Friday, December 31, 2010

Counting Down the Last Hours of a Year of No New is Good News

Hey there,

I'm just counting down the last 8 hours until Midnight, aka New Year's, when I will have achieved my goal of going a full year without buying anything new.  This blog, No New Is Good News, has been a really cool way of making sense (and nonsense) of it.

I also am feeling incredibly delighted to have a few days off after working at a breakneck pace the last few working days.

I'm going to spend some time on my four hour train ride to Ottawa indulging in checking out all kinds of New Year, reflective, goal setting, etc. type stuff on line.  Then I might veg out for a bit and watch episodes of How I Met Your Mother.  I'm not a saint!

I feel a lovely sense of goodwill, accomplishment, and trying to be easy on myself.  Looking at some other people's posts and my own lately, I know that sometimes I've been focusing too much on the hard work aspect of things and not enough on having fun and relaxing.  But sometimes working on things outside of job-type work is it's own form of nerdy fun.

I just read Christine Bougie's 30th Reverb10 post, and enjoyed all of them.  It's a great accomplishment.  I jotted down a few writing and reflecting ideas, but have absolved myself from having to do it all today and catch up on 15 days of writing prompts.  I don't need to turn the prompts into a stick to beat myself with!  I might actually use some of them in groups I am doing in the New Year.  I've also just re-read this line from Gretchen Rubin
The days are long, but the years are short.
A good motto to remind ourselves to live life here and now, as we wrap up another year.

I enjoyed my Fake New Year's immensely last night and chatted with a few pals who've been following my progress.  It is pretty cool to be able to report positively on it to people I haven't seen in a while.  There are certainly lots of things I've not finished that I started, but this ain't gonna be one of them.

More later,

xo Tara

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Face Time; Less Facebookin'

Hey there,

I'm zooming around trying to pack for tomorrow's trip to Ottawa and get cleaned up to scoot out to Fake New Year's Eve.  It is such a great concept, you all should try it.

I'm about to hurl myself into the shower, and head over to Coco's (the host of Fake New Year's) shortly, so I'll definitely make it in time for the Fake Countdown.

I read in one of the ubiquitous articles about New Year's in the last day or two, that someone wanted less facebook and more face time.  I like it.  Here's to clocking more genuine face time with people you like.  I'll add that to tomorrow's final rez-o-lution list.

Talk soon
xo
Tara

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Addition to My Acceptable Exceptions

I thought of this late yesterday. 

I'm going to 'okay' me buying something that a friend or acquaintance has created (i.e.: a book, a CD, a piece of art).  I think that goes along with fostering creativity in general.  So, rather than have to wait until Jan. 1st to buy a friend's CD, like I did this year, it's in the sanctioned list of expenditures for 2011.

I'm keeping today super short for a few reasons, but one is that it's 8:36pm and I am no where near done the work I need to do before I can exit the building from job number two for the evening.

On a high note, I've got my ticket to Ottawa for Friday, Dec. 31st leaving Toronto at 3:30pm. That will feel great - like sinking into a four hour reading and resting break after a frantic couple and a half days back at work(s).

Looking forward to family time very soon. 

xo Tara

P.S.: What are other people's resolutions and plans for New Year's?  I'm looking very forward to Fake New Year's tomorrow night.  An annual party where you can always get a cab home, and I won't feel like I missed out on friend time by skipping town on Real New Year's.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Resolutions for 2011

Wow.  2011 is only days away.  Four more sleeps and it will be here. Sitting pretty here at day 362 of 2010 I feel confident I'll make it to my goal of not buying anything new for  a year.  Today was a bit of a grey area.  But, I think, okay.  For Christmas my wife got me a gift certificate from Secrets From Your Sister, a boutique where they fit you for the perfect bra.  I went today and lined up in the freezing cold for 45 minutes as it was their big boxing day sale.  I was number two in line and chatted with the pro ahead of me, who is an old hat at their sales.  A good bra, a really good one that fits like a glove, is expensive.  So when these girls have their big sale, you might get an amazing bra, that normally costs $150 or more, for as low at $20 or $30.  If you are lucky and not too many like-sized gals are in line ahead of you.

She and I were able to be friends, as we were clearly different sizes and would not be competing for the same stash of deeply-discounted lingerie with each other.  We critically appraised the degree to which our fellow cue-members would provide sport for us as we watched the line grow and grow.  I was able to get myself two gorgeous French bras for less than half price.  If I make myself hand wash them, they'll last several years.  I cannot wait to go show them off to my sister and friends tonight at games night!

I shopped using a gift certificate given to me for this purpose as a Christmas gift and paid the rest with Christmas money from my mother-in-law.  I know it skirts the nothing new rules, but I thought it was okay, since it is something that has to fit, and I got a gift certificate as a surprise, not asked for.  What do you think?  Also, if you read about my rushed bra purchase on Dec. 31st, 2009 (no time to try on, one didn't fit - was actually painful to wear), you'll know I was getting a bit desperate for new decent ones.  Also, sadly, I have to admit to being a larger cup size than I have been historically.  So, while not laudable as a reason to shop, I've been pushing it with the current motley collection, and it was time.

I'll tell you this.  It was hard to not buy up the whole store.

Which has me thinking about January 2011 a lot, and what I will be buying.  I've been feeling a bit overconfident, perhaps, as it approaches.  I've been thinking that I don't miss shopping all that much.  Noticing that as I work on my list of things I will buy in January, I don't seem to have a ton of 'needs'.  But, I am a bit nervous of how easy it is to shop, when once you start.

Anyway, about January, and my resolutions for 2011...

I will be shopping in January (only) for new things.  The rest of 2011 will resume with 'nothing new'.  Similar exceptions to last year will apply.  Health purchases are okay.  And I also feel comfortable saying that shoes are okay to buy IF they are running shoes or walking shoes (i.e.: not just fashion).  I'm okay with things that get me moving more and are comfortable on my feet.  Oh, also, a sun hat.  If I cannot find a decent one in January, I will allow myself one in the summer.  It is reasonable for me to want to keep the crow's feet and age spots at bay as long as possible.  Also, again, I'll allow myself craft and do-it-yourself supplies, within reason, if I can't beg, borrow or make do with what I have.

I will be shopping from a list.  I don't plan on doing a free-for-all.  Here is the list so far:

1. A black scarf to replace my favourite one that I recently lost.  I have lost it a few times and it always came back to me.  Not this time, unfortunately.  On a side note, I'm lower than usual on woolly scarves due to my obsession with washing and drying everything to keep from bringing bed bugs home.  A side effect of this has been that many of my formerly long, fluffy scarves are now two feet shorter, shrunk and felted, and do not provide enough coverage for the January winds.  I am specifically looking for a lacy, but knit, non-wool (but wool-like) one (can be bunched as a scarf, or draped as a shawl...)

2. A Coat.  You may recall that when winter comes, if I want to be truly warm, you'll generally find me dressed like a mummer.  I wrote about this at the beginning of the year in a post (see paragraph two on Value Village Second Thoughts).  I want a warm coat that I'm not ashamed to go to a dressy work event in.  I want it in a solid colour like black, so it matches any colourful mitts, scarves, and hats I have, and I want it to come down to my knees and fit me well.  It can be down filled, or wool.  I think I will enjoy shopping for something so specific.  My mother is already on the look out for coat selling places for us to go trolling through come January 1st, in Ottawa.

3. Shoes.  I want a pair of shoes that are dressy enough for work, solid enough for walking to work, and sturdy and deep enough to fit my orthotics in.  Sounds pretty sexy, huh?

4. Giant Ziplocs for storage.  I have seen these at my friend Su's.  I want giant Ziplocs

5. A Pink Ukulele.  I may buy myself a cute ukulele.  Cheap, portable and way easier to learn than guitar.  I saw Sera's and can't stop thinking about it.  We'll see.

6. Notebooks.  I am keen to get a couple of new moleskins.  I've made my two last all year, but they are running out of pages.  I may get a couple of delicious skinny markers to go with them.

7. Pants.  I am having trouble finding a good pair of jeans or cords used that really fit me.  I will look at options in stores, but I won't buy any unless they are on sale and really fit well and I look good and like them.

8. Socks and underwear.  I am heavily into the B-team and C-team collection of socks and underwear at this point in the year.

9. Full length mirror.  I've been wanting one for 3 years since we moved from my sister's house.  It will help me to be more presentable and fit for public consumption.  I think it also helps if you are trying to decide what clothing to keep, alter, or donate.

10. A metal bar with a few hooks for our kitchen wall to hang things like the metal strainer and a couple of pots on etc. from high on the wall. Our condo has the regulation miniature kitchen storage space, so this might make it more manageable for us to keep cupboards tidy and counters clear.

