30 January 2013

Happy Birthday Joanne.

Source: Creations Photo (Edmonton)
Dear Joanne,

Happy birthday friend!

Truth be told, we should celebrate your existence every single day. But since social norms pooh-pooh such extravagance and adoration, then my birthday blog will have to do. Feel free to read it every day, especially when you are feeling sad or low.

Here are some truths about you (some that you probably don't see in yourself):

1) You are stunningly beautiful as you are! Yes, you. I know you don't often think that, but take a good look at the picture above. That wasn't just a random-happens-to-be-great photo of you. That is how you look to us (well at least Steve, Marina, Mark and I) every day.

2) You are a fabulous mother! I know that lately, maybe, you haven't felt that way. Trying to juggle work with motherhood is hard on the best of them. But understand that if children are a reflection of their parents, then you are doing a damn good job. Marina is smart, loving, caring and at her worst, is still better then some kids at their best. Mark and I witness the love you have for your daughter when we visit. It is why we will strive to role-model ourselves after you and Steve with our own children. Don't feel like a failure if things don't work out as you plan. You offer Marina more than a roof over the head and food on the table. You offer her love, courage to grow, and wisdom to know what is right and wrong. Doesn't get much better than that.

3) You are a wonderful wife! I can't speak for Steve, but I can speak for what Mark and I observe when we visit your house. We see a relationship of love and respect. We see a relationship of humour and trust. We see a relationship that is perfect it its imperfections. We see that no matter what, your relationship with Steve (as both wife and co-parent) is the most important thing to you above all else.

4) You are a wonderful daughter! You take care of your elderly mom. There is not one part of you that doesn't show love and respect the wisdom and tradition your mom has given you.

5) You are a true patriot! You love Canada. You are a strong patriot. You speak out on issues, not to complain, but to make the country better. You are patriot, but not in a smug in-your-face way (which I know you detest). You are confident enough in your own identity to be respectful of other countries. You care enough to want to leave a better country for your daughter.

5) You are a wonderful friend! Joanne, you are truly the best friend one could ask for. You know me - not just a dimension of me. Because you know me, you let me be me. That is all one can honestly ask from a friend. If that were all you offered, that would be enough for anybody. But you offer so much more! We share the same humour, and the same style of scathing bitchiness. You got my back and I've got yours. You have enriched my vocabulary with such gems as bonerous erectus. We have travelled, journeyed through life, and experienced amazing things together. You inspire me to be better in many ways (least of which, a better blogger).

Still my favourite pic of us dorks.

This list barely skims the surface of all you are. You are smart, loyal, funny, witty, etc..

So here's the deal Joanne. When you are feeling not good enough (too fat, a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad friend, a bad person, just plain bad), come back to this post.  Recognize that those who love you (least of all me) see the best of you.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself, and I will be right there with you, trying to improve myself. However, appreciate the here-and-now, and all that you have to offer. Because you offer a hell of a lot to the world baby! And nobody puts baby in the corner (yep...I am a dork!).

I'll be by your side every step of the way my friend because I love you and you are my siiiissssteeeerrrr! (Aside: will this ever stop being funny? Nope!).

To quote the Golden Girls: "Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again, the heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant."

Happy Birthday Joanne!


Your dorky BFF Danielle.

28 January 2013

Friday's Top Five: Thing's I'm Looking Forward to This Year

Hello faithful readers of five,

Joanne and I decided to blog about the five things we look forward to this year, in parts to keep up with the desire to stay motivated, positive, and grateful. So this week (by this week, I mean last Friday, but it's Monday, because I actually had to work Friday, because sometimes work interferes with my life), we will blog about the five things we are looking forward to this year. And once again, I could pretty much copy and paste Joanne's Top Five list. Just sayin'.

#5) A Specialist-Free Year
I am so very done with going to specialists. The last two years have been nothing but near-monthly specialists appointments. Unless I have some sort of remission, or say I get pregnant and have a complicated pregnancy because of my condition, the appointments might not be over. But it doesn't hurt to be optimistic about such things. I'm done with all things Sarcoidosis. As an aside, I am glad we have the health-care system in Canada that we have. I will be forever grateful for the care I received during my health-care journey.

#4) Better Overall Health & A Healthier Weight
All that being said in point #5, I do need to get on top of things regarding my health. My Sarcoid is in complete remission. My organs seem to be healthy (most especially my lungs and kidney). My asthma is under control with Symbicourt. My severe Vitamin D deficiency is back to the semi-normal with continued supplementation. My hormone imbalance (caused by said vitamin deficiency) is back to normal. 

That all said, I still have major room for improvement. My vision needs to be checked. My fitness levels are appalling. I'm fat. Not preciously plump. Full on fat. And I am trying to conceive, which surely my weight contribute to the difficulty of conception. More work needs to be done to make a healthier me in 2013!  This will involve some amount of discipline on my part, but I can succeed!

