LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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10 Things I Miss About Calgary

Yesterday I posted “Ten Reasons We Love Life In Chicago” – but I didn’t want Calgary to get jealous! There are definitely some things that we do miss about Calgary, after all I did compose a love letter for Calgary about a year ago which I will post soon.

Ironically, as I type this… it is SNOWING in Alberta… like real snow. It’s May 6th, 2015. Guess which picture is taken today in Calgary and which picture is taken today in Chicago:

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I wish this was a joke, but it’s just a way of life. No one is surprised by this, yet nobody welcomes it either.

Okay, let’s get on with it shall we? Obviously, I miss our friends and family…  let’s collectively “awww” over that for a minute…   I also really miss our accent! Yeah, I know you are reading this and think to yourself “I don’t have an accent…” But we really truly do! I get SO excited to hear it when I speak to most of you… people from Northern Alberta have it the most. “Eh”, “sorry”, “about”, etc are all very true to the stereotype… and I’m darn tooting’ proud of it! Alrighty then, let’s move on to what I miss about the city itself, shall we:

1) Second Cup – The Pumpkin Spice Latte and Gingerbread Latte seriously makes me homesick during the winter time. There is no comparison. Suck it, Starbucks… their PSL is more like StarSucks.

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2) Waves Cafe – The caramel frappes in the summertime are in a whole new playing field then all of the other frappes in the world. Yeah, I said it… I totally go whappe for their frappe!

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3) The Memorial Trail Stairs – Those stairs are a lung burner, a thigh burner, a butt burner… but I LOVE them so much for these reasons! I cannot find a hill, let alone stairs, in Chicago to improvise on. I loved the commadery and respect of other stair lovers as well. “Started from the bottom….”

 

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4) Glamorgan Bakery – Cheese Buns. And donuts. And sausage rolls. And cream puffs. And cheese buns again. Hint: microwave the cheese bun for 10 seconds and your life will forever be changed into a ooey gooey cheesy goodness!

 

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5) Rat Free since ’93 – don’t quote me on the year, it just has a nice ring to it. Rats.. gross. Dear Americans reading this… yes, it’s true!

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6) Plus Fifteens – Best winter invention ever. Working downtown and walking through the secret passages from building to building deserves a Nobel Prize. Especially during the 8 month winters. I didn’t realize these were not in every city until I moved away… they are an absolute necessity in life.

 

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7) Jelly Modern Doughnuts – After one bite of their donuts, you’ll be willing to spend more than $3 per donut.

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8) Eau Claire Park and Stephen Ave – I used to love going to Eau Claire during my lunch hour to break up the day or else sitting on a patio on Stephen Ave drinking my day away

 

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9) Floating Down The Bow River – Can you miss something even if you’ve never done it? I was always dying to do this… One day!

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10) The Mountains – Have to give it to them… those mountains sure keep ya wanting to come back for more. We got engaged in the mountains, had our mini honeymoon in the mountains… so many special moments happen in the majesty of the Rockies!

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YES PLEASE!

 

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Calgary, you are where I became my true self. Where I met the man of my dreams. The place where I realized that life didn’t have to have limitations… That I decided settling wasn’t an option for me. Calgary, you were only my home for 5 years, but you will always hold a place near n’ dear to me.
I miss you, ya cold son of a gun!
And Albertans, I miss you too… Cheers ya tough troopers!
P.S. you definitely have the Canadian accent in case you are still in denial 🙂

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Enjoy Life,

Lisa

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A Year Ago I Quit My Job To Move To Another Country With My Husband

Holy crap – One year ago today, we gave our two week’s notice to our jobs and told our friends/family that we were packing up and moving to the US in two weeks. That was one of the toughest things in the world to keep a secret, as we weren’t sure until the very night before that we would actually be moving.

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We had to list our home and keep that as a secret from our friends, which sucked because if friends wanted to come over we would have to come up with some sort of excuse/dirty lie so that they wouldn’t see the For Sale sign in our lawn. 

We had to figure out if we should sell our house, then we had to actually sell our house when that decision was made (thanks Dad). We had to sell all of our belongings (I was an effin Kijijii ninja), figure out what the shit we were getting into, try and manage the thousands of pounds of paperwork that was coming our way that we didn’t understand, figure out if we should keep our car, if we should hire movers or if we should rent a U-Haul and drive a trillion miles, keep a documented spreadsheet with every single item listed with a value that we had to present to the always so friendly peeps at the border, cross our fingers that our Visas would actually get issued. We were homeless and jobless for a few days and it was utterly terrifying…. yet thrilling!

