Week 4 – Home Renovations

THE STATS

Activity: Priming and Painting

Where: My Investment Property

Cost: Assorted Costs for Primer, Paint and all the fixin’s to get the job done!

The Story: Home renovations are something that everyone has to get around to at some point in their lives, but I chose this activity this week for 2 reasons. The first is that it was a HUGE undertaking because of the size of the job and it took up a few days of my time (aka couldn’t fit something more fun into my schedule), and the second is because I’m super proud that I was able to physically do the work at all! Let me explain further.

So I’ve owned an investment property in Hamilton for 5 years, and now that things are coming to an end with my marriage, it’s finally time to get it done and SOLD so we can part ways financially! This means TONS of work (it was a tiny bungalow that has been renovated into a 2 storey home), and tons of work that needs to get done fast. So around the time we bought this house, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease (well, finally diagnosed as I had been suffering for some time), and it’s been super debilitating to my life. At times, it has had me completely unable to move from the pain I’m in, and has played some serious mental games with me too. It’s called psoriatic arthritis, here’s a little info on what I’m dealing with:

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis — a condition that features red patches of skin topped with silvery scales. Most people develop psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, but the joint problems can sometimes begin before skin lesions appear.

Joint pain, stiffness and swelling are the main symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. They can affect any part of your body, including your fingertips and spine, and can range from relatively mild to severe. In both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, disease flares may alternate with periods of remission.

No cure for psoriatic arthritis exists, so the focus is on controlling symptoms and preventing damage to your joints. Without treatment, psoriatic arthritis may be disabling.

There have been a lot of ups and downs since my diagnosis, but I’ve finally found that eating an elimination diet is the key to feeling better without medication. My recent weight loss has helped as well (down 50 lbs – holla!!) and I’m finding myself more agile and able most days (although the rain this weekend has been killer for my joints!), which has been so life-changing.

So back to the renovations and why I was so happy to complete them this week! Not long ago, the idea of picking up a roller and paint brush and priming an entire floor of a house, or refinishing a porch would have been CRAZY to me. I could barely hold a pen most days (right wrist is severely affected by the arthritis), so this kind of undertaking would have been something I laughed off. I’m not sure why I was so determined to contribute to finishing the house this past week, but I decided that I wanted to tackle two jobs, and that I was going to do them no matter what.

I don’t have photos as proof of the work I did lol, but rest assured I was a hot mess of paint and primer and that many an article of clothing was ruined! I sanded, washed, caulked, primed and painted the wood skirt on our front porch and front stairs as project #1, which was actually a great experience. Not only did I get to try some things I’d never done before, I also got some exercise in, spent 2 days in the sun getting an awesome tan, and chatted with neighbours I hadn’t seen in ages (you come across some very interesting people in my neighbourhood!). I then primed the ENTIRE main floor of the house, which was super labour intensive, but left me feeling so accomplished. In fact, I walked away from both tasks feeling like I had overcome some huge obstacles, and reassured that even without a man in my life, I’m very capable of getting things done!

So moving forward, I have some activities and adventures planned that I’m super excited about! Stay tuned for sports, art, and FUN!

Bad day alert! Bad day alert!

Ugh, this is the worst!! Why is it that every time I feel like I’m taking steps forward, I’m pulled right back into an abyss of sadness and misery. It’s one of those cruel tricks that our mind plays on us…”oh yeah, you’re okay!”, “you’re so strong, look at you go!”, “you don’t need him, you’re better off on your own!” – and then the next day it’s like your inner voice has gone completely mental – “how am I going to do this?”, “how can he do this to me?”, “I can’t survive without him”…sick, sick, sick.

Now there was a kind of intense event that brought me to my emotional knees yesterday, that I’m not quite ready to talk about here, but I woke up this morning feeling saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. Like a deep kind of sadness that you feel at your core, and honestly a kind of sadness that I haven’t felt in awhile. I immediately thought, “okay girl, you get to wake up every day and CHOOSE how you want to feel, so suck it up and get happy!”, but then I took a minute and decided, you know what, I’m going to embrace this sadness and allow myself a day of grieving. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to not just push through the pain and try to forget it. Sometimes we need to FEEL it, to get PAST it, and that’s what I’m going to take time to do today. Be on my own, light some candles, burn some incense, and take some time to meditate and reflect on what this means, why it’s happening, and how I can move through it and not over it.

