Archive for the ‘changes’ Category

Laundry Room Upgrade

Over the holidays, we kind of randomly decided to upgrade our laundry room.

Before it was a basic basement room with cement floors and cinder block walls. It was a place to throw a bunch of our stuff and happened to have our washer and drier too. I don’t have pictures of it in this state, but I’m sure you can imagine.

DH cleared everything out and took down a small “bathroom”:

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The laundry room after DH cleaned it out. The line on the floor and wall to the left of the laundry machines is where a “bathroom” used to be. This was a cinder block room with a toilet and a pull-chain bare bulb. It was never used.

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All the cinder blocks from the bathroom. This is another large area in our basement, that DH is working on right now.

DH painted the walls (no use putting up drywall or ceiling at this point, because we often get water in our basement), put in a vinyl floor, and added some nice touches.We also purged a bunch of stuff and organized what was left. Here’s the end result:

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I’ll post photos of the other side of the basement when it’s done!

The Activist In Me

I grew up in Calgary, Alberta  – a pretty conservative area of the country, by Canadian standards, anyway. So,  I therefore grew up with fairly conservative views that were common at the time in the 80s (pro-oil/gas, anti-union, the homeless should just get jobs, feminists are “feminazis”, left-leaning people are “bleeding hearts”, etc.).

Those views followed me to Manitoba, where I did my Masters degree. Even though I mostly held strong to those views, I was beginning to be exposed to more left-leaning views (mostly the inequalities of the education system when it comes to First Nations communities, and inner-city schools).

I moved to Ontario in 2005, and noticed my views moved slowly from right-leaning to centre, then to the left. I began mostly with finally being able to see  (I’m sure it was there in the past, I just had my eyes closed to it) the sexism in the academic world, which turned into me caring about women’s rights in general.

That started an avalanche in me and I’ve learned more about (and have started to care much more about) the inequalities in the education system, the environment crisis, the struggles and burdens of other marginalized groups, the poverty in our own cities, and what privileges I am automatically given because I’m white, middle-aged, middle-class, able-bodied, and cisgendered.

Though I’ve tried to be more vocal and open with my views in recent years, this past year I’ve felt like I’ve been pushed become involved in a more visible way: our family walked in the Pride Parade, and I marched in a Sister March on January 21st, with 2.5 million other women from around the globe. To keep that momentum, I sent letters to the leaders of all the federal political parties in Canada outlining a call to action for them to commit to ensure women’s rights are part of their agenda (want to do the same? Find a template here).

One of my goals for this year is to become more involved in my community, and I feel taking part in these events that mean so much to me is a step in the right direction.

I think my political evolution has to do with several factors:

  • Political geography (Alberta is right-leaning, Ontario is more left),
  • Who I interact with (Alberta: I was young, so family and other adults in their sphere + other teenagers/20-somethings – we knew nothing; Ontario: mostly academics/teachers/other professionals)
  • I’ve gotten older, and therefore empathize more with the struggles of others, and am finding what’s important to me (I assume this happens with age, but maybe not?)
  • Learning, reading, and trying to keep on top of current events

Regardless of the reasons, I have witnessed and evolution in myself but  I am trying my best to be unapologetic about it. I’m sure some see the change as negative and others as positive, but it shouldn’t be US vs. THEM, or LEFT vs. RIGHT. We should find ways to work together to solve the issues facing our world today.

Yes, I’m a feminist! Yes, I care deeply about our environment! Yes, I am troubled by how marginalized groups are treated as second-class citizens! Yes, I think everyone should have a minimum income level! Yes, I think many of us in Canada are privileged and refuse to acknowledge it and the problems it causes!

So….Yes, I’m a bleeding-heart liberal! And I’m not sorry.

Home Updates

A couple posts ago, I briefly mentioned that we have done some smaller updates in our home over the last year. We chose these specific projects to make our house more functional and to get rid of what felt like clutter…except the kitchen. I just wanted to make it less boring and tear down the subway tile that wasn’t put up correctly.

Here are some photos!

Mudroom area

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DH designed & built this at the bottom of the stairs leading to the basement (the stairs are off the side entrance that leads to the driveway – we don’t use our front door!)

 

Kitchen Update (Before & After)

Office/Guest Room Update

In preparation for my new teaching career, I wanted to make the office/guest room into a more usable space. I don’t have any photos of it before, but it was basically crammed full with a queen size bed a massive wooden desk. The murphy bed is awesome, and it’s from Costco! The closet had a bar, small shelves on one side, and another above the bar. DH made it into what you see here!

 

Hacking back

We (and by “we”, I mean DH) took a ton of bushes/saplings/overgrown crap out of our yards. Things looks much more open, and give us room to plant what we want. Here’s an example: we yanked out the giant hedges at the front of our property. Now I can see when I’m backing out of the driveway. WIN!

Right now, DH is working on the laundry room in the basement. I’ll post pictures when it’s done!

Bye-Bye 2016

I have been doing year-end reflections on this blog, and really wanted to do it this year again (even though I haven’t been writing nearly as much). To start, here were my goals from the beginning of 2016:

  • I  would like to make progress toward a more stable work situation ✓
  • I would like to get back to spending more time doing (and enjoying) things I love like knitting, reading, and cooking ✘
  • I would like to move more and feel more energized ✘
  • I would like to enjoy the time with my family more ✘
  • I would like to either make our home more livable or move to a house that suits us better ✓

Family

E started grade one and is learning how to read. C has entered his threenager stage. DH and I found two awesome babysitters who kids like, and we’ve been doing date nights more often (but not enough). We stayed at a hornet-infested cottage in the summer, but had some good times too!

Home

After looking at our options, we decided that we’ll stay put. So, instead of looking at real-estate listings, we began thinking of how to improve our home. We added serious colour in our kitchen, DH built a mudroom area in the basement,  we replaced the huge bed & desk in the office with awesome Murphy bed/desk, and we took down hedges at front of our property.

Health

I played soccer this summer, but have decided it’s just not the sport for me. I signed back up at the YMCA, and have been using it much more for swimming and yoga. I’d like to start playing badminton this year and get back to riding my bike.

Mentally, things really went downhill in the Fall, and I stopped doing all the things I know I need to do to have a happy life (eating/sleeping well, exercising, reading, knitting, time with friends). With my time off, I’ll be focusing on making this a priority.

One good thing with my long drive to work (1hr15min each way), I got through a LOT of audiobooks, and hit 13 books for 2016. Check out what I’ve been reading here.

Career

I began the year by teaching at university/college levels, and I quite enjoyed it, but realized quickly it would not be a sustainable career option (low pay, limitations on how much I could work, nowhere to grow).

In the summer, I took 2 additional qualification courses to make me more marketable to public school boards. I got hired by one board as a supply teacher, but didn’t get on to the local board (which is the goal).

I did get my first public high school teaching position in September (what’s called a long-term occasional assignment, where supply teachers fill in for permanent teachers on leave). I was teaching grade 11 and 12 physics, and the contract was until the end of January. Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to overwhelming stress/anxiety. I’ll get back into the game when I’m ready, but will only be supply teaching.

 

There’s my 2016 in a nutshell! Stay tuned for what my hopes are for 2017.

Things I’m Learning

I don’t know if it just comes with age, but I feel that I grown many ways in the past couple of years and have come to understand things like I never have before.

  • There will always be people doing things better than you, or doing what you want to do, and being jealous is just a waste of time and energy
  • I’m the most at peace with my body than I’ve ever been. I don’t focus nearly as much on what I look like, but on how I feel.
  • There is always room for improvement and learning
  • I need to fiercely protect my down/alone time in order to keep my anxiety and fatigue at bay
  • Everything is a phase; it will change for better or worse
  • Being outdoors brings happiness and peace
  • Finding time to do the thing you enjoy is hugely important; drop other things if you can
  • Never read the comments
  • Surround yourself with people who build you up, who you can laugh with, and who you can be real with
  • Spending time together is more important than stuff

I’m in the tail-end of my 30s, and I feel myself becoming more confident, comfortable in my own skin, and caring less about stuff that doesn’t matter. 40 doesn’t bother me at all – I’m looking forward to what’s ahead, especially this is any indication:


What have you learned as you’ve gotten older?

Recovery?

I’m in the midst of reading Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, and I’ve been asked to talk about my stroke experience at an upcoming workshop for local gifted students interested in aspects of the medical world.

Needless to say, I’ve been forced to think about my stroke & aftermath a lot lately. I have been taking stock of various aspects of my recovery.

One: it’s interesting that I have heard myself say at many times in the past that I thought I was about 90% recovered. Obviously that can’t be true at every step of the way since the stroke, but it’s always in hindsight that I realize how my recovery was really going. But, it’s as with everything that changes gradually, it’s hard to see changes in yourself.

This leads me to Two: Where am I now with my recovery? Well, I’m smart enough to say that I can’t say for sure. As Dr. Bolte Taylor says in response to this question in her book: “Physical recovery from the brain surgery  was minimal when compared to the task of rebuilding my mind…”. People seem to think that once someone is physically recovered (which is easier to see & measure) that the recover is completely.

Yes, I certainly have an easier time performing certain tasks (typing, reading aloud, multitasking, talking). I’m not nearly as fatigued as I used to be and my anxiety seems to be at bay. However, is that because I’m recovering from my stroke, or because my kids are older (& so sleeping better) and my work-life is less stressful?

That being said, there are deficits that, while less obvious now, are still hanging around. I still mix up word sounds when talking (an embarrassing one is “Harrer Potty” for “Harry Potter” – you’d be surprised how often this comes up!), and there are some words that I just can spell or say now, even though I used to be able to (deficit!!!). When I proofread my writing, it can take me a few times through to catch errors. I can’t think too quickly on the spot, especially when blindsided with a question or comment I wasn’t expecting – it’s like my brain is working in slow motion.

I’ll make the point here again: how do I KNOW that these are from my stroke, or something new that I’ve “learned”? It’s hard to say, but I’m sure it’s a combination of both.

This brings me to Three: what does it really mean to be “recovered”? Does this only mean “be the person I was pre-stroke”? Is that the end goal? Since that was 2.5 years ago now, wouldn’t it be expected that I would have learned new things, had experiences affect me, and I would have changed anyway?

One day, I will go to DH’s work and we’ll do an fMRI scan of my brain to see where certain tasks are mapping to in my brain & compare them to “normal” brain function. It would be interesting to see where my brain is compensating for the large whole left by the bleed.

Hopes for 2016

As you read in my last post, 2015 was pretty meh. So, I’m hoping things will change in 2016. Here are my hopes:

  • I  would like to make progress toward a more stable work situation
  • I would like to get back to spending more time doing (and enjoying) things I love like knitting, reading, and cooking
  • I would like to move more and feel more energized
  • I would like to enjoy the time with my family more
  • I would like to either make our home more livable or move to a house that suits us better

What are your hopes for 2016?

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