Everything fell into place for us literally seconds before manic panick mode struck… John’s offer was unconditional on the Friday, our house closed at 11:58pm on the Monday, and we quit our jobs the very next morning so that we could LEAVE the country in 15 days to make John’s start date. Ideally we would have given more than two weeks notice, but we didn’t have that luxury. Our renewed passports arrived the day before we left the country. We both had a sense of relief knowing that things would get a little less hectic after we arrived in Chicago, but little did we know that things were going to get ten fold more hectic once we actually got here. The hectic-ness was just getting rollin’…

I look back at the excitement, fear, and courage on the day where we were able to spill our secret and by golly goodness, I am so damn proud of us for taking one hellllll of a risk. Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking chances… about how it’s really just about overcoming your fears. I’ve come to realize that every time you take a big risk in your life, no matter how it ends up, you’re always glad you took it.

Enjoy Life,
L


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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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Emotional Hoarders Unite

My name is Lisa and I am an Emotional Hoarder.  Not to be confused with a “can’t throw away soup cans, have spiders crawling on my toilet, used kleenex collection” kind of hoarder. I’m more of a “saver of things that have some sort of emotional value” kind of hoarder. Actually I’m about 100 points away from being any kind of self proclaimed hoarder… the “H” word is a hard word to accept. Maybe denial is the first sign? Bear with me if I turn to anger next…

I tend to give things “feelings”.

I fought back tears when I sold my first car because I was certain that Henry Honda thought that I was abandoning him and I made myself believe that he (yes, “he” as in my car”) thought that he wasn’t good enough for me. Even after a few months (and right now as I’m typing this) I wonder how Henry is doing… if his new owners are kind to him and taking good enough care of him. I can’t bring myself to wonder if he’s actually in one of those auto graveyards…

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. I didn’t really realize that this was an issue until my husband pointed out that I was giving my car feelings. Uh, didn’t everybody do that?! Hearing that this kind of behaviour was not normal was news to me!

I feel guilty about throwing something out that somebody has given me. Even if I don’t like it or if I never use it.

I have a chest that my Dad gave to me when I was probably ten years old that it full of cards, letters, poems, etc. given to me from people. Words that touched me. Even though I rarely go back and read them, and even though the top of the chest is completely busted, I will never get rid of the chest itself or the sentimental words within the chest. I will also probably never get the top of the chest repaired because I fear that the repair man will break it even more. That’s totally logical, right?

Within that chest there are letters from my deceased Grandma, she used to be my pen pal, and when she died I read all the letters and cards that I had kept from her over the years. If that’s not comfort, than I don’t know what is! Also within that chest is a letter from my cousin, Nicole. Nicole is about 15 years older than me and although she lived in an entirely different part of the country from me and we hardly ever saw her, I still idolized her and looked up to her growing up. I thought that she was THE coolest! Nicole went missing in Syria on March 31st, 2007 and although her Mom and Brother have done absolutely everything possible to try and find out what happened to her, sadly, it’s still an unsolved mystery. I have a letter from her from when I was about 12 where she had traced her hand for me… again, that was so comforting to me.

I have every single nice card or letter from my parents. I have every single card that we received from our engagement and our weddings. I have every single card that was ever given to me that was out of the ordinary… such as the card I received out of the blue with a gift card to Magnolia Bakery “just because” or the card I received my “Lovely” necklace with that was also “just because”. I have kept all the flower “cards” that I have received from John, especially the “just because” ones.  And if the card is homemade, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll keep that too.

For every single email account I’ve ever had, I’ve ALWAYS struggled to delete any non-junk related email. It’s pathetic really. I am pretty sure that I still have emails from when I was in grade 8. Don’t judge.

When we moved to Chicago, as I’ve mentioned before, we started brand new – selling most of our belongings in Canada. I had no problems getting rid of our furniture and such, but getting rid of things that have sentimental value to me is nearly impossible for me to do. Our friends in Calgary are keeping boxes of John’s and my childhood memories which the very thought of having to get rid of brings a lump to my throat. John had a dinosaur hat that was given to him that probably didn’t cost any more than ten dollars, but because it had sentimental value it made the cut and was brought to Chicago. Sadly, throughout the moving process it got crushed and ruined, and it was so tough for me to throw away. RIP Dino Hat

I’m also a hoarder of things that I can consider to be special and/or fancy. Case in point, I never actually wear my Lululemon clothing to work out in because I want to “save” them and make them last longer. I have clothes in my closet that I hardly ever wear because I want to “save” them for something special. I always save gift cards too because I know that once I use it, it’s gone. I will go to the store that the gift card is for and pay for the item out of pocket because I want to save my gift card. John forces me to use them, which I’m begrudgingly grateful he does. He also forces me to spend the full amount on the gift card because he knows that if there is money leftover, I will “save” it.

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I save fancy bath products that I receive to the point of where I hardly ever use them because I am “saving” them. Until recently I saved my first pair of boots that I had ever bought, but I finally managed to bring myself to get rid of them when they started to make me bleed… but even then I made excuses for them and tried to convince John that I would just wear thicker socks with them. I have saved a leather coat from my Grandma that hangs in our front closet that I have never actually worn before, I’m not even sure if it actually fits me to tell you the truth, but I will likely save that forever too. The jewellery box that my parents gave to me when I was probably 14 or so it completely busted from moving over ten times, but I can’t bring myself to replace it even though the top rests on top and the side doors don’t easily open or close.