So therapeutic to just write what you’re feeling even if it makes you feel super vulnerable. Sometimes we need to be that vulnerable to be our authentic selves, and that’s who I really want to be. I’ve been listening to an amazing book through Audible.com by Brené Brown (my new hero) called The Power of Vulnerability, and it was been trans-formative. An easy listen (although it is 6 hours, so make sure you have it in the car when you’re commuting), that I feel every person in their 30s+ should listen to! If you love Brené, I would love to hear your feedback in the comment section below! I’m about to start The Gifts of Imperfection, and have not been this excited for a book in awhile!

Okay, so scattered and random post today but that should probably tell you how mixed up my energy is right now! Stay tuned for my adventure post before the week’s out!

Week 3 – Making New Friends

THE STATS

Activity: Making New Friends

Where: My House (don’t be upset, there’s an explanation!!)

Cost: Nothing…well unless you include the bottle of wine ($16)

The Story: So, we had a bit of a change of plans this week! My partner in crime for Thursday’s activity wasn’t feeling well, so she had to cancel our date. To be honest, I could have gone and done the activity on my own, but I just didn’t feel like I could brave the world of salsa dancing alone yet. This left me in a bit of a conundrum – what would my activity for this week be? I can’t miss a week – it’s only week 3! So I reflected on what ended up happening on Thursday night after we abandoned salsa dancing lessons, and thought you know what, this was actually a HUGE deal and can totally count as this week’s activity!

So after finding out that my friend wasn’t up to dancing, I ran into my neighbour outside and she asked if I’d have a glass of wine on the porch with her. I’m not going to lie, the hermit in me was saying NO THANKS, but I really like this gal and felt like it would be a good opportunity to spend some time getting to know her. Our house (we live in a quadplex) has an amazing front porch, so we hunkered down, got out the wine glasses and started chatting. What I’m always amazed by in these situations is how the universe brings us together with people when the timing is just right. My new friend is going through a bit of a struggle, and we were able to spend quite a bit of time chatting through it, and learning more about each other. We share a love of gemstones, and their healing powers, and other fun supernatural things like tarot. She ran downstairs and came up with her tarot and gypsy decks to read my cards (which was so exciting for me because I LOVE this stuff), and so we started the reading by flashlight as we popped open wine bottle #2. My reading was incredibly accurate – lots of advice about how not to rush the healing process of my marriage break-up, and to keep hoping for amazing things in the future…she reads from 2 different decks, and they both had a lot to say about dealing with grief…they also said I’m in an amazingly creative state right now, and should continue to explore that (helloooooooo, blog!!). It was such a gift to have that reading, and an experience I won’t soon forget 🙂

Tarot Card Reading

As the night progressed we crossed paths with both the main floor neighbours (and owners) of our home (who brought us out bowls of homemade thai food), as well as the 2nd floor tenant; my new friend’s pseudo-father stopped by and I got to learn about him and their relationship (and his super cute pup), and then my friend stopped by to join the party! Finally, at about 1am, our next door neighbour popped over to join us too. I feel like I need to write about this in such great detail because I can’t stop but think about how many people I met that night who will bring different things to my life in the coming months as I get comfortable in my new place. We were out there on the porch until 3am and in that time, I encountered 8 people, any of whom could play an influencing role in my life moving forward. That one little ‘yes’ turned into such a fun and unexpected night, and I can’t help but think that maybe I just wasn’t meant to learn how to salsa dance that night, but rather experience life as someone who says YES instead of NO THANK YOU! It’s so easy to live inside our shells, and to maintain friendships we already have, but there is such a joy in meeting new people that cannot be experienced by living in our own personal hermit caves. So if nothing else, I implore you to think about saying yes the next time you really want to say no, and see what happens – you never know who you’re going to meet, or how they’re going to change your life! Til next week…XO

I get by with a little help from my friends…

So this week has been better than last, which has been a nice change. I’m exhausted and sore (stupid autoimmune disease!) but feeling positive and looking forward to this week’s adventure! I’ve realized this week that sometimes fun with friends can really change everything…Friday was spent shopping for some birthday presents with a great friend (have I mentioned my retail therapy issue?), and I went out Friday night with some more amazing friends…karaoke and vodka gummy bears – just what the doctor ordered! This was followed by a Saturday night BBQ, and a few trunk shows on Sunday…busy body which means a busy brain – perfection!

