christmas kermit

Day in the Life - 2014

I dare you to move
Like today never happened before

It’s been so long since I’ve really set down an account of my life that I feel I ought to give a Day in the Life.

I can’t help but feel that as an adult my usual day is much less interesting than it has been in the past.

When I wake up, it’s for one of four reasons. Reason #1: I set my alarm for a particular time because I had an appointment. #2: The dog is whining for the fulfillment of one of his basic needs such as more food, the great outdoor bathroom, or sheer boredom. #3: I had to go to the bathroom and my bladder woke me, or #4: Someone called me during the wee business hours around 8am and I was still in bed.

Typically the very next thing I do after all of these things is put on my hair band (of the accessory variety as opposed to the 8o’s variety) and glasses and sit down to the computer. Shortly after this, most days, I am thirsty and get my trusty frozen bottle from the freezer. I bought two rectangular cube 1 litre jugs from Dollarama for a lemonade party, and now I freeze water in them every night on an angle for maximum surface area of the ice. I can’t remember life without them, but they’ve only been around for 3 months or so.

My lovely glass desk is something I’m pretty used to now. My computer still runs very fast (ever since we replaced the hard drive with a solid state one) and is now running the shiny new Yosemite OS, which is fast and pretty and makes everything feel new again despite the small ways the computer is starting to show its age.

As I look around our rather tiny basement suite, I remember that most of the people reading this have never seen it. The walls are a light lilac purple, and some of them are at haphazard angles. The only doors are the door to the bathroom and the door at the top of the stairs. We always come in through the garage into their garage entryway, and the door to our suite is right beside it. We installed a set of hooks at the top of the stairs for coats, just in time for the shifting weather. The floors are linoleum faux wood in a charcoal grey colour. They are cold, so we have an inherited carpet in front of the couch - a strip of which is a favourite haunt of the dog and develops a white hue with his discarded fur if we don’t vacuum it often enough. I have a little carpet sample I bought at Value Village that sits under my feet at the computer, so I often feel like I have carpet even though I don’t.

I’m rather fond of my little office space, which is good as I spend probably 5-8 hours a day or more there. It’s typically about half-way to organized, and I organize it all the way every week or two. I try to keep a handle on the scanning since I’ve gone paperless. Right now when I look left, I can see all the way across the suite to our shelf, credenza, and curio cabinet, where our pretty things live. The top of the shelf is full-out Christmas right now, with my favourite tree that a friend gave me one year when I didn’t have one as the guest of honour, and three cute little snowmen occupying the shelf beneath. A stuffed alot wearing Paul’s grad hat and a bevy of Nutcrackers, complete with a stuffed Babar the Elephant riding a stuffed wooly mammoth we got in Drumheller. I overlook them often in my day to day, but the things on that side of the house have a lot of power to make me smile.

Our kitchen is horribly tiny, and though we have an under-stairs pantry and get to use the dishwasher upstairs, it is seldom in a state of entire cleanliness and usefulness. The lack of counter space typically pushes things onto the table in the living room, which serves as both coffee table and dining table, when we dine there. Honestly, we dine far more often in front of the computer-functioning-as-TV and watch one of our favourites. I watch a lot of television, and sometimes I also relax on my red chaise lounge, a prize possession of mine, and read a book.

Our bathroom lacks a tub, to my chagrin, but I’ve been enjoying luxurious baths when I travel, so I am not too hard done by. In the end, the home is rather functional most of the time. Our bedroom is a fair size, and with a full wall of closet space, under-bed storage, a dresser and a few extra storage options, I find it works out fairly well. The blackout curtain I put up in the doorway doesn’t block sound very well, but it does block light well.
I spend most of my time either in my office or asleep when I’m at home, though I’m gradually getting into a better habit of spending time on chores.

Murphy and I sometimes play by chasing each other in circles around the table in the living room, and if I’m in a good mood and paying attention to his needs, which is most days, we have a good romp. Other days I have Paul take Murphy to doggy daycare, where he has a blast with other dogs and comes home utterly exhausted but happy. Those are typically days I have to be out for work, or I have a huge load of editing to do. Home is better with Murphy in it most of the time though. He can be a great companion. He can also be obnoxious if he gets bored, which we attempt to avoid by sprinkling daycare days, dog park visits, time outside, and inside playtime and training time.

While on the computer there are many ways that my day can go. I plan, I organize. I edit. I manage email and appointments and contracts and such, or, now that I have an assistant again, instruct them on what I plan to do next. I eventually realize I’m hungry and go foraging for food - and typically that reminds me of groceries I need to get or meal planning that needs to be accomplished. The latter is saving us a ton of money, and sometimes a lot of time, too. I’m starting to become somewhat good at it now. We’ve tried a few unique meals, several of which have been a big hit, and others have been a total flop. Par for the course, really. I miss my lovely kitchen in Saskatoon, but I cook anyway, and so does Paul.

I am often rooting about in Evernote organizing life, writing content for one of my two businesses, finding and recording new ideas and research or sharing something I found that Paul enjoys. I spend a fair bit of time on Facebook and Reddit, mainly shopping for interesting, cute, thought-provoking, or scientific things. I add quotes to my quote blog every few days, and it has started to blossom into a very large library.

Most days I watch a bit of TV or listen to a podcast while editing - This American Life is a favourite, some days Paul and I play games, and every weekday when Paul returns home from work we hug and talk about our day, which is a part of the day I treasure. I’m thrilled whenever Paul comes home.

On my days out of the house I am often running errands, meeting people or networking to promote or offer services for Last Resort (I’m basically working with three clients now, technically four but two are a team), getting medical services like chiro, massage, doctor appointments, or similar. Sometimes I’m out buying things to make our home a more live-able place, going to the library to pick up a book (which has a 1 in 3 chance of getting read, realistically).