Even as a child, I would always save my Halloween candy. I would eat my least favourite ones first and then hide everything else under my bed. I would allow myself one or two of my favourite chocolate bars, but my natural instinct was to save them. I would save my Halloween candy to the point of still having about 80% of it the following Halloween and I’d have to throw my last year’s stash of favourite chocolate bars away.

I’m a booze hoarder too. I HATE cracking open an expensive bottle of booze because I am saving it for sometime special. In fact, John and I have been saving a fancy bottle of Pinot Noir since we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Whenever John asked me if I wanted to crack it open, I would always tell him no, that I wanted to save it for sometime special. It’s been sitting there collecting dust for about five years and although we have shared SO many special times in our life, I still wouldn’t want to crack the bottle of wine. I didn’t even have a pathetic excuse as to why none of those moments where special enough to crack, all I knew was that I wanted to save it. For what? I had never really thought about what the perfect occasion would be that would make me WANT to actually open it… so we continued to save it.

BUT WE FINALLY CRACKED THE SPECIAL BOTTLE OF WINE!!

Last week was another loooooong week at work for John. Since August he keeps telling me that “this is the busiest time of the year”. Whenever I ask him when the “busiest time of the year” will finally be over, he doesn’t really have a concrete answer. Since August his hours have been getting longer and longer, and his stress levels have been getting higher and higher. He loves his job, don’t get me wrong, but having him come home around 9:00pm is starting to get really old. I don’t even bother starting to cook dinner until around 8:30pm most nights. This past week was probably the longest week he’s worked all week, and he had to go into work for Saturday and Sunday as well. Knowing that he had to work all weekend on top of an already really long week, we decided on Friday night that a glass of wine was most definitely necessary (to be clear, by glass of wine I really mean bottle… but glass sounds nicer.)

It was just a typical Friday night, nothing special or anything. We were wearing our cozy winter clothes, which include sweat pants, hoodies and for me a magic bag wrapped around my neck because I have I am always freezing if I’m not in a sauna. When John was selecting a bottle of wine, he first grabbed the Pinot Noir that we’ve been saving for the past five years. For some reason at the time, I didn’t fight it. So sweatpants, hoodies, magic bags and all, we popped open that fancy bottle, put our feet up and savoured each and every sip.

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What I learned from doing that, is that there was never going to be the “right moment”. There was never going to be a moment that I had deemed special enough to crack that bottle of wine. I would always find an excuse as to why we should save it for another five years. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, I learned that just an ordinary Friday night was in fact the perfect moment! It helped me remember to live in the moment, to stop romanticizing about future moments, to stop pretending as if there would be an actual moment where I decided that “it was time…”

I learned that although I will likely always save all my letters and cards that I receive, and that I will still have a hard time giving or throwing things away that are sentimental to me, life is too gosh darn short to save the fancy wine. To not wear the expensive gym wear to the actual gym. To use the fancy soap on yourself. To eat your favourite chocolate bars first before digging deeper into the others.

Lovely, life’s too short to plan for special moments! Just pop open the fancy wine and enjoy it because tomorrow promises nothing. And for goodness sakes, you can always go and buy another bottle of wine to save for another five years!

Enjoy Life,

L


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Because I Said Sew

A Hem – now that I have your attention and those extremely clever dorky puns out of the way, I have a story to tell you.

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Most girls at one time or another in the life learn how to sew. Well maybe not sew, but at least learn how to sew a button back on or to hem a pair of pants. Maybe even hand sew a small hole in fabric closed.

But not me! When I told this to my Mom, she didn’t believe me that I never learned how to sew. She was a little bit horrified. My Mom used to sew all Halloween costumes for my sister and I, and I remember in junior high when my sister went on an apron sewing spree. But somehow, I slipped through the ropes of learning how to sew. I never took a Home Economics course in any of my school years, nor did I ever have any strong desire to learn how to sew or to do anything girly at one stage in my life. I was a bit of a tomboy.

At my first corporate job, there was a woman who I worked with who was sick of seeing me in pants that were just a little bit too long. Finally, one day she cracked and let out a small outburst:

“Didn’t your Mother ever teach you to sew!?”

I would have loved to see what my face must have looked like, because she then followed up with “Oh my gosh… what if you don’t have a Mother!” She went on a tangent and felt terrible, but in return she hemmed any and all pairs of pants for me during my time at that job. Thank you again!

John would make little comments to me here and there when there was a small tear in something that needed to be sewed up or when I would pay a tailor to sew fallen off buttons back onto my peacoat. I brushed his comments off, but don’t worry Honey… I heard them all.

Since moving to a new country where I am not allowed to work, I initially felt pressure (not from my husband) to be THE ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE! Sweet John would tell me that I already was the ultimate housewife, but we all know that he is biased. I was convinced that an ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE needed to at least know how to turn on a sewing machine.

