Chris and I went to La Belle Province this past weekend for a little roadtrip getaway and it was lovely. I love people-watching in Montreal. I think some of the coolest people in the world live there. Even cooler than New York, where many people that I see (the ones that are not obviously tourists) have an air of desperation; as though they have just arrived in the big city and are determined to make it no matter what. Not in Montreal. The residents have it together, effortlessly. They don’t seem to hate tourists, like New Yorkers, they just don’t care about you. They know how to enjoy their city in quiet ways: cycling on Bixi’s or their own vintage bikes, meeting with friends at restaurants, or relaxing in one of the many parks or city squares.

Visiting Montreal renews my desire to learn (re-learn?) French and change my personal style to something more feminine and urban. I always leave wanting to spend more time in cafes or in parks. And don’t get me started on those eye-catching buildings with the exterior stairways to the second and third floor apartments. Horrible for hauling up groceries in the winter, I’m sure, but spectacular otherwise.

I’m home now, and I realize how much I love my own city of Hamilton. Before I moved here, when I would visit other cities, I would fantasize about moving. But not anymore. Now, I just fantasize about tweaking my life here just a little to emulate the lifestyle of the locals that I observed while people-watching.

So, time to look into French lessons, dust off my bike, and shop for some cute summer dresses.


I’m not sure if it’s because after traveling for work every week for nearly a year I have a renewed appreciation for home, but I’m finding myself taking joy in cleaning, purging, decorating, and general puttering around my house. I’m even going so far as to start watching YouTube videos and reading books about housekeeping for fun.

It’s not a huge departure from my personality; I’m generally a pretty clean and tidy person. I hate clutter and I think I’m on the minimalist side of the spectrum. But what I’m not great at is taking the time to take care of the hidden dirt. Like cleaning out the inside of the dishwasher, behind the armoire, the junk drawer.

There’s nothing like the feeling of a few hours of hard work doing some good old fashioned cleaning and purging, and taking pride in your home. And I’m so grateful to be home more to be able to feather my nest!


I’m thinking about deadlines lately. Not the kind related to tasks and projects at work, but the personal kind. The kind you set for yourself to hold yourself accountable to something or to help make a decision.

in limbo

I’m in a huge work transition right now and I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me. I feel a huge sense of uncertainty and risk, which I feel might be especially disconcerting to me because I’m such a planner. When I was studying for my accounting designation, I planned out my course work in detail through completion. My financial budget goes out for five years. My personal calendar is filled with recurring tasks and appointments to keep me productive. Not knowing what’s in store for me is, well, driving me a little bonkers.

setting a timeframe

I’m finding that what’s helping me is looking at time in chunks right now. I have a loose idea of my work situation for the next six months. I’m finding it hard to plan for a time after that partially because I’m busy and partially because it’s a scary unknown. It could be status quo or I could have a choice to make or I could be faced with doing something completely different. I’ve decided that I need a break from the worry. And to do this, I’m going to set a deadline for when I’m allowed to start to think about the future. For now, I’ll focus on the present work requirements. In three months, when hopefully things are a little more clear, I’ll start to plan for my work life after this transition. Three months after that, I’ll feel prepared (hopefully).

I think that setting these deadlines for myself will help me to stop feeling a sense of worry and dread right now, when there’s nothing I can do while things are so uncertain. I think it will also help me get the work done that’s required of me so that I’m not so distracted. And setting a deadline for when I will start to get serious about planning my future indulges my need to have a plan, even though right now it’s just a plan to start planning. I might be slightly neurotic, but this gives me peace of mind.

healthy obsession

I’m reading a book called Brain-Powered Weight Loss by Eliza Kingsford in which the author talks about the concept of a “healthy obsession” as a means to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve only ever thought of obsessions as being unhealthy or a least dangerous, and so it’s been interesting to consider an alternative viewpoint. I’ve been obsessing about the concept of having a healthy obsession with weight loss ever since (heh, see what I did there?).

is there such a thing?

