Thursday, December 31, 2009
But that said, I am ready to go home. Because as much as I miss the trees, family, ocean, and weather, BC is no longer my home. It makes me sad to realize and write that, but it's true. My life isn't here anymore, it's there.
On a more positive note though, it looks like I'll be able to import a little bit of here to there come the end of Jan, beginning of Feb. It looks like my little brother is going to venture the cold climes of eastern Canada and try life out in Montreal. Soon my little condo, with all it's recent revamps, will be facing yet another revamp as we make space for him. My poor husband, now he's going to have 2 messy roommates!
Monday, December 28, 2009
It's funny, my little brother who is up from Arizona, is freezing. Meanwhile, Paul and I, coming from Montreal, are roasting and taking layers off. (Don't worry, we're still staying decent!)
Coming home always makes me homesick. I miss the trees and the moss and the ocean and the family. So far, it's been 2 days and we've managed to see an uncle, my grandma, my cousin, my 2 brothers, my parents, and my brother's fiance's family (they've been dating for like 8 years and we only just met... I seriously need to come home more often!).
Pretty impressive when you think that yesterday was the first day we were actually on the rock. And tonight is my step-dad's family. Poor Paul, he's going to be overwhelmed! Just because my side of the church was empty during the wedding, doesn't mean that I don't have a family that rivals his in terms of size, drinking, and loudness! In fact, I think we might actually trump him in one or 2 of those categories, I'll leave it to you to figure out which ones I'm talking about....
Thursday, December 24, 2009
That said however, we need to talk.
I know it's your big holiday. I know. But it's not everyone's big holiday. I mean, some of us out there are only in it for the gifts, decorations, food and family time. Let's be honest. Probably most of us are only in it for the gifts, decorations, food and family time. So when you send out those Christian Christmas cards, although I know what the holiday means to you, well it just sort of leaves me feeling cranky. I mean, if you know most of us are in it for the fun stuff only, then opting to send us a reminder of the original meaning of the season sort of makes me wonder about your intentions.
Here are a few of the motives that I've come up with to explain why you're sending out these cards to everyone on your list:
- You want to distinguish yourselves from the hordes of consumers and remind us that you have pure motives for celebrating the holidays.
- You want to make us feel guilty for being so consumeristic
- You want to remind those lapsing Christian friends out there that their priorities might be skewed and not focused on what really matters
- You're not aware that your friends don't celebrate Christianity
- You're not aware that some of your friends aren't Christians and might in fact be practicing other faiths
- You don't really care that they may not practice/believe or not believe in your faith but want to remind them that you do
- You can't believe that some of us aren't really all that gaga over the nativity
- You aren't aware of the prior pagan associations with Christmas, or just don't care and enjoy usurping the traditions of other holidays
But here's the thing. Some of us are not Christians and some of us actually have a really hard time with Christianity and therefore celebrate the season for reasons other than the nativity. So when you opt to send that very Christian based card, it sort of feels a bit like a slap in the face because it doesn't take into consideration the person who is on the receiving end. I mean, do you send out gifts based on your needs and wishes, or based on what you think the person who is receiving the item might want? Chances are, if you're Christian I have probably already figured that out by now. And I respect that that is your path and your choice and wish you all the best for the season. In all fairness, maybe I should be sending out cards to you that are nativity based. But until it's clear that we're all batting for the same team, maybe it would be a nice consideration if you'd just send a card that says Happy Holidays and All the Best for the New Year.
I don't know, I mean, it's just a thought. You know?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Kate from Centsational Girl recently wrote about using Picasa to edit her photos for her blog here. So off I went to give some of her tips a go.
First up, downloading the live writer… because let’s face it, the blogger photo upload feature does really suck!
Using some of her tips, I edited the original image (see above) to get the picture on your right.
Aside from cropping, I added a slight soft glow and altered the saturation (which isn’t something I’ve ever done before). Given that the colours were pretty bright to start off with, I don’t know how much the photo feels like it’s been altered but I like to think that there’s a big difference.
If nothing else, I think that the cranes are more visible and if I were to post the image in my shop in etsy, it would help give buyers a clearer image of what they were getting.
However, because the paper is covered in sparkles making this particular crane is quite the messy process. When I was halfway through the first crane, my husband walked in, saw all the glitter and asked me whether I was making a crane or killing one!
I think the effect on the tree more than makes up for the mess at the crafting table...
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
2009 has been a year of learning to embrace happiness. I know, how weird does it sound that I need to learn such a thing? But really, I think it's something everyone needs to learn. We're taught that happiness just is. We know when we're happy and when we're not. But I don't really think this is true. Otherwise we'd have no need for expressions like "his own worst enemy" or "cause of his own misery." Happiness is something you have to make a conscious effort to build in your life. From living in the now, to appreciating the moment and the small things, to learning to see the positive instead of focusing on the negative, happiness is a state of being that needs to be (to some extent) cultivated and nurtured.