That's my list so far. Kind of humble and boring when you think about it!  We really don't need much, do we? I might add to it before the year starts as I put on my thinking cap.

For my other resolutions, I alluded to some in some of the Reverb10 posts. I have gotten way behind on them, but may get the opportunity to catch up on the ride to Ottawa on Friday. Like most people's, they fall generally into the realms of health, organization, money, and creative.

Here they are thus far:


  • Stop buying diet pop.
  • Start packing a lunch unless I have a lunch date with a friend.
  • Practice my mindfulness meditation daily.
  • Get a physical.
  • Walk to work 2 or more times per week.
  • In bed by 11:30pm.
  • Continue to blog regularly.
  • Shop only in January (with list) otherwise, Nothing New rules apply.
  • Work specifically on paying off remaining debt, saving for cottage, and saving for trip to Edinburgh Fringe Festival with my wife.  Create a 'business plan' for making that happen.
  • Keep up with stitch & bitch gatherings, crafting, sewing, and knitting regularly with friends.
  • Continue to write on novel and creative writing, as well as other forms of 'fun, non-passive leisure'.
  • A fresh round of Clutter Busting and bring in new year with new, clean energy and cleared space.
  • Ask someone who is really organized at work about their system for keeping up with documentation.
  • Semi-retire by giving notice by September 17, 2011 at second job.
  • Remember my theme word for 2011 from the Reverb10 prompt: 'Release' (versus 2010's word, which was 'Grindstone').  
I am looking forward to examining these more and sharing them with some of my favourite women. A few of us are big into the New Year's Resolutions Lists/Fresh Starts. I am thinking especially of Trina, Tena, and Mom. My wife even wrote a joke about it once :)

Talk soon,

xo Tara

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blogiversary Yesterday

Hey there,
Yesterday (Dec. 22nd) was the one year anniversary of me starting this blog.  In 2009 I did 5 Posts (1st Post2nd Post3rd Post4th Post-My Ground RulesMy 5th Post-A Video) in the 9 days leading up to my deadline to stop shopping in 2010.  I laid out my ground rules, talked about what made me decide to do it, and even shot a video on my MacBook, showing my Dec. 31st frantic 'last shop' haul.  It's kind of funny how paltry of a selection it was, but it was also exciting and nerve-wracking to dive into a year of something different.  It was also something new that I learned and stuck to for a year.

The year has been, on the whole, very rewarding.  Money wise, and getting comfortable with not being able to lazy-shop, or bored-shop, or therapy-shop.  I feel like it set me up on a different path that makes a lot of other goals more achievable.  It also has made me feel like I can do something hard and unpopular.  However, let me say this: I am looking forward to shopping in January 2011 and am a bit afraid about opening the old floodgates.  Will it be like the first time I quit smoking?  "Guys, I'm cool.  I haven't had one in a year.  It's no big deal."  Fast forward to the end of the week when I'm lighting one cigarette off the next... It took me 3 more years to get up the steam to quit for good.  (That was 11 years ago, so now I feel I've well and truly kicked the habit.  BUT I also don't even have the odd drag to tempt me.)  Soooo, we'll see how cured of the shopping habit I am.

It's funny how I noticed more when I distanced myself from it, how shopping is seen as a hobby, an art form, a form of recreation, therapy, release, exercise, a reward for hard work etc.  I have clients who tell me their only fun is shopping.  We need to diversify, clearly.

I've been working hard today sending out invites to the icancanu website.  I've been doing it on three fronts.  One is that it totally suits the spirit of my No New Is Good News year.  Share, do favours, help each other out etc.  Two is that it helps my brother-in-laws out (it's their baby) by sharing info about the site, they may be able to develop it more.  Three is that I really want to win the prize for the most new friends by Dec. 31st.  My least noble but most humanoid reason for exerting such an effort.  I did sent out a lot of invites today.  Sorry, they aren't all personalized.  The site did not offer the option of a message with invite. I couldn't do it all at once to look up address, send an email, then go back to icancanu and send invite - and be as productive as I was. I wish I'd had more time and stamina for it.  But I did log a good 3 hours to the cause this evening.

One of my most human failings (my mindfulness and CBT homework is teaching me to embrace these qualities FYI), is a need to be, as my wife calls it, 'An A+ Student'.  So it's no surprise that I want to win the prize.  Not to worry, in some areas of my life I've been really slack (i.e.: messy office) but I do feel like I'm getting a sense of 'Capable Tara' this year by doing what I set out to do.  More or less.

I have 9 days to go on No New for Tara.  WOW.  That's a lot of days I've completed successfully.  Can you imagine if I screwed it up now??! Some of my money goals were NOT perfect, but I am so much better off than the year before.  I sometimes kick myself for not saving all my Canada Savings Bonds this year (that would have amounted to $7800).  Instead, I had to use some for various things that I couldn't pay for.  BUT I avoided adding new debt, and still managed to end the year with $3100 in Canada Savings Bonds NOT cashed in.  I have also added almost $15,000 to RRSPs this year.

As I've mentioned before, I've also paid off: 1. about $7000 in student loans, and 2. about $5000 in other consumer debt (store cards, credit cards, and loan).

We are far from resolved with it all.  But we've also, as a household, reduced our monthly bills-payable by cutting a big chunk from Rogers by cutting cable, land line, and Internet in favour of one cheaper provider - making our lifestyle more manageable and sustainable and getting me closer to that one job dream :)

I've got to wrap this up and hit the sack soon.  It's Christmas and if there's a sad cliche, it is that in mental health our line of business does not get slower over the holidays.  I need to be on full alert tomorrow and have a jam packed day.

I'm looking forward to time for cruising around to check out other blogs, help my sister edit the 6th draft of her awesome novel, and to hanging with my wife, family and friends, over the next few days.

But make no mistake, I'm also really, really looking forward to shopping in Jan. 2011 - with my list of things I need!  I guess that is the difference between a year ago and today.  I'm not just going to go bananas (hopefully).  I'm going to be working from a list in January.  And after that, I'll be about the same as this year...

xoxo Tara

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reading and Running

Heya,
this is a quickie post as I'm running for the door to meet up with my wife and neighbours for a foreign film and I need to find my glasses and grab snacks.  I realize I've yet to do Reverb10's prompts for Dec. 17 and 18, but I've decided that is what Dec. 19th is for!

Today I did some puttering, bought a few gifts made from used bits (i.e.: artist making something out of recycled material) and I am rereading a book I got about 9 years ago that I barely noted at the time, but despite being dated in 1992 is seriously ringing some bells for me now.  It's called 'Your Money or Your Life' by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin and it suits my quest now to 'transform my relationship with money and achieve financial independence'.

I'll get back to you later with details.  Socializing awaits...

xo Tara

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb 10 Catch Up - Take Two

I'm back at it, catching up on my goal of doing these writing exercises using the motto, "Better late than never'.  For more details about it check out Reverb 10

I'm just catching my breath as I've spent a very active 3 hours with a 4-year-old boy and his 7-year-old brother.  I'm playing babysitter tonight.  We ate dinner, caught up on all the news from school, played Snakes and Ladders, played Tumbling Monkeys, played jump on Tara's head for a while, played paper airplanes, and played 'admire my drawing', and 'can you tell what it is'?  (My 7-year-old pal's drawing are a little easier to decipher).  We also read two rather long stories, did jammies, and I had the pleasure of helping the 4-year-old clean up after two massive bowel movements, which occurred moments after his momma left.  It was pretty funny, as he is quite independent, but would call out to me to let me know how it was going, and when I was needed in the loo as clean up crew.  Ah, the joys of parenting. 

Being with kids is a perfect opportunity to be fully in the present moment.  I got on the floor, got in the game, and really enjoyed hanging out with them.  But now, it is also quite nice to relax.  You realize how full on parenting must be when you are never alone and there is never silence while your kids are awake.  I don't know how people can do it and work.  I guess I have to take my hat off to the vast majority of the human population :)  They're down for the count and I'm here until at least midnight so let's catch up, shall we?

Okay, on with the prompts:

"December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)."

Oh my, let's see... 1. I do not need diet pop.  I took it back up (moderately) after starting my new job.  2. I do not need to buy junky food because I was too lazy to pack my lunch. 3. I don't need to feel crappy about things.  4. I don't need to 'never' shop again, but I do need to pay attention and set my 2011 ground rules. 5. I don't need to stay up so late. 7. I don't need to ignore my own health. 8. I don't need to work quite so hard or much.  9. I don't need to be so disorganized. 10. I don't need to feel like I don't belong. 11. I don't need to be so busy.

