I’d never give up


Image by Rupert Ganzer on Flickr

Ali Martell wrote an interesting post yesterday where she writes why she doesn’t splurge on sunglasses since they’re frequently lost/broken, but she does splurge on other things.

She asked for her readers splurged, and I chimed in. Here are my splurges, no guilt associated:

  • A bed — after all, you spend more of your life sleeping, you might as well be comfortable, right?
  • Bed sheets — see above.
  • Victoria Secret bras — I’ve found the most comfortable ones and refuse to buy cheap bras ever again.
  • Peanut Butter (there is only Kraft).
  • Tea — I’m a Davids Tea fiend. And I won’t apologize for that.

After posting my two cents, it really made me take a look around my life. Brand name stuff is everywhere in my life — from my phone (Apple) to to my running gear (Nike).

I remember reading No Logo when I was in Grade 11 or 12 and the movement that existed in that time to be brand agnostic and to rebel against the big evil brand. It almost seems like in the past 15 years, we’ve done an about face and are back to brands.

Not that this is a bad thing. I think more brands are conscious to the footprint they leave behind, both environmentally and socially. Sure, not every brand is perfect, but thanks to the Internet, the world is so small now that if your favourite coffee brew doesn’t leave the environmental footprint you’d like, you can find another place to get your Joe.

However, it’s funny to see very little “no name” products in my house. I always had my brand name preferences, of course, but it seems my shopping cart rarely has a non-brand name product in it.

Are we moving back to a brand-name only society? Or is it that there are so many choices out there it can be hard to weed through the big guys to the smaller brands? As a kid, I remember my parents saving for months for their first CD player and VCR. Now a grown up myself, I feel like if I want something, I go buy it. And I don’t think I’m the only one either. We’re in such a throwaway technology kind of spot.

Now it’s your turn: Do you buy from the big brands? Or do you look out for the little guy? What is the one thing you prefer to spend the big bucks on no exceptions?

Moving to the country

The view from my run this morning.

Four days ago, Keith and I did it.

We packed up a uHaul (or rather he, my dad and my brother packed up a uHaul since I couldn’t lift anything), and we began the journey north. We couldn’t quite fit everything in the uHaul, so I was left at the old house in Toronto overnight waiting for my stepmom to arrive with her truck the next morning.

By Friday afternoon, about 24 hours after we began packing the uHaul, we were pretty much unpacked in the house. The kitchen was done, my library was on its way, our bedroom looked like a bomb had gone off and exploded clothes everywhere, but it was a start.

On Saturday, it hit me that we really did live here now. My baby sister rode her bike over from my dad’s for a surprise visit before dinner. It was neat to have her just pop over because she wanted to. Last night, my stepmom came by and played cards.

There are things I miss about Toronto, but it’s amazing how quickly you get over not having street noise at night (or any time really), and how much you soak up what’s right outside your front door.

Today, I kept a promise to myself that I made before the move and I went for a run. It was my first run since the 10K I ran last May, but it won’t be my last. As I ran, Good Life by One Republic blasted in my ears and I really got to thinking. This really was going to be my good life. I’ve been given a chance few others get: To start over. Again.

I promised myself while I ran along the beach this morning that I would do better by me. I’d eat better here and take better care of my body. I’d try to be more social, more involved in the community. I will write more.

Given that I changed my name when I got married last summer, it perhaps is only fitting I change the name of this blog and what it is. So I’d really love your suggestions for a new blog title and URL. So far all I’ve been able to come up with is By The Lake, but that doesn’t feel 100% great to me.

Leave your suggestions for my new blog name below. Let’s get this brainstorm started!

Missing my miscarriage

As women, we’re taught there’s only one thing to really fear — the missed period.

I’ve missed a few periods in my day, all were unexpected misses. And all, but the last one, were missed dearly. I never thought I’d miss my period as much as one does in those panic-filled hours and days as you pray that you’re not pregnant, then resign to being pregnant only to learn you are in fact not pregnant.

In my life I’ve missed other things, too: appointments, people, boyfriends, friends, classes, the sunset over the lake. The list of missed things in my life is probably the most varied list I could come up with. It’s also quite long.

Now, I get to add another thing to that list. Missed miscarriage.

See, about six weeks ago, I began bleeding while on holidays in Cuba. As it turned out, that bleeding was the start of a miscarriage. However, the miscarriage never finished. Which means technically, I have a missed miscarriage to deal with.

It’s almost unfair, isn’t it? I had the worst of both worlds: bleeding for about three weeks straight, and now I still have to go in for surgery to get the fetus — who wasn’t strong enough to survive, but is strong enough to cling on to my womb for dear life — removed.

Like the first half of my miscarriage that happened while my husband and I were away on vacation in Cuba, this part couldn’t come at a worse time, as my husband and I plan to move cities this weekend.

I lost my baby at nine weeks. This Sunday would have been when I hit nineteen weeks, had I stayed pregnant. It’s hard to wrap my brain, and my heart, around that this thing inside me has been not alive longer than alive. And that it’s still with me.

