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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2017 Blogging A-Z Challenge and Book Club Update

2017 Participant Badge

This will be my 3rd year performing this blogging challenge. The premise is much like NaBloPoMo, but with a twist. The challenge is to work through the 26 letters of the alphabet while keeping up with the (almost) daily posting in April. Here’s the calendar of letter dates for April:

Alphabet Daze Days for 2017

During A2Z, bloggers get all Sundays off, except for this year. The 30th falls on a Sunday so there’s no getting out of that Zed (Zee for my US blogger friends) post on that Sunday.

I’m going to try something a little different this year. Instead of my usual winging it and creating a post out of whatever is burbling up in my brain for that particular letter and date combo, I am going to organize my posts around a theme. It’s something that many participants in this challenge do very well so I am excited to try my hand at this too.

I’ll be revealing my theme on ye olde blogge on March 20th, like all of the other challenge participants going this route.

Book Club Update

I’m so excited I’ve had a couple of people interested in my online book club idea!!!! Now shit becomes real, as they say. I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about this and Goodreads seems to offer the cheapest (FREE!) and easiest platform to host this. So let’s start there. I will create a group sometime over the next few days and away we will go.

If you are interested, please do let me know in the comments some ideas for a name for our group and also for at least a first book for us to read, if not multiple suggestions!

If I don’t get any suggestions soon, I hope people are OK if I just make up a name as it’s the first part of the group creation process. I’m not sure if it can be changed later.

There’s also a Description and Rules section to be filled out. I hope this can be changed as the group develops and we become clearer on what kind of group we want to be.

I’d like to make the group private, meaning only the moderator(s) can invite others to join.

Once the group is created, multiple discussion threads can be started and things will hopefully sort themselves out better based on input from members.

I’m WidowBadass (natch) on Goodreads, by the way, in case you are looking for me!

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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Reading for (Guilty) Pleasure and Book Club Dreams

While I was on vacation what already seems like years ago, but was actually only 4 weeks ago, I happily devoured 4 fiction books. I got started on a detective series (the Hieronymous Bosch series, by Michael Connelly) and this became my beach (and nighttime) reading for the week. Oh yeah, and I finally got around to reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, which I thought was kinda meh – seemed to me to be “yer typical bodice-ripper”, albeit with a time travel twist – a genre I have not dipped into since my early 20s.

I had almost completely given up reading for pleasure when I was pursuing my MBA studies (and everything else that was happening at the same time) and now a year later it still feels weird/guilt-inducing to be doing it. I try not to let this stop me but it’s something I struggle with yet. (The mandatory reading I do every night to shut down my brain and get into sleep mode is exempted from these feelings of guilt.)

Part of this is being cognizant that my pleasure reading could veer from being a harmless indulgence to an addictive escape from my reality.

I feel my reality is pretty great right now so this is not so much a worry as a niggle in the back of my brain. Like if drinking alcohol moved from being a social/relaxing thing to a required, nightly solo ritual (something else the back of my mind monitors for me). I wouldn’t be the first widow to become a secret or not-so secret lush. So I ask myself what my motivation is when I reach into the cupboard for a wine glass. So far, so good…not to worry, dear Blog!

Anywho, I do hear my inner nag voice nagging at me for reading for pleasure.

Especially when the book(s) are not…um…”heavy”, in my opinion. A heavy or weighty book to me is not meant literally, especially now that most of the books I read are digital editions. No, by that I mean it’s a book that stays with you. One that you are still thinking about days later. One with characters so fully fleshed that you feel you know them as friends. One that describes the human condition. One that resonates with you. One that changes you and how you see the world somehow, however subtly. One that finds you talking to yourself in the author’s “voice” afterwards (or is that just me?).

I don’t feel (as) guilty having consumed one of these books. Examples of those books for me would be: The Diviners, by Margaret Laurence and Winter’s Tale, (don’t discount it because of the terrible movie) by Mark Helprin. Books that I must reread every so many years.

During last year’s vacation in Barbados, I burned through 6 books in 7 days. Still reeling from my mother’s death only a few weeks before, I was definitely escaping from reality into fiction! But I gave myself a pass on that, due to the circumstances. I quickly read all of the books I had brought with me plus my daughter’s books. Then I was forced to peruse the hotel’s bookcase for my next read. Among the novels written in German (!?) and the thin drug-store paperbacks, I found I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Not a genre I would have sought out normally (suspense/spy novel), but it was HUGE and I thought it looked interesting.

