Tuesday, December 25, 2012

49. Holiday Spirit

Tonight I am nurturing my gratitude for the holiday spirit. I love the holiday season - I think the best part of fall arriving is that a series of festivities begin from Thanksgiving to Halloween to Christmas. Even though I still feel that having Christmas stuff out before Halloween is a bit much, I like that one gets the Christmas vibe in November, even though a lot of it is for commercial purposes. I enjoy hearing Christmas music, feeling the slight festiveness when I go shopping in November, and in December, definitely savour the Christmas lights twinkling everywhere. I like my eggnog and eggnog latte, and have been enjoying Christmas-themed shows for the past several years. There is something to be said for a communal celebration - on the one hand it puts pressure on people to participate, but on the other hand, it's an opportunity to rejoice and make merry with your neighbours and the nearest and dearest ones in your life. For me, holiday spirit also means trying out new recipes, such as green bean casseroles :P

Monday, December 24, 2012

48. White Christmas

Tonight, on Christmas Eve, I am nurturing my gratitude for a White Christmas. I used to wish and hope for blankets of white, fluffy, shimmering snow to create the perfect Christmas ambiance, however living in Vancouver, dry, fluffy clean snow is hard to come by, if any. Where we live now we're almost always guaranteed snow this time of year, and since the climate is fairly dry, it means beautiful, glistening, powdery snow! A couple of days ago, we got to enjoy some beautiful snowfall, and today had the opportunity to walk through what to my eyes is a winter wonderland. White, almost blinding snow on the grounds, and pine trees covered in heaps of snow. Such beautiful landscape provides a nice contrast to the mad shopping rush that has unfortunately befallen a lovely holiday season. Some people might complain about how much snow and how cold it is outside, but to me, it's the perfect setup for Christmas. Now I just have to figure out how to make a snowman from such dry, flaking snow...

Monday, December 3, 2012

47. Affirmations

Affirmations can be a powerful force...I never really believed in the power of affirmations or positive thinking until a time came when I thought, "Why not - what have I got to lose?" I started putting things out into the universe, not in a strict "I affirm such and such," but more like, "I want to do this," or "I wish to do that," "I envision myself doing such and such." And most of the time, it works! I think affirmations have more to do with what one focuses their attention on, when one wishes or focuses on something, one tends to notice that particular thing more, it's on a person's radar, so to speak. I also believe that's how the law of attraction works, it's not so much that we "attract" positive or negative vibes, but more so we notice those things more. For instance, if I'm thinking about how beautiful fruit trees are, and consciously think about them, then chances are the next time I'll notice another fruit tree. Conversely, if I focus on how horrid the summer heat is everytime I walk out, that thinking becomes ingrained in my subconscious, the part of the brain that is responsible for habits and associations, and chances are the next time I walk out, I'll notice and be upset about the summer heat, and miss out on all the beautiful fruit trees...

What brought my attention to affirmations? Well, I've been thinking for a week or so now that I need to look at some core exercises on the body ball, since I got an email about just that, but haven't had time to open it, and I have a body ball lying at home, plus it's been difficult to get to the Y and exercise, because my going to the Y is contingent on playcare hours, and we're still working on my little boy's daytime nap routine. So I thought it might be worth adding some exercises that I can do at home. I was watching "Anne of Green Gables - the Animated Series," and came across a commercial by Body Break on guess what? Core exercise! It wasn't an exercise using the body ball, it was a plank exercise that I could do at home and that I had done before, so I didn't have to learn a whole new exercise. I knew it was something that I could do, having done it before for as long as 90 seconds. I probably would have missed the exercise, or seen the commercial but not register it as something that I can do, and be thankful for having that exercise come by my way in a time of stress, but I've learned to recognize affirmations when they do happen, so thank you universe.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

46. Routine

I used to be an 'anti-routine' person, routine pretty much was synonymous with boring. Routine was so distasteful to me that I would rarely eat the same food from the same restaurant, always venturing for the 'new' dish, something that I had not tried before...

Of course, it's always good to try something new, and 'spice' things up, so to speak. But routine has its place too, and instead of being boring, can actually help one feel grounded at times, increase productivity (by freeing your mind to do/try other things while the routine becomes habitual), and help with physical activity and healthy eating goals (through creating healthy habits).

