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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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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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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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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Throwback Thursday – Invisalign Update

I’ve been unhappy with my smile for a long, long time. I never used to think about my teeth, except to check if I had a piece of spinach stuck in them. I never wanted a movie star smile. My teeth were good enough for me.

But then the dentist noticed evidence that I was clenching and grinding my teeth – in my sleep apparently, because I don’t do it when awake. And this started shifting my teeth around. My teeth were slanting in, and jockeying for position in front of or behind each other.

And by 2013 at least (can’t remember the exact date), I started being unhappy with what I saw in the mirror or in photos. Like this one, taken when JD and I were at Pebble Beach, California on that last (work combined with pleasure) trip shortly before he died:

Dems crooked teeth. And that’s supposed to be a smile. But the brightness of the day is making it look like a grimace instead.

I tried not to think about it. I tried to tell myself I was OK with my teeth. I tried to tell myself I was too old to be worrying about how my teeth looked anymore. Then, out on a walk, I took this selfie last December:

This is the photo that sent me on the Invisalign journey, finally.

I realized I was never going to be able to talk myself into being happy with my crooked teeth. And they were only going to get worse, the older I got. So I headed to my kid’s orthodontist in January. After all, he did a great job on her teeth. Behold:

Look at that smile! With Mom, on the day of Me Too’s wedding at Chez Badass: July 31, 2015. (Mom’s fuzzy head is her hair starting to grow back after her final, fruitless bout with chemo. She passed away on December 18, 2015.)

When I came back from Barbados  in February, I picked up my trays and began the process of shifting my teeth into new positions.

It hasn’t been that bad – not at all. I’m so used to managing meals and my life around Invisalign now, it’s going to feel weird not to be wearing them. Because I’m starting my last tray today before we go into what Dr. Brian says is the “refinement” phase. So the end is in sight!

Here’s a photo of the progress made by August:

Whoa…that’s better! The bumps you see on my teeth are the “mounts” to help hold the Invisalign trays in place. They will be removed when the process is over.

I am beyond thrilled with the results so far. I have no idea what more “refinements” need to be made. But I will leave that up to the orthodontist. He’s the tooth artiste, not me. Stay tuned for the final smile reveal, coming soon!

Rock on,

The WB

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Mindful Monday – the Zafu

I’m shaking off the blog frustrations plaguing me lately and I’m going to try something new on ye old blogge – a theme for one day of the week: Mindful Mondays.

Each Monday I am going to post about something related to introducing more mindfulness into my life. I’ve been fascinated by (and dabbled in) Buddhist thinking and practice since I was first introduced to it in Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, way back in the early nineties. Reading Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment  reminded me recently of all that just “clicks” for me about this philosophy.

And I promise not to get all preachy about it, like I just turned raw vegan or something. That’s not really my style. This is more my style:

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Initially I balked at the idea of having to BUY something with which to sit still and empty my mind, but after a couple of painful attempts at meditating last week, I reconsidered my stance.

I found this cushion on Amazon.ca and both the price and the reviews were fantastic. I am absolutely thrilled with my buckwheat-filled zafu.

Loving this cushion

It’s still hard AF to quiet my mind, but at least my hips, legs, and back aren’t yelling at me the whole time. I could sit for a whole 10 minutes this morning. Baby steps, people, baby steps!

Rock on,

The WB

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The Vipassana Dream is Reawakened

You know how sometimes you come across a thought or an idea and it’s something you became intensely interested in at one point but then completely forgot about and now you are even more enamoured of it and you wonder how you could have ever let it drop in the first place? Yeah? Me too.

A couple of years ago, my then massage therapist told me of a silent meditation retreat about 2 hours north of Chez Badass, called Vipassana. I was intrigued and looked it up. And I kept returning to the site and tried to imagine partaking.

  1. 10 days without speaking
  2. 10 days of eating only 2 vegetarian meals per day
  3. 10 days without reading or writing or being connected to the web
  4. 10 days of being alone with your thoughts

Number 3 freaked me out the most, I will confess – followed closely by Number 2. For whatever reason(s) – probably because I was neck-deep in home renovations and MBA shit at the time – I dropped the idea and it was forgotten.

Fast forward to today: I am in the middle of reading an excellent book, called Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment, by Robert Wright. (You had me at science, Bob.)

And guess what, ol’ Bob here is all about the Vipassana Retreat! The dream has been re-awakened!

I’m no longer as concerned about items 2 and 3. I think I can handle it, she writes with more confidence than she actually feels.

I have added another concern to the list, though:

5. 10 days of sitting on a cushion on the floor for hours at a time.

Last night I tried meditating – cross-legged on my bed – for five – only five – minutes, and my body complained LOUDLY the whole damn time. Who knew you had to get into shape to sit still? Hehehehe.

Realizing my Vipassana dream is still a few years away, I have decided. I don’t think it is something I will apply for before retirement from work. But I know now that it is something I WILL do.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Z is for Zen – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

Z is for feeling Zen about retiring

Housekeeping: Despite deleting a suspicious plug-in and working with Bluehost to try and fix things, some people are still having trouble commenting on the blog. Thank you for keeping me informed about this problem! I am going to try changing my blog’s theme next, to see if that helps. Some spam is getting through again, as well as some comments but why things are not “normal”, I have no idea! No other blogger seems to be reporting this problem (that I can find) so I continue to be stumped but will keep looking for solutions. It will be a case of trial and (much) error I fear, and I thank you for continuing to read, and especially for your patience.