Most days, I am glued to the computer working on new things for Last Resort, initiatives for Admire Studios, or personal projects. Right this moment, a sleeping dog lies beside me on my special chair, and I am contemplating what to eat for lunch. Life can be quite simple like that when things are slow, or I could be attempting to laser focus on a  project that needs finishing. In either case, I am usually fairly happy at the end of the day.
a hero can save us


I've lost a grip on where I started from
I wish I'd thought ahead and left a few crumbs
I'm on the hunt for who I've not yet become
But I'd settle for a little equilibrium
There is a war inside my heart gone silent
Both sides dissatisfied and somewhat violent
The issue I have now begun to see
I am the only lonely casualty
This is not the end though...

It's been about a decade since so many things in my life changed. I began university for my proper first year a little more than a decade ago. I began dating and broke up with my first boyfriend not long after, about a decade ago. It took me a few more years to find my second one, and then I went and married him, leaving my boyfriend count at two forever, hopefully.

My Grandfather left us, I went to Israel, I went to Urbana, I wandered the streets of Halifax in a cold February, I worked at the Lung Association… It was all about a decade ago. I wrote down a lot of my stories then. As a blizzard falls on us here in central Canada, I read my account of the blizzard I experienced in 2007, which is a pretty funny post to read.

I confronted inconsistencies about faith and humanity, life and death, sweetness and bitterness… It was all almost a decade ago now. I am nearly done those "best of your life" years that people tend to say the 20's are, and good riddance. I’ve just turned 29 and I’m happy with that. I've been married almost half that 20’s decade, and that's the most shocking thing of all, I think. My past self would certainly have raised an eyebrow. Some of my unmarried friends still do.
I'll be reaching my 8th anniversary as a photographer soon, and possibly going in a new direction permanently, if it all works out.

I'm at a real crossroads today. Whenever this happens, there are always things that stand out. First of all, I always end up talking with friends a lot. Secondly, there's always some quote or idea that really pops.

The other day it was this:

Every artist is an entrepreneur and every entrepreneur is an artist.

I am gradually seeing the shift happen from fine art to the art of business, related a little to the art of war.

This is my darkest hour
A long road has lead me out here
But I only need turn around to face the light
And decide flight or fight

For my birthday, I headed down to Saskatoon for four days to visit friends. I ended up coming out feeling refreshed and full of ideas. I got some things off my chest, had a few people challenge my way of thinking about things, and generally found the whole experience both enlightening and encouraging. In fact, I’d dare to say I’ve felt better ever since. This is of course more to blame on the resolution I formed afterwards to make more of an effort with internet communication as well.

With that, I must ask your pardon, readers, as my blogging has hit an all time low lately, and I have recognized that I actually miss talking about my life, and that doing so encourages me to have something interesting to share, so I will try, for the fourth or fifth time in as many years, to begin again.
Robot of Meloncholy

Sehnsucht: Where The Heart Is

So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself and I
Didn't know I was lost

There needs to be a word for being homesick for the place you've never lived, but fell in love with when you went there. I experience this feeling often. I think the closest term is wanderlust, but I think that's more about seeing new places, not about going to the place where a small part of your heart lives. Whenever friends travel to those places, or I talk about them, a part of me comes alive in anticipation of going there again. A friend of mine is in Israel right now, another friend recently went down to New York, and I found out one of Paul's uncles is from the Maritimes. Someone I met recently was talking about Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, too. All of these places are extremely special to me. In each place, I fell in love with the land, the people, the atmosphere.
My friend Jadon tells me that the German word Sehnsucht is probably the closest thing to what I am talking about. The wikipedia article on the word tells me that "Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes."
One of the hardest things about being financially handcuffed to a large debt is the lack of travel. Travelling has been a part of my identity ever since I can remember. I've yearned to go places, stretched my head out to look beyond the place I grew up ever since I had a chance.
I was just telling Paul that wistfulness is my favourite emotion. Perhaps I ought to be grateful that the circumstances of my life allow me to feel it often, I suppose.
Right now I feel longing on so many fronts, but I feel like I'm dealing with it well.
I long for a different home, but spend my time making this one more habitable. I just picked up a rather nice $30 cabinet that's the perfect size to fit in a corner and double our kitchen storage space.  Doing things like this fill me with elation. If only doing dishes did the same...
I long to give people advice, and I've started frequenting an online community that allows me to do that anonymously. It gives me a rush. I'm hoping to expand Last Resort to fill that hole in my life eventually, but for now, I have an outlet.
I've been going through a really tough time when it comes to confronting all the ways I haven't been kind to my future self, even when I thought that was exactly what I was doing. It's been a painful process of change for years now, and even so, some of the things I really want to tackle have been the slowest of all.
But longing is a powerful emotion, and if you're paying attention to what it tells you, maybe you can get somewhere eventually.
  • Current Mood: Sehnsucht
mountains of books