And when you're a parent, routine becomes something that you almost crave for, since so many new adventures are happening in one's life, with a baby learning and acquiring new skills all the time (and an adult entering the crazy, planning-EVERYTHING-ahead-of-time world of parenthood)! Actually, babies seem to thrive with a decent amount of familiarity and routine/structure in their lives, as I am discovering the hard way, being so routine-averse that I thought I could get my child to adapt to my lifestyle...while my son has adapted to my non-routine, flex lifestyle, it's also affected his sleep greatly, at times needing a parent to fall and stay asleep, and sleeping less in general. Babies generally need around 13-16 hours of sleep for healthy growth and development, and while my child was once ahead of other children his age in terms of growth and development, he's slipping behind lately. Part of it was because our flex lifestyle led to him eating on the go and therefore skipping some much-needed sit-down meals, and because he had been going to bed later and later, wanting to stay up and have fun with his parents, while waking up at around the same time each morning.

So, I am starting to appreciate routine and structure more and more in my life, one other reason being that my memory is not as good as it used to be before child, so I almost have to create routines to ingrain habits that will help me remember where I put things (such as my keys, phone, and wallet!) and what needs to get done, and free up space to keep track of things that I need to do for my child. Routine is helping my son eat more, eat healthier, and sleep better and longer; it gives me some down time to do things that I enjoy doing, provide me with some much-needed 'me-time,' and I've recently realized routine can help me eat better. And I can honestly say even with these routines, my life is far from boring, as there is always something new happening in my life vis-a-vis my child, or something new to learn, such as the fine art of choosing a daycare.

Hence, my ode to routine, I say, bring it!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

45. Home Sweet Home

Today I am nurturing my gratitude for being home. For the longest time, Kamloops did not feel like home. Which is interesting, because I thought I was used to living in different places in different countries - could be an age thing :P Took me about two years to feel at home to be honest, and now when I'm in Vancouver, it's nice to be around all the action and options available, but I also notice how much noisier everything is. And I feel so much time gets sucked up just trying to find things and keep things somewhat in order, which also could be due to the forgetfulness that has become part and parcel of parenthood. I miss my routine (can't believe I'm saying this!), did not enjoy not having my sleeping mask around, shivering almost every night before I fell asleep (since being a 'guest,' I had to cater to others' need for below room temperatures, as well as waking up at noon or later), always running up and down stairs to get something (although that was a good cardio workout), and generally not feeling safe. Within two days of being away, I was craving to come back home, longing for my own space, my own bed, my eye mask, my own thermostat. It seems like my little boy is happy to be home too :)

As soon as I walked in the home, I felt lighter, replaced by different stresses, and insomnia again, but nonetheless I feel relieved. Thank you sweet home, and I'm also thankful that I can afford a nice, decent apartment to live in.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

44. PMA

I have been thinking about positive mental attitude, or PMA, since yesterday. I learned about PMA what seems like an eternity ago (12 years), as a Resident Advisor at Cornell. How one looks at things makes such a difference in how one feels, one's outlook, how one's day turns out. Yesterday, I was thinking about how lucky I am to have such a happy child in my life, who manages to make me smile at least once a day. And then I thought, 'Wow, I can still feel fortunate despite all the stressors and crises I am going through,' and felt grateful for being able to feel lucky, to not feel victimized, to see the positive in things. Predominantly because there was a time in my life when I could not feel thankful or lucky for everything good I had going on. That was about 12 years ago too.

I remember feeling like a victim, feeling sorry for myself, wondering often why bad things happened to me, I even belonged to a clan of 'Shit Sisters,' bemoaning and bragging about the 'shit' that befell us. Not to say I haven't felt sorry for myself in the past nine months, or wondered why and what the purpose of all this emotional turmoil is, what lesson I needed to learn from all this heartache, but mostly, I have been thankful, grateful for the little things that make me smile, that make me happy. I have been able to feel fortunate at least once a day, and that is a wonderful thing to feel, a proof of how far I've come along in my life journey, of all my positive growth, that working on my attitude and remaining hopeful and optimistic has definitely paid off.