The one thing that I’m constantly reminded of throughout this process is the importance of having relationships outside of your marriage. I am so blessed to have so many incredible friends in my life, and I value them all even more than I already did for their unwavering support and love over the past few months. Of course my family has been amazing too, but friends stick around even without having a familial obligation lol. They lift you up when you’re down, they offer a shoulder to cry on, and they listen without judgment – I don’t know where I’d be today without all the amazing people in my life.

So to each of you…thank you from the bottom of my heart for the late night phone calls, the hours of visits spent listening without judgment, the taking away from your own life to spend time talking about mine, the impromptu bar hops and shopping trips – you are an amazing group of friends, and I love you!

And speaking of friends, I will have one along with me for this week’s activity on Thursday! And yes, as promised it involves leaving my apartment! Stay tuned for my next post Friday…

I get by

Week 2 – Adult Colouring

THE STATS:

Activity: Adult Colouring

Where: At Home!

Cost: $15.95 for my colouring book “The Big Book of Mandalas Coloring Book” from Chapters Indigo, Crayola pencil crayons from Dollarama ($2), and a super cute pencil case from my dear friend Christine 🙂

The Story: So I had never heard of adult colouring, or adult colouring books until about a month ago. I started to see images of them pop up on friends’ Facebook feeds, and I was instantly both skeptical and curious – why would anyone over the age of 5 want to colour? I didn’t really think of it again until the author of my fave break up book (see past posts for the link!) wrote about the therapeutic effects of adult colouring, and how it can be a great way to clear your mind of obsessive thoughts. I think we can all agree that when we’re going through a tough time like a break-up, there’s nothing worse than your mind replaying everything on a loop! For this reason, I thought this week was the perfect week to try out this fun activity! Fun fact – as of April 6th, 2015, the two best-selling books on Amazon were adult colouring books! Check out this article for some interesting info 🙂

Mandala 8

So the one thing I realized right off the hop about adult colouring books is that they are NOTHING like kids’ colouring books! The designs are beautiful, intricate and require a lot of concentration to complete! The book I chose has over 200 pictures of mandalas ((Sanskrit: मण्डल Maṇḍala, ‘circle’) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance), some of which were more basic, and others that looked incredibly challenging. I chose one that was kind of ‘in between’ to test out my skills…here are some examples of what they look like in their uncoloured form:

Mandala 1 Mandala 2 Mandala 3 Mandala 4

So off the bat, I will say that it’s super important to have the right colouring utensils. My Dollarama pencils crayons definitely did not cut it, especially since there are so many super small little holes to fill in…the larger designs were easy enough, but the small ones required constant pencil sharpening. I’m looking into higher quality pencils or even special fine-tip markers for future colouring adventures, most likely from a craft store like Michael’s or Curry’s. Here are a few pics of the beginning stages:

Mandala 5 Mandala 6 Mandala 7 Mandala 9

So this took me a LONG time…not even being funny, probably like 5 hours total lol. It was a blissful five hours though! Between your mind concentrating on staying in the lines, and your hand colouring, there is literally no time for other thoughts. You feel suspended in a moment, relaxed and at ease…it’s very therapeutic! I had read that colouring is sometimes used as therapy for adults, and I can certainly understand why. Specifically, colouring mandalas is meant to release creative energy and free the mind – mission accomplished! I loved this exercise, and will continue to do it regularly – maybe even for 30 minutes to an hour each night before bed to calm my nerves and unwind. All in all, I highly recommend adult colouring, my friends! Finished product below – it’s definitely getting framed 🙂

Mandala 10

The process…(part 1 of many, I’m sure)

So I’ve decided this week that I really don’t want to be divorced…like seriously, really and truly do not want to be divorced. It’s something I haven’t thought about that much previously, but I was at my amazing friend’s wedding this weekend (where I had an incredible time), but something started really bothering me that night. I started feeling like a failure, like a DIVORCED person. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that some people are not meant to be together and that divorce is the best option for them; I just never imagined that it would be ME. I never imagined that I would choose a partner who would cheat on me, leave me in the dust, that my judgment could be SO wrong…and that is bothering me this week…a lot. I know in theory that HE’S the one who didn’t try, who ended our marriage, who gave up when times were tough, but I guess I feel like a failure for choosing someone who could do that to me. Isn’t it strange how our brains turn on us when we need them the most, and allow us to turn everything around on ourselves? Now to clarify, this in no way means I want my (ex) husband back, it just means that I really, really, really wish I wasn’t in this situation right now.