The informal meaning of the word “Zen” is “relaxed and not worrying about things you cannot change“.

Since I believe that my retirement is almost totally within my ability to change at this point, it’s probably not the right word to describe how I am feeling about things at the end of this blogging challenge.

But I can’t think of a better word – especially a Z word – for today, so Zen it is.

By taking this month to explore, in my mind and on ye olde blogge, my thoughts, feelings, goals and dreams about retiring I am more at peace about it.

I’ve opened all the closet doors and exposed my inner bogeymen to the light while focusing on my April theme. They’re still very much there (fears of  do I have enough money and/or time left to fulfill my retirement dreams mainly – especially the latter one) but they are diminished in size. I’ve acknowledged their existence to myself and decided not to let fear rule my decision making at this time.

I have a clearer picture of the type of retirement I would like to enjoy and feel confident it is do-able. As well, I am confident that I have enough resources – specifically: personal resiliency/adaptability – to deal with the unexpected.

I also feel that if suddenly something (Health, I am looking at you!) changed and I had to take retirement before I was really ready, I would be more informed and prepared than I was a month ago.

For a short while during this month, I was visualizing and mentally preparing for retiring as early as age 60. That’s a little over 2 years away. Having “loved/lived the idea for 15 minutes”, now I am not so sure I’ll be ready by then.

There’s more work I would like to do on my building and right now that is more important to me. Investing in the property has an impact on my retirement plan.  As of today, I am willing to work longer in order to make those improvements happen.

I think I will still retire earlier than 65 and hope that when I do, it will be as totally badass as I envision. I’ll be doing everything within my power to make sure that happens.

Thanks for following this challenge (and my first posting series!) this month. We now return to our regular programming…

Rock on,

The WB

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Y is for Yearning – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

Y is for Yearning for a Badass Retirement

 

Yesterday one of my colleagues retired from my work, after 20 years spent with the organization. She is only 52. One of the post-work goals she shared with us at her party was that she and her husband are going to tour the States, visiting NFL stadiums (and taking in games, I presume). Not something I would ever want to spend my time on, but hey…different strokes for different folks, right?

I had thought that seeing Diane off would have stirred even more yearnings for retirement in my soul than I already have, but surprisingly it didn’t. During this month of researching and writing posts about quitting work for good, I have had so many conflicting feelings about the subject, particularly when. And I am no closer to knowing “when” now than I was back in March.

What I am sure of is this: my yearnings for breaking the (golden) shackles of work are related mainly to not having enough time (or yet, money) to pursue my true “Dabbler” nature. I do love my work but it takes a lot of my energy, especially right now. And that leaves very little left over for other pursuits. And so my yearnings for retirement increase during these times, often dramatically.

I have this painting hanging over my iMac. I gaze at it often, as I am doing right now. It is a wedding gift from JD’s cousin’s husband, a talented painter of landscapes.

Autumn Road by Michael Roth

I can lose myself easily in this painting. I am walking down that northern lane and taking in the beauty of where I am on the path, and anticipating the beautiful views to come, just around the bend.

For me this symbolizes my yearnings for retirement (and more free time for indulging my dabbling). I love where I am now, but also can’t wait to continue the journey and see what’s around the corner.*

Rock on,

The WB

*One of pluses of reaching this age is the ability to hold opposite and conflicting thoughts in one’s brain and finding that completely natural and normal.

 

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X is for Marking the Spot – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

X marks the spot!

X marks the spot on the calendar for quitting work and starting retirement.

Which has not been marked yet – at least, not on any of my calendars!

I did receive my personal code in the mail and have been able to set up my My Service Canada account. I know what I would receive per month if I turned 65 today and what I will receive if I retire at 60, and start my life as an OAP. And I can get a number for any time in between those 5 years. So that is settled!

But instead of being more certain of when I will want to retire as I progress through my theme for this challenge, I find the opposite has happened. For now, I am doubtful I will retire as early as 60. I do think I will want to work a little longer in order to hit certain financial goals, and that’s OK with me.

After all I do enjoy my work, and I am feeling more confident of being able to realize a long, healthy life. Because of this:

A few weeks back, I went again to the neurologist investigating my TIAs of last year, written about here and here. His office called me in for a follow-up. I really like this guy. He seems straight up and kinda cool. Very humble, soft-spoken and has this grey, hippy-ish, mullet-ish, uncontrolled hair. A very wool socks and Birks kind of a guy. Very un-neurologist.

Because I value his opinion, I asked him to tell me frankly – if he was me, knowing what he knows about strokes and risk and having the same medical history as me – how would this affect his decision-making regarding the rest of his life?

He gave it some thought and said “You want to know about your risk, right?” Then he told me that I was probably at lower risk than the general population with respect to having a future stroke, since I had been “caught” and was now on preventative medication.

That made me feel a whole lot better about my prospects and also about having to pop these damn pills daily.

So I am feeling more relaxed about these things and about time in general.

My X will mark the spot sometime between 60 and 65. That is all I think know for now, and that’s OK.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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