LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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Our Adventures Five Years In

Five years ago I met the man of my dreams. In fact, as time has passed, I realized that he has surpassed the man of my dreams on so many levels. Is it possible to feel as if we just met yesterday yet also feel like I’ve known this person my whole life?

When John and I met, we both felt all sorts of strong emotions that neither of us had ever felt before. After all this time, those strong emotions have gone away… but only to become fiercer, more intense and stronger than ever before!

When we first met, we were young. I was finishing up university and John was three weeks into his career. We happened to work for sister companies in the same building downtown and only three flours separated us. Since I was still finishing up school, I only worked part time but the days that I did work we would each leave our houses at the perfect time so that we could meet before work at our special spot and walk the few blocks together hand in hand. We would meet for lunch at least once a week and our coworkers would both make comments to us about how cute we were when they saw us together. We still meet each other for lunch once a week, even if that meant that a 12 block walk or a train ride just to see each other for twenty minutes and for that midday smooch. Since day one, we’ve never been able to get enough of each other and I’m so happy to say that we still can’t.

We have gone through so many life changes together and I can’t imagine what our life will look like when we get to a decade. Over the past five years, between the two of us there have been five moves, five jobs, three vehicles, two countries and a puppy! There have been ups and downs, positives and negatives but the one thing that has never wavered has been the love and respect for one another.

Although our looks and hair have changed a bit over the past five years, the way we feel about each other surely has not. We are celebrating this weekend by doing five things that we have never done before… today we kickstarted the “events” by going some place new for lunch.

Sticking with the “five” theme, here are five photos for each year that we’ve been together to highlight some of our favourite memories together:

2010:

Our First Road Trip

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Our First Calgary Stampede Together

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A fancy dinner and evening at the Calgary Tower celebrating our 6th month anniversary

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On “our bench” we discovered our on our first trip to the mountains together. This is where John eventually proposed. EEE!
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At Heritage Park in the fall time. Being our silly, sassy selves.

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2011:

Pre St. Patty’s Day Green Beer Chugging

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A helicopter ride in the mountains to celebrate one year together

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Christmas at my parents new home

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My University Graduation

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BBQ’inq and drinking beer in our backyard

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2012:

We had a stay-cation in Calgary and went to Calway park for the day (amusement park for kids)

 

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We “I do’d”

 

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We mini-honeymooned in the Mountains. This is canoeing on Lake Louise

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An autumn stroll in a park close to our home

 

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2013:

Watching the sunset together in Whitefish, Montana

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Enjoying our honeymoon in Punta Cana!

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Just hiking n’ stuff in the mountains

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ERNIE!!!

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A trip to Edmonton

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We ran stairs here ohhhh too many times to count. The view was always worth it at the top.

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Just a typical Saturday…

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Walking in the provincial park right next to what was supposed to be our Forever Home

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Celebrating Christmas in said Forever Home

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2014:

Hiking in Palm Springs and keeping an extra cautious eye out for snakes

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Leaving our Calgary life behind for our Chicago life

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Drinking beer at our favourite place

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One of many “selfies” of us on my favourite bridges in Chicago

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Deeeeeeeeeeep Dishhhhh

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We’ve been to 2 Cubs games and 2 Sox games… we liked the hot dogs equally

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What our summer Saturdays typically look like now

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2015  has already been an amazing start and we are SO excited to see what else we can get up to in the next five years! And fifteen years! And fifty years!

Thank you, Lovely, for taking the time to read and celebrate with us! Cheers to you!

I love you, Honey, and I wouldn’t want to go on this adventure with anyone but YOU!

Enjoy,
L

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You Handsome Devil You!

I’ve been talking a lot lately, so because I’m such a considerate person, I thought I’d let your ears rest for a day, my lovely. You are welcome.

Instead, I thought that I’d share with you some of my favourite photos I’ve taken of the not so Windy City! Chicago, you are easy on the eyes and the heart, that is for sure.

What is your most favourite place that you have ever lived?

Enjoy Life,
L

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The Simple Life

One the major differences that we’ve enjoyed since coming to the US, is that life is sure a lot more simple now.

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When we were making the decision on whether or not to actually leave everything behind and move to another country, we did our best to imagine what life would be like. We are both very practical and realistic people and we tried to envision a life where we would only have each other.

A life without our close friends and family.
A life where we may not have somebody to watch our dog if we chose to go away for a weekend.
A life where we knew that John would not be allowed to leave the US.
A life with only one income and one pension.
A life where if we didn’t like it, we would have to put on our big boy pants and suck it up.

