Thankful…

Realistically I have a ton to be thankful for. And I don't often feel like I thank people enough for what they do for me or what they do for others. Sure there are thank you cards, and saying thanks and typing out emails of appreciation and whatnot, but there's so much I want to say thanks for these days, even if I feel like complaining about the little things at times — I'm honestly so lucky to be whom I am.

So thank you. To all of you who make me happy, who make others happy, to all who better people's days, to all who provide hope, hugs, and happiness be it in a little comment, a tweet, a Facebook message, a phone call, an in person discussion, or really any mode of communication at all.

And yes, I will continue to write thank you notes. I mailed out three this week, in fact. And I will continue to be thankful for all that you do, you who have impacted me or who have helped others.

THANK YOU.

Bah. Dear cold, could you please go away?

So I'm still stuffed up and dealing with an annoying cold. Now that it's making a dent in my social life (as well as my productive life, but whatever to that), I figured I'd take the time to natter on about it for a moment or two.

It's darn hard to sleep with a stuffy nose, particularly when it suddenly wants to run in the middle of the night causing you to wake up after having slept fitfully for the previous half hour or so. It's also darn hard to do so when your brain is working on overdrive over-analyzing and longing for stuff that is not reality as much as my poor brain may want it to be (yeah yeah, I'm mixing up your and my… I'm sick, I don't care at this juncture).

It's annoying when said cold causes me to wake up in the midst of the most pleasant of the crazy dreams that I've been having. The last two nights have been like this, and well… both dream sets have included men, former SaveOn employees, SaveOnFoods, cuddling, completely non-existent departments, travel, a dose of reality, breaking the laws of physics, and women among other things. Some of these dreams have been preposterous and unpleasant, others have been more wish-fulfillment mixed with ack this makes no sense. Gotta love dreams while sick!

In other news (unless you didn't catch it earlier), I'm flying to Kitchener-Waterloo on Sunday. If you're planning to be in the area, it would be really awesome to see you during my scant free time.

Travel and geekery abounds!

So as I sit here, enjoying a day of the Internets while suffering from a cold (it is progressing though, so I have hope that I'll be healthy again by the time I need to be… I really hope that will be the case in any event seeing as I have two papers to deliver/help deliver in Kitchener-Waterloo next week at Congress)… I am reminded by the fact that many of my favorite things are oh so geeky, but that geeky is a whole heck of a lot cooler/acceptable than it was in days gone by…

… regardless I am oh so geeky and lovin' it! Still, it is rare that something, even YouTube content really talks to me as a person. One of those instances is this wonderful video from a girl geek that really makes me smile, because she's got it so right:

Last night, I finally played Puerto Rico and while I lost horribly (my strategy was 'build all the things' which totally doesn't work so well in a two player game when the other player is producing all the resources… *shrugs*), but it reminded me just how much I ADORE board gaming, both for its social aspect (I mean iPod games are all fine and good, and I lost at iPod Monopoly like half a dozen times in the past 24 hours [I suck at Monopoly], but what else do you do when people aren't playing their turn on Ticket to Ride Pocket Edition, and when you've beat all the iPod Settlers of Catan campaign levels…?), and for the sheer awesomeness of gameplay. Video games are great and all, but I so prefer board games! This is why I pre-ordered Cards Against Humanity as soon as I learned it was available in the Canadian online store this week and I totally can't wait until it arrives! Oooh and I talked to another ol' friend whom I hadn't seen in ages and it turns out he's a big board gamer too! So maybe my next board game night, he might attend? Mind you my next [well organized, not spur of the moment] board game night may well be in late July (for my birthday?) due to my hectic travel schedule.

You see, as much as I adore geeky things I also adore travel (and yes, travel can be geeky in its own way, thank you very much), and just got back from Vancouver where I enjoyed a combination of CKI awesomeness, seeing friends and family, and experiencing Vancouver. I stayed with three different friends on this trip, none of whom were originally from Vancouver. And in general it was awesome (well, except for my temporary idiot-ness where I lost learner's licence at the airport. Thank goodness that was resolved quickly!). I walked around much of Vancouver (Kitsilano, Chinatown, Downtown, Stanley Park, North Vancouver), checked out an interesting bookstore, Banyen Books, noticing books that several of my friends would enjoy including Laury, Basil and others (no I didn't buy anything, money is tight, given so much upcoming travel! I have even upped my availability at the grocery store as finances are tighter than what is ideal), noticing board game and comic shops that I really really wanted to visit (but thanks to the good ones not being open when I walked by, and the toy store that was open being overpriced AND it is BC so there's HST, I wasn't buying, as tempting as it was), eating sushi (I ate at Nick's sushi which was okay, but nothing spectacular, and went to Tampopo for all you can eat [Daniel proved that he does indeed have a crazy huge appetite!]), eating Korean hot pot (for my first time!), eating many other delicious things (and some that were less than delicious), visiting the aquarium (which was awesome!), visiting the park beside the Chinese Garden (someday I will actually visit the garden side, I think!), walking around at the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and park (I adore heights, and the natural wonderland that is North Vancouver is great fun to visit!), going to Lonsdale Quay, taking transit, realizing that Google Maps is sometimes very very flawed, walking about on beaches, and generally having a good time, particularly when weather was behaving.