The notion that happiness is something you work on and create every day, has become my mantra this year. And learning to find a more positive balance in my relationships with others this year has been a by-product of this attempt to cultivate happiness in my life. The quote above rings true for me because I do feel as if, as I cultivate this happiness, the relationships in my life are falling away or changing drastically.
Working on embracing happiness has actually revealed that I am happier than ever and more at ease in my own skin. But it's also caused me to notice patterns that I never really questioned before and left me pondering the nature of the relationships in my life, both positive and negative in terms of how I treat others, how I am treated, and whether the relationship is ultimately nurturing, toxic, in need of some space, or whether it needs to be worked on. This search for happiness has led me down the very humbling path (humbling because I slip up a lot) of trying to slowly but surely, learn to listen more, let go of my expectations, and change some of the more negative behaviour patterns in my relationships. Sometimes this has fostered stronger relationships and other times it has revealed less positive things, thus the quote above.
As I strive to be a better person and build a life that is happy, there are certain elements in my life that I have had to let go of and have had to give myself permission to not feel guilt over. Because part of the world shifting is actually allowing it to shift and giving myself permission to change. For me, the great lesson of 2009 has been how to cultivate my own happiness and letting myself be ok with letting go in order to be happy.
Sometimes things have to fall apart in order to build something better.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
And now that I'm the proud owner of not 1, not 2 but 4 teapots, I will always enjoy them well steeped and in a beautiful teapot and mug!
2009 was a year of change and maturity. What can I say other than my first full year in a career and year of wedding planning taught me a lot about myself, the people around me and how I interact with them. And most importantly, 2009 found me moving away from academics and rediscovering the joy of creativity. I learned to slow down and use that time to create again... and the impact of that shift has been profound one for me.
Yup, 2009 was a good year that was enjoyed over many a mug of yummy chai tea.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The 2nd runner up goes out to an etsy seller: RedRubyRose. I bought 2 clutches from her for my wedding and when they arrived they were wrapped so lovely that I felt like I was unwrapping a gift for myself (which I kind of was...). She had them in a red box with a ribbon around the purses inside, sewn up with a button and it was so professional and smart looking that I was incredibly impressed and promised myself that I would emulate her packing artistry for any items that I sent out to customers.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Oh sure, we’ll learn to recycle and try to buy things that are fair trade and ethical, but the big, hard decisions that actually demand us to rethink our values and comfort; I’m afraid that I can’t point a finger to blame others when I myself am guilty. Convenience and comfort never cease to trump need and ethics. It’s true. I mean, I could be taking the metro every day to work, but that hour long commute killed me so now I own a car…. I love my car, but is my car environmentally ethical? No.
This resistance to taking ownership and responsibility for our actions is creating what Naomi Klein dubs “climate debt,” owed to the countries we pay to produce industrial goods for us at cheap prices. It’s all fine and dandy to insist that China changes its ways. But we are the ones that created the situation in China, thus we are partially responsible for paying the price to fix the environment (and maybe even social) problems that have been created there (and in other nations). Let’s face it. It’s one thing to say that China, India, and Taiwan must regulate their industries and clean up their acts, but quite another when the price of such efforts is felt by the average consumer. We all love our cheap goods, even if unsustainable business practices are what are keeping the prices artificially low. Given what we make versus what we pay for items like clothing, we actually pay less now than we did 20 years ago. When I was a child it cost less for my mother to make clothes for me, when my baby brother (who is 12 years younger than me) was young, it was cheaper to buy clothes (especially when you factor in time).
Nowadays, when I want to go buy fabric or wool to make something, I’m left with little doubt that I could purchase the item in question for far cheaper than I could make it. I craft/sew for pleasure and quality, not affordability. Pledging to buy handmade versus store bought goods is, in many ways, a luxury because it doesn’t always translate into savings for the consumer. The problem is that that cheap store bought item, manufactured in a factory that is unsustainable, is not a quality good and we are becoming increasingly a culture focused on quantity over quality. All the environmental advocates (from Suzuki to Klein in Canada) remind us that less is more, and yet we are inundated with more, more, more in all that we do and own: from homes to cars, from money to gadgets. It’s no wonder that politicians are reluctant to make us face the cold hard facts when we are so unwilling to hear them. (Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are many out there who are making a concerted effort to bring about change, both personally and publicly).
Inasmuch as I cringe with shame over Stephen Harper’s lax environmental policies, I don’t necessarily blame him for his apathy. However, in order for things to change we need to start dealing with the hard truths now, not later. We need to stop always thinking of our convenience and putting ourselves and our country first, and start thinking about others. It’s not enough to insist that others change their ways if we aren’t willing to make a change. It’s ridiculous to make small efforts that really miss the mark (like a famous Hollywood star boasting that they drive a Prius, yet live in a huge mansion, or buying organic produce that comes from California when you live on the east coast and could buy it local). The same can be said for our governments. It’s not enough to say we’ll start a cap and trade initiative when the levels are so ridiculously high that they bear no significance. I don’t have an answer, I’m still working on figuring it out for myself, but it’s time for some tough changes.
