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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Kapsalon

Kapsalon: Late-night takeout and hangover food supreme!

I saw a post this week on Facebook (where I get almost all my news and entertainment, these days) describing some popular Dutch food items. One of them was the glorious kapsalon, that Mizz J and I discovered on our last trip to the Netherlands.

Kapsalon covers all the best necessary food groups with its delightful mix of fries, cheese, garlic sauce, sambal, shawarma meat, and veggies. Hehehehe.

After experiencing this takeout food of the hedonistic gods, we were all fired up to bring this to Canada, the land where La Belle Province introduced the world to the wonder that is poutine.

But since we are not restauranteurs, the learning curve was very steep indeed and we soon lost interest abandoned our mission to bring this delight to the New World.

Until this week! There is a restaurant in the Village that would be perfect (IMHO) to introduce this tinfoil tub of deliciousness to North America. They already sell shawarma AND fries! So I contacted them (via Facebook, natch) this morning.

Let’s see where this thing goes, shall we?

Look, it’s got salad on top! Healthy!

Rock on,

The WB

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12 Canadian Artists I’m Loving Right Now

We’re not just about Celine Dion, Nickleback and Justin Bieber here in the Great White North, ya know?

I may have mentioned this before on Ye Olde Blogge: I am loving and appreciating the Canadian alternative music scene like never before. It’s always been great IMHO, but lately the quantity and quality of music is just blowing my mind.

Here are just some of the current crop of Canadian bands/artists that I think are just great, in no particular order. Check them out!

First up, Hollerado:

Serena Ryder:

Bleeker:

Mother Mother:

The Glorious Sons:

The Zolas:

July Talk:

USS:

The Darcys:

Monster Truck:

The Sheepdogs:

And of course, Arcade Fire:

Rock on, eh!

The WB

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Throwback Thursday – The Jersey Boys

This week a memorable date in Widow Badass-ology came and went. On November 14 it was the 4th anniversary of my becoming a widow. I’ve already discussed that recently, and in various places all over the blog – use the search feature if interested – so I didn’t feel like writing about it again so soon.

Except to say that I have such mixed feelings about that date… Is it my birthday? Is it a sad day? It was the day my life took a drastic turn. It was the day I got my life and freedom back. It was the day I lost someone I once thought of as a soul mate. It was the day another human being close to me left this life far too early. So many conflicting feelings, all of them valid. Which I am OK now to acknowledge, and move on.

In thinking about what to write today for NaBloPoMo, I was coming up empty so I thought I’d do a Throwback Thursday to a happier November 14th.

November 14, 2015 – My mom had come to live die with me by this point. The chemo wasn’t working anymore and she had had enough. Months before all this had happened I had bought tickets to take her to see Jersey Boys – a musical Mom had long expressed interest in seeing. Then my aunt came to spend some time with her sister one last time in October of that year. Mom really wanted Tante to come to the show as well. So flights were changed and another ticket was sought out.

My friend, Mizzuz J, Me, Mom and Tante waiting for the show to begin.

Tante had a brilliant idea to get the cast of the Jersey Boys to come out to say hi to Mom after the show. So she somehow got backstage at Intermission and made it happen. What a woman!

Mom – in the centre of it all.

Oh my, we had fun that day. Mom was clearly in her glory, surrounded by all that…er…talent.

Rock on,

The WB

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The Arcade Fire Show

Last night Mizz J and I attended yet another rock show together (yay!!!). Arcade Fire (with opening act, Broken Social Scene), at the Air Canada Centre on what we found out was the very last night of their tour!

I had been under the weather earlier this week but I knew I’d have to be pronounced dead before I’d miss this show.

It turned out to be one of those concerts that you felt was more like a giant house party or a show at an intimate club rather than an event at a major venue.

I didn’t know the opening (local to Toronto) act, but I did enjoy them and they appear to have a very strong following.

The stage was set in the middle of the arena and the members of Arcade Fire moved around the entire set playing to every last corner (and ventured into the crowd on a couple of occasions) so that everyone felt intimately connected with the experience they were creating.

Turn your lights on, we were told. And we did.

To begin, the band walked through the floor crowd (after being introduced like fighters) and climbed through the ropes set up to resemble a boxing ring, to start their set.

For most of this show, there were 2 free seats to the left of Mizz J and we utilized the extra space for DANCING! The owners of those seats showed up partway through Arcade Fire, stayed for about 30 minutes, then left again well before the set ended. These seats weren’t cheap. Who does this?

And, after a blistering finale they paraded off through the crowd again led by a sax player, like a New Orleans jazz funeral. We sang them off. Magical.

Highly recommended to see this band, if you get a chance.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts but never one like Arcade Fire. Everyone who purchased a ticket to the show was sent a copy of the latest CD, Everything Now. I’ve been enjoying this disc immensely since receiving it in early August.

Today I’m feeling the after-effects of this event coming so soon on the heels of being ill. I see a couple of naps in my immediate future.

But first I have to add some bands to my journal’s list of artists I have seen live…hehehe.

