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1. The Book of Human Skin – Michelle Lovric (2010)

I could not put this book down. I love historical fiction especially if it is somewhat dark as this one is. Set in the 19th Century, this is a novel about the Fasan family of Venice and the convent Santa Catalina in Arequipa, Peru. I reviewed this book in more detail in a previous blog post but it was certainly my favourite novel of all the ones that I read in 2011.

2. The Wideacre Trilogy – Philippa Gregory (1987-1990)

After over 20 years, it was time to re-read these favourites and they still remain three of my favourite Philippa Gregory novels. The Wideacre Trilogy comprises three novels – Wideacre, The Favoured Child and Meridon. I reread Wideacre and The Favoured Child in 2011 and will be rereading Meridon soon. Set in 18th Century England, the trilogy follows the saga of the Lacey family, set in motion by the ambitions of Beatrice Lacey who wants nothing more than to be Squire of Wideacre, her family estate. However, due to her gender and the laws of entail, this is not possible and so begins Beatrice’s scheme to plot her father’s death and manipulate her brother in order to control the estate.  The saga continues through the coming of age of Julia and Richard, heirs to Widecare, in the sequel The Favoured Child and through the story of Meridon, the Romany girl in the final novel in the series.

3. The Stormchasers – Jenna Blum (2010)

The Stormchasers explores the reconciliation between estranged twin siblings Karena and Charles and their confrontation of a terrible secret from their past. Charles suffers from bipolar disorder and the storms that he chases mirror his inner turmoil. I gave a more in depth review of this novel in a previous blog post, however, though not a beach book, definitely my favourite read from the summer of 2011.

4. Life of Pi – Yann Martel (2002)

Extraordinary novel about a young East Indian boy trapped on a life boat with an adult Bengal tiger, a zebra with a broken leg, a hyena and an orangutan. Thoroughly enjoyable and I liked the fact that it was not a predictable read but kept you turning the pages.

5. Once… –  James Herbert (2001)

The protagonist of the story, Thom, returns to his childhood home after suffering a stroke. Shortly after he discovers the faery world, which he, as he eventually discovers, is descended from on his father’s side. In true fairy tale fashion, enter the wicked witch, who plots against Thom. Thom has to figure out why all these strange and dangerous things are happening to him and fight against the forces of evil. A modern, erotic fairy tale for adults, this novel is different from Herbert’s previous straight horror works (such as the Rats Trilogy), however it still has grisly details that we expect from this author.

6. The Sinner – Tess Gerritsen (2004)

This is the third Tess Gerritsen novel I have read, the other two being The Keepsake  and The Apprentice.  I would recommend these books to fans of gruesome forensic thrillers. Featuring the characters of Medical Examiner Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, this book did not disappoint.

7. The Darkangel Trilogy – Meredith Ann Pierce (1982 – 1989)

I first read the first book in the trilogy, The Darkangel, as a teenager and was kind of mesmerized by it. Back then it was a book that stuck in my mind. These books can be quite hard to come by and I read The Gathering of Gargoyles  years later when I found it and the Darkangel in a used bookstore. I found all three novels in one volume a few years ago and was finally able to finish the trilogy with The Pearl of the Soul of the World. These are books that get a young adult interested in the fantasy genre.

8. Flashforward – Robert J. Sawyer (2000)

A scientific experiment causes the consciousness of all humans to flashforward into the future 21 years for two minutes, before coming back to the present day. This book certainly makes you think about what would happen if you could glimpse into the future and within it we see the characters struggling to come to terms with this knowledge.

9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling (2005)

Finally read book six in the Harry Potter series this year and once again Rowling delivered. I enjoy the detail that she puts into the world of Harry Potter. Looking forward to reading book seven soon and perhaps should not read them so far apart next time.

10. Birdman – Mo Hayder (2000)

Debut crime thriller set in London featuring the character DI Jack Caffery as sets out on the trail of a serial killer. A good thriller should keep you on the edge of your seat and this one certainly did. I am looking forward to reading more of her work.

