Good for the Soul

Since being home from Europe, I’ve kind of been testing myself.

I mean, not REALLY testing myself. But, for example, instead of lazily standing on the escalator because it seems too long (or because I have like 3 of them to take) I’ll suck it up and think to myself: “girl, you climbed like a million stairs in Cinque Terre, it was about a hundred degrees, and you felt more amazing than ever before. You got this.”

It may seem silly, but it’s these kinds of little moments that make me love my travel experiences even more. Staying in one city for too long makes me un-motivated, bored, sad. I love to be up and moving when I’m halfway across the world. I love coming home and feeling like I was so entirely independent from everyone else in this world and did things that I would have NEVER done in the comfort of my own home.

Backpacking through Europe was good for me. REALLY good for me. It’s not just the traveling part, or the being in Europe part. It’s really the combination of everything at once. Backpacking through Europe in general was good for my soul. I spent the last few months at home being lazy; nothing interested me the way it should have. I’d given up on so many of the things I felt passionate about. Even my trip to Brazil, which was good for my HEART wasn’t good for my soul the way Europe was.

I never want this energized feeling to go away, but I know that it might eventually- and may only truly come back the next time I get on a plane. It’s just so important for me to write about it now that I still feel like that more toughened up version of myself. It reminds me that I’m capable of all these things that I don’t push myself to do at home. I don’t push myself to exercise enough because “I have too much going on” when in reality I’m just too lazy to put that Jillian Michaels DVD in. I sit in front of my computer letting the internet take over my brain for too many hours when I know there is a list longer than life itself of things that I need to do.

Since coming home, I have been infinitely more productive. Those 14-16 hour days I was putting in while I was in Europe? They’re paying off. Of course I still need a couple hours to myself to just BE, but this semester is pulling me in so many different directions that I’m grateful to have experienced the complete (exhaustive) insanity of Europe beforehand. It felt like a test, and so far I feel like I’m passing with flying colors. I’m doing all these things I set out to do before the summer began, but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to achieve all at once.

Three jobs on top of full-time school? I’m learning to work them all into each of my days.

Getting in shape and keeping it up? I need to work on it, but I KNOW I can do it.

Turning off the internet because there is more to my life than Twitter? No problem.

Yes, Europe was definitely good for me. It not only reminded me of my priorities; it reminded me that I’m a lot tougher than I give myself credit for.

Today is just a little reminder to myself of these things.

I got this. 

& just like that, a new season begins.

It’s barely two weeks into September, and yet the change of season here in Montreal is already noticeable. The sun sets at  dinner time & the humidity has almost completely dissipated from the air. Mornings and evenings are chilly. Fall is just around the corner, and although it’s my favorite season after summer I still can’t help but feel sad and nostalgic about leaving these last few months behind.

This season means so many things for me. It means starting a new program in school and having to dedicate a lot more time to working exceptionally hard to keep up with work. I’ve taken on so many projects for the coming year, and more than anything I want to be successful at them all. It’s not going to be easy.

Fall means another year is coming to an end in just a few months; it means my nephews’ first birthday right around the corner (can someone please tell me where this year has gone?!), but most of all it means really saying goodbye to what was one of the best summers of my whole life. I can’t believe it’s over.

I was reflecting on all these things today (Sunday) as I went about my usual routine. It’s my first REALLY relaxing day since coming home from Europe, and maybe for that reason it seems like the first moment I’ve had to really just sit and THINK. I spent the morning by myself in my bedroom looking at photos from my summer, and the afternoon was for a relaxing few hours with family. My nephew has been here all day (he went out with my mom this morning but I’ve been with him all afternoon) and it’s really HIS changes that have brought so much reflection out of me.

How different was I just ONE YEAR ago from today? I had just come home from my first trip in Europe and for the life of me couldn’t readjust to my life back home; my nephew hadn’t been born yet, and school was a huge weight on my shoulders because I was beginning yet another year of difficult & less than enjoyable classes.