Rock on,

The WB

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What I did when Summer finally came to Ontario – October

First a PSA: thanks to the power of the Twitterverse and a blogger named Kat of AsKatKnits, I learned that NaBloPoMo is still a thing! Another blogger (Aimie from Blissful Lemon) is hosting it this year. Go Aimie! Link up here, if interested in joining in the challenge (and the fun!).

Here is part 2 of how I made the most of Ontario’s better-late-than-never summer weather :

The Badass Rooftop Garden produced pole beans and cherry tomatoes until an overnight frost hit mid-October.
The warm weather meant lots of strolls at all times of day. Here is early evening on October 3.
Another shot taken that night.
Took a trip up to Mrs. & Mrs. Me Too’s place right after Thanksgiving!
There was kayaking, natch.
And hiking, natch.
And drinking beer on the dock while viewing stunning sunsets, natch.
Back in my neck of the woods again. More hiking, this time at Crawford Lake Conservation Area. Nassagaweya Canyon overlook.
I’ve been enjoying using a free hiking app downloaded to my phone, called All Trails. It shows you exactly where you are on the trail (blue dot)
And even more hiking! This time at Felker’s Falls with a delightful fellow blogger, Joanne from My Life Lived Full. This was a close as I dared get to the edge – my back leg is firmly planted as far behind me as I could extend it.
It was great to finally meet the person who inspired me to revive my own Bruce Trail Dream (in progress). We spent so much time hiking and chatting we forgot to get a picture of the both of us…hehehe. Next time!

And now the real fall is finally upon us. Dark mornings and early evenings and damp, cold, windy weather.

Thankfully, I have this to look forward to during these dark days ahead:

Ahhh, a Nespresso latte machiatto. Life’s little morning luxury.

Rock on until tomorrow!

The WB

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What I did when Summer finally came to Ontario – September

This is going to be a two-parter, because Summer finally came to town in September and hung on through almost all of October.

Afternoon at Little Tract September 13. Blazing hot out.
Visiting Alton Mills Arts Centre September 16. Lovely spot and worth the drive!
Beaching it at Bayfield September 17. I even swam, twice – to get some relief from the heat!
Hiking with Mizz J September 23. Another scorcher of a day.
Watching the dancing at Jane Austen’s Country Ball (hosted by the Fashion History Museum) September 23. I felt a little sorry for all the revelers in their hot costumes. Obviously no one thought it would be so hot and humid so late in the season when the event was planned. It did not stop the festivities though!
Hiking at Rattlesnake Point September 30. Hasn’t cooled down yet!

I did try to make the most of the great weather while it lasted, and when I wasn’t working.

Tomorrow I will do a photo recap of the glory that was October.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Happy September!

Well hello dear Bloggie,

Coming at you from a hotel room in Kelowna, British Columbia on this fine 3rd day of September – which would have been my 7th wedding anniversary. (Or would it? Hmmm…I’d like to think I would not have divorced my mentally ill, betrayer of a husband had he not died from cancer…but who knows what alternate reality I would be living by now had things turned out differently…) Anyhow, I don’t have a whole lot of emotion surrounding this day anymore…and I think that is a good and healthy sign.

August has been a stressful month for me. My sister has been quite ill and in hospital here in Kelowna – hence my presence. Most of the month I was on pins and needles, not knowing when her surgery would finally happen or if she would be healthy enough to even qualify. This, plus lots of goings on at work made the month both drag on and fly by simultaneously, if that makes any sense (and it does to me).

I did manage to get up to see my other sister (Me Too) and her wife at their lovely lakeside home, on the Civic Holiday Long weekend…and stopped in at a National Park (another one crossed off the list) along the drive up there.

At Thousand Islands National Park. Check out how straight my teeth are becoming! #Invisalignlove
Just another peaceful misty morning at Me Too’s place.

And I did get to Riverfest Elora 2017. A fantastic festival with such a great vibe – I think this will be an annual event for me. Hopefully next year I can convince someone to join me. I didn’t mind going alone, but naturally it would have been even more enjoyable to have company.

Mother Mother at Riverfest

As I fretted and stressed the month away, I decided to pour my feelings into the paint I was applying on some canvases.

Practically a copy of a painting done by another artist, Elspeth McLean. Don’t all artists start out by copying the greats? 🙂 This is for the sister I am currently visiting. I named it “Feminine Energy”.
Another finished piece. No name yet. This is an original.

I did find some time to get on the river.

My happy place!

And then I got word that my sister’s surgery had finally been scheduled and was happening within 48 hours, so it was a mad dash to get plane tickets and book a hotel. I arrived in smoke- and ash-covered Kelowna on Tuesday. This has been the worst season for forest fires in 60 years, I’ve been told.

Daytime skies over Lake Okanagan
My feet (de-Birkenstocked) after a day of trudging back and forth to the hospital.
Patio chair after a night of falling ash.

My sister’s surgery was a success and she is steadily improving. And the skies have cleared up too!

That’s much better! Still hazy but at least it’s blue!

I have booked my flight home for this coming Tuesday. Now there is nothing left to do on this Labour Day long weekend but enjoy visiting my sister and eat my fill of Okanagan peaches.