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1. Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way – John Parkin (2010)

A humourous, Western expression of the Eastern philosophy of “letting go.”  Great for those of us who need to learn to not worry so much and live in stress about the “shoulds” of life and learn to say “fuck it!” once in a while and go with the flow.

2. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls (2006)

I couldn’t put this book down. This book is a memoir about an incredibly dysfunctional family and the bizarre happenings are almost too unbelievable to be true. Kudos to the author who was strong enough to escape her past to become successful in journalism.

3. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia – Elizabeth Gilbert (2007)

Overall I felt this was a great read about Gilbert’s quest for spiritual enlightenment as well as overcoming her life challenges. I felt that I was experiencing Gilbert’s adventures and the countries she was in along with her, however it did get a bit whiny at times, which is perhaps forgivable considering the book was ultimately about how she dealt with her divorce, depression and spiritual emptiness.

4. Self-Made Man – Norah Vincent (2006)

An intriguing book about a lesbian’s experiences in male culture whilst masquerading as a man for a period of time, during which she joins a men’s bowling league, stays at a monastery and attends an all-male retreat among other things. It was very thought-provoking in terms of what Vincent perceived in “male culture” in terms of gender difference and expectations as well as the relationship between the sexes.

5. God’s Lunatics: Lost Souls, False Prophets, Martyred Saints, Murderous Cults, Demonic Nuns, and Other Victims of Man’s Eternal Search for the Divine – Michael Largo (2010)

The title says it all. An A – Z of of bizarre people, beliefs and happenings throughout the history of faith.

6. Possible Side Effects – Augusten Burroughs (2006)

A collection of short memoirs from the author of “Running With Scissors.” Many of which, in true Burroughs style, are tragic but extremely funny at the same time.

7. A Royal Duty  – Paul Burrell (2003)

The autobiography of the butler of the late Princess Diana. Sympathetic to the royals, in particular Diana, and well-written, it gives us a window into the private world of the Royal Family. A must-read for anyone interested in the British monarchy, Royalist or not.

8. I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage – Mary-Ann Kirkby (2010)

The memoir of a woman who grew up in a Manitoba Hutterite Colony but was then forced to adjust to living in the outside world when her family decided to leave the colony. A fascinating insight into a little known and often misunderstood culture and their traditions and issues, particularly in the changing world of the late 20th century.

9. Me: Stories of My Life – Katharine Hepburn (1996)

Stories about Kate, straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Very enjoyable.

10. If You Really Loved Me – Ann Rule (1992)

The first Ann Rule true crime book that I have read, this book details the murder of sociopath David Brown’s wife by his 14 year old daughter. The subsequent investigation of the case reveals that Brown masterminded the whole murder as well as 3 other unsuccessful ones. Ann Rule is a must-read for any true crime reader and I don’t know why I haven’t picked up her books before.

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It seems that every year just after Halloween those emails and Facebook posts start to appear demanding that we put the “Christ” back in Christmas and that “Christ is the Reason for the Season.”

Apparently there is a “War on Christmas” and one can no longer wish someone a “Merry Christmas,” but instead is obligated to say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings,” just in case offense is taken by someone who did not happen to be born within a dominant culture that conquered the rest of the known world centuries ago.

Maybe I’ve been living in a bubble, but I beg to differ. Christmas is very much alive and well and not likely to disappear anytime soon. The cynic in me thinks that there is just too much money in it, but the part of me that believes in the goodness of my fellow inhabitants of this planet, believes that festivals associated with the Winter Solstice are necessary and simply good for the soul. However, the Grinchs out there that spread what is essentially racial hatred, spoil what is supposed to be a magical and happy season for the rest of us by making such an issue about “Happy Holidays.”

