February Day 28

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Hello hello.

 

Well February is about to ‘do one’ and clear off, making the way for March. I love March. Why, because there are so many good things to be had. International Women’s Day. Mother’s Day. Steak and Blow job day. No really, it exists…I had to throw that one in to balance out my first two favs. Best of all, the clocks will go forward. That means the grey dark skies that greet you each morning and evening will soon be a distant memory. Spring will be getting her groove thang on and they’re ain’t nothing finer that the sweet cherry trees blossoming and the birds getting all frisky in the trees.
So my first Yifof challenge has been a success. No it wasn’t a biggie: write everyday. Including this post I have managed twenty days. Not bad for a procrastinator who can talk herself out of doing pretty much anything.
It’s a start and as that old proverb says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and if you’ve been paying attention up until now, you’ll know that I love a good cliche.
So I’ve been doing this Yifof for long enough now to get a variety of responses from my friends and people around me. The feedback has ranged from “Ohh you’re brave” to “Facebook is a waste of time anyway” to “Well why are you doing that? You’re a fucking nuisance, how am I supposed to contact you now!?”. To be honest, ditching Facebook was really only a way of taking charge of my life and making sure that I’m getting the most out of it. I found that since I got my smart phone, I wasn’t being smart with my time. In actual fact, I was being an absolute fuck-wit and checking Facebook had become a knee-jerk reaction. Some statistics say that teenagers check their phones and their social media accounts every eight minutes. I’m fairly sure I must have fallen into that category. It isn’t something to be proud of. I want to maximize my time. I don’t want to turn around at the end of my life and realize all I’ve done is watch the world go by through a manipulated lens.
So Facebook was the catalyst and I’m kind of glad, because it has sent me off on this personal quest to reinvent how I use my life. I want to make sure I iron out all the little niggly things that get on my nerves, the things I talk about remedying but never seem to have the time for.
So next month is March. It will be the start of a new challenge and as I mentioned in a previous post, I will be sorting out my abode and getting clear of clutter. It will also be know as Miser March, because for the first time in my life, I will be trying to stick to a budget. Actually working out what.the.fuck I spend money on. Because cash seems to just slip through my hands faster than a gambling addict at a roulette table. Fear not my three readers. There will be more than just my personal quest to read, so it won’t be like looking at the messed up spaghetti that is my head. Whatever happens, I promise NOT to report anything about my experiences on Steak and blow job day. Enjoy your weekend.

