Bucketlist

This weekend is part 1 of what I’m hoping will be 19 months of sheer awesomeness in preparation for and celebration of my 40th.  This weekend, I head off to Montreal with 3 lifelong friends.  May is more or less in the middle of all our birthdays which are equally spaced throughout the year.  Erin’s in March; Angie’s in July; Jen’s in September; and me in November.  So we’re off to celebrate our friendship, shop, wine, and dine.  I’m REALLY STOKED about it.

This also marks the beginning of a conscious effort to CELEBRATE MORE and LIVE MY LIST.  I suddenly get the ‘midlife crisis’ syndrome.  There is a creeping reality that if I don’t do it now, I may never do it.  Even these last years, Steve and I have sacrificed a ton of time and $ to fully renovate the house.  And it never ends. This spring we’ve started the outside-new siding, new deck, new windows. Plus the basement flooded so that was an extra headache.  But the point is I’m done with that part.  I want to focus on enjoyment.  Sheer unadulterated living.  After such an agonizingly long winter, I think there’s even more hyper-focus on stopping to smell the flowers; listening to nature; and generally being GRATEFUL.  If that wasn’t enough kumbayya,  life is SHORT. I’m becoming more aware of this as the number of funerals attended increases.  Mostly for friend’s parents, but that means my generation is next.  NEXT.  And if that weren’t enough, yesterday, a good friend of mine called.  She has been diagnosed with cancer and will undergo surgery + chemo + radiation.   So all of this is culminating and pushing me to live more; enjoy more; and be grateful for all that I have.

Here’s the list:

1) Travel more: Revisit Europe with mom-France, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica; spend more time in the Caribbean. Let’s call a spade a spade-I detest winter

2) Write more.  I thought writing would culminate in a book, but I think for now, just consciously writing more-here, in my journal will do

3) Meditate/Yoga more-just because it feels so good.  Why don’t I do this more often?

4) Cook great meals!   I’ve recently bought shares in a local farm co-op to get organic produce weekly; have also switched all meat to a local farmer; have switched all eggs to a local organic supplier.  cut out dairy; growing a small, organic garden this year

5) Be more conscious of the earth; small incremental changes here…switched my phosphate free, cruelty free laundry soap to ‘earthberries’, spend more time outdoors; trying my best to have more plants and become a better gardener

6) Spend more time with friends and family. They are all I’ve got.

 

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What’s in a name?

For months now I’ve been procrastinating writing this post about the name of my blog. I’d love to say that I’m writing it because so many people have asked but that would be a stretchhhhhh. The actual reason I’m writing it now as opposed to a week from now or even another month is because sometimes life creeps in and tells you SOMETHING that you can’t avoid anymore. And that something happened last night at 10:30 pm while curled up in bed re-reading Dr. Wayne W. Dyer‘s ‘The Power of Intention’. On page 24, I found this previously re-read and underlined section by me:

now where to now here

And from there, I justified my final procrastination until this morning at 7am.

As you can see, the title of my blog, ‘Nowheretothere’ is a play on the idea of ‘no where’ to ‘now here’.  I created this blog back in December, and so I hadn’t consciously thought back to Dyer’s quote. In fact, I had been ruminating on an old hang out of mine when I lived in Taipei.  It was called ‘Nowhere’ which, from the vantage point of approaching the cafe, was true as you had not yet arrived and were therefore, ‘no where’.  However, once inside,  the meaning shifted and you became ‘now here’.  And on a damp, dreary day, there is a particular importance of arriving to ‘here-ness’ rather than ‘nowhere-ness’.  There is a certain quality to the shift which I looked forward to each and every time I went there.

The other subtle quality of the play on words is that I have always been a bit of a wordsmith.  I love the sound of words, their texture; My mother and I are known to rhyme off jingles ripe with alliteration and double meanings, so this ‘nowhere’ has lingered in my subconscious for nearly a decade waiting to express itself.

The meaning of the name is not so much esoteric as it is playful.  But if you take a moment to sit in the words, you might catch yourself wondering where you are in the continuum.

 

My obsession with la langue française

Disclaimer-There will be errors 🙂

I am taking this fascinating  REL 2014 MOOC  Cours en Ligne Ouvert et Massif) #CLOM_REL. I found out about it from a client. I had inquired specifically about a MOOC en français, avec un ‘focus’ sur le domaine de l’éducation. Ce n’est pas facile de trouver! Il faut vraiment faire partie d’une communauté éducative et francophone. Alors I am thankful to work with such a community who can connect me to these types of opportunites.

Pourquoi suis-je obsédé avec la langue française?

I recently watched ‘Househunters International’ about an American Doctor who upon completing her medical studies, relocated to Paris and works in the field of tele-health (Planning a Future in Paris, France). Essentially, she connects virtually through robotic technology with patients in the US. Through technology, she is living her dream by working in America but living in France.