This year, I feel so completely and entirely DIFFERENT. I’ve just begun to feel my first real travel-lusting pains- you know, that feeling that it’s about time to pack my backpack and leave again? But I know that won’t be happening for some time. Luckily I have New York to look forward to in two weeks, but being home for so long now feels almost strange. Like, shouldn’t I be getting ready to visit a new place again? Shouldn’t I be discovering a new part of the world? I thought it would be SO HARD to spend a summer abroad, and to a certain extent it really was- but not nearly as difficult as it’s been to settle down into routine & work, and remind myself that the next BIG trip might only be two years from now.

I’m sad to be home, and I’m happy to be home. I’m watching yet another season come to an end while another begins, and wondering how can time go so fast, and how can it go FASTER? I want things to slow down so I can just BREATHE, and yet I want life to speed up so I can LIVE MORE. I’m in the midst of really missing Brazil, and Europe, and all those other moments I’ve had recently that I haven’t fully had time to be nostalgic about yet because they’ve just come and gone quicker than I even thought possible.

There’s really no point to this post, I just kind of miss sitting and writing to write. My nephew is scurrying around on all fours one floor above me, screeching with delight while the family entertains him, and what I want more than anything is to go back up there and spend that one last hour with him before he goes home and I don’t see him for another week. Next time I see him, he’ll be 11 months old (more or less) and I know I’ll be hit ONCE AGAIN with that feeling of time disappearing like sand between my fingers.

I’m going to go take some time to soak in all the things around me that I’m so happy to have, because in the blink of an eye I’ll be a whole new person again, reflecting on an entirely different part of my life.

Bring on the new season. 

A Mid-Month Post

Original title, right?

But really, this post is going to be all about my life so far in June. I literally cannot believe it’s already half over, but I’m kind of relieved. I knew a few weeks ago that I didn’t have any big plans for the first half of June, and this held entirely true. So far I’ve done a lot of reading, some writing, and LOTS of puppy cuddling. There have been many mornings and afternoons spent in the comfort of my room just relaxing, watching movies, and having my puppies keep me company.

Puppies & me in bed one Saturday morning! 

I don’t mind these more quiet moments in my life, though. Sometimes it’s nice to step back from the crazy parts of life & just do the things that you don’t always have enough time to accomplish.

The lack of THINGS going on in life has meant that my inspiration to write has dipped a little. I have a lot of reading and music ideas running through my head, but I miss sitting here with a blank post & seeing what will come from my random stream of consciousness.

I’m not really UN-inspired to write, I’m just going through a little time where my reflective writing is being focused elsewhere. There is one particular post that I’ve been drafting for two weeks now, but it’s just not right. I’m not saying the things I want to say & when I think I have my thoughts straight, I change my mind entirely about how I feel. So for now, it’s going to stay as a draft until I get the courage to open it back up. Right now, it’s not relevant to how I’m feeling, so it makes no sense for me to continue writing it.

I’ve just begun my first week of the Joy Equation (a program created by Molly at Stratejoy) and so far so good. I haven’t had any life-changing moments yet, though to be fair while I write this stream of consciousness I’m only on day THREE, so that might be why. More on that at the end of the month when I’ve made some headway!

First thing is to decorate the cover!

Other than that, there really isn’t much going on in my life. There are a ton of things that I’m looking forward to at the end of the month that I think will bring my spirits back up. I have a couple awesome concerts coming up (one of them this weekend!) & a couple more the following week. Live music has a way of just making everything feel right again, and I really need that right now. There is something that I’m feeling unsettled about, but I just haven’t been able to put my finger on it. Everything is going really WELL and there is nothing WRONG, but still. I’m not sure what it is. I’ll get back to you on it.

So far in all my extra ME time, I’ve had the chance to renew some of my old obsessions. Here are a few things I just can’t get enough of this month:

Harry Potter. I read the first 2 in just a few days, took a break to read something else, but halfway through that book I just needed to start book three. So that’s where I’m at now. I’ve also gotten the urge to re-watch all the early movies, which I haven’t seen in YEARS. I watched the Chamber of Secrets and kind of melted from Ron Weasley’s cuteness.