Yes, it was a good trip and a reasonably excellent first ever CKI Sub-regional event. I'm glad I got to spend it with such awesome people as aunts, my cousin, my uncle, my friends, and CKI members.

Unfortunately I had a bit of a stomach upset near the end of my trip and am now dealing with a cold, surely brought on by travel (what do you expect with airplanes, rain, etc.?) but I look forward to my next trip — and I depart less than a week after I got home from my most recent one!

Money management…

… is often a fun hobby for me, realistically. This year however, money is a little bit tighter than previously (partially as I live alone, and partially because being a grad student isn't as lucrative as it could otherwise be… but also because travel is expensive and I have to pay for everything upfront while waiting to be reimbursed, and I still haven't heard back about funding from the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research for my upcoming trip to Kitchener-Waterloo and…).

But it's not like I'm destitute, or anything. I think that tomorrow when I go into work I'll change my availability slightly (not much of course, just opening myself up for an additional shift a week maximum), and well, I'm going to have to move some money around. I don't touch my RRSPs, and won't touch my main TFSA, or my DRIP investments, but my shorter term investments (particularly the savings accounts that are meant for this purpose which are earning VERY little interest and maybe my other funds meant for a rainy day) are useful for times such as these. Interestingly, I expected to have to dip into these funds a lot sooner than now, and I won't have to for at least another week or two.

But I'm still enjoying watching my other investments grow. And I know that at some point in the next year I'll be in a different fiscal situation. While I doubt I'll finish these degrees completely by the end of the summer, I will CERTAINLY be done by the end of the calendar year.

Huh… some dud started singing and playing the guitar outside. How strange.

The Conference season approaches… ack!

Not that it's not already started, but the meat of the conference season for me has really gotten near! And not a day passes without some sort of email referencing some sort of conference or convention or something in it. And I look forward to all the busy-ness: it won't give me the opportunity to be unmotivated or bored or probably even lonely (heck, I'll go explore! That's a sure way of solving loneliness when I'm not at home!).

My to do list for the next two days to prepare is pretty long, though, of course. But I think I'll manage to get the majority of it done. And what will be left likely won't be as important.

Money's tighter this summer than it has been in other years (attributed to many factors including markets not performing as well, but mostly because I haven't been paid as much and have somewhat higher expenses), but I'm doing well, and looking forward to travels.

Oh and yeah, I am indeed sore from all the exercise yesterday. That's not surprising.

And it's well… summer!

Or at least the weather is cooperating. And not only have I taken my newest Wii game somewhat seriously (I'm doing 15 minute workouts at the moment, given that they don't have the clock running the whole time it's longer than 15 minutes… but whatever. I'm still testing the thing, making sure it's not too tough on my wrists among other things (my pushup bars are a huge help when the game wants me to do various plank exercises but I still worry a considerable amount)… but today I went for my first bike ride of the season. It wasn't entirely effortless, of course, because I realized that I needed to put air in my tires before going out for a ride. I didn't own a bike pump.

So after a brief walk to Mountain Equipment Co-op (a store I have been frequenting more and more often in recent years, and which I would likely visit even more frequently if I actually put more effort into doing active outdoorsy things that I enjoy — because, heck, I enjoy doing them a whole lot!) and a discussion with a staff member, I have a pump that while it can be frame mounted is actually able to be used like a small floor pump and works rather nicely. I like it as it takes up less space than most floor pumps, but is actually reasonably easy to use (though perhaps time consuming, pumping up my tires was actually a bit of a workout too, particularly after my Wii workout focusing on leg strength).

So eventually I made it out for my glorious first bike ride of the season. Last year, I never once biked alone (I was always with my then boyfriend, JD). Today, I definitely biked alone, and although my right wrist decided that it hated me for the strain I put on it by biking, I had a good time. I basically did a loop starting from home, going over the High Lever Bridge and then taking bike paths down to Louise McKinley Park and then looping back through the trail system to home. I was only out for about an hour, but as a first bike ride of the year, my body was starting to get tired by the end, and well, I'm starting to get a bit sore in strange places now.