10 Books that Changed Me

Justin (groom of the wedding I recently attended) asked me to list 10 books that changed me. I'm just going to list whatever the first ten I think of are to simplify matters.
Jane Eyre
Probably my favourite book of all time. I love the plot, the romance, the wistfulness, and Jane's faith despite how other people of faith treated her. A shocking exposé of the horrors of Calvinist thinking and a testament to doing things the right way, even when it costs.
The Count of Monte Cristo
This is cheating a little, because I first encountered this story as a movie, but the book is a far more poignant look at why exactly it is that revenge will not make you happy.
Speaker for the Dead
I read this just after the deaths of my Uncle and Grandpa, whose unsavoury characters made their passing a tough time in different ways than the death of someone you really loved does. It's an incredible philosophic discussion of remembrance, family, and truth.
Amusing Ourselves to Death
One of two non-fiction books to make this list, this book really did make me rethink entertainment, argue for my decision to quit the news, and oddly and antithetically it also helped me come to peace with my love for TV and not see it as a waste of time anymore.
The Happiness Project
The second non-fiction book that deserves a place on this list is Gretchen Rubin's personal masterpiece, her treatise of research on happiness and how to foster it in your life, what great people have said about it, and what science says about it. Well worth the read to begin with, but I read it just before I started my first hardcore Sabbatical back in 2012. It helped me to sort through a lot of things that mattered.
The Hobbit
The first piece of straight-up fantasy I'd ever read. Hooked on fantastical worlds ever since. I actually still remember reading the first chapter outside in our backyard.
The Left Hand of Darkness
A fascinating fantasy about opportunity cost, encountering new cultures, gender, and why we shouldn't know the future. I read this book with absolutely perfect timing, even though like some of the other books on this list, it was required reading for a course.
Anne of Green Gables (The whole series, but I think House of Dreams is my favourite.)
The most wonderful portrayal in fiction of a person I wish I knew in real life, a time that really does seem simpler, and the idea of a kindred spirit. All these things, combined with the beautiful portrayal of adoption that kindled in me a desire to adopt myself, make this book, and this series, one of my best loved stories of all time.
Dust by Arthur Slade
The only horror story I have ever loved, Dust is an incredible story that sends shivers down your spine and makes you never want to run away. By a local author that I've had a chance to work with at workshops, and winner of several awards, this book has a personal place in my life too. Every time I get someone to read it, they get super addicted. The thing is, I can't say much about it without spoilers, so… read it yourself.
Ruth from the Bible
My favourite romance - a hardworking, loyal, adventurous woman takes a risk and finds love in an unexpected way.
Tags: ,
flying paper

The Slump

Nothing on earth is beautiful without you
Even the stars would die if you asked them to
I often struggle between the romance of life and the hard realities, and the persistent feeling that my life revolves around money is a frustrating part of my day-to-day. Getting to the point where the financial bleed has become clotted has been a long road, but we're actually getting there. Unfortunately this has not been a good financial year for Admire Studios, and starting a new business is not the cheapest endeavor. Neither of course is moving and setting up house, but in the end I feel like I have made reasonable progress towards sustainable lifestyle change.
I wish that I could stay forever this young

Not afraid to close my eyes

Life's a game made for everyone

And love is the prize

I've come to a new point in my long journey towards sustainable and healthy practices, and I'm hoping to implement more meal planning, portion control, mindfulness, and ambiance to help with the food side of the equation. Some of the changes I plan to make include designating certain days of the week for portion controlled eating, transitioning to eating as it's own activity and not while doing other things, and controlling the household containers and such.
The biggest idea is to figure out how to make the best use of my laziness. I'm a huge proponent of the idea that all traits are a double sided coin, and laziness is no exception. If there is something that I shouldn't be doing and I make it inconvenient, the chances that I will do it go down substantially. It's been difficult to do this for eating without a full overhaul on dishes and learning a lot more about portion control, but I think I am healthy enough mentally to begin work on these areas.
The second big area, of course, is activity, and I have decided after some time working with a personal trainer that while I don't hate the gym, I don't think it's likely that I'll develop a long term habit of going, either. I've decided to start a swimming habit instead, which feels more personally realistic I think, long term. I'm thinking about investing in a FitBit, since I know that general step-counters have been motivational to me in the past, and tracking my activities is a good way to help make incremental change. Seeing it incrementally is much easier that way.
I can’t decide which way to go

All the signs say the same thing

Desires they can be controlled

It might cost you everything
After a long lack of posts, an overview of the directions I've been pointing is in order, and that's the beginning in some ways, but the middle in others. The truth is that since moving into an essentially windowless basement and with the turmoil of moving, I've found myself struggling with depression - which in this case is affecting me most with what I call "hermitting." I've been avoiding people for the most part, and so has Paul. I've been falling into old internet habits, finding my conversation on Reddit and Facebook and struggling with the combination of boredom and exhaustion that depression brings. I had actually been taking a lower dose of antidepressants to try and make them last, but that proved to be a poor option, and I have gone back to the recommended dosage, with an accompanying surge in feeling like myself, though still feeling a bit hermit-y. In the end, it will take time to adjust to the permanent move, and it really has only been a few months. Creating new habits and making life changes during such a huge change is understandably a difficult enterprise.
Giving myself grace about these things is a process that has been difficult, but extremely rewarding. It's important that I continue on that journey.
I finished the Last Resort website, was featured in the Edmonton Examiner, and am soon to be featured in the newsletter for the Canada Photo Convention. I have had some positive responses from some people I had in mind for advocates, but seeing as photographers don't get a breath for another month yet, I'm not expecting anything to blow up right away. Plenty of work to do yet on the course materials, as well.

A few months ago I actually met a girl through a corporate shoot who became a friend of mine. Originally from Oklahoma, with a fun personal style and a lot in common with me, we really hit it off during our extended portrait session, and I'm excited to continue our friendship and hopefully partnership with the promotion of Last Resort as well. It was a truly lovely confluence of events.
We have had a number of car adventures lately, the first being when Paul's vehicle ran out of transmission fluid, and the second being this morning when my battery ran dead. Conveniently, our landlord is a car person and both of these events were short blips on the radar, though they certainly seemed rather important at the time.
And I have to speculate

That God himself did make

Us into corresponding shapes

Like puzzle pieces from the clay
Switching gears in so many areas reminds me of the sound poor Paul's car made when it ran out of transmission fluid. Life often needs a lubricant of some kind, really, whether it be entertainment, conversation, therapy, or some kind of body-altering substance. Caffeine being the most common, of course. Mornings and Evenings require the most, getting going and winding down. It hasn't been smooth.So I do something I have been doing for years. I ask myself questions. First, it used to be just one question, but the litany has grown over the years.
What do I want more than anything?
What should I be doing differently?
What makes me come alive?
The answers to these questions help me to determine which direction to turn, especially when it seems like change is warranted in a hundred areas.
  • Current Music: Lots of new music
lovefingers, happyfingers, couple

Training for the Win

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

We've made a lot of personal progress in the last few weeks. It's almost hard to believe that we only moved in 20 days ago. Just today I had my very first client meeting in my pretty little office nook and started working hard at getting our little storage spaces packed in nice and full so we have more room to enjoy the house.