February Day 25

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Our World is obsessed by appearance. Maintaining a veneer of chic and cool reigns supreme, and the downside to this is that many worthy things get jettisoned and cast aside.
Take the word cliche. Even the word is so, well, cliche. Common. Trite. Corny.
The Oxford dictionary even describes it as: ‘a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.’ Ouch.
But sometimes that’s not true. Sometimes we look high and low for a shred of originality, when all the time, a cliche was sitting there, waiting to be of use. Take today, for example. Today was a tough one, mentally, for me. It’s the anniversary of my Grandmother’s death. It’s been 11 years since cancer stormed into her life and stole her away, and I miss her. I miss her laugh. I miss her support. I miss her swearing. Because if you think I drop the ‘f’ bomb with alarming regularity, you should have heard my Nan on a roll.
But there was a cliche that fit my mood when I woke up. A platitude to remedy my woes. “A problem shared is a problem halved.” Yes, it’s tired cliche. But you know what, it’s true. So instead of moping, I called my Mum. I knew as bad as I felt, she would be feeling even worse. But rather than telephoning and using the chat to wallow in grief, I got the three boisterous beings to make the call. Just listening to them laugh and chat to my Mum, lifted my own spirits. I knew how happy she would be to chat to her beloved grand kids, and that in turn, made me feel better too.
And instead of moping around the house when they went to school, I met my two best friends for coffee. We chatted, we laughed. We laughed some more. By the time I left the coffee shop, my spirits were infinitely better.
Human contact…It nourishes our souls. And that’s not just me being all new-agey and spouting bollocks. It’s actually true. A study from Brigham Young University in the U.S, found that meaningful friendships and social relationships improve our odds of survival by 50 per cent. In fact, their study said that being lonely, or having limited social contact, was the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, being an alcoholic, more harmful than not exercising and twice as harmful as obesity. Bloody hell. Those are some scarey stats. I reckon it’s even more alarming when you look at how the fabric of society is shifting. Cos’ in our technology-driven world, we’re having less and less real contact with each other. Nowadays, people are more likely to alert the world that they’re are having a shit day, by updating a status on Facebook or twitter, instead of chatting one-on-one with someone they love and trust.
An article published today by the CBC,(http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/social-media-affecting-teens-concepts-of-friendship-intimacy-1.2543158) says that social media is already affecting teenagers and their views on intimacy. It says teens view their social media friends, (some of whom they haven’t met in real-life) as their social support. The article also says teens view ‘likes’ and feedback on their postings as personal support. According to the research, this causes a loss of real intimate relationships…No shit Sherlock! What the fuck!?
My boisterous beings are no where even near teenage-ville, but the thought petrifies me. Back in the day, pre-net, being an adolescent was murky waters to navigate, but at least you could count on your mates to be there. Not some fake friends you’d never even met.
I get social media, I do. And it can give you a life line to the outside world. I know back when the three boisterous beings were all four-years-old and under, Facebook did feel like a link to the outside world. Especially on those days when a grown-up conversation, getting out of the house, and even having a shower were out of the question. But here’s the thing: social media interaction Vs. human interaction is like comparing a cold McDonald’s happy meal with a gourmet feast at El Celler (Catalan restaurant, voted best in the world 2013). Cos’ when a ‘like’ replaces the belly laugh of a friend, or confiding one-on-one gets swapped for ‘sharing’ with an entire network, then I think it’s time to abandon ship – and I don’t talk in cliches.

February Day 24

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Do you clutter, or are you a cleaner? That is the question.
Me, I cannot tell a lie. I’m a horrific hoarder. Not a real hoarder. Not one of those scarey people you see on TV, with 47 cats and an astonishing, yet disgusting collection of every sanitary towel they’ve ever used – I’m not like that. But my family and I are still busting out of our abode. And I know I have to take a lot of the responsibility for that. I’ve always been an untidy fucker and it sucks. Even when I was a back packer, traversing the world, with what was supposed to be a mere bag on my back, I still ended up with more baggage than an airport carousel. I wish I were more ruthless at letting go of objects. Possessions. Stuff. If I were, I reckon my little house in the mountains would seem positively palatial by comparison. Actually my next Yifof venture is to purge 30 percent of the shit invading my house. It’s the Yifof challenge for March. Of course, I will also be carrying February’s challenge forward. Making sure I blog everyday. Well, I can’t let my readers down! The three people who read this blog faithfully, everyday, now can I? So in March, one way that I’ll be getting all zen with my objects, is by following this Auzzie blogger. She reckons one way to cleanse the clutter chaos is to give away one thing a day. You can find her blog here:     http://www.365lessthings.com/     I’ll keep you posted on what ‘gems’ I dish out. I promise I won’t just offload the crap I don’t want. I’ll also be spending 10 minutes each day chucking shit out. Even I can manage ten minutes. It’s baffling how my family and I have accumulated so much stuff. Especially considering that when I arrived in Canada 13 years ago, I really did have an empty back-pack; with about three t-shirts and a pair of jeans. But I know why it’s happened. I’m a sentimental, silly sod. I place far too much attachment to things. Things that remind me of a time and place that has long since passed. For instance, right now, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, typing away furiously on my lap-top. I kid myself that the view here is better than the view from my office. Although, to be fair it is. The mountains are absofuckinglutely stunning from this vantage point. While in my office, the only view is my neighbours house and her scarey bamboo tree, so wild and out of control, it looks like it might pull a “Day of the Triffids”. But even if I did have a million dollar view in my office, I wouldn’t be able to work there. For a kick off, my desk is piled high with all manner of writing projects. Half written articles. Snippets of stories. Comedy routines, some formed, some just nuggets of an idea, scribbled on scraps of whatever. There are also three pots. All overflowing with pens and pencils. Although ironically, when I need to write something important, none of the buggers seem to work. There’s a dancing flower that I bought for 15 quid ($25) when I was just fifteen years old, bought with hard earned money from my crappy Saturday job. Then there’s the stack of notes and letters from the three boisterous beings. Notes that say “I love you Mummy”. Notes with hearts with happy faces. Squiggly notes brimming with love. To a tidy person, my desk probably looks horrific. I know my Mum (tidy person extraordinaire) would take one look at my office and shut the door. If I had a door. Because my house is deliciously ‘open plan’. A great idea in theory, but the huge downside to this open concept malarkey (for us untidy fuckers), is that if you get unexpected visitors, your slovenly ways are left hanging out, for all the world to see…And step over. But I quite like my untidy desk. It tells a story. One of a creative mind at work. It holds the promise of stories to be written. That ideas are fermenting. And that surely can only be a good thing.