How will I go about eliminating these things?
  • I will stop buying diet pop, which will make it much harder to drink it.
  • I will start packing my lunch every day, unless I have a lunch date with friends.
  • I will use my burgeoning mindfulness skills to go a bit easier on myself and not try to fix, change, and solve everything, and to be more comfortable with grey areas.
  • I will shop in 2011 - in January only, and with a list I am working on  completing - stay tuned for breaking details as they evolve!  The rest of the year I am not buying new things, with the exceptions that I will list in my up and coming 'ground rules' for 2011.
  • I will be using my brother-in-law's new favour exchange network to work on sharing favours with the people in my life.  It's a great way to build community, connect, and be less wasteful.  It's called IcancanU.  You can click on that link if you want to see more.  If you decide to join and want to join my group, "Tara's Toronto Area Friends", let me know.  Some favours are easiest to do locally!  But sometimes favours can happen 'electronically' so don't be shy to befriend me, even if you are not in Toronto. I think their idea of us all 'getting a little help from our friends' is very well suited to the spirit of this blog and my goals and projects for this year and the next.  I'll write more about IcancanU in the future. 
  • I will assign myself a bedtime of 11:00pm.  Ha!  Let's make it 11:30pm.
  • I will get a physical, walk to work more than once a week, and eat my fruits and veggies.
  • I will semi-retire in the fall of 2011, by going down to one job.  My 'retirement' goal is my 7 year anniversary date, September 17, 2011.
  • I will find some chilling time at home, not just where I have to be doing chores, etc.
  • I will do a fresh round of Clutter Busting (see the man who wrote the book on it).  In fact, I may just re-read that book to inspire me.  This might be a good fit with New Year's out with the old, clean sweep, smudging etc, etc.  Get the old chi flowing through our space.  
  • I will work on a better system of keeping up with documentation, tasks, messages at work.  I'll ask the most organized people I know how they do it.
  • I will remind myself that I have earned the right to belong in the various settings I find myself and that I am just as okay as the next person.  This is only something I'll need to do during those average human moments of self doubt and questioning, not on a minute-by-minute basis. 
  • I'll keep my blog in 2011.  It's been a great tool to share, reflect, gather my thoughts, have fun, and check out other people's ideas too.
worky things will help me use my network and community more.  To mix and mingle and socialize more.  To gather together more in various ways.

Okay, onwards to....


"December 12 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)"

Well, this is a bit of a toughie.  Mindfulness is helping me remember I even have a body.  Much of the time I ignore it except for when it rears its ugly head in some kind of protest.  I think that an integration moment occurred when I was doing the 60K walk for women's cancers.  BEFORE the real pain kicked in, maybe a couple of hours in, from hour 2 to hour 5 or so.  There had been enough walking to get a rhythm and cadence going.  Flow was being experienced.  Interesting conversations were happening as my body was doing this lovely, strong, repetitive movement that is walking.  It felt very good to be alive and moving and using all my parts.

Onwards to...


"December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)"

Some of my action steps, I've listed above with the bullet points for how I will eliminate things I don't need.  Some of my action steps I've discussed in previous posts - when I think about paying down debt and engaging in 'non-passive leisure'.  It's not much of an action step to veg out in front of the TV, but some of the other leisure things I love can feel like work to get organized.  I know that I end up feeling energized when I push myself to do them, but getting there is the hard part.  You all know the drill - it's the end of a long day.  Should I go for a long walk and cook a healthy meal, or eat chips out of the bag while watching 7 episodes of Dexter? I am committed to being at least as active as I am inactive, and to not depleting myself so much at work(s) that my own life doesn't have the steam for action.  I've already plotted out some money goals for coming months including pedestrian ones like paying down debt, and keeping a roof over our heads, as well as fun ones like helping my wife fund raise to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011 and saving for my cottage in Newfoundland.

Onwards to...



"December 14 – Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)"

Well, that is hard to narrow down to one thing.  I'll brainstorm here:
  • The 41 years I got with 3 grandparents.  I miss my Grandfather saying "God Bless you" every time we spoke.  I really don't hear it much in my life anymore, and it was such a sweet greeting and farewell when we spoke or met.
  • Being stronger than I expected myself to be.
  • Having made a big change in my working life and having it pay off in terms of me learning a lot, and liking it a lot.  I was quite nervous about this one year experiment of changing jobs.  While the pace is a bit much, I feel like I am more or less rising to the occasion and that I hit the ground running.  Thought you might like a couple of nice cliches to help you visualize how it's been going for me at the new job. 
  • My opportunity to study and practice mindfulness at work.  To be a learner and participant has been so helpful in my personal and work life.  I am very appreciative of that, and my friend Anya, who is teaching me.
  • That I am well loved.  That is very lucky. 
  • That I can get enthusiastic about things and nerd out on things is a good sign.
  • And of course, I appreciate that there are people who are actually joining me to check all this stuff out about this year (and as it draws to an end, it's not just about this year, life keeps on going beyond Dec. 31st) and beyond.
Onwards to...
 
"December 15 – 5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)"

I think I'm going to steal a page from Christine and do it with photos.  But I'm out of the house babysitting, so I can't really do this one now.  I'm going to cheat it a little and put a pin in this one.  I'll set the timer at home, where I can access my real photos and do it justice.  I'll time travel back to this moment asap in another post.  Shhhh.  Don't tell...

So onwards to...

"December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)"

I have lots of friends.  Sounds like I'm bragging.  But what I'm trying to say is, that picking one feels like trying to select a maid of honour, or something.  That would be my twin.  And my most essential friend, she is certainly.  But, I'm going to select a newer friend for this writing prompt.  My friend, Shannon.  She is an artist and by treating me like her equal brought me a lot of confidence and pleasure.  We are colleagues and friends and can enjoy things like creative writing, as well as leading groups together.  She and I have many differences, yet see eye to eye in so many ways. I think just having a new friend who seeks my counsel, wants genuinely to hear what's going on with me, and actually makes art specifically as a present for me has made me feel appreciated and important and interesting in a novel way.  At this age, it sounds silly, but you don't bond the same way with the same quantity of people as you get older.  You get pickier, too busy, and too lazy and too set in your ways.  Going beyond those limitations demonstrates that there is always something new to be discovered and enjoyed in life and in friendship.

I've learned things from other friends too.  Like Anne, who is retiring due to health issues and has taught me that life is shorter than we know and that people have many facets.  She also taught me something about attitude.  She said, 'I used to always be so angry.  But I'm not so much anymore.'  My friend Renee taught me about how good it feels to be around someone who is positive, supportive, and does not complain, criticize, or gossip.  I fall woefully short on these goals regularly.  (I keep having to rotate that bloody 'complaint free world' bracelet, but I'm still wearing it).  Being around Renee also reminded me how rare those qualities are in a person, and how while I may never achieve full 'fidelity to the model', they are worth setting my sights for.  My twin friendship teaches me that having a best friend means never being bored of some one's company and being able to enjoy the simple things with ease.

I feel like I've blogged me arse off tonight.  Pardon the colourful language, but hopefully, I've caught up on most of what needed catching.  I'll look forward to continuing to count down and wrap up this year.

xo
Tara





Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Absentee Landlord of My Own Blog

This last four days I've been away, and I apologize for being tardy with this post.  In my defense I have several weak excuses.

I was very caught up in finishing my first ever e book (The Lost Symbol).  Catchy, but the final 20 minutes dragged a bit.  Don't tell Dan Brown.

I was very busy watching episodes of Breaking Bad.  A show so good I want to take a bite out of it.

I got very intimidated by the prompt for #Reverb10 on December 11th which is:

11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)
I feel a need to sit and ponder a bit on this one, and that kept me from doing it, and from even looking at the prompts beyond up to today.

Soooo,

Since I really am into the idea of wrapping up 2010 with lots of thinking and reflection and plotting out 2011 with exciting twists and turns as well as lots of calm balanced joy, ease, and light, I will do another Reverb10 catch up tomorrow night.  I am babysitting for my friends and between the hours of bedtime for the kiddies and midnight or so, I should have some nice 'me time' on their computer, so I look forward to catching up and thinking about 2010 and 2011, and what it all means for my No New is Good News stuff, at my leisure.

Off to watch 'True Grit' with my wife.  I've heard it's amazing.

xo Tara

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wise Idea

Today's post is on the theme suggested by Reverb10 for December 10th prompt:

"Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?"

Today's is quick and easy.  I'm pretty sure my wisest decision of the year has been deciding not to buy anything new and sticking with it.  It has not always been an easy or popular choice, but it has yielded many personal benefits. 