So on the heels of these feelings of failure and sadness, I’ve had a really hard time deciding what activity to do this week. I wanted to get out and take a class, but I’m not sure if that’s where I’m meant to be this week – around others.  I think I might go the introspective route, and work on another project from home…something that I’ve been hearing about a lot lately, and that my favourite getting-over-your-break-up book told me everyone should try if they can’t escape their ruminating thoughts. Now I know many of you reading would encourage me to just get out there and DO IT! That I’ll feel better, and I know you’re all probably right, but for now I’m going to say that I PROMISE to do something really fun, in the vicinity of others next week!

Stay tuned for another post tomorrow (or maybe Thursday) about my loner activity of the week lol 🙂

Week 1 – Hoop Embroidery

THE STATS:

Activity: Hoop Embroidery

Where: At Home!

Cost: $14.50 for a DIY Embroidery Kit from Chapters Indigo

The Story: An embroidery hoop or (earlier) tambour frame consists of a pair of concentric circular or elliptical rings. The larger ring has a tightening device, usually in the form of a metal screw. The artisan repositions the hoop as needed when working over a large piece of fabric. Embroidery hoops come in various sizes and are generally small enough to control with one hand and rest in the lap. Hoops were originally made ofwood, bone, or ivory; modern hoops are made of wood or plastic Hoops may be attached to a table-top or floor stand when both hands must be free for sewing, as in making tambour lace. Standing floor frames and lap frames allow the crafter to keep both hands free for working, which increases the speed and precision of work performed. (From Wikipedia)

So here’s the deal…I thought I was picking an “easy” task for my first week’s challenge. I’m in a wedding party this weekend, and with a jam-packed week, I thought “hey, let’s try something from home that won’t be too time consuming”…that along with what I wrote earlier about my blog inspiration kind of clinched the deal on hoop embroidery.  HA! I definitely learned tonight that new things are never really going to be easy lol!

I started by opening up the box, and looking through the assorted goodies that came with the kit.  I had 5 templates to choose from, 6 colours of embroidery floss, scissors, a piece of cloth, a needle and a very small instruction booklet. I knew right off the bat which template I would choose to start (definitely appropriate!), so I got to cutting and got ready to be crafty.

Hoop Pic 1  Hoop Pic 2

So I trace the template onto the fabric and I’m ready to go, I’m excited, ready for the first step…and I can’t thread the needle. I’m not kidding, it took me 30 minutes to thread the black floss the first time, and I could only get half the strands through lol! Needless to say, I carried on (although I did think about giving up and throwing the hoop across the room no less than 10 times), and the first letters started taking uneven, crooked shape.

Hoop 3  Hoop Pic 4

Now there were some hold ups…I had to pull out some wonky stitches, re-thread the needle a few (hundred) times, but eventually I got my groove going and things started coming together…on the last word lol. You’ll notice below that the LOVE looks pretty darn great! I then free-handed some stars (yes, I’m just that good now), and finished up the whole project in a cool 3 hours lol.

Now, I learned a few things during this process.  I am not a super patient person, but felt very determined to see this through.  It’s nice to know that I can push through my desire to give up and keep going, even when I’ve worn my own patience thin! I will definitely do this again, and there are a bunch of different stitching techniques that I would love to experiment with.  I think this kit was a fun way to get started, but it definitely had its faults. The fabric was super thin and see-through, and the embroidery floss was VERY hard to thread lol! All told, for the $14.50 I would totally recommend this to someone who feels like getting a little crafty on a Tuesday night.  Only thing I’d add next time – WINE!

Stay tuned for more adventures next week! I think it’s going to involve home improvement, so that’ll be a whole new level of interesting 🙂 thanks for reading! Check out the finished product below – it’ll be on my wall tomorrow!

Heather xo

Hoop 6