It's nice to know that the balance is tipping far towards hopefulness and optimism, who'd have thought that PMA learned as a young resident advisor in college would come in handy as an adult mom, and probably for years to come? Thanks PMA!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

43. Mr. Brown Iced Coffee

Over the weekend, as I was at my friend's house for a bbq, I saw Mr. Brown Iced Coffee in her refrigerator. That brought back some fond memories of me drinking these delicious little cans of ready made coffee (complete with milk and sugar) during my stay in Taiwan, which I heavily relied on during my long hours of teaching. It's amazing how an object can trigger memories and emotions; I find it quite fascinating, sometimes things can trigger feel good emotions, and at other times, instantly take you to a place of sadness, or evoke feelings of anger, resentment or hatred. Thankfully, Mr. Brown brought up happy memories, since going to Taiwan to teach English as a Second Language was one of the best decisions I have made, even though at the time I was unsure, and had to overcome certain hurdles once I was there. Goes to show that sometimes it's worth taking a chance, "taking the plunge" so to speak, even if the outcomes are unknown. When challenges come up, it's worth telling oneself that challenges can be overcome, and with a little initiative, the universe will help with whatever one wants to achieve. You just need to put it out and sometimes surrender, like Oprah said during her pilot episode of "Oprah Presents Master Class."

Thank you, Mr. Brown for bringing up some good feelings, especially at a time when feelings of hatred, anger, stress, sadness, and resentment invade my sleep.

Monday, September 24, 2012

42. Nail Polish

Tonight I nurture my gratitude for nail polish, since I happened upon a nail polish that I have been thinking about procuring for almost two months. It's OPI's "Deutsch you want me baby?" I was at my local London Drugs, browsing through the nail polish section after having gotten my necessity item, and when I saw the OPI Germany Collection, my heart almost skipped a beat in excitement! And then I saw the beautiful blazing orange colour that screams of fall, which I had been looking for at a couple of salons and was disappointed to find that it had been sold out at both locations. This gorgeous baby was one of the few things that really perked up my day after a harrowing night of stress and insomnia.

I have always enjoyed wearing nail polish, occasionally stopping at my local retail stores to look for a nice colour to paint my nails with. Then nursing school came along, and my interest in nail polish waned, since I could only wear it on my toes. That inability to wear nail polish on my finger nails has definitely increased my appreciation for being able to paint my nails, and now that I am on parental leave, I am taking full advantage of having my finger nails covered in beautiful shades that suit my fancy.

Of course, I have nail polish blogs to thank for. Earlier this summer, I chanced upon nail polish blogs, and realized how big of a trend nail art is nowadays. Some days I wait for the weekend, just so I can go to Sally's and buy some beautiful colours. Nail polish blogs are also how I came to discover China Glaze, which is probably my favourite brand of nail polish.

So, here's to nail polish and nail polish blogs, another favourite being Frazzle and Aniploish.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

41. Fridays

I have been enjoying my Fridays immensely lately. In fact, I look forward to it with a passion and anticipation that I can't quite recollect ever having had for a day of the week. Probably because nowadays, Fridays signal the start of the weekend (or the end of the week), and some quality time as a family with my other half. It means we get to share the task of entertaining my little boy, and perhaps get some cleaning and organizing done. It means I might have some time to do some cooking, and go for a walk, or just watch TV, or stay up a bit late (although that doesn't pay off too well with a baby that wakes up at 7 am like clockwork, but still, it means I can nap any time during the day, and know that Eric will be safe with his dad, and Eric's dad can do the same).

So yes, even though I don't count the days till Friday, when Friday comes around, it feels like I'm on vacation, or close to that. Thank you, glorious Fridays!

40. Sudoku

Tonight I am nurturing my gratitude for sudoku. I first heard about sudoku, and saw those little 3x3 boxes about seven years ago. A couple of my co-workers were really into it, and even though it looked pretty mathematical to me, they assured me it was more akin to a puzzle than to math. It wasn't until the following year that I started paying attention to the sudoku booklets at grocery store check-outs. I told my roommate at the time about sudoku, and we both decided to give it a try. We got hooked!

Not only is sudoku a fun puzzle to do, but it requires almost full concentration in order to be accurate, that is, to line up your numbers without repeating them. In that sense, I find it very meditative, because although I'll start off with my thoughts everywhere, as I continue figuring out the numbers, I find my thoughts refocussing to solve the puzzle. And the reward is a perfect 3x3 square, with the numbers 1 to 9 occurring only once per line and per square.

Here I am, seven years later, still loving sudoku. I don't get the chance to do it as often as I like to, but it's still one of the things that bring a smile to my face. And needless to say, it's one of those little "tools" that help me weather the storm I am going through. Thank you sudoku!