These suckers are HUGE, and tasty.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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When am I going to grow up?

A former spouse of mine once infamously asked me that question.

Back in the late 90s, I had told him that we should take the kids to a music festival together (Edgefest, in Barrie) for the day. The lineup was awesome, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to show the kids what an outdoor rock concert was all about and how to do it safely and enjoyably. They were excited, as there were many groups/artists they liked; I was excited as there were many groups/artists I also liked. But he pooh-poohed all over the idea. He didn’t want to go. And he didn’t want us to go either. I said that’s too bad – we’d love it if you came too, but we were going, regardless. He then asked me when I was going to GROW UP and stop wanting to do “THIS SHIT”. Well, hello?  I thought he had enjoyed going to concerts with me.

He ended up going, grudgingly – only because there was no way he wanted me to be having any kind of fun without him. (If only he knew how much fun the kids and I had when he left us alone to go up north to see his family for a few days!)

By the end of the summer, I had found a townhouse and was moving out, thus ending our 17 year marriage. Not because of this one stupid comment, obviously…but it speaks volumes about why we were no longer suited to be together.

I have been in love with music since I was a babe in arms. My mom told me when she took me to church as an infant tears would stream down my face whenever I heard the organ play. I asked her why and she said, it seemed to her that I was feeling the music on a visceral level, and it had moved me to weep.

Which is pretty cool – and you’d think a kid like that would be a natural musician – but no. I must have been standing behind the door when the Mystery was handing out musical talent ‘cos I got none.

But what I do have is a major love of music and attending live shows. However, as I am getting older it is getting harder to find people (in my demographic) to attend these shows with me. Especially as I continue to listen to and enjoy new and emerging artists, as well as those I grew up with.

My usual concert buddy – my daughter, Mizz J – is in British Columbia this summer – so what’s a badass widow to do, when there are so many great concerts happening all around me?

As much as it is not my preference, I am going to a 3 day outdoor music festival on my own:

Elora Riverfest 2017 Lineup. So excited!

I just have to go, even though I will be going solo. I learned my lesson from missing WayHome last year. There were at least  16 acts I wanted to see but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. So I missed them all. Never again.

So this got me to thinking: how many major bands/artists have I seen over the years, since I was a teenager? I tried to write them all down.

I feel like I am missing a few, and a few major ones too. Well, I did come of age in the 70s after all.
I’m going to keep a few pages blank so I can keep adding to the list.

So, I guess I am never going to grow up. Sorry, Husband #1. (Not sorry).

I still see people at these shows who look even older than me, so there is that. Trust me, I look. I am not the only one still doing “this shit”.

Rock on,

The WB

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It’s Race Day but Not for Me (plus other updates)

Back in February I committed to another half-marathon race. I started training for the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon (again). Things started out well but I began to struggle as temperatures rose and distances increased. I made the decision early in May that I would not participate, as I couldn’t meet the minimum pace required to finish the course in time.

This was a tough decision to make and initially I felt defeated and like a failure. I have successfully trained for and completed 5 half-marathons and I have never had this problem before.

I had no idea why I wasn’t improving despite adhering to my tried and true schedule of training walks. I wondered if maybe I was developing exercise intolerance due to the daily medication I now have to take (thanks TIAs!) or if work was kicking my ass even more than I suspected. What the hell has changed?

I made an appointment to see my doc for a physical and blood tests were ordered. My clever doc ordered a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test to be done along with the “usual suspects” of blood counts, lipid profiles, blood sugar etc. I downloaded my results on Friday and noticed the TSH levels were reported as abnormally high, meaning my thyroid gland may be under-performing. Hmmmm….this explains a lot of symptoms I am experiencing, not just my poor performance on my walks.

I am making an appointment to discuss this with my doc first thing Monday, to see what the next steps are. I do feel a bit better now about my inability to meet the pace requirements for today’s race. I know I made the right call to pull out, even though a part of me wishes I was on the course with all the other runners and walkers right now.

Anyhow, it does seem that indeed something has changed and I will get that investigated further and addressed. Stay tuned!

In other Badass news, I have experienced a setback with my rooftop garden as well. Thanks, Mother Nature.

Remember this idyllic scene?
Immediately after a microburst of high winds and rain.
Rebuilt. Badass Rooftop Garden v. 2.0

Looks like this gardening adventure is going to be a “fall down 7 times; get up 8” type scenario. Still up for the challenge!

In Kayaking news, I took my newest acquisition out for its maiden voyage. (I’m stopping now with kayak purchases, I promise!).

Meet Smokey Robinson! Joining Pink Floyd and the Rev. Al Green in my kayak fleet.
Life is sweet on the river.

When the weather is bad, I play around with my art supplies. I put together a new storage cabinet yesterday for my ever-expanding collection of pencils, crayons, markers, inks and paints.

Bringing order to – and hiding – chaos. Thank you IKEA.

Here’s a sneak peek at a work in progress.

Acrylic Flower of Life design inspired by “dotillism” artist Elspeth McLean.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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