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The Big C. Are you watching this show? No? You REALLY should be. The third season is finishing up next week and I think it might be the best one yet. Which is saying a LOT, because I’ve said this for every other season. This year there has been a lot of talk about life and fulfillment in the things you do, and it’s been very inspiring all around.

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General hobbies and things I love doing for me. During school & while I’m busy being social, I don’t have very much time to dedicate to the things I really LOVE doing. Reading, writing, decorating, scrapbooking, catching up on blog reading, writing e-mails & drinking a good coffee in the morning… These are all things that I NEED in my life and I don’t always realize how much I MISS them. June has been all about making time for the things that matter. When I find myself getting caught in an endless loop on the internet, I shut down & I pick up a book. It’s been incredibly liberating to just do these things for myself and not feel guilty about having to split my time and do something else. I’m saying NO if I just want to stay in, and I know that once I’m back in school I’ll be so grateful that I just took some time in my summer to RELAX, not just be a constant busy bee!

What’s going on in your life? What are some things you’ve been obsessing over this month?

 

Top Ten Wednesday

I’ve been writing a post since last Friday that was meant to be scheduled today, but it still just isn’t ready yet. I don’t like how some of it is worded & it’s not quite conveying the points I want, so it’ll have to wait until next week! 

In the meantime, I thought I’d do a little update on life with some bullet points. 

1. I’m currently about halfway through Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets. I love these earlier books because the writing is almost nothing like I remember. I’ve forgotten a lot of little details, too, but overall I haven’t forgotten nearly as much as I thought. Also, I’m completely in love with Ron Weasley as I re-read them. He’s such a great character!

It could also be because of this guy. Love Rupert! 

2. Work has been really weird these last few weeks because I’m working ONLY evenings. I work 3-4 times a week and it’s almost always 3-10:30pm. I love having my mornings off, but that means that I’m not seeing my mom AT all except when she comes to pick me up… So that kind of sucks.

3.  The month of May saw some of the most GORGEOUS weather here in Montreal. I don’t think it’s ever been that beautiful for so many consecutive days, especially not in such an early spring month. June? Not so much. So far it’s been rainy & kind of chilly. The sun came back out yesterday & today, but it’s still too cold to leave the house without a sweater. Warm up, Montreal! I want to read outside!

It was gorgeous out yesterday, and the sky was so blue! I was still wearing a big sweater though. 

4. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with the subscribing link for this blog. I’m sorry about that to anyone who’s been confused with it. The official link to subscribe for now is www.melissalivinglife.com/feed. I don’t know why you have to add /feed at the end, but it works.

5. I’ve started working with the extremely talented Ashley on a blog makeover. She is designing my very first custom layout and she’s had some fantastic ideas so far! I can’t wait to see it all put together!

6. I feel like I talk a lot about my family around here, and somehow I’ve forgotten to talk very much about my puppies, who are basically my children. I have 3 dogs at home right now, but the two newest additions (Chewy & Zorro) are like my babies. They also make me want to pull my hair out. They just turned 6 months old and are cuddlier (and crazier!) than ever. They’ve also finally begun to understand house-training. It took me completely LOSING it a few days ago, but there hasn’t been a single mess since. YAY!

Zorro loves curling up in a ball on my bed :)

We recently had Chewy shaved for the summer, and this is what he looks like now! He WAS named after Chewbacca, but right now he lives up to his name by eating everything in the house. 

7. I re-decorated my room a few days ago and moved all my furniture around for the first time in probably 5 years. I LOVE my room and it has inspired me to keep it much cleaner. My mom highly approves. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I have too many books. To celebrate? I bought two more!

8. I recently bought the three Lord of the Rings movies on sale, and I am ridiculously excited to have a LOTR marathon. It’s one of my 101 goals because I haven’t watched them in SO LONG. I was actually obsessed with Legolas as a teenager. Not even Orlando Bloom… Just Legolas. I’m a bit of a nerd.

