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2014 - Year In Review


Our plans keep on changing

As we’re growing older

A different city always gets in the way

We were living in a nice home in Saskatoon. I spent quite a bit of time seeing friends in January, and I was driving back and forth to Edmonton for work most of the time. I did a lot of stuff purging - I’ve been doing it all 2014 in fact. I started automating reminders to talk to friends, which has actually been a really successful endeavour - I’ve talked to friends more often certainly than I would have without the reminders. I finally made a catalog for Admire Studios, which I had been meaning to do for years, so it was rewarding to finally see it done.

It’s hard to believe that at this stage, I had never even considered Last Resort...


Lord, I don’t know which way I am going

Which way the river gonna flow

It just seems that upstream I keep rowing

Still got such a long way to go

I worked on my first few time lapse photography projects, and it was a really cool experience. Paul and I spent a LOT of time sitting on the floor of my office, going through papers. We emptied two filing cabinets full of papers and ended up with a single box full, much of which I still haven’t scanned nearly a year later, but some of which is not something we need to keep in paper format.

I started learning how to make soups. I’ve now got about 15 soup types under my belt.

We took our first ever ViaRail trip to Winnipeg. It was quite an experience, with the train being extremely late on our way there, but despite everything we agreed that it was our very favourite way to travel.

It was also a very tough month financially.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but there was a big moment for us when we finally decided to move back to Edmonton back in 2013. We sat down and wrote all our options on a piece of looseleaf - we had to give Paul's boss an answer about whether he'd be staying with the company, and we only had a few hours to talk it over. I told Paul it was his call. The next day I got a text from him - he had decided the best thing was to move back. It was finally starting to come together.


They will see us waving from such great heights,

"Come down now," they'll say

But everything looks perfect from far away,

"Come down now," but we'll stay...

There were a lot of people around us who experienced great loss in 2014, particularly young children. It was a very sad year for a lot of people around us, and that was felt keenly around this time of year.

As I am wont to do, I picked up some supplementary work driving delivery. It’s one of my few direct customer service jobs, and it was actually a very good experience, all in all, even though after our quick move it didn’t last long.

I was able to do my Mad Science photo shoot, which was truly fantastic, continued my relationship with the Awesome Foundation.


Bullets fly, split the sky

But that’s alright, sometimes sunlight

Comes streaming through the holes

I finally felt financially able to replace my iPod classic, which had become waterlogged and ruined months earlier in November 2013. It was really, really nice to have the tunes back, and since I had backed up my playlists, it was easy to get back into the swing of things. Not only that, but I installed an auxiliary cable in my car, which has been an incredible sea change in my music, audiobook, and podcasting abilities in the car.

April was a landmark month, because even though every year when I head to Vancouver for CPC amazing things happen and I feel like I’m with an eccentric extended family, this year a germ of an idea grew into something that could very well become my future. Last Resort was born, April 22, 2014.


We'll beat the light, our feet'll never hit the ground

Lose 'em in the dark, we'll be the ones they never found

Inside your eyes I'll hold the memories that we leave there

Before we turn to air, like we were never there

This spring I was extremely busy with photography work, though unfortunately that didn’t extend so much into the summer. We went to the anniversary party for one of Paul’s Uncles and his Aunt, and it was a very special time with family. In fact, family has been a theme of most of my year - getting closer, making more space for them in my life, making sure I keep them in a place of honour - both immediate and extended.

I posted a long post in May about dental phobia, but the best part of everything was that I got to have the back braces on my teeth removed after a decade of pieces of food getting stuck in them every time I ate. It was the best kind of freedom, and I felt respected by the dentist, which was great.

Paul had his job interview for the job he wanted in Edmonton. Suddenly, that first week of May turned into a flurry of packing and moving. It turned into one of the busiest, most exhausting months I have ever experienced. While in Edmonton, I was spending most of my time on my friend’s couch. In Saskatoon, I was co-ordinating help from friends, since I couldn’t have done it all myself.

We managed it. We moved. I packed about 6 things in total. (If only it were always that way.)

I took a picture of Murphy from my vantage point, sitting completely exhausted on the front lawn, looking at the front door. I'll never enter that home again, the first home that I started to find myself, to feel safe.


I could show you love

In a tidal wave of mystery

You'll still be standing next to me

It was hard to say goodbye to our large and comfortable house and move into a basement suite the size of a postage stamp, where the kitchen was barely bigger than a closet. I’ve cooked some pretty epic meals in this little hovel. We were really optimistic about this place. We bought Paul a little rattletrap of a car, which has been no end of maintanence issues, but it's getting him from point A to B. Usually.