We knew that we would be trading in our “forever home” to rent a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. We knew that the days of opening our back door to let Ernie run around in the backyard were over. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to afford an apartment with two bedrooms and that our new guest room would also be the living and dining room. We knew that the brand new 60 inch TV that John just bought wouldn’t make the cut to come cross-continent with us.

With that, we also knew that we would be gaining a lot too. We would get to live right smack downtown, rather in the ‘burbs. John’s commute to work used to be a solid one hour each way (on a good day), and now he literally walks two blocks and he is at work. The longest part of his commute is the elevator ride. And it is amazing! We get so much time back just from cutting down his commute time. We get over ten hours back a week, that’s over 40 hours a month…. Imagine what you would do with an extra 40 hours a month!

Living smack downtown is amazing. I wish you could bottle up the energy and sell it. There is always so much to do! There are so many options and it is impossible to be bored here. You can get anything you could ever possibly want within a short stroll.

Speaking of strolling, we walk everywhere! The only time we ever drive now is to go grocery shopping, and that isn’t even necessary. Every single day, Ernie and I go for a walk along the lake. There are so many places to go, so much to see! Going for a walk is an adventure in itself! If John and I go for a walk in the evening, we never know where we’ll end up. And time doesn’t even seem to exist, minutes and hours can pass by without you even realizing!

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This simple life is great. This weekend, not a single load of laundry was done. The vacuum wasn’t touched. The dust continued to settle and invite it’s other dust friends to join the party. The ironing board stayed stuffed inside the closet. This weekend, we had three whole days together. Three whole days. 72 hours. Do you know how many chores could be accomplished in 72 hours? Well, I don’t because I didn’t do a single one. That’s right, you read me correctly… not a single one.

Instead, would you like to know what we did this weekend? We enjoyed each and every single moment without feeling guilty for a second about it!!! And it was amazing! And the best part was that we didn’t even have to leave the city! On Friday we celebrated July 4th like the best of them. We walked until we dropped, we ate and drank like it was our last meal, we watched the fireworks from the lakeside. On Saturday, a muffin delivery turned into an impromptu afternoon and evening of sore cheeks from laughing, stuffed stomachs from delicious homemade italian pizza, red lips from too much wine and FRIENDS (the real kind, not the TV show). On Sunday, Ernie had his play date with Bert and then the rest of the day we were full blown lazy. It was the best.

Our pre-fireworks activity

Our pre-fireworks activity

Back home, we tried to have a ‘staycation’ for a week in the summertime. And I sucked at it. I was a terrible staycation partner. I felt like we had a week to do everything that we never had time to do before. Everything that we had previously pushed aside, suddenly had to be accomplished within that week. There was not much ‘cation’ going on in our ‘staycation.’

Since moving to Chicago, we’ve had the opportunity to hit the reset button. I’m the first to admit that I got caught up in the rat race back home. Got caught up with climbing the corporate ladder. Got caught up with buying the fancy family home when we don’t even have children yet. Got caught up in the life tornado.

The reset button has reminded us what is most important in life. What our values are. What really matters to us. It has reminded us how we want to spend the few hours in a day that we have together. The simple life gives us so much back in return, that it’s tough to imagine that we ever once thought we would be making compromises to live this life.

With this simple life, we are both healthier and happier! Both of our health has improved, our stress levels are down and at the end of the day, we are both able to give each other our best selves. We laugh more together, we smile more together and we enjoy life for what it is!

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The simple life has given us a life where we are able to truly enjoy every single day… I’m not sure it gets much better than that, my lovely.

Enjoy Life,
L



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A STAR SPANGLED KIND OF DAY – Top Reasons We LOVE The US!

So today is “the 4th” as they call it… The 4th of July! Independence Day! Yabadabadoooooooo!!!!!!

 

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Might be my favourite building of all in Chicago

 

It’s interesting, because although neither of us are actually American, we are both so excited to celebrate this day with everyone else! The love of this country is so contagious, therefore we decided to come up with a list of some of our favorite things of the US.

Beware, that this list will likely have a common theme. We both love food, and being in Chicago, we love food EVEN MORE!!!! If we both didn’t care about health, we would easily tip the scale at a joint 1,000 pounds. They say that the way to a man’s heart is through food, but screw that, it’s the way to my heart too! AMERICA YOU HAVE WON MY HEART OVER WITH YOUR DELIIOUS DELICACIES!!!!

 

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And now, the much anticipated list…

 

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1. Beer. Canada, you have some serious competition. Not only does beer cost way less here, but the selection, the variety, the pictures on your bottles, the silly names (Hoptimus Prime and Flying Dog…. Who doesn’t want to drink a Flying Dog?!) keep us going back for more. American Beer has got us refreshed, relaxed and ready to rock!