I've been able to gain confidence in my ability to stick with something.
I've felt a little kinder to the environment.
I've saved money for the future.
I've paid down debt at a faster rate than before.
I've gotten better at do-it-myselfing.
I've become a little better at postponing gratification and entertaining myself.

Don't worry.  I'm all too human, so there are plenty of unwise things I've done this year too, but fortunately No New is Good News is not one of them.

xo Tara

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb10 Dec. 9th Party Prompt

December 9th Prompt:  Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

This one has actually had me scratching my head.  It makes me realize that I need to seriously work on ramping up the fun in my life.  2010 has been a bit of a toughie and I need to bring the party to 2011.  

When I put on my thinking cap, I know there have been some good times in 2010.  My friend Christine, brilliantly captured one (almost 2010) with Fake New Year's.  This annual party at our friend CoCo's is amazing.  But, not quite technically 2010, since we have it on Dec. 30th so everyone can easily get a cab and just relax on real New Year's Eve...


Here are some other highlights:

Jan. Robbie Burns Day at Rick and Su's snapshot here
Feb. Joanna Downey's Dance Party birthday after a stand up comedy show evidence ici
Mar. Olympics Gold Medal Curling Party in the VIP section at Hockey House see it here & here
June. Proud Larry's show and night out during Pride 
July. Come Home Year Parade with our family banner in Norris Point, Newfoundland pic here
Aug. Huron Heights Cheerleader Reunion photo here
Sept. Girls Night in at Mom's Momma deets
Oct. Stitch & Bitch at my place.  Raucous late night party no photo but a wee blurb

It's a good reminder to pay attention to booking some more fun and to work on letting loose, already.  Not to worry. Where 2010 was all about 'Grindstone', 2011 is all about 'Release' if you remember.

Also, while I think of this year as full of many sorrows, I need only to look a little closer to see many moments of fun and joy.  What we pay attention to grows.  

xo 
Tara

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Community & Beautifully Different

Hiya,

I'm again catching up on posts/prompts but this time for a very altruistic reason.  My twin is in marking and report card hell, and I decided to offer her the gift of my time (since I can't buy her anything).  She took me up on my offer last night and I marked until 2 am.  I feel a sincere pang for her and teachers everywhere right now.  What a lot of her own time is spent on school stuff.  This year her one job is putting my two to shame when it comes to hours logged.  Ugh.

A nice thing about helping someone else out in a pinch is that it reminds me of how lucky I am and how good I have it.  But don't worry.  I'm human.  I'm still complaining regularly enough that my poor purple "Complaint Free World.org" bracelet Momma got me in September has been having more or less zero units of success.  I still probably complain/gossip/criticize once or more on an average day. But on the bright side, how much more would it be without my purple, rubber reminder?

I'm going to get on with my Reverb10 writing prompts since they are a fun way to reflect on my year.  I'll also be doing some of my own stuff in December to figure out 2011 plans and wrap 2010 up in a nice red bow.

December 7th Prompt: Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?


I've discovered community in a lot of places this year.  In some ways I can get into my own solitary working drone groove, but these are the communities I have connected with this year that have been interesting, revitalizing, liberating, healing or fun (if I think of more later, I'll pop back in to add them):

  • My clan/family.  Being from Newfoundland IS different and is bonding.  Like Kyran Pittman says, it's Utterly Unlike anywhere else. We've bonded over losses and also just hanging out together.  I've gotten a little closer to some siblings and cousins and parents and steps and greats, etc. in different ways.
  • My wife's family.  Being married makes you even more seriously connected to people you already love.
  • Our queer & comedy communities.  I even tried out a comedy class one-off recently.
  • My old work pals.  In fact, moving on from working directly with people has made me do more 'friend outreach' and forge more connection in other areas with some important former coworkers. Shannon, Anne, and Mark are all very different examples of this loveliness.
  • My new work pals. Of course I want them to like me, and I'm trying hard, and I really like them, so it seems to be going okay.
  • My part time work pals. In fact, the definition of this job is 'community development', but still, I feel like they are there for me and we have each other's backs in a nice way.
  • My online pals, including the ones I follow, & the ones who pop by this blog to check it out.  I've really enjoyed reading things that are 'up my alley' immensely this year.  It's as if a whole new world opened up to me recently, and I am grateful for the sense of fun, pleasure, and camaraderie it's provided. It has also given me a sense of myself as a doer, & a creator, not just a consumer.
  • My end cancer walk women.  We definitely created and built a sense of community doing that 60K walk.
  • My IWD fellow volunteers.  I do an event annually for about 300 homeless women for International Women's Day, and this has become a big repeated and increasingly positive opportunity to build community.
  • My book club.  I want to be MORE involved in this community.  I've been a 'lazy/lax' member, but still love being involved, albeit marginally.
  • My Stitch & Bitchers!  Big time this group of tattooed, smart, funny, crafters has brought a much needed sense of community, creativity, and meaningful occupation into my life.
  • The people in my mindfulness class.  A strange brew of different types, but coming together for this common goal.  I like it.
So 2011: More: book club, more creative community (sewing, knitting, writing), maybe venturing into something physical like yoga etc.  I'll put more thought into it.  Oh, also, the conscious consumption group, related to this year's goal of nothing new.


December 8th Prompt: Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.


I often get to discuss in my working day how hard it is to sell ourselves.  Describing what makes ourselves beautiful is akin to writing a resume or answering one of those cringe-worthy questions in a job interview.  But, it might be easier if I think 'different' and 'light people up'.  I would have to say that some of these things (like me!) are works in progress, but here goes:

  • I am a bit unique.  I look a little different from other people.  Not sure what I mean by that, but I feel it.
  • This is a funny one, but I have giant, sometimes fabulous, always noticeable, eyebrows. I mention them because they have often been used as a descriptor for me.
  • I am calm and a good listener.
  • I express empathy and I try hard to be present.
  • I support local comedy.
  • I keep trying to improve myself but hopefully not in an arrogant way.
  • I can occasionally give myself (time, focus, effort) to people I care about to help them through something tough.
  • I'm a moderate nerd.  Read: 'enthusiastic hobbiest'
  • I keep slogging away at it.
  • I'm fairly optimistic.
  • I can make a meal out of thin air.
  • I like to do well.  My wife calls me an 'A student'.  She also calls me 'Wonderwall'.
  • I listen well and try to make people feel safe.
  • I do not stigmatize against people who have had mental illness.
  • I'm a minor activist.
  • My sense of self is relatively solid.
  • I like to try new things.
  • I'm trying hard to grow and be more creative.
  • My friend Tyler once described me as 'Full on'.
  • My friend Shannon said that I brought my humanity to my interactions with people and that I work 'with them not on them'.
Okay, that's about all I have in me tonight.  Hope it's sufficient for the goal.

xo Tara

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reverb10 - Catch Up

Oh yes, another challenge.  I seem to need them to keep me moving in a certain direction.  I even like them.  But, having said that, I'm being kind to myself about my ability to do 'anything, not everything.'

I'm a little late to the game, but have been peripherally doing the Reverb10 challenge since December 1st - some on my blog and some just with my sister, or reading Christine or Tena's postings.  I decided to just do it myself, not just wish I was doing it.

The Reverb10 group have a set of brief writing prompts to help us reflect on 2010 and manifest what we'd like out of 2011.  Seems highly appropriate for me, since I've been trying to accomplish things, grow, and figure out what I want from next year and make sense what I can and can't control etc.  Also, I like writing prompts.  It's a bit like improvising without having to move around the room or speak aloud. 

I'll do a fast catch up today, and can use reverb10s prompts to flesh out No New For Tara/No New is Good News as we head into the final 25 days of nothing new for a year. 

Dec. 1st: The prompt was: "December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)"

I already did this in One Word to Rule them All.  My 2010 word was "Grindstone".  2011 was "Release".

Dec. 2nd:  The prompt was: "December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)"

This is a toughie.  I often feel like I'm over scheduled and have a hard time squeezing in writing.  Having said that, I've blogged 223 posts (including this one) this calendar year, so I must be doing something right.  The things that get in the way include procrastinating, getting overly tired, or letting the day get away from me with errands and chores.  I'm not sure what specific things I can give up, but maybe by scheduling in writing time I can make sure it happens.  Especially on weekends, making it earlier than later?  Chores can wait, this pleasure should take a front seat.

