Week 8 – Attend a Huge Public Event

Activity: Attend a Huge Public Event – my choice? The RBC Canadian Open

Where: Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, ON

Cost: For average folk, the passes I had cost $280 for the week…luckily I’ve got some friends in high places!

The Story: Steeped in history and tradition, Oakville, Ont.’s Glen Abbey Golf Club has once again been named to host the 2015 RBC Canadian Open. The world-class event, which is part of the Triple Crown of national golf championships, will host many of the best golfers in the world July 20 – 26, 2015. Renowned as the longtime home of the Canadian Open, Glen Abbey will play host to Canada’s National Open Championship for a record 27th time. The announcement marks the return of the RBC Canadian Open to the ClubLink-owned facility where it was last held in 2013, an event won by PGA TOUR star and Team RBC member Brandt Snedeker.

So, I’m not a huge golf follower, but I’ve known enough about the sport for over a decade now because my high school boyfriend was OBSESSED with golf, which led to endless hours of watching him play, hitting the driving range, and playing golf video games. Now you wouldn’t think this could constitute a knowledge of the game, but I know enough about what par, birdies and eagles mean to at least not feel completely lost on a golf course. So I mentioned some friends in high places…they are a major part of the Open, which is how I was able to score some amazing passes for my Dad and I to attend Sunday (very grateful!!). He is a MAJOR golf fan, and was extremely excited to be heading out to see the final day of the tournament, and I was pretty excited at the prospect of people-watching in the crowd of 30,000.

Confession time – I hate big crowds…the chaos, the heat, the crazy people,..it’s always something I’ve shied away from – “it’s too much trouble” I’d think, and allow myself to skip out on another event or invitation. But this time, with my new-found love of putting myself out there, I decided to go for it, and was really looking forward to spending the day exploring the course with my Dad.

So we get dropped at the course, and the line up was a little intense…luckily my sneaky Dad just weaved his way through the crowd as I scurried behind him to keep up, and we got in right away. We headed to the Golf Canada House lounge, and enjoyed a couple of drinks before hitting the 16th green to watch the golfers come through on the tail end of their final day.

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While we were chilling out in the shade enjoying the game, I ran into my Very Important Friend who offered us passes into the RBC Clubhouse for the day…amazing food and drinks PLUS box seats over the 18th hole – yes please! We headed up right away, and met up with some old friends of mine, and settled in to enjoy the afternoon.

The great thing about old friends is that it seems like no matter how much time passes, you can just fall back into easy conversation, great laughs and a sense of normalcy that anyone would welcome. So that’s what the afternoon consisted of…great conversation, tons of laughter and just so much fun! We drank (a lot), roasted in the sun, and watched as a Canadian made the race to finish first…and he was SO close! Missed it by 2 strokes, but the Canadian pride was palpable in the crowd, and the closing ceremony included an awesome tribute to the Great White North (great view from our box, eh?!)!

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The evening ended with more food and drinks, and a photo op with the winner Jason Day…so much fun, and so much celebrating! I truly had an amazing day, and owned my VIP status while I could lol!

The Verdict: I’m pretty sure my enjoyment of this event had a lot to do with a) spending the day with my Dad, b) reuniting with old friends, c) the freebies and excitement, and may have been proportional to being able to be a spectator from above…I’m not sure if I would have had the same experience if I’d been among the 30,000 “commoners” (kidding, kidding), but I know one thing for sure…I’ll go back next year if I can! XO

Week 7 – Travelling Solo (better late than never, right?!)

Activity: Travelling Solo

Where: Las Vegas (for a work conference!)

Cost: Let’s not talk about this…have you seen the exchange rate lately?!

The Story:  Okay, so every year I have a work conference in July, and it is held in either Las Vegas, NV or Orlando, FL. I missed the first two conferences because I hate flying so much, and was so intimidated to go not knowing anyone. Finally, 3 years ago I attended my first conference in Las Vegas, but I traveled with some of my best girlfriends to celebrate my bachelorette party at the same time. Then last year, I went to Orlando for our conference, but I stayed with my very best work friend, and traveled with friends as well! So what’s different about this year? Let me tell you…

So obviously amidst all this divorce craziness, money has been super tight and I really didn’t think I’d be able to make things work for the conference this year. So as all my favourite work friends started planning their trips, and booking with their roommies, I just kind of sat back and waited, and by a major stroke of luck, I ran into an old friend who was able to help me secure a corporate deal for my business, which gave me a small windfall of cash to travel with…unfortunately, I literally got the cash like 2 weeks before our conference was to start, so everyone was booked and ready to go, and I was roommate-less, and travel companion-less. Anyone who knows me can attest that I do not travel well, hate to fly, and basically spend the days leading up to my trips in a state of sheer panic…I want to be one of those people that looks forward to their holidays with excitement and happiness, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet lol.