Friday, September 14, 2012

39. "Rainbow in the clouds"

Tonight, I am nurturing my gratitude for the "rainbow in the clouds." I am a big fan of Oprah Winfrey's "Master Class," and had the great opportunity to re-watch Maya Angelou's take on life. Two things struck me when I saw the episode again: how much I had forgotten (possibly due to my 'mommy brain'), and what an eloquent and inspirational speaker this lady is. She talked about how she had many struggles in life, but along with those struggles there were many rainbows too, and encouraged viewers to always look for the rainbows in the clouds. Of course, not always does one see rainbows through the clouds, but once in a while, those rainbows do come about, and when we happen upon them, it is truly magical, despite the physics behind rainbows. Sometimes, we are so focused on how overcast and crappy the weather is that we tend to miss those brief moments of beauty...

This year continues to be one of my happiest and most challenging years to date, and since last night, while I've been trying to gather some peace in my mind and soul, I've been thinking about Maya's rainbows, to give me some strength, some insight, something great to hold on to. Tonight, as I put my son to bed, I thought "Eric is my rainbow, he's my constant rainbow" - he manages to make me smile and forget about all my worries even in my darkest moments, by doing simple things that only a baby can do, like rolling off during a diaper change and getting on all fours, practicing his pre-crawl stance. I laughed and laughed and laughed, and I thought perhaps I was overreacting as a doting mom, when I saw my other fellow mom-friends laughing too. He is my beacon of light, my inspiration, my strength, my courage, my rainbow in the clouds.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

38. Public libraries

Wow! I am surprised that I haven't blogged about my gratitude for libraries, given that I probably feel thankful for them at least once a month, aha! Oddly enough, I was never a big fan of libraries when I was a student - I would rarely study in a library, never liked the stench of old books, and generally thought that libraries were boring. I am still not a fan of that old-book smell, but love libraries now, and often make it a point to visit libraries when I'm travelling. My appreciation for libraries started with the Vancouver Public Library, in particular its Central Branch. The first time I laid eyes on the structure that houses this beautiful library, I thought of the Colosseum, even though I was yet to behold the ancient Roman structure in person, I thought 'Wow, what a cool library!' To my surprise, the library did not smell of old books, it was brightly lit, and generally had a feel good and open vibe, not a scholarly, snobbish vibe. It was love at first sight...and I have never looked back. I started studying at libraries, even the university ones, and made peace with the old book smell. I started appreciating how libraries were a quiet and free space to concentrate, read, study; about how it was an affordable, space-saving, and green way to read bestsellers and magazines; about how it was a great way to get introduced to new books. Now I get to appreciate the Children's section, and am thinking about audiobooks and downloading e-books from the library. My local library has been a wonderful support during my transition into parenthood, through their Tiny Tunes ( a song, rhyme and story time for babies and young children) program and other programs and services geared towards children. I hope libraries will always be something the government and public continue to invest in.

37. Love

As I was walking back home, I thought about how one can do so much, endure so much, get through so much, and tolerate/put up with so much, for love. My son teaches me every day to be more grateful, more compassionate, more patient, and more giving. He lets me be thankful for that precious fifteen minutes of being able to quietly eat lunch, or browse through a few pages. I picked up for a travel book, and a 'Destination Weddings' travel brochure during my stroll, and wondered, 'Either I must be crazy, or crazily in love to think about getting married' - to a person who'd record a voice mail with my screaming child because I went into a library for five minutes when I was only supposed to drop off books, a man who cannot console a crying child for five minutes, a parent who'd put a crying child next to my door, when I've spent thirteen hours looking after that same child, was tired and feeling low, and wanted to sleep, a father who finds it frustrating to console an infant for half an hour, when I spend hours, days, figuring ways to entertain my child, to make him smile, to console him when he's having a crying fit. Then I thought about love, about my unconditional love for my child, about doing what it takes in his best interests, about how Eric lights up when his dad comes home after work, about how I wanted to be a parent so badly, and now I am, and about how my partner sometimes does things that make me smile, and make me thankful to be with him. I thought about the friends who stayed beside me when I was sinking into an abysmal depression, about how I would want others to treat me if I were in someone else's shoes, about how life is still better with a spouse and father in my and my child's lives, about how there is always the possibility of things getting better, of being optimistic. I thank my child for teaching me to remain grounded and patient and loving every day, and to be thankful for the little joys in life, despite feeling increasingly overwhelmed and fearing the threat of falling back into that abyss. I am grateful for unconditional, nurturing love, that helps me weather the storm, and keeps me fighting for the good and blessings around me. Thank you.