Dec. 3rd:  "The prompt was: December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)"

We did this verbally at Stitch & Bitch on Friday at my sister's house.  The moment I picked was a time I actually blogged about in January under the title Buying Experiences.  It was a hike I took on a magical day in Newfoundland when I still had 3 grandparents. My father, aunt, and uncle were with me. There was snow on the ground, but the water was 'flat calm' and the air still and mellow enough to dress quite lightly.  We climbed Burnt Hill and I felt vividly alive.  I can smell that day.  Salt air, crispy crunchy twigs and things underfoot, moose poo to frozen to be a hazard, a view like a black and white panoramic photo. Dark and gorgeous. Unspoiled snow.  And being silly with my family outdoors.  Dad took his new camera and a million photos and ran up and down the hill with the energy of an adolescent.  Enthusiasm to burn.  It really was such a great day. 


Dec. 4th: The prompt was: "December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)"

Hmmm.  Doing the End Cancer Walk, had many moments of wonder, for sure.  Being a part of something bigger than yourself, seeing the kindness of strangers, pushing through pain as a team.  Also, letting my one-year-old cousin brush my hair.  It's really a very wonderful (though not very hair-tidying) experience.  You get on the floor with her, she takes this impossibly soft brush in her fist and brings it to your hair.  She stops occasionally to rub cheeks with you and concentrate vigorously on her important task.  But, you might also get her to giggle if you tickle her a bit.  I think that I could probably use a bit more wonder in my life and will keep my eyes peeled...

Dec. 5th:  The prompt was:  "December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)"

Well, I may have touched on this in my post on Why Am I Rolling This Big Rock, Again?  I think what I am working to let go of is my incessant needs to: fix things, be right, and change stuff.  That doesn't mean I don't have goals on making things better though.  A bit confusing, but it is making me happier to not resist and fight everything with a need to fix/change/improve etc.  I also had to let go of some things I did not want to this past year, like two beloved grandparents, and some important people I worked with.  The most death I've experienced yet in a year.  Finally, I let go of my secure-safe-haven job and tried something new this year (only for a year, so not super risky, but still...)

Dec. 6th (Today): The prompt was:  "December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)"

So, we are at today's prompt.  What was the last thing I made.  I made one slipper and am half way through its mate.  The materials used: one pattern from Nanny Stuckless, her green knitting needles, and two balls of donated yarn.  The original pair I made with her personal tutelage you can see here.  I'm making pairs for her daughters, since this will be their (and my) first Christmas without her.  We will certainly all be missing both my grandparents a lot this Christmas, and if there is one thing they loved (and that fits a theme of not buying new stuff) it was to see us do something with our hands, like knit.  I happen to know my grandfather and grandmother were both much more impressed by the homely dishcloths I knit than they were by my two degrees.  And they kind of have a point.

Okay folks, time to hit the road for job number two.

xo Tara

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why Am I Rolling the Rock, Again?

I had this dude sitting near me on the bus spark up a conversation.  It was more of a monologue to be honest, because I really couldn't get a word in edgewise. But it ended up being kind of interesting and thankfully relatively brief.

He saw me reading a book for this mindfulness course I am taking.  Its title is a bit heavy - "The Mindful Way Out of Depression".  Just an FYI: I'm not depressed, nor do I plan to become so, if I can avoid it.  But everyday people can also become less negative, more happy, and enjoy more 'quiet mind' time with the help of using mindfulness.

Anyway, he saw my book and started with, "I couldn't help but notice the book you're reading..."  and then he was off to the races.  He talked pretty fast, and at times I couldn't keep up too well, or catch everything he said.  He told me he was on his way to a daily rehab program.  He said he was thankful he was going even though he knew from previous AA type groups "only about 3% of people successfully quit".  He talked about how it takes "everything" and then waxed eloquent about Nietzsche and other philosophies.

He then said, "But I think ultimately the soul and spirituality are the key".  I just nodded. There was no time or need for me to fill in my half of the conversation.  And then he explained further ending with, "Otherwise, it's like we're all just pushing these giant rocks up to the top of the hill, and for what?  What are we working so hard for?  What are we suffering so much for?  To watch the rock roll down the other side?"

I think this links nicely with my words for 2010 (Grindstone) and 2011 (Release).  I am looking to release my big rock from this year and let her roll.  I am definitely looking for a smaller one to push up the hill in 2011.  I may be a Work in Progress, but I don't want to think of myself as a 'Make Work Project'.

Nighty Night,
xo Tara

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Word To Rule Them All

I've read on my twin's blog and also on Bougie's blog about Reverb10.  Basically the goal for December, is to reflect on 2010 and write a word - a single word, mind you, that sums it up.  And then, step two is to write a single word that will help manifest what you want from 2011.

I've been thinking lightly about this, but not really gotten into it.  And I am so loving their words I feel like I need a word vacuum to come and take their choices away from my memory so I can think my own without being overly influenced by theirs.  I think that for today's entry, I'll put on my thinking cap and give 'er a shot.

My 'thinking cap' by the way, is the giant slouchy hat I made my wife as a gift that was as big as a toilet seat cover, if you recall.  I've been whittling away at it by making seams and doing various tricks, but to no avail.  Now it is not only big, it is also pretty pouffy-frouffy too.  She will definitely never wear it.  But I like to think of it as big enough to let my brain expand to supersonic size, so I've adopted it as my thinking cap.  Perhaps it will always be evolving.  Like me?  And maybe, it can only get better looking?  The only way is up?  I'm struggling for a great homemade slouchy hat metaphor to make it all okay.  I'll get back to you after tomorrow's Stitch and Bitch.

For 2010:
Themes of loss and death, backbreaking work, giving up bad habits, trying a bit of everything - fun and creative too, and taking on some major change, come to mind off the top of my head.

What word to capture all that?

Grindstone.

For 2011:
I am thinking of both my twin and Bougie's words as inspiring to shoot for.  They were: 'beginnings', and 'sharpen', respectively.
For me, I want to manifest simplicity, understanding, ease, and paring down.  I like the words 'elucidate', 'clarity', and 'fruition'.  In fact, I'm also keen on 'abdicate', 'relinquish', and 'surrender'.  I'm trying to say I see myself continuing to let go of the things and notions that hold me back while continuing to grow in terms of joy, ease, and light.  Not much to ask for, eh?

In a word:


Release.

Good night.  It's past a respectable bed time, so I'd better skedaddle.

xo Tara

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Scorecard - No Spend Week & Art Month

Not that this is all about keeping score, but I figured you might like some accountability.  I can report with some satisfaction the following:


  • Today marks 11 months of not buying anything new!
  • FYI: I will be doing a shopping Amnesty in January 2011, and then will resume nothing new for the rest of 2011.  It will help me get to many of my goals faster... Stay tuned for that one.
  • I successfully finished No Spend Week.  Today when I was 'allowed' to spend again, Ironically, I had barely any money :)
  • I made Art (for Art Every Day Month) 28 out of 30 days in November.  Since I've been really forcing myself to do all my Mindfulness course homework the last couple of days, something had to give, and unfortunately, it was Art.  Not to worry, Art, I'll be back for more soon.
I'll check in soon with more thrilling details of life as we know it here in No New is Good News, but I'd like to hear from my fellow participants.  Please check in and give us a report on how it went.  (If you delayed your start, let us know when you'll be done), or share a link where we can check out how it went.

Re: No Spend Week: For me, my wife made a big difference, being generous for a couple of outings, and also, I got to eat out at family and friends'.  I do feel I gained something from this week, besides not wasting money I didn't have, and paying my bills on time.  I broke the habit of nickel and diming myself to death with a coffee here, a cafeteria lunch there.  Since I've been so rushed with New Job, I've been a bit of a slacker with the packed lunches etc.  This week of Not Spending A Cent got me right into the groove of making my black coffees in my office with a kettle, packing a sandwich, eating some veg and fruit and nuts for snacks, etc.  Healthier and obviously better for our goals of getting out of debt.  Speaking of that, I must go back to visit Man Vs. Debt's blog to get inspired.  It's been a while.

Talk soon,
xo Tara

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day Six - A Midday Report

Day six is proving relatively uneventful, but not in a bad way.  I brought a coffee and lunch with me, so I'm keeping starvation at bay.  I've made myself 2 cups of herbal tea at my desk and am working away on my pile of worky, work, work.

I started the day nicely with a mindfulness class.  I am hoping that it will become increasingly useful and natural for me to use mindfulness.  I would enjoy, for example, being about to routinely do the dishes mindfully rather than full of anger and resentment at the universe for such a drag of a task.  In fact, it's all about what's in your head as you do dishes.  So, wish me luck with my next batch.  If I can just keep my mind on the dishes not the unfairness of doing dishes, it'll all be fine.