I've been working at training Murphy with hand signals, and it's a good thing I've been training him, because on Sunday, we are going to take him to Edmonton's Pets in the Park where we can let him try agility, flyball, and lure coursing. I'm very excited for him, but he's sleeping on my chaise lounge and has no idea what magic awaits him in mere days.

The biggest news, however, is that in between all the shooting, editing, meetings, and other aspects of busy season, I've started working with a personal trainer. It's a mite on the expensive side, but business has been reasonably good lately, and so I've bought the monthly pass and 14 sessions with the trainer, two of which I have already done. I'm going to head to the gym this evening and teach Paul some of what I've learned, so he can start on the health journey with me.

I chose a trainer that does completely personalized workouts - and he's been amazing. So far he hasn't had to switch out any of the weights, reps, or exercises he's picked, and it's been right on the edge of my ability every time. Plus, they're counting my progress through body fat percentage and inches rather than mainly through pounds lost, which is perfect for someone with an ED. So I've been very pleased with my progress so far, and I have high hopes for the future. To which end, for the very first time in my life, I took a before picture. It's a huge milestone for me, something I didn't do at any other time for fear of failure. For the first time, I am reasonably confident of success, and it's an incredible feeling.

Ever since we got here, money hasn't been quite as tight as it was in wintertime, so I've been very happy to buy a ton of perimeter-shopped groceries, including a lot of pre-assembled salads, veggies, and fruit salads, which means that I've been eating fresh food every day. We switched from a small fruit bowl to a giant fruit-and-veggie platter in the kitchen, so I snack and graze all day on tomatoes, nectarines, avocados, and more. It's been a great way to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.

Like I've been telling Paul, the best thing about moving is that the first few habits I make on moving to a new place are some of the easiest for me to maintain - so eating healthy, working out, and enjoying

Since I've made a big workout commitment, I bought myself a load of workout clothing - lots of which was on sale - and a nice new swimsuit that fits me very well. The other interesting thing is that I've bought myself a tall vase for my office, which I am filling with the mandatory wristbands I have to get every time I go work out at the facility by our place. So far there's four of them and I plan to add a fifth this evening. It's a nice way of keeping track of the progress.

The next biggest piece of news is that I've finally put together the poetry anthology I've been daydreaming about for years. It has just over 30 of my best poems from the last decade or so, and I'm selling digital and physical copies to anyone who's interested. (Gran, don't bother buying one, I'm bringing one home next weekend for you!)

This week my brother and sister-in-law are in town with our ridiculously cute niece, and last night we went out for a delicious Fatburger supper with them, after which we went swimming and hot tubbing at their tiny little hotel pool, and I taught my favourite kids game from swimming - the tree-chopping game. First, you make them sit on the side like a little seed, then you water them with splashes, then they grow into a big tree and you chop them down and let them jump in so you can catch them! It was her new favourite thing.

Needless to say after working out, swimming, housecleaning and sorting, and tons of work, I am pretty exhausted and looking forward to a great weekend. Tomorrow we have breakfast with the family before they head out, and then the guy we know who found Paul a super-cheap car is bringing it into the city for us, so we'll be able to stop car sharing. Thank God for that, it was really inconvenient. We've found a pretty good deal on our car insurance, too!

I have been shooting a session or something every few days - including the awesome TEDxEdmonton, a family session for a family with five awesome kids, an Engagement session in the middle of mosquitoville that ended in the couple buying me supper, and more. Between all these things, I've managed to watch some TV, read part of two books, spend time with the Murphy and the Paul, shop for things we need around the house, and do everything else I've talked about here. It's been a pretty good life, and it's only getting better.

Next things on my list include finally painting my pretty white cabinet sometime in early July, and continuing work on my big business idea that I plan to start releasing email newsletters for in mid-July to prepare for a late October-early November launch process. Also, reading the large stack of library books I ordered before I have to send them back, particularly the book I'm reading for my friend's book club...

A while ago I dropped and stepped on my bluetooth headset on a rainy day, which was a tragic loss, but I have picked up a new one and I am very pleased with my ability to talk for a long time, actually be able to hear and be heard regularly, and charge it with the standard micro USB port!

Lots of good things to share today! I'm a happy camper.

  • Current Location: Edmonton
  • Current Mood: cheerful cheerful
  • Current Music: Buble - Feeling Good
flying paper

Permanent Edmonton

On an evening such as this
It's hard to tell if I exist
If I pack a car and leave this town
Who'll notice that I'm not around?

I apologize for the radio silence during this very crazy few weeks - people have been reaching out and asking me if we're settling in, and the truth is that we are about halfway there - the essential parts - the bed, the couch and futon, a few of the kitchen things… Yesterday after being here for a whole week I finally made what almost passes for homemade supper - smokies, microwave steamed veggies, and oven fries, and we ate it from chairs at our little glass outdoor table - though we were inside at the time.

This has been a strange move for me, because I essentially washed my hands of it long ago, telling Paul he'd have to handle most of it, which he did admirably. I announced that I didn't intend to pack a single box. I packed about six - all of which were either art or stuff in my office I didn't want to lose track of. Given the scale of moving I'd say I did quite well with my attempt at wholesale delegation. It helps that I just passed my one year anniversary of having a staff person.

My cousin with a trailer business - who is a strong giant of a man who lifts things himself that Paul and I can barely lift together - tetris-packed our life into his truck and trailer, and nothing broke, the worst that happened was that a few plastic containers got a bit bent, but nothing major. It was a really impressive packing job! Paul's Mom had been helping a ton with the move, and her awesome boyfriend helped with some of the repairs to the place. All of Paul's family, in fact, did a ton to help us with moving, and we really appreciate them all so much.

I got to be a passenger on a cross-country move, which I have never had the chance to do yet - speaking of delegating. My cousin and I talked about hopes and dreams, business and good and bad clients, the process of getting older, and had a good time singing to some worship tunes for a couple of hours. It was lovely to spend so much time with him.

