Monday, January 6, 2014

My 2014 reading list.

Books really liven up my life. Sadly, the past few years I haven't been reading as much as I used to.
It's hard to balance time between reading all the books you've been meaning to get to, and doing puzzles year-round as practice for your tournament. The puzzles have won in a triumphant manner lately, and though that's not a *bad* thing, I've sincerely missed falling under the spell of a great book.

My friend Aliyyah lent me "Dry" by Augusten Burroughs, and it took me to many interesting places. His superbly-detailed descriptions of what it was like when he was drunk (which was all of the time) made me both laugh out loud and feel pain at remembering my own personal bouts with alcohol. She kindly lent me another of his books, "Possible Side Effects" and I'm plowing right through it. This made me think about what I'd like to read next, and that led to a mountain of books I had taken off both my own shelves, and my best friend Shaun's next door. I've scaled it down to mere 16 titles (17 if you include the one I'm reading now).

I'm not a fiction reader anymore (with the exception of the Harry Potter series and Nick Hornby novels), and love learning about people's lives or adventures, or historical events. I'm excited about this selection of books for the year, and can't wait to begin each and every one!
In case you can't read the titles properly in the picture, I'll list them all here for you.


"Possible Side Effects" by Augusten Burroughs (currently reading)
"The Longest Winter" by Meredith Hooper
"A Man on the Moon" by Andrew Chaikin
"Sharon and My Mother-In-Law: Ramallah Diaries" by Suad Amiry
"Work As a Spiritual Practice" by Lewis Richmond 
"My Life as a Traitor: An Iranian Memoir" by Zarah Ghahramani
"39 Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who Was There" 
by Tom Davis
"Just a Geek" by Will Wheaton
"Stupid White Men" by Michael Moore


"Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety" by Daniel Smith
"From The Sahara to Samarkand: Selected Travel Writings of Rosita Forbes 1919-1937"
"Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn  (rereading after a few years)
"My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran" by Haleh Esfandiari
"Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope" by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly
"Extreme Frontiers: Riding Across Canada" by Charlie Boorman
"Lucky Man" by Michael J. Fox (rereading after a few years)
"Johnny Cash: The Life" by Robert Hilburn

They're all waiting for me to get to them on this beautiful new table given to me by my dear friend Ron!

I wasn't sure where I was going to put it or what I was going to use it for, but stacking all the books on the top made perfect sense, and thus a new official Book Table was born!  :)

Happy reading to you all this year! Let me know if there are any books that wow you at all (or even put you to sleep and don't recommend in any way)!.

31 Days of organizing is ... postponed. :)

I had a horrible feeling that by being behind right from the get-go, I wouldn't be able to keep up with Peter Walsh's 31 Days of Organizing, and I was right. It's such a great idea, but working full days non-stop from the 31st to the 2nd kept me busy enough, so when I had my first day off on the 3rd, the last thing I wanted to do was tidy up.

That's not to say I won't get back at it. There are a lot of areas in our place that are in dire need of organizing, but there's a lot more to tackle on top of that. I have made the decision then to move this 31 Days of cleaning project from January to July. That's the next month that has 31 days in it where I have the time to focus on the task. March doesn't work as I'm going for my annual trip to New York for the crossword tournament, and May also doesn't work as it's festival time at my theatre! The 2014 Hot Docs Film Festival goes from April 24th to May 4th, so I will be exhausted as all get out come May 5th.

And I actually like the thought of starting this in the middle of the year. Nobody does Summer cleaning (like Spring and Winter cleaning) so it's a fresh time to take care of making things neat in here. The air conditioning will be a blessing too. Sometimes on my day off in a heat wave I won't even leave the apartment. Since I'll know what each day's task is from looking at all of January, I could even take care of a few on one day (if possible).

If you're interested in seeing what the daily cleaning tasks are now, you can find it all on Peter's Facebook page and follow along. I hope some of you will join me in the Summer cleaning though, so let me know if you'd like to be on board for that! Or if you've started now! Let's help each other out!  :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Favourite Films of 2013

I wasn't sure if I'd end up doing a list this year, but caved when it hit me that I wouldn't have a list. I also always name it Favourite Films, and not Best Films. These were the films that I loved this year. They made me smile, think, cry, laugh, and find inspiration. I didn't get out to a lot of major films, so this will be a list that's very different from everyone's Top 10s. Lots of docs, of course - 12 of them out of 20! Found that I couldn't surmise how I felt about each one, so there's no snippet of info on why I chose these. Feel free to leave a comment and I'll gladly talk about it, though! Hope you enjoy it!  :)

