Counting Down the Days

I’m lying naked on the bathroom floor, after a hot bath, not feeling I’m quite ready for bed yet.

Been feeling a bit impatient, anxious for upcoming changes and yet still trying to cherish all the things I love about being here, which is mostly just my time. Specifically, my time with J. and my free time outside of work.

J. and I still laugh every day, and lately, it’s as if we’ve been laughing harder than ever. Like any other couple, there are things that drive us nuts about each other, but for the most part, we have fun. We’ve been walking  to work (if it’s not raining), ditching the car (if we aren’t doing a grocery pick up) and enjoying being able to see each other throughout the day (if we aren’t doing real work) since we are in the same building. Yet it will be very different for us in a month’s time. Or just forever. Who the fuck knows.

Of course, being a person who enjoys change and welcomes it, I know it would be absolute torture to be trapped in the same cycle forever. I can’t say that I’ve been very good at staying put in life; the fact that I’ve even been at the same job for 4 year is a record for me. Financing the Honda CRV was a good idea, as it gave me a financial ball-and-chain that would tie me to Canada. I just didn’t think that my relationship would have been an even better incentive.

What happens in the future is unknown. I’m happy in my relationship – although my family hears a disproportionate part of the parts that drives me absolutely batty – and I, ummmm …. well, we would like to make an effort to be together, despite the distance.

In the long range of things, there are lots of factors I can’t predict. The vision is to obviously land in an urban environment together and both be employed and happy, compromising where we need to based on the other’s needs. We’re trying to focus on the same target but yet the vision is blurred and both of us may be seeing it from different angles. We don’t know where we will land, although Ottawa has been discussed. The future is in unknown.

Officially, I will be leaving in 2 weeks. I’m not even packed yet and report cards are due Friday. Mentally, I’m sort of checked out at work, but still going through the motions and wrapping things up. I can’t say I care about too much at this point, as students are writing their exams and I don’t have to teach. If they’ve prepared themselves and studied, then they’ll do okay. If they’ve been apathetic for the past few months, it’s too late in the game to change anything.

So I’ve been distracting myself. I managed to finish season 6 of HBO Girls, generate more layouts for my new Leuchtturm1917, keep reading my British books and WhatsApp with my friends online. I mean, it’s not much more different than what usually happens, but perhaps waaaaay more TV time than I usually have. It’s not particularly exciting but it keeps me occupied.*

I’m hoping that at least, once the report card marks go in, I can breathe a bit.

I’m looking forward to it being Saturday!

*The original plan was to distract myself in the evenings with kayaking, but with a) the cool weather we’d been having and b) the lack of wetsuit, I’m not going into the Rupert River this week. The Hullavator, a.k.a. Metal Antlers, are still in the basement.

Shared Household Expenses

This morning, J. and I went through the mindful budgeting planner and noted down all the shared expenses.

Since having read Katy Bowman’s books and deciding that we would walk more frequently, we don’t need more than a tank of gas each month.

However, the shock came from our groceries in March. When I first got the planner, I it a point not to go to the supermarket frequently and did well with 3 or 4-day no-buy streaks. After a while though, I had forgotten about it. J. and I wandered in and out of the grocery store, as you can see.There are no malls to go here, in this tiny town for 2300 people, so the only place you can spend money out of boredom is the supermarket! As I reflect on the past month, I recall that we bought a lot of junk food after work and also picked up items for potlucks and birthday parties.*

We never made a budget the past four years that we’ve lived together up north, but we are going to discuss some possibilities for May and June. I’ll also be moving south, while J. stays north, so I’ll have to monitor my own spending when I move. I’m looking forward to some life changes, but I hate cooking for one. It’s so much easier when you share food, plus J. makes a great garbage can when I can’t finish my portions!

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*Since food is so expensive in the north, it’s expected that everyone contributes at parties.

Finding Your Network

Life has been pretty good. Work is good. Health is good. Diet is good. Family is good. The car is good. The turtle is good. The internet is annoyingly slow, but still good. The first season of Narcos has been good too. My crocheting skills aren’t good yet, but I can live with that.

While I have been doing well, I am coming up to some hard questions in my life – where do I go next? What’s in store for me? Will this be my last year in the north? If so, what will I face next year? And if so, what do I want? And what will get me there?

Needless to say, these questions and the discussion around these questions bring up a myriad of emotions. Some good, some bad. So while life has been good, I am bracing myself for some emotions that don’t necessarily feel so good.

This morning I felt like I was in a slump. It threw me for a loop and I headed into work a little later than usual to emotionally readjust. And I kept thinking, what is it that I so badly miss right now?

I miss my network.

However invisible they are in the day-to-day life, I miss my network IRL*. The people I WhatsApp when I am bored, the people whom I can have a laugh over internet memes with, the people that I chat with every week on Cody or Facebook (oddly, some I have never met in person). They are there and they hold me when I am in pieces. They lift me when I am sad. The affirm that I am of value and I mean something to them, to others, to the world. Their attention, in a gentle and caring way, give me strength. Their friendship and support give me love. Being far away means that sometimes I see them once every few months, or a couple of times a year or every three years. Yet invisible, they are still there.