I began to try to take pride in the space I lived and decorate it right away. I started enlarging my houseplant collection, even chancing some plants that aren’t succulent desert plants. Some even survived.

I started working with a personal trainer, which lasted for a couple of months before it become less practical and too expensive to continue - however I learned a lot of really valuable lessons and exercises with them which I suspect will be something I take forward with me.

For our 4th anniversary, Paul and I went out to the “What The Truck” Food Truck gathering in Strathcona, and then later that weekend went to the park with Murphy, where I took some pro-level selfies of our little family that I really love.

That weekend I was one of the volunteer photographers for TEDxEdmonton and met a girl who has subsequently become a good friend, and with whom I have a great deal in common, her name is Erin, and her and her friends are awesome people.

I finished work on my poetry anthology retrospective (I call it that because I so rarely write poetry now, even though I’m not dead), but it still isn’t printed - but that’s only because there was an error with the machine, it would have been done in December if not for that.

I met a new friend on a corporate shoot in Saskatoon, which was pretty amazing.

It was in late June when we went for our very first information session on Adoption. It was a little overwhelming, but we were also able to consider more in depth what our thoughts and ideas were about Adoption. On a road trip with Paul around this time, we looked at the intake forms and talked about the things we felt able or unable to deal with in a child or group of children, and thankfully we’re really on the same page with it all. We haven’t done anything since, but only because our current digs are too small for a home study - as soon as we move, we’ll be looking at the next steps.


What if I wanna be the one who

You never understand?

Do you ever think you'll ever want to still try to hold my hand?

To get through to you I'm still trying to

July was a blur, and a disappointing one. I worked. I didn’t get many new inquiries, which was hard, and I really struggled with depression. I spent way too much time on the computer - though some good things came of it, like the first version of the Last Resort website - and such. I was featured in the newspaper, the Edmonton Examiner, for my work with Last Resort, but it wasn’t a great month for me personally, and I wish I could give it a do-over.

At one point towards the end of the month, I had a turning point, Paul’s rattletrap of a car ran out of transmission fluid and we had a bit of an adventure getting it back into working order again. I felt like I was finally able to handle things life kept throwing at me.

I finally figured out that the lack of SEO was killing the business, so I started making inquiries and got it up and running again, with good results even 6 weeks later. It’s definitely not something I’m going to stop doing again.

Basically I really don’t want to repeat or remember July. It wasn’t a great time.


I've been walking in circles

I'm screaming for answers

I might fall into pieces

Or maybe I'm finally breaking through

I started working for OfficeTeam again like I had when Paul was in school, and I’m still doing the occasional filler day for them. It was mid-August when I worked for the very first time at a great office called Brookfield Residential, and I’ve become a steady fill-in there, handling the front desk. It’s a laid back, realistic, beautiful place to work where the employee dynamics are peaceful and happy. I’ve come to view it as a nice little haven.

We were also able to travel out to southern Alberta to one of Paul’s “adopted” cousin’s wedding at a gorgeous little camp on a creek in the mountains. It made me feel refreshed, I was again able to spend time with family, and the joy of that stayed with me for weeks. Again, I would say if I had to pick a theme for 2014, it would be “Family."


I am flawed

But I am cleaning up so well

For the first time, I exhibited at ComicCon. I shot my last wedding of 2014, and it was an exceptionally amazing year for great weddings with couples that I really cared about and enjoyed spending time with.

I started getting more serious about Last Resort and working even harder at getting it all together.

We started looking very seriously at some end-of-the-rope financial options. Nothing looked really good, but I think I’ve got some answers to where to go next at this point.

It happened very gradually, but by September my meal planning was becoming a really amazing boon to our financial life - and our health. It turns out that I saved us over $3000 in comparison to 2013 just on food. That’s an enormous chunk of change. Not only that, but there were times that Paul said that even though the fridge was “nearly empty” we were always well fed. I am taking pride in just how much meal planning made a difference, and it’s still a big priority for me going into 2015. I am SO much better at it, but I’m still really only planning for suppers, I’m just starting to make better breakfast and lunch plans. I’m hoping I can save us even more money on it and learn a few new cuisines in the new year. I ended up laying off my assistants after summer had been so financially rough, but thankfully I was able to cope with the work in the Fall.

I started doing some online chat “listening” for a volunteer-run website called 7 Cups of Tea. It’s been helping me come out of my summer rut.

Murphy and his lot of siblings turned two in September!


For Thanksgiving, we spent time with family and other adopted family in Saskatoon, and it was a good time for us. For the first time ever I convinced Paul that we should spring a tiny bit of cash for a cleaning lady to come in. Paul wasn’t totally satisfied with the job she did, but it was a barrier to break for us - getting some help in that kind of an area. Since then I’ve been working more at learning to do more cleaning myself.