Life is a funny thing sometimes. I never really wanted to be a mom. I never really thought I’d really know how. Sure, I’ve warmed up to the idea, but being a mom is still something that terrifies me. My miscarriage has been a rough time for sure. It rears its ugly head at inconvenient times, but for the most part I count myself lucky. I’m sad about what has been lost, but am also able to see a bright side.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’m scared, but hoping this is the final step to saying good-bye to this part of me that just won’t let go. I know there is a brighter future ahead. And that’s what I’m holding on to until tomorrow at 9:15.

Cleaning out our closet

As I mentioned last week, my husband and I are currently knee-deep in the process of moving.

We get the keys to the new house tomorrow, and I’m bringing the first carload up on Wednesday night. I can’t tell you how excited we both are to begin the next chapter in our lives. Until then, we’re just anxiously awaiting this chapter to end already. Why can’t things move faster? Why are we waiting?

Since I finished work nearly two weeks ago, the majority of the packing has fallen on my shoulders. I don’t really mind that. I like packing things in boxes, labelling them and shoving them to what will be referred to as the box room until we vacate later this week.

It gives me a chance to go through our things. A chance to decide what we’re keeping and what we’re tossing. A chance to see that I actually have five water bottles, and a whole bunch of mugs that don’t match. This morning, I found the set of mugs I got when I moved into my last bachelor apartment. They’ve held up well seven years in, and I’ll be sad to drive them  over to the Value Village down the street.

As my cupboards and drawers are emptied, I also think about what lays ahead for me and for us. Life is full of unknowns, but this next chapter feels even more unknown. It’s a weird feeling when you’re moving across the province, as opposed to across town.

“The city’s not going anywhere,” our favourite bartender at our local pub told me yesterday when he asked if we were getting excited.

I know he’s right, but there are still things about the city, and Toronto especially, that I know I’ll miss. While my husband and I aren’t really city people, we’re saying good-bye to the only place that we’ve called home together. What comes next, we just don’t know.

Time to return to packing, I guess.

The image above is from Getty Images.

It’s not how fast you read, it’s the distractions


Image Copyright Moyan Brenn

Recently, new research emerged saying we don’t read things online, we skim them.

From an article in the Washington Post:

Humans, (cognitive neuroscientists) warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.

The Post story talks with a woman who agrees that the digital plethora of content out there means she finds herself skimming content, then if nothing interests her moving on to the next link, the next story, her next fix.

Now, researchers and word lovers alike are asking us to go to a “slow-read” movement, whereby we take the time to invest ourselves in what we’re reading, and get lost in it the way we used to. After all, skimming a novel for enjoyment is one thing, but what does it mean to a generation of kids who have to read and comprehend what they are reading in order to get their education?

I can’t say I’m immune to skimming text. I’d say I’ve always been a skimmer. I’m a natural fast reader, and tend to be able to blow through a book in a couple of days. However, I also get distracted by the digital explosion of content all around me.

I moved from paper books to an e-reader back in 2010. I love my e-reader. I found I began reading more on it, than I ever did with paper books. Sure, I bought a lot of books, but many of them sat on my shelf unread. That wasn’t the case with my e-reader.

A year after receiving my Kindle, I bought myself an iPad. I thought it would make me more productive. I’d be able to read on it, and blog, as well as check my email, Facebook and Twitter, plus I could play Angry Birds. So much win.

But here’s the thing, I couldn’t read on my iPad. I tried, but I kept getting distracted. I’d start reading the book I was in the middle of, but then float over to Twitter to see what people were talking about. Then back to the book. But wait, didn’t my friend’s wedding pictures just get posted on Facebook? Oh right, the book. Then a notification flashed that I had a new email.

You get my drift.

My tablet soon fell out of favour with me. There were just too many distractions. I went back to my Kindle full-time. I preferred that it only let me do one thing — read.  I can’t say for sure that I’m comprehending more or less by reading e-books as opposed to paper books, but I am reading more.

However, when I’m on my computer, I tend to get distracted again. I’ll click on an article and read a line or two, then give up. Sometimes, I don’t even read a link that I retweet. I’ve also been guilty of commenting on an article when I haven’t read it. Shameful, I know.

But I think part of the reason for all of this is there is just so much content at our fingertips nowadays. Heck, 10 years ago, I couldn’t have even imagined reading an article in the Washington Post, let alone writing a blog post about it.

The Internet has caused disruption in many parts of our lives, but it has also opened us up to a world we may not otherwise have experienced. I love that I can read an article from the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. I love that thanks to social media, I can interact with the people who write the articles and blog posts I like.

I don’t know that a slow-reading movement is really going to make things all better here. I think it comes down to finding content you like, and spending the time with it that you like. After all, if you really like a novel, reading it slower is not going to make you like it anymore, or any less. Personally, I tend to read faster when a book has captured my imagination — and that’s not new to digital formats, it happened with print books back in the day, too.

So slow down your reading if you must, but I suggest you find a way to read where the distractions are minimal. That’s something that we also used to do with paper books.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to the novel I’m reading.

Image used above copyright Moyan Brenn on Flickr. Check out his blog here