 

2. Patriotism. There is something to be said about the love that Americans have for their country. It’s so infectious that us, Non-Americans, feel proud too! In Canada, it is more of a humble approach, but sometimes doesn’t it just feel good to shout your love from a rooftop to tell all the world?!

 

3. A dollar goes a long way here… There is $1 gelato at the nicest grocery store we have ever been to in our lives (the grocery store has a pianist, if that’s not fancy then I don’t know what is!) There is $1 iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts that are so enormous that you’ll be caffeinated for the entire week. Really, what more could you want for a buck!?

 

4. Groceries! Now, we can’t exactly put our finger on what exactly it is, but the fruit and veggies here are so delicious. Everything seems that much fresher, that much juicier (when juicy is wanted… nobody wants a juicy banana), and it is less expensive here too. Bananas cost 33 cents a pound! The cereal selection takes hours to comb through… the US still has Trix, a long lost Canadian love. Essentially, the selection of everything from chocolate bars to yogurt is just remarkable! I love eating Bostom Creme flavoured yogurt in the morning!

 

5. TV Channels. We only have basic cable, yet we have over 70 high definition channels. That comes at a premium back home.

 

6. The food portions!!! My double chin has doubled in size since being here. The portions are so enormous that we often share an appetizer and an entrée, and we are both stuffed. One time we ordered a single meal at a BBQ joint and the two of us couldn’t finish it. And we had to be rolled out of there. But that’s another story.

 

7. Booze in general. It is a vodka lovers paradise here. There are so many flavors here that Canada just isn’t bringing to the table! Like what, you ask? Well, pink lemonade, cinnabon, root beer float, marshmallow, pineapple coconut, kissed caramel, whipped cream… and that’s just the middle shelf at Target! And let’s not allow the magic of being able to purchase said booze at Target go unmentioned.

 

8. Fireworks!!!! SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! Every single Wednesday and Saturday night there are free fireworks in Chicago. We watch them from the lakeside and it will never, ever, ever get old. In Calgary, we used to pay to watch the Global Fireworks in August, but these fireworks are comparable to that. And they are along a lake. Romance factor kicks in here big time.

 

9. Movie Theatres! The food and drink selection is absolutely bonkers… you can get booze served to you during your show! Now we are talking… Canada, get on that! There is also ice cream, pizza, nachos, all the candy in the world, a pop machine that offers over 100 flavors (really!?), there is a café inside (you can get Bailey’s from your own personal server and add it your coffee from your own personal Barista!), and even a real dinner entrée (but who wants veggies?!) And to top it off, the butter is SELF SERVE!!! My inner fat girl was mostly thrilled about this… I like my popcorn soupy. Poor John is just learning of this now and that I am the sole reason he deemed our popcorn “absolutely disgusting”. Which translated to my ears as “absolutely delicious”!

 

 10. FREE EVENTS ALL THE TIME!!!!!! There is always so much to do. Always so much to see. Always so much going on. There is always a festival, always something to celebrate…. It is sooo much fun alllllll the time! And there is always food.

 

BONUS: The peeps! For the most part, everybody has been so welcoming and so friendly! The people here love Canada and they make us feel right at home. A home with larger portions and a larger booze selection.

 

Thanks for reading, my lovely, now excuse us as we go stuff our faces with hot dogs, wave flags around, go to free things, and celebrate loud n’ proud! HAPPY 4th, eh!

Enjoy Life,
L


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My Secret Is Out

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Why did I start this blog? Read on to learn why and to learn what my secret is...

Where did I get the idea from to start a blog? Funny you should ask. I got the idea at our Going Away Party. I was talking to John’s co-worker’s then fiancé  (brother’s step-sister’s cousin… just kidding) who told me that I should write. I asked him “Write about what?!” and he said “Anything, just write”. A Surgeon, a Pianist, an Athlete, and an all around nice person told me to write, so here I am writing. So thank you, DP, thank you for the encouragement.

Sure, I’m fully opening myself up to judgement. Sharing my words with the internet world makes me feel so, so vulnerable, but also in a strange way it is liberating. If you don’t like my writing style, stop reading me. If you don’t like my message, you can tell me… I’m a big girl and I can take it. If you don’t think that I’m formal enough, then you’re surely not going to like that I say the word “doneski” in one of my posts.

I’ve always been a closet bookworm. I’ve always loved to read. I’ve always loved to write poems for my nearest and dearest – sometimes funny, goofy poems and sometimes serious poems. I used to make my friends cards… smelly markers, construction paper and all. I still do make cards, but my scrapbooking skills have improved tenfold. I used to be hospitalized a lot as a child and as a way to kill time I would draw my nurses and doctors pictures or write them stories. The nurses and doctors would tell me that if I drew them another picture or wrote them another story, then I would be released and allowed to go home. That was music to my ears. It’s sure a lot more freeing to do what you want to do as a child than it is an adult… but I’m determined to do as I please regardless of other’s opinions or perceptions of me.

I used to be in French Immersion and in grade one I would take home armfuls of grade three french books to read for fun. I used to read all the time. I used to read at night time and I would get busted by my Mom who would tell me that reading in the dark is bad for my eyes. After I pretended to go back to sleep, I would reopen my book and get lost in the story all over again. I used to read all of my books, all of my sister’s books and I would re-read them from cover to cover, over and over and over again. My Mom would take me to the library and I would stock up and never want to return the books even though I’d read all of them.

I’ve always written. Always. Sometimes I write seriously, sometimes I write gibberish, sometimes I just write to clear my head. In grade six, I submitted one of my french poems into a contest. A few weeks later I received a book in the mail with my poem published. I never told anyone (besides my parents obviously) and John. I’m pretty shy, remember? The poem was about one nurse in particular who made me feel extra special during my hospital stays. Her name was Nicole.

My dear Grandma and I used to write each other letters from as far back as I can remember. That was something special between us… I have no idea how it started or why it started, but it continued on until she closed her eyes for the last time. I still have some of her letters in my “special box” and I often miss my pen pal.

In grade nine, while everybody moaned and groaned about having to write ten poems as an English assignment, deep down I was thrilled! My grade nine teacher was fantastic and has left a lasting impression on me after all of these years. He was great… he was funny (he had the greatest stories about his travels, one in particular about a rabbit), encouraging, supportive and he really made in a difference in my life. He wasn’t the typical English teacher that made you just answer comprehensive questions all year, he taught me a lot more than just that. So, for the assignment, I was unable to limit myself to just ten poems. I went on a spree, my writing voice finally had an out and I could not stop it! I submitted about 45 poems for the assignment. No exaggeration whatsoever. When my massive assignment was returned to me, my teacher had read and commented on every single one. Every. Single. One. He could have simply chosen ten randomly and marked those, but because he took the time and effort to read every single one – that made me feel special. It validated that maybe I do have something to say and people want to read it. I’ve send this man emails as an adult thanking him, but Mister (you know who you are) if you just happen to be reading this… here is my public thank you for planting the seed that my voice is worthy of being heard.

I’ve never been open about being a super book nerd because of the stigma. Being a kid and teenager is hard enough before you admit to going to the library for fun. One Sunday afternoon when I was at the library, one of my best friends phoned the house phone and my Mom told my friend that I was at the library… I remember when I got home my Mom told me this and I was a nervous wreck that my dirty secret got out. When I saw my friend, he did laugh that I was at the library but then he followed it up by a “that’s cool.” All the validation I needed.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be everything from a Paleontologist to a Nurse to a Hallmark card writer. As I got older, I was told by society that being a Hallmark card writer wasn’t a real job and that I had to chose something else. So, I did. A normal, corporate job with a pension, benefits, etc.

My Uncle was a journalist who wrote about controversial matter. He made it big time (he has his own Wiki page… if that’s not big time, then I don’t know what is). When he passed away, he was a Bureau Chief for one of the largest networks in Canada. Maybe this writing thing is in my blood after all.

So why did I start this blog? Because I enjoy writing, I enjoy sharing stories, I enjoy creating new things… plus I’m damned if I do, and I’m damned if I don’t… so why not do!? When I have kids, I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them to do whatever it is that they want to do without worrying about other’s judgements… I want to be able to look them in the eye,  knowing that I too am doing the same. They say to lead by example, right?

I started this blog, my lovely, because I finally stopped telling myself that I couldn’t. And that in itself is a great, great feeling.

Lastly, one of my oldest and dearest friends recently sent me a Doctor Seuss quote that has being weighing on me heavily:


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Thanks for reading and I hope you continue to read about our journey! Please share and/or follow as that is the greatest compliment of all.

Enjoy Life,
L


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We Chose To Chase Our Dreams & This Is What Happened

When John and I started to dream about what life would be like in the US, it was so exciting! It almost felt as if we were kids playing “make believe”. Do you remember that game MASH? If you don’t know MASH, it’s a pencil and paper game that kids used to play (maybe there’s an app for it now haha) that would predict one’s future. By playing the game, one would find out who they were married to (if they were married at all), how many kids they’d have, the car they’d drive, what their career would be and yearly income. As the emails and phone calls fell into John’s lap, I couldn’t help but feel as if we were playing a grown up version of MASH.

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Maybe we would end up in Texas! Then we could have a huge brick mansion and drive to Mexico!

Maybe we would end up in California! Then we could live along the beach!

Heck, maybe we would even end up in a place neither of would have ever imagined!

It was fun playing make believe with John. We didn’t tell anybody about the opportunities, as we weren’t entirely sure what the outcome was going to be. We weren’t entirely sure if we would end up actually moving out of Calgary or not, especially since we just bought a house a couple months prior. We also didn’t want to be swayed by others opinions, so we decided to just keep it our little secret.

After way too much googling, we discovered just how difficult it actually was to obtain a working visa, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up too, too high just in case nothing came of this. But, I couldn’t help it… my hopes were up so high that you would have to climb Mount Everest to knock them down. I have a tendency to get myself over excited about things and this was most definitely one of them.

I could not stop thinking about what could be. The unknown was a delicious mystery to me. Usually, John and I both love a plan. We like to know how things are going to be, when they are going to be, etc, etc. But for some reason, throwing our plan out the window seemed so exhilarating to me! I could not stop daydreaming about living in a new city, living in a new country, living a life that we never would have ever mapped out in our plan.

There was something so exhilarating about selling ALL of our things, getting rid of everything and starting from scratch. Starting fresh! We both knew that if we remained in Calgary our lives would be pretty predictable. We had a pretty clear idea of what our lives were going to look like in five, ten and twenty years down the road. We likely would remain in the gorgeous house that we just purchased, we would have had two kids, we both would have eventually climbed the ladder at our jobs. Our weeknights and weekends would likely look the same, with the exception of different kid activities. We would have spent so much of our time doing house and yard maintenance. We would have likely got Vietnamese for dinner from the same place every single Friday night because by the end of the week, I could hardly keep my eyes open until 8:00pm. Saturdays and Sundays would be running around doing errands, doing laundry, squeezing time in to see our friends. And if we were really lucky, we would be doing something nice one night just the two of us. But we would be too tired and exhausted to enjoy ourselves, and what we both really would have wanted was to be sitting on a couch with our feet up. We were only in our late twenties and we had a really tough time envisioning doing the exact same thing, in the exact same house for the rest of our careers. It seemed so boring to us. So conventional.

And so when we played “make believe” together, we dreamed. We allowed ourselves to fully let our imaginations run wild. We allowed ourselves to think of how we wanted our lives to look without thinking of reasons as to why they couldn’t look that way. We let our minds run freely and we discovered that the life in Calgary was not the life that we both dreamed of. We dreamed of having free time together. Of exploring more. Of trying new foods. Of going on road trips to new places. Of doing things that we would never do if we lived in Calgary… like get into tennis, like paddle boarding, like kayaking…. We wanted to be alive and not let chores hold us back from living our dreams.

And so, when the opportunity came to move to Chicago, we realized that this was our chance to live the life we wanted to live. To throw our “boring” life to the wolves. To live on the wild side.   This was our chance to do everything we talked about doing. This was our open door to lead us to a life that we weren’t able to predict. A life that would offer us more time for just the two of us. A life that would lead us more time to actually live.

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And so, we jumped in face first. We dove right in. We weren’t sure that we would ever have this chance again and we were not going to miss out on it. Maybe we dove too soon, maybe things moved too quickly… but in retrospect, I would not change the way things happened for us in any way.

When John’s offer was finally unconditional, we only had two weeks to move. We only had two weeks to sell all of our things, to quit our jobs, to rent a U-Haul trailer, to deal with selling a house. We only had two weeks to pack whatever we could bring with us in our car and trailer. Two weeks to get the proper paperwork in order. Two weeks to renew our passports so they didn’t expire before our visas would. Two weeks to close shop in Canada. And every single day, there was always something new that we discovered that we had yet to do… such as get a letter of compliance from our vehicle’s manufacturer. And without the help of two friends in particular, we are unsure if we would have been able to do it. Two weeks isn’t a lot of time when you are both still working full time jobs. There really are only so many hours in a day, and we hardly slept for those two weeks.

Those two weeks were when everything suddenly everything became real. We were no longer playing MASH, we were dealing with real life. With real life consequences. At one point, we were homeless and jobless. That is terrifying for people who like to have a plan. The moment when I realized that I had actually quit my job and that the house we were living in was no longer ours was so beyond strange and scary that I can’t come up with words to describe those feelings. We were a bundle of emotions that I have never felt before in my life. All at the same time, I was overwhelmed, beyond terrified, stupidly excited, stressed out of my mind, anxious, yet thrilled at the thought of what was to come our way.

But alas, we did it. Somehow, we did it. We finished our last day of work, came home and run around like sixteen chickens with their heads cut off. We slept for only a few hours that night (if we slept at all) on an air mattress. We both knew that in the morning, we would be leaving Calgary. We would be leaving our home. Our lives that we were comfortable living. Our lives that were “safe”.

And so in the morning, we did a few last minute things and we were on our way. On our way to living the life we dreamed of. Living the life we didn’t think was possible. Living a life where we had no idea where we would be in five, ten, twenty years. Living a life that wasn’t necessarily “safe.”

And today, I am happy to report to you, that we are both living a life with a whole new purpose and meaning. We are living a life where we had no idea it was possible to be as happy as we are. We are living a life where we only buy groceries for the week. We are living a life where we literally spend hours upon hours of quality time together. HOURS OF QUALITY TIME TOGETHER!! We never would have had that in Calgary. Our weekends are FUN! We DO things together. We explore, we go on adventures, we walk mile upon mile until the bottoms of our feet are raw. We smile so much more, we laugh together, we try new things. We feel like we are dating again. We are more in love than ever.

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We dove in feet first, hand in hand, and we are happier than we have ever been in our lives. We have only been here for just over two months, but we are going confidently in the direction of our dreams, and living the life that we imagined. Although it was a scary decision and we miss our friends and our family, we have absolutely zero regrets. Isn’t it true that in the end, my lovely, we only regret the chances we didn’t take?

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Enjoy Life,
L


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15 FUN FACTS ABOOT CANADA

It’s Canada Day, WOO HOO!

 

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So let’s celebrate with some fun facts about our home and native land, shall we!?

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Here we go, eh!

 

1. It’s all thanks to a little bear from Canada that inspired Winnie The Pooh

 

2. Canada officially got its own national flag on February 15, 1965 — almost 100 years after it became a country (in 1867).

 

3. No cows in Canada are given artificial hormones for milk production. Which means no dairy products, like milk, cheese, or yogurt, produced in Canada contain hormones either!

 

4. Kraft Dinner (“KD”) is the top-selling grocery item in the country. Canadians consume 55% more than Americans do. But Americans don’t call it “KD”, they call it “mac n cheese”

 

5. Canadians say sorry so much because of this: We have an “Apology Act.” It allows an apology in court to be a sign of compassion and empathy, not guilt.

 

6. Canada’s post office receives millions of letters addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole” each year. They respond to each one as Mrs. Claus. They’ve claimed the address “Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0.”

 

7. An Ontario man invented Hawaiian pizza.

 

8. Alberta is the only region in the entire world free of Norwegian rats.

 

9. Studies find Canadians to be the second-happiest people in the world. And they’re only getting happier!

 

10. Peanut Butter. Probably one of the most important food innovations of all time. First patented by Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson in 1884.

 

11. We Have the World’s Safest Highways (for Animals). There are million-dollar highway overpasses in Banff National Park which have been used by grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, wolverine and lynx.

 

12. Ketchup Chips. Coffee Crisp. Harvest Crunch. No further explanation is necessary.

 

13. We invented the Ceasar. The drink, not the salad.

 

14. Cheddar is the most popular cheese in Canada. On average Canadians consume 23.4 pounds per person annually. Cheese keeps us warm.

 

15. There are more doughnut shops in Canada per capita than any other country. Go Tim Hortons Go!

 

HAPPY CANADA DAY, MY LOVELIES! Don’t stumble over too many beavers today, get too many cavities from drinking syrup, forget to tie up your Moose, choke on your poutine, BUT do celebrate with a beer or four!!

Enjoy Life,
L

canada day


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Hit Me With Your Best Shot – I Did, And Yes, That Was My Best Shot

They always say to wear clean underwear, but nobody ever says to not wear your ratty Walmart shorts that are over a decade old to go play tennis. Nobody ever says not to wear your crap clothes out in public in case a photographer asks to take photos of you. I wonder why nobody has ever warned me of this…?

Oh!

Because it doesn’t happen!

Except it did.

Today.

In Chicago.

ass pic

There are tennis courts really close to our apartment, so last week, through the magic of online shopping, the tennis fairy delivered racquets and balls to our door (well, the doorman, but let’s not get into semantics shall we?)

online shopping

It was a warm, sunny afternoon and we made our way over to the tennis courts. The tennis courts are not even a hop, skip and a jump away from Buckingham fountain, the Magnificent Mile, the beautiful Lake Michigan. There is always tons of touristy stuff going on around there, but we wanted to escape and go get our Serena Williams on.

I actually took this shot

I actually took this shot

Walking to the courts, John says that he gets to be Maria Sharapova and he tells me that I can be Venus Williams. We talk a big talk, but neither of us have played tennis since our high school days…

This is how John chews his gum too, so I didn't put up much of a fight

This is how John chews his gum too, so I didn’t put up much of a fight

We get to the courts and rally around, never intending to actually play a game. Just hit the ball back and forth and if the balls stays in the court for 30 seconds that’s victory in itself! From a past injury, I’m unable to run or move the way that I used to be able to, so I do a lot of serving and John does a lot of returning.

Ooops, wrong sport

Ooops, wrong sport

Naturally, John looks great. I'm trying to convince him to try the ballet class with to me to show his guns a "real workout"

Naturally, John looks great. I’m trying to convince him to try the ballet class with to me to show his guns a “real workout”

As I am getting ready the serve the ball, I notice a man nearby. The man is walking, and he looks like he is coming our way. I don’t really think anything of it, and think that maybe he forgot something from an earlier game. Just before I actually serve, I hear:

“Excuse Miss, may I take your photos?”

At first, I don’t think that he is speaking to me. I turn my head and realize that his full attention is on me. I can’t help but look around and realize that I am the only person he could be talking to.

I can’t help myself and I blurt out :
“Why!?

He tells me that he is a sports photographer and would like to take some tennis shots.

The first thing that crosses my mind is that I am wearing ratty shorts that I purchased when I was 16 years old from Walmart for probably $10. They have been through a lot with me. They have been swimming in lakes and rivers, they have been camping, they have been slept in. They are my go to comfy shorts that are garbage worthy. Why couldn’t I be wearing  Lululemon like a normal person?! It’s just not my nature I suppose…

lulu tennis 2

You

me tennis

ME

I shout to John across the net that this man is going to be taking our photos, and I see John look at the five other tennis courts where there are actually quite good tennis players. They have the fancy racquets (our racket strings still had the big ‘W’ in the middle… a true sign of amateurs), they have the proper sunglasses, the proper grunting, and the proper footwork.

tennis gear

I’m thinking the same thing John is thinking “why the hell did he choose us?!”

 

photo 1

So, John and I resume “playing” tennis and we can’t help but have our competitive sides sweep over. Suddenly, we are no longer just rallying but we both feel like we are auditioning for lead roles in Wimbledon. We are both desperately trying to impress the photographer… why? I don’t know, it’s just what happens when a photographer asks to take photos of you.

 

pro tennis 2
pro tennis 3pro tennis 4pro tennis

We are both exhausted, drenched in sweat, only now playing tennis so that the photographer could take photos. I can’t help but wonder if he is any good at photoshop and that he if can fix any of those jiggly spots of mine. I cross my fingers that he is a photoshop wiz.

photoshop

John and I finally muster up the courage to tell the photographer that we are finished. I tell some lie that we have somewhere to be, and then we hurry out of there. We hustle so fast that you would have thought that we were escaping the big bad wolf. We grab our things and bolt right on out of there JUST IN CASE the photographer asks us if we want to see his photos or he offers to send them to us… now, my lovely, there are some things in this world better left unseen and to me, those pictures are one of them.

But hey, at least we were wearing clean underwear!

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Ballerina Kicked My Butt

Once we settled into our new apartment in Chicago (code for our boxes were pushed to one side of the room), I went on the hunt. I went on the hunt to find a new gym. Since we were living downtown, I thought that there would be plenty of possible contenders where I could get my squat on. Surprisingly, there weren’t as many as I had expected. Perhaps my expectations were too high… wouldn’t be the first time.

gym

So I finally found the place where I would spend my mornings. The main ingredients that I was looking for in my new gym were:

1) Cleanliness… no explanation necessary
2) Safety … Back in Canada, I had never ever used a lock in a gym locker, however, I knew that I would likely have to start here.
3) Location – Close enough that I couldn’t convince myself that the gym was “too far” come winter time.
4) GROUP CLASSES – I likely would have given up everything else for the best group class schedule

I like Group Classes because they make me do things that I would never do on my own. A good class will push me to my absolute limit, will make me drop many “eff bombs” in my mind, will teach me new things, and will leave me covered in a nice, healthy, dripping glow of sweat.

group class

One of the classes that my gym offers is “Ballet Sculpt”. It followed the 6:00am spin class, so I thought that I would give it a whirl. I thought that it would be a good stretch and a good, long cool down after coming straight from my spin class.

spin
ballet feet

So I enter the studio, and see that everybody else has taken their shoes off, has a mat and has a set of 2.5 lbs weights. I grab a mat, take my shoes off, grab two weights in one hand and think to myself “Pfft I got this…” I even ponder the thought about ditching the class before it even starts so that I can go do some “real weights” on my own, but I figure that I’ll at least give the class a shot.

grandma weights

The instructor turns on some Lady Gaga, tells us to grab our dinky little weights and she leads us through a set of arm exercises. I’m following along, waving my dinky weights in the air, preparing for her to tell us to stop and to do some sort of pilates style moves on the mat.

pilates

Except she doesn’t stop. She doesn’t stop for 15 minutes.