You’ve got to admit, he makes a good looking elf! 

9. I’m leaving for Europe in EXACTLY 2 months. Holy crap! I CAN’T WAIT. I go through phases where I’m absolutely terrified to leave with my life in a backpack for 3 weeks, and days like today where I wish I was leaving sooner.

10. I’m so tired of selling the book 50 Shades of Grey and hearing about it. I just wanted to throw that out there. Can society move on to something more interesting now?

What’s going on with you lately?!

Currently… #3

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend! It kind of seems like a while since I’ve just written about life in general, and I always happen to find this type of post an easy way to play catch up on what’s been going on!

Currently… 

Reading

- As I write this, I’m about to finish up an advanced reader’s copy of Insurgent by Veronica Roth. It’s the sequel Divergent which came out last May. To be honest, I haven’t been loving it. I had REALLY high expectations for this book, but I set those aside long ago. I think a lot of people will really love it, but I’m kind of feeling like Roth is steering this series into a place that I wasn’t expecting, and it’s not really my style. That being said, it really picked up around page 300 so I’m excited to finish it. 100 more pages to go!

Listening

- Our Lady Peace. Their new album is pretty good, but I’ve been listening to their Greatest Hits since last Monday when they were in Montreal for a show. I didn’t have the chance to watch their set which is a SHAME because they always put on a fantastic show. I did however get to watch Raine Maida sound check the song “Thief’ and honestly, current favorite song. He is a musical genius. I also had the opportunity to interview Jeremy, the drummer of OLP. He was one of my very first interviews about three years ago when I first started working for CONFRONT, so it kind of felt like my journalist career was coming around full circle. Interviewing the same big-time Canadian artist twice is something that I am VERY fortunate to be able to say that I have done.

- The Ting Tings. I reviewed their newest album ‘Sounds From Nowheresville’ on my blog last week & I must admit it’s grown on me even more since then. I also had the chance to interview Katie, half of the musical duo, on Saturday night on the phone. She was SUCH a sweetheart it was an absolute pleasure. She has the most charming British accent, I’ll be honest it kind of felt like I was interviewing a Spice Girl. Plus she loves SG so it worked out well, ha. :)

- I’ve actually had a few other albums on repeat this last week or so, and I’ll be doing a little re-cap on the rest of them later in the week, probably! So much amazing music has been popping up in the last month or two, it’s time I start sharing some of it!

Watching

- Community. Why am I so late on this show? IT IS HILARIOUS YOU GUYS. I’m well into season 1 now and I am just secretly so happy I have three whole seasons of the funny-ness to watch. It is so weird but so, so fun to watch.

- Best Friends Forever. I downloaded the pilot episode a few days ago (the show just started) and I was laughing the entire way through. It’s a new sitcom, and I really hope there are new episodes coming up. It’s so funny!

Needing

- I seem to write this with every ‘Currently’ post I write, but I still find myself needing more time. I’m hoping to resolve this issue with my April goals of tackling procrastination, but so far I haven’t had much luck because I seem to be LOSING time rather than finding more of it. Long story short, I ended up losing 5 prime hours on Saturday morning/afternoon and I could have really used my day off to do homework and chores and things like that.

- To book a vacation. I found myself gazing at this cup I keep on my desk where I collect various shells, rocks & coins from my travels around the world. There are a lot of things from all the beaches I visited from Greece as well as the volcano I climbed, and I’m just itching to find new things to add in there. I need to travel!

- More days spent with my nephew! It seems like forever since I’ve written about my favorite little boy, but he is still growing and getting more of a personality each time I see him. I wish I had more free days to see him, but with finals that just isn’t possible. Luckily photos like the ones below happen to surface on Facebook and in my e-mail with the heading ‘BAD BOY FOR LIFE’ and that makes it a little bit easier. I can’t wait for the summer to see his cute little face more!