 #3) Baseball Season
This year, more than any other year, I am EXCITED about baseball. There is a lot to be excited about! The Toronto Blue Jays look like they might actually have a team in contention this year, with some pretty major off-season signings (including 2012 Cy Young winner R.A.Dickey).  In Edmonton, there has been a major drought because they suspended the 2013 season of the Edmonton Capitals (because of the weak NABL system). However there is a strong possibility of baseball returning by way of either (maybe) American Association of Professional Ball League or a (slim) chance of getting a single-A farm team. Now, with the schedule already posted for 2013 in the AAPBL, I am trying not to get too optimistic. But it would be nice to have something. Baseball is easily the cheapest and most enjoyable entertainment in town (ticket, beer, hot dog for less than $20).

In addition, a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame might be in the works...

Source: sportscasualties.com

#2) Vacation to Ottawa and Upstate New York
Nothing is set in stone yet, but husband and I plan to visit Ottawa. This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I am excited at the prospect of visiting our nations capital. Being the dorky über-patriotic Canadian (and history majour), I am super excited. What adds to the excitement is the possibility of meeting up with Joanne and her family for a side-trip to upstate New York, where her husband is from. This may include a day trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hope to see the Niagara Falls and Toronto, as well as the Gatineau area of Quebec. But for me, Ottawa is what I am most looking forward to visiting. To be able to be in the Parliament Buildings, the same buildings that Pierre Trudeau and other leaders have walked, overwhelms me.

#1) Having a Baby...(hopefully).
Husband and I want a baby. The TTC process is a bit frustrating. But at least I am enjoying the trying part, even if the conceiving part isn't quite happening! ;)

You totally know I will do this to my kid, right?

So there's my list. What's on your top-five look foward list?

P.S. Today would have been my friend Wendy's 37th birthday. I miss her so much. In times of sadness, reflecting on hopes and dreams seems apt. She would want me to have these, achieve these, and be a better version of myself. I miss you dear friend. I love you. And I will always strive to be happy for you.

21 January 2013

Friday's Top Five - Motivation Songs

Hello faithful readers of five:

A typical conversation with Joanne from A Warm Cup of Jo:

"What are we going to blog about next week?"
"Um. What about songs that motivate us?"
"Awesome. I'm so motivated about this topic!"
Fast forward one week
"Can we postpone this one week?"
"Hell yah! I am so unmotivated to write!"

Yes my friends, Joanne and I feed each others laziness. We are enablers. I love my BFF!

So what songs motivate me? What songs get my fire going? What songs inspire me to be a better me? When I'm feeling lazy, down, unmotivated, and rejected, music helps my soul.

Today, with the inauguration, it is a perfect day to stop being lazy and start sharing my songs that motivate!
Awesome picture, eh? I have no idea who to give credit to though.
So without further ado, here are my a list of my go-to songs (by no means limited to this, but these stand out). Joanne's list could easily be my list too, so check hers out too!

#5) God Bless the USA (and a Canadian version too!) - Lee Greenwood

I love my country. I love the United States for that matter too. This song may be dorky by the musical standards of today (and may be every politicians go-to campaign song) but I love it! I love the American version, and to my surprise, Lee made a Canadian version too! Patriotic love all around!

Lyric sample:
If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life, 
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife, 

I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today, 
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom 
And they can't take that away. 

US Version: 

Canadian Version: 

#4) That's What I Love About Sundays - Craig Morgan

This song represents for me what is truly important - faith, family and friends. If life were truly this simple, life would be great.

Lyric sample: 

That's what I love about Sunday:
Cat-napping on the porch swing;
You curled up next to me,
The smell of jasmine wakes us up.
Take a walk down a back road,
Tackle box and a cane pole;
Carve our names in that white oak,
An' steal a kiss as the sun fades,
That's what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

#3) In My Life - The Beatles

This song represents where I am at in my life right now. That it is important to look past, with fondness, at the memories of the past and the friends that have come and gone. However, it is important to not be stuck in the past, or the what might have been, but rather, move forward in life and in love.

Lyric sample: 

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you

And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

#2) That's Who I Am - Jessica Andrews

This song is me. I am who I am. It is important for me to recognize that I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am very clumsy. I may never cross-off the all important bucket list.I matter in this world, even if only to those who love me most. Being me is all that matters to them, and to myself.

Lyric sample:

Sometimes I'm clueless and I'm clumsy
But I've got friends that love me 
And they know just where I stand
It's all a part of me
And that's who I am

#1) Everyday - Dave Matthews Band

In 2002, Joanne and I went on my first vacation out of the country (and the first without my family). This was one of those life-changing vacations for many reasons (independence, confidence, deepening my love for travel and for the USA, etc...). On our tour, this was our morning song. Not only does it conjure up great memories though. It is a genuinely great song that wants me to strive to be a better person and contribute to society in a better way. I think if everyone lived this message, we would have a better world.