We got into Edmonton, and my cousin and I took a walk to the little lake and sat lakeside and continued our conversation for a bit before he went off to bed and Paul came with the car and a few of our more fragile things. Paul and I slept for the last time on the futon mattress on the floor while James had the spare room upstairs, and in the morning my new personal assistant (now I have 2 staff people) came to help us move, which was a really good thing, because I was starting to really cave from exhaustion, and all I had for energy was enough to put the futon together and try to keep all the boxes going to the right places, vaguely.

We've spent a lot of our time moving boxes and furniture around to suit the new place since then. Paul commented that a lot of our thoughts about where things should go - the vast majority, in fact - have matched up, and the entire moving process had almost no arguing, which is remarkable given the stress levels around here. On Wednesday, my assistant Mel and her hubby came by and she put together my desk while he helped us unpack the games into our ottoman, after which we played Apples to Apples and ordered some pizza. They were our first company in our new place, and after the worries we had years ago that we would never develop any friends or contacts here I am pretty certain that we are past that now.

And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone

After my desk went up, I spent some time creating a wonderful office space for myself. There's a lovely little diorama in the corner, my friend Leah's present of a red phone booth full of my favourite music, a little plush flower, my office Kermit, a ceramic music box shaped like an old couple looking at a wedding album which I found recently and spoke to me given what I do for a living, and a Minolta camera that's probably the first camera I ever took a picture on. I've been working on creating a more compact space - my hard drives now reside on the floor inside the corner of the desk, with a table with my printer on it over top of them, but under the main part of the desk. My Kilpsch portable speakers are now the main speakers for the computer, as well as providing a charging spot for my iPod. I have a little charging station behind my monitor, risers on my desk top to ensure that there's tons of room for everything I need, and various other innovations to make my workspace work for me. I'm really proud of it. Behind the computer is my red chaise lounge, which I love to bits, and under the chaise lounge is one of Murphy's dog beds, where he lies as I type, tail resting on top of his head, curled in a ball. There's a little table I picked up at the Restore, and a small bookshelf of our favourite books. It's my oasis, and I am very proud of it.

My beautiful white cabinet, which I dumpster dived here in Edmonton a long while ago, was taken apart and put back together with screws instead of nails for tough moving conditions, and desperately needs a coat of paint, which is actually one of my plans for today. I went to Bouclair Home for the first time and picked up a few perfect items for the house for amazing prices - two very nice doorframe tension curtain rods for $10 each, a curtain rod for that white cabinet, and a lovely bath mat with matching hand towels. I've actually been able to do quite a bit of targeted bargain shopping. Kinda feeling like the Proverbs Wife here, with so many great bargains.

That's pretty much everything I have to say about the moving process. We are settling in here. I finally put up my diploma, a full four years after first receiving it. As a great irony, I actually put it in a $1.25 frame. The frame contained a fake certificate of achievement, which I wrote out to Paul, "for being awesome" and he really loves it - he's thinking about putting it up in his cubicle at work.

And the waves crashing around me
The sand slips out to see
And the wind that blows reminds me
Of what has been
And what can never be

A couple of nifty things happened before we moved that I'd like to record here. I had the privilege of shooting at the first annual HostEdmonton,  a conference dedicated to good food and meant for foodies and restaurant owners alike to build up the Edmonton food scene - it was pretty awesome. I met a few big Food Network names who I knew barely anything about but had heard of before, and I hobnobbed with some really cool people. There was also a truly excellent concert by The Sheepdogs, a band from Saskatoon, whose drummer is someone I used to know when we were kids. Shooting concert photos from the front of the stage is really, really fun.

The day after the three-day run of that gig, where after signing in to Fort Edmonton Park, I took a short ride on a streetcar to the annual Storytelling Festival, which I quite enjoyed. It was very relaxing!

This past week for me has gone by quickly. There was unpacking, buying household things, researching marketing tools for a new project I'm working on, and updating my website to reflect some new branding including a tagline change - which is pretty major since I've had the original tagline, "Imagery to be Admired" from the very beginning. I posted a post about that change on my work blog. I had a phone call from a friend today which was really nice, and I have added three new houseplants to the houseplant collection on my wide windowsills.

Truthfully, aside from my stuff actually being here, it doesn't feel much different to be in Edmonton because of the massive amount of time I spent here for the past few years even when I lived elsewhere. My friend Jasser who runs the Canada Photo Convention said they never had anyone from Saskatchewan attend, and I protested, and his response was, "You're not really from Saskatchewan. You're a vagrant!" I laughed at that, because it's been kind of true these last few years. There's a great sense of peace knowing I don't have to drive cross-country to get to my 9am Newborn session tomorrow.

The biggest thing is that in this very stressful time, I'd built in time to relax and take it easy - or in my case, to pursue the projects I really want to be working on right now, even though I've started the first overlap month of the season (by which I mean I'm editing last month's shoots and shooting new ones) and the truth is, my stress levels are about as low as they can get in a situation like this. Even my therapist is proud of me.

Which is why it's a perfect time to build the course I'm working on for creative people - just photographers, for now - who need to learn how to live life again after becoming work addicts. There's a lot you can do to make that happen, and I've become really good at it in the past few years. So far everyone I've talked to about it is really excited. So I have plans to launch the course officially starting in November, with some resources and ideas being released earlier over the course of a couple of weeks at the end of October as the Fall rush starts to wind down. So I'm battening down the hatches for what will be a full and also very wonderful summer, as I practice what I preach, spending lots of time with the dog and Paul, enjoying time with friends, and creating something really great to help make a difference.

Here's to the green grass, the blue sky, time with friends and family, and more.