Avoiding

- Homework. Studying. But is that anything new? Not at all. This week though, regardless of my ridiculous work schedule, I’m getting my work done and I’m going to NOT procrastinate. That’s the deal I have with myself & I refuse to take no for an answer. From myself. That sounded less weird in my head…

Loving

- Drinking too much coffee. Why must it be just SO delicious?!

- The fact that classes are over for 5 whole months. WHAT! In 2 exams I am free for 4 months!

- MY BRAND NEW HARRY POTTER SCENE IT GAME. Yes. Love. Indulging in my obsession/addiction, needing to find more people to play with!

Now that you’re all caught up… What’s currently going on in your life?! 

If you don’t succeed, try & try again.

I think one of the reasons I’m constantly doubting myself is because I feel like I’m always trying too hard. Some people have the ability to be amazing at anything they set their mind to, and yet when I pour my heart & soul into something I don’t often get the results I’d hoped for.

And so, I’m constantly doubting myself. 

I’ve applied for so many internship positions over the last couple years; so many writing gigs, promotions internships, and other various random little things that I’ve found. I’ve so rarely gotten the jobs I set my sights on, it often makes me wonder if my talent is all in my head. How do you convey to someone that you KNOW you’re right for the job, even though you don’t have all the experience of someone who’s 10 years older?

I’m a very passionate person. 

Sometimes, I wonder if this is my biggest downfall. When I decide that there is something I want to do, I put so MUCH into trying to achieve it. So why do I so rarely succeed?

These are the kinds of things I worry about for the future. When I’m done school, will anyone be willing to take a chance on me? The jobs that I have in mind aren’t the most ridiculous, high-end, or high-paying jobs out there. But they still require skill and ability. I know I can do it, but what if no one else believes in me? What if they believe in someone else more?

I often feel like everything I’m doing is for nothing. 

I’m putting all this time, money, effort and attention into school and into jobs that don’t pay, but what if that just isn’t enough? Is there something else I need to be doing? The future is so uncertain, and that’s scary. I want to have opportunities. I want to make enough money to be financially stable; to move out, travel, be independent from family & to be able to start my OWN family.

One day, I hope I find at least SOME thing that makes my uncertainties less uncertain. I hope someone takes a chance on me. Even if it’s in a place that’s not *exactly* what I want- if I can even start getting closer towards one of my goals, I’ll feel like I’ve got a fighting chance in the world.

I’m not done trying yet, though. 

I’ve learned that I love getting out of my comfort zone. I try and try again, because I still feel like somewhere down the line, it will mean success. Someone WILL notice that I’m right for what I want to do. The things I’m working on today that I don’t necessarily love? They’ll pay off later on and I’ll be able to wake up every single morning happy.

I still have hope, and because of it, I’ll keep trying to be who I want to be. 

Current Obsessions

Both while sick (last week) and not (this week), here are the things that have been running through my head & I can’t seem to stop thinking about!

1. The show Happy Endings. I’m usually pretty good with TV, especially great sitcoms… So I really have no good reason why I didn’t discover this one sooner. It is HILARIOUS! I watched almost a season in a half in like 2 days. Love it! Can’t wait to catch up on the second season (like probably really soon). Do any of you watch it? Thoughts?

2. Dystopian novels in general. I mean, this isn’t a recent thing since I’ve been a fan of the Hunger Games for 3 and a half years now, but last week I had the chance to finish one of my favorites so far (Wither by Lauren DeStefano) and start a new one (Cinder by Marissa Meyer) which has been getting rave reviews. I’ve also got an ARC of Insurgent by Veronica Roth with my name on it either today or tomorrow. Jealous? Anyone? The cherry on the cake, though, is the unveiling of the cover for The Kill Order by James Dashner:

I feel like Dashner’s books don’t get NEARLY enough recognition, which is why I have been furiously recommending them at work to anyone who will listen to me. This is going to be the prequel to his dystopian series (Maze Runner/Scorch Trials/Death Cure) and I am SO excited about it! Not to mention he just announced that he has ANOTHER new series about to come out PLUS I just purchased book one of his first YA series called The 13th Reality. Yay, books!