Monday, December 14, 2009
This site is still unfolding, but is meant to chronicle and showcase my creative projects as they are developped. If you want to know more about me, please head over to my personal blog: http://www.thelotustree.blogspot.com/.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Sometimes the subjects of this best of 2009 challenge are trickier than others. Deciding on a favourite place (A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?) in particular threw me for a loop because I could possibly narrow down my list to ONE best of place. I mean... how do you choose...
There's beers and thalis at Bombay Mahal, girl time at Spa Finlandais, and drinks at Brewtopia, and oh so many other places that I love to go. But after a bit of reflection I thought, egads Marya, you're overthinking this question! Your favourite place, quite simply, is tea at Camelia Sinensis with friends.
Long conversations + yummy tea + small, intimate, zen café + good friends= a nice night out.
It's a simple equation, but one that is always successful. It's one of Montréal's hidden gems (slowly becoming not so hidden) and definitely worth a visit.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I can't help it. I'm a complete musical luddite! But both albums rocked my world this year! Another fav music discovery, brought to my attention by my "sister" in Sweden, KokoKaina
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
So while I promise that not all of my blog posts will be about getting married, this particular subject MUST be about the wedding because nothing in 2009 taught me more than wedding planning.
Emotional stress management
How to be a better partner
Event planning, this includes follow through, multi-tasking, and delegating
Letting go of expectations and learning what my limits are
Recognizing what is realistic and what is idealistic
And my all time favourite, embracing your creative self
I also learned about skills and areas of interest that my partner had that I was previously not really aware of. He designed our invites and our save the dates. He took care of most of our paper/graphic elements during the event and I was surprised by how readily he took these projects on. Planning the wedding, despite being full of stress made me aware that I couldn’t have picked a better partner. There was none of the stereotypical gender divide. I didn’t plan 90% of the wedding. It really was a 50-50 partnership, which is exactly what I want our marriage to be.
For more of my thoughts on lessons learned from the battlefield, go here.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
I know that there are elements of the research that others take issue with, but as I struggled with what marriage means in this day and age and questioned why the hell I was going through this ritual, this book helped to remind me to keep the day in perspective and that all the choices we make are ultimately linked to some aspect of consumerism. From the Elvis Chapel of Love to the Destination Wedding to the Big Fat Catholic Wedding that I felt like I was having, each variation on a theme is drenched in consumeristic culture and familial/societal expectations.Remember that simple fact helped me reconcile my vision of what a wedding should be to what my wedding was going to be.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I'll admit it, when I read this topic yesterday I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to answer it. The academic lit geek in me felt a certain amount of pressure to pick just the right article. You know, the one that best reflected me. But how in the hell do you actually do that? I mean really, come on... I don't know about the rest of you out there but there is no way that I can pigeon hole myself into one article.
So then I felt like I needed to find the article that was the most thought provoking. Link up with something significant that I read about the environment or social justice... you know, link to one of the great articles I read in The New Internationalist or This magazine, because there have been quite a few very thought provoking articles that have come my way through these magazines.
But then I realized that I was over thinking it, as I tend to do...
This year has been all about moving away from my academic self and embracing creativity and the article that nurtured that the most this year was the TED video speech with Elizabeth Gilbert. I loved how she linked spirituality, academics, insecurity, and creativity all together. It reminded me of my studies of renaissance poetry (I know, I said I was moving away from academics), the spiritual nature of creativity, and the act of creating. And well, to get to the point, I just dug it.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
But that's ok cause my oh so lovely partner was here when I got home and patiently sat through my not so mini meltdown, then took me out for dinner and life is oh so much better now.
ps... where are you people finding my blog to respond to the ornament giveaway... inquiring minds are just dying to know, you know? Ok, just busy body me is dying to know...
Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?
This is a tough one for me. Do I go with the dinner I had with my family, just a few days after the wedding, before they flew home? Or breakfast before going to the spa with the 2 Karens, or the birthday dinner? Hard to say really.
I guess that for the sake of uniqueness, I'll go with the birthday meal. We went to Tibetan Om and ate momos and various yummy dishes depending on what each of us ordered. What made this experience unique (because lets face it, we all have bday meals) was the amazing service we got and the fact that my best girls were all there, including one the aforementioned Karens, who'd flown in from Vancouver the day before.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
the best of 2009!
31 questions about the best memories/moments of the year.
December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?
This year we were busy with wedding planning so travelling wasn't a huge priority. We made it to Tremblant twice and stayed with friends in a cabin up there, which was lovely (even though I nearly killed myself trying to ski for the second time in my life...) We had a great deal of visits this year (from BC, Sweden, London, Arizon, and Ontario... but we only made it to Ontario). Other than that, the only other travels were during our lovely honeymoon in the south of France. Travelling to this area was awe inspiring and just reinforced for me how beautiful the world really is. Seriously, beyond description. I don't know the answer whether god created the earth or if it was a big bang, but I do know that the sheer beauty of it is divine.