36. World Humanitarian Day

So, a couple of days ago I was on Vevo, and noticed Beyonce's new music video for 'I Was Here.' Today, I finally got the chance to watch the video, and through that, found out about World Humanitarian Day. What a beautiful cause to be a part of! This year's World Humanitarian Day theme is about doing 'Something good somewhere for someone else.' On the 'I was here' website, a helping suggestion is to 'Cook a meal for a new mum' - brought a smile to my face. Even though my spouse and I heard from various people about freezing meals, and we did have frozen dinners in our freezer, it's almost impossible to understand the meaning of 'cooking meals' until one has a newborn...I think we needed help with cooking for at least eight weeks! It seems like such a short time now, but then felt like an eternity, with the chronic sleep deprivation, waking up every couple of hours around the clock, the daily and seemingly endless laundry, the hour after hour crying of a newborn, the complete upheaval and loss of control of one's daily life routine, the healing and pain from major abdominal surgery, the frustration of new, and confidence-lacking parents not knowing how to console a gassy baby...cooking was really the last thing on our minds, although an important part of being new parents, especially if a mother is breastfeeding. I remember feeling extremely grateful to my sister-in-law for sending us a fruit basket, probably one of the most meaningful gifts we received during that newborn turmoil of joy, exhaustion, and confusion.

Going back to the theme of helping others, I think it's wonderful to celebrate a day of helping others, of unconditionally and unselfishly giving oneself to others. While I believe it is important to remember others who have fallen during war and other hate crimes, it is equally important to honour and be thankful for peace, for humanitarianism. So, thank you Beyonce, for this music video, that led me to this website.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

35. Music festivals

Tonight I am nurturing my gratitude for music festivals, in particular, the Roots and Blues Festival that we attended in Salmon Arm over the weekend. Despite the hot weather, it was great to be able to enjoy live music outdoors, finding a nice shaded spot to have lunch/dinner, and being able to sample different foods from various vendors. I appreciated the family-friendly nature of the event too, with tents set up for children's entertainment. Eric definitely enjoyed his first 'taste' of sand and the cool water mist, while I enjoyed watching his delight at being able to explore and play with sand. It's nice to be able to go to venues that bring communities and people together, and well, music festivals are definitely a big part of summer. Thank you, Roots and Blues Festival, for a great Saturday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

34. Meditation

Meditation has been one of those wonderful discoveries along my life journey. I remember trying meditation years ago as a student at Cornell. At the time, I was still on the mend from severe depression, anxious about losing my grip on academics, and had heard that meditation helped with stress. That meditation session was a somewhat failed attempt, or maybe not, as I was probably in the contemplative stages of accepting meditation as a practice that would work for me. I was too restless to be still, and it was a very tense hour because of that. I clearly remember telling a friend how meditation had the opposite effect on me (now I know that when starting meditation, one becomes aware of all these seemingly exploding thoughts, which subside with practice :)

Then I came across meditation again as a student at Simon Fraser University. It was a fairly anxious time for me, as I had returned to school after a few years, and my fear of not being able to succeed academically based on my experiences at Cornell was still raw and felt very real. The Counselling Department was offering one hour Vipassana (or insightful) meditation classes/sessions every week, and I decided to give meditation another shot (actually I had forgotten about my first meditation experience, so it was more like starting meditation from scratch). This time, meditation clicked with me, and it was a wonderful experience. Partly because there was more guidance this time around, where the psychologist would explain the purpose of meditation, that there would be thoughts that arise, but it was about being mindful in the present, and letting thoughts go. With practice, I even had a few sessions where at times my mind felt blank, and at others, it felt like my mind was expanding. Ever since that wonderful discovery five years ago, I have been a fairly devout student of meditation, either listening to meditation mp3s in my spare time, or seeking out group meditation sessions in the community. Hopefully, the next step will be to incorporate five minutes of still meditation practice, by candlelight, either in the morning or evening.

Although nowadays I find it difficult to meditate with a blank mind, I still enjoy the sense of calm I feel immediately afterwards (yes, even with all those roaming thoughts!) I love the sense of peace and stillness that accompanies silent meditation, and I love the gong that signals the beginning or end of a session. I have done one retreat in Knutsford, and hope to do more in the future. Meditation is a great way to become more self-aware, and to ground oneself when things seem too overwhelming and it's difficult to anchor oneself. Thank you, meditation, for being a part of my life.