Is the fine line between a healthy obsession and unhealthy (or even neutral) obsession, just the object or result of the obsession? Wanting to have a clean house is a great thing, but bleaching every surface daily would probably be considered an unhealthy obsession. On the other hand, insisting on making your bed every morning would probably be considered a healthy obsession. It’s interesting to consider because when it comes to almost anything, but weight loss definitely – if something is not front of mind for me, it probably won’t happen.

healthy obsession versus habits

I really do believe in baby steps and creating habits that become second-nature. For example, several years ago, I was a horrible flosser: I rarely did it. I made a new years resolution at one point to floss every day and I set up a reminder system to get me into the habit. I’m not sure how long it took to become ingrained, but now I can’t imagine not flossing every day. It would feel very strange. It’s truly a habit versus an obsession.

But weight loss, the reason I’m reading Eliza’s book in the first place, seems to be a different animal. When I am focused, I can lose weight and maintain that weight loss (though, honestly, I’ve never experienced the latter). When I am not focused, I will gain weight. I did a program two years ago that was fabulous: it introduced a new habit every two weeks over the course of a year. The idea was that at the end, the habits needed to maintain a healthy weight would be solidified in the psyche.

But here’s the thing: at the end of the program, I lost that healthy obsession that I had when I was doing the program. There are lot of reasons why (life events), but the result was that my habits drifted away and I gained weight. Maybe it’s unfair to compare daily flossing – a sixty second exercise – with the effort it takes every waking hour of every single day to lose weight and maintain it. The latter is comprised of a series of daily habits and decisions all day long; not a “one and done” situation.

how to have a healthy obsession

I’ve concluded that I need to be obsessed with my weight loss/maintenance goal to be successful. Having this healthy obsession will keep my healthy habits front of mind and keep me motivated and interested. The challenge for me will be how I manifest this in real life. For example, if as part of my obsession I read a lot of books on weight loss, I need to make sure that I’m not trying the “latest thing” every other week. Or, if I read many weight loss blogs, I need to avoid developing any feelings of inadequacies from comparing myself to the bloggers.

Do you feel like you have a healthy obsession? How do you ensure it remains healthy?

itching to spend

am I the only one…

…who sometimes gets the urge to spend sometimes? On anything. Anything big. I try so hard to be frugal (ish) and I militantly keep track of our finances, but lately (like for the past several months) I just want to blow the wad on a big purchase. I think it’s because the summer is in full effect and I’m in desperate need of a vacation and so I’m back on the camping bandwagon. I’ve wanted a teardrop trailer or (ooooh) a little Airstream for years. Like my entire adult life. The idea of taking off during the weekends and relaxing at a campground is back in my head again. It sounds so dreamy.

but then again…

…I love my city. And I work long hours during the week (and let’s face it, many weekends, too). So I know that owning a trailer would make me feel like we’d be obliged to leave time most weekends of the summer to get our money’s worth out it. And the idea of getting on the highway with the rest of the cottage traffic sounds horrible. Do I overthink things or what?

Maybe I should just splurge on a new iPhone.

starting over again (again) is not a failure

transition time

It’s a time of transition in my life. My current job has been given to someone else as a result of the merger that I personally worked on for the last eight months (honestly, I’m not bitter). I’m in a strange limbo, but I’m no longer travelling for work. And that’s a great thing.

fresh start

Not having to travel any longer means that I can get back into a beloved routine. I am very much a creature of habit. I thrive on being at home, doing mundane things, checking off my little to-do list every day. I got groceries on the weekend and stocked my refrigerator with healthy food and packed lunches for the week. I’m back in our gym, one of my happy places, and back on my home Peloton bike with regularity. I’m walking Maggie, our Foxhound, in our neighbourhood. And my work situation has given me a bit of a wake up call. I’m still working diligently, but I’m no longer willing to work long hours: I’m coming home at a respectable time every day. Chris and I are trying to spend more quality time together. I’m working on not taking out my frustrations on him.


Maybe it was an excuse, but during the last eight months of my life – when I was travelling every week to a stressful work situation, eating nearly every meal in restaurants, drinking alcohol everyday just because it was there, not having access to a decent gym, being lonely – I found it impossible to not gain weight. Twenty-five pounds, to put a number on it. I don’t like having to face the prospect of re-losing weight that I’ve lost before, but here we are. On the flip side, I’m not ashamed – or at least I’m working hard on not being ashamed – because I have gone through a lot and honestly, I could have gained even more. So, this is why I’m excited about a fresh start.

starting to stabilize

I don’t have complete stability in my life and my future work life is very, very unclear right now – but I’m home and I’m back in control of many things that were out of my control for a long time. I know that I’m in a much better place to get back to a healthy obsession about my wellbeing.

random thought: enunciatiation

My tongue is too big for my mouth.
My lips are dry and stick to my teeth.
I’m speaking through a mouthful of gravel.
My vocabulary is lacking.