I looked up sewing classes and did my due diligent. For some reason or another, I didn’t want to learn to sew at a place like Michael’s. Like I am in most things in life, I decided that if I was going to learn how to sew than I was going to go all in. Sew (c’mon had to sneak one more in there) after many hours of researching sewing courses, I found the perfect one where I would learn to sew. It was in Uptown, which I had initially confused with Old Town so I thought that it was close by. Turns out, it wasn’t at all… but I got to meet lots of strange characters on the train commuting back and forth.

The class that I had chosen was taught by a high end fashion designer who sewed his own creations for his clients. He did everything from bridal to leather jackets, so I figured if he couldn’t teach me to sew than nobody could. I registered online for my sewing classes and received an email saying that there will be a follow up email with all necessary information. The week before my classes were about to start, I began emailing and phoning the guy to ask for the list so that I could pick up anything that I may require. I didn’t hear back from him.

The night before my class was scheduled to begin, I was in a tithy. I figured that I would just show up empty handed the next day, but then at 7pm that night I FINALLY received an email from him saying everything that I needed. There was a lot and I didn’t know what half of the stuff on the list was, so I panicked! John was still at work, I couldn’t drive myself (no license remember?) to a store to pick up the stuff on my own, so I did what any logical woman would do. I called my parents and cried. Boo Hoo.

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The sewing store closed at 9pm and God knew if John would make it home before then, so I was panicked, flustered, pissed off and lonely. I lucked out and John got home at 8:15pm and immediately drove my ass to the store to go on the hunt for shit neither of had any clue about. One of the items on the list was “muslin” – It took everything in my power to make sure I pronounced that word correctly when I asked the employee where/what muslin was. We gathered most of the stuff and went home. John was so nice about the whole situation… He’s seriously the best!

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Now, most people sew a pillow case or an apron as their first project when they are learning to sew. Not me… oh no no no!!! I decided that my first project was going to be a freakin’ WRAP DRESS! One that I could hopefully wear when I finished. Go big or go home, right? You going to give me grieve about not knowing how to sew on a button – I’ll show you, I’ll sew a gosh darn wrap dress!!!! (Side note: I’m not competitive at all.)

My sewing classes were 3 hours classes once a week for ten weeks. My very first day, I was cocky because for some reason I thought that being naturally athletic would translate well into being a natural sewer. I asked the guy “So it’s going to take me thirty whole hours to sew one single dress!?” I was baffled and was certain that I was going to finish in half that time. Nope… it took me a total of probably 45 HOURS! 45 freaking’ hours… let that sink in.

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My 45 hours in that sewing class were interesting. There were a few classes were I was the only female and also the only straight person. I thought that my dreams were coming true and that I could finally be surrounded by my new found gay best friends. Except they wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!!!! They were too busy flirting with each other. I thought that it was awesome, until I realized that I was such an enormous outcast in my sewing class.

 

In one of my sewing classes, I met a Russian girl. I thought that maybe we could bond over being foreigners and such, but quickly realized that we had nothing to bond over. She bragged to me about how she received a green card by marrying an American and swiftly divorcing him. She then went on to brag about how she is known as the fashionista among all of her friends and they all look to her for new trends. I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

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There were also a few people who constantly pestered me about poutine or who would want to argue with me about how disgusting poutine was. They acted as if they were the poutine champions of the world. Finally somebody asked what was in poutine and I heard somebody say “cheese, french fries, and mayo.” I almost lost it at that point… here I’ve been listening to some dorks go on about poutine and they don’t even know what the hell it is!? C’MON!!!! So I specified that traditional poutine was “french fries, gravy and cheese curds” – and no not cheese slices, but CURDS!

The actual sewing aspect was A LOT MORE tedious and annoying than I ever would have imagined. Never did I realize how key patience were in the sewing world. Perhaps that was why we had never met before? It took my 15 minutes every single time to put the damn thread through the “eye” of the needle on the sewing machine. I would have to get down on one knee, close an eyeball, tilt my head and chest slightly to the right, and hope that my wood pecker hand movements would eventually put the damn thread through the hole. And that was the start of class every single time.

I had no idea how much cutting and pinning and ironing was involved in sewing. And it takes so freakin’ long! Every time after sewing class I would tell John what I had just spent the last 5 hours doing and I always felt like I should be able to tell him that I did more than just cut and iron. Props to all you sewers – you are patient people.

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On my very last class the instructor (who was totally, unbelievably strange by the way… but also nice) was talking to me about how he was getting ready to turn the big 4-0. He kept going on and on and on about it, and I would just smile politely or make an “uh huh” noise when it felt natural. He was still going on about turning forty, and had come over to sit REALLY close to me to help me with something… like so close our noses were almost touching… when this is what he said to me:

“We’re about the same age, aren’t we!?”

I almost cried on the spot. Sew much for this class I thought….