So long story longer, I ended up finding a coworker who wanted to go, but still hadn’t booked, so we booked our trip together, and got ready to head to Vegas on July 14th (hey, I told you I was late with this post!)! Now, I was super nervous about rooming with someone I didn’t know super well, and about flying with her too – I’m always worried people will think I’m just a little too crazy for their liking, or that I’ll ruin their experience by being a mental case. Luckily for me, I was so excited to get away from the city I live in and my ex-husband, that I kind of became one of those people who gets excited about their trips! My ex’s girlfriend was in town, and I was just so thrilled at the thought of being in a different country from them that I didn’t even get nervous about my flight!

I’ll sum things up quickly here, because I could honestly write SO much about this trip it would take up pages and I don’t think I’d keep your attention. From the personal, fun side of things I got to spend days at the pool with people I knew in passing, but got to know much better; I became very close with my roommate and travel partner, and formed a friendship I know will last; I got to spend loads of time with my team member who joined me, and loved getting to know her even better; I spent loads of time with my work besties, and enjoyed amazing meals and nights out with friends; went to night clubs (ummmm, SO not me!) and danced the night away with friends and strangers; and generally just had the BEST TIME EVER! From a work perspective, I was moved beyond my wildest dreams by the inspirational, motivational, incredible women who work at my company, and I feel like I’m dreaming bigger than ever before…bigger than I’ve ever dared to let myself dream, actually.

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I took so much away from this trip, but I suppose I would say the most important things I learned are these:

1) Confidence comes before competence – fake it ’til you make it, and don’t let them see you sweat!

2) LIVE BIG – don’t be afraid to dream big, and live the biggest life you can imagine – I was born to do something great, and I can finally see myself doing that, and not letting fear stand in my way!

3) Be brave – doing things that scare us every day is the only way we can overcome our fears and live a life of absolute greatness!

4) Own who you are – there is only one YOU, and that is the beauty of this life – no one else can be you, Own who you are, own your power, and be proud of what you have to give the world!

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The Verdict: I will continue to travel, and travel broadly! I will do it alone, do it with friends, and continue to face my fears of flying and being alone so that I can enjoy everything this world has to offer! Whether it’s the bright light of Vegas, or the rural countryside of a small town in South America, or a village in Europe, etc., I want to take something away from everywhere I go, and can’t wait to chronicle it all here! XO

Confession time…

Okay, so I knew this might happen, but I guess I didn’t think it would happen so soon…I missed a week in my Operation Passion journey. I’m not really sure how I feel about it yet, trying to practice the art of self-forgiveness and not be too hard on myself, but it’s hard and I’m disappointed.  I guess the real question is why, and I’ve spent some time over the weekend thinking about it…it’s been a convergence of several different things, all rolled into one.

So I’ll start by saying I thought about a few things this week that I could have used for my adventure, but they just seemed a bit mundane. The first was picture framing and hanging, which I spent a few hours doing on Monday night. I bought some gorgeous prints from Etsy, and spent time framing them and hanging them (which was an adventure in patience I’ll tell you lol!), but I felt because I didn’t set out to make it my adventure of the week, it would be “cheating” to use it. For the record, here’s one of the awesome new pieces of art hanging in my apartment:

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So the next adventure I considered using was my solo trip to the mall this week. Now this might not seem like a huge deal to most, but because I don’t drive I’m ALWAYS with people when I go shopping. So on Wednesday I took my new BFF public transit up to the mall, and spent hours there wandering around and even ate at the food court alone. For me, this was big because I’m really uncomfortable being on my own in public, and often feel that people are judging me. I had a great time though, and the trip was a successful retail therapy venture. Again, because I didn’t set out to use this as my week’s adventure, I decided I wasn’t going to fake it and use it.

Now I hate to make excuses, so I won’t, but I do want to say that it’s been a really rough few weeks around here. My (soon-to-be) ex-husband has really been giving me a run for my money mentally, and all the stress has triggered a psoriatic arthritis flare up, which basically means being in excruciating pain all the time. It wasn’t until I started to live with chronic pain a few years ago that I truly understood how pain can affect us. I’m less efficient at work, can’t concentrate, feel depressed and irritable, am constantly exhausted (like fall asleep in inappropriate places exhausted lol), and have just generally felt very low. It’s hard to keep a positive mindset and move forward in a direction of happiness and love when you’re hurting physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s had me feeling very stuck and very unmotivated, and it’s just been tonight (seriously) that I’ve started to realize I’m coming out the other side. My ex is making decisions that hurt me to my core, and that I’ve been ruminating on endlessly, but I realized tonight that accepting we can’t control things doesn’t mean giving up our power, it means taking it back. Instead of feeling powerless in his decision making, I’ve decided to take my power back and not let his actions rule my life and happiness – it’s the first time in a while that I’ve felt like I’m in control of how I feel, and I have to say, it’s so refreshing. That’s one thing I’m going to work on being grateful for every day – the power we have to control our own happiness, destiny and actions – what a blessing it is.