Monday, August 13, 2012

33. Cooking

As I was making lunch today, I thought of how nice it feels to be cooking again. Ever since I've been able to cook, it's been a creative process for me. Yes, I do have recipe books, but I rarely follow every step to the letter. There is simple pleasure and joy in cooking something aromatic, in playing with the colours of food to create something appetizing, delicious, nutritious, and healthy. I also find cooking oddly meditative, in that when I'm cooking, I'm solely focusing on my creation, and rarely think about anything else. Nowadays, I have very few occasions where I am just thinking about the task at hand - usually my mind is occupied with a multitude of thoughts.

During my pregnancy, I had a brief interlude during second trimester where I had enough energy to cook and bake. And since my child was born, it's been an adventure ride that's left little time for me to cook. Now that Eric is eating solids, I feel more of an imperative to cook again, and it feels great to be able to do so.

So here's to cooking, and the simple pleasures of life.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

32. The Mighty Salmon

While I'm rocking my salmon art T-shirt, I figured I might as well nurture my gratitude for the salmon. My admiration for this mighty fish came about three years ago, while on a cruise to Alaska. There I got to see hundreds of salmon going upstream, and what a sight it was to behold! I was completely transfixed by the tenacity of salmon, fighting currents, and jumping up in its journey to spawn. With every failed attempt, the fish would gather in a calmer spot, waiting, and trying again. I thought of what kind of genetic mechanism enabled the fish to remember where it originated, to continue to fight against such odds, sometimes even dying in the process of going upstream. Survival of the fittest in its amazing glory...

What was once a simple (albeit delicious ;-) fish took on new meaning for me. Sometimes in times of hardship, I think of the salmon fighting to go upstream, struggling to survive the current...I was and continue to be in such awe of the fish, that I bought a T-shirt with native salmon art at one of the souvenir stores, have considered buying salmon earrings (!), and hope to one day possess some salmon artwork for my wall. Two years ago, I enthusiastically went to see the Adams River Salmon Run and hope to return to Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park with my son this year. I hope he'll feel some of the same excitement and marvel I felt upon watching this mighty fish in action.

31. Facebook

Tonight I'm nurturing my gratitude for Facebook. I've been feeling pretty ambiguous about Facebook for the past week or so, especially after learning that my profile would change to the new timeline feature by default. With the current profile, it was already difficult to control my privacy settings, without making it only visible to myself, which kinda defeats the purpose of Facebook, as the privacy features are based on an 'opt-out' idea, where one has to manually edit features for every single 'friend.' I viewed the whole timeline feature with skepticism, thinking it as a way to make my profile even more public in an attempt to perhaps generate greater revenue and recover some of the momentum that the company had lost during its initial public offering.

Then I started thinking of some of the great things about Facebook, about how it has reconnected me with people from my past that I had completely lost touch with, and who are thousands of miles away, enabling me to get a glimpse of their current lives through their posts and pictures. I thought of how easy it is to post pictures and share news with everyone simultaneously, and the joy I feel when others are able to share in my joys, or offer me suggestions when I'm in a tough spot. The concern with privacy still remains - however, I also recognize I live in an era and amongst a generation where publicizing through social media is the norm. Many years ago, people were very concerned about email privacy, when email was still relatively new, and now it has become ubiquitous. Perhaps, in a few years, social media will be viewed in the same light, with privacy being less of an issue. So, I am thankful for the connections that Facebook has enabled, and for being able to share joyous events and passionate causes instantaneously.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

30. Picnics

When one thinks of a picnic, images of a picnic basket, a comfortable blanket, a green park, perhaps a book, and a nice breeze comes to mind. It's the perfect image of relaxation and bliss. And yet, in the past six years or so, I've gone picnicking maybe once a year? Despite living about 10 minutes from a park...