Speaking of time with friends and family, we'll be coming into Saskatoon for four days the July long weekend, which I am really looking forward to.
Kite-Eating Tree

The Whole Tooth

Here, my dear,
this is where
we shake the nightmare free
I didn't realize I had an outright dentist phobia until Paul finally convinced me to go to his dentist instead of mine. I kept saying that I should go to the dentist at some point. I knew exactly how long it had been since I went because my last time was the cleaning I had before my wedding - so basically four years ago. Paul made the appointment for me because I didn't want to, and on the way there I kept fighting to stay the course and actually land in the dentist's office. When they gave me the forms at the front, I had to pay attention to my feet to keep them from running away. When the actually sat me in the chair, I clung to it to anchor myself and I felt stomach sick. They had a little back massager in the chair that kneaded my back left, and right, left and right, and I focused in on that feeling to keep myself grounded. I was honest with them about how I felt and they were compassionate.

I told them it wasn't the noise or the grinding, as long as there was no need for freezing, just the position and the helpless feeling. It's no accident that in the movies when people are strapped to a table with a blinding light over top of them something bad is about to happen... Laying back in that chair I felt the same helplessness I felt when they took out my wisdom teeth. That time when the freezing didn't work. That time when they were supposed to put me out because I was scared, when they bullied me into doing it in the first place when I didn't want to and then bullied me again into doing it anyway that day when it turned out there was no medication to put me out. Because it would have been inconvenient for the dentist to reschedule. That's the big detail I took out of it all.

I should have walked out right there, and if I had been in my right mind, maybe I would have. But as if the whole dental issue wasn't enough, it all happened a day or so after the major emotional trauma of me realizing I had an eating disorder, and I was too raw and wounded and small to speak up for myself. Which makes the whole business rankle me even more. He knew he was pressuring me, and he knew I was terrified. He did nothing to try to soothe my fear, he just told me that I was inconvenient for him. He was angry that I got in his way. Say nothing of health care even, but that's a bad business.

I ended up in that chair in some of the most intense pain of my life, alone, afraid, small, and fragile. And anyone who knows me knows just how unusual it is for me to feel that way. Typically I'm a pretty strong individual.

I've never had a phobia of anything until this one, and I think I'm well on my way to recovery by exposure, but it gave me a new perspective on fear, experiencing a phobia this strong. And a new perspective on dentists. I will certainly never be going back to the dentist I had when I was younger. I would never recommend them to anyone. I will find someone who doesn't view me as a stumbling block on the road to his next appointment, as a coward, or a failure. I want my health care professionals to care about me. And I'm strong enough now to stand up for it.
flying paper

Carpe Diem with a little help from my friends

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
One moment
Would you capture it?
Or just let it slip?

In the nearly six weeks since I last found the time to blog, a great many things have happened - more than usual, even.

First off, I finally replaced my iPod, which has allowed me to enjoy a great deal of music - but even better, I finally splurged on a kit and time to install an AuxMod into my Mazda, which has allowed me to pump the tunes in the car on my many, many trips back and forth to Edmonton from Saskatoon. Finally. The FM transmitter had a ton of extra issues in this car - the auto-starter hated it, for instance and the wipers made it crackle every time they moved when it rained. It was madness considering how much I listen, and burning CDs every few weeks was getting old fast. My only regret is not doing it sooner! So there will be lots of lyrics in this post to reflect the listening I've been doing.

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
I'm radioactive, radioactive

The time I've spent since I headed out to this year's Canada Photo Convention, and indeed even the weeks before it has been some of the most full and most rewarding of my life.

As usual, I can't speak highly enough about the life-changing family that the CPC is to me. So many of my friends from the CPC, as I do, call it a family, and it's the truth. I have the blessing of being a part of a great many families, some I chose and some chose me - and the best, like CPC, are both. At the social evening I gave my camera to Tim King, a good friend of mine whose hijinks have gone viral on several occasions, and he spent some time creating an epic series of rather interesting photographs taken in and around the hotel with some models, which I suspect will be introduced to others very soon online, and probably in some extra-special way, knowing Tim. The quality of the pictures on my "stolen" camera is a lot better than the last time that happened back in high school when someone "stole" my camera at a youth event of some kind and took butt pictures of almost everyone I knew. I never did figure out who did and I can't remember anything else about the event at all, that but it's a funny memory that's stuck with me.

I flew in and out totally smoothly, and between the camera incident and the late night pizza walk in downtown Vancouver, as well as a great guitarist at a pub and a fantastic dance floor at the after-party, the CPC experience was complete. Oh, and I suppose I should mention the incredible presentations by some of the best people in the industry, right? They were awesome too and I got a lot out of it. I was particularly excited to spend more time with my friends from Jonetsu, as well as getting to meet Hailey Bartholomew of Grateful365 fame - I even got to have lunch with her - and another fantastic Aussie, Matt Ebenezer. Meeting the mastermind behind Bongopix was a pretty fantastic experience too - we found that we shared a lot of points of view on life when I invited him to my suite to talk after neither of us really wanted to go to bed yet on Night 1 of the conference after drinks at Joey's. I discovered a basically untouched 1950's diner near the hotel which I heartily intend to return to for milkshakes and jukeboxing, and I had lunch at a Mexican place with one of Paul's cousins when I got into town, too, after a discussion of why not to date people who are aggressive drivers. I had an amazing yearly conversation with my friend Ben who I took photography with in University and who now has his own business in architecture and design - in the middle of his degree. He's got an eye for growth, and I wish him well - just waiting to find out what's in store for his business at our annual coffee next year! We had a great conversation as always. I really enjoy Vancouver and was sorry to not spend any more time there this year. Next year I'm actually hoping to take a leisurely ride up on the train from Edmonton if it works out and spend a good week in advance of the conference enjoying the mountains on the train ride, the shopping, and the ambiance - hopefully with a Paul beside me this time. I spent quite a bit of time with Jasser, too, and we became much closer friends with a good, raw conversation about life.

With my involvement in CPC reaching an all new high and many of my favourite "family members" in attendance, as well as some new sponsors and speakers that really helped to make an incredible experience, I have to say that this year topped last year, and came close to the beautiful moments I had at the very first CPC when I started to figure out what I needed to do and who I needed to be to really make it.

