th Notes From the Cookie Jar

Notes From the Cookie Jar

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Guard Your Magic

Pansies at the Pier

*tap tap* Is this thing working? Oh, there you are.

Hello, there. Remember me?

It's been a very long time since I've written in the space. So long, in fact, that I'm surprised I even remembered the passwords to get in but here we are.

I read a piece this morning about Mommy Bloggers, and how they all suck-and then a lot of facebook comments (some really mean, some not), more pieces that were responses (some angry, some not) and weirdly enough, this whole thing struck such a chord with me I felt the need to come out my self imposed blogging silence because believe it or not, I've been there.

I've been that angry person who felt like the entire blogging world sucks. Some of you might even remember.

When I started blogging, I was stunned that anyone would read what I had to say. Even more startled when I was asked to speak at the first Blissdom Canada. Me? They wanted me? Why? As things rolled along and I became more and more involved in blogging, it became a blessing and curse.

A blessing because I met so many wonderful, talented, supportive people who I never would have met otherwise. Blogging taught me that I could chase other dreams, increased my self confidence, and made me part of a community. I am a writer, hear me roar! I had some great jobs with incredible online publications, worked with some international companies, got to meet incredible famous chefs and go places I never would've gone to otherwise. It was amazing.

It was also a curse because I had a hard time saying no. I became overwhelmed with the amount of things expected of me, on top of family obligations and a full time job. I had no experience whatsoever as any kind of editor, or business manager. I couldn't leave my job at the drop of a hat for a conference or event, yet I felt like I was expected to. The only way I could keep up with the content I was expected to produce was to write late into the night, after a full day at work and tending to a sick husband.  The constant flow of requests to write about things felt unyielding and the pressure to continue to preform was great. It was a pressure I put on myself, yes-but it was there. Eventually I felt like I had gotten in so deep that there was really no gracious way to just step aside. Did even I want to? Hadn't I worked for and dreamed of this? Would it be there for me waiting if I took a break?

For a while, blogging was an escape from real life that was, at the time, pretty unbearable. With a best friend and her husband both dying of cancer and a sick husband, I had no other outlets. Conferences were an escape. I am grateful that I had those opportunities and outlets, yes. There were so many wonderful opportunities that I was given by so many great people, and for a time there, I managed to hold it together.

Until I came to a crashing stop.

You see, I always put my own needs last. My needs for sleep, down time, relaxation. My needs to just be instead of always worrying about taking photos of food or writing a blog post. Reading a cookbook just for fun. Whipping up something in the kitchen because I wanted to, not because I had to. Going to a farm just to see it, not because I had to write about it.

You see, in the beginning that's what blogging was. I lived and then shared online-but somehow along the way, without me even realizing what was happening, it changed. During a time when I should have been looking after myself in the midst of taking care of sick and dying family, I even put blogging before my own needs-and that, my friends, was a massive mistake.

Eventually I hated blogging and everything about it. I hated sponsors, I snapped at people I worked with, I was unreliable and did poor work. Twitter irritated me to no end, Facebook drove me nuts. I burned bridges, said some pretty stupid things, and then walked away from most of it. I couldn't write anymore. There was a falling out with a friend, and my self confidence took such a beating I didn't think I wanted to write again. Ever.

Honestly, if anyone from my old community is even reading this, I'm surprised. I was awful.

And I'm sorry. Really, truly, deeply, sorry.

It wasn't you at all, it was me. I was a gigantic, broken, hurting, asshole. 

Sometimes I think that when we crash and burn, it's easy to point fingers. It's easy to bring up the not so great parts of blogging and say, "see, it's THAT. Don't do THAT. THAT SUCKS." The reality is, you have to find your own balance. I can't make blogging a business because I'm not that kind of person. I need to keep it a hobby for my own mental health. I'm not into the numbers game, I don't really care about stats or clicks or whatever, and I just want to write for sake of writing. Others love the whole business end. Some love doing sponsored posts-while I'd rather stick a fork in my eye. It really is all about knowing yourself and your limits, and then sticking to them despite all the pressures and noise. I was naive-I fully succumbed to the siren calls of areas in the industry that I later found out just weren't for me. At the time, I so desperately wanted them because I thought that being invited to THAT event, or writing for THAT publication meant that I had made it.

