Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lessons in Perspective

Let me be frank.  I've been struggling and feeling overwhelmed.  My oft repeated phrase 'over-scheduled and under-organized' feels more than apt.

But tonight, just in the nick of time, some lovely perspective lending moments:

1. Talking to my friend Anya, whose ability to be mindful and whose wise counsel helps me not sink into self-loathing and paranoia and reminds me of what I'm doing right and even what I'm doing 'good enough,' that is enough.
2. I got carded for ID at the beer store tonight!  I am so glad I popped in for a tallboy and by the look on the dude's face, he doesn't ID that many 41-year-olds.  Such a silly ego boost, but lovely on this frantic day.
3. Watching the latest Terry Fox documentary right now, 'Into The Wind'.  Thanks Terry Fox.  I have a posthumous crush on your and your indomitable spirit.  Watching him plow through every obstacle to do this unimaginable thing really lends a healthy perspective to any struggles I might find myself facing.  So energizing to watch him.

In Not Buying Anything New news:  It feels good to have stayed the course with this goal in the face of so much going on with the minutia of my day-to-day life and changes.  And another day of enjoying several compliments on my new second hand wardrobe.

Talk soon,
xo Tara

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tales From Mom's Place

It has been so rewarding (on various levels) to hang with Momma this weekend.  Not only did we get some quality bonding in, we went to an exotic out of town Value Village here in Ottawa, and Mom also opened up her closet and gave me 4 new cardigans (some still had tags on them), and a new black fall coat.  She is purging things and apparently we have a similar taste in cardigans.  This is funny because we don't share a taste for much clothing wise, but these items are spot on. 

Our trip to Value Village was comical and productive.  Again, I was delighted and amazed at how much great stuff I could find that fit and looked nice.  My work-worthy-wardrobe grows yet again.  I think I am learning this year that by not being able to shop for new things I am really seeing the options out there with more enthusiasm.  I'm less fussy, but also less lazy.  I go the extra mile to search for a used version, and it is generally there when I go look for it.  Having said that, shoes are not so good second hand.  I know January 1st, I will be buying footwear for sure.  The comical part of the Village was the arm wrestle with Mom over a long coat she HATED on me.  I did buy it, and perhaps I will have to post a photo of it for an impartial vote from you all?  My sister and I voted for buying it against Mom's head-shaking 'No way!'  I wasn't going to let this coat slip away after the fiasco of our shopping trip back in January in Value Village Second Thoughts.

Heading home with so much new-to-me (but used) clothing is a reminder that I will feel really good when I do some closet purging and reorg in my room. 

Another fun thing about this weekend has been some of the nerdy relaxing things we've done in Ottawa, including: listening to relaxation/meditation CDs as a group (sometimes I fell asleep snoring, but so relaxing - for me anyway); and reading a book Mom got called 'The Joy of Not Working' - she got it to prep for retirement, and I was using it to prep for semi-retirement next year when I go down to one job only in September.  It was a good reminder that we need to work on our leisure NOW, not wait until later/retirement etc.  I have definitely let my leisure slide.  So, look forward to me finding cheap ways to infuse my days and nights with non-passive leisure. 

Oh, I almost forgot, Mom also got us books and bracelets with 'A Complaint Free' on them.  The deal is you have to switch the bracelet to the other arm every time you complain, criticize, or gossip.  And your goal is to go 21 days without having to switch the bracelet.  It should help me focus on the positive side of things for a while. 

Something I am also putting thought into is what about next year? What is my plan regarding 'No New is Good News' and shopping and what would I like to see happen in 2011?  I haven't got it figured out yet, but I am letting it percolate. 

Heading back to Toronto feeling refreshed.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Saturday To Do's-A Belated Rescued Post from a Month Ago...

I had a nice chat with some old friend's last night and we were talking about my year of not spending and what I can and can't do according to my own ground rules.  One of the things I'm glad I left on the list of "okay's for 2010" is occasional meals out.  This is something I actually rarely do - both because money is tight and because I'm becoming a bit of a cheapskate about this kind of luxury.  And I need to remind myself that in many ways money is tight because I am doing a lot of good, sensible (sometimes very boring) things with it like aggressively paying off my student loan, my RRSP loan, my assorted-debts-lumped-together loan, and saving for my cottage and a rainy day.

But today I'm going for brunch across the street.  I just realized we have a new 'local'.  It rated 5 N's in NOW magazine and is not expensive and uses local ingredients and is apparently delicious.  I'll report back.  The place is called Zocalo's (I'm pretty sure).  We live in a neighbourhood in transition and this addition is exciting and important as it fills a gap.  I'll be bringing my grandfather's memoires, which I have been reading a bit of each night.  (He's the grandfather that died in April, not long after completing these memoiries).  I love hearing about the old days, the history of the settlers, and how things used to be and got the way they were etc. in the community we are from.