I'm nurturing a new idea that grew out of the Convention that I feel is one of my most fruitful projects yet - both as business and as art. It's all coming together now, a couple of weeks of crystallization after CPC have made all the difference, and the last two six hour car rides both had a couple of hour-long-moments where, like a time lapse video of frost forming on a windowpane I saw once years ago, the crystals of my ideas became something beautiful and unique and plain to me as

the frost on a window in the soft morning light,
when the cold air hits your feet first
flowing over the ground from the open back door
each footfall disturbing the icy air on the cracked linoleum as I creep forward
one hand resting on the lukewarm rumbling dryer in that back porch
the other on that worn metal doorknob
cold excepting my hopefulness
as the knowledge of approaching spring is spread
through an unmistakable scent in the air
carried though the dust and mildew
are the seeds that will spring to life
flowering, later to become the brown sprigs I see now through
the frost on the window in the soft morning light.

What an intense memory I have of such an innocuous moment of childhood, particularly as it happened nearly every day. I was about at eye level of that back door handle and twice as high as our dog when this happened, while the Christmas tree in the backyard was just over fence-height. Not sure when that was, but I could probably figure it out with pictures some day, and it's a very happy memory for me. There's something about the intense crystal clarity of it in my memory that matches these moments I'm having with this new idea.

I am in the very preliminary stages of bringing this idea to life, and I truly hope it will be everything it could be. More on that later once I've started going public with it, but the whole process of birthing this idea has been incredible. It feels like God has me on this set of rapids and I'm just riding the waves. Everything about this whole process has just come together, one puzzle piece at a time. And it's not the only thing.

I mentioned a while back that I was taking a food delivery job with Skip the Dishes and it turned out to be fairly pleasant as grunt jobs go! The pay was alright for the flexibility it offered, and if things in Edmonton go a bit downhill I can always work with them when they expand there. It was definitely my best secondary job experience since working for Enerflex that one time as a temp. The staff really liked me, and said as much, and it was a good experience for me too. Always good to have some fallbacks, even when everything is looking up! It filled a lot of time and most importantly it got me slowly but surely more physically fit in the early spring before my crazy May that I didn't even know was going to happen. But I did make enough extra cash to get that iPod and install the AuxMod without breaking the bank, which was a really good thing.

We had a great time in Edmonton visiting family and enjoying the anniversary party of Paul's Aunt Shelley and Uncle Dave, which I got to take some nice photos at for them, which they really appreciated. We owe them a great deal for their trust and support, and they're amazing family, so I'm glad I get to give them something valuable! I also found something wonderful - black New Balance running shoes that have become my standard shoes just in time for all the events I've been shooting. There's a lot of corporate work coming up these next few days and I'm excited to see it happening. It's good for the pocketbook and can be really interesting!

I shot at a place that specializes in dirt rollers and packers and such things, and I got to have supper with the owner's family in the evening of my second night there. I got to ask an Italian guy named Tony if his name was really as common as TV shows make it out to be, and he said it was and there were tons of guys in his family named Antonio, and they all went by Tony. Meeting them made me long to go to Italy. Someday.

I don't want to spend all my life just a-waitin' for you
Now I don't want you back for the weekend
Not back for a day, no no no
I said baby, I just want you back and I want you to stay

The second time in a row, we found a place to live in Edmonton through a Kijiji ad recommending us as good tenants.

The second time in a row, the first interview Paul took landed him a job.

These things are individual acts of God.

I'm the raging sea, I'm the bending trees
An unstoppable force with wake of debris
I'm the wind and rain, the loss and the pain
Without You, I'm a natural disaster

Our new basement suite - and I mean brand new with nobody ever having lived down there since the new renos, is a rather nice little spot with a slightly strange layout and light purple walls, with a small bathroom and kitchenette and space for a bedroom and a little spot I'm planning to create an office in. It's temporary - we're renting it 6 months at a time and intend to stay for a year or more - but it's the right place for us for now and I'm looking forward to calling it home. The best part is that it's a very Murphy-positive space - in fact, the matron of the house attempted to give Murphy the largest piece of human food he'd ever seen in his life - a chunk of cheese. It shocked him so much he kept sniffing at it and then looking up at her as if trying to say, "You can't be serious!?"

In the end, they offered it to us for exactly our budget - $1300 with utilities in - and it's going to be our place until we can afford a house downpayment and move permanently into a nice little place. They're extremely excited to have us and they are very hospitable people. I showed up basically unannounced to take another quick look around when I was in town this week and got to meet the guys' sister and her hubby. They apparently have a dog about Murphy's age and size called Baby who would probably love a playmate.

There's a manmade lake and walking paths with an entrance just a minute's walk from our new place, which makes me very happy. I always loved time spent near the water, it makes me feel calm and ready to face the world no matter what's happening. I plan to spend quite a bit of time there this summer, no matter how busy I get.

A cousin of mine who owns a hauling company is going to help us move, which is a lovely relief after so many moves where I had to drive a U-haul, sometimes in terrible weather.

A lot of people really want to help, which makes me feel less crazed about it all. I'm actually a remarkably chill person this month considering the whirlwind around me. I'm feeling pretty in control and very excited about the future.

I'll finally get to stop sleeping on my friends' couch. Not that I didn't have a lot of fun with them whenever I was in town - in fact, I think it gave us a chance to become better friends and I have no regrets on spending so much time with them. That part, at least, will continue well into the future! This weekend I went "booking" with my friend Ashley - we went to a used bookstore and essentially shopped for each other's favourites. It was pretty cool.

Paul's job landed in our laps just as we were taking the leap of faith to move out without him having one nailed down. I was feeling fairly unstressed about it all because my month of May has now become a month of record-setting income, despite some of my shoots having been pre-paid or free shoots from contests. Then he got a phone interview and it went really well. That may have been in part due to the fake phone interview I did with Paul the night before, which was good for me for interviewing skills and good for Paul too! I think it helped him rehearse some answers that he got asked the next day.