Then once I had it, I found that I really couldn't juggle it all, and felt like I had no way out.

The bottom line, is there is no right way. There's no magic ticket. The magic, to be honest, is you.

Your personality, your hard work, your words are the magic. Nobody is like you, and our combined talents and differences in the world of blogging is what makes it great.

Remember the great? The days when we all wept for a fellow blogger's loss? Cheered for their successes, like when someone landed a book deal? Those were what made the community great. It feels like now there so much noise, we're losing the magic. Many fantastic bloggers have packed it in, either from burnout or they feel that their time is over and have nothing left to say. 

My demise was my own fault. I take full responsibility for that and at the risk of sounding like an old school blogger stomping around and saying, "you young'uns, I have advice for you"..well, I actually do. Listen, don't listen, it's up to you, but here it is:

Never allow your magic to get lost under all the noise and stuff you feel you should be doing. Don't put yourself last. Life is hard enough! In the span of 6 years I lost 3 loved ones to cancer, my husband battled Hep C, my son went through hell (that's a story I can't share without his permission), we moved, we were nearly killed on our motorbike and I changed jobs TEN times. That alone would break most people, much less one trying to work full time and blog full time on the side. For awhile I even took on a part time job at Starbucks and worked THREE jobs, 55+ hrs a week.

It's crazy talk to do that. Trust me. I know. I've been the person rocking in the corner crying because I was dumb enough to take that on.I have been paying for it physically ever since last year.

I do not know this blogger who thinks Mom blogging sucks. I don't know her story. I'm sure that she's a perfectly nice person. What I do know is that there are people out there who are hurting, and if you react to everything and take everything personally, you let them steal a piece of your magic. Don't do it.

Be yourself. Live. Like, really live. Leave the phone at home and go play with your dog, eat drippy ice cream and stick your toes in the ocean. Hold babies. Watch sunsets. Hold hands with someone you love. Try coloring (that's my personal favourite). Spend time with your friends, dance, and hug your children. Write, if you want to. Do that which makes you soul sing, no matter what anyone else says.

Don't squander your magic because that, my friend, is what life really is all about.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Empty Nest Vacationing, Biker Mama Style

It has been forever, it seems, since that carefree day way back in April 2006 when I wrote about how I longed to get rid of an old TV in our office and my husband had a tendency to hold on to things. Nine years, to be exact.

Nine years isn't long really, but now it feels like a whole lifetime ago, when I was the mom of a kid in grade five and working my way into the business of writing. These days, that nine year old is now closing in on twenty and has since moved out. I'm finding myself in a house that no longer has the pitter patter of other people's feet, and adjusting to being an empty nester is really strange. I find myself doing strange research on the web on topics like removing skin tags and sleep health!

Some time back in March when I was working something like 60 hours a week at four (yes! FOUR!) different jobs, I lay in bed on my only day off after working something crazy like 16 days in a row and declared that I was going on a vacation this summer. Some place where I wasn't required to cook or clean, that I didn't have to write, supervise children, or do anything work related. Eventually John and I pulled out all the vacation planning things, and soon we mapped out a trip via motorcycle to Calgary. In all honesty at first it was to Oregon but the Canadian dollar kind of lost steam and we didn't want to pay that much, so Alberta it was!

Empty nesting vacationing is totally different from road tripping with kids, let me tell you.  I'm not going to tell you all about it now, though, just wait! Exactly like when I used to write about road trips back when I had  a kid with me, this time I'm going to tell you what it was like taking a motorcycle to Calgary and back-where we stayed, what we ate, the funny things that happened along the way, and more.

There's nothing boring here- tornadoes and severe thunderstorms were involved, and we DID see one (or both) of them up close and personal-like. You're going to have to follow along to find out.

Were we all food revolutionary and healthy, like in our past road trips? No. You can't haul food on a motorcycle, and sometimes you just have to eat at whatever place presents itself. So that's exactly what we did, with some really interesting results.

Keep an eye out for the next posts! First stop, Three Valley Gap, BC.

