Friday, 30 December 2016

My year in review - 2016

It's time for another year in review. 2016 was a very eventful year for me! It seems many people feel that way. 

I had big plans for 2016. It was supposed to be the year I got things done. Well... it didn't quite work out that way. Things got done, but most weren't even on my list.

I had a very difficult time with my daughter this year. We had a few crises. Things have stabilized a bit, but they still feel a little fragile. Perhaps it’s just how it is during the teenage years…

I had a bit of a breakdown at the beginning of the year and ended up taking February off of work to rest and recuperate. When you don’t deal with your emotions, it catches up to you, sooner or later. In my case, it hit me like a ton of bricks and forced me to stop.

Although I wasn’t quite ready, I went back to work in March. I still tried to take things a little easier than before my mental health break so that I could continue to work on healing, even though I couldn’t dedicate as much time to it as I did while I was off.

But there were some lovely moments during that time. For example, Mr. Romantic and I took a long weekend trip to New York City in March. Even though it was very early on in our relationship (a little over 3 months by then), we travelled very well together.

I didn’t really expect to like New York City, but I was charmed by its mix of old and new, and hopefully I’ll get to visit again.

For this trip, all I took with me was a backpack. And when I came back from my trip, I carried on with my carry-on for a month. So for a month, I wore mostly only what I had brought with me on that weekend trip, and it was totally fine.

In April, I had the bed bug scare which meant that I had to wash/clean everything I owned and bag whatever couldn’t be washed/cleaned to make sure I could kill whatever beg bugs we had (I only ever saw two) and prevent them from multiplying. I got covers for the beds and various types of traps to catch whatever was left. I never saw anything in those traps and didn’t see any signs afterwards, so I assume I got them all.

While going through this, I was grateful that I was a minimalist. The extra work extra stuff would’ve been would surely have been overwhelming! Nevertheless, it was exhausting going through what I had. However, I also realized that I was still holding on to unnecessary items, and got rid of some of them. So you know… silver lining…

My relationship with Mr. Romantic progressed fairly rapidly. It was almost effortless. We’re a very good match! By the end of June, we decided to officially live together. Our summer was filled with movies, camping, road trips, walks, hikes, packing (for me), and making room for me in Mr. Romantic’s home.
 
When September rolled around and my lease was up, I moved into Mr. Romantic’s house in Kanata. So back to the suburbs for me! Because it was more important for us to live than work on the house, we still have things to finalize from my move. Not everything has a home yet. Not everything should stay. But we’ll work on it throughout 2017.

In October, I changed jobs. I’m still with the same government department, just a different branch, and it’s been quite the change of pace! Unfortunately, I’m back to spending about 2 hours a day commuting to and from work. Though, I do have the opportunity to work from home once in a while. So on really bad weather days, I can skip the commute.

In November, I learned how to crochet granny squares. Crochet has become a new passion. However, I have to make sure it doesn’t totally take over my life and start to interfere with some of my responsibilities, like my share of the household chores and other personal duties. I find it very addictive! 

December was a whirlwind of presents, food and family.

I didn’t write as much as I’d planned this year, but I haven’t given up on that dream. I still want to write a novel, and I will. It’ll just take longer than I anticipated, and that’s perfectly fine.

For 2017, I’ll just keep on keeping on…

We’ll slowly go through the house to make it more our home. I’ll continue to work on making sure that I only own what is useful or brings me joy… or both.

Mr. Romantic and I have a trip to Europe planned for late April, early May. I’m very excited about that! Even though it’s totally taking me out of my comfort zone, I love that I’ll get to experience this with him! I plan on only taking a carry-on with me for this almost 3-week trip. I’m sure it’ll work out.

I also want more camping, movies, road trips, walks, hikes, and adventures!

So, my friend, as 2016 draws to a close, let me wish you a year of love, health, adventure, and growth for 2017!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Last minute Christmas shopping

It’s Christmas the day after tomorrow. Are you still rushing around trying to buy your Christmas gifts? Why? Does Billy really need another toy? Does mom need any more slippers? Does your teenager really need another new trinket to add to that pile of stuff strewn across her bedroom floor?

Well, Dominique, if I don’t buy my loved ones a gift, how will they know I love them?

Oh, my dear friend, give them your time!

Here’s what I’m doing for Christmas. I’m giving cards to my loved ones. In those cards, I’ve set up a date to spend time with them. For one of them, maybe it’s a meal out at a fancy restaurant. For another, perhaps a trip to that museum they really like. For another, maybe some kind of concert, play, or movie. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we spend time together creating memories.

I’ve started doing this a while back when I ran out of ideas on what to give my niece and nephew. We don’t often get to spend one on one time together. So by doing this, we spend time boding. Now when we see each other, we laugh as we reminisce: “Remember that time with all those Asian spies at the mall?” (Long story, but my niece knows what I’m talking about.)

They probably don’t remember what I bought them on those dates (I don’t remember), but we do have the memories we created from spending time together.

I think you can do this with little kids also. I’ve been doing this with my nephew since he was about 5-years-old (which is about the time I came up with this approach). I’m sure he would have been perfectly fine with it if we had started to do this even before then. And, anyway, toddlers won’t remember the gifts they received. They won’t remember the time you spend with them either. But you will!

The kids now expect these “gifts” from me. And I think they really like this approach. I really like this approach. Not just because it’s less stressful than running around trying to find that perfect trinket, but because I truly enjoy their company and the memories.

Our time here on Earth is so very limited, and we’re all so very “busy with life”. What better gift than to give your loved ones your time and cherish those memories!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, 16 December 2016

A new hobby

Well hello there! Did you think I forgot about you? Well I haven’t! I wouldn’t.

How’ve you been?

I’ve been well. I’ve been busy! Back in October, I started a new job. It’s way more intense than what I was doing. In this new job, many things happen, and they happen quickly! Keeping up takes some getting used to.

The projects I work on can (and probably will) directly affect many people. So the level of attention, professionalism, and skill I have to bring to the table every day is significant. And, well, that can be tiring.

At the end of my workday, I’m mentally exhausted! So I haven’t spent much time writing. I’ve been crocheting instead.

Yes… you read that correctly… crocheting. It’s a new hobby I picked up from one of my new co-workers. She taught me how to crochet a granny square, and I fell in love with the hobby! It’s pretty much become a new obsession.

There are a few reasons why I like it so much.

First reason, I’m able to do it. That significantly increases my enjoyment of the activity, of course.

Second reason, it’s very creative. You should see the stuff fellow crocheteers post on social media. There are so many colour combinations, textures, and applications for crochet creations.

Third reason, it can be practical. I love being able to do something creative that can be useful. For instance, I’ve crocheted toques and I’m working on blankets.

Fourth reason, I find it fascinating that, basically, just by doing a series of knots, I can make stuff. Beautiful useful stuff.

Fifth reason, I find it extremely relaxing – meditative even. Like I mentioned, I’ve been coming home mentally exhausted at the end of the day. But this is an activity I find very soothing.

Sixth reason, I plan on giving away most of my creations as gifts. I like the idea of spending time on a project thinking about the person who’ll be receiving the gift. So every stitch is a little moment of love I’m spending on that person. (Sickening and a little much, I know… but it’s true. I really do spend time thinking about the person I’m making the item for.)

Alright, so there are more than just a few reasons. Can you tell I’m enjoying my new hobby?

So how does this fit in with minimalism?

Well, like I’ve mentioned before, when I’m into something, I can get a little carried away. And I somewhat have with this new hobby. It’s easy to go overboard and buy a whole bunch of yarn and accessories with plans of making things later.

The woman who taught me how to crochet said that she controls her impulse crochet material acquisitions by acquiring the necessary material for the specific project she’ll undertake. She knows that if she goes into a store without a specific project in mind, she’ll go overboard. (Sounds familiar…)

People also give her yarn from projects they’ve abandoned. So much so that she’s been having to refuse yarn because her stash is getting out of hand.

Another thing she does, which is completely awesome in my opinion, is that she crochets for charity. She’ll make blankets, hats, booties, mittens, socks… whatever, and gives it to specific charities to help people in need like the homeless or sick children. I love that she found a way to turn a beloved hobby into something to help the community.

So it’s just like for anything. If you use the items, and you can afford it and it brings you joy, aaaaand you have enough space for it, then have at it. Otherwise, set limits.