So nowadays I'm kinda forced to do impromptu picnics because of a little one; I find it's the best way to have a nice dinner/lunch, and catch up with friends without having to worry about my son having to behave in a restaurant, for instance. Eric loves being outdoors, with lots of space and greenery to keep him distracted; I as a parent love the downtime I get, where I either play with Eric without having to worry about what needs to be done at home, or just relax with a book, or get to eat in peace. The more picnics we have, the more I wonder why and how I never got to do more of this before Eric - it's free, affordable, and nourishes the soul.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

29. Competition

As I nurture my gratitude for competition, I realize this has probably been a long time coming, although it took me the London 2012 Olympics and a great athlete like Michael Phelps to do so (Congratulations on your 22th medal, wow!) Growing up, I've had quite a negative experience with competition, not in an athletic context, but more in an academic context. I got to see how adults would sometimes act worse than children, perhaps out of resentment, jealousy, ego...I've experienced friends sabotaging me, and not knowing who to trust in the name of competition. And of course, to be at the top of one's game,  one has to sacrifice and make lots of compromises, which is probably harder to do in one's childhood and teens than as an adult.

Watching athletes compete in the Olympics has made me realize how competition can be a great motivator, despite all the challenges, struggles, sacrifices, and ugliness that might come with it. I can't help but wonder how many athletes Michael Phelps, the great swimmer and Olympian, inspired to be stronger, faster, better at what they do, in particular swimming. When the training got tough for these world-class swimmers, they probably thought of this great champion for inspiration. Those swimmers who wanted Olympic gold knew they had to beat Michael's record, and in order to do that, they had to swim harder, faster. Plus, imagine how these swimmers are feeling now, as they're winning gold at the London  Olympics. Maybe there is some truth to victory being that much sweeter when it's harder to accomplish. For me, it's nice to think of competition in a positive light, especially after so many years of seeing it as something negative...and it's also nice to gain some inspiration to make physical activity a priority in my life. After all, if athletes can train for five hours a day, six days a week, then surely the average person can chip in an hour a day (or every other day) in the name of physical and emotional health.

28. Pedicures

Tonight I am nurturing my gratitude for pedicures, as I probably had the best pedicure this evening! I had booked the pedicure because there was a promotion going on, figuring that I haven't had a pedicure this year, and my feet could use some pampering. Turns out the pedicure came at the right time, because it help to pamper my soul too. This has been such a roller coaster year for me, with great happiness, great sorrow, great stress, and great worries. I was wondering today as to how much I can continue to cope with this year, because it seems like every time I feel like I am emotionally strong again, something happens that crushes me and tries to pull me under. And yet I know I have to somehow stay strong and continue to hope for the best, and to pray for courage and resilience to get through this, not just for me, but for others who are counting on me to do so. Today's pedicure was a one-hour oasis where I could forget about my worries, stress, sadness and just let go. I don't think I have ever appreciated a pedicure as much as I have today, and the esthetician who did such a fabulous job. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

27. Funny movies

There's nothing like a good laugh to relieve stress and feel good, and it's even better when that laugh comes right before bedtime. Yesterday, I happened to watch a great comedy on TV called 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' a light-hearted, feel good movie that's perfect for ending the day on a high note. Watching the movie made me realize that I definitely can use more laughter in my life - sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in everything that needs to be done, and lately I've been feeling a lot of pressure to establish more routine and structure in my life, especially with a little one in the family. Perhaps being able to let go and have a hearty laugh is just as important as routine in my life right now :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

26. My Kind Spouse

As I was stepping into the shower, I was thinking of how grateful I am to have a loving, kind spouse. The kind of spouse who apologizes by bringing home a dozen roses, and whom I love so much that seeing those flowers, that act of thoughtfulness, brought tears to my eyes, and I barely managed a 'Thank You.' It's amazing how a dozen roses can say so much - today they said, "I'm sorry, I love you, and you are important to me." Even typing this is making me emotional...

Dear Matthew, thank you for being so kind, generous, and thoughtful. When you handed me that bouquet this afternoon, I thought to myself, "He brought home some crappy flowers again," and the roses caught me completely off guard...I hope all goes well at the hospital.

25. Apricot Trees

One of the great things about summer is the abundance of fruit trees in my neighbourhood. Earlier in the summer, I got to see cherries ripen, and now I get to see beautiful, bright apricots fill up the green in trees. Yesterday, I saw a couple of little boys picking apricots, how sweet! Apricot trees have been making me smile for the past couple of years, and it's one of the things I look forward to on my walks. Last year, as I was transitioning through my pregnancy, I would talk to my unborn child about the beauty of nature, in the form of these happy, feel good fruit trees. So now everytime I walk past apricot trees while pushing the stroller with my son, I am reminded of the wonderful times I spent walking with him in utero.

