40 Days of Change

The totally awesome Rana — whose blog I always enjoy reading because she’s so positive (and I encourage you to read it too) and is one of THE most together people I can think of — is starting on a project called 40 Days of Change. And I think I might do it, too.

It’s sort of a commitment to change, to grow, to improve your life, but in a small, measurable, achievable way. It’s to help you find more positive in your life by focusing your energy a bit. It comes from her yoga instructor (and, as you know, I am a big fan of Teh Yoga, and do a class every day in which — in BDH’s words — “Chaz kicks your ass”) and it seems to be a great little plan for me right now, at this place in my life.

I encourage you to read Rana’s whole post on the 40 Days of Change to get all the background, but I’ll borrow a bit of it to give you an idea what it’s all about:

“Your intention is yours. YOU decide what you will commit to each day. It may be about swimming, or Tai Chi or gardening for you. It may be about being kind to the beings in your life, cultivating gratitude or growing your meditation practice.

Please let this sink in….I am not going to tell you what to do, nor is your 40 days going to look like everyone else’s. Intentions come in all shapes and sizes :).

So…set an intention for the next 40 days that is SIMPLE and DO-ABLE. SIMPLE….SIMPLE….SIMPLE. [i.e. I will roll out my mat and do 1 asana/pose every day; I will smile more often; I will walk more; I will eat something green every day].

Setting an intention is a way to align and connect with what is important to you RIGHT NOW. It is a personal agreement that puts an energetic focus on your vision of your life. It is also about action, since it actively directs your attention.

My suggestion for setting your intention:

Grab a journal, a pen and a quiet moment. Light a candle. Celebrate in your heart your willingness to participate. Ask yourself the following 4 questions:

1. What is it I wish to enhance?
2. Is there anything I want to let go of?
3. Is there something I yearn to discover…uncover?
4. What is it I’d like to manifest?

Once you’ve set your intention, acknowledge it and let it go. Drop it into your unconscious and go about living. Relax and be receptive to the magic…create space for the new to enter…accept and celebrate who you already are, creatively stepping into your vision.

One last suggestion: Choose a buddy you can share your intention with, then keep it close and seek your own inner counsel first. Be aware of your intention, but don’t try to “WORK” on it!

Trust yourself, trust your intention….trust the process.

Seems simple enough, right? And it’s a nice, positive process for making change. So I thought, for me, this fits in well with my mindset these days, of working to make some changes in my life. And it also meshes with the stuff I am learning in yoga. So I thought I’d try it. I have no idea what I’ll do yet — I need to think about it a little. And I’m going to set Monday as my start date because I like the idea of the 40 days being a goal, too.

I’ll post my intention and keep you updated, as Rana plans to do. And as she has said, if you want to do your own 40 Days, go for it. And if you do and you want to share, then feel free. Or keep it to yourself — it’s all good.

So, here’s to 40 Days to making a positive change in one’s life.

International Hug A Librarian Day

In honour of a year ago this week, when I was given an awesome and COMPLETELY necessary smackdown by some of the coolest librarians on the planet, here’s wishing you all a happy

“Unofficial International Hug A Librarian (and Return Your Overdue Books, Dammit) Day”

(But only if they WANT you to hug them. Remember, peeps, unwanted touching is WRONG. And also? Some of these librarians will lay you out. Don’t mess with them, man.)

It was a great time had by all, and so I designated Nov. 30 a holiday. And although I don’t use the blog anymore, I kept the Peevish Kitty blog open JUST for this day.

Librarians continue to rock my world, and they should rock yours, too.

Also, remember kids: don’t drink and blog.

30 Posts In 30 Days

The challenge, should one choose to accept it, is to write 30 posts in 30 days.

As I read in Shane Nickerson’s blog via Wil Wheaton’s blog via my newsreader (got that?), this fellow Shane posted a few days back that he has decided to do a 30-blog-posts-in-30-days personal challenge. He came up with this 30-in-30 plan, it seems from the rules he laid out for his challenge, to motivate himself to write more regularly and with more thought to content than he has recently. And Wheaton spread the idea along through one of his posts, and challenged people reading his blog to do the same. It looks like people are taking up the challenge.

Writing a blog doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes it’s really hard to think of something to write about. A lot of times, especially on a blog like this where stuff is more personal, there are enough things going on in everyday life that I can always manage to put pen to paper, metaphorically speaking. But some days, I draw a total blank. There are days when I get up and I have nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. There are days when I am so NOT motivated to write anything. Days when I am sick, or tired, or busy, or whatever. And on my other blogs, where research and forethought are required, it is much harder. I really struggle sometimes to find content that inspires me to write or, in the case of my volleyball blog, write something in some way that doesn’t bore people to death.