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All of that aside, now that it is all over, I actually think that I might enjoy sewing. I like being able to create something new and after I was finished, I was so proud of myself for creating a wrap dress that I can actually wear. I at least now know where the power switch is on a sewing machine, how to cut fabric properly, I’ve learned sewing terminology, I’ve learned that it’s really annoying to be sewing and realize that your machine isn’t threaded, I’ve learned that the sense of pride you have when it’s all over is worth all the pin marks in your finger pads. I hope that one day I’ll sew my own children their own Halloween costumes, don’t hold me to that though.

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Ironically, through my whole entire 45 hours of sewing class, I was never taught how to sew a button on… but that’s what tailors in our condo lobby are for, right Baby?!

 

Enjoy Life Lovelies!
L


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Is Human Nature Good Or Bad?

It’s funny how things stick with you no matter what has happened. It’s funny that in the moment, you have no idea that the moment will resonate with you for likely the rest of your life. It’s funny how a memory is made… so much happens to us but you never know which moments will make a lasting impression on you. It’s amazing how no matter how much time has passed or how insignificant a moment may have seemed at the time, you still feel a connection to a certain moment.

Some of you may understand what I am talking about, where as others may be wondering how much Bailey’s I’ve added to my coffee this morning but bear with me… maybe this will resonate with you too. If not, add some more Bailey’s to your own coffee and give me a another read.

When I was in high school, my English teacher had us read “Lord Of The Flies” by William Golding. Long story short (pun very much intended): A group of young boys are stranded alone on an island. Left to fend for themselves, they must take on the responsibilities of adults, even if they are not ready to do so. Inevitably, two factions form: one group (lead by Ralph) want to build shelters and collect food, whereas Jack’s group would rather have fun and hunt; illustrating the difference between civilization and savagery.

We were assigned to write an essay based on the novel as to whether we believed human nature was good or bad. I remember when I first started writing my essay, I had started my tangent about how human nature was good because OBVIOUSLY it just was. As I started getting deeper and deeper in to my essay, I started to second guess my initial assumption that human nature was in fact good. That was a scary thought to me at the time. My whole life I believed that human nature was good, kind, positive, etc, etc, but as I delved deeper and deeper and starting thinking from an outsider’s perspective I realized that perhaps I was being prejudice and naïve. It was too scary to say that human nature was purely not good either.

I turned in my essay and my final conclusion was that human nature was neutral. There are tendencies to both sides. There is good and there is bad. I don’t remember what my mark was on my essay, but even since I started thinking about human nature I have not been able to stop. Over a decade has passed by and I still find myself thinking about that very same question and still struggling to find an answer. In the most mundane everyday tasks, I find myself wondering if human nature is in fact good or bad. And then I wonder if my teacher realizes that she has had me thinking deeply about this very same question for over a decade now without coming to a sound conclusion.

Obviously there is bad in this world. Turn on the news and you are bombarded with the “evil” in this world. It’s really sad to think that it is almost 2015 and there is still a very real war going on in the world today. Living in North America, we assume that we are the “good guys” and those other guys are the “bad guys” but there are always two sides to a pancake no matter how flat you make it (thank you, Dr. Phil). We are all well aware of all the bad going on in the world today and that makes me think that human nature isn’t 100% good. Human all have selfish tendencies, it’s all about “survival of the fittest.” This creates greed, which leads to lying, stealing, fear, cowardness, bullying and violence. We have tried to make the Earth a better place for ourselves and to evolve. In doing so, we have eradicated a countless amount of species as well as destroyed the ecosystem. We are destroying earth with our litter and carelessness, but we sweep all of that under the figurative carpet (collecting more litter). You have to stop and think for a second as to why all of this technology is even necessary in the world? Is it really necessary or are we just continuing to spoil the Earth? We have the chance to lessen and decrease the emissions that we create, but we don’t use it. We have the chance to help the less fortunate, but then why are there so many people in this world who don’t even have clean water to drink from while we are washing our luxury cars with the same water we take for granted every single day? Do our egos make us bad? Why were there ever slaves in the first place? And why are there still slaves today? Because our egos make us feel macho and superior? Are we born bad or does society create this side of us? And that, my lovely, is the very same question I have been debating with myself for the past 10+ years.

On the other hand, of course human nature is good. Otherwise the world would be in even bigger shambles than it already is, right? How could one ever possibly consider Mother Theresa to be evil? There is a lot of good in the world, but it doesn’t get broadcasted as much as the negativity in the world. Not convinced? Well then let me share with you something that happened to me not too long ago on the very same day…:

I had just finished a class at my gym and I was so excited for it to be over, I hustled my butt to the exit door ASAP. When I got to the door, I saw that during my class a monsoon had developed. Am I exaggerating? Probably. But it was as if Heaven were making every living creature do the ALS ice bucket challenge whether or not they wanted to.