Lyric sample: 

Pick me up, love, from 
the bottom
Up onto the top, love, everyday
Pay no mind to taunts or advances
I'm gonna take my chances on everyday

Left to right
Up and up and inside out right
Good love fight for everyday
Jump in the mud, mud
Get your hands filthy, love
Give it up, love

All you need is
All you want is
All you need is love.
All you need is
What you want is
All you need is love.

So what are your motivational songs? Share!

9 January 2013

What Really Grinds My Gears Wednesday: Hashtag Campaigns

Hello faithful readers of five. Time for a new (hopefully weekly if I can stop being lazy) feature!

I know I said I would be more grateful in 2013. But when so much stupid exists in the world, in the interest of sanity, I really should allow myself at least one day to vent. Or drink. But venting doesn't kill the liver.

You know what really grinds my gears? Hashtag campaigns.

Hashtag campaigns (a.k.a. #insertcampaignhere) are campaigns that originate on Twitter. They are usually about political issues (like #occupywallstreet, #idlenomore #stopKony2012), but they can also include campaigns against corporations or other entities. My specific beef for the purpose of this post is about politically motivated campaigns.

The issue I have is not with raising awareness about important social issues. I think it is good and healthy to discuss topics that affect us directly or indirectly. I think it is important to highlight things that are broken in society.

My issue stems from the fact that, at least so far in my observance, if not done right, these campaigns are polarizing and pointless and stray so far from the issue that nothing actually happens.

Here is a list of everything that typically goes wrong with the campaigns:

  1. They are usually ideologically driven, and those who drive it are not interested in hearing other points of views but their own.
  2. Should you offer a different, valid point of view, you are labelled a _______. (Fill in the blank. Usually racist/sexist/elitists comes up, but by no means are the labels limited to just those).
  3. It brings out the nastiest comments from both the left and right, and ends up becoming a mud-slinging tweet-off.
  4. The "facts" or "proofs" are usually cherry-picked, ignoring all other documents, news or court decisions related to the topic. Especially if the word "charter-right" or "amendment-right" enters the fray. 
  5. The issue itself is based on a ton of misinformation right off the bat (not that anyone cares). So the warlord we are supposed to stop is not even in the country or power anymore? Minor details. So the chief starving herself is in knee-deep in highly questionable conduct at her own reserve? Minor details. 
  6. It creates a bunch of sheeple who know nothing about the topic, except for the 140 characters they read from other sheeples, and they all of a sudden become experts. That 40 year old housewife is all of a sudden a legal and constitutional expert. That 16 year old teenager, whose whole life revolves around Justin Bieber, cares so-o-o much about child labour (while everything she owns that her parents bought her is made via child labour).
  7. Journalists and newscasts fixate on all the wrong aspects of the topics, don't ask the right questions, portrays one side as victims and the other side (usually government) as villains. The only time they actually care to portray all the facts is when one side (usually the movement) does some grievance against a journalist. Oh the humanity of it all!
I don't pretend to know about what the hell the #idlenomore campaign is. Up until I started tuning in, I thought it was an environmental movement to stop idling your car. I don't have a clue about treaty rights. I don't have a clue what the constitution says, or what the courts have said, or what the issues are in the aboriginal community. Which is why I have not participated in the campaign. I am not an expert, so I will not pretend that I am.

However, I do think Theresa Spence's antics are taking away from real issues with the government and aboriginal communities relationship. Attacking the government and starving yourself isn't going to make a her reserve look any less ghetto, address why she and her boyfriend appear to be knee deep in corruption, or find out where the money given to her reserve has gone (certainly not to the people or infrastructure). I call bullshit.

Fact is, both the government and the aboriginal community (and the larger Canadian society) need to start addressing aboriginal issues. With all parties at the table. Discussing the actual issues, and how to address them. And each side will need to concede things to move forward. That is a fact. Dispute that

I am not against people having an opinion on a topic. That is healthy. But don't just spout rhetoric as an "expert" and slag other people with different points of view in the topic. If you are not interested in engaging in real dialogue,or interested in researching the topic, or interested in hearing all points of views, go back to tweeting angry cat memes. 

8 January 2013

2013 Bucket List: The Friday Five Edition (posted late as usual)

Hello faithful readers of five!

Today's blog is not so much about a 2013 resolution, but more like a commitment. Call it a bucket list of what I want to achieve this year. This was originally supposed to be posted on Friday but I was sick with the flu. When you are done, and have commented (because comments are my she-ra sword), then head over to Joanne's blog post on this very same subject!