February Day 23

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Awww shucks. This is my last post. Dagnabbit.
“Why are you quitting so soon?” (Ask my three readers in dismay) “Why are you bailing on the blogosphere?”
Well, dear readers, I have no choice. Didn’t the you get the Norse memo? Apparently (according to Viking legend), today is the end of the world. That’s right. The globe is gonna split in two at some stage today and all the meanies that have been living in the middle of the world are gonna come tumbling out and sort us out. It will also be the start of three years of winter, so you might want to think about finishing off that scarf you’ve been knitting for the past few years (Or is that just me). The upside to this whole viking prophesy, is that Gods like Thor will come to our aid and sort it out. So if they look anything like their movie counterparts, that might not be so bad.
In other news. Good stuff is happening! Like this little girl scout selling cookies outside a cannabis clinic, doing a roaring trade:
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/girl-scout-sells-117-boxes-of-cookies-outside-medical-marijuana-clinic-30033093.html
117 boxes of cookies sold in just two hours! If that ain’t marvellous, what is. Entrepreneurial spirit at its finest.

February Day 20

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Vices.
What’s your poison?
Anyone who reckons that they are purer than the driven snow is talking a load of well, slush.
I’ve had a few vices in my time. I’ve smoked (no Mum, I didn’t inhale), I’ve picked my nose and I’ve been a militant “Ewww, you’re not going to eat that, are you?” smug vegan (surely one of the worst vices of all). But let’s be honest, who amongst us humans is perfect? Who doesn’t have a few chinks in their character? Really, a dash of Cruella makes a much more well-rounded person, than a goody two-shoes Poppins. I know whose status updates I’d rather read on Facebook. Actually, annoying Facebook updates, alerting the world to your every move is one of the reasons why I quit social media. And I’m not the only person driven ff’ing nuts by people’s updates. If you google “Facebook posts that annoy people” a whopping 2,240,000 answers come up. That’s a lot of pent-up frustration against your friends, n’est-ce pas? So below is a quick round-up of the most irritating statuses. Use it as a guide to annoy the fuck out of your friends on a bad day, or refer to it for ‘what not to do’ when you’ve got your Poppins head on. Either way, you’re welcome.

Facebook Vices 101

1.The Holiday Whore.
You know who I’m talking about. That person who posts naff all year, but as soon as they hop on a plane, they update Facebook with their every move. So you took a holiday. Good for you. But is it really necessary to alert your friends to your every meal, drink and bowel movement whilst away from home?

2.Oversharing your Offspring
Don’t get me wrong. Kids are awesome. I’ve got three of my own. However, bragging about their every meal, small achievement and bowel movement is TMI. I get that you’re a proud parent. Save the over-brag for the grandparents.

3. The Update Addict.
9 am Just had a toasted bagel. Slightly crunchy…but yummy!
9.10 am Still hungry, contemplating a banana…thoughts?
9.15 am Went all out and ate the banana…Lush!
9.16 am Can’t decide! Orange or apple? What am I like? lol.
You get the picture. And don’t even get me started on lol. Pah.