3. Getting back into shape. I don’t know if this qualifies as an obsession just yet, but I plan on making it one. While sick I lost a really good amount of weight. I REALIZE this is extremely unhealthy, but it was the few pounds that I was having trouble kicking off when I got back to the gym like 6 months ago. I’m going to try REALLY hard to keep all of it off. It’s unlikely since I’ll be EATING again this week… But still, it would be really nice. So. Fitness. Yes!

4. Being debt free forever! Well, I plan on being it very soon. I’ve been neglecting my budgeting goal, but I started thinking about it while sick and it really got me thinking that I need to obsess over my money a little more. I plan on setting my budget straight this week so I can consider this month of 12 Changes somewhat of a success. That means sitting down with Gail Vaz-Oxlade and letting her book teach me what it means to save rather than spend. I’m ready, Gail!

5. Goals. I recently reviewed all my lists of goals and came to a fantastic realization. I’m ALMOST THERE. My 101 in 1,001 is almost done- I’ve got less than 30 goals to go & several that I already don’t plan to complete (I know that’s a weird attitude, but more on that some other time) and my 23 Before 23 is like half done. I’m pretty behind on that one, that I’m thinking of it, but there are a bunch more that I have time to finish before July comes around. I’m excited! I’m ready! Time to obsess over some goals, get motivated, and cross them off. Yay!

What are you obsessing over lately?

Disappointment (& one bright spot!)

This week I had crazy awesome things planned almost every single day. I had a funny feeling when I woke up last Monday morning that I may not be able to go through with all of my crazy awesome plans, but I was still hoping to catch up on some sleep somewhere and power through until I had a catch-up day sometime this weekend.

Unfortunately after Monday, everything went downhill.

Well, first, about Monday. Other than feeling like something bad was coming my way, I had a fantastic night. After work I headed straight downtown and met up with one of my best friends for the Hedley show. Most of the people I told where I was going kind of rolled their eyes at me like “Really? Hedley?” but I’ve adored those boys since their first album and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of the music they put out. I’d been looking forward to their Shipwrecked tour since their latest album, Storms, came out in September, and it did not disappoint!

They were shipwrecked, so naturally they showed up in a boat!

The incredibly talented Jacob Hoggard <3

Even though we had floor seats, we were sitting pretty far back so we didn’t have the best view, but we made the best of it and danced & sang the night away! It was so great to hear all their new songs live, not to mention to hear some of my favorites from past records. I think the highlight of the night, though, is when Jake came out and performed the 8 minute song ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful song on the album Storms.

Can’t wait to see those boys again!

On Tuesday I woke up feeling AWFUL, but not really SICK. I headed to work and tried to push through my shift because I had ALL ACCESS passes to the Black Keys show that night.

I didn’t make it to the show. With an hour left in my shift I completely broke down and couldn’t do it anymore. The exhaustion from the past month of sleepless nights and nonstop activities had left me drained, exhausted, and verging on collapse. I had to break the news to my friend that I wouldn’t make it that night, I got home around 5:30PM and slept right through until 6:30am the next morning.

Since then? I have BARELY made it out of bed. I can’t remember the last time I was so sick. It’s awful. Today is the first day I’m able to stay out of bed for longer than 5 minutes without feeling like my head is going to fall off. I’ve coughed so much in the last 5 days I genuinely feel like I’ve bruised my ribs. I’ve gone through 4 boxes of kleenex. I’ve eaten less in 5 days than what I eat in a day, maybe two. I feel emaciated (I’m not, but without an appetite the pounds are just falling off) and I can’t focus long enough on anything to feel productive whatsoever. I’ve missed class, 3 days of work, gotten no homework or work done and just yeah. It’s been awful.

Lots of tea & TV when I can stand to stay awake for it!

I tried going to the doctor on Friday afternoon but everything was closed. I was so drowsy I could hardly keep my eyes open and I truly thought I would never begin to feel healthy again. To be fair I’m a rather dramatic sick person, but I can honestly say I haven’t been this sick in at least two years. Sigh.