I went to a business seminar in Calgary that was recommended by a fellow entrepreneur, and I was impressed with what they were offering, so I signed up for their 3-day seminar in February, which I am hopeful will be a truly excellent growth experience for myself and any of the guests I bring along. I also met with a guy who does consulting for consultants and I learned quite a bit about how to present myself to potential clients.

Halloween, which is usually a big day for me, was a bit disappointing, with only a few kids coming around despite the excellent weather. I hope to not live on a court when we finally have a permanent or long-term home… I love the kids coming around. I suppose once we have kids ourselves, we’ll be able to go out with them!


And I need you now

There's too many miles on my bones

I can't carry the weight of the world

No, not on my own

I gave myself my best birthday present this year. I went down to Saskatoon and just spent a lot of time with close friends. We talked about quite a few important things.

One of my favourite memories of November was going to the new “Breakout” entertainment place and spending 45 minutes locked in a room searching for clues - neither of the two groups who did this solved the puzzle (the puzzles are really difficult) but we all felt exhilarated and would love to go back. It was actually with that Erin girl I met in June at TEDx and her friends. That same day I was helping my other friend Ashley with a fundraiser that unfortunately wasn’t as well attended as we would have liked, but it was a really cool event, and a focus of Ashley’s life for the several months before it happened.


And so this Christmas I'll compare the things I felt in prior years

To what this midnight made so clear

That You have come to meet me here

I have been keeping up with scanning, which means that my 2014 goal of going personally paperless is, as close as can be expected, now finished and only requiring maintenance.

What started out as a merely small place with a few minor inconveniences became a pretty awful situation. I try really hard to make the best of everything, but we don’t mesh well with the landlords here, and we are currently looking into moving, possibly as soon as early February. We’ve got a lead on a home owned by some people Paul knows from school and work. We’ve met them and their kids, and they are down to earth and really live in their home. We have hopes, but we’re also trying to be real about what this is going to look like.

Paul and I have talked, and after some really amazing business contacts are being made with Last Resort, I think it’s time to incorporate and find some investors. The businesses, neither of them, have any debt, but our personal debts and issues are becoming a challenge. To protect both ourselves and the companies, I believe it’s time to bite the bullet and incorporate, so I can start looking into leveraging my own skills in a way that benefits both myself and others and starts to decompress the stress levels I’ve been under. The level of eczema and inflammation I’ve been enduring is completely related to our stressful living situation, and I am done with that. It’s time to move forward and see what can be done about my future.

I think lately I’ve even been surprising Paul about my initiatives for cleaning things. Yesterday I cleaned the toilet for guests, a couple of weeks ago I deep cleaned a trio of badly caked-on pots and a slow cooker that had been left for a bit too long…

I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats

With scarves of red tied round their throats

To keep their little heads from falling in the snow

Then I turned round and there you’d go

Our Christmas was, I have to say, probably the best I can remember. We spent a lot of time with family, just relaxing, playing games, trading presents. I had a ton of fun wrapping gifts this year, and even creating some, though as I haven’t delivered them all yet, I should really keep mum about that. It was what Christmas is supposed to be. I fell in love with the new Pentatonix album this year as well, and listened to it constantly all December long.

Last night, the 31st, we had two couples come over to join us for board games and celebrate the New Year. It was a wonderful time. We laughed until our sides hurt, introduced two people to the phenomenon of the Brown Cow drink (root beer and milk half and half) that Paul introduced me to a few years ago. We played six different games and drank to the new year with sparkling apple juice. (Half of us being Saskatchewanites by birth, we also said cheers to 11pm, Saskatchewan New Years.)

So this is the new year

And I have no resolutions

No self assigned penance

For problems with easy solutions


What do I want more than anything in 2015?

A new career as a consultant, and the slow switching of gears from photography.

Stability and Security in home, work, and finances.

Working towards growing my family.

For Paul to have a permanent job that he enjoys.

Continued progress towards my personal care goals - nutrition, exercise, cleanliness, discipline.

It’s actually not a very long list at the end of the day.

I think Lifehouse’s new single - the first song of 2015 - pretty much puts all my longing into poetry for me:

No more running, no more hiding

No more hurting, no more crying

No more trouble, no more sighing

No more falling, no more striving

No more heartache, no more fighting

No more fears, only flying

Tags: #admire studios, #family, #life, #music, 2014, a, adoption, board games, canada photo convention, comicon, house hunting, housewifing, jobs, last resort, paperless, year in review

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