I am a little like that woman. Un peu de moi.

J’étais née au Québec; alors ma première langue était français. Mais les politiques des années 1970’s étaient dur, alors quand j’avais deux ans ma famille a déménagé a l’Ontario, dans une petite communauté rurale. Ma famille du côté de ma mère est française; ma grand-mère a vécu avec nous après sa retraite comme enseignante française. Pendant mon éducation M à 13e, ma mère m’a enregistré dans les programmes français qui étaient disponibles : la maternelle moitié français-moitié anglaise et le programme d’immersion (moitie français pour toutes mes cours) depuis le 7e jusqu’au 13e.

St. Iles to Chesterville

After that I never spoke in French. I even attended a fully bilingual university for not just one degree, but two. What a pity. That’s why there’s that saying about hindsight.

Après compléter ma maîtrise en éducation, j’ai décidé de commencer ma carrière comme enseignante à la Corée du Sud. Enfin, j’ai déménagé au Taiwan ou j’avais trouvé un emploi comme professeur de l’anglais. Comme Dave Courmier, c’est là où j’ai commencé de savoir le pouvoir de la technologie. C’était là ou j’ai créé mon premier site web et l’expérimentation avec le ‘flipped classroom’.

During summer break, I decided to take an 8 week program in Mandarin Chinese at National Taiwan University, a gorgeous campus just minutes from my house. At the end of those weeks, still barely able to communicate beyond simple requests, I decided that French might be a better option for me as I started considering my re-integration back to Canada. I found a teacher from Quebec who I worked with one on one, and so began a slow percolating obsession.

Language is a portal into culture. When it is your second language, there is a ‘mirage’ quality as well. Each time you reach another peak, you realize you are lost in the mountains.

Pour moi, mon trajet est long, douloureux, mais aussi gratifiant. Ma douleur est à cause de mon accent. Au moment que j’ouvre ma bouche, je suis immédiatement identifié comme anglophone. This annoys me tremendously because I long for, I can taste, I dream of, the fluid rolling ‘r’s, the organic cadence and forthcoming of words like a poetic stream.

However, it’s not only that.

It’s also the culture.

Le plus que j’apprends, le plus que les nuances, les subtilités de la culture française s’ouvrent. Et c’est un monde magnifique, tellement différent que le monde anglais. La dureté des sons vocaux; la préoccupation avec le travail et l’efficacité et de l’argent; there is an industrial feeling; des fois, une frigidité; une fermeture perceptible avec les anglos.

I have often been called an idealist, a romanticist, a non-realist; however, it is my world that I am constructing, and these are my observations.

Je travaille présentement avec plusieurs clients francophones, et la façon dont ils travaillent ensemble est une métaphore pour les aspects que j’aperçois aussi dans la culture française.

Nous résidons assez proche du Québec. Par voiture, la frontière est 20 minutes. C’est plus rapide, plus facile de faire du magasinage au Pointe Claire, Québec qu’Ottawa.

map

N’importe où, Pointe-Claire, Montréal, la ville du Québec, il y a toujours un courant (undercurrent) qui exprime les valeurs, la culture, les priorités. Et il y a aussi une relation directe avec le niveau de langue française et la compréhension culturelle.

Pour moi, il y a toujours un ‘longing’, un désir, non seulement d’avoir un niveau de bilinguisme qui me permettra de changer assez facilement, d’être assez confortable en français qu’anglais, mais aussi pour connecter, de faire partie de cette identification francophone. Des fois j’ai le sentiment d’une fluidité avec chaque nouveau niveau de langue que j’accède. J’ai des moments où je deviens, where I soak in, cette culture. Ce sont les rares moments où les mots viennent naturellement, où je peux prononcer as I imagine them, where the struggle melts away.

To bring this back to my obsession, I am certainly not discounting the relative advantages afforded me in my career from speaking a world language like English; however, pour moi cette continuation d’apprentissage de langue française ouvre d’autres possibilités, d’autres façons d’être (of being) dans cette vie.  Il existe un perceptible sentiment familial et familier qui m’attire toujours comme les vagues de l’océan-vous flottez plus en plus profondément.

Stuff Hangover

Christmas is in, like, 5 days. Here’s my disclaimer about the liking of certain aspects of Christmas. I have a tree up and it is lovely.

