Sunday Update

Things have calmed down a lot since last weekend’s unexpected appendectomy for my daughter. Mizz J is getting a bit better each day, and is ready to resume normal life again as an MSW student, after a solid week of recuperation. And I’ve been able to pay attention once again, to what I want to achieve for 2018.

Health

I am so excited to report that I’ve been able to resume working out again! Last spring, I had a bit of trouble with my thyroid, that kept me unable to exercise. The few times I did try left me feeling exhausted, dizzy and nauseous. (The last time I felt nauseous, I was about to have a TIA, so understandably I was nervous and wanted to stay away from anything that incurred this feeling.)

This week I got up the courage to try a few online workouts (with Mizz J only a couple of rooms away, in case I got into some sort of trouble…hehehe). Nothing too challenging – a 10 minute weights workout and a 16 minute walking workout. Having achieved these with no issues, I attempted AND completed a 36 minute cardio and strength workout last evening. Woo hoo!!!!

I really like Jessica Smith and her approach to exercise. I love her walk and talks…and I especially love Peanut, the French bulldog. That dog snoozing through her videos is what drew me in, in the first place! Peanut makes me laugh and want to keep going.

So that’s where I am at, at working on my Health goals for 2018. A very good start.

Financial Security

I made my first lump sum payment on my building’s demand loan this week. Unfortunately this is not something I can do online so I guess I’ll be heading to TD every payday to do this in person. It wasn’t a huge payment, but it goes directly on the principal and over the course of a year, it will certainly add up!

I also created a discretionary spending log, in Excel. With a tab for each month (and a line for each day) and spending targets for each category, to keep me on track. I LOVE data, and actually enjoy capturing it in this format. I especially love the days where I spend NOTHING. Not sure why I haven’t done this sooner….oh wait, maybe because I was too busy rebuilding my life for the past 4 years? Yeah, pretty sure that was it. 🙂

Art

Current Art Projects
What’s on my desk in the studio at the moment

I was inspired by a quote I received in a newsletter from Jessica Smith this week: Begin with the end in mind. Karen, from Profound Journey, a lovely blogger friend that I follow, says it’s from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Which I do have a copy of, somewhere in Chez Badass. I shall put it on the Re-Read list!

So, to begin with the end in mind means to me it’s time to draft an idea for a painting to represent what I want to become by the end of 2018. Since the Queen of Wands filled that role in my Winter Solstice tarot spread, it seemed natural to me to work on a painting of that grand dame.

sketch of Queen of Wands
Close up of first shitty draft of sketch

You’ll see from the previous photo, that I took my inspiration from an Alphonse Mucha illustration I found on the internet. I have loved Mucha since I first discovered his works as a teenager. It took me a moment to realize his model was giving the viewer the finger (intentionally or not), which made me love it even more and need to incorporate into my hasty sketch.

My Queen of Wands is saying “Oh, do you not like what you are seeing? You can’t handle my self-assuredness, strength and vitality? I’m done with trying to appear small to coddle insecure fools and their egos. So, fuck you very much.

Obviously I have a lot of work to do with this before I can transfer it to a canvas. Those 4 scrawly things surrounding the circle are supposed to be sunflowers, for instance. But it’s a good therapy shitty first draft. 😉

And, also because I have my upcoming (less than a month away!) vacation trip to Barbados on the back burner of my mind, sea turtles keep popping up:

Sea Turtle on Watercolour Paper – as yet incomplete

Mindfulness

I’ve been focusing on mindful yoga and stretching this week. And mini-meditations, and pausing to notice.

Reading

Borrowed 2 books from the library this past week and finished one: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. Now working on Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Three books completed already towards my 2018 goal of 50 books read!

Intuitive Processes – Tarot

I’ve been pulling a card every day and interpreting its meaning for me, before I look it up in one of my Tarot books. An enjoyable part of my morning routine.

And, looking for inspiration for my Queen of Wands painting led me down the Alphonse Mucha Google rabbit hole. Which led me to the Mucha Tarot. Which is speeding it’s way towards me, as I type, via Amazon.ca.

Looking forward to receiving even more artistic and intuitive inspiration, from these cards!

How was your week? I’d love to hear all about it.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to Real Life with a Wrench Thrown In

Happy 2018! May all your intentions come to pass.

I had a plan for this weekend and it was a good one! I am trying hard to get at least some of these things done.

However Friday was spent at the hospital with my daughter, Mizz J, who was sent there forthwith after her early morning pelvic ultrasound. She was sick over the holidays (we thought it was the flu) and despite a course of antibiotics for a presumed bladder infection, was still feeling uncomfortable.