The bike!
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Experience with Coke's PR and Marketing Pop As a Healthy Snack

It has been a long time since I've been fired up about something so much that it drives me to my computer to write, but as I sat curled up on the couch with a huge box of tissues nursing a terrible cold this morning a story came on the news and my head exploded.

Well, not really, although my head kinda feels like it's going to explode, but that's besides the point. See, a few years ago I had an email exchange with a PR company regarding Coke mini cans that left me completely appalled. When I later met Chef Michael Smith, we had a conversation about it and he asked if I had written about it. At the time I said no. I didn't want to appear to be outing a company, but now that this story is in the news I think my experience should be shared.

According to recent news stories, Coke is working with bloggers, nutritionists, and dieticians to say that Coke is a healthy snack. Normally I'd just roll my eyes at this, but back in 2011 I received an email in my inbox, where a PR company working with Coke was talking about Laurie Gelman and how she was the host of Slice's The Mom Show. She was going to do a segment re: healthy snacks, and she was going to mention the Coke mini cans.They wanted me to write a story. There was no discussion of compensation.

Below is part of that email:

"Maintaining a balanced diet is key to leading a healthy lifestyle. For any lifestyle and family features you may be compiling, we have an interesting interview opportunity available.

Laurie Gelman, host of Slice’s The Mom Show and mother of two, is available for interview. She can speak to maintaining a healthy balanced diet both for yourself and for your children, specifically including topics such as:
  • Yummy and nutritious snacks for kids that Mom can prepare
  • How to keep kids energized and active
  • How to keep Mom energized during her busy day and overcome daily hurdles such as the 3pm slump

Laurie will mention the launch of the new Coca Cola mini can (a smaller-sized, 100-calorie can) as one snack idea. This portion size option gives consumers power to choose the beverage size that best meets their dietary and lifestyle needs. Dietary experts say that controlling portion sizes and subsequent calorie intake is important to maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Laurie of course has plenty of other suggestions that she can share with your readers which will perfectly compliment the subject of busy Moms and how they can ensure that their kids, and themselves, have a balanced diet."

The email went on to a press release where Coke was announcing their new mini cans and saying they were a good option to have a Coke with a smaller portion size.

First off, I have no issue with Coke. Like any other soda, it can be a nice treat on a hot day. We have it occasionally in the summer or on a holiday. Honestly, it's rare that I can drink a whole can-when I was a kid, my Mom and I would sometimes share a can.  The important distinction is that in our house, pop is viewed as an occasional TREAT. It's like a bag of chips, bar of chocolate, or other sweet/salty nutritionally bankrupt item that we may occasionally indulge in.

If we were to be perfectly honest about things, Coke is composed of water, sugar, caffeine, phosphoric acid,  caramel color and natural flavourings. There is no nutritional value to a a can of Coke, no matter the portion size. There is sugar, carbs, sodium. That is it.  My definition of a "healthy snack" is one that offers nutrition to my body. One that contains vitamins, minerals, or things my body needs to function. Coke does not offer any of these things. 

Now, I know that some people have pointed to the soda industry as responsible for the rise in obesity over the past decade and Coke has probably taken a hit in their sales. I don't think the soda industry is totally to blame, there are a lot of factors at play that need to be taken into consideration. But what makes me crazy is when companies try to market a product that is so obviously NOT healthy as healthy. Let's be honest here, people, it's POP.  (or soda, depending on where you're from).

This was my response to the PR company: 

" Thank you for your interest in Notes from the Cookie Jar.  I must admit I'm appalled by the idea that Coke mini cans are being pitched in a press release about an interview with someone as a healthy lifestyle choice.   Coke is full of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, and is not (in my opinion) a healthy choice by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact,  I do not believe that children need soda of any kind in their diets (whether by 100 calorie can or not). For Mrs. Gelman to be suggesting this is completely ridiculous.  Children need to be hydrating with water or plain milk, not sugary substances filled with artificial flavors, preservatives, and caffeine. 

I cannot endorse, support, or write about someone who is suggesting that mini cans of Coke are part of a healthy lifestyle for children, no matter what the size is. "

 Healthy snacks are things like whole fruit, raw veggies, nuts, hummus and whole grain crackers. Even 100% juice offers some nutrition. Coke offers sugar and caffeine. 