2012-12-02 21.58.00

I also like the part about eating appetizers and drinking wine and catching up with friends. So I’m not like that green guy whose heart is two sizes too small.

grinch

So if you like getting more stuff then power to you. But for me, I find the whole gift giving and receiving experience to be annoying and stressful.  EVERY YEAR (shouty caps intended), my mother PROMISES that she won’t overdo it, and EVERY YEAR she does.   On Steve’s side, we decided to do away with the whole ‘buy gifts for everyone’ and went with a name draw.  So the limit was supposed to be $100 and now it’s crept up to $150.  No biggie I suppose but now between the two of us, we’ll have to spend like $300 on stuff which is the same sum total as before, so why is this supposed to be a better option?  We may or may not receive stuff back that we want or care about.  And that’s where I get super annoyed.  It’s the accumulation and dealing with stuff, or as I like to call it, ‘stuff hangover’.  Let’s look at a common example.  A sweater.

ugly sweater

So someone has given you a sweater.  There are 3 scenarios that follow that acquisition:

A) you like the sweater, so no action for now

B) you don’t like the sweater, so you have to return/exchange  it

C) you don’t like the sweater, but can’t return/exchange it, so you have to get rid of it

In the B scenario, you now have to deal with going to the MALL (amma.com/chinese-boyfriend-gets-so-tired-of-shopping-with-his-girlfriend-he-jumps-to-death-in-mall/).  Let me digress here…I’m not a man, nor Chinese, but I think it’s fair to say that the ‘mall experience’ is oversold.  Parking during Canadian winter in -20C and having to walk like a km to get to the mall; then dealing with all the screaming kids and packed washrooms; and dirty food courts…ummmm, the only time that was fun was when I was still using my mother’s credit card. So in short, I can empathize with the guy in the article above who couldn’t take it anymore. So back to B, have you ever been to a shopping mall on Boxing Day?  Well good luck with that.  If you hold out and wait until the week after, guess what, there are no sweaters now, because they are all gone and the SPRING LINE is out.  Yup the spring line, and it’s still -30C out.  Ya. Do you want to scream now?  That’s Sweater Hangover. You’re stuck what that sweater now, so your only option is C.

Exhibit A

park

Exhibit B

shop

Option C (sarcastic tone).  Whether you start option C as a carryover from B or not, the key point here is ‘time’.  Remember, you ripped open that package and it took you like 1 min, right?  Well with B, you’ve already had to pay for parking one or 2 times + gas, you’ve had to deal with the screaming mall babies, you’ve had to deal with the dirty food court tables, and you’ve had to walk like 2km in the freezing snow.  It was a amazing right?  So that $50 sweater has now cost you like $50 already and 4 hours out of your life, and you still haven’t gotten rid of it.  Say it with me, “sweater hangover”.  So, for the sake of argument, let’s look at just C, and ignore the B carryover.

You can’t return/exchange the sweater because the person who bought it for you got it during ‘Black Friday’ and the exchange/return policy is past due OR better still, the person who bought it for you, got a great deal LAST Boxing Day so the exchange/return policy is past due OR the person is a ticking time bomb and will lose their sh&* if you even ask for the receipt to exchange/return.  All I can say in each of these options is the person who gave you that sweater is SELFISH and is perpetuating/ creating the HANGOVER. You should give that stupid sweater back to them and ask for $.  GO do that RIGHT NOW. But you didn’t because you’ll feel too guilty, so here are a couple of options:

-sell on kijiji…You now have to take a picture, post it, create an ad, respond to offers (possibly) then drive the sweater to buyer etc.  Likely  you won’t even get a response, but even if you do, it’s your time and now you have to drive it someplace, so it’s gas too.  Alternatively, you could have the person come to you.  I personally don’t recommend this since I don’t generally like strangers scoping out my stuff because they could be robbers or assassins which in either case creates a LARGER HANGOVER.

psycho

-donate.  Nice altruistic option, and one, I am all too familiar with.  I donate a ton of crap each year because I get stuck dealing with stuff hangover from birthdays, Christmas, and now that I’m older, people dying, so I inherit even more crap.  Like lamps from the 1950s, and boxes of trinkets, and needlepoint pillow cases with hummingbirds…Sigh…I’ll have to leave that for another post,  but for now, know that you are literally taking all this crap and driving it someplace, again, at your expense.

ugly lamp

-yard sale…I’d equate this with the kijii option except I’d add that the $5 someone is going to haggle you for the sweater is NOT EVEN WORTH YOUR TIME.

-burn it…In effect, folks, this is your best bet.  No gas $, no time involved. Incinerate it. At least you’ll feel better. Have a glass of wine or beer and laugh manically while you watch that ugly acrylic sweater go up in flames.

fire

In essence folks, that ‘sweater’ is a metaphor for just about anything.  It’s the STUFF that you accumulate without even trying. Stuff that people stick you with. At least when you go out and have too many shooters, or glasses of wine or whatever, you made that choice. 2 hours of glory followed by a 12 hour migraine on the couch. YOUR PROBLEM. Stuff in cheerful packages given by people with cheerful, hopeful smiles?  That’s now your problem too.  Now quick, go get a drink.