So the moral of the story (or the post as it may be), is that I’m totally bummed that week 6’s adventure is getting pushed back, but I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I feel like I’ve made a personal transformation this week that is so much more important than any activity I could have done – I’ve taken my power back and I don’t intend to give it away easily again! As always, thank you for reading and for your support! XO

Week 5 – Painting

Activity: Painting

Where: Cocktails n’ Canvas Painting Class

Cost: $48.59 for the class, and $13 for the glass of wine (including tip!) that I enjoyed while painting 🙂

The Story:  Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface (support base). The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. Paintings may have for their support such surfaces as walls, paper, canvas, wood, glass, lacquer, clay, leaf, copper or concrete, and may incorporate multiple other materials including sand, clay, paper, plaster, gold leaf as well as objects. The term painting is also used outside of art as a common trade among craftsmen and builders. Painting is a mode of creative expression, and the forms are numerous. Drawing, gesture (as ingestural painting), composition, narration (as in narrative art), or abstraction (as in abstract art), among other aesthetic modes, may serve to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner.[2] Paintings can be naturalistic and representational (as in a still life or landscape painting), photographic, abstract, be loaded with narrative content, symbolistic (as in Symbolist art),emotive (as in Expressionism), or be political in nature (as in Artivism).

So I’m lucky enough to have some great friends following my blog, and one of the most exciting things about that is that people are reaching out and offering to do some of my weekly activities with me! I had a friend reach out a few weeks ago and ask if painting was on my list of things to do, and it was so we set up a fun girls night out at a Cocktails n’ Canvas event! For those of you not familiar, these are community painting nights set up in local restaurants or pubs where you are provided with a canvas, paint, brushes and an instructor to walk you through the painting! When you sign up you choose what painting class you’d like to participate in, so my friend and I chose ‘The Illuminated Woods’:

The Illuminated Woods

So from the get-go, I had NO idea how I was going to paint this beautiful picture lol. I have to tell you, I was pretty nervous and really felt like I was going to do something “wrong” (which I’m sure my friend can attest to since I spent the first hour of the class asking her if I was doing it right lol!), but about half way through the class I realized that everyone was really just doing their own thing! It’s pretty incredible how people interpret the same painting differently, and how much variety there was in all of our final pieces. Here are some pictures of the beginning stages…I was so caught up in the actual painting that I forgot to snap photos at the very beginning, so we’re starting about halfway through:

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So the instructor walks you through the painting step by step, which is super helpful for the amateurs in the crowd! She also paints along with you, so that you can actually see what she’s doing. This entire painting was painted with just 3 colours (white, black and a bright blue) and 3 brushes in varying sizes. It was all done in layers, which I thought was really interesting, and we worked from the top down starting with the sky, moving onto the moonlight and stars, and then the mountains and trees:

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Here’s my friend getting her paint on – super talented:

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It all came together quite miraculously by the end of our 2 hour class:

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I have to say that I LOVED this week’s adventure! It was an amazing creative outlet, tons of fun, and left me feeling super accomplished about my artistic skills! I came home and proudly hung my new artwork right away:

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The Verdict: I will 100% be painting again…of all the weeks I’ve done so far, this has been my absolute favourite, and definitely something I can see myself doing again, whether in a class or on my own at home. I’m really looking forward to improving my skills, and am already planning my next class for July 30th – friends, let me know if you want to join me! XO

Strawberry fields forever…

So holidays really suck when you’re going through a break-up…from the big ones like birthdays, to the random ones like Canada Day, these days are reminders that we’re alone – or at least we feel that way. The times of making plans as a couple have come to an end, and you’re left to fend for yourself in a way, while all your friends who are still happily coupled are keeping themselves busy.. It’s a hard new reality, and one that I’ve definitely not gotten used to yet. As Canada Day marks the beginning of July, the summer weeks almost feel like they’re looming over me, because there’s so much fun to be had, and so many days to be spent outdoors, but I feel like I’ve got nothing really going on. I guess this is when I get to really get adventurous with my weekly challenges, and stop painting and priming houses lol!

There were so many activities that I used to do with my ex that I feared I wouldn’t be able to get out and do now that we’re separated, but I was lucky enough to do one of them with my great friend over the past week 🙂 I’m doing my adventure for the week tomorrow night, but tonight I’ll post some pictures of our strawberry picking adventures. We took a drive through the country, hit up a favourite old farm, and got our hay-filled tractor ride, strawberry field picking game on (with Starbucks in tow!)…

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Then washed, cut and baked the heck out of the fresh strawberries…

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The final product wasn’t quite the masterpiece we’d hoped for lol. We mixed some store bought icing with a homemade strawberry coulis and it lent itself to a runnier icing…hence the frowny face…

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All told, it tasted pretty good and the strawberries were FABULOUS…nothing like local produce to brighten up your plate! Oh, and did I mention it was gluten free?!

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