OMG, I loved it! I consumed it in a little over a day. This book reintroduced me to reading just for the sheer pleasure of the story – something I had forgotten about. Something I want to get back to and without guilt, if I could only shut down my inner nag voice…

In direct juxtaposition of these feelings, for a couple of years now I have had this vision rolling around in my head of starting a book club. WTF. I know, right? I guess I want to “legitimize” my reading in this way. Makes it seem important and mind-expanding vs. a “waste of time” (my inner voice nag’s words, not mine!).

In my fantasy book club dream, I see a diverse group of women….ok, and maybe a gay man or two…gathering once a month or every 6 weeks for fabulous, sparkling conversation and nibblies. We only disagree respectfully, politely and constructively; we always all show up; we have all read the book; we have the most concise, witty and illuminating comments about that month’s pick. Everyone goes home feeling great about themselves and what they learned from each other and we can’t wait until we meet again!

Yeah. About that…OK, OK!  I get that it’s a total fantasy.

But what if I (we) started a virtual book club? Who’s with me on this one? Give it some thought. And let me know what books resonated with you please. I am always looking for a great next read, inner voice nag be damned!

Rock (and read) on,

The WB

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The CEO of Everything – A Badass Review

The CEO of Everything, picked up at Costco

I have been CEO of Everything for a little over 3 years now and life has never been better for me.
When I heard about this book, co-written by Gail Vaz-Oxlade and Victoria Ryce, I knew I had to read it.

Ms. Ryce I was not acquainted with, but I have been a fan of Gail’s shows for years and still watch her whenever she pops up on the TV – ‘Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess, Money Moron. Her advice and delivery on money and life never gets old.

If I wanted to be a smart ass, I would just use 9 words to state my review of this book:

THEY NAILED IT. I LIVED IT. GO BUY IT.

Gail had been divorced more than once and Victoria lost her husband (like me, also to lung cancer). Each woman combines and brings their own perspectives to being unexpectedly or expectedly single and how to proceed from there.

Having not only been both divorced and widowed, I was completely engrossed by and resonated with everything these women had to say. They were describing my thoughts, my emotions, my experiences, my decisions. The advice they give is SPOT ON.

They even warn you how you will be perceived by others in your newly single state. Hint: some women will either drop you from their circle of couples or give you the fish eye if you so much as acknowledge their men are in the room. Brace yourself for killer-death rays if their men acknowledge you are in the room.

They didn’t cover how men will treat your newly single state in the book so let the WB tell you there may some surprises in store there as well. Some of your men friends will want to be genuinely helpful and others will want to help themselves, if you know what I mean. Just be on your guard with them all until they prove themselves to be honourable. You will spare yourself some nasty shocks that way.

Gail and Victoria urge newly minted CEOs of Everything to look for creative ways to replace missing employees i.e. stuff your SO used to handle. I would like to add to their sage advice that a good contractor is worth his weight in gold, if there are major projects to be completed at your C-Suite (home). Your contractor will organize and run herd on the trades needed to complete the job, freeing you to keep doing what you need to be doing to keep the lights on. A good contractor will fight for you to get the job done to your satisfaction and it is sad but true that some of the trades won’t listen to your complaints but will hop-to if your contractor so much as blinks. Yes. Even in 2017. Even though you are the client and ultimately paying the bills.

The ladies wrap up the book by urging the CEOs of Everything to pay it forward. Which I have tried to do in the past and will continue to do in the future. I had been told by friends I needed to write a book about what I’ve learned and now, well….thanks for nothing, Gail and Victoria!!! 😉

The book has been written and not by me.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

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Like Finding An Old Friend

Long overdue for a re-read!
Long overdue for a re-read!

Dear Wild Woman Blog,

Saturday night, while I was searching for hamsa inspiration I came across a mention of this book – Women Who Run With the Wolves –  while googling symbols. Funny where it takes you when you head down a search engine rabbit hole. I wonder if Google is the new Tarot deck – delivering answers that your subconscious is looking for. OK, OK Blog – I agree…that is a bit of a stretch.

I knew I had read it before – I just wasn’t altogether sure that I still had it in my possession. Quickly I went to the dining room and checked the bookcases there. YES! Somehow this book had managed to survive the several purges of my library since I first bought (and devoured) it many years ago.

I’m looking forward to revisiting my old, long-neglected friend. With white supremacist patriarchy gaining more and more strength and approval in the States (nay, the WORLD) again, I think this qualifies as required re-reading.

Just in case you thought the True North Strong and Free was spared this idiocy, I give you This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ take on Sam Oosterhoff. This new world needs more AGNES. That is all.

Rock on,

The WB

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K is for…

K

…Keep on keepin’ on

Determination, persistence, stubbornness  – whatever you want to call it – it’s the quality or character trait that gets the job done.

Not talent, or IQ, or passion. Nope, all of these pale in comparison to the above. I have seen it over and over again in myself and others.