There was a response to my mail:

"We are following up on our email regarding the new Coca-Cola mini can. The language used in the email sent to you was ambiguous and this was not our intention. 

The Coca-Cola mini can media launch is targeted at Moms and is intended to communicate increased product choices for consumers, providing more options in the beverage aisle for those looking to enjoy a favorite beverage while being conscious of portion size and calories. 

As host of the Mom Show and a mother herself, Laurie Gelman can offer views on making lifestyle choices for herself and her family.  The aim was to provide information that Moms would be interested in – including new portion packages for Moms and appropriate family members, since Mom is the primary gatekeeper to most grocery purchases.

Coca-Cola has a strict policy against marketing to children under age 12.  We include our regulations on not marketing to children on our website, here: and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions."

Wait. Did I say anything about marketing to kids? Nope. I said that I didn't believe kids should have soda, and that suggesting it was healthy was.. "completely ridiculous". Marketing it to Moms as a healthy snack, when Moms don't snack that much but make snacks for kids is just skirting around the issue. Weren't two of those points about healthy snacks to do with snacks for kids?

Now Coke has found nutritionists who have written pieces where it's not very clear if they were paid for their articles, if they were sponsored or not by Coke, and some don't even remember if they were paid. Seriously? It certainly makes me wary of nutritional advice from so-called "experts" if this is the case. Kids are already influenced by marketing offered by companies about "healthy" choices, whether the advertising is directed at them or not. I work with kids, and talk to them about food every single day. They are swayed by colorful packaging, and repeat messages they have heard. 

Moms may be the gatekeepers, but it's naive to think that advertising doesn't filter down to children.

Coke is not, in my opinion,  a healthy snack for anyone. Period. End of story. I believe that anyone who tells you otherwise either is being paid to do so or doesn't know what a healthy snack is.

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Kids Are Always Full of Surprises

cara cara orange

For the longest time, I've been aching to get back into the kitchen with kids, teaching them about food and cooking. This really is my happy place; above all else that I do, it's what I love most. Since we moved from the Sunshine Coast to Chilliwack, it was the one part of my job that I missed most.

Yesterday was day one of diving back in the kitchen again with a group of elementary school students. This time, it's more challenging; I have a group of students who all have their own needs and challenges, so presenting food and cooking in a way they understand is going to be interesting. We didn't cook yesterday, instead we talked about the "Rules of the Kitchen", how things were going to work, what we were going to make, and then I brought some oranges for them to taste.

They weren't just any oranges. They were cara cara oranges, a delightful variety that's in season between December and April, and one of my very favourite kind of orange. Not only are they super sweet, but they are gorgeous. I wanted to see what the kids knew-where the oranges might come from, how they grow, the different parts such as the peel, pith, flesh... would they figure this out?

Tasting things is a huge part of how I teach kids to cook. At home, most kids come from the "Just one bite" or "finish your plate" camps.  They are used to food being associated with something emotional-mostly pleasing adults but in my class, I tell them I'm not the food police. I won't make them eat ANYTHING. Or try anything. They may look at, smell, lick, touch, and even eat something if they wish but there will be no pressure from anyone at any time.The point is to just make them aware of different kinds of food, and one day when they are ready, they may try it.

"YOU are in charge of your body," I tell them. "YOU are the one who decides if you want to taste. If you don't, that's okay. I'm not going to make you or feel sad if you don't."

The oranges were a surprise. At first, the kids seemed disappointed and even a bit upset that I bought "just" fruit and not some fantastic packaged item.

"Just oranges? Really?"
 "I  HATE oranges"

I'm a little evil. There are NO sweet baked goods on our menu until the very last day in June, when I plan to have them make homemade ice cream. Even then, it will be topped with fruit. They don't know this, and I have no plans to tell them.

I smiled and set the oranges on the table, said it was fine if they didn't want any, and kept going.  We talked about the oranges, and with fat, colorful markers I began drawing a mind map on a huge piece of paper. The adults helping had a few orange slices. Another teacher walked in and commented that those kind of oranges were her favorite. Finally, one of the kids tried one..and then another, and before you knew it, they were nibbling on the sweet fruit, leaving a pile of half moon peels behind on paper towels in front of them.