Now, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how big your biceps are, I don’t care how strong you think you are. Waving 2.5 lbs around for 15 minutes is tiring beyond belief. By the end of it, I couldn’t breathe properly. I couldn’t lift my arms straight above my head if my life depended on it. I couldn’t lift my arms straight to my sides to form a T-shape. My arms didn’t straighten. They were too heavy. And that is when I realized that maybe this “Ballet Sculpt” class was going to be a hell of a lot tougher than I gave it credit for.

biceps

Think you’re tough, do ya? Try Ballet…

After the tiny, little ballerina is done yelling at us: “Do. Not. Put. Those. Weights. Down. Keep going, push it! Puussssshh it! You’re almost there!” (you were not almost there, that is a lie that they tell you to trick you), we go to the bar! (I’ll have a cosmo with raspberry vodka please)

Ah, now I feel like a ballerina! The bar – Where I picture tiny little girls in their tutus, being all cutesy and ballerina like. This part will be simple, I thought.
ballerina girl

It was not simple at all. We start plie-ing, and the instructor keeps coming over and telling me to stop squatting. “It’s a plie, not a squat!!!” After all these years of doing squats, I’ve never been yelled at for doing one. In fact, I’ve received compliments on my lunge and squat form from complete strangers at other gyms. When I bend down, my body just naturally squats. I can’t seem to control it from stopping… If the body wants to squat, let it squat!

squat

Nope… she was not having any part of it.

“Tuck your butt in!” I don’t even know how to tuck my butt in…
“Keep your back straight!”…. I’m trying to tuck my butt in, I didn’t know my back wasn’t straight! Finally, she gives up on me and I do my absolute best to plie rather than squat.

Please don’t yell at me, tiny little ballerina lady.

james van der beek

After we plie (by ‘we’ I mean ‘they’), we then start kicking. I don’t know what the ballerina term is for kicking, but I’ve always been a straight shooter and to me, a kick is a kick. So we stand with our feet angled out so they are shaped as a ‘V’ and we repeatedly kick over, and over, and over again with our one leg in the same direction. At first, it started out fun. My toes were even pointed (thank you gymnastic classes that I took as a child), and I kicked so high that I thought I was going to kick Heaven. But then after probably five minutes of doing the same kick over and over again, I could hardly lift my foot off the ground. My other leg is starting to ache in places that I didn’t know could ache. It’s not supposed to support all of my body weight for that long on it’s own…  after all, isn’t that why we have two legs!?

There are plenty of “eff bombs” rolling through my mind at this point, there is sweat dripping into my eyes, my arms can hardly reach my face to wipe the sweat off because they are so shaky from those dinky weights, and I see the tiny, little ballerina coming over my way as she shouts at us to “pulse”.

pissed off face

“How does one pulse a kick?” I wonder to myself. Well, you pulse a kick by holding your leg up as high as it can go and by making it go up and down REALLY fast without dropping your leg too much. But, the problem is is that by now, I literally cannot lift my leg much higher than a foot off the ground. Even a foot is probably giving myself too much credit.

So I am pulsing as best as I can as the tiny, ballerina lady comes over to me and shouts at me to go HIGHER! I try… God knows that I tried. She shouts at me again to go HIGHER, but I physically cannot lift my leg any higher. In fact, my leg is so tired that I am now not even able to pulse it a foot off the ground. I pulse the best that I can, thinking to myself that even if I had a gun to my head I could not pulse any higher. I’d have to get shot… and at that point, that didn’t seem like such a terrible idea (I kid, my lovely, I kid…)

So finally, the class is over. One of the longest hours of my life. I plied, I kicked, I got yelled at by a ballerina… And at that moment, I remember thinking to myself that maybe I should have gone to the spin class as a cool down from the ballet class instead!

funny spin

As I left the class, I learnt that a ballerina is a whole hell of a lot more than I have ever given credit for. A ballerina could kick a ninja’s butt anyday… She sure as heck kicked mine.

Enjoy Life,
L