As far as No Spend Week goes, my main issue is that I am scraping the bottom of the barrel with my lip balms.  I'm desperate to get a new one.  I have about 3 used up tubes and I'm literally scraping up a bit of balm with a paper clip and putting it on my mouth.  I've had an addiction to lip balm since I was about 19 years old.  It's not going anywhere, so I need to plan better.  Last night I couldn't find my tube and I was forced to use dabs of olive oil.  It's a sickness.  On Wednesday I will be shopping for lip balm, spare lip balm, and back up to the spare lip balm.  (Incidentally, those were the three items I said I'd want on a deserted island).

Back to work,

xo Tara

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Five - No Spend Week

The sun has set on day five.  This was another day where my wife made my life easier.  I slept in, and she woke me with coffee and asked if she could treat me to a movie.  We went to see Harry Potter.  It was fun, but hard to end it in the middle of the book!  Does anyone know when the final film is coming out?

I'm doing creative cooking this evening; experimenting with the ingredients I have on hand and a couple of ideas my dad gave me on the phone.  I also have been working on some of my mindfulness homework, like trying to really be present for the experience of doing dishes or something mundane like that.  It was my stepmother's birthday today and I'm working on making her gift, which will come late along with her Christmas gift, which will hopefully come on time.

Last night was a very fun evening, and I'm considering my art form playing word games.  It did involve being creative, so hopefully that works for you.  Only two days to go until spending is once against sanctioned, whether or not it's affordable is another story :)

xo
Tara

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day Four No Spend Week

Today is the hardest day so far.  My wife and I are going to visit with a new girl couple for the first time tonight at their place for a game's night. Since I don't know them well, I wish I could splash out and just buy stuff to bring.  Instead, I am having to cobble together snacks from what we have here (wish I hadn't already opened that brick of cheese, etc.), and figure out what to do about drinks.  Damn!  I should have picked up a bottle of wine or two for just such emergency social situations.

I think it will be fine and fun, and hopefully we will end up with some new pals to hang out with.  I think my wife is going to use the money I gave her when I turned my pockets inside out and gave her the contents - so I wouldn't be tempted to spend this week - to buy a couple of drinks to bring along.  She's not doing the challenge.  So, it's a bit of a cheat, but feels better than going to their place quite so empty handed as I might dare to with old friends.

In other news, I spent today organizing for an annual event for homeless women I am involved in for International Women's Day.  We were sorting our donations thus far to see how it's coming (the event is in March) and to separate out some of the inappropriate ones.  Sometimes donations are 'used' which we don't like for this party.  We want to only give the women new presents, so we divert used things, or things homeless women probably don't need at the shelter (like wine racks etc.) and also things with overt Christmas packaging, we send on to other agencies to use for Christmas parties.  As always, we end up coming home with a few cool things ourselves.  I got a sweet vintage clutch purse that one of our volunteers brought in and handed off to me personally - I think I'll dress like a girl tonight and bring it!  I also got a yellow Sony Walkman cassette player.  I'm very delighted with this, having just read how they finally killed the Walkman.  I sure hope it works.  I am looking forward to walking down the street or riding the subway while rocking my Walkman.

Art for today:  I haven't decided.  I'll have to let you know tomorrow.  It will either be more knitting, or else some writing.

xo Tara

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day Three of No Spend Week

We are struggling a little with some clarification issues for our week of not spending.  We did not proactively address the thorny issue of spending in the workplace/volunteer place.  In retrospect, I could have thought this through more beforehand. But let's say that, when unavoidable, spending on a direct work function with money from work is not cheating.  And volunteering is really just unpaid work (so it should be included in a broader definition of work).

But it does not sanction the stuff we spend at work just to make it through the day like buying fancy coffees, chocolate bars, cabs because we slept in, or new shoes etc.

Hope that makes sense to everyone. 

Today I got off lucky with a friend making me a delicious free lunch.  Tonight I'm looking forward to my brother-in-law making me American Thanksgiving Dinner.  To both events I arrive empty-handed but, I like to think, full-hearted.  And oh so thankful for the kindness of others.

xo Tara

Day 26 of Art Every Day month will be more slipper knitting :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No Spend Week - Day Two

Well, today was tough and easy in different ways.

It started with my wife looking at me with alarm and commenting how tired I looked.  It was true, I'd had almost 10 hours sleep but still looked like I'd flown in on the red eye from really far away.  Not sick still, but just not fully well yet.  It was also one of those days that gets slightly high jacked out from under you, where you are running from thing to thing. And someone else keeps adding to your to-do list.  Every time you get a chance to have a glance, it's grown.  A bit like those nightmares I used to have working at the Keg restaurant.  I'd go back to my section after picking up some one's coffee, and bizarrely my section now stretched into the horizon, with no end in sight.  All the tables suddenly full of angry people banging their forks and knives and yelling for service.  Such an unrestful dream to wake from.  We called them Keg-mares.

But actually, today wasn't quite that bad, only that it felt so very full. And any time I thought I had a breather, someone had snuck another major thing into my schedule.  But while the day was busy, it was also really interesting and parts of it were even fun.

I got to take a cab today using a work taxi chit, so I got the luxury without the spending.  And since I was racing from work thing to work thing, my conscience is clean.

I do have a grey area work situation to relate from today though, spending wise.  At my part time job an event was planned where my coworker and I would take some tenants out for soup and tea this evening.  Our usual cooking group was not happening, so it was a kind of healthy, free meal late in the month for our low income folks.  My coworker (who does this job full time) hauled out her company MasterCard to pay.  (I only do the job part time so I don't get a MasterCard - I just have to submit receipts.)  It turns out the diner did not accept it. She had no cash, so I had to put the soups on my debit card.  I don't like that it happened, but I am choosing to view it as a technicality.  I will submit the receipt to work and get reimbursed. So if I want to get really nit picky, I would say I was spending work's money, just in advance.

Feel free to throw rotten tomatoes at me if you disagree!

And, I got to end my day with Art!  I'm calling it art, but in a court of law it might not hold up.  You can decide:  I sang karaoke - several songs - and I'm not known for my singing skills.  So, it was brave, creative (?), and a bit against the grain.  But I got encore requests from the generous audience, so it was easier than it could have been.

I'm off to unwind before Friday.

xo Tara

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not Spending, Day One

Yee Haw!  I still have loads of provisions and fizzy water, so aside from feeling sick like a dog with flu, I'm still riding high on a wave of optimism for No Spend Week. Thanks for joining in, ladies.  Please report back on how it's going with y'all. 

That was my glass half full side talking.  My glass half empty side would have loved to take a cab today, between my aching guts and my four overflowing bags 'o stuff I dragged into work with me.  It would also like to take a cab back home again, but I'm not listening to my half empty side just now. 

No money to spend makes it easier to not spend this week, and also means more time to devote to art every day month. Yet another benefit.

So, I'm cutting out because I need to take it easy and recuperate. 

For Art: I'll be doing some brainstorming for a bit of my sister's novel as art tonight. Kind of like 'guest hosting' in her writing. 

Oh!  I had a really nice gift today.  A bit box arrived and I thought it was a delivery of flip chart paper.  It turned out it was a very cool painting from my work wife (who I left in September when I started my new gig), Shannon.  It is a big 3D black heart, cleaved in two, and sewn up with red laces.  It is on a purple backdrop and has the caption, 'You broke my heart'.  I showed it to all my new coworkers to let them know how popular and missed I am at my old job so they will think I'm cool. It's pretty awesome. I miss having a work wife, but these guys are very nice to me. Too bad I don't have a camera at work.

xo Tara

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Spend Week Is Here at Midnight!!!

Guys,

Between making Art Every Day, having a 2 year wedding anniversary, and working two jobs, I can safely say that it took a Herculean effort today to get ready for No Spend Week which starts tomorrow - as in midnight.  I got home from a busy outing with job number two, grabbed my granny cart (that my own mother refuses to be seen with) and hustled out to No Frills to get groceries and some Lubriderm for my wife's new tattoo.  I also squeezed into the liquor store just before closing to grab a bottle.  We have two parties to go to this weekend.  We may need to ration it out in wine skins.  Anyway, I am safely back home, knackered and still have to do some prep for work at main job tomorrow.  I am starting a new group, and am a bit nervous about it, plus my days at New Job (a.k.a. main job) are seriously busy so prep time is limited there.

Let me introduce you to my fearless and noble comrades in this journey:

1. Tena, my twin, who will likely find this challenge very challenging.  No offense, Sister.

2. Rollerscrapper, who I am delighted is joining us, and is a new online pal.  Her blog is very fun and eye-catching.  She's also very crafty - I am going to get more tips out of her re: my own crafting, and she just bought a house days ago...