The lady at the front desk of the gym smiled at me and told me that I should do an extra workout while the storm passed… That was the last thing I wanted to do. So I headed outside sans-umbrella in my workout clothes and went to my happy spot…. Trader Joe’s. TJ’s is only about 2 blocks away, so I figured I could hustle over there without getting absolutely drenched. Well, I was dead wrong. But there is something that happened to me during those two blocks that I need to share with you…

As I was waiting at the longest red light ever waiting to cross the street, a man saw me standing there getting hammered by the rain in my tank top. He started to walk over and before I knew it, he smiled at me and simply placed his umbrella over my head until I was able to cross the street. I was so appreciative and I thanked him endlessly and he just smiled back. The only thing that he said to me was “If that man on the other side of the street talks to you, just be nice to him.” I said “of course” and walked the rest of the way to Trader Joe’s with a smile on my face. A complete stranger, without saying a single word, saw me getting completely soaked and went out of his way to offer me his shelter. He sacrfiiced his own dryness and warmth just to offer me shelter for a minute or two. Would you do that for a complete stranger? I hope that I would, but I’m not entirely 100% sure that I actually would.  He did this without telling me his name, without trying to sell me anything… he did this purely out of the goodness of his own heart. And the only thing he wanted in return was for me to be nice to somebody else on the other side on the street. Sadly, I’m not sure I would ever recognize the man who offered me his umbrella if I were to see him again, but he sure provided me a lot more than a minute of dryness.

Once I got inside TJ’s, the woman who always offers juice samples looked at me in complete horror. To be frank, I looked like a wet dog. Probably smelt like one too since I was coming from the gym. She went on about “you poor thing, you got stuck out there, you must be freezing… etc, etc, etc” she went on for a solid two minutes while I smiled at her and told her that I was fine. She didn’t believe me and aggressively (in a nice aggressive for of way) offered me her sweater. She had literally offered me the shirt off of her back! I didn’t know that people actually did that! I was able to convince her that I was okay and thank her… her parting words to me were “if you change your mind, I’ll still be here”.

That was only in a matter of five minutes. In a part of the city that can be described as “sketchy”. It’s not totally unsafe, but it’s not exactly a place where I would go by myself in the evening.

I see acts of kindness in this city every single day… I’ve watched teenagers (both girls and boys) go out of their way to give money to the homeless, I’ve watched complete strangers help blind people across the street, I’ve seen people go into a fast food chain and give people on the street corner the lunch that they had just purchased. Those kinds of stories don’t get told as much as they should.

I wonder what would happen if stories like this were told more often. Would the world change if we were to spread these stories more often? Rather than focus solely on what’s wrong with the world today, realize that there’s a lot right in the world too. A lot of goodness. But people don’t like to hear about these sort of stories… the kind of stories that create buzz don’t generally make you view the world in a positive light. And I think that needs to change. I think that the world would be a better place if people told their stories more often about nice things that others did for them.  I think that the world would be a better place if we told positive stories just as much as negative stories. If the media shared what good also happened in the world that day. I think the world would be a better place if we simply shared with others what somebody did for them that day, NOT tell others how shitty society is or brag about what nice thing they did for somebody else. I do nice things for people too, but I absolutely despise it when people brag about the nice things that they did for somebody else. When you brag about something nice you did for somebody else, that gives the act a giant dose of selfishness and there is already enough of that in the world. Imagine if people focused more on what nice things OTHER people did rather than tell anybody who will listen about what nice thing they did for someone.

My lovely, living here has taught me to ease up on premeditated judgements of others. To literally walk a mile in other’s shoes. To be more open minded that your way is not necessarily the best way. I encourage you to tell your friend about the complete stranger who held open the door for you rather than bitch to your friend about the guy in front of you taking “forever” to place his order. I encourage you to write a positive review for every negative review that you write. I encourage you to help spread the goodness of every day life. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in making the world a more loving and friendly place. Be kinder to strangers, put your damn ego aside and say “hello” and “thank you”. If you owe somebody an apology, suck it up and give them a sincere apology. Be accountable for your actions and don’t succumb to the excuses that you create for yourself.

At the end of the day, I still can’t make a decision as to whether or not human nature is inherently good or bad. Regardless of what the true, genuine answer is to that question, I’m not sure it necessarily matters. At the end of the day, no matter what race you are, how much money you have, how you were raised, my belief is that at the core of each and every single one of us we all want the same thing. We are all on the mystery pursuit of happiness, health and love. I believe that if we all put aside our egos, our greed and our selfishness, this is something that can absolutely be attained by all one day. We can all make the world a better place, but it’s up to us to do so. The real question is, are we willing to do so?

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Final thought: don’t bother sending me hate letters accusing me of being a bible thumper or a tree hugger… rather than waste your energy and time doing that, give this another read and go buy a stranger a coffee.


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Two Years of Love, Fun, Shenanigans and The Best Kinds of Insanity – Happy Anniversary, Love!

My husband and I are already celebrating our second wedding anniversary!! In many ways it feels as if we have been married for decades already (in a good way) and in other ways it feels as if our wedding was just last week! I remember how excited I was when I was able to sign my new last name or whenever somebody would call me “Mrs” … still to this day I get excited to see my new name.