4. Hashtag Hilarity.
I must have been asleep when the memo, “Hashtag every fucking sentence you write” was sent out. Seriously, I don’t get it.
I’m happy for the humble hashtag. Honestly. It’s come a long way from its fourteenth century origins as a mangled ‘lb’ sign. (Check out this clever geezers blog if you don’t believe me. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/09/origins-of-hashtag-manicule-diple-pilcrow-ampersand-explained.html) #Bloody cynics. I’m happy the ordinary octothorpe (yes that’s the hashtag’s real title, thank you very much) is getting its moment of glory. But #don’t#you#think#we’ve#overdone#it?#milking it. #so over it.

5. The Sherlock Status
You know what I mean. People who throw out status updates like cryptic crossword clues: “Oh I’m glad that’s over!” Or “Some people really are so mean, I can’t believe what just happened!” People who update their status with just a snippet of information, then leave you hanging for the details. Pffft. Let’s be clear: If I wanted mystery I’d watch Downey Jr. be all smug to Law. Spell it out people. #FFS. Alright!?

6. The ‘how many boasts can you post, post’
I get it. We live in a narcissistic, multi-tasking, self-serving world, where ‘fake it till you make it’ is the new humility. But when all you do is use Facebook as a brag book, 365 days of the year to inflate your own ego with posts such as, “BEST DAY EVER! Got a promotion at work INCLUDING a bonus of a month in Saint Lucia…PLUS I won the lottery!” #Livingthedream. These braggarts are more annoying than Justin Bieber, with a bag of coke, in a strip club.

7. Gym Gloaters
You know the status: “Just back from my 5 a.m. Iron Man. Which I completed backwards, whilst blindfolded in a snow blizzard. Life is great!” #Getting my fit on! etc. While I applaud anyone for hauling carcass off the couch and swerving the family-size bag of Doritos, I do not need an update every time you raise your heartbeat from exertion. I’m far too busy hunting for the TV remote.

8. Soap-box ranters
People who use their status updates to ‘inform’ the rest of us rabble about the latest cause/public injustice.
I appreciate the sentiment and I also agree: there are a fuck load of atrocities happening in our sometimes screwed up world. But raging on Facebook ain’t gonna change much. If you really care, stop updating your status with armchair politics and go do something proactive.

9. Whinging Wally / Negative Nelly
We’ve all seen that status. The “Woe is me, why is my life so crap?” status. Look. Let’s level. I feel for you. I do. We all go through shitty days and phases in our life and we all need someone to lean on. But here’s the thing: Facebook is not a support group. A few people might rally and post a “Oh you poor thing” type comment, but most of your ‘friends’ are voyeurs who will read your plight, say hmmm and move on. If your life is really as bleak as your posts suggest, step away from the computer and go get help. In the real world.

I could go on, but after a quick skim read of this post, I realize I sound like Queen of the bitches. So I shall stop. I have enough guilt. So I’ll leave you with this (plagiarized) thought: “I used to wonder what it’d be like to read other people’s minds. Then I got a Facebook account, and I’m over it.”

February Day 15

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Well hello Saturday….where have you been all week?I love Saturdays. Mostly because my life follows a tradtional week, so that no matter what fun you have on a Saturday, there is always lovely, lazy Sunday waiting around the corner, allowing you a day to recuperate. Today was one of those busy days that means tomorrow might require plenty of horizontal lounging on the couch. But it was a blast for me and my suburban clan. Let me explain. We live close to the mountains. Mountains = snow and today we went tubing. For the uninitiated among you, tubing is just as it sounds. You get a big giant tube (think of a big car tyre, only inflatable), and you climb a whopping, big snow hill. Then you clamber into your tube and wheeee! You slide down the hill at breakneck speed, giggling like a school kid, a faceful of glee and terror. Then repeat. Then repeat again, until your cheeks have a rosy snow-glow and your thighs are on fire. The best thing about the whole tubing malarkey is that you can slide down the hill, with other people, at the same time. I gotta tell you, sliding with nine kids and adults, yodeling at the top of their voices, is a trip and a half. Getting to be a kid, even for a morning, is a riot. Us adults should step out of our stuffy selves more often. In fact, my favourite author as a kid, Roald Dahl, has a great quote about grown ups and how they should lighten up: “When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important: A stodgy parent is no fun at all!  What a child wants – and deserves – is a parent who is SPARKY!”