As a Canadian, I think that people with English accents sound more intelligent than do Canadians or Americans. Is it therefore true that to the ears of the English, Americans and Canadians sound less intelligent?

I perceive English accents to sound lyrical and intentionally slow-paced; I hear my own voice as a rushed, nasally mumble.

Take a breath. Slow down. Enunciate. Use your words.

conflicting values: fast fashion

I have two personal convictions, both virtuous, but often in direct conflict, it seems. This is what is on my mind today. Specifically two personal values that I try to uphold: frugality and avoiding fast fashion. I avoid try not to buy mass-produced (often sweat-shop produced) clothes because of the environmental and social impact this has. I believe that the many of the retailers that sell fast fashion have unethical practices, too. This is a US-centric article, but it does a good job explaining some of the reasons why I try to steer clear.

I’m usually successful in avoiding fast fashion because I’m frugal and try not to buy a lot of clothes. And I kinda suck at fashion. Read on.

My current dilemma I’ve been invited to a work event in a couple of weeks that feels like a big-enough deal that I’m a bit worried about what I’m going to wear. I readily admit that I dress for comfort and warmth in freezing cold offices and so I’m rarely seen in high heels or without a cardigan or scarf.

But for this event, I feel like I really should kick things up at least a tiny bit. The quintessential ugh, I have nothing to wear moment.

Have I mentioned that I hate shopping? I don’t even really like clothes, as I never feel completely comfortable in my skin, and don’t know how to put a great outfit together. My dislike for shopping and my lack of fashion sense has led me to have developed a bit of a work uniform. Pants, simple top, cardigan, and flat. All stretchy and warm.

So, I don’t buy clothes very often. It’s a necessary evil for me, like paying for insurance.

Here’s where the conflicting values come into play. Since I avoid shopping, I tend to do it under duress, like now, when I feel like it’s an emergency. I can either to go to a small boutique, getting the help of a doting salesperson who can invest time and energy into dressing my hopeless self, and likely spend a small fortune. Here’s where my other personal value kicks in and nags at me. My desire to be frugal.

So, to be frugal, I could go to a place like, say, H&M or Zara. A place where I’m left to my own devices, trying to cobble together a good outfit from the racks of limply hanging clothes. These stores are obviously much cheaper than the boutiques, but I’m not a fashionista, and it’s struggle. Not to mention the all the ethical reasons for avoiding fast fashion.

Frugality versus ethical shopping.

OK, I know, I know. I could be frugal and ethical by buying well-made and well-priced clothes at secondhand shops. But remember – I’m terrible at dressing myself and adding the challenge of vintage shopping seems far too daunting to me. And from what I hear, the secret to successful second-hand clothes shopping is to go early and often. Finding just what you need, just when you need it, is probably very, very unlikely.

I might have just talked myself into giving vintage shopping a serious try. Maybe I’ll try an online store? So I can torture myself about the shipping…<sigh>.

on books: always buying, never reading them all

When we moved to our current home three years ago, we moved from a large (ish) house to a much smaller one and it necessitated a lot of purging of our possessions. Before the downsizing project, I knew that I had a – shall we say – book problem, but it really came to light when I faced the possibility of having to move them. The extra bedroom in our old house had really become a library, rather than a guest room, with piles of books everywhere. This is in addition to all the books on the proper bookshelves in my den and the teetering stack on my nightstand that threatened to fall over and kill me in my sleep every night. The guest room / library was overflow.

I had to face the fact that I had no place to store them in my new house and I went through the process of sorting. The categories were:

  1. Books that I had read and wanted to keep because I would probably refer to them or re-read them.
  2. Books that I had read but could bear to give away.
  3. Sentimental books – mostly old relics that belonged to either myself as a child or my parents. I kept these as well. Most of them I had read, though not all.
  4. Books that I had bought and never read.

I was pretty shocked to find that the fourth category was by far the largest. So large that I had to sort that pile again, into a) books that I would defintely make an effort to read one day, and b) books that I knew I would never read. After some ruthless sorting, I realized that category 4(b) now contained the most books. I went about setting up a Facebook list to give them away and donated the rest.