5) Be selfish & stand up for myself. 

Seems like an odd thing to want. However, as I discovered in 2012, this action is essential for both my physical and mental health. To sit by quietly while someone tries to piss on you is not "keeping the peace." It's not even trench warfare. It's laying down and being shat on is what that is.

I am done with dealing with passive-aggressive people who throw digs while pretending to be nice for the sake of martyrdom. Screw you.

I am done with nagging feelings of doubt about the quality of my work or the contributions I add to the discussion because you are insecure about your own enough to tear down mine.

Don't like that? Tough titty for the kitty. I am not your punching bag. I am not your slave. I am not your therapist. I am putting myself first, and you better be prepared for that.

4) Limit my social media time. 

Confession: I have missed what other people have said to me, including my husband, because I was looking at Facebook or Twitter.

Ironic since I hate it when I go out with friends or family and everyone is glued to the phone. But I am slowly becoming that person. I forgot my phone for Christmas Eve dinner. I thought it would be OK. I can handle one night without my iPhone right? Well I won't lie and say I didn't get...um...twitchy. Especially when at one point at the table I was sitting at, everyone there's head was down, looking at their smart phone, not even talking to me or each other. The living room where the rest of the family was assembled was no better. The next day, I must have checked my phone at least 20 times, as if I missing someones tweet was going critical to my well being.

I appreciate being connected to people so easily. I appreciate making new friends.

But what good is being connected if we are truly not connecting

Most people, especially on Twitter, aren't really interested in my point of view. They (like me) are more interested in sharing their points of view.  I have seen friendships fall apart over posts on Facebook and Twitter (over politics and other "issues"). I have gone months without seeing my actual real-life friends and family, as if somehow, Facebook or Twitter is enough to sustain that connection. It's not for me. I assure you. However, I am guilty of doing the things I so despise.

If I miss things my husband is saying, then a line has to be drawn somewhere. BALANCE has to be part of the social media equation. (Blogging excluded of course... he he).

Let's not even begin to discuss how much time has been wasted at the expense of other meaningful activity...which leads me to my next bucket-list item!

3) Get more active

Things I discovered in 2012:

  1. Activity helps me lose weight, feel energized, contributes to my overall health improvement, improves my mood, and strengthens my connections with others.
  2. Lack of activity causes plateaus, weight-gain, fatigue, health problems, adds to my negative feelings about myself, and weakens my connections with others. 
Remind me again why I am not out there every single day for at least 30 minutes? Remind me again how hard it is to find 30 minutes when I can easily waste that amount of time watching shows on TV I don't even like, or scrolling Twitter and Facebook?

There really is no excuses for avoiding what I actually enjoy. There are so many things I can do at my current weight (like aqua-size, walks around Beaumaris Lake, the elliptical etc..), that any excuse is pitiful at best.

2) Lose weight and stop putting crap in the trap. 
Source: Someecards.com

I know that the easiest thing to do is cut my calories, watch my portions, and eat more of the healthy stuff. I know how to do it. I know the tips and tricks on how to create safe environments. I even know how to eat out in a way that is safe and controlled.

So if I know all of this stuff - if I am this oracle of weight-loss knowledge - how come I am not living the knowledge? How come I am abusing my body with crap food?

I will work on this. I already am to some degree. However, what I am thinking I am lacking is respect for the food that is produced to make me healthy, and respect for my body to seek those foods.

1) Life my life to the fullest potential with grace.
Source: The Biggest Loser, NBC
Good question Bob. What am I going to do with it?

I firmly believe that if I implement the principals above, I will be living my life to the fullest possible potential in 2013 and beyond.  There is absolutely nothing to hold me back but myself. I believe that I will achieve these goals with a good attitude.

I must be grateful the gifts in my life (including my very breath) that God has loaned out to me. That is right. Loaned out. Not given. He can very easily take those away - call in his chips as it were. Nothing is guaranteed to be permanent, good or bad. It is not my life to live. It is His. And I owe it to Him to be the best of me and represent Him well.

I must be authentic to Him. I must be authentic to myself.

Here is a song that I think best represents my life going forward.

It's Your Life

Album: My Paper Heart

Artist: Francesca Battistelli
This is the moment
It’s on the line
Which way you gonna fall?
In the middle between 
Wrong and right
But you know after all

It’s your life 
What you gonna do?
The world is watching you
Every day the choices you make
Say what you are and who
Your heart beats for 
It’s an open door
It’s your life

Are you who you always said you would be?
With a sinking feeling in your chest
Always waiting for someone else to fix you
Tell me when did you forget

To live the way that you believe 
This is your opportunity 
To let your life be one that lights the way

Here is a video if you want to hear they lyrics. 

Thanks for peeking into my life and thoughts this week. Share your bucket list items in the comments!