So I think it’s an interesting challenge, and I’m going to do it, starting tomorrow. I think it will be a good exercise for me. I’m usually pretty good at writing most days and not skipping too many, but there are things I’d like to improve on. I need to do it for a few reasons, not least of which is the continued motivation. If there’s a goal, I want to try to live up to it. But also, it’ll help with keeping my focus. Instead of coming to my computer and faffing around looking for a topic or inspiration, I hope this will get me into a better routine of writing and research.

But I am going to need to set some of my own rules for myself. Maybe “rules” is the wrong word; possibly “ideas” or “guidelines” would be better. I don’t want this challenge to be a chore. I want it to help expand what I am doing now and make me a better writer.

So, 30 posts in 30 days. Could you do it? If you have a blog, give it a try.

We shall see if I can. (Eep. No pressure…)

Ethiopia By The Numbers

Adoption Journey – Day 30

I have been reading a lot of blogs about Ethiopia these days and one, Ferenge Addis Blog, had some interesting facts about Ethiopia in a recent post. I decided I’d post some of them, with the Canadian equivalents where I could find them, so if you’re interested, you can learn a few things about the country Mystery Baby will come from.

  • Population: 74 million (Canada: 33 million)
  • Population below poverty line (US$0.50 per day): 50%
  • Number of native languages spoken: 88 (Canada: 2 official)
  • Currency: Ethiopian Birr (=US$0.113)
  • Religion (percentages vary wildly by study): 51% Orthodox Christian, 33% Muslim, 10% Protestant
  • Life expectancy: 41 years (80.22 years in Canada)
  • Average annual income: $110 (Canada $30,000)
  • Child malnutrition: 48%
  • Completed primary school: 2.6% (Canada: 97%)
  • Literacy rate: 42.7% (Canada: 97%)
  • Births per female: 5.4 (Canada: 1.61)
  • Child mortality: 123 per 1,000 (Canada: 6.9 per 1,000)
  • Infant mortality: 77 per 1,000 live births (Canada: 4.69 per 1,000)
  • Maternal mortality: 673 per 100,000 live births (Canada: 3.8 per 100,000)
  • Women who receive pre-natal medical care: less than 1%
  • Births taking place at a health facility with trained staff: 6% (Canada: 98%)
  • Number of cell phones: 410,600 (Canada: 16.6 million)
  • Number of television stations: 1 (Canada: 80)
  • Number of internet service providers: 1 (Canada: unknown, but a lot)

Many thanks to Ferenge Addis Blog for providing all the facts and figures as we learn more about the land of Mystery Baby’s birth. And for giving us something to think about.

Good Reading

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading on the internet recently. Mostly because my U2 biography is a giant coffee-table book and when I try to read it in bed, it crushes my chest. The internet is lighter.

I’ve really enjoyed reading Meg Fowler recently. She writes, I think, in a similar fashion to how I do — I think (because I don’t know her, I am only imagining) that she probably writes very much like she talks. I like that style. I like the whole “storytelling” aspect of it. Plus, she’s funny like a funny thing that’s funny.

And then, of course, there’s our very own lovely and talented Fiona at Confessions from the Home Office. Fiona also has a lovely storytelling style, full of gentle wit. And she is my exercise guru. (Do not tell her about the snack food fest that’s been happening here this weekend — OOPS. Never mind.)

For those of you who are fans, Zach Braff has a blog. It’s kind of in newsletter format, sometimes intermittent, but he has a fairly earnest style of writing, very kid-in-a-candy-store, that makes me think that he’s just as jazzed to be part of the entertainment business as you or I would if we were suddenly plopped down in the middle of it. He seems to be a decent sort.

And then, for my own personal geekness, I’ve installed an RSS reader. So now I’m getting feeds direct to my desktop about adoption, Ethiopia, volleyball, entertainment… totally the laziest way to surf the ‘net. I like that now, the internet is my bitch, man.

And now, off to read.

Time Out To Appreciate Things

I’ve been doing so much research this week, my eyeballs are rolling around their sockets. So today, I took a little time out to appreciate things.

  • This morning, at 4 am, a beautiful little 7 1/2 pound girl was born to a co-worker and friend of BDH. She was eagerly anticipated, although early, and already much loved.
  • I sat and watched the snow fall today. It has been bitterly cold here recently, but looking out over the conservation area, as deer walked by, it was lovely.
  • I had a good laugh at my and Kelly’s expense today, rereading a post she made on her blog that captured one of our many IM conversations one evening. I laughed so hard I cried and wheezed. It was brilliant.
  • We’re doing our best here to get healthy before the time comes for us to welcome a child into our home. I’ve been walking on the treadmill each day, and although I get all sweaty and nasty, I do enjoy the exercise.
  • Sometimes, a cup of sweet milky tea and two cookies really IS all you need.
  • Silly can be good for the spirit. Thanks to 5 minutes on homestarrunner, now I will be randomly yelling “Emergency Marketing Meeting!” a lot. And hoping for an opportunity to say to someone “I don’t know whether to puke or have a seizure.” And I’ve decided that my new favourite phrase is “It is time to resort to extreme measures. With Gene Hackman.” I can see that being VERY useful.