But … how did this happen? I had purchased all of these books throughout the years (brand new, I might add) with the intention of reading them. Was I drawn in by a compelling cover? Did the title sound exactly like something that I needed to read at that time? Was it recommended to me by a friend? Was it a “staff pick” at my local bookstore? Was it retail therapy? Was it an attempt to tip the scales towards life in my quest for “work-life balance” (I kinda sorta hate this term, by the way).

In my new little house, I’ve embraced my minimalism and for the most part and I don’t buy nearly as many (physical) books as I used to. I borrow a lot of books from the library (and oh, by the way, I don’t read most of those either). I buy/borrow a lot of audiobooks and I do read (listen to) those with regularity (yay!). I just can’t seem to stomach ebooks, no matter how logical they seem to be, so don’t even go there. When I do buy a physical book, I try to give it away as soon as I’ve read it, unless it turns out to be a category 1 book, in which case it gets coveted spot on my limited bookshelf space. I’ve been pretty disciplined, I would say.

Until recently, that is.

In recent weeks, I’ve bought a lot of books. By “a lot” I mean about 10, but the quantity isn’t as important as the fact that I suddenly have a backlog of books to read. In other words, I didn’t buy a book, read it, then buy another book. I have a pile on my nightstand again!

And thanks to Facebook memories, I saw that I posted about this exact phenomenon four years ago:

I’m super busy at work right now which often leads to retail therapy. Usually I buy books (cheaper than shoes and electronics and doesn’t involve trying on clothes). But then I don’t have time to read all the books that I’ve bought because I’m working too much. Which bums me out and leads me to buy more books to make myself feel better. It’s a vicious cycle, people.

I’ve decided that maybe it’s an Autumn thing. The back-to-school vibe. The desire to cozy up with a book under a blanket.

No matter what, I’m going to read these books! I’ve already finished the first one: “Money Diaries” by Lindsey Stanberry and I’m about to start “Bleaker House” by Nell Stevens.

I’ll keep you posted!

3. Who are you the Reincarnation of?

Regardless of whether you buy into reincarnation conceptually, this is a fun idea. Think of a person who was no longer living at the time you were born (an ancestor, real or imagined) that you embody. Think about why you’re connected to this person across space and time. They are like your soulmate, only they are more than that – they are your soul. Or rather, you are their soul.

I made a note of this question a while ago and have been letting it percolate ever since. A lot of people remark that I am a lot like my maternal grandmother; however, she was alive when I was born, and so I can’t be walking around with her soul. And those comments are usually centered around our physical appearance, not necessarily our personalities.

So, for fun, I’m going to think of myself as the reincarnation of my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother, or my maternal great-great grandmother. To help me with this imagination exercise, I asked my sister, the family genealogist for her name. It was Annie.

I can assume that Annie lived in England because I know that my mother’s grandmother, Annie’s daughter Elizabeth, immigrated to Canada from England when she was 10 years-old. Whether Annie made the journey or not is unclear, and so I’m not sure if she was born in England or if she died in England, just that she probably lived in England at some point. So, I pretty much know nothing about her.

Here’s where my imagination must take over. How does Annie manifest herself in me?

Given the time that she was alive (mid to late 1800’s, per my estimate) and that she was a woman, I know that her life was by definition difficult. I can be fairly certain that she was married and likely had more than the one child that I know about. She probably worked her guts out day after day, taking care of her husband and children and her house. I wonder if she had any help from older children, siblings, or even hired help. I wonder if she had any free time. Did she read books? Could she read books? Was she passionate? Did she accept her lot in life, yet strive to make it a little better each day, anyway? Did she have a yearning to be creative, and if so, how did this come out? Maybe she was an excellent seamstress, able to fashion beautiful items from rags. Maybe she sang all day as she did her work.

Maybe she was physically strong, chopping wood for the stove and carrying heavy loads with ease. Maybe she was a healer. Maybe she saved a life or two.

It’s funny how making myself sit and think about this person was so enlightening. I am a direct descendent of Annie and yet until today, I’d literally never given her a second thought. It feels like today we were introduced and got to know each other a little better. It’s only right, since I’m walking around with her soul in me.

I’m reminded of how each of us has a very finite amount of time in this realm, and that the vast majority of us are forgotten in just a generation or two. It’s a little sobering and humbling.

Your turn: who are you the reincarnation of?