Then, we got to the topic of citrus fruit and I brought out a Meyer lemon. I sliced it in half, and the kids got to smell and touch it.

"Can we taste the lemon?" 

I almost fell over. Lemon? The oranges were suspect but they wanted LEMON? I shaved off thin slices, saying it was okay if they didn't want it after they tasted, that it would be sour. I explained that the peel is very good, and how chefs use it in muffins and other treats.

Down went the slices of lemon and soon they were eying the lime I brought as well. Gone were the pleas of having a cookie or piece of chocolate, they were intensely focused on the fruit and how interesting it was. This was a completely different turn of events-I had expected they may eat the oranges, but never for a minute thought they'd want to try the lemon and lime, too!

Later I ran into one of the kids and asked her,

"Are you a sweet orange or a sour lemon today?"

She grinned at me happily.

"I'm a sweet orange!"  (Note to self: I think I may need to bring Meyer lemons in again for the kids to cook with because they obviously LOVED them)

Next up? We're making pancakes that are full of oatmeal and whole wheat flour, topped with a strawberry compote instead of syrup. They are used to only having syrup. Let's see how THAT goes over!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Who You Calling Crazy?

Right from the get go, I knew Kevin was different. While his friends played with age appropriate toys at 3 years old, he intently watched "Bob Villa's Home Again." and almost removed the oil pan from one of our cars when he was helping his Dad.

At 4 he took apart every toy he owned, and then put them all back together and fixed some. When he was 7, he was so into engines that he taught himself how they work-by 8 he learned the entire periodic table. To say that sometimes this drive to know things scared us is an understatement; I ceased being able to answer his questions when he was around five.

This inner drive to know has propelled Kevin through life in ways that have never been conventional. While his friends played video games, he was building them on his laptop. He has never, ever, had the same interests as his peers or been into the fads that permeate childhood.  Through it all, we always have wanted him to just BE. Be happy. Be himself. Anything else was gravy, really.

The thing is, society has some pretty defined perimeters. To be successful, you need to graduate from high school, find a traditional job in a building that provides a regular paycheck, and go to post secondary education.  That's the road. That is how you are judged by peers on the ladder to success.

Like anything he has ever done, Kevin is turning that on it's head. His peers call him crazy. Some have outright said he is a loser.

"You live in your parent's office with no job or post secondary plans," they say. "Your dream is a fantasy," they sneer.

Just like the kids in the school yard, they mock what they just don't know or understand.

Kevin still lives with us, yes; like most people his age because it would be crazy to move out to your own apartment when your parents have room and are willing to allow you to stay. Why not save money? Free food, hydro, internet connection? With the cost of housing so high it only makes sense and we specifically moved to Chilliwack so that he could live with us once he graduated. Why not? Of course, he's paying rent now but still-even at that, it's far cheaper.

University is a good option, but not the only one. A degree doesn't automatically mean a job, and you end up with huge student loans to pay. One can take courses online from universities now, and some job prospects actually like to have students who are fresh and teachable, rather than filled with years of education and no experience. School is always an option; it doesn't mean you must do it immediately when you are 19. Not everyone is ready or even able to hit university straight out of high school, and there is nothing wrong with that. I didn't go until I was 20, and John didn't until he was in his 20s as well. The trades are also not a second choice or something that should be looked at as 'lesser' than other more academic careers, either. Mike Rowe wrote about this in Popular Mechanics magazine and I like the article so much I brought it home and showed it to Kevin.

So if you aren't going to school, then you should obviously be working and being productive, right? This is where Kevin turned things on it's head because he's nothing like other kids his age. In Sechelt, it was hard to get a job because the town was so small there were few jobs available. In Chilliwack, it's different-but unsatisfied with the kind of jobs he could get, Kevin went ahead and created his own. He watched me over the years, dreaming of writing and unsatisfied with the jobs available in my field. I worked hard to forge my own path with writing and did fairly well so he took that example and then forged ahead in his own path; not with writing, but instead in the world of finance and bitcoin.