3. Stella, who is a regular on this blog, does not have her own blog.  She is very cool and was the friend who lent/gave me 'How To Be Free' by Tom Hodgkinson.  She enthusiastically replied to the call: "I'm in!"

4. Jo, who is new to me and also blogless, joins us writing: "Okay, I can do this too.  I don't have a blog though.  I had a look at my spending spreadsheet and the last week when I bought NOTHING was the first week of August.  I checked my calendar (prompted by Tena's comment) and I *think* the garden guy will skip that week but if he does mow my lawn during the challenge, I'll need an exception to pay him on the same day.' (My advice is to mail him the money tonight before midnight or else next Tuesday at midnight :))

5. Elizabeth, who also has a great blog 'chronicling a year outside the mall'.  How perfect for our challenge and what a great person for me to connect to this year while I am also avoiding malls like the plague!

6. Moi.  If you're reading this, you probably know a bit about me, but if not, this is my second No Spend Week this year, and I'm also almost 11 months into a year of not buying anything new.  My original No Spend Week inspiration is Consumption Rebellion, and I joined her similar challenge in April and you can read more about my call to arms for tomorrow's challenge here.

As far as No Spend Week goes, by now you may know the drill, but here goes:

We are not spending anything from midnight tonight until Tuesday Nov. 30th at midnight.  A full week of not being consumers.  It will foster creativity, bartering, and learning to be satisfied with what we have. Hopefully.  It may also bring on anger, boredom, frustration, and the evil eye from our spouses.  But, I think it's a worthwhile endeavour.  It also covers Buy Nothing Day, which you may consider participating in even if you are not doing the week-long-haul with us.

xo
Keep your fingers crossed for us and if you see us looking parched and desperate, maybe offer to buy us a fizzy water...
Tara

P.S. for Art Every Day, I'm knitting on my slippers for gifts.  And just for you, this treat from my American pal, David Monteith, who was inspired to share after my example of Haiku.  Thanks for sharing David.

Art Every Day, my friends.  It's everywhere.  It's in you to give:

Heard you been writing some haikus.
I'm a big fan of the form.
I wrote this one on the subway a couple of days ago.  Thought you might like it.

Sadly, I just learned
I'm not the only one who
farts in subway cars.

~David M




Monday, November 22, 2010

Cotton Anniversary Arrives

At midnight last night we decided to begin our anniversary celebrations. Today is our 2 year, 'Cotton Anniversary'.

As you know, I haven't been buying anything new this year, but am allowed to get supplies for do-it-yourself projects.  So I thought the floppy hat thing was going to be a perfect gift, thematically appropriate; labour intensive and loving enough.  As you can see by the photo where I am modeling the hat, (taken after soaking it in 4 kettles of boiling water and drying it on high for 2 hours), it is still big enough to be a toilet seat cover.  I will be making another hat for my wife, but I need to get a lesson in what went wrong.  I know our heads aren't that small.  I may use it for a thinking cap.  Inspiration and plenty of room for brain growth.



I scrambled for another cotton gift, and decided to make a pillow with a couple of old favourite t-shirts.  One side is from a t-shirt that we got on our honeymoon that is like an old tattoo that says 'Love is all', the other side of the pillow is from the first 'Cheap Queers' show my wife took me to.  It's an outrageous, annual comedy and anything goes show during Pride Week.  The cost is kept ridiculously low (I think the tickets were $6.49) and they make shirts that they stamp their this-year's-logo on, from a pile culled from thrift stores.  Actually 'Cheap Queers' is also thematically appropriate to me not spending a lot this year.  I even got some buttons that looked like old fashioned tattoos.  Dawn used images of old tattoos as inspiration when making decorations for our wedding way back two years ago.




So that was my cotton part, and then I wanted to do something else but one of my high tech creative projects is 'stalled in post-production'.  A fancy way of me saying I need to haul my butt out and get a tutorial from someone other that my wife so it can be a treat for her.  I ended up making a funny, not so complicated animation video for her (from a website).  Since I'm not buying anything, I chose the only two 'free' characters from the human-looking options.  They happened to be one male and one female.  They were sitting at an anchor desk, and I thought that was kind of cool, since hey, our wedding might be considered 'newsworthy' on our anniversary.

(Speaking of Newsworthy, here's a little article from the Toronto Star about our wedding.  There are a couple of errors, as in it was my first foray into online dating, and my dress had a gold thread, but the warmth and gist of it were very sweet.)

Back to my animation debut: I gave both my cartoon characters female British accents, since my wife loves a British Lady Voice.  And then I created an animated video of our wedding vows.  It gets better.  The day before the big reveal, I showed it to my twin sister, since I was so proud. With some surprise, she asked me why I chose Larry King's signature stage set, and picked Larry King and Sarah Palin to 'read' our vows.  As you might gather, I don't watch much News TV.  She pulled up Larry King's show on the television, and sure enough, it looks just like it's cartoon version.  The video of our vows is almost 4 minutes in length, and it was pretty hysterical to watch Larry and Sarah mouth our words like Girlish British Robots.  But, I guess in truth, if I'd realized that's who they were, I'd probably have gone with the bunny and cat characters. But it got a good laugh, and my wife cracked up, especially about the fact that I didn't even realize who I was 'casting'.

I gave Dawn my homemade gifts first and she was suitably delighted. She went last; I'd sensed her gift might be 'bigger' than mine and thought some dramatic waiting and build-up was in order.

Dawn was clearly chomping at the bit to show me her gift.  She kept asking, 'Are you sure you don't know what I got you?'  And I genuinely did not have a clue.  (The real tattoo is not reversed as in the pic below, but after trying to make it work forever, I decided to go with this so it could get posted while it's still our anniversary)



Tonight she has an audition and a show, and we will revisit the site of our first date afterwards to toast our  marriage and inspired courtship.

So happy anniversary to me and she.
xo Tara

p.s.: No Spend Week starts on Wednesday, so I (and my fellow participants) have two shopping days to get sorted for that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Creative Cooking

I spent the day in bed after about a 90 minute stint at work.  It wasn't working for me, I felt pretty cruddy.  Not to worry, I feel much better after a session with my Neti Pot, followed by a long nap.   It is a very strange sensation to pour saline into one nostril until it comes out the other, but soothing nonetheless.

When I got up I decided to combine art and cooking by trying out a new recipe from Budget Bytes.  This was a pasta with butternut squash, spinach and blue cheese.  I improvised because I like my food more chunky and was too lazy to puree the squash after roasting it in tiny bites in the oven.  It turned out rich and sweet and savory and delicious to both of us.

I was able to share a laugh with my wife when I showed her my original anniversary gift.  I knit her a 'floppy hat' out of organic cotton (year two is the 'cotton' anniversary).  It turned out about the size of a toilet bowl cover and I haven't had a change to get a tutorial and retry it.  We both had a laugh as she tried it on and it came down over her shoulders.  I'm going to try and shrink it.  I did stay up late last night making her another kind of creative gift.  It will be a surprise for our actual anniversary date on Monday, November 22nd.  I'll share more with you then.

Okay, I'm off to bond with two of my sisters.  One is in town briefly and we are meeting up at my twin's house.  There will likely be more arts and crafts there as well as hanging out and having a laugh.

Happy Friday,
xo Tara

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resources Depleted

I'm feeling a bit under the weather, like my resources are depleted. Kind of sniveling and sorry for myself.  So, I must admit, I took the easy way out by again using the hi/lo art form of Haiku today.

I am considering rebranding it as a new therapeutic modality. Therapeutic Haiku.  Cure for writer's block, the common cold, and whatever ails you.  Give it a shot.

Must get some sleep.
xo
Tara

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 17 of Art Every Day Month - Poetic Plums

Heya,

It's getting late so I won't tarry long.  To be frank, I still have to do my mindfulness homework, -- a 30+ minute body scan.  But I will check in re: my day and my day's art.

The day was good and creepy.  An education session about Bed Bugs at job 2 in the a.m.  Then off to job 1 for the p.m.  Busy, Busy, Busy.  Then back to job 2 for evening part of p.m.  It could have been fun -- a film festival, but one gal who showed immediately got a scary nosebleed that wouldn't let up.  I ended up bringing her to emergency.  Ended okay eventually, but no film fest, and much blood later.

For art, I decided to go tres simple.  I took a stack of cue cards and decided to write some haiku between shifts in that tiny window of opportunity from 5:15pm to 6:00pm.  It's kind of funny because a novel I just finished (The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker) has a main character who is a poet that speaks a bit dis-ingly of haiku. I can't remember why. He also calls a poem that doesn't rhyme a 'plum' not a 'poem'.  But it seemed like a quick and easy idea.  As it turned out the structure and brevity lent themselves well to me being creative in a short window of time.  I wrote 20 haiku poems during less than 45 minutes.  The Fast and the Furious, my friends.  The structure is 3 lines: 5 syllable/7 syllable/5 syllable.

