Happy Friday the 13th

Grumpy cat meme Friday the 13th best day ever

Friday the 13th has always been a lucky day for me. Here’s how my last Friday the 13th went:

In the morning, I had the opportunity to tour and meet employees in different areas of my company I don’t usually interact with. Getting to know the amazing people I work with better and see the interesting work they do is always one of the highlights of my work.

One of my colleagues was celebrating her 30th work anniversary, so next stop was cake and refreshments.

It was a beautiful warm September day so I enjoyed a quick walk at lunch,  then we treated our writer’s group to an ice cream during a mid-afternoon break. Definitely not your typical day at work!

I came home to a beautiful puppy with lots of tail wags and the aroma of homemade stew wafting through the air in the crock pot.

Friday nights we’re usually whipped, but Clare had a hockey practice in Napanee at 8:30, so we packed up the car and hit the road.

Just as I was thinking how tired I was and was wishing I could have stayed at home, we drove into a packed parking lot.

In a serendipitous twist of fate, Clare’s practice landed on the same night in the same area as a free exhibition game between the Kingston Frontenacs and Ottawa 67s. I caught the last half of the game, which turned out to be a barn burner. The Fronts were down 4-1 in the third, scored two goals within 10 seconds, then with one minute left in the game, pulled their goalie and scored to tie the game 4-4.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

This week’s #HappyAct is to channel the good fortunes of the universe, and have a Happy Friday the 13th.

The loonie advent

Daughters with Salvation Army hampers
Grace and Clare at last year’s Salvation Army Hamper packing.

The holidays are a joyous time, but it’s at this time of the year the plight of people less fortunate than me weighs on my heart.

I took Friday off with the girls to do some Black Friday shopping. As we were driving down Princess Street in Kingston, the girls said, “Mom, look at that poor man sitting outside that store. He’s homeless.”

Then Grace told me about a challenge they were doing at their school. Instead of getting chocolate advent calendars, they were going to donate a loonie or twonie a day to a homeless person.

I said what a wonderful idea and promised to do it too.

This week’s #HappyAct is to do something to help others this holiday season. Two great organizations that have a number of holiday volunteer opportunities and programs are United Way and Salvation Army. We’ve packed hampers for the Salvation Army for the past six years. It is always the highlight of the holiday season for us as a family and a workplace. A few years ago, I also shared this very special advent calendar for the holidays, a Kindness Calendar. To read more about homelessness and how United Way is working wonders to address it, see this blog post. Enjoy the spirit of the season.

Home sweet home

blue jays at bird feeder
We cut our pumpkins in half this year and have used them as makeshift bird feeders. The birds and squirrels love it!

Dorothy said it best, there’s no place like home. For the past two months we’ve been away almost every weekend to Peterborough for hockey. While I love watching Clare play, it means we haven’t been home much.

This weekend is the first weekend I’ve spent the whole weekend at home. I forgot how much I enjoy being at home.

First, there’s the joy of sleeping in. Being able to get up when your body is finished resting, and not having to rocket out of bed, and get the kids on the bus and rush off to work is one of the best parts of any weekend.

I can sit (hallelujah!) and read the papers and enjoy my coffee and look out my sunroom window at the squirrels and blue jays at the feeders.

We go for long walks in the daylight, a real treat at this time of year. Late in the day, as the sun fades, we start a fire, and sit with a glass of wine before making supper. We may even go for a long winter’s nap.

I remember one time when Clare interviewed Dave’s mother for a school project, she asked Donna, “What’s the one biggest change you’ve seen in your lifetime?” Donna responded, “People don’t sit anymore; they are always rushing to do something.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to enjoy time at home. As your body goes into hibernation mode this winter, don’t fight it, embrace it.

Screw you Marie Kondo

native carvings
First, let me start by saying no artefacts were hurt in the writing of today’s blog and no disrespect to anyone personally, but screw you Marie Kondo.

Marie Kondo is the Japanese organizing expert and author of the best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up whose craze of decluttering and minimalist philosophy swept North America a few years ago. People started throwing items they didn’t need or were just collecting dust in the spirit of simplifying their life.

If you Marie Kondo’d your house, and it made you happy, good for you. I happen to like my stuff and embrace clutter.

It’s not the things themselves, although I find them all beautiful and make my house feel like a home, it’s the memories they represent.

The two stained glass cardinals that sparkle in the sunlight in my living room window remind me of Dave’s mom and his Dad.

The original watercolour of a fish hovering over a lake by local artist Alana Kapell has a spiritual quality and reminds me how lucky I am to live on a lake, and the fish are calling.

A framed handpainted feather of a tropical bird reminds me of the trip Dave and I took to Costa Rica before the kids were born.

handpainted feather

The beautiful hand carved wooden mirror with a rose made locally in Perth Ontario and given to us by my best friend for a wedding present reminds me of Leslie and our wedding day.

The hand carved loons and bold beautiful native fish carving above our entertainment unit reminds me of trips to the St. Lawrence River and Vancouver Island.

These are all my favourite things and I love them. So screw you, Marie Kondo. In the spirit of the holiday gift giving season, embrace your favourite things, find that perfect gift and memory for someone and enjoy.

stained glass cardinal

Where everybody knows your name

Pilot House Kingston

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

After work on Friday night, Clare and I stumbled across the street from my work to catch a quick bite to eat at the Pilot House before her evening volleyball tournament downtown.

