and we can all kick ourselves for not doing something about it sooner. But most people are doing an OK job of living life and loving themselves, and most people hate winter. Why kick yourself when you are down? Why, ten short days after the shortest day of the year, do people become all introspective and start to battle with winter and themselves?

I resolve instead to love winter (and myself) and take opportunities to reflection when they come. If you do read this blog on a regular basis, you are probably thinking that my new years resolution should be to bring a little more sunshine to this posts! Well, you are in luck - I promise (barring any nightmares) that the next post will be all passion and optimism ... until then; good luck with your resolutions, but don't come crying to me when in February you realise you have broken every one of them and feel miserable for it!

PS: Passion and optimism; no brownie points for guessing what the next post will be on!