The same day as the fake interview call, Paul and I went to Sobey's to buy some fruit to make a special Mother's Day fruit bouquet for my parents, which I made that evening, and after I delivered it the next day I heard it was eaten and appreciated.

Speaking of my parents and memories of my childhood, the darling cockatiel bird I grew up with, Nikki, was lost to extreme old age over Easter. I spent some time tweeting with him one of my last times at home, so I felt like I got to say goodbye this time, unlike when Carlos the Chihuahua passed. I have grand memories of Nikki's flight escapades - his wings weren't clipped so he used to fly about the house - and I have good memories of having my hair preened and walking about with the bird sitting on my pointer finger and cocking his head at me. Nikki was always my favourite bird at home, and I will miss his keen interest in my presence and valiant attempts to mimic my most complicated whistles. Rest in piece, you tough old bird. You were very loved.

I hate all your show
Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living

I've felt a great deal of spiritual goodness over this Easter. As usual, God had different plans for me than I had for myself this Lent, and it was a good experience of renewal. It was a tough time for several of the people I care about, so I spent some of the time supporting others, which I felt balanced enough to do without unbalancing myself, and for that I am grateful.

I've also found myself solidifying some beliefs that have been on the tip of my tongue for quite some time.

For example, there's a great many things I've seen recently that confirm a very important category of my views on human rights. Viewing people as left-wing or right-wing, by any attribute of their humanity is detrimental to viewing them as human, as loveable, as real. It hurts all of humanity and slows progress towards basic human rights when we categorize people that way, and I believe it's really unbiblical to say the least. There is no categorization in the Body of Christ.

At the end of March I said we were waiting on everything. Now it's all solved.

Waiting on that tax return - it came and basically solved everything.
Waiting on callbacks for Paul's job - we only had one, but it was enough.
Waiting on my first shift delivery driving - and now I've already had my last.
Waiting on the weather to turn things green for photography - it came, but a lot later than we expected!
Waiting on people to buy my Kijiji items - most of them are gone now.
Waiting for a final moving date - May 31st and June 1st, conveniently on a weekend.
Waiting to adopt children into our family - we'll be applying to adopt soon.
Waiting for Easter, while still in Lent - and Easter is here and nearly past already.

Now I'm just waiting to be in the city I already think of as home. Soon. Very soon.

I'm going to miss this couch, though. I really liked having a big comfy couch... =)
YAY kermit flail

The Bestest Best Day Ever So Far

It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away

Yesterday was one of my best days ever, and since I really try to put all the important things down here, sometimes that means chronicling an entire day, when it was this amazing.

It started early in the morning, with me packing up the car for the drive to Edmonton. I pumped the tunes, went through the drive through and had a McDonald's sausage-and-egger breakfast (a guilty pleasure of mine) on the road, and drove in the perfect blue sky on the perfectly dry, safe, and basically empty highway. Partway there, I started listening to my newest favourite fantasy book series with a fantastic heroine mercenary, which held my rapt attention for some hours, until I decided I wanted to give my Gran a call. Previously I'd had tons of problems with my bluetooth headset falling out, but I realized that my special earbuds from my Bose headphones actually fit into it, so now I can throw them on there when I travel long distances, and replace them on my headphones afterwards. I had a lovely 2 hour chat with her once I passed the halfway point of the drive, which made my trip decidedly shorter, as conversations are wont to do. I ended that conversation feeling warm and fuzzy - and getting excited for what was next in my day.

Mad science.

You see, for months now I've been planning a session with an amazing couple that I'm working with for their wedding - an epic session that took that long to plan and execute. I'll link later to the products of that session, but I have to tell you that of all the collaborative creative projects I've ever worked on with couples, this one ranks right up there. I was the creative director, watching an idea that had slowly germinated come to life in glorious full colour and 3D, and I said at least once, "I can't believe this is actually happening." The best part was how much work the couple put into everything, too. It was a total success.

I came off of that 4 hour, multi-location fantasy session on an incredible high - and very hungry because I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, as I was running that kind of almost-late-on-time schedule that doesn't leave stopover time. I threw on my bluetooth and called Paul to tell him how amazing my day was.

I grabbed a sandwich at the drive-through, which I shouldn't have bothered to do, because I was headed to the Awesome Foundation's Pitch Party. For those of you not familiar, the Awesome Foundation is a world-wide phenomenon where 10 people get together in a city, each giving $100 of their own money into a $1000 pot to fund a great idea - they narrow down submissions to the five best, and then give one of those submissions the $1000 - no strings attached - trusting that they will use it to enable the project they pitched. I pitched there a while back, and though I didn't win, it was an amazing experience. I've been to a few events since. All 5 of the projects were amazing, and I was able to forge relationships with two exceedingly cool couples who would be interested in having coffee sometimes, gave some advice to some of the presenters that both they and I thought were inspired and would help them achieve their project goals, and I ran out of business cards - after I'd given my last one out to the last person I wanted to give one to. I wanted to be involved in all the amazing projects - a school's creative living wall hydroponics project, beekeeping awareness in Edmonton, filling store windows in particular shopping locales with junk-sculptures by local artists, teaching guitar to inner-city kids, and a Carnival market!

Finally, I headed out to my friends and former clients house, where a cousin and friend of theirs had just arrived, and we talked and played Cards Against Humanity and made "what she said" jokes and laughed until our sides hurt all the way to 2:30am. While they were playing a video game for a bit, I checked my email, to see that I had four wedding inquires in one day, a new record, as well as an inquiry from someone wanting to hire me for a three day conference, someone filling a need for the CPC conference that I'd requested, and more awesome important emails that made me happy!

Pretty much the worst thing I can say about my day yesterday is that my Earl Grey from McDonalds wasn't hot enough to steep properly and was therefore mediocre. I spent much of the day slightly faint but not really feeling hungry, but I barely noticed. Absolutely every other detail about my day went flawlessly.