What is wrong with saying “Happy Holidays” anyways? For as long as I can remember, Christmas cards said many things: “Seasons Greetings”, “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas” and even “Happy Xmas.” It never seemed to be an issue back then and I think it would be rather boring if “Merry Christmas” was the only way to give best wishes of the season to someone. Incidentally, Xmas is not taking the “Christ” out of Christmas as according to Wikipedia: “The “-mas” part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for “Mass“,[1] while the “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, translated as “Christ“.[2]

“Happy Holidays” is broad and inclusive and retailers that have chosen to use the term are attempting to broaden their market beyond  Christmas shoppers. Are not New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day part of the “Holiday Season”? Do we also not spend our hard-earned cash (usually in the Boxing Day sales) preparing for New Year’s Eve? Lots of business also in a multicultural society where other traditions also give gifts as part of their festival of lights (there’s that cynic again!). In that regard, why can’t it be a considered a good, progressive thing that “Happy Holidays” could also embrace Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali (if it falls in the season), Yule, Festivus and other festivals of light that fall at this time of year. Christmas is essentially a Festival of Light and it is no coincidence that “Christ was born on Christmas Day.” In this regard, I fail to see how “Happy Holidays” can be considered offensive as the Grinchs pushing the war on Christmas would lead us to believe.

I am not entirely sure how many retailers insist their staff use “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” I am certain that an employer cannot force an employee to not say “Merry Christmas.” I have worked in many industries including retail and hospitality and have never been told to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” during the holiday season. I’ve been to many Christmas parties and many holiday parties. There really is no difference and I never thought anything of it. To be quite honest a company Christmas or holiday party could not be further from religious observance of Christmas. Once again the intent of the terms “holiday party” and “Happy Holidays,” though politically correct, I truly think is to be more inclusive than to silence Christmas or downplay the Christian importance of Christmas.

Many aspects of Christmas as we know them actually pre-date Christ. It is actually very fascinating and the more I study Winter Solstice traditions, the more I appreciate the diversity of how the Winter Solstice is celebrated and shared around the world. It has made me realize that Christianity doesn’t have the monopoly on the season. Christ simply isn’t the reason for the season, but a part of a rich, solstice tapestry.

In regards to Christ himself, his true date of birth can never be known. December 25 was chosen in the 4th Century. This was around the time that the pagan Roman Empire became Christian and to simplify it (I simply don’t have time to write an in-depth history here) it made sense to put the new Christian feasts at the same time as the old pagan feasts, in order to easily convert the pagan people over to the new religion in my opinion. (I wonder if in Roman times there was a “Put the Saturn Back in Saturnalia” controversy.) December 25 used to be the date of the Winter Solstice until the calendar was corrected, putting the Winter Solstice on December 21. The Solstice is why there are so many festivals of light at this time of year. The human race has always felt a need to “bring back the sun” at this time of year and celebrate the longest night, probably for fear that the sun will not return. In regards to the Christmas festival, Christ is essentially a sun-god and there are actually many similarities between Jesus and the Egyptian god, Horus, a leading figure in Egyptian mythology for centuries before the birth of Christ. Check out http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5b.htm to read more about Horus and Jesus.

There are many things associated with Christmas, some of which are to do with the birth of Christ, many of which are not. Some Christian groups do not celebrate Christmas as we know it because of its pagan roots (I always felt sorry for those kids I encountered in school that were not allowed to receive Christmas cards or participate in our Christmas activities for this very reason) – indeed controversy in regards to Christmas celebrations has been around for centuries and in Puritan times, Christmas celebrations were banned by the English parliament because it was consider “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior. (From Wikipedia.) Christmas as we know it went through a revival, spearheaded by Charles Dickens, in the mid-Victorian times (From Wikipedia) and we have Coca-Cola to thank for the Santa Claus we know and love. Christmas only became a holiday in the US in 1870 and a legal holiday in Scotland in 1967.

Christmas as we know it, has not been around that long and Christmas controversy is nothing new. It is too pagan, too secular, too commercial, exclusively Christian, offensive to non-Christians, offensive to Christians, immoral, wasteful, expensive…the list goes on! Poor Christmas – it can’t win!