Thank you, apricot trees, for the wonderful memories.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

24. Pixiwoo

Tonight I am nurturing my gratitude for Pixiwoo, a YouTube makeup channel featuring two extremely talented makeup artists. I have been watching their videos since last year, can't remember how or exactly when; it was most probably during makeup tutorial searches on YouTube. What grabbed my attention was how professional their channel looked - well-organized, well-lit, well-filmed and edited - and of course the artists are very good at what they do. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have a soft spot for Mac Cosmetics, and it helps that Nic and Sam use a fair amount of Mac products in their tutorials (I bought Mac's Club eyeshadow after watching one of their tutorials), although I have to admit their latest video on Chanel Illusion d'Ombres has actually got me thinking about purchasing one of those costly eyeshadows, eek! Just goes to show that marketing and advertising are constantly evolving, and with so many different media options out there, YouTube channels can have a big impact on sales and promotion.

Ooops, I digress. Back to Pixiwoo, I think I have learned so much about makeup application and techniques from these ladies, including contouring, smokey eyes and which brushes to use, and lately I have been trying their technique of lining my eyes by changing the angle of the brush. I have also tried buffing my foundation because of them, and wow! What a difference that makes!

Thank you, Pixiwoo sisters, for teaching me how to apply makeup and learning how to accentuate my features, I hope subscription to your channel continues to grow!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

23. The Olympics

As the London 2012 Olympic Games approaches, I am reminded of the incredible energy and city spirit of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. While I was excited to be a part of Olympic history, nothing could prepare me for the way in which the Games really brought Vancouverites together. Within days, there was a sea of red and white, almost everyone sporting red and white mittens supporting Canada. It was the first time I saw the city unite, everyone riding on a high of solidarity and positive patriotism for Vancouver and Canada. I felt so much pride, and my spouse and I thoroughly enjoyed the different games and activities that were happening throughout the city. The cauldron was simply spectacular, and the Games were a great way to have an appreciation for sports like curling. The  climax, of course, was the ice hockey final between Canada and the USA - one of the most tense games I've ever watched. The glorious moment during overtime when Sidney Crosby scored the goal that got us Olympic Gold...the mass of people crowding downtown in a sea of red and white, certainly memories worth feeling grateful for. So, thank you, Olympics 2012, for reminding me of how sports can truly unite a nation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

22. Friends

Now, where do I begin with friends? I am very fortunate to have some amazing friends, friends who make me laugh, help me gain new perspectives, and support me through some of the toughest times in my life. My friends got me through my teens, my college / university years, my angst-ridden years as a new graduate, and now, as I go through parenthood and grieving the loss of a parent. I can write on and on about some of the wonderful things my friends have done / continue to do for me over the years, but that might turn into an overly lengthy saga. So I will keep this entry short and sweet, and end by saying that friends are definitely the family that one chooses, thank you my dear friends, for being there and unconditionally supporting me. I am truly grateful to have you all in my life.

21. My Pregnancy

So, it has been over a year since I last nurtured my gratitude in the blogosphere, although I've been nurturing gratitude for the little things in life in my head...the last year has just been such a wonderful year for me, and the joyride continues. I got pregnant with my first child, who is now five months old.

Being pregnant and continuing along that journey has been one of the most gratifying experiences in my life this far, it has given me a sense of contentment that I had only dreamed of before, having a life grow inside of me, feeling his first flutter-like kicks, that gradually grew more pronounced. Not to mention the amazing skin (best skin I've had in my adult years :) I rocked throughout, thanks to pregnancy hormones. The transformation was simply amazing from a biological standpoint (yes, this is where the bio / health science nerd in me comes out), my body went through so many changes, and was so in sync with my growing baby, I mean we pregnant ladies are pretty lucky to be able to undergo such changes in adulthood.

Though I make it sound like I had the most smooth-sailing, glorious pregnancy, I did not. First trimester came with an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that really had me worried, and third trimester had its own set of challenges (one, for instance, was that I never thought how difficult it can be to roll from one side to another...) And of course, how one feels about being pregnant is also a state of mind that depends on a myriad of factors - I was at a point in my life where I was both emotionally and financially ready to have children, and so the pregnancy-related challenges were easier to cope with. And in hindsight, it was nice to have weeks where I was able to just lie in bed and read book after book, 'coz time for reading leisure books is hard to come by these days!