Mom Lays the Smackdown

I have been told.

This evening, BDH called home to say hello. His mom answered, and the small talk got around to the topic of their new computer. Both BDH’s mom and dad are learning to use their new computer, purchased as a Christmas present, and they’re doing really well with it. They’re sending email, using the internet, practicing typing, and just generally getting comfortable with the tools and toys. While BDH got things set up and running, part of my job is to help teach them about how to use the internet, since it is My Best Thing Evah. I mentioned that next week, when we are visiting, we will have to try some new things.

My mother-in-law (let’s call her “Mom”, for that is not her real name but what we call her) first became interested in the internet because she started reading my blog while she was on vacation late last year. She likes to read my blog to keep up to date on what is happening with us, because it is immediate and irreverent and sometimes even interesting. It’s also something she can get to on the internet without help from anyone, so she has been checking it faithfully since the got the computer.

So tonight Mom was on the phone and said that she noticed that I had not blogged since — WAIT FOR IT! — January 7th. Sunday. That’s TWO DAYS AGO!! And so, she told me to get up off my fanny and get to it! (At which point, I mentioned that I would actually have to get ON my fanny in order to blog, but this was not the time for impertinence. You don’t mess with Mom. She’s small, but she’s wily. And she is the keeper of the wine, so I shan’t anger her.) She said she relies on me for news! I’m how she keeps up to date on stuff! I was exhorted to get writing. (I think there was an implied “MISSY!” on the end of that — I cannot be sure.)

And so, I find myself duly chastened. I do not want to let my readers down. Especially since there’s wine to be drunk come Sunday.

So, this blog’s for you, Mom! (*waves*)

Doing What You Love

There’s a lot to be said for doing what you love. I have been happier in recent months than I have been in many, many years.

When I was in high school, wondering what I would do with my life, I knew one thing for sure: I would die inside if I had to spend my time in a corporate environment, in a cubicle. I dared say this out loud to my family, and rather than support me and my search for a job that would make me happy, that was outside the office environment, instead they got all huffy and took it personally (like it had anything to do with them). They said I insulted them and what they do and what they want to do. They said I should consider that the corporate world was where I’d make the most money. I didn’t discuss it with them again.

For awhile, I worked as a teacher. But eventually, I ended up in the world of cubicles and bizarre corporate politics. I hated it. I hated every single minute of it. But it made me lots of money, so I stuck with it. And I got more miserable as the years went on.

So, when I found myself without a job, I sat down and thought about what it was I wanted to do with my life. My husband has always wanted me to do what makes me happy. The only thing that has ever made me happy is to write. I was discouraged from writing as a career in the beginning because of so many reasons — writing won’t make me any money, I have no experience, what if I am not any good at it — but as I spent my time with no job, thinking of what to do, slowly my thoughts turned back to writing. BDH encouraged me to really consider it. And so, I faced the possibilities that scared me in the beginning. “I won’t make much money,” I said. “So what,” said BDH. “We’ll get by.” “I have no experience,” I countered. “So get some”, said BDH. “Just start writing, and see what happens.” “What if I am not any good?” I asked. This was a pretty big one. BDH said, “I enjoy what you write. People enjoy what you write. You’re good enough for them. You’re good enough.”

So I started to think it was possible. And now, I am a writer. I have blogs of my own. I blog for volleyball. I submit stories to online publishers. I am a writer.

I will be lucky if I make in a year even a fraction of the money I used to make in the corporate world. But on the other hand, I am luckier than I ever thought possible. I am doing what I love. I am happier than I have been in many, many years. I am enjoying what I do every single day. I am a writer.

Hanging Out In The Blogverse

One of the things I enjoy doing most in life is reading. I always have loved to read, even as a small child. So it gives me no end of pleasure to find that the internet is chock full of good reading, in the form of blogs.

I go to my friends’ and family’s blogs first, of course. I am fortunate to have friends who are good writers, and I love being able to talk about stuff they post. I like that they enjoy blogging as much as I do.

I love to read hollywood farm girl, the blog put up by Tammy Lyn Michaels, who is Melissa Etheridge’s wife. Although she’s had precious little time to blog since the recent birth of her twins, when she DOES blog, it’s a treat. She has a wonderful way of expressing herself, sometimes in prose, other times in poetry. She’s got a great voice, and I find some of the turns of phrase and the way she expresses herself really delightful. Often moving, often funny, always insightful, hollywood farm girl is a good read.