Perhaps instead of finding issue with certain aspects of the season, it is time to reconsider what this time of year means to us personally. This season can have many meanings. For some people it is about celebrating the birth of Christ, for others a chance to reconnect with family and friends, a time to eat, drink or be merry, receive and give gifts, have time off from work, and a time to think of those less fortunate that ourselves. Perhaps none of the above, perhaps all or some of the above.

Most importantly, for those of us who do celebrate at this time of year, in whatever way we choose, by whatever name we choose, the holiday season should be a time of happiness and warmth as we close out the year and get ready to ring in the new. The War on Christmas throws water on the Yule log and fuels the fire of cultural tension that probably wasn’t even there to begin with.

Folks it is time to put the happy back into the holidays, the sol back into solstice by thinking about what the reason for the season is for you whatever your beliefs. Put the you back into Yule and enjoy the Christmas season.

 

 

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In “The Stormchasers,” author Jenna Blum explores the reconciliation between estranged twin siblings Karena and Charles and their confrontation of a terrible secret from their past.

The novel begins in 2008 with Karena receiving a phone call to pick up her twin brother Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder, from a psychiatric hospital in Kansas. The two siblings have not seen each other in 20 years and upon her arrival at the hospital Karena discovers that Charles has lied about his condition to the doctors, has been released and has disappeared.

So starts Karena’s search for her brother in which she joins a team of stormchasers in their travels, knowing that Charles will be where the storms and tornadoes are.

I loved how Blum’s novel marvelously contrasts the storms raging in the skies to the storms within Charles and Karena as well as their relationship with each other and Karena’s romantic relationship to Kevin (one of the stormchasers she meets up with at the beginning of her search).  It really gave the reader a sense of the intense power of human relationships as well as extreme weather.

“The Stormchasers” takes the reader on a journey with Karena across the American midwest and through her own and her brother’s psyches. In the beginning, it has a wanderlust feeling about it (which would certainly describe Charles), and Karena, it seemed, was at a point in her life where she needed to find herself; her search for her brother also being her search for her own self, a self that at the beginning seems rather stagnant and stuck in time, perhaps even the past.

A perfect read for hot summer nights, particularly those where you can see and hear the storms on the horizon….

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About this time last year (I think exactly to the day) I won Lady Gaga concert tickets with Amp Radio simply by showing up when they were on location at the VW dealership 5th Avenue Auto Haus and filling out a draw ballot.  I also stuck around for when they did the draw and lo and behold I was the lucky winner!

At the time I thought I was nuts to make the drive all the way into Calgary and back merely to fill out a draw ballot.  I expected hoards of  people to be there but it was rather quiet.

Today Mix 97.7 was on location at Subaru Calgary. There was a huge car sale on and today was the final day. Mix 97.7’s Facebook page was encouraging listeners to head down to the dealership for free hot-dogs and to put their names into a draw for a free car and trip for 4 to Fairmont Hot Springs.  I was debating heading into Calgary anyway so thought why not, figuring that if I could justify the same trip for the possibility of concert tickets, I could for the possibility of a free car or weekend away. So I headed into Calgary, had my free hot-dog and filled out the appropriate draw ballots. The car draw ballot said that you had to be present to win and that the draw would take place at 6pm.  So I left and went to do some shopping and stop by the office to kill some time before heading back to the dealership just before the draw.  At this time, I received a free 25 piece tool kit and flashlight for showing up and taking the time to sit down with a sales associate and answering a survey which was cut short when I told him that I drive my vehicles forever and wasn’t planning to buy another one for a couple of years yet.

I am a great believer that a prize will go, most of the time, to the most deserving person. The free car was actually a “mystery car” which was revealed after the winner was announced. I hoped that the “mystery car” would be an upgrade to my current car if I won. Well we waited and waited and waited and by 6:30pm they still hadn’t drawn a name. There was a couple sitting at the same table as me and we were all joking about them taking their time and keeping us in suspense and to hurry up.  I said to the man beside me that he wouldn’t complain about having to wait if he turned out to be the winner!