And I mean it, strange places. It kind of hurts to breathe because my chest is somehow sore. Not entirely sure how that happened (pumping bike tires? Wii workouts? biking? Walking isn't the likely cause, but?). Sure, I was breathing pretty heavily when I was attempting to conquer hills on my bike (I've never been good at conquering hills in any case) but that shouldn't be surprising as that's my normal. I'm slowly getting into better shape, I think, which is helpful. Perhaps that will help with the health problems, but no guarantees there (as doctors have no useful answers as of yet… not that I'm terribly worried at the moment)

Anyway… in other news, I *SO* want to play my new Puerto Rico, limited aniversary edition game at some point before I head off to Vancouver on Wednesday (Wednesday will be a VERY long day — I work 5 hours in Edmonton and then head to the airport and will still have my evening to enjoy in Vancouver). I don't have MANY firm plans for my time in Vancouver, but it's quickly filling up. I'm there for a conference (it's pretty unstructured at the moment, as it'll be like 5 of us) which I guess starts Friday afternoon/evening and runs until Sunday morning… but I've already lunch plans with an aunt, evening plans with a few friends and so on to slot in. We'll see what else gets planned in the interim! I want to make it out to Stanley Park, and eat from food carts (JapaDog among others!), and at least try a few new restaurants (you know me, I like food!) — at some point I'll have to eat Asian food, of course! And like every trip, I like to try at least one new thing, and probably check out a bookstore or so… but I don't want to spend too too much — I have so much other travel to spend money on this summer!

On procrastination and productivity.

So I procrastinate. A lot. In fact this procrastination could be perceived as detrimental or even just a negative effect. But, I don't always deem it as such. I mean sometimes, it is quite evident that I should be doing other stuff than what I am, but I think my continual struggle for balance compels me to procrastinate one thing for another quite frequently, be it getting exercise or spending time with friends, or doing CKI/Kiwanis works or whatsoever else it might actually be.

And lately, I think I've been calming myself down with 'me' time before a busy travel season continues. Sure I'm getting stuff done (yes I'm actually doing some thesis research, and yes I'm working madly on some research assistantship work), but I'm also trying to spend time with folks, or at least communicate with them via text messages, emails and social media.

Usually when I say I'm procrastinating, I'm actually doing something productive, just not necessarily the thing that I'm being asked or thinking about. And I don't actually mind that, because it means that I'm still getting things done.

Dreams, hopes, wishes…

I'm in a really good mood today. Not entirely sure why (though there are some reasons I could blame, partially good food, partially having a nap this afternoon, partially having a good exercise session this morning… but there are many other potential causes too). And being in a really good mood has gotten me thinking about not goals exactly (I assess my goals, you know my SMART goals (or SMARTER goals) relatively often as it is), but about dreams, hopes and wishes. You know the things that while you could put them into concrete goals aren't really up to you alone and which you might just happen to still dream, hope and wish about regardless of whether you're taking steps toward them at the moment or not. And at different times in my life I've done a bit of stepping toward different ones of these. And given that I guess 2012 is intended to be a time of transition for me of a sort (I *WILL* at some point before the end of the CALENDAR year finish this degree — ideally before the end of summer, but I'll be happy to finish before the end of the year), it makes sense that I'd think about hopes, dreams and whatnot.

When I was a little girl, in I suppose second grade, I dreamed of being a ton of things, many of which I will never do or be (like a chef for example), but at some point around then I think I first thought of being a librarian and an author. And I've done a bit of writing over the years, and Tom reminded me today at his talk about the fact that I am still to an extent writing, though perhaps not as often in the fictional way as I have at other times, I'm still writing and still dream of someday publishing novels of fiction, which I suppose was what I initially thought of when I thought of writers, though I have since thought much more broadly about writing. As for being a librarian, I'll get my MLIS when I graduate from these degrees so I'll be one step closer.

Other hopes and dreams are less defined. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted a family of my own, which to me at the time meant a husband (though now I would more appropriately say significant other, because while I want to be legally married someday, I wouldn't insist on the formality necessarily, the relationship by far superseding any wedding or other celebration in importance), and a number of children of my own. As a kid I also imagined one day becoming a grandparent, which I still hope to do, but evidently finding an appropriate significant other is the first step in forming for myself that family unit of my dreams. And while I have, in recent years developed some rather great friendships (and budding friendships) with people I may have formerly dated, or with male friends, I am single and still looking. But you know what, I'm fine with that. I'm not unhappy, though of course ideally I want multiple children of my own, which likely means that I should move toward that direction sometime in the next decade, I'm not really in a rush or anything. I would much rather wait and form the right family unit for me and serve the world one child at a time through volunteer service as a spinster in the interim.