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When I think back to what our life was like only two years ago and compare to what it is like now, I cannot believe that it has only been two years. In two years, John and I have sure done a lot… this is a little snapshot of our past two years:

– Married – YAY!
– Mini honeymoon in Banff (Rocky Mountains)
– Real honeymoon in Dominican Republic
– I changed jobs
– I got two of three of my professional designations
– John was always studying for his professional exams … every single morning, evening, weekend, even during Christmas and all the other holidays
– We went to Calgary Flames hockey games through work
– We were VIP for Cirque de Soleil through work
– We went to funerals
– We went to weddings
– We’ve been there for when our wonderful friends had babies
– We helped clean up the devastation from the massive Calgary flood
– We went to Whitefish, Montana
– We went to Palm Springs, California
– We went hiking and snowshoeing with friends in the mountains
– We went to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary
– We went to Dallas, Texas for John’s ceremony to officially receive his professional designation
– We got stuck in Dallas for 4 extra days due to a blizzard that only happens once every decade
– We each travelled through Canada and the US for our jobs
– We dealt with health issues
– We sold our perfect townhouse
– We bought our forever home
– We got a puppy
– John received an amazing opportunity to move to Chicago
– We sold our forever home
– We moved to another country
– And moving to Chicago has been a whole other adventure all to it’s self.. and we love every single second of it!

We’ve done so much together already and I cannot wait to see what the next two years has in store for us… and the next twenty years and so forth! There isn’t anybody else in this crazy life who I would want to experience this with other than my sweetheart himself. He is the most encouraging, supportive, loving, kind, caring, loyal and thoughtful man and I have to pinch myself that I am so lucky to call him my husband.

Here are a few photos of our crazy life these past two years for you to peruse:


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And here is our most recent photo together, absolutely loving life in Chicago:

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Although our “5 year plan” hasn’t worked out so far (the plan is out the garbage now after detouring so far from it in only two years), we have learnt that the best things in life don’t necessarily need a plan. We’ve learnt to roll with the punches, to be open minded, to explore new opportunities. We are both firm believers that things happen for a reason and things always turn out the way that they are supposed to… regardless of what your “plan” is. Life is funner when you stop trying to predict the future and just live in the moment… so wish that, my lovely, I am off to go Cheers my incredible husband and share a bottle of Bubbly  to celebrate our amazing two years and to cheers for many more memories ahead of us that we have yet to make!

Happy Anniversary, Baby, there’s nobody else in this world who I would want by my side!
I love you xo

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Year Ago Today… And NOW!

A year ago today, John and I came to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together. We had five days off and we narrowed our options down to Mexico, Vegas, California and Chicago. John had been to Chicago before to visit his parents when his Dad had worked here for 3 years and he always told that I would love it. So, because of an awesome Flight Centre package deal we saw Chicago was the chicken dinner! Thank you, Flight Centre!

I loved Chicago from the very first night that we had spent here. We didn’t get to our hotel until about 9:00pm but there was no way that we were just going to have a quiet night and shut it down early. So we spruced ourselves up and went exploring! That night we discovered our favourite place to go, which to this day is still our favourite place to go! The nachos, $4 beer, ambiance and location won us over and they keep winning us over again, again and again!

 

 

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THEN – at the Bean

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NOW – at the Bean

During our five days here, we did a lot of exploring, eating, drinking, Cubs baseballing and shopping! A perfect way to spend your first anniversary together, wouldn’t you agree!? We took a gazillion pictures and we dreamed out loud about moving to Chicago. We were just playing make belief but we dreamed about working together again in the same building downtown, buying a cool loft condo smack downtown and living the urban life, going to all these trendy spots during the week because we were so cool, etc, etc. But then we would play devil’s advocate and go on about how much we would miss our family, friends, our friends kids, our Calgary life which was safe, simple and the norm. We went on about how if we did live the Chicago life how John would have to work 2,000 hours per week and how we would never have time to live the cool lifestyle… but we never stopped talking about our make belief life even after we got home.

We would watch Mike & Molly and whenever we would see the skyline on the intro to the show we would sigh a dramatic sigh snuggled up together in our home in the ‘burbs. We would go on and on and on about how green the grass must be on the other side, and then we would come back to reality and give our heads a shake. There was no way we were moving to Chicago. Ever. We loved our Calgary home and the chances of us ever leaving Calgary because of John’s job were slimmer than a Slim Jim.

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Until…. there were some hypothetical knocks on John’s door bribing him to bring his family to the US. We ho’d and hummed and thought “what the hell” let’s see what could happen…. turns out moving to Chicago a couple months later is exactly what not only could happen, but did happen! Like every big decision, there has been highs and there has been lows, but we wouldn’t have done a damn thing differently (well that’s not true… we would never have sold our townhouse and bought our “forever home” only to sell it 6 months later… but aside from that.)