Soon enough they started to have kids come up to draw a name.  Well the first three or four names pulled were not present, which made the odds better for those of us that were there! Then they pulled a name and it was the name of the man sitting beside me! As he went up to claim his prize, his wife made a comment about them having two driving teenagers at home and in my mind this made them most deserving of the “mystery car.”

Outside we all went to see what the mystery car was.  It was a 1999 Honda Civic. What a great prize for a family that has too many drivers and not enough cars! I am glad that they won it and I didn’t – it wasn’t a replacement for my car so I would have had to sell it.

The sales manager also told me that they did the same promotion in Regina and the guy that won had no car and was broke, so once again, there was someone who really needed it.

So sometimes it is worthwhile not only to enter contests but also to follow the rules. Another radio station, Lite 95.9 is giving a trip to Mexico away every morning at 7am. To enter you have to join the VIP club and start collecting points from bonus codes, songs of the day etc. Then you can purchase ballots into the draw online. Every morning they call out a name and that person has 10 minutes to call them back. I have a friend that has won this contest twice.  Once years ago she won a trip to Mexico (to the same resort I got married at – she came on our wedding trip too) and when they did trip-a-day in January she won and got to go to Cuba. (I heard her name and called her to ensure she got in on time – but I didn’t have to as she was dialing before the DJ finished reading her name and the number to call!) Well on Friday the first one didn’t call back in 10 minutes but she did after 15 minutes but too bad so sad – worst phone call for the DJs Mookie and Billie Jo to take for sure. The next winner called back in time to claim her prize and it was the first thing she had ever won – I love to hear this, she certainly deserves it and it usually means the birth of yet another contest addict! I am hoping my name get calls sometime this week as there are only 4 days left to win.

Contesting is easy folks….as long as you enter lots and follow the rules! Work hard at contests and the winning is easy!

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It is quieter around here now

RIP Xena – July 2009 – April 2011

It is quieter around here now
Listening for her purr and meow
It does not come
How could something so small make so much noise
And leave such a gaping hole in our hearts?

She started out as a tiny ball of fluff.
A ball of fluff with teeth and claws.
Aptly named Xena Warrior Princess
She soon ruled the roost, had the dog by the paws.

Little monster, with big, bright green eyes,
Mouse catcher, dog tormentor
Affectionate one minute, mean the next
Those green eyes bright even in death.

It happened so soon.
Energetic kitty, with an extra loud purr
In your face attitude.
Suddenly silent, anorexic
And leave me alone.

I put away her stuff today,
Out of sight, but not out of mind
It is quieter around here now.
She was too young
The end, much too soon.

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Set at the turn of the 19th century in Venice and Peru, The Book of Human Skin is a compellingly macabre and horrific read. I couldn’t put it down – just couldn’t stop turning the eloquently written pages!

Told through the eyes and experiences of five characters, this is a novel about the Fasan family of Venice and the convent Santa Catalina in Arequipa, Peru.  It follows the life journey of Marcella Fasan, younger sister to the insane and sadistic Minguillo, who seeks to slowly destroy his sister in any way he can, first just for the pleasure of it and then to ensure the Fasan fortune remains in his evil hands.  It is also a love story and the novel keeps the reader on edge as Minguillo keeps Marcella and Doctor Santo apart with walls and oceans.

Marcella’s journey takes her into the madhouse on the island of San Servolo located in the Venetian Lagoon and then finally to the convent of Santa Catalina in Arequipa, Peru, where she falls into the hands of the equally insane and sadistic nun Sor Loreta.

In Sor Loreta and Minguillo, Lovric has created characters with boundless villainy and I was kept on the edge of my seat wondering what these two would do next. Fleshing out these characters we are witness to their obsessions including Minguillo`s anthropodermic bibliophilia and Sor Loreta`s religious fanaticism and holy anorexia.