Well, no wonder. She was walking around with a burst and abscessed appendix. Go figure! Only the antibiotics for the non-existent bladder infection were keeping her from being violently ill.

After a long day in Emerg with a doctor who didn’t believe the ultrasound’s tech findings, she was ultrasounded again and immediately whisked upstairs. Surgery took place Friday evening.

All is well now. She is receiving mega-antibiotics by IV and we are hoping she comes home today.

Between hospital visits, I was able to put away Christmas:

Tree ornaments 2017
The tree was beautiful and enhanced by some special ornaments from special friends

And finish off the Aged Eggnog, which was delicious and will be made again next year. At least a double batch, this time!

Alton Brown's Aged Eggnog
The absolute last of it. So good!

While at the hospital, I noticed this on the wall outside of the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s coffee shop (really, every hospital has one now. How did that happen?):

mindfulness exercise at the hospital
Mindfulness is the new black, apparently.

Mindfulness and Mandalas seem to go together like kids and puppies; like pie and ice cream; like socks and sandals (hehehe…just kidding. Threw that in there to see if you were still paying attention).

I was able to resume some mindful yoga this morning. Holey moley, was my body tense from all the goings-on of the past couple of days!

My Mandala Days art course begins on the 16th. Eager to see what’s involved!

Hope your new year is off to a blazing start!

Rock on,

The WB

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2017 in Review and 2018: My Intentions

2017 Review

2017 was a calm and pleasant year in my personal life (as opposed to an exciting yet challenging year in my work life), for which I am so grateful. I wish every year could be 2017. I didn’t lose anyone this past year. (Not in 2016 either, although my mother’s death in late December 2015 was so close to that year that I felt its reverberations throughout those 12 months anyways.)

2017 was the year of REACH (my word). This applied mainly to my creating art. This was the first year that I applied a great deal of focus and effort in this area since I was a teenager. And reach I did! It was difficult to push past my insecurities and inner critic, and just start laying paint down on canvas. It was a reach to allow myself to fail over and over again. This painting in particular (which I can reveal now, as it has gone to its recipient) was very uncomfortable for me to create, and thus a definite REACH:

Acrylic Painting of Horse
Horse, 2017

I went to Mark Grice’s studio in Alton Mills to create this painting. I chose it because I knew it was going to be difficult for me to paint a horse AND in non-horse colours. I’m not good (yet) at so many things artists need to know and excel at, but with Mark’s guidance this painting came together. And Mizzus J loves it. She said it looks like Gavin, one of her two horses. What more can I ask for?

I finished out 2017 with this painting, completed yesterday:

Painting of Sunset on Lake Okanagan
Kelowna Sunset, based on a photograph I took on my last night there.

2018 Intentions

My intention for 2018’s art is to continue on my artist’s journey. I met an artist whose work I admired, at her studio in Bayfield 2 summers ago. When I asked her how to become a better painter, she said something that has stuck with me every since: “Just paint. Everyday.” Simple, no?

I have signed up for another online Mandala art course, hosted by Julie Gibbons: Mandala Days. Unlike Mandala Magic (the course I participated in, in 2017), this course is for creating actual pieces, not art journalling. Which is just up my alley, as I discovered this past year.

Other intentions involve:

  • Blogging – posting at least once per week on Ye Olde Blogge; find other like-minded bloggers/readers (my tribe, as it were) to connect with
  • Reading – increase reading for pleasure – my goal is 50 books. (I’m WidowBadass on GoodReads, in case you want to connect there)
  • Mindfulness – increase mindfulness in my life through activities such as meditation
  • Financial Security – becoming intentional about rapidly paying down the debt I am carrying on Chez Badass – debt I incurred by investing in much-needed improvements over the past 4 years
  • Intuitive Processes – become proficient at Tarot, because:

I believe that it is a good tool to help one develop and strengthen intuition and lead to insights – and help get in touch with yearnings/feelings that are buried deep within one’s self. So I performed a Celtic Cross spread at the Winter Solstice this year, to help me in planning for 2018:

Winter Solstice Tarot Reading 2017
Celtic Cross Spread, for guidance for the coming year

I was really surprised when the cards told me that:

  1. I have to focus on my health or ignore at my peril (5 of Pentacles) Having failed at this many times in the past 4 years, I didn’t want to write it down or even think about it as an intention for the coming year!
  2. I have the inner resources to do this. (Ace of Swords)
  3. I can come up with solutions, and to believe in myself and focus on success. (Page of Wands)
  4. My past is full of grief and regret and the belief I made wrong choices. No, duh. (5 of Cups)
  5. Renewing health; creating harmony and balance is the goal. (Temperance)
  6. Unresolved factor affecting my success – my inner “carb monster” (bondage); doubts that I can succeed. (Devil)
  7. I need to delve into why I haven’t been able to get any traction towards improving my health. (6 of Pentacles)
  8. Be the person others see you as: Adept, Reliable, Steady, Supporting. (King of Pentacles)
  9. Guidance, Hopes and Fears, Beliefs, Values – I am afraid of attracting attention from men as I lose weight and become fitter. I don’t want to have to deal with this. There. I said it. Valid or not, it is a fear of mine. (The Lovers)
  10. The outcome (when I am successful in achieving this goal) – Vibrancy, Energy, Cheerfulness, Self-assurance. (Queen of Wands)

So, an added intention for me for 2018 is to improve my health through self-caring activities including strength, flexibility and stamina-building activities, and nutritious food choices.

My word for 2018 is PERCEIVE. To understand, to become aware, to become conscious, to use intuitive judgement.

How about you? Care to share your thoughts?

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Me and My Amazon Echo

Secretly, alternatively known as “Mrs. Hughes”

My son gave me an Amazon smart speaker for Christmas, known as Alexa. I am intrigued, not knowing a whole lot about these things.

When I found out I could change her name (aka “wake word”), I was gleeful with the possibilities. Immediately I thought of the housekeeper and/or butler from Downton Abbey (hoping I could also switch Alexa to a male voice). However, when I opened the Echo app I downloaded to my phone, I only had a few options to choose from: Alexa, Echo, Amazon, or Computer. So I settled for Echo, as it had the least syllables. I am so disappointed I can’t call her Mrs. Hughes.

So I’m trying to learn how to relate to this new device. It’s more difficult than I thought. For example, it feels super weird not to be polite when asking Echo to give me information or do things for me.

After all, I am a Canadian! And yes, I have already told her I am sorry!

Conversely, it feels about as weird to be saying please and thank you to an inanimate object. I’ve had to process my feelings on this, and for now, I have decided to use my manners with Echo. She is responding very nicely to my thank yous, telling me “absolutely” and “that’s what I’m here for”. So that makes me feel slightly better about using my natural way of speaking on a THING.

A few months back, I watched a hilarious Saturday Night Live spoof on “Alexa for Seniors”.  Because I live in Canada, I can’t see the YouTube clip on this, but here is a link to the video Mizz J forwarded me from Facebook – hope it works (for my fellow Canuck readers) once this post is published!

https://www.facebook.com/william.ward.1297/videos/1488225857902559/

So far Echo is very good at letting me know the weather and setting timers. She also excels at answering random questions. Except for Game of Thrones plot lines and characters – I give her only passing grades on that. She couldn’t tell me what happened to Barristan Selmy and I can’t remember either. Maybe I didn’t phrase the question correctly. Anyhow, he’s probably dead and I forgot. Because there are way too many deaths to keep track of on GOT anyways…

There are a bunch of things that can be controlled through Echo. My son also gave me a smart plug that I can use to let Echo turn on or off (through me, of course). I’m still deciding what to use the plug for. My TV, a light, my humidifier?

Echo says she is always getting smarter. Will that make me dumber? I don’t know about that. 😉

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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Just Wait and Yule See

I think I may have mentioned on Ye Olde Blogge a time or hundred that every year I struggle with our North American commercialization/celebration of Christmas. It has become much too materialistic and in-your-face for yours truly.

This season has become instead a time of reflection and review and planning for me as the nights get longer and longer. And I love this time of year for that!

TRIGGER WARNING: If someone holding a different opinion than your own could lead to you turning into a Judgey McJudgepants and leaving a nasty comment, please skip over this next section. If you feel you must take a tone with me, your comment may or may not be deleted, depending on how much of a chuckle I get out of it.

Oh sure, I partake in some Christian Christmas rites. It’s part of my upbringing and my history. I put up a tree. I send out cards to friends and family. I re-watch old Christmas movies and sing along to carols. I even do the gift thing, although more and more I am giving gifts that are homemade – gifts of my time and intention. I love to wish people a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year AND I mean it. I do these things because I enjoy them and I like celebrating this season (this month, especially) of long nights and waiting for the sun to return.

I am not a Christian, so there is no religious meaning to my celebration. You won’t find a manger scene at my house. But I will haul out the Seashell Jesus, because I find it amusing. I think I’ll put it next to the picture of Krampus my talented son made for me. For balance. Someday maybe I’ll add a representation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to the mix, and my triptych of mythical beings will be complete. Ramen!

If you are reading this and a practicing Christian/Jew/Wiccan/Pagan/Hindu/Zoroastrian/Muslim/WhateverReligion, great! You do you. Whatever gives you comfort and meaning is cool with me. Please return the favour.