This little monster has been helping me through my long days with lots of cuddles! The other puppy too, but I couldn’t photograph him on my black comforter… He mixed right in! 

Today, my family is getting together at my brother’s house for a nice little afternoon of fun with my nephew. I’ll be stuck at home once again and I’m missing yet another show this evening with all my best friends. Life really knows how to hand me an illness during a crappy week. I know it could be much worse, but I never thought I’d be the person saying that I can’t be home ANY longer. I need to go out and experience something in the real world without feeling like I’m going to break into a million pieces.

So this week, other than my one bright spot on Monday, has been quite the disappointment. I needed to vent a little bit (after hardly being able to sit upright long enough to blog this week) and now that I’ve been able to rant a little I feel a TINY bit better. I’m REALLY hoping to be able to get back to work by Monday because I don’t think I can stand to lose any more money over this God awful cold… I’m crossing my fingers this weekend will be all about getting better & hopefully I’ll be able to stay awake long enough to get a few other things done in between!

How’s your week been? Better than mine, I hope?! 

Life in bits & pieces

1- I can’t believe it’s already Monday! Luckily I’m not back to work just yet, but I have a TON of school work to do so it’s not like I’m getting any good time off. I have an exam today (oh dear) and another one on Wednesday night, and then I’m free! Until then I’ll be locking myself up to study, study, and study some more. And try REALLY hard not to procrastinate.

2- Except tonight, I’m headed to a little show with a friend! We’re checking out William Fitzsimons, he’s a really great lesser known artist, and you should all check him out. I’m excited!

3- This weekend was all about birthdays for me! On Saturday I celebrated my sister-in-law’s dad’s birthday. We went over to my SIL and brother’s house and had a nice dinner with family. He’s not big on crowds so we kept it to just close family and it was really nice! Spent some much needed quality time with my nephew and just chilled out and had a good time.

Lots of this, as usual! <3

4- Sunday was my mom’s SIXTIETH birthday, and we surprised her with a rather elaborate party at a restaurant. 45 of her closest friends and family showed up to surprise her and was she EVER. She cried a lot. Mission accomplished!

My mom & I on Sunday evening after a long day of surprise birthday celebrations! Sadly the only picture I thought of taking all day. I was too overwhelmed! 

5- For her birthday, I got my mom a pair of Cirque du Soleil ticket, and obviously I’m going with her! I haven’t been to a Cirque show since high school and I’m VERY excited. Her other big gift? A car starter! (from a group of people)… So basically I get to enjoy her two big gifts, ha! But overall, she really got spoiled, as she deserves :)

6- I’ve said it a few times now, and I’m going to say it again. Whitney Houston’s death completely devastated me. I found out while I was at my brother’s house on Saturday night, and was speechless. He tried to play “I will always love you” and I barely had time to tell him to turn it off before bursting into tears. I hate the internet at times like these because everyone has something rude or sarcastic to say. I know she had a drug problem and I know there are millions of other people who die every day and no one cries, BUT THIS MADE ME SAD and NO  I did not become a fan of her just because she died. She was one of my father’s favorite singers and one of my fondest memories of my dad is listening to her music with him. People need to stop being so negative and finding stupid crap to post when celebrities die. She impacted a LOT of lives. Deal with it.

7- That may be one of the only rants I’ve ever had on this blog. But I’m sticking by it.

8- On a lighter (and sunnier!) note, in exactly ONE week I will be on a PLANE to FLORIDA. I will be GOING TO HOGWARTS, hanging out CLOSE TO BEACHES, spending MONEY I DON’T HAVE, and meeting STEPHANY :) yay!

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9- I’ve already started my list of things To Do before I leave for Florida. I’m kind of over eager. I love vacations!