Reading this novel I really felt that I was transported back to 19th century Venice and Peru and in particular it really gave me a good picture of the convent of Santa Catalina. Both Venice and Peru are on my bucket list of places to travel too and explore and even more so now.

At the end of the novel Lovric provides us with some background information on the facts within the fiction.  As with any good historical novelist, Lovric has done her research and I finished the book wanting more and will be checking out her other work.

It has also left me hungry to learn more about some of the topics within (I am a bit of a history buff) and I will be checking out a couple of books Lovric cites at least, namely `Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Woman` by Catherine Bynum and `Holy Anorexia`by Rudolph M. Bell.

Definitely my favourite read of 2011 so far and on my favourite authors list.

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I’m not sure what to think about the whole “Man with the Golden Voice” story that started to play itself out this past week.  It’s honestly like something out of a movie.  It is almost unbelievable.  Maybe it isn’t real.  But in this blog post I will take it at face value.  Ted Williams, for those of you that don’t know, is a 53 year old homeless man in Columbus, Ohio who was video-taped doing his “radio voice” by a videographer for the Columbus Dispatch last week.  The video was posted on the newspaper’s website and since then has gone completely viral on You Tube which has resulted in Williams receiving interviews and voice over and announcer job offers including work with the Cleveland Cavaliers and MSNBC.

Williams’ story is that at age 14 he was inspired to get into radio when he met a radio announcer who looked nothing like he sounded.  He attended school for voice acting and worked as a DJ, but around 1993 his drug and alcohol addictions got the better of him and he ended up homeless and estranged from family including mother, wife and 5 kids.  Williams has been sober now since 2008.

Information from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Williams_%28announcer%29

This is a story of second chances and of hope.  It is also a story of how one’s life can change in the blink of an eye and the power the social media has to change a person’s life for better or for worse.

Williams has already been reunited with his mother, but I hope that he can reconcile with his kids – he owes a lot to his ex-wife in this regard.  I think he may be in for a bit of struggle with that.  It was his choices that made him destitute and homeless (whether you believe that addiction is a disease or not) and also abandon his family in the process and now he has a chance to make amends, which I certainly hope he does, no matter what the struggle.

Fame can be too much to handle for some people and has led many a celebrity down the same path that Williams has taken.  Hopefully history won’t repeat itself and Williams can be a strong enough person to handle his success.

For the rest of us, Williams’ story is an inspiration.  No matter how many wrong turns we take or how many doors seem to slam in our faces, like Williams we can change for the better and welcome opportunities if we are open enough to accept them.  It is never too late and you are never too old, as this 53 year old has shown us.

In the meantime, how long until the movie is released?

 

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It is that time of year again when a lot of us contemplate the changes that we would like to see in our lives by making new year resolutions.  I am no different and likewise I am no different in that I often break resolutions or just don’t get those promises up off the ground in the first place.

When in comes to resolutions and more so when we neglect to keep them, we should not beat ourselves up, but get back on the horse so to speak.  Do we really need to wait until January 1 to implement a new diet and or fitness program?

Anyhow, I’m going to talk about my resolutions for 2011.  I am already off to a good start.  Because our New Year’s Eve was very low-key – movies with Mary (“Cyrus” and “The A Team” – I fell asleep during “The A Team” and almost was not awake for midnight!) – I did not wake up with a horrendous hangover or sleep in late as I have been known to do.   I walked the dog today even though it was -20c.  Also went for breakfast with my friend Angelique who was in Canmore celebrating the new year with family.  (Though I’m not sure bacon and eggs counts towards eating healthy!)  Hey, I even managed to write a blog posting for the first time in months!

Here are my new year resolutions:

1.  Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.  Last Christmas I got Wii Fit Plus and over 2010 I moved on to other programs such as My Fitness Coach and Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum.  Fitness games have really worked for me.  I stuck with the games nearly everyday up until about September/October when I got sick and then busy.  Then it was Christmas. I will start back Monday for sure.  I also took a Bellyfit class in 2010 which was great and of course I have Blue to walk and Stardust to ride.  I yearn to be able to have the time and money to take up Tae Kwon Do and riding lessons again.  I’d also love to do yoga more seriously.