Kevin owns Paradox BTC. We've watched him work countless hours trading, networking with banks and businesses, and getting his name out there. He's been quite successful and his ideas have captured the interest of some pretty important people. He has a deep entrepreneurial spirit, much like his Dad, who has also been a small business owner. Kevin has forged ahead with something that he has created, in a field that he can excel at.  I won't lie; there have been times where we have wondered what he is doing or where this is taking him, but we're seeing that he is doing well. Success is an interesting thing; is making loads of money successful? To some, maybe. Success can also be defined in loving what you do and personal satisfaction. If you are an educational assistant (which is what I do), you may not make a pile of money but be very happy with your job so that is enough. Is that success? I think so.

Is working in the bitcoin field traditional? Not in the slightest. You should see me trying to explain this to people who ask, and then assume that I have a man-child hiding out in my darkened basement, playing with computers. Yes, he spends hours in our home office. You need to in order to run a business. Do I think he should be out slinging fries at a fast food place, or being a cashier? No. It's not for everyone and to think that everyone has to take the same path to success is narrow minded. Both John and I look back at those days when we were young and the dreams that we gave up because they seemed too crazy, too impossible, with a tinge of regret. Neither of us had the support to chase what really made our soul fly; money and logistics were in the way.

Now is the time to chase the dream, when you are young and able to, rather than leave it and then look back when you are 40, wishing you had. Sure, it might be a crazy dream. It may not turn out to be anything more than a learning experience.  The interesting thing is, while I dreamed of writing, nobody told me I was crazy. They didn't insist that I go back to university and study English or get a journalism degree. Nobody once told me that my dream was far fetched, even though these days there are millions of blogs and competition is fierce. Even though in the end, I decided that writing was more of a hobby for me than a job.

Perhaps my peers know the sting of a dream never explored and how crazy it is not to chase one when you have the opportunity, unlike the shortsighted young peers who sneer at Kevin. Sure, it's quite possible that bitcoin could go nowhere.  On the other hand, what if his dream turns into something big?

Either way, he has some pretty proud parents. Go get 'em, Kev. xo

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Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year's Goal: Getting My Inner Writer On

My Christmas tree, dry and a little forlorn looking, is dropping needles on the hardwood. In the dining room, there are three half decorated gingerbread houses waiting to be finished, and I've somehow lost the remote control to my television this morning.  If my internet name "Scatteredmom" ever fit me, it does now more than ever. I chose the name years ago not to say that I think I'm unorganized, but that I felt pulled in all directions. I guess that I do now more than ever.

When I began blogging years ago, I vowed to take it seriously. To always be 'on', and never promise things I didn't plan to follow through on. Certainly, I had my distractions, which include these fantastic water pipes. I mean, who wouldn't love these thick glass babies? For awhile I did really well with it, until life upended itself and I found myself scrambling. At first, I wanted blogging to be a job, and then after awhile I discovered that I really hated turning that which I loved into a job. It felt like I worked 24 hours a day. I felt chained to my computer and the constant barrage of email, tweets, and facebook posts.

2014 was my year to just live, despite the fact that I didn't want to give up blogging entirely. I dropped all sorts of balls. I realized that writing all the time for a job made me feel overworked and anxious. I found another job where I can be with people, and when I leave it, I don't think about it. While I do enjoy doing some writing work, I don't think I could make it a career and be happy. A part time hobby, absolutely.

Do you make resolutions? I've written before that I don't, that I chose to make goals instead. What would your goals be? I don't have a lot of them, but I'm thinking of a few.

1. Write every day, publish at LEAST once a week

The only thing that really got me blogging was that I committed to writing, and like an exercise program, made myself do it all the time. When my friend Anne died, I stopped. I had nothing to say. There were no words in my head aching to get out and I didn't think there would be again.

Now the words are back, but I'm out of the habit. Time to get back into it and like an exercise program, make myself write even if I don't want to. Not everything needs to be published though, so I think committing to once a week is a good idea.

2. Stop procrastinating

There are some things that I've gotten much better at the last few years, but there are still others that are woefully bad. Being better organized and dealing with things immediately would serve me far better. Putting things away immediately, answering emails right away, etc would be a good place to start.