I love Roald Dahl. Without a shadow of a doubt, he was instrumental in fostering my love of reading. When I was a kid, his books were like magic to me. They were so cheeky and full of fun, that I read and re-read his books until they were tattered and I could recite them by heart. It would be hard to choose just one as an all-time fav, but I reckon ‘The Twits’ and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine” resonated with me the most. They still do. My kids have all his books now, the lucky ducks. They’ve got the whole collection, in a fancy box-set, whereas when I was a child, Dahl was alive, still at his writing peak, so I had to wait ( very impatiently) for each new book to be written. Nowadays the variety of kids books is so much more exciting than the choices of 30 odd years ago. There’s a plethora of books out there to appeal to kids silly side. Books that have them roaring with laughter. Books so compelling, that they sneak them under the covers, to read at bedtime. Still, if they sneak the book under the covers on a Saturday, who cares? Lovely, lazy Sunday is just around the corner.

February Day 14

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Well today is Valentines Day. Happy Valentine’s, y’all.  I hope you’re feeling the love, where ever you are. I like Valentines day. After all, what’s not to like about showing love and affection? I’m definitely not one of those sour grape fuckers who moan it’s a waste of time, money and all a big commercial rip off. Mind you, a few people in China took there bah humbuggery (if that wasn’t a word before, it is now) to a whole new level. A group of singles took it upon themselves to buy every other seat, in a Shanghai cinema, for tonight’s show of a soppy romantic movie. This means if couples want to go, they will have to sit alone. You can read the full cupid-foiled article here:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/feb/14/valentines-day-odd-numbered-cinema-seats-china

Anyway love it or hate it, Valentine’s is here. And in honour of the day I’m celebrating the small things in life that I love. It’s the simple pleasures, after all.

 

Things I love

 

 

    1.     New socks.

There is something heavenly about slipping on a brand new pair of socks that does more than make your tootsie tingle; it makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over.

2.       Clean bed sheets.

        Apparently, Oprah Winfrey loves fresh bed sheets so much that she changes her’s every other day. Hmmm. I don’t quite manage to change my own covers with such clockwork regularity, but when I do go to the effort of stripping the bed and putting new sheets on, slipping under those covers is magic.

3.     The smell of fresh baking

Mmmmm…just thinking about how a fresh batch of cookies makes the house smell, makes my mouth water. The only trouble I have, is not devouring the lot instantly. Then I don’t feel so good…bleurghhhh!

4.      A good book

There is nothing like a riveting read to make you feel at one with the world.

A book that grips you from the very first page. It has you, right there, with all the action. Magic.

 

5. A good laugh

Something about a good laugh seems to be able to cure just about anything. The Irish even have a proverb about it. And the Paddy’s should know; they can have the craic better than anyone.

 

6.      A good cup of tea/coffee

In my case, this is especially true; because making a decent cuppa is very hit and miss…more often miss. So when I do manage to make a brew that tastes exquisite, it makes my whole day.

 

7.     Snuggles and movies

Picture the scene: Rainy afternoon. Snuggling on the couch, swathed in blankets,  treats at hand,  watching a  bloody good movie. What could be better than that?

 

8.      A really good tune on the radio

A record you haven’t heard in forever suddenly comes on the radio. Out of nowhere you’re singing and dancing. Music has the power to lift you up. Bargain.

 

9.      Listening to children

The little people are underestimated in this world, and they shouldn’t be, cos’ they are the purest souls of them all.  Hanging out with kids is one of the best ways to spend your time. They are honest, innocence and not bogged down with the minutiae of life’s ridiculous rules. Their company rocks.

 

10. A sunny day at the beach

Maybe I’m pining for a sunny day with the sand between my toes because right now, it’s the middle of winter and everywhere around the world seems to be up to their eyeballs in snow, rain or cold. But dammit, I can’t ever remember a day at the beach where I was like “Hmmm, well that was shit, wasn’t it?”

There are so many simple pleasures in life, so much to love. And you don’t need a card to declare them, or a bunch of ridiculously priced blooms to show it…You don’t even have to piss someone else off by buying all the odd seats at the cinema. You just have to dive in and find the little things that make you grin.

Just check out this link to the start of the film Amelie, if you need reminding: