Category Archives: Uncategorized

Car free works for me

Last week I read a really great article by a fellow car free individual in the United States and it was like it was written for me to read. Everything made sense and motivated me to also write about this growing topic.

It has now been over two months since I have been car free. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would actually be “ok” without a vehicle – but as it turns out having car free life is far better than expected. Having almost always owning a car since I was 16 (so… that would be 18 years!), changing my mindset to being car free was a bit of a challenge but not a really difficult one.

Here’s how it works for me:

Friends! I may have the best friends in the world because they all know that I’m without a car we meet in central locations or they pick me up along the way. It’s amazing.

Location! As it turns out I live in a great area of the city with excellent access to train, bus and bike/pedestrian pathways (one of the most extensive path networks in the nation!). Also, usually there are readily available car2go vehicles within a block or two of where I live at any given time.

Delivery! I’ve signed up for grocery delivery through Spud and love shopping online for my weekly order. Shopping at local shops for specialty good such as Market 17, Shaganappi Grocery, Heritage Bakery and the E.Mart has connected me with my neighbours while supporting their businesses makes our community stronger.

Bikes!! Now that it’s all wintery outside I haven’t been riding much at all and am jonesing to spin my wheels a lot again. It’s a happy maker and I really enjoy getting someplace by my own engine to meet friends, get to work, do errands and go shopping. I love busting out a huge smile while stopped at intersections and surprising fellow Calgarians with my happiness. Year-round cycling may seem to not be for everybody … but it can be with the right mindset and equipment!

 

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Stolen Bike Spotted!

I received some very unexpected news in an email last night… that Bruiser-the-Bike had been spotted near the University of Calgary! I had given up hope that I would ever see the bike again a few months after it was stolen but it seems that this sighting may actually be my bike! There has been some modification but the fellow that saw it believed it was my stolen bike. Here are the details:

The bike was spotted at the intersection of 32nd Ave and 37th St NW, near the University, around 6:20pm on May 7th, 2013. He walked down the stairs from the brick low-income housing, across the crosswalk on 32nd Ave, and looked to be heading north on 37th St.

The bike was a Kona Kula Supreme frame, the white and yellow with red highlights – a fairly rare frame and very recognizable.  There was what looked like red electrical tape wrapped around the non-drive side seat stay in two spots, I recall seeing similar tape on your friends bike.  The fork was not the Lefty though, it was an old model Marzocci dirt-jump style fork. 

The guy was wearing a white and blue baseball cap, flat brim, with matching sunglasses.  White and blue outfit, though I can’t remember much else.  He was riding it with the seat all the way down, like a dirt-jumper would.  His clothing made the impression of the stereotypical ‘gangster’ style.

Here is a picture with the pointed out changes according to the fellow that spotted the bike.

Missing bike update

This information has been passed on to the Calgary Police Department to update the police report I filed last year and I will be visiting the University’s Campus Security this evening in the event they see it and can contact the police.

If you see the bike please do not approach the person as we will need to make absolutely sure that this is my missing bike. Please contact me and I will notify the police.

Here’s hoping this story has a happy ending 🙂

Thanks!

Time heals all wounds

Over the past 26 years I’ve heard the phrase ‘time heals all wounds’ so many times it became to mean nothing to me. I thought that no matter how much time had passed I would always be sad and angry about what happened on that terrible day. Today proved me wrong.

Twenty-six years ago, on March 8, 1987, this happened. It tore my family apart in more ways than anyone could imagine. We weren’t the first family to have this happen and sadly we wouldn’t be the last – this week’s news about another officer being killed in the line of duty added to the list. Sad.

The first few years after that horrible day, I don’t really remember clearly. Coping mechanism I’m sure. During a few of my teenage years I was lucky to have found an interest and was involved in army cadets which kept me relatively out of trouble and in enough of a routine (even though my family moved multiple times throughout these already difficult years) to feel as normal as a teenager could in my situation. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have turned to all sorts of other ‘coping mechanisms’ that likely would have landed me in all sorts of problems. Then I hit my 20s… moved out on my own (only to return sporadically throughout the first few years) and had a sense of freedom but didn’t know what to do with it. Couldn’t focus in school. Couldn’t settle on ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’. Dropped out of school – not once, not twice… but three times – not finishing anything and have the debt to prove it. Moved around more and eventually found myself settled in Calgary. Made a lot of friends wherever I went and had a really fun couple of years. Suddenly I’m in my 30s and trying to piece my life together as a bonafide adult. I think I’m doing pretty good so far.

Every year has had its struggles in more ways than I’d like to list. But I wouldn’t be who I am today without having gone through each and every experience – whether I liked it or not. Last year ended up being a fine balance of being the hardest and the funnest. I ran this. Biked this. Spoke at this. Attended this. I did a whole bunch of other things too but out of all of them speaking at that parole hearing was obviously the most significant and changed my life in more ways than I anticipated. It was the culmination of the past 25 years of my life. There was a lot of introspection. Epic amounts of talking about myself and my past. More sharing with more people than I had ever done – ever. A lot of crying. Unbelievably therapeutic. The biggest weight was lifted from my shoulders when I spoke that day. I could… finally… really… move on.

A lot of people will always remember this day and feel sad. I will always remember this day and feel sad too… but that sadness doesn’t feel as debilitating. Finally the phrase ‘time heals all wounds’ is now true for me too.

Crafty Saturday Afternoon

Today’s project => Medicine Cabinet!

Plain old medicine cabinet

Plain old medicine cabinet

These things are in nearly every home and they are so boring and drab. Especially if they are old and yellowed on the inside. Gross.

Inside boring old medicine cabinet.

Inside boring old medicine cabinet.

And I don’t know how previous tenants had been able to create so much discolouration but this is what I have been living with for the past 2 and half years.

Blah.

Blah.

Recently I learned about patterned adhesive contact paper and had found a few posts online of people using it to resurface their counter tops and using it to cover up bad patterns on old tile. As a renter I obviously want to spend as little money as possible on this place and this project produced such a fun end result.

I found patterned contact paper I liked at Walmart (I'm sure there are lots of options online and other stores but this stuff was a bargain at only $7.97 I didn't want to shop any further).

I found patterned contact paper I liked at Walmart (I’m sure there are lots of options online and other stores but this stuff was a bargain at only $7.97 I didn’t want to shop any further).

This stuff is fairly easy to work with. The curved surfaces of the medicine cabinet, however, were not easy to work with. Took my time and the final surface isn’t perfect but I love the look of it!

Fancy medicine cabinet!

Fancy medicine cabinet!

I used some left over wall paint for the inside of the metal door – which I’m sure is a big no-no in the paint world – I don’t care as it looks so much better than it did!

So cute!

So cute!

Up close the corners have a few folds in the them and there a few bubbles here and there. However, it still looks fantastic. I wrapped it around the edges so that you could see a hint of it without having to open the door too.

Sneak-a-peek on the wrapped edge

Sneak-a-peek on the wrapped edge

Took about an hour and a lot of cutting of the paper but all totally worth it.

Now to decide what I will tackle next…

Why I love yoga… especially tonight

I am not a super dedicated yoga enthusiast. However, I do try to get to the mat at least once a week to find my breath and to take care of myself in a way that only yoga has been able to do for me. Over the past few years this semi-regular attendance has helped me in more ways that I may ever know. I’ve evolved through to more difficult levels of some asanas while others I find I have a mental or physical barrier that is holding me back. However, with all of this progression I found this evening’s class was exceptionally difficult. Not because it was so hot and humid I could barely breath during most positions and transitions. Not because my muscles felt like they were tied in knots. Not because it was a packed studio with 47 other yogis on their mats. Not for so many other reasons why hot yoga can be a difficult thing to do – or rather bring yourself to do.

Tonight was difficult because I received an email this afternoon reminding me of something I have been avoiding for too long. This something is financial based – the root of so many problems. This something is so much bigger than I thought I could handle right now. This something reminded me of past failures and made me feel terrible – sick to my stomach. My face went pale and at the time a co-worker asked if I was alright and I was suddenly on the verge of bursting in to tears over this something.This something is embarrassing but cannot be avoided anymore. Suddenly it is time to deal with this but I don’t know how.

At the beginning of class I was feeling ok – or so I thought. I ‘thought’ I could just breath through this problem and ‘everything will be ok’. What followed is why I love yoga… especially tonight.

During one pose, camel, I felt like I was going to either puke or pass out. I could barely stand on my knees – the first goal of the pose. I had to lie down immediately and try to breath. This pose usually brings up stuff and I don’t feel great about it but can usually at least hold a version of it for the duration of the hold. While lying down trying to breath this is when the tears started flowing… I instantly felt ridiculous but my body and mind needed to release and this was how and where it was happening. I’m pretty sure that the instructor could see that my face sweat was mixed with a lot of tears for the rest of class.

Throughout the last half of the class it seemed as though her calm and soothing voice was speaking directly to me with inspirational quotes and words of encouragement while guiding the class from pose to pose. While trying to breath calmly and to find peace with the final savasana I found myself being twitchy, catching my breath, tears falling to the sides of my face under my lemongrass scented facecloth and my bottom lip would not stop quivering. I kept trying to focus on my breath. The end of class closed with three chants of ‘Om’.  This simple but very powerful gathering of energy was overwhelming. It gave me goosebumps. I felt like I was going to be ok.

The one quote I remember from tonight’s class was:

We are not called human doings… but human beings.

I am doing the best with being me. I have really messed up a few lots of things in the past, learned a lot along the way and my present and future are bright with possibilities. However, I cannot move forward without dealing with this something. This something will not just go away. Only by being honest and open and asking for help will I be able to sort this out.

Thank you yoga for helping me find my breath, focus and peace with the work that lies ahead of me.

Namaste.

I’m a rebel and painted my bathroom grey

Yesterday afternoon I found a TEDxRanier talk called “Drawing your Future”. I don’t feel that I am really artistically inclined but for some reason it piqued my interest so I watched it. It really triggered something – I wanted to ACT on something and create my future. Not sure what I was going to do I found myself cleaning out an old file container that I had been storing recipes, magazine clippings and random pieces of paper for well over 10 years. Yes, I’m a tab bit of a hoarder… but I contain it in an organized fashion  and it was time to purge. After creating ‘recipes to keep’ and ‘articles to keep’ piles all the rest went in to recycling and now the three tier file container what was filled to the gills could now have all items in one drawer. Awesome. While skimming through the ‘articles to keep’ pile I found that I have a bunch of ‘room decor inspiration’ clippings that I’ve found over the years. Some aren’t so much my style anymore but aspects of them certainly were. Finding these got me thinking.

Why hadn’t I done anything to this shitty apartment to make it better. Yes – I have put up pictures and some random art but it wasn’t sufficient to cover up the overall  shittiness that this apartment has felt to me since I moved in. It’s nothing special and this unit hadn’t even received a fresh coat of paint before I moved in… 2 and a half years ago! I’ve been living like this for WAY TOO LONG! Trying to be honestly grateful that I have a roof over my head is hard to do when there are old cigarette tar stains on the kitchen light fixture and walls with old screw holes from the previous tenants. I cannot afford to move but I needed to be happier with the space I call home.

What could I ACT on? Suddenly I decided that painting and redecorating the bathroom would make me so happy that I just had to do it. It’s a very small room that would only benefit from anything. So.. this is happening? I’ve never painted a room before and I can’t really afford much for the ‘redecorating’ part. I had, however, watched a lifetime’s worth of house reno shows so I figured this project was totally doable and would be far easier than I thought. The decision was made and I began planning… all without asking the building manager’s permission to do it. I figure it will make the place a hell of a lot better and I’m doing it on my own dime… so… I started to decide on colour.

Before - Shower Curtain

Cool metal sign found at antique mall in Kalispell

Cool metal sign found at antique mall in Kalispell

I always liked this shower curtain and I loved this sign I found in Montana so I decided that I would lead with these and do the walls in a grey tone. That was easy…

This morning, off to the Rona store I went with the sign to find a grey that would match. The young clerk in the paint department was super helpful and I left the store all set up with the tools to get this done! However, as I was driving home I realized I hadn’t picked up filler and a putty knife… Walmart was on the way so I also got a live edition of PeopleofWalmart. That store never disappoints with its people watching.

First up – putty time! I filled all the little holes in the walls (why were there so many?! I don’t know…not one was mine) then I set off puttying all the rest of the apartment’s screw holes! Even though there is a slight but visible colour discrepancy from the wall to the putty it still looks better. Amazing.

Next – taping. I have decided that I don’t particularly like this part and it is annoying. However, it needs to be done so I taped everything.

Taping - my least favorite part of the painting project

Taping – my least favorite part of the painting project

Off to edging! This is time consuming. Just taking my time along the edges and making sure I have enough lead off the edge  for enough coverage where the roller can’t reach was oddly relaxing. This step also had me really feel how big this room is.  It is only a 7’x5′ windowless rectangular cube but somehow it felt bigger.

Paint edging - you get to go to parts of your bathroom you never use! Corners!!

Paint edging – you get to go to parts of your bathroom you never use… Ceiling edge and corners!!

Oh my – it’s time to pull out the rollers! Dipped the roller in the tray and it’s white fuzzy covering got saturated with my paint colour of choice, Okinawa (from the Rona Collection paint line). I turned and readied myself to make the big ‘w’ on the bit of wall beside the medicine cabinet. And just like that I was off making my way around the room getting the first coat on. Each stroke made me so happy – this would no longer be such a terribly bland space – even with grey walls! ha!

After filling the 4 hour dry time by doing the dishes, playing with Harold and making and eating dinner it was time for the second coat. Whoo hoo! I get pumped to make this the best second coat of all time by starting with the edging again. I start to see all the little white-ish flecks of colour sneaking their way through the first layer of paint. I’m on to the rollers before I know it. Around the room I go and just like that I’m removing the taping and replacing all my bathroom stuff to their rightful locations (that is until some new shelving is installed!).

View from door to shower curtain

View from door to shower curtain

Wall beside medicine cabinet - I still have to rehang the towel rack

Wall beside medicine cabinet – I still have to rehang the towel rack

Vanity and mirror

Vanity and mirror

This simple project has brought new life to this otherwise boring space. I’m so happy with this paint and how it looks! It really was easy!

Next up – resurfacing the vanity and in the interior of the medicine cabinet with contact paper…

-Val

Finding meaning

I’m at a crux in my life. Do I continue doing the same? Or do I go for broke (again) and try something completely different? I think greater things are out there for me. It’s not where I sit on a daily basis – this I know for certain. Can I transition out of where I am instead of just leaping like I have done in the past? Being so unhappy in the present is causing great difficulty in finding a greater future. There are opportunities everywhere – I just need to grab one.

What do I really want to do? I am not sure exactly what I want to do but I do know I want to have purpose and be happy. Seems simple but the more I look around the more I see so few people have these two things in their lives – let alone in their career. Is this an impossible feat? I don’t want to believe it is.

Where do I see myself having purpose and being happy? To be honest, I’m not sure. I like so many things. Being outside. Organizing. Quiet work spaces. Loud events. Food. Helping others. Communicating. There is a career like that… right? I should probably just make that career.