Then, I'll be heading into work to carry on with the mammoth task of culling, sorting, thinning, shredding, organizing etc. my workspace to be able to leave by the time my new job starts.

Wish me luck and the ability to chuck stuff with abandon.

xo Tara
(Posting this late as I just discovered it in 'drafts'.  I have lost a few posts that got saved in draft form, so I'll send this off from the 'future'.  Today is actually Sept. 24th!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Already?

I can't believe the speed this week has whizzed by at.  It's a good reminder to seize the day, folks.  Because if time is going by this fast, life really is short.

I've had a productive and lotsa learning kind of week.  I'm looking forward to telling you all about a new social network I am 'beta testing' that is thematically appropriate for my year of not buying anything new.  I'll get back to you guys on that one, once I check in with the people who are developing it.

Heading to Ottawa tomorrow to see Momma.  Yay!  There is something so soothing about hanging out with your own mother.  We might go second hand shopping.  Ottawa has lots of great used clothing shops.  Or maybe she'll beg me for permission to buy me something new.  Hee Hee.

I'm bringing my laptop for the train ride, which my twin snagged us for half price.  Thanks for that, Twin.  I've got some leisure catching up to do.  I've been slacking off in my leisure and my self-care, what with productivity taking up so many waking hours & brain cells.

re: no new:  I talked my twin into 'selling' me her used kettle.  Basically I visited her and gave her my sob story about how I'm being nickel and dimed to death buying coffees at my new job.  She said I could pay her 'what I thought it was worth' and that she only uses it 'occasionally'.  I'll look up the price online and give her a few bucks less since it's a used electric kettle.  And she told me to take that amount and put it on our cottage fund.  Nice.  We're about $15 closer to breaking ground.  Also, I must remember to remind my kind coworker who mentioned a used mini-fridge - then I can really stop frittering away money on food and drink at new job.

Also, this is kind of funny, but I have so much clothing right now it is spilling out of my closet.  My second hand dressy work clothing spree means I need to do some hardcore clutter busting in my closet.  My wife has been very patient with my wardrobe spreading like a creeping vine through our bedroom, but I guess I need to soon nip it in the bud.  But, alas, it won't be tonight.  I'm packing for Ottawa and my poor old feet are killing me from 6 hours or so of standing in seriously cute but cruelly unsupportive footwear.  I am not sure how I will pack now that I've collapsed on the couch and seem to be extraordinarily affected by gravity's pull.

That's about it for ce soir.  Did I mention I'm hosting stitch and bitch on Oct. 15th?  Thank goodness.  It's about time I got back into some handiness and craftiness and laughing with my fellow S & B'ers.

xo Tara

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tales From the No New Frontline

Good News abounds!

I am again wearing shoes as of today.  Thank Gods.

I just finished a novel - Pride and Prejudice Fan Fiction - 'Darcy's Story' - borrowed (not bought) from my sister.

Now, I am about to tuck into the Audio Book version of 'Stumbling on Happiness' by Daniel Gilbert - borrowed (not bought) from the Toronto Public Library.  I ordered it a mere 14 months ago when I flipped through a few pages of the book version a client of mine had at camp in July 2009.  Ah, but worth the wait, now that it comes to me during my year of not spending!  The author is a funny Harvard College Professor of Psychology.

And, for the kicker, I mentioned the want of a mini-fridge for my work (so I can stanch the cash-blood-letting flow on coffees and fizzy waters at my new job) to a coworker who said, 'Oh, I have a bar fridge.'  Folks, ask and you shall receive.  The universe is providing my friends.

Hey!  Only 3 months and 10 days to go for my one year of not buying anything new to be complete.

Also, my wife and I have unanimously decided to postpone going to England as it is in direct competition with the cottage building goal.  It definitely feels like the right thing to do this year.

xo Tara

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lots to Think About

My father called with the news that he has the permit to build on the point.  The point is where he has land that my sister and I have long been wanting to build a cottage.  In Newfoundland.  So, this is becoming a more present reality.  And I am hoping that it helps me to yet again refocus my energy on saving and paying down debt.  I am conceiving of my financial life is like a boat.  (I am rereading my grandfather's memoirs, and he said he never drove a boat that didn't need some steady steering to keep her on course - therefore the simile is apt.)

This clear and present opportunity for a cottage means I need to redouble and recommit to saving, paying off debt, and simplifying our lifestyle and expenses - at least until things are sorted.  Having a place of my own (or partly my own) in Newfoundland is of paramount importance to me as family ages and I know I want to always feel like I belong there.

So, re: No New Is Good News:  It's only 3 1/2 months to go until the end of the year and I HAVE STAYED THE COURSE thus far!  Some challenges I'm facing lately include my new job where I am spending too much on food and drink as I have not yet gotten accustomed to bringing lunch and own drinks etc.  I think I need a kettle and a mini bar fridge stat.  I will post on facebook and if no one has one for sale, look to used places.

Also, a big issue since the walk is my sensitive feet.  I can walk normally again, but they are still so sensitive that I cannot wear shoes or socks.  I tried too and had a worse itchy rash at the end of the day.  I told my mom that my feet are positively rejecting being shod.  I may need to either buy used dressier backless shoes or get 'health' shoes like Birkenstocks or something, since my arches are also sore from flip flops for a week and I can't keep wearing them indefinitely.  Not to mention they do not suit the dressier program I am working in right now.

Speaking of my new job, people are being very nice, but I am a bit pooped from thinking so much and learning new stuff and people etc.  But, while it is more formal, more structured and way more scheduled I am enjoying the challenge in a way too.  Especially when I think of it as a time limited learning sabbatical.

So, I've been thinking I need to add something to my blog like a list that stays for: inspiring things for this year of not spending, and also of things I am buying as soon as the sun rises on the year 2011!  I will investigate that.

p.s. Another great friend Julie of the former cheerleading fame has entered into the challenge of not buying anything new.  Good luck and keep us posted Julie F.!

xo Tara

p.p.s. Stitch and Bitch is back in October and I am hosting!  Yay!  It will likely have a practical bent with me looking to fix up some of my second hand bits and pieces.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Walk the 60K Walk Deets

I'm just going to cut and paste in my thank you to the people who contributed to my fundraising so you all can have more details about my 60K (actually 62K-we were a bit miffed!) walk this past weekend.  I was so exhausted when I did my last post, I couldn't even sit up to do it.  Since then my fortitude has improved, but I am still very marked about the feet and ankles with swelling and bruising, but NO blisters.  It may be a record for the Weekend.  I'll have to let them know...

In rainbow formation approaching the Prince's Gates at the CNE we are from left to right: (not including stranger in black) Elana, Donna House, Donna Nothouse, Hallie, Me (Tara), Tena, & Lisa - our Capt.

here's my note:

"I just wanted to pass on a heartfelt thanks to y'all.  (I'm forwarding finish line pix from my sister).  If you are getting this email it is because you helped me to fundraise $2250 not to mention the extra money you helped the rest of my team raise.  The 7 members of the 'Rainbows' together raised $18,000 and all completed the 62K walk for the Weekend to End Women's Cancers standing (barely).  (see photos).  

Some fun facts:  

Almost 5000 women participated in the one day walk.  About 2500 hung in for the two day version.  None of the Rainbows caught a 'sweep vehicle' at any point -- We all walked all 62K of it.  ALSO, when we entered CAMP in Downsview after 9.5 hours of walking on Day 1, we were approached by a woman in a clipboard asking us to please be a part of the catwalk show.  The Rainbows got to strut their stuff on the catwalk with about 8 teams.  (The high cost of our fabulous uniforms and hats-hats which were donated by Australian hat company when they found out our cause.).  The adrenaline rush of our performance and our newfound fans helped us to bear standing/dancing the extra 45 minutes this honour cost us before we could collapse and eat and stretch etc.

I had to call in sick Monday to my day job as I couldn't bear to bear weight on my feet.  But I didn't get a single blister.  I did sustain a yucky rash over the tops of my feet and around my ankles.  Today, I am walking like an average 88 year old might, and unable to put shoes on, with hideous purple/red bruisey rash on feet and heels, but walking is not terribly painful.  

During the walk we made some new pals, (especially among the slower walkers-we were in the last 100 to come in before the closing ceremonies, but we did it as a team), and we had some really sweet, moving moments walking through neighbourhoods where people embraced us.  There were the Nonas who fed us homemade biscotti and espresso as we started off on day two full of aches and pains; the couple with the 3 week old baby who fed walkers dixie cup shots of Blue Light somewhere around the 6th hour of walking on Day 1; the blind man and his wife (likely in their 70's) sporting matching hot pink wigs with braids who kept passing us on the walk; the 97 year old walker with her granddaughter who we realized was AHEAD of us after lunch on day 2; the two times when we were cheerfully informed that the foursome we were walking in were the LAST four walkers in the lineup and they (on their bikes were the 'caboose'); drinking champagne and orange juice in dixie cups as the last 4  walkers (they handed us the tray); the kiddies all decked out in pink writing us notes on the sidewalk in chalk and passing us handwritten notes saying things like, 'Yay.  Keep going.  Wow!'; walking with my friend Julie, who is a survivor.  And of course the silly thrill I got of all those straight ladies on my team wearing rainbow gear.  And yes, many people did suspect we were a group from a Queer alliance, but alas, my straight team mates were simply gaying it forward.

So, thanks again for pitching in by donating to my endcancer page, by coming to a euchre tourney, or by attending or performing in the comedy fundraiser.  It all helped us to do something very hard, cool, unique, and unforgettable.

Wish me luck fitting into shoes again soon!


xo Tara

P.S. when our feet were KILLING us in the last 5K we called my mother to call back with a mantra or meditation for us, she did not fail.  She called back close to the finish line with this gem:  

"I move forward with joy and ease."  So say we all.  Or we should.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Did it - Now On Ice and Out for the Count

That's me in Orange.  The Rainbow Team all made it to the finish line.  This was taken about Km 50 today after lunch.  Walked over 9 hours yesterday and 8.5 today. Sooo sore, but it was lovely.

xo Tara

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sanctioned Shopping Spree


I went out tonight to get some of the items on my Weekend to End Women's Cancer's 60K walk must have list.  I got items I feel apply under 'health'.  For example:  body glide (looks a bit like a tiny deodorant and will apparently keep my feet, toenails, underarms, and nippular region from blistering, chaffing, and falling right off.  Ack.

I also spent $27 on two pairs of iron man socks that will apparently keep chafe and blisters at bay from the ankle down.  Technical socks are a health expense, okay?

I am now trying to find a way to pack all the gear they suggest, plus wrap it all in plastic as rain looms large in the forecast.  I kind of hope it holds off until apres camping.  We are not big campers.  So, while I did find an air mattress, things on the list like 'tarp' and 'ground sheet' are not in my repertoire and it's too late to beg/borrow/steal them now.

So we head out tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn.  Camp out overnight at Downsview, complete the walk Sunday in what is apparently a very emotional closing ceremony at CNE grounds (Direct Energy Lot) around 5pm.  Okay, that's about it for now.  Wish me good fortune.  And by good fortune, of course I mean 10 intact toenails come Sunday evening.

xo Tara

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Room With a View

I have my own office at my new job and it has a view of the CN Tower. 

It always makes me feel like a real city girl to glance out the window and see the CN Tower.

Feeling semi-useful and enjoying most aspects of my learning curve today.

Looking forward to meeting with my Weekend to End Women's Cancers 60K walk team this evening to get my rainbow hat and team shirt.  Did I mention that a benevolent hat supplier in AUSTRALIA is donating the hats to us (big, floppy, rainbow hats) since she heard what we wanted them for?  What nice share-the-wealth karma.

Hard to believe the walk is less than 48 hours away!

xo Tara

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Job Wish List

Hey there,

Just a short wish list of things I would like at my new job:

1. a used kettle (but not too used)
2. a used bar fridge with a freezer (good for ice packs, my lunch and beverages)
3. keys please
4. access to a printer
5. wrist guard so I don't get carpel tunnel the first week

Otherwise, people are treating me nicely and it's going well.  I've enjoyed wearing my new Value Village ensembles two days in a row.  My neck is still tres sore.  Which leaves me rather worried about this weekend's 60K end cancer walk.  Perhaps I haven't been saying my mother's neck-healing affirmations with enough conviction?

xo Tara

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labour Day

I am definitely labouring for Labour Day.  But I am lucky because I have a pal coming to help me a bit with some of the boxing and moving stuff.  I am hoping to get out of here with enough time to have a relaxing evening of laying out a pretty outfit, having a soak, and reading, followed by 9 solid hours of sleep.  Sounds like a nice way to start the new job.  Wish me luck.

I am including a photo of my twin, since I don't have one of me at my workplace.  She and I have been doing duelling banjos all weekend with prepping (me to leave my job, her to set up new classroom for tomorrow's first day of school).  This picture of her in her class is an apt parallel for how I feel surrounded by my piles and bins!  But we've both come a few miles since it was taken at the long weekend's start.

Well, miles to go yet, so talk soon,

xo Tara

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Recycled Cards

I spent a lot of time at my work today working on packing up etc.  I have been thinking about the farewell gifts and cards I've been getting and how to reciprocate.  I ended up having some fun with old cards I have received in the pas.  I spent some time decorating my coworkers' workstations with cartoons and repurposed greeting cards including their original messages.  But I crossed out my name from the top and put theirs, then changed them to say 'xo Tara' at the end.  Plus I added my own wee messages.  My favourite cards to give were ones from my old Japanese exchange students, from my university Don days.  The Japanese students were faithful card senders and their greetings were a delightful blend of formality, extreme courtesy, and oddly mishmashed English.

I think they are a perfect fit with my no new year.

xo Tara

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quitting Time

My last day of work has come and gone, and all in all, it was a bittersweet and mostly pleasant one.  I still have loads to do over the weekend to wrap up, but for now I'm home nursing my bad neck and shoring up some steam for the rigors to come.

I had some nice words with various people and a sweet parting gift from my 'work wife'.  I had a work wife a few years ago who was actually a man, and when he moved on I went a few years without one.  My current work wife is Shannon.  She and I connected early and uncommonly well about 2 years ago right when she started.  I've learned enormous amounts from her and especially love her fearless and delightful creativity.  She's an artist in the true sense of the word.  i.e.: everything she touches turns to art - be it words, objects, or actions.  But, we also share a similar set of politics and humour.  She is much more skilled at pranks than me though.  For example, she peppered my workspace with so many cat stickers and magnets that new students of mine always assume I am the wacky cat lady.  In fact I am seriously uninterested in pets and she has at least 3 cats at all times. 

She and I have decided that since I'm moving jobs, we'll have to take our relationship to the next level and actually become outside work friends.  She gave me a parting gift today with a nice card.  The gift is so sweet.  It's a necklace with a teeny tiny pretend light bulb as a pendant.  She said it's because I always have lots of good ideas.  I said, nah, it's because I light up your life.

I always think it's nice to miss something when you go.  It means it was worthwhile.

xo Tara

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One More Working Day

Don't get too excited guys.  What my title refers to is one more paid working day to wrap up my job of the last 7 years before I start my new gig on Tuesday September 7th.  It unfortunately does not refer to an early all expenses paid retirement or some such.  And it does not allude to the unpaid labour I'll be dishing out all weekend at the office finishing up what definitely will not be accomplished by tomorrow's end.

I'll be spending the lion's share of the day tomorrow at another site helping with a pilot project 'graduation' I've been part of the last 3 months - that will surely be pleasant, but will keep me from getting on with the increasingly urgent task of clearing my desk, files, shelves, and basically all surface areas within a one mile radius of my desk which my stuff has gradually claimed these last several years.

I'm a bit bummed because I've got to dress up for graduation and I have a fresh new blister on my right heel.  This is problematic because a) I'm allergic to band aids, b) I don't have any 'dress flops'.  My flip flops are seriously casual and definitely do not match my adorable matchy new-used Value Village outfit with it's tangerine and cantaloupe hues (crying out to be worn before Labour Day strikes).

Also, the blister MUST heal before my 60 K walk next weekend, or I will be beside myself!

Okay, I'm off to self medicate my anxiety and overwhelm with an icepack to the neck, a mom mantra from last night, and a movie on demand.  Getting my fill before we kick Roger's to the curb for good.

xo Tara

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

8 Months Clean and 'Hi Mom!'

Guys (and Dolls)

It's been 8 months today that I've been doing this dance with not buying anything new.  Yee haw.  I had a nice chat with my Momma today, who reported that she recently caught up with my goings-on via this blog and that she really likes it.  Thanks Mom.  We also discussed how none of us can read my baby brother's blog at work due to the 'blue' content - aka 'language alert'.  His blog did yield some info re: ETFs, but I blush at the thought of Mom reading all the 'fart-and-then-some jokes' it lies buried in.  Ah hem.

So, 8 months.  Not too shabby.  I'm 2/3 of the way there in my year of not buying anything new.  Sure I have my beefs with not buying anything new, but overall I have definitely learned and grown from this challenge.

I'm trying to take it easy tonight.  I tweaked my neck at work.  Chatting with my metaphysically minded Mother, she shared some insights on neck pain:  that it might be due to inflexibility, sticking my neck out, and/or dwelling on the past ('what's going on back there?').  Hmmm.  She gave this therapist a couple of good affirmations to enjoy as I ice and heat my neck tonight:  "I am peaceful with life.  It is with flexibility and ease that I see all sides of an issue.  There are endless ways of doing things and seeing things.  I am safe."  What lovely food for thought.  I hope my neck is listening.

I shall endeavour to slay everyone in my path with kindness, flexibility, and good vibes over the next two days.  And not to lift ANYTHING.  Wish me luck.  The last two days of this job I have loved for seven years are going to be heavy duty (but not due to lifting or inflexibility).

xo Tara