My Favourite Films of 2013

 1. Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington
 2. I Am Divine
 3. Shepard and Dark
 4. Before Midnight
 5. Museum Hours
 6. After Tiller
 7. Twenty Feet From Stardom
 8. Much Ado About Nothing
 9. The Last Stand
10. The Dog

11. Spring and Arnaud
12. White House Down
13. Of Two Minds
14. Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay
15. Maidentrip
16. Beware of Mr. Baker
17. Kon-Tiki
18. Bad Words
19. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
20. Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

Honourable Mentions (alphabetically)

Casting By
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Unknown Known
The Waiting Room
The Way, Way Back

Best non-theatrical release 

Behind the Candelabra

Thursday, January 2, 2014

31 Days To Get Organized: New Month-Long Project

Hello 2014!!!

I was wondering how I was going to feel on the first day of the new year with no daily writing prompt. Being really busy at work the last week of 2013 kept me away from being able to find time for writing, but I'm glad I've finally caught up and finished all of the blog-a-thon posts. Yay me!  :)

Now as I skim through my notifications on Facebook, I see that there's another month-long daily task project I can take part in, so it looks like there won't be any withdrawl for me!

A couple of years ago my friend Dani introduced me to a book called "It's All Too Much" by Peter Walsh (the amazing clutter organizer).

The book helped me realize that it wasn't just about the clutter itself, but really got down to what my relationship with the clutter was, and why I felt the way I did towards it. Pretty cool stuff. I wrote about my decluttering for a few days in 2011 and even gave it a cool name: Depletapalooza!

Anyhoo, this January Peter is repeating something he did at the start of last year. Every day of the month is a new organizing challenge. I'm a day behind already, but with a day off tomorrow (Friday), I'll be able to do get up to speed with the challenges so far. I was having trouble attaching the YouTube video from Peter giving a brief synopsis on what lies ahead, so here's the link below:

I'll let you all know what my first organizing tasks ended up being. I won't mind if it's a bit of hard work as the temperature outside right now is -27 degrees with the wind chill. Holy cow! Organizing will keep me warm, for sure.  :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 30 & 31: Congratulations! You Kicked it Old Skool!

We've reached the end of the Blog-a-Thon! I'm equally happy and sad that it has come to an end. I'm amazed at how much I wrote this past month, but since I've gotten into a nice rhythm, I feel that I can keep writing here on the blog on a regular basis.

I decided to combine Days 30 and 31 for this post because I honestly didn't have an answer for Day 30, but can talk about it in the summary for Day 31. I love it when things work out like that.  :)

Day 30 asked us to share our favourite recipes.
Day 31 congratulated all of us for finishing the month of writing, and wondering what we'd like to celebrate about it.

Well .... I don't cook or bake, so there's your first post right there. Ba-DUM-cha!
Looking back on what I shared for an entire month, I'm surprised (enthusiastically, at that!) at what poured out of me. I feel like celebrating that fact alone. It made me realize that there is a way to get out of my head, and I'm able to express myself in way I never could have dreamed of before this year. Another surprise I had was being able to type all these posts non-stop on the keyboard. I've always written long-hand, so finally reaching a point where I can zoom through an article in front of the computer was quite a revelation. It all came down to this statement:

It doesn't matter how I write the words down, but that I get them out in the first place.

It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, and I can't see it becoming the Phrase of the Year, but it's something that popped into my head tonight as I typed this up. And most importantly, it makes me feel great. I'm writing, and that's the greatest gift I could ever give to myself.

I hope you have all enjoyed reading everything I've posted this past month, and hope that you continue to check in every once in a while to see what else I've been up to. The comments you all left - both here and on Facebook - really touched me.

May this year bring you more creative inspiration, happiness and laughter! Hugs to you all!  xo

Day 29: Sunday Selfie - Future You

"Share with us who you aspire to be. Share a selfie that tells us something about the person you're becoming."

I took this picture of myself once my weekend crossword tournament was all done a couple of years ago in New York. Even though it was March, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy the view. When I was nearing the halfway point, I suddenly felt this calm wave flow through me.and pulled out my camera. I took the picture immediately and the expression on my face reveals exactly how I was feeling. I wish I could say that I look at this shot a lot, especially on days when I might not feel as great or as confident as I should. Sitting here now makes me realize I need to start doing just that. 

This is how I would like to be on a daily basis: calm, happy, and carefree. I believe that I've truly begun my journey in becoming this person, and that makes me feel ... well, just take a gander at that picture again!

There will be more bridges to cross in my life, but I know in my gut that this beautiful memory will help me get over them. And every time, it will make me stronger.