K is also for Kneelers. Games of Thrones fans – how was the start of Season 5 last night? I have to live vicariously through you as I do not have cable TV at the moment. Every year I have had to wait to view it until the following February when the season is released on DVD. And every year I  ponder whether or not to buy it…but then I do…and I am glad because I am reminded of how damn good the series is.

Speaking of kneelers, I have more or less a wildling attitude towards such things so that makes me an anti-kneeler…however that doesn’t stop me from being a fan of House Targaryen. Keep on keepin’ on, Khaleesi! I hope Daenerys matures into a worthy Queen of Westeros.

(Contradictory, I know. But somehow it works for me. As I have gotten older I find I have no problem holding two opposing and contradictory thoughts in my head at one time. Anyone else feel the same way?)

Keep on, everybody! Especially YOU, GRR Martin – keep on keepin’ on with your writing!!!! This widow‘s patience is wearing thin can’t wait for the next installment of the book series.

The WB

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Harry Potter and the First Week of the MBA

No, this isn’t the title of a new Harry Potter book. Although it could be – this book would be filled with CHILLS! THRILLS! SUSPENSE! ANGUISH! DOUBT! FRUSTRATION!  And, ultimately: EXHILARATION! Imagine, a midlife Harry Potter decides to augment his magical education by going to business school, ultimately leading to his next career move: Hogwart’s newest Headmaster! Yes, Harry Potter revitalizes the school, putting his newly minted MBA to good use in this exciting new installment in the series!

Well, what the heck else is he gonna do now that the ultimate evil has been vanquished? You know…the V-man – he who must not be named.

I finished the Harry Potter book series last weekend. Can you tell?

Well, let me just say this – I am so glad I had the whole series of books to read at once, one after the other (thanks Caitlin, for the loan of them!). I just don’t know how I would have survived if I had been reading them as J.K. Rowling was writing them, and had to wait for their publication. I finished the last book on October 1st and then immediately  hopped onto the Pottermore website to purchase the digital set for my Kobo…only to find out the release has been delayed to early 2012. Bummer.

To anyone who hasn’t read these books yet (although I firmly believe I was the LAST PERSON ON THE PLANET who hadn’t), I urge you to read this series. These books are for all ages and are full of what makes us human – flaws and all. I will be proud to read these to and with my grandchildren, should I ever get any (no pressure kids!).

I’m pretty sure I am still the LAST PERSON ON THE PLANET to see the Harry Potter movies though…so there’s something else to add to the Bucket List. Cross one off, add one on.

The same day I finished HP, I received an email from my library stating that one of my holds was now available for download:

112879255

Game of Thrones Book Series

How could I possibly read all 4 books in 21 days (before the digital download expires) even if I wasn’t in graduate school? And how will this compare to HP? I’ve heard this series is quite…ahem…graphic. So that will be one big difference. I’ll let you know how it goes.

New topic: Exploding Neural Pathways, Batman!

Orientation week of my MBA program was this week. Fireworks are going off in my brain. No, I mean it. I visualize my brain forming all these new neural pathways like exploding fireworks in a summer sky at night. Install and learn to use Lotus Notes software. BAM! Download and set up MBA course applications. KAPOW! Do all this while learning to use new laptop loaded with new-to-me Windows 7 and Office 2010. BANG! Relearn how to write academic papers and cite references in APA format. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! PFFFFT! POP!POP!POP!POP!POP!

Speaking of brains on fire and how to cool them down (how’s that for a segue?): Here’s something JD and I tried when at the golf tournament in Beaconsfield last week (this company was a sponsor):

The Anti-Red Bull. Love the crashing bovine.
The Anti-Red Bull. Love the crashing bovine.

Here's what's in it. A fellow golfer described it as "fizzy herbal tea" in taste. I concur.

Here’s what’s in it. A fellow golfer described it as “fizzy herbal tea” in taste. I concur.

Obligatory warning label. Should Sleepytime tea have a similar label? Discuss.
Obligatory warning label. Should Sleepytime tea have a similar label? Discuss.

My verdict: Meh. Too sweet for me. I prefer my drinks unsweetened. Too fizzy. Too many chemicals. Too expensive! At about $3 a pop (pun intended), who would buy this stuff? We only drank it because they had coolers of the stuff for the participants to grab. Did it work? Well, after walking 18 holes of golf each day and getting about 4 hours sleep each night, it was hard to say conclusively that the drink made us chill (no, duh!).

So that’s all my news for now. Now, back to being all Hermione-like and hitting my MBA texts! Have a great Thanksgiving, my Canadian friends. Everyone else, have a great weekend!

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