Because I guess I've achieved one of my dreams, which was to become a Kiwanian, and continue to help others. I hope to remain a Kiwanian for the rest of my days, and continue to serve the world one child, one community at a time. I'm rather passionate about the volunteer service that I involve myself in, and while I may spend more time with folks of different generations than myself than the average person of my age and demographic, I'm richer for it. Kiwanis is a passion of mine, whether it be in encouraging and aiding the new generations of leaders in Service Leadership Programs such as CKI or Key Leader, or if it's in doing other things.

In the same vein I really want to attend as many conventions/conferences as I feel are worthwhile in the CKI/Kiwanis/Academic/Professional/fun/other areas. I know that I'll never be able to attend them all, but I've never missed a Kiwanis International convention since becoming a Kiwanian, nor have I missed a CKI convention since my first one in 2003. This is a hope that I'll be able to afford to have the time off to do these things, as well as the financial means to continue to do so.

Another hope/wish/dream is for more close friends, a better support network and the rest. I have many many acquaintances. I have very very few close friends. At the moment, I would likely say that I interact with JD the most, and would likely consider him a best friend, but that doesn't mean that I don't value my acquaintances and wish for more time to better establish these relationships and better get to know these folks that I care about. Some of them are living closer to me these days. Some like to come play board games. Some are more accessible than others, and others still have been essentially lost to me as friends because of poor communication. I feel bad about this but can only work to improve and I hope and dream that I can do this, and do this well.

And I dream of travel. Of experiences. Of good food. Of better health. Of game nights. Of trying new things. Of financial independence. Of appropriate adventure. And I have some goals linked to some of these, but others will remain dreams until they are accomplished. I want a vacation, without a conference attached once I finish my degrees. I'm not allowing myself to plan it until I finish my degrees, nor will I start my job hunt in earnest until that time either. But I do allow myself to dream. And hope and wish.

Then there are dreams for others. The stereotypical ones: reduction of poverty, elimination of many kinds of suffering, better environment policy, a well structured city with great quality of life, literacy for all (or at least for as many as possible), elimination of illnesses, reduction of accidents, better planning and prevention and so on.

Sure I have hopes and wishes and dreams for material things. I keep hard copy lists of these and an occasionally updated Amazon wishlist (and redditgifts profile) for some of the more easily satisfied wants or needs, but the thing is that my world is full of hopes and dreams. And some seem more likely than others.

It's that warm food truck season again! :)

So while I don't like to spend money on going out for lunch more often than I need to, today the warm weather reminded me of the awesomeness of food trucks (oh I can't wait for Japadog in Vancouver in just over a week — yum!) and a craving for a really yummy sandwich for which I do not have the ingredients at home led me to walk down to Drift Mobile Eatery (or @Driftfoodtruck on Twitter… or http://driftfoodtruck.ca on the web) for a delicious sandwich. I didn't get the fries this time (though I will admit to thinking that they make the best fries in Edmonton based on the seasoning and the homemade ketchup), but I did get a nice spicy (but not too spicy) Jerk Chicken sandwich with pineapple and slaw in it! On a day like today, it felt great to walk down the street devouring such scrumptious food!

My feet however aren't yet used to sandals. It'll be awhile before they're ready to walk EVERYWHERE in sandals (though they're not blistered or anything just slightly sore from footwear that rubs in different spots!). But I adore the fact that I can just throw on my summer dresses now and go wandering about town. Sure I probably should spend most of my days cooped up in front of my computer screen (and I've been putting in effort to do just this… particularly this week), but I'm not going to let the great weather go entirely to waste!

In fact I've actually done a bit of thesis work this week (not enough, but it's better than what I had been doing anyhow). And I've been reading again (yay for graphic novels!)! 🙂

The problem with physical activity…

… is that I tend to sporadically do it to excess. If I were consistent this wouldn't be so big of a problem, nor would it be if I happened to not have bad wrists or random aches and pains or other silly health concerns that crop up without much cause, but damn it I like being physically active, physically fit, and I like doing stuff! I like trying new things with my body, even if my body wants to interfere with a lack of gracefulness, or flexibility, or that pain thing.

But I'm pretty darn good at doing the whole exercising thing to excess after not having done much of that nature for a bit (I'm not a couch potato, I do stay active, but I'm darn good at not sticking to one activity for very long at a time!). And yesterday I guess must not have been an exception. You see I tried out a new Wii fitness game: Your Shape featuring Jenny McCarthy (not that I'm big on her or anything, but I thought at $10 it was a steal of a deal to get the game as it came with a video camera that works with my Wii console). On first glance it seems like a pretty awesome game.

But my shoulders ache this morning (symmetrically, which is neat!). I probably overdid it, like usual. But it was fun — and fun is most often worth it (Ropes Quest similarly resulted in sore arms, but also sore hands).