10- I can’t believe I’m about to write this out, but I think I’ve officially decided to go full vegetarian for the time being. I’ll still eat eggs, dairy, and fish, but I’d like to permanently cut meat out of my diet. My brain still tells me once in a while that I’m craving it, but almost NEVER. I’ve had meat about 4 times in the last month and it hasn’t gone well with my system at all. Saturday night was the worst, I was sick straight through until late Sunday morning. For the time being, I am LOVING a vegetarian diet and fish is the one thing I will never give up. So yeah. I’m a vegetarian now for real. I think. Ha :)

What’s up with you? How was your weekend? What’s been going on in your life?

Friday Five

I haven’t had the chance to blog this week AT all, which feels so strange to me, so I thought I’d do a little catch up post before the weekend and start fresh on Monday!

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1. The greatest thing happened to me on Wednesday. A friend told me that one of my blog posts from July (this one, about my experience with fitness classes) was linked up on the Facebook page of the fitness studio that I had joined at the time. They posted my blog & mentioned me by full name, saying how awesome the article was. I was already so excited because I really do love the studio (and keep meaning to go back!) so I left them a comment saying thank you. A few hours later I got an e-mail telling me that they loved the post so much, they were setting me up with a free 3 month membership to the gym! That’s a 250$ value, and I am still trying to wrap my mind around the generosity of it. I went back yesterday and did two back-to-back classes, and thanked the owner of the studio personally for her generosity. I seriously love that place and I LOVE that I *technically* got paid for writing an honest review of something that I had been trying out at the time.

2. Because of the above point, I guess I’ve kind of started my February Change for 12 Changes early. The theme for February is fitness, but I’m getting a slow head start on it in this last week of January. I’m ready for it, and I think the added goal of getting back into shape is going to help me eat even HEALTHIER. I’m excited to share my smaller goals for the weeks of February, probably next week!

3. Yesterday I spent the entire day cooking with my sister-in-law. I headed over to my brother’s house and got there around 1, and after lunch we ended up making 4 or 5 different vegetarian/semi-vegetarian meals. My SIL is an AMAZING cook and even better she loves eating vegetarian meals, so she’s slowly showing me how to make some of her easier ones- and they really are quite easy! Here are some pictures of what we made together:

 

 

From top left:

a- “Everything” soup: includes spinach, cabbage, barley, carrots, zucchini, tomato, chicken broth, turkey/chicken, various other vegetables. This clearly isn’t a vegetarian dish, but it’s a ridiculously healthy one!

b- Eggplant: cubed eggplant cooked in the oven with diced onion, garlic, diced & crushed tomatoes, chick peas and parsley. This one is the BOMB, you guys. The. Bomb.

c- Semi-Vegetarian Pasta: homemade noodles cooked in a rose-alfredo (homemade) sauce with zucchini, tomato, sun-dried tomato, onion, green peppers and some shrimp. The alfredo sauce was made from scratch with a TON of cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, milk & a bit of flour (to give it a creamy consistency) and you guys, SO good.

d- The final product of what I’m bringing home! Includes a split-pea soup on the far left that I made, some yummy dip that is hidden in a closed tupperware, and a quick easy to make crab salad for sandwiches and whatnot.

4. I’ve been having a little bit of trouble adjusting to my new schedule this semester. Now that I’m only in school for a few hours on Wednesday evenings, my life basically revolves around work and school is just an after thought. To top it off, I’m having a lot of trouble paying attention to my teacher because his PowerPoint presentations are really dull. I really want to get back in the swing of things, but I think that mostly just means I need to organize my time better- something I wrote about LAST week and still haven’t had time to do. (Ha! “Time” to do? Did I really just write that?!) I’m simultaneously loving working more and going to school less, but ultimately I think I’ve just confused my body a whole lot.

5. I haven’t had nearly enough time to read in the last couple weeks and I NEED to change that. I miss reading. The other day I got to work extra early and sat down with my iPod and a book and had the best hour before my shift ever. I really need to start planning out some free time and working on the things that are important to me. I have SO many goals this year, if I don’t start sorting myself out I’ll never get there!

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That’s basically all that’s going on over here; lots of work, vegetables, cooking, some school, a little bit of me-time… OH and lots of nephew time. I will leave you with his cuteness:

 

What have you been up to this week? Anything I missed?!