Do you procrastinate? Any tips?

2.  Either say no, or do a kick ass job of it

At a blogging conference I remember being told that you always need to bring your A game, every single time. For awhile there, I did-until things fell apart and I didn't quite recover.

I often have such great ideas and want to do things (just like those gingerbread houses), but something gets in the way. This year it was the fact that I was sick and overworked, so any spare time I had was eaten up by sleep or the fact that it was too dark and ugly out to get any good photos. They are still sitting on my dining room table.

Which leads up to #3....

3. Take good care of myself

For a long time, I took care of everyone BUT myself-which resulted in me crashing and burning in a spectacular fashion and then not recovering for a very long time. There's a lot going on here offline, and I'm busier than ever. Sometimes I need to just sleep rather than DO stuff, especially if I was at work at 4 am. I need to say no sometimes. Instead of making sure everyone else is okay, I need to be okay too.

4. Take time for my family and friends offline

Anne taught me this. She taught me that time with your friends or family is never wasted, and that making time to spend with people you care about or cultivating friendships enriches your life beyond anything you can imagine. I need to remember to plan things with friends, and go. 

5. Remember that I do this because I enjoy it and finding the balance

I started blogging because I thought maybe it was a job I'd enjoy, and then I found as it became one that I didn't love it as much as I thought. Being at home all day writing felt isolated and lonely, and I eventually burned out.  Having to produce piles of content sucked the joy out of me. I love writing, but marketing my own content feels fake to me-and always has.

I want to be like chef Michael Smith, on that day we had dinner in Saskatoon, where he told me that he's a good writer and does it because he loves it.

THAT is the kind of writer I want to be. Maybe balance is elusive, or even non existent, but  I intend to start right here. I know you're probably rolling your eyes because I've had a bunch of false starts, and that's okay. I understand. I'd be rolling mine too.

Some people this January are lacing up runners and vowing to go to the gym. I'm here, flexing my fingers, getting my inner writer on.

What are YOUR goals for 2015? Care to share them? If you are wanting to get your inner writer on too, let me know. Maybe we need to start a group of our own.

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Friday, December 05, 2014

Share Your Fave Holiday Movie and Win!

Remember when I told you all about that awesome Roku 3 streaming box that I had from Staples? Well, we've been watching movies here and there, gearing up for the holidays. We haven't watched a lot of the usual Christmas movies; much of what we normally would watch wasn't on Netflix, so we settled for some that we hadn't seen yet. That month went so fast! I was stunned that before we knew it, December had arrived. Hadn't we just started? What do you mean there's only that many days before Christmas?

I have two guys in my house who love action and adventure, and with no little kids there was no clamoring for anything animated. We're a tried and true adventure crowd, with pure escapism  ranking high on our wish list and not necessarily traditional holiday themed movies on our minds.

When Kevin was young and The Lord of the Rings trilogy began coming out in theaters, John and I would make a movie date. In the midst of all the holiday craziness, we'd book a babysitter, get dressed up, an spend a night out together. Sometimes, the smallest things become tradition-even though Kevin was too young to join us at the time, as the years passed he grew and we eventually watched the videos together.

When the Hobbit movies began being released in theaters, there was no question; instead of making the movies a date night, Kevin began joining us for a really special evening out to see the movies we had loved so much in theaters.  With his birthday on December 21st our date night tradition evolved into a family birthday one where we would find our way to a theater to see our beloved Middle Earth characters once again. Elves, orcs, hobbits, a dragon; what's not to love? It seems very fitting that this Christmas, when the very last Middle Earth movie of the series is in theaters, Kevin turns 19.

If we had to crown our ultimate holiday movie, I'd have to say any of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies, because they have a special place for us. We have been known to watch all three in a trilogy over the course of a holiday, curled up on the couch nibbling snacks and enjoying our fantasy trip to Middle Earth.

What's YOUR favourite holiday movie? It doesn't have to be a holiday themed one, just movies that your family enjoys. Let me know below and guess what? YOU can win yourself Roku 3!

This giveaway is open only to Canadian residents who are the age of majority.

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