A year ago today, we were in Chicago as tourists dreaming about John and I working together in the Aon building. Living in a loft condo downtown. Doing trendy things and going to trendy places. Wearing weird clothes that I would never wear in Calgary. A year ago today, we stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and ate frozen yogurt in River North. We shopped in the Loop. We went sight seeing. A year ago today, we had suitcases to take us back to our reality back in Canada….

 

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Today, we are living smack downtown Chicago. We are not working together in the same building, but the job situation is even better than what either of us could have predicted. We do trendy things and go to trendy places. I’ve never heard of a “wine flight” until we moved here. I wear weird clothes like jumpsuits and scarfs in my hair. A year ago I was sad that we didn’t get to end up seeing Buckingham Fountain. Buckingham Fountain is now our neighbour and Ernie and I walk by it every single day. Today we are living a life that we dreamed about a year ago… except our reality is far greater than our dream!

 

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My First Wine Flight

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My Second Favorite Neighbour

Lovely, it’s funny how life can change so much in a year… it’s funny in the best way possible. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for the next year ahead!

Enjoy Life,
L


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A “Lovely” Surprise

Is there anything better than getting a surprise package in the mail?! (Now, my smart lovely, that was a rhetorical question so I do not expect a list of things that are better than a surprise package in the mail) (However, if you have plenty of time on your hands, please do send a list of things that are in fact better…)

After our fave hooligans left to go back home to Canada after an incredible visit that you can read about here (or just look at pictures), I was feeling a little bit sad. I had gotten accostomed to having people around me all day and night! I had gotten used to having funness surround me! But inevitably, the crazy cats had to go home to Calgary and reality set in again… maybe I was a little bit homesick!?

UNTIL….  in the middle of all the bills and boring stuff that normally comes in the mail, I noticed a brown squishy envelope addressed to ME! From a friend from back home! From a friend who I had always loved spending time with, but for some reason we didn’t spend tons of time together! I was both surprised and excited to see her name as the return address.

I tore that baby wide open! Inside I found a beautiful Kate Spade post card with the most lovely message on it that left me utterly speechless, touched, warm and fuzzy feeling, and loved… Her message was totally unexpected and not only was I completely surprised, but also taken aback (in the best way possible!)

She wrote on to tell me that she loves reading my blog and she looks forward to it every single day. She told me that I am an inspiration to her and that what I say resonates with her. She thanked me for inspiring her! ME!? She told me that she admires what we have done and that she enjoys reading about our journey.

After I read her beautiful post card, I found a beautiful Stella & Dot necklace that she had made for me… and on this necklace, there was one word that she had engraved. What was that word? Well, my lovely, it was “lovely”. Cue “awww” from audience… Tender, right!?

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Tell me, would that not have tucked at your heart strings!? I went on and on to John for the whole evening about how kind, sweet, nice, thoughtful, etc, etc she was and even now as I am typing this I have a smile on my face. I immediately texted her thanking her for her sweet surprise, but I feel that she deserves her own special, “public” shout out for making my insides ooey n’ gooey!

So thank you, Mrs. You Know Who You Are, thank you so very much. I appreciate the post card equally as much as the necklace. I appreciate the thought of you even sending me anything at all.

Whenever I wear my necklace, I will think of you and smile.

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Thank you, Lovely 🙂

Enjoy Life,
L


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Moments Of Time

Time is a funny thing… we think that we have a lifetime of time, but do we really? Exactly how long is a lifetime? Does that allow us to settle and to coast through life thinking that our time is infinite? Does that allow us to push our dreams aside knowing that we will do them “one day”? Does “one day” come and go without ever fulfilling our dreams? Do we receive comfort knowing that we have decades ahead of us?

What about those who don’t have decades ahead of them? What about those who only live to 16? Does that mean that their 16 years are not as fulfilled as your 60 or even 80 years?

Time is a fickle fellow. We are often told that “our time will come” – but what does that even mean? One day will we get a knock on the door and outside there is a sign saying “your time has come”? Probably not. Why do people wait for funerals to tell the living what the recently passed meant to them? Why don’t we tell people while they are still alive and there is still plenty of “time”? Why do we wait for people to die before telling everyone but them how much we love them? Because there’s never the right “time”? Sounds like a poor excuse to me.

This journey of ours has allowed me to see life through different eyes. To see life with a whole new perspective. This journey of ours has shown me that this is the only life that we are going to get, so live it accordingly. Live it presently. Stop thinking ahead. Stop thinking of the past. To live in the moment. To live in the now. At any given moment, life could be taken from us. Just. Like. That. And there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing that you can do differently. It’s too late…

This journey of ours has shown us to try new things now, to do things outside of our comfort zone, to make difficult choices, to take each day as it comes. To live in the moment, to stop stressing about the future, to stop thinking of ‘what could have been’, to let go of the past.

My Lovely, just be. Embrace the moment as  these moments of time are not infinite.

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Enjoy Life,
L