2.  Walk the dog everyday (weather permitting) for at least 30 minutes and with discipline.  I recently read Cesar Millan’s “Be A Pack Leader” – yep I need to become the pack leader – we’re working on it.

3.   Ride Stardust at least twice a week (weather permitting) and get back into lessons once business is more profitable.

4.  Focus on our real estate business.  After an incredibly poor start to 2010 (which made me really made me think about my career choices), business started to improve in the summer and then even more so in November.  We are starting off 2011 very strong and hopefully it will continue this way throughout the year.

5.   Eat healthy and cook proper meals at least 4 or 5 days a week.  Also I want to strive to eat more local produce.  Will this year finally be the year that I can get a decent vegetable garden going?  Last year it was a complete disaster – thank you Mother Nature for not giving us a summer!

6.   Look after the house and garden properly.  I hate housework.  We hired a cleaner this year and she comes once every couple of weeks to do the bathrooms, kitchen, floors and dusting.  In theory, this should leave me more time to work on the garden or sorting out and tidying our stuff.  I would love to be a minimalist but unfortunately I am an artist and we work from home.  Oh yeah and I love books, DVDs and CDs too.

7.   Enjoy my artistic pursuits.  The problem is I have too many interests.  Or is it a problem?  Variety is the spice of life.  I want to focus on my music more.  In the fall of 2010 I started singing with another musician and we want to put together a band and start to do the odd gig.  Then there is the theatre group.  This coming year is a big year for us as it is Irricana’s Centennial year and the theatre group has committed to writing and performing some original material in celebration of 100 years of Irricana.  Help!  This is a daunting task for sure but with discipline we can do it.

8.   Live in the moment and stop worrying and stressing so much.  I think there is a tendency to spend more time fretting and stressing about things than about actually solving problems or getting a task done.  I spend precious time fretting about not have enough time!  I’m also a worrier about what will happen.  I had an “a-ha” moment over the holidays as I realized that I inherited this from my mother who is the same way.  The fret and worry turn into procrastination.  How many of us do not follow our dreams or complete things because we are scared of failure, imperfection or even success?  Just Do It.

9.   Do more as a family.  I think it’s harder for Josh and I because we almost spend 24 hours a day together but we don’t often do stuff together other than work, eat dinner and watch TV.  It’s not just about having the odd weekend away or date night (which we try to have at least once a week)  but the mundane things too such as shoveling snow, working on the house or in the garden and walking the dog.

10.   Find more time for me.  I watched “Eat Pray Love” on the plane back from Ontario on Thursday.  I loved it and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the book.   The movie vocalized many things that I have known deep down – one thing that we need to spend time just being.  In recent years I have been most happy when on vacation on Ruxton Island when the day consists of cooking, eating, walking, swimming, playing with the dog, reading, napping, visiting with friends and rounding off the day playing cards or board games.  This past summer I took my guitar and practiced everyday.  I also painted and sketched.  I seemed to have more time to do the things I enjoyed and I didn’t stress and fret about not having time to do them but just simply enjoyed my day.  There is a direct correlation between more time and  no internet and no TV.  Hmmmm.  I think we in the west put too much importance on working too much and then in our spare time we are wired in on the internet too much (wasting time on Facebook for example) or spending our evenings sat like zombies in front of the TV.  I am sure it is not just me that feels kind of empty with days like this.  Whilst I do like TV (got Glee Season 1 for Christmas and can’t wait to watch it!) if I had a choice I would rather curl up with a good book or do something artistic.

If one thing sums up my resolutions for this year I think it is balance.  I am striving for balance in my life in an unbalanced world.  Balance between work and play, self and family, the physical, the intellectual and spiritual.

Happy New Year!  2011 will be a good one!

 

 

 

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