I know you want a sample, so here goes:

Read a book that did
nothing to promote the form
of Haiku as art.

At Zeller's last night
got the bargain of the day.
Clerks all atwitter.

Clandestine beer in
between shifts.  Waiting for the
Mill whistle to blow.

Today is the day
that draws a line in the sand.
10 months till quit date.

My novel sits in
clear blue plastic waiting for
me to dive back in.

Lauren is moving
across our world to be with
the boy who loves her.

Mom carries in her
backpack a letter which resigns
her to peace of mind.

Fifteen bucks burning
a metaphorical hole.
Time for second pint.

and the list goes on...

xo
Tara

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

6 Takers So Far

With 7 full shopping days left until NO SPEND WEEK begins on Wed. the 24th of November, I have 6 takers thus far!  You still have a week to commit if you are on the fence...As for me, I am so happy to have some company on this and look forward to hearing people's updates as we go.

I did make that long awaited health purchase today.  You may remember I said a while back I was going to be buying white runners for working in buildings with bed bugs.  It was recommended as the best way to spot them and prevent them from traveling on your clothing etc.  Ugh. Well, the cheapest comfortable ones I could find at Zeller's were $49.95.  I brought them with a heavy heart up to the cash.  I knew I had to have them for my peace of mind and my aching back at work.  Well, I'm still cackling with delight over what happened.  They scanned at $5.00.  The sales clerk double checked then called her supervisor who scuttled off.  She came back and said, 'She gets them for $5, but get the rest of them off the shelves now!'  Two stock boys were dispatched post haste to get my bargain shoes off the shelves and all the nearby cashiers came over to examine the shoes and shake their heads and exclaim, 'You sure got lucky!'  I've become a bit of a cheapskate about spending this year, so this definitely tickled me.

For art everyday month, I'll catch you up on yesterday and today.  I've begun a mindfulness course, so part of my homework is doing things mindfully, which I've discovered kind of turns everything into art.  I will be mindfully making some spaghetti sauce shortly...  But in a more traditional fashion, I've been furiously and artfully knitting away the last two days.  I plan to do more once I'm done blogging, before I start cooking.  I've also got homework of doing a body scan meditation daily until next Monday's class.  It is interesting to note how much our minds wander when we try to focus on our body or our breathing or the present.  Also, it ends up being quite deeply relaxing, which is not the purpose, so I have to work a hard at times not to doze off during it.  But, ending up feeling relaxed, intentionally or not, I am all for.

My efforts at upping my non-passive leisure are continuing as well as my friend outreach.  I've had lunch with one coworker-friend last week and will have lunch with another this week.  I'm also meeting up with 3 coworker-friends for after work drinks and catch up on Friday, then seeing two sisters later on.  The countdown is also on for my two year anniversary and I am busily working on some sweet little plans for that.

xo
Tara

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Update

Hey there,

No Spend week is fast approaching and so far I have Tena, Stella, and Jo joining me for it!  That is great.  It's never too late until it starts.  In the meantime, we have two weeks to get through and that week to plan for.  Jo, if you are able, a tip I used, was to pay for things either before the week or after.  i.e.: I paid a little late for a couple of things, and in one instance paid someone before they did the thing so I was not spending during my time period.

In other news I really got my art on this weekend!  Friday I knit a lot until my hands were sore and I was no longer experimenting with being well rested.  I also took on a fun assignment from my sister.  She asked me to pinch hit some ideas for her novel to give examples that would make a character lovable and friendly.  I brainstormed some examples to get her started.  It was fun to have a specific, novel thing to work on over the day.

Saturday we went out of town and my wife taught as arranged by friends who own a theatre school in Peterborough.  We got the b & b experience staying with them, and I got the long awaited, somewhat feared experience of being a participant in a workshop of my wife's (on the fundamentals of stand-up).  It was all women and we really connected and did some interesting and creative work and also got a joke or two out of it.  I've been wanting to be a fly on the wall in the class, and Dawn said I had to participate if I came, and I'm sooo glad I did.  I was glad I didn't let self consciousness hold me back.

Today's art has been more knitting.  I have a lot to do to make Christmas gifts.  I couldn't find pillow stuffing at the store I was at, so my t-shirt pillows are on hold.

I'm dropping in my traces, so I'll keep this brief.  Have a great night,

xo Tara

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Spend Week Challenge

Guys, I need some other people in the universe to try this challenge with me.  It creates a sense of community, camaraderie, and also energy about making it to the finish line.

So, I'll be laying down the gauntlet right about now:

No Spend Week runs from Wed. Nov. 24th - thru until midnight on Tues. Nov. 30th.  Another benefit is that it will include Buy Nothing Day, Nov. 26th, traditionally the biggest spending day in North America.

The rules are that for the duration of No Spend Week you do not spend ANY money.  The only exceptions are: automatic bill payment that comes out of your account on a certain date, or a genuine health crisis.  If you actually need to buy crutches that week, we are not going to count it against you.

That's right, this week involves that dread concept:  Planning in Advance.  If you plan in advance, you can make sure that you have all the things you Need to survive and even thrive during No Spend Week.

This will help with one of the big benefits we get from participating in such a wildly unpopular challenge.  That is, getting a sense of how much we take spending on our whims and wants for granted.  Not only will you learn about your own cravings (we notice them much more when we don't succumb to them in milliseconds-much like postponing a cigarette), you will learn some self sufficiency.  You will definitely save money.  You may reach out to others.  You may do things you have been putting off or not gotten around to (i.e.: catch up with family or neighbours, clean the house, cook a massive batch of nail soup from the far recesses of your cupboards, read a whole book, etc.).  You will discover the power of not needing to be a consumer.

Just in time for Buy Nothing Day, you can cheerfully stick it to the man by NOT giving in to the relentless onslaught of advertisements that try to make you dissatisfied with who and what you are.  You may even achieve enlightenment, nirvana, and ... Hmmm, I can't think of another lofty, somewhat unlikely, but still kind of groovy goal.  But you know what I mean.

If you want to participate, let me know and I will post a summary of who all's in, and if you are blogging about it, a link to your blog so people can check out your progress.

You have nothing to lose except your status as a consumer.  For more motivation to get off the consumption treadmill see: The Story of Stuff video; Tom Hodgkinson's book 'How to Be Free'; or your online bank statement!

So, lemme know if you want in.  The more the merrier.

To read a little about my last No Spend Week experiment back in March check this out...and this and this and this.  Basically a series of my posts between March 24 and April 2nd or so.  It was worthwhile enough to do again.

xo Tara

P.S.: in Art Everyday news:  I am going to watch female comedy students my wife teaches perform their 'class show' of stand-up tonight.  Rah Rah, Comedy Girl :)  I will be doing some writing of my own before the show begins.  I still have to put some sweat equity into that blasted joke about the guy in the droopy drawers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Can Do Anything, But I Can't Do Everything

I walked home tonight with my amazing coworker.  She's the woman that I decided to shake up my work life (to be able to come to this new job and get to work with) for a year.  An incredibly energetic, positive, knowledgeable force of nature.  She walks to and from work EVERY day.  To give this some context, I'm feeling proud for getting in 3 such walks (either to or fro, but not both) in a row.  She has worked in mental health for around 3 decades without getting burnt out or jaded.  She is cutting edge, cool, and great to talk to.  And she is the person who recently taught me the great title of this post.  I said, 'I think you can do anything!' and she replied, 'I can do anything.  But I can't do everything.'  She sets a few limits.  But it's also pretty empowering to think you can do anything, if you pace yourself and put your mind to it.  I've been embracing this motto along with my efforts to: do art daily, not spend, do more non-passive leisure, etc.  So, I guess the take home message is to be gentle with myself, while still working to be a work in progress.  To not be stagnant.

Also, I am always reminded of the urgency of doing, being, becoming.  I don't want to postpone happiness until I have spare time.  I might never have spare time.  So, I keep inching my way, in more or less, the right direction.  Hopefully.  Art for tonight will be a pleasure.  I will be working on finishing a knitted gift for someone as I simultaneously enjoy watching a movie my wife downloaded for me: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, in case you're wondering.

I'm looking forward to squeezing in a 4th walk in a row, and to getting out of town this weekend to somewhere with a bit more nature.  My wife will be teaching out of town and I'm going to tag along and use the time to work on my own writing projects.

The days are zooming by and I have only 51 days to go to make it to the end of my buy-nothing-new year.  Pretty cool.

xo Tara