Another blogger that I really enjoy is Wil Wheaton. Wheaton, you may remember, was geek boy Wesley Crusher in Star Trek. Well, he’s all grown up, and he’s one of THE original bloggers in the world of bloggers. His blogs tend toward the geeky side, but he writes about his geekiness with a wry sense of humour. We also share an interest in the same kinds of music, so I love those posts. And when he writes about his kids, and how they’re growing up before his eyes, he tugs at your heartstrings.

And when I am looking for a laugh, I go to Jay Barnes. I find myself laughing hard enough sometimes when I read his blog that tears are running down my face. The “Cadbury Egg Cake” is a thing of beauty. And I find myself recently saying, “KABLAMMO! YOU are WELL!” to various sick people I have met up with. (My husband looked at me rather confusedly when I said this to him the other day. And then hit me on the head with a cartoon hammer.)

So keep an eye on my blogroll and link lists. You may find some good reading, or at the very least, an interesting diversion from the usual internet fare.

Spread The Net

This is the 3rd post in my “Get In The Game — Make a Difference” series, and one that is refreshingly Canadian in nature.

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I’m a fan of Rick Mercer, since the early days of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. I love his rants, which I find hilarious, spot-on, and — yes, I’ll admit it — kind of sexy. I think the ways he gets access to the highest political leaders and show them in a more “regular Joe” kind of light is wonderful. (His trip to Harvey’s with Chretien was inspired.) I find his “talking with Americans” segments funny and subversive in a Michael Moore kind of way, only gentler and without the venom. So, I linked to his blog, and have been reading periodically.

One of his recent blogs, about a cause dear to his heart, caught my interest. He posted a long-ish blog on the Spread the Net campaign, which I found to be a fascinating read (Go read it. You can come back here after. I won’t be upset.) I also think the cause is a worthy one.

Spread the Net is a campaign to ship bednets to some of the poorest regions of Africa, where mosquito-borne malaria kills over 3,000 children a day. This campaign will bring down the transmission of malaria in African kids, and therefore the number of deaths from malaria, by protecting them as they sleep with bednets. All it takes is ten dollars (Canadian! A bargain!) to buy a insecticide-treated bed net to protect what will probably be a bed full of kids (usually more than one child sleeps in a bed in these poorest regions). The bednet provides FIVE YEARS of protection from mosquitoes. FIVE YEARS. For TEN DOLLARS. How easy is that? How many kids could be saved by such a simple measure? It’s a brilliant idea.

The campaign is a UNICEF-sponsored campaign, spearheaded here in Canada by Mercer and MP Belinda Stronach. (Yes. THAT Belinda Stronach. She of the rumoured propensity for dalliances with married men. Just put your thoughts about her behaviour aside for a moment, okay? Keep your eyes on the prize here, people.) It was an idea that was the brainchild of Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Simple, elegant, and effective. That’s what you need to make a difference on a grand scale. And this campaign has it in spades.

So if you’re looking for a place to make your difference this week, check out Spread the Net. Spend 10 bucks. And know that for five years, some children may be protected, and maybe live long enough to make a difference in their world.

Lifelong Learning

Although I have been sitting on my backside for a week and a half, I have been busy. It’s been a good opportunity to stretch my mind, since I am not doing a whole lot of stretching of anything else.

Over the past 10 days, I have learned so much. I wrote a couple of days ago about the changes to my blog. It’s been fun, making changes and trying new things. I’ve explored some possibilities in function and form. Some of the stuff has blown up with error messages, others have just done… well, NOTHING actually. But I love the toys. I love to try adding in all kinds of new things. I’m also thinking about what I can do with our other site, and what things I can write about out there in other blogs on other sites.

And, of course, I’ve implemented the ads. That was also a learning exercise, just figuring out what it was all about, and what options I had, and how to implement them. I do not, by nature, have a head for business. If something involves numbers, I totally zone out. So, I did a lot of research. I read many, MANY blogs on the subject. But I feel like a whole new side of things has opened up to me, because I had never really understood ads before, although I had seen them around. And it’s not like I am an expert, but I learned something.

I’m also spending a good deal of time on small projects. I’ve tried to work on some things to optimize my blog, like resizing the photos I have so that they will load faster when people come to my site. I’ve been researching (of all things!) negative scanners, so I can take all our old pictures and negatives and preserve them digitally. I have also opened up all the lines in the Treehouse store, and have begun planning (with Kelly, my partner in crime) some treats for Christmas time for the Treehousers and marketplace shoppers.

My husband, the brilliant BDH, has purchased a portable laptop desk for me, so I can do my blogging and writing and creating in the comfort of my comfy IKEA lounge chair. If only all learning were this much fun, and comfy, I might have enjoyed school a lot more.