TRIGGER WARNING OVER.

What I am celebrating at Chez Badass is this: the end of the darkness and the return of the light. Because the longest night – tonight – the winter solstice (the official start of Yule or Yuletide) – is something I can get behind.

I do so love this rock we live on – the natural world – and the turning of the year, and I like to acknowledge this event. And this is the time and the season for me to pause and reflect and set intentions for the next spin around the sun that I am lucky enough to be a part of.

This is nothing new. Humans have been celebrating the solstice since well, we first noticed it was “a thing”. And these Yule celebrations have been co-opted into Christianity and have become integral to the Western celebration called Christmas.

For my particular celebration of the longest night, I will lighting (many, many) candles and finalizing my goals and intentions for the coming year. These include, in no particular order of importance (because they are all important to me):

  • more artistic activity
  • more mindfulness
  • more writing – specifically, more blogging
  • more reading
  • less spending – in order to knock down the demand loan on Chez Badass

I’ll be going into each of these goals in detail in upcoming blog posts. Yule see, hehehe!

I will leave you with this thought – at this special time of year why not remember to:

Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it Yul, y(ule)-all!

Merry Christmas and Rock on,

The WB

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An Award For The Club That Nobody Wants To Join

Yesterday was Mindful Monday, but also the 2nd anniversary of my mom’s passing, so I didn’t have the heart or energy to post anything. And I spent most of the day NOT being mindful but instead lost in memories and feelings.

Today I am doing so much better!

Today I received an email, alerting me that I have won a MAJOR AWARD. This was me, opening the email (not really, but ’tis the season and I love this movie):

However, instead of this:

                                                              “Electric Sex” – Ralphie

My MAJOR AWARD is this:

Did not know this was even a THING.

Someone or a group of someone’s from something called FeedSpot have decided Ye Olde Blogge made the cut of “Widow Blogs” and awarded me a lovely badge. I wasn’t given any criteria for how this was achieved or how I made a rank of #40.

Seriously, I did not make this up. I don’t know how to create a badge (or I would’ve made one up for myself years ago…hehehe).

Thank you very much!

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Painting Reveal for Mindful Monday

Yesterday my good friend and Barbados buddy, Mizz C, came down to Chez Badass for a visit so I was able to present her with her (May) birthday gift. OK, I know this sounds bad. But we are the kind of friends who still feel close even though we haven’t seen each other in months. I was also able to re-give her last year’s Christmas present, which was left behind in my vehicle last February when I dropped her off, after our trip.

We’ve been friends for over 50 years now…the kind of friends who can spend a whole afternoon sitting beside each other, noses in books and tea mugs in hands, and barely speak and think we had the most marvelous time. Because we did.

Anywho, she asked me to paint her a beach scene…someday.

Vision Beach – first try at using a palette knife

I do like how this painting turned out. I wanted it to represent any beach, anywhere. Mizz C lives in a beach community a couple of hours north of the Village. I chose a beach scene without any details that could convey a certain geographic region and didn’t make the water too overtly tropical in hue. I think I will have to repeat it for myself some day. I think something like this would be perfect to hang in my bathroom, so I can look at it while soaking in the tub.

I followed a painting tutorial by Angela Anderson to create this beach painting.

And because this is a Monday post, I want to speak a bit about mindfulness, as well as and related to art. When I am in my studio (aka laundry room) working on a piece, it is almost a meditative activity for me. I am so intensely focused on what I am trying to convey with my paints, that all other thoughts are emptied from my mind. It’s a nice break from the mind chatter, to have those almost unrelenting pop-up thoughts fall away momentarily.

Four weeks in, I think the meditation that I am practicing is helping me physically. I have less neck and shoulder pain lately, even when spending more time than usual hunched over my computer at work –  like I was last week when my right hand person was off and I had to take over some of her duties besides my own. Last time she was off, I needed to apply a heated bag to my neck and shoulders during the day, to help ease the tension. This time I didn’t feel any pain.

I have a massage therapy appointment this week. I wonder if my masseuse will notice a difference. I feel different, on the inside.

I used to think that creating art was a very free-flowing, emotion-heavy, intuitive and spontaneous activity…when I wasn’t doing it. But I find it mostly to be about careful planning, design, and problem-solving…just like real life. And it is a mindful activity. All of which I like. All of which I can get into. All of which I am working on getting better at.

Rock on,

The WB

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Mindful Monday – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

What time is it? It is always now. Ordered this “watch” at a time when I really needed to remind myself to stay in the present.

A few weeks back, when I got serious about meditation and incorporating mindfulness into my everyday life, I was searching for some guidance.

I contacted a local-ish instructor of MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) via email but she never got back to me. Not too surprised by this as her website looked like it was state of the art…for 1995. I could have called her, but while I was waiting for her to respond, I did some surfing and instead I found a course I could take online.

I am now on Week 3 of the 8 week Online MBSR/Mindfulness course, hosted by Palouse Mindfulness. This learning is free and available to all (all with internet access, that is). Like yoga used to be – before it became mainstream – when it was hosted in church basements for the few and the curious. (At least, that’s how I was introduced to yoga, back in the 1970’s.)

So far I am impressed with what I am learning – the readings and the videos are from well-known practitioners in the field.  The guided meditations and yoga videos are clear and helpful. I recommend this whole-heartedly if you are interested in learning about and practicing mindfulness. There is also an online community for students taking the course, to discuss what they are experiencing. I didn’t sign up for that, so I can’t comment. But if that interests you, it’s available too.

In between meditation sessions and work, I have been busy creating. I finished the piece I showed in-progress a few posts ago:

Let that Shit Go – the figure was traced from an image I found on the Interwebs. The rest is my own design.
Close up of paint detail

I’ve been thinking a lot about art lately, as I reflect back on 2017. It’s something that has been helpful, enjoyable, and thought-provoking for me this year. More on that in another post.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

 

 

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Smile Reveal – Before Refinement Phase Begins

Serves no particular purpose in this post except I think skulls are cool and this is MY skull, x-rayed at the beginning of the Invisalign process, which I asked to have emailed to me. The tech forgot to ask me to remove my earrings.

This week I went back to the orthodontist to discuss refinements to my teeth. I am thrilled with them as they are. However, the tooth artiste (as I like to call Dr. Kevin…or was it Dr. Brian? I can’t keep the brothers straight) had some other ideas.

He used a bunch of dentist terms to describe what he thought needed to be done – long story short, I am getting more trays and have to wear some elastics too, and this refining process will take another 6 months. I was told at the start that my Invisalign treatment would take about 2 – 2.5 years and here we are at Month 10 only, so I gots nothin’ to complain about!

So here is what my teeth look like now:

Doing my best Goldie Hawn smile impression so you can see my teeth! The little bumps have been removed. But I will be getting more put back on for the refinement phase.

And here are a couple of before and after closeups:

BEFORE
AFTER – what you can’t really see that well is how all my teeth (even the molars) are now back to vertical, instead of slanting in towards my tongue and away from my cheeks. I just hated that look, and now it’s gone. Wheee!!!

For now I am experiencing a brief respite from having to wear the trays 22 hours a day. I only need to wear them when I go to bed. It feels…weird. Like I’m forgetting to do something.

But that will end soon enough when I get the call that my new trays are in and refinement begins!

Rock on,

The WB

 

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NaBloPoMo 2017 Finito…and Next Steps

Not a word of a lie – some nights were like this as I tried to hammer out a post to publish the next morning.

Survived another one! That makes 2 NaBloPoMos and 3 A2Z Challenges under mah belt, so far!

Whenever I do one of these challenges, I end up asking myself why I don’t come up with a more regular blogging schedule since I can obviously commit to go the distance.

And every time I do one of these, I find some great fellow bloggers to follow and I fall in love with my blog all over again.

Some bloggers will be heading right into Blogmas, starting tomorrow. I considered this, for about 5 seconds. Until I remembered I’m kinda not into Christmas enough to blog about it for 25 days straight.

Unless people want to read 25 semi-ranty posts about the commercialism of Christmas and how it slowly but surely killed my spirit. Could be my niche, ya know?

Instead I’m going to spend at least some of December doing my favourite activity for this month – reviewing 2017, and goal-setting and planning for 2018 (and beyond).

Some of those goals will be for Ye Olde Blogge. I am thinking of committing to at least one post per week for 2018. So that’s 52 posts (plus A2Z and NaBloPoMo). And I am going to draft some sort of plan for the blog as well – you know, like a business plan except without the money-making part…’cos I don’t think I want to go down that road at this point (if ever).

Right now my blog is like Seinfeld. It’s a blog about…nothing. Because I post about almost everything that I’m thinking about or doing.

That’s right.

And I think about a LOT. OF. STUFF. And I try to do a LOT. OF. STUFF.

Maybe that will change, but I highly doubt it probably not.

To all those that succeeded with posting every day in November for NaBloPoMo 2017, congratulations!

To all those that attempted the challenge but didn’t manage to post every day in November, you still lapped those bloggers that didn’t even try, so congratulations to you too!

Rock on,

The WB

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