And I can claim no success or be who I am right now without them. Likely, if you have been reading my blog for a while, you are one of them. And whether you know it or not, you keep me going and driven forward. As much as we all like to say, “I don’t care what others think of me,” we all need affirmation from others. We are social creatures and don’t do well alone. So while a lot of people are always in awe of the fact that I have been in the north, in a very isolated place, for the last 5 years, I could not have done it without my network. I could not have thrived and grown and matured and lived and loved without them.

I don’t really know how to end this post. I guess, on a morning where I am feeling alone, I just want to remind myself that I never really am.

*”In real life”

TEDx Talk – The Person You Really Need to Marry

It’s not unusual to feel some loneliness during the holidays, even while being surrounded by lots of people. You may be reminded of people who have passed away or friends that are no longer part of your life. There are a lot of expectations to be happy and sociable during this time of year and it’s not necessarily natural to wear a smile every single day at all hours of the day.

Naturally, being an introvert / ambivert, I was doing pretty well hanging out with people the past couple of days, but was begging for some solo recharge time tonight. So I took a super long nap, had a homecooked meal that my mom made and wandered the bookstore for an hour.

And you know what?

It was great! I had such a fun time wandering the aisles and checking out everything. It was the perfect evening for me.

Having said that, I won’t comment too much about this TEDx Talk, except that I’m pretty committed to the person that I am going to marry have already married.

Progressing Through Lifting

Lifting has been going well.

Having a reliable workout buddy has probably made the single difference; K. and I now meet regularly twice a week. She’s committed to lifting and despite my suggestions to deviate, has kept me on track and focused to practicing “The Big Four*”. The support that we give each other means a lot; she does her research and it helps that we can have a conversation with each other about where we’re going. I know I would not have progressed as far if it weren’t for her!

As I’m finishing up the Krissy Cagney’s Beginner Strength plan, I purchased an add-on bundle ($40) for the reminder of her plans, Strength Builder I, Strength Builder II and Strength Builder III. While I haven’t looked at them all in depth, my overall goal is to get through all three plans in the next 12 months.

Honestly, I never thought I would be lifting.

A few months ago, it wasn’t a goal of mine. I had seen videos of #girlswholift and thought that this was a world away. It fascinated me but it didn’t particularly interest me at all … until I started participating myself. It is now becoming obvious how these workouts support and connect with flexibility, mobility and strength in other aspects of my personal fitness.

Considering that I have no background in lifting, I feel that things are progressing well. While the two of us have been fumbling with weights and how much to plate, in the last week, both K. and I are starting to figure out our baselines. We also finished our workout on Friday night in a record 55 minutes!**


Here’s a video of my first overhead press just a couple of weeks ago:

It wasn’t easy the first time and I remember struggling with it initially. I did this on my own one day because K. was not feeling well. I felt slightly embarrassed that I was only using a barbell and could not put any plates on it.

After I posted it on social media, several friends – to my surprise – applauded me. One friend, J., who is a personal trainer, reminded me that it isn’t “just” a barbell; an Olympic-style barbell is 20 kg, or 45 pounds! Not everyone can use it as their starting point. To reinforce this point, an old high school classmate, H., told me he actually started with a 25 pound bar his first time. Our local fitness instructor also said that I am doing well; the only criticism he had was that I needed to draw my head back for the barbell to clear straight up and down.

Alright, so I’m not doing so badly!

Just four more workouts before moving on!

*Back squat, bench press, deadlifts and overhead press.

**Normally, we putter around for a bit over an hour. Becoming more efficient means that we are better habituated to both setting up and executing the movements. 

Long Weekend in Abitibi-Temiscamingue

Friday was a local Cree holiday, the James Bay Agreement Day. I took the day to drive down to Val D’Or, get my winter tires on and meet my family in Rouyn. We went sightseeing on Saturday.

Here’s a silly shot of my sister and I just outside the historic site of the Dumulon General Store. It is one of my favourite tourist stops in the area – the building is about 90 years old – and you can flip through copies of old Eaton’s catalogues, as well as see old products and artifacts inside:


We were only able to spend two nights and one full day together. They took off this morning after breakfast. Not a lot of time to spend together, but precious nonetheless!

Yaga in North Bay, Ontario

I usually don’t post unedited videos, but as I am doing my drive back to Waskaganish, I don’t want to spend too much time on the computer. Currently at a beautiful residence on Trout Lake, in North Bay, Ontario. This was officially my first experience with Air B&B!

The host, Yaga, was awesome. She’s a psychologist who works from her home. She’s a technophile too and she thought it was really neat when I showed her how Periscope – live-streaming via Twitter – worked. She has a strong presence, very maternal and caring. She has a Ph.D. and the rest of her kids are all nerds too. Most interestingly, her daughter actually researched and wrote a book on Couchsurfing!* When I mentioned that I was a CSer in my initial request, she took me up right away.