It had been another long brutal week at work. I was cold, tired and hungry and knew we wouldn’t be getting home until late, and up early the next morning for more volleyball and hockey.

As soon as we walked into the bar, the stress of a long week started to melt away like the cheezy melt on the menu as the hum of laughter and conversation, and the warm, cozy atmosphere of the bar washed over us.

The Pilot House is your quintessential neighbourhood bar. Regulars perch on stools or mill about, slapping each other on the back as they share jokes and stories from the day. The beer flows freely, and the smell of fish and chips and vinegar permeates the air.
If they have menus, I’ve never seen one. The menu, which most of us know by heart anyway, is written in chalk on a blackboard. The only reason you look at it is to see what the day’s specials are.

In marine navigation, a pilot refers to anyone who steers a ship, and the little pub is awash in photos and memorabilia from the days when off-duty pilots of ships would meet there. In the old days, the building housed maps and charts for navigation. The pilots would take the charts and report for duty on their ship on the waterfront down the street.

It was the perfect tonic after a long week.

This week’s #HappyAct is to visit your local watering hole and enjoy a pint and cozy atmosphere to escape a cold winter’s night.

What’s your favourite local watering hole? Leave a comment!

Pilot House signClare at the stained glass door to the bar

Trivial pursuits

Ryerson alumni at trivia night

Are you smarter than a Ryerson grad? If you’re a university alumni living in the Kingston area, come out Monday night and find out.

For the past four years, my Ryerson alumni group has been running an alumni challenge trivia night at our home pub, Tir Nan Og. Each year the event has grown. At first it was just Ryerson versus Queen’s (boo…) but now McGill and Royal Military College participate, and others are welcome too.

I suck at trivia but my friend and fellow Ryerson alum Michael Onesi, who works for Queen’s by the way (traitor) is our ace in the hole. He’s actually won HQ Trivia three times. He is a trivia god.

Trivia is as Canadian as butter tarts, hockey and double doubles at Tim Hortons. One of the greatest trivia games of all time, Trivial Pursuit was created by two Canadians, a photo editor for the Montreal Gazette and a sports editor for The Canadian Press. And of course Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy is Canadian!

 

To get you in the spirit, see if you can answer these trivia questions about trivia:

 

  1. Which big company turned down the rights to Trivial Pursuit (and are probably kicking themselves to this day?)
  2. How much did the friends sell the rights of the game to Parker Brothers for in 1988?
    a) $10 million
    b) $40 million
    c) $80 million
  3. What were the shapes of the pieces in Trivial Pursuit?
  4. What is the singular form of the word trivia?
  5. Why is trivia sometimes associated with scandal?
  6. Who holds the record for most wins on the show Jeopardy?
  7. How many wins in a row did he have?
  8. If you’ve competed on Jeopardy before, what other game show are you ineligible for?

In the trivial pursuit spirit yet? This week’s #HappyAct is to join your local pub’s trivia night, or come out to ours. The action goes down at 7. See you there!

  

Trivia about trivia answers:

1. Virgin Group

2 c)   $80 million

3) Triangles or cheese wedges

4) Trivium

5) In the 1950s, trivia became popular on American television, but it was discovered the producers of shows like the $64,000 Question and Twenty One were feeding the answers to contestants. This became known as the Quiz Show Scandals

6) Ken Jennings

7) 74 consecutive wins

8) Wheel of Fortune because they are sister shows

 

 

 

Take the self-care pledge

Sign that says you gotta nourish to flourish

There’s a new term being used in mental health care circles: self-care. It means doing all the things human beings used to do naturally to be healthy: get enough sleep, eat right, exercise.

Whenever the medical profession comes up with a term to describe what should be a given, you know we’ve gone off the rails as a society.

There are multiple elements to self-care: physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, and social. Self-care is really about “communicating with your soul and saying, Hey, what do you need right now?” I’m just going to focus on physical self-care in today’s post.

The statistics are shocking. One in three Canadians are not getting enough sleep. 6.2% of Canadians don’t eat breakfast and only one third of us pack a lunch for work. Almost a quarter of Canadians don’t eat fruit or vegetables on a daily basis. Four in ten Canadians get less than 30 minutes of physical exercise each day. And let’s not even talk about screen and cell phone use.

Let’s face it. If we were our own mothers, we’d be yelling at ourselves every minute of the day to take better care of ourselves!

What’s brought us to this sad state of affairs? All the obvious answers, when combined together make up a lethal Molotov cocktail of bad health factors: sedentary office-based work, too much screen time, fast food and processed food, driving everywhere, increased stress factors…the list goes on and on.

We have become our own worst enemy. And we need an intervention.

I’ve been particularly bad the past few weeks, eating poorly and compounding my poor health by not taking time to rest when I had a nasty cold. So I’m taking a self-care pledge. I pledge to:

  • Pack a lunch each day
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour and within the same hour range (eg. between 10 and 11 every night)
  • Walk every day
  • Get up and move every hour
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables

Who’s with me and what will be on your list? Leave a comment.