We connected really well. Yaga laughed at me when I left and said that I had “Couchsurfer habits” when I gave her some Quebec mushrooms and Inuit teas as parting gifts. “Only Couchsurfers tend to give presents.” She was so genuine and insightful. We had some very deep conversations about relationships; you can tell that she is very good at what she does.

Sadly, the next time I pass through, she will no longer be there … since I spoke with her yesterday, she is trying to sell her home of 20 years and is in the process of starting a healing centre in Costa Rica. Her services will be free – “all therapy should be free of charge” – and attendees will only have to pay for travel, lodging and food.

I told her that one day I will be there. I will.

Anyway, rather than babble on, please enjoy this unedited video (3:59) of me chilling on the dock in Yaga’s backyard and doing some inversions.

*She said that the current rumour is that interest in Couchsurfing is waning and Air B&B is absorbing new members. Maybe us young folks are finally deciding to spend our money?

Saying Good-byes

Had a big summer party yesterday.

It originally started off with a canceled trip to Ottawa, with a friend visiting me instead of him. In the end, the guest list began ballooning and we ended up having about 12 adults and 2 toddlers over yesterday. And while it was suppose to be a backyard / patio party, the thunder, rain and lightening forced us inside, which the kiddies were totally okay with, because they went bonkers on the carpet!

It was fun.

I didn’t take any pictures. I laughed. I ate a lot. A baby sucked on my knee. I don’t remember what we said. No one spilled anything. We ate a lot of chips in the end. And even my 96-year-old grandmother was quiet happy overall. The best part of it was seeing friends that I knew from different parts of my life mingling well together.

Of course, I think I still struggle with saying good-bye. I do fine and well throughout the year without their physical presence, because emails and social media keep us connected.

But it STILL sucks to leave everyone and be so far away. It REALLY does.

I’ve accepted that.

And maybe because there’s a small part of me that’s still in denial about having already said a few good-bye’s, the ambivert in me decided that … well, I guess we can have a second party.

I guess we’ll just have to have a vegan pizza party tomorrow in Koreatown!

Hitting a Wall

Today, I felt like I hit a wall.

I was so tired after taking my family out for breakfast, and despite being J.’s last day in town, I had to lie down for a nap. I felt feverish and was afraid that I might be getting sick. I still didn’t feel well for several hours and when I dropped him off at the airport, he said that I should just cancel my appointments and stop cramming so much in my schedule.

So I did.

I canceled a dinner with a friend and also my caving trip to Warsaw Caves tomorrow. By the time I got home from the airport, I collapsed into a 2-hour nap. I woke up feeling a lot better.

I’d like to think that at 32, I am much better at saying ‘no’ now, but I realized that I still struggle with it at times. It’s difficult for me to see friends when I live so far away, so I have justified squishing people into my schedule.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no regrets. I have been so happy to see so many faces. There were a few people whom I haven’t seen in several years, so it meant a lot that they took the time and meet up with me. Living far away now means that the relationships I make time for are important and valuable. I’ve had to leave a few people behind in the last few years, but acknowledge that that’s a normal part of life. I make time for people who make time for me.

Tomorrow, sitting around at home or at the library to do some planning. I am actually excited to be doing planning! That’s a good feeling to have when it’s not even August!

NOTE: After reading an article on the Wall Street Journal, I’ve realized I might be an ambivert. “The drawback to being an ambivert, Dr. Grant says, is that it can sometimes be difficult for them to know which side of their personality to lead with in a given situation. Unlike extroverts and introverts, who tend to know what energizes them, ambiverts may not always be so sure. That means they can sometimes get stuck—not realizing that they need to change their approach to feel more motivated.” 

Craving and Other Ruminations

  • I am craving serious mat time, but currently sacrificing workout time for QT with family and friends.
  • Math classes at OISE are going well. I am actually an experienced teacher now. Wow. You’re reminded of this when 60% of the class are fresh grads.
  • I am way more opinionated than I realize. I give off the vibe that people should not mess with me. I naturally exude a strong power stance, hands on hips with elbows out in public settings; I’ve noticed that people don’t stand that close to me on the subway.
  • I seriously have undiagnosed IBS. Need to address this but don’t know where to go.
  • Have not been reading regularly, although I am reminded that I enjoy Toronto Life and Leah McLaren is a talented writer.
  • I love my cousins. They are just a great bunch of people with great values and energy. I enjoyed the time we had together. Who knows when we will have that again?
  • My little sister is awesome and I am so happy for her and her husband.
  • My grandmother is pretty fantastic. I will be sad when she leaves this world.
  • I can work out harder. I don’t push myself hard enough / consistently.
  • I need to drink more smoothies.
  • Should use my commute time to go back to learning languages as there are so many benefits to it.
  • I need to sleep earlier. I am bad at getting up early!