Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thoughts on Simplicity

I was reading the "We Live on a Boat" blog the other day.

They had a post about living simply with a link to another blog about a young woman who had given up her job and home to buy a sailboat and practice simple living.

She in turn had a link to another girl who is living in her van in a effort to opt for a simpler life.

All these people and their ideas of what was and wasn't simple living got me thinking about my own experience. Now first off, I have to admit that I am thrift store addict and a serial pack-rat. Neither of these two attributes bodes well for me. My biggest claim to fame so far, is that I have not paid more than $350 a month for rent the last 10 years in six different locations in the most expensive city in Canada.

I guess first of all you have to define your idea of living simply. Is it living with very little possesions? Is it using very little energy resources? Is it having no technology, very few responsibilities, or is it making everything from scratch?

I have had a number of occasions to simplify my life in the last 10 years. Basically my philosphy has been "if there is room, fill it full of stuff". I am a master of tucking things away and like a seasoned magician, can vanish many truckloads of stuff into a stunningly small space.

My first downsize from was from a huge house where I had a basement studio for a clinic as well as two stories upstairs filled to the rafters. It wasn't too painful. I moved into an apartment and just deleted all the multiples of things that I had, kept the best stuff,and donated things I rarely used. I had moved a block away from two malls with all the shopping I needed and three blocks from my clinic. I was able to walk everywhere, recycle in the garbadge room and work part time from the apartment. That was a sweet deal. The place was small but very well laid out with everything you could want, in-suite laundry, dishwasher, balcony, small storage room and enough space in the living room for me to set up my massage table when needed.

Life shifted for me when the medical plan stopped covering massage therapy and I was forced into bankcrupcy. I closed my clinic and went to work for a summer at a fishing resort in the wilderness. My thought was I would bring what I needed to entertain myself indefinately, leave it there over the winters and go travelling. With that in mind I packed wayyyyy too much stuff to take with me. All my massage gear, craft supplies, a couple of hundred of my favorite books, a bookcase to store them, a desktop computer, a huge teachers desk, my favorite mattress and bedding, on and on. I showed up with a good size truckload of stuff. I was so embarrassed when I saw everyone else with just a duffel bag of stuff. I got it all in my room anyway and enjoyed playing with it. The job unfortunatly didnt work out and I had to take it all out again at the end of the summer. If I had known that, I would have brought less, but enjoyed having it all regardless.

The resort produced its own power from a turbine in the nearby waterfall. They had a state-of-the-art system that purified the black and grey waste water back into pure drinking water. All the buildings were built on floats or stilts so there was no damage done to the surrounding land. All garbage/recyling was taken back to civilization for disposal on a regular basis during the weekly shopping expedition. TV, internet and communication in general was accessed through a satalite dish and radio phones. All our food was cooked from scratch. Homemade bread, desserts, gravies, sauces, ice cream, you name it, nothing pre-packaged at all. Activites included non-polluting things such as:kayaking, hiking, rafting, catch and release fishing, rock climbing, spelunking(exploring caves)and swimming.

It was awesome to live like that. Such a healthy place and lifestyle. It still had all the comforts of home but I have to say, they didnt come cheap. That being said , if your going buy a house and install furnaces etc, you might as well make it off the grid as much as possible and save on the hydro bills and the hassles when the power fails. Producing and cooking your own food is a nice choice too if you have the time and space.

I've had the power go out for four days straight in the dead of winter at a time when I wasn't prepared in the least. Not even a candle. That freaked me out to realize I could die in the middle of civilization just because I couldn't use a light switch. I resolved then and there to never be in that position again. I took many courses in primitive living skills. I learned how I could be naked in the woods and still find ways to keep warm, feed, clothed, medicated and entertained. It was liberating to know that I could take care of my basic needs without snivilization's help if need be. Its as simple as a life as you could think of but not neccesarily easy. It takes a lot of time and energy to get enough food and nourishment in the wild. Still once you get your basic needs met, somewhere dry to sleep, something warm to wear, a supply of fresh water, the rest of your day is yours to explore and work on things.

Once I was done at the resort, I went travelling to Asia and New Zealand. I ended up travelling around New Zealand for three months in a van with three other people. We towed a medium size trailer filled with gear to set up stalls selling crafts and services at crafts shows. It's funny, when I got to NZ, I arrived with one suitcase, by the time I left I had enough stuff to fill a good size trailer. Most of it was a fairly complete market setup that I had added to as I was working around the country. I left most of it behind thinking I would go back the following summer and do it again, but never did make it back there.

I found it quite liberating to live in the van. I had one suitcase of clothes, some toiletries, a few books and a drum. I stopped at internet cafes when I wanted to check in with the world. I spent an hour a week in the laundrymat. We had a two burner stove, one large pot, one large frying pan, a kettle and a set of dishes each. We ate twice a day. Dinner was a whole chicken cut up in the pot with chopped potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, some rice and lots of tabasco sauce. The whole thing was boiled into a chicken stew. Left-overs were added to whisked eggs to make a large omlet for breakfast. Simple but tasty with fresh and dried fruit for snacks.
Showers were obtained at local gyms, hotels, campsites, homes of friends or even in rivers. We didn't neccesarily stay in all the above places but could often for a small fee or even free be allowed to shower.

New Zealand is quite open to this kind of lifestyle. There are tons of spots in nature that you can use for free with toilets, sometimes showers and no one hassling you for being there. In towns you can park overnight in parking lots, just have to be out by the time the stores open. They usually have washrooms in the parking lots as well. Canada is not so open. Especially in a city, you would have to be quite covert, no hanging around outside in your lawnchair with the doors open and the pop top up. We always sat and cooked outside, putting up a tarp over things if it was raining. You wouldn't get away with that here. Of course all this was possible because it was summertime. Didn't need to stay warm. Could work and eat outdoors, didn't need to pack alot of winter clothes and blankets,etc. That was about as simple of a lifestyle as Ive ever had. My vehicle was my bedroom, kitchen, transportation, worksite, and storage locker. Costs included gas, insurance, repairs, groceries, showers, internet and restocking of material for the craft markets. My work week was two days long, the rest of the time was mine to explore,travel and study. To bad summer doesnt last year round :(

My next stop was Bali where at one point I stayed with a very poor Balinese family for a week. These people really had next to nothing. A shed with no doors or windows, just gaping holes. No furniture except a cupboard that held the dishes, a few rough beds and a donated tv. The only appliance was a rice cooker. No running water in the house, just one cold water hose going into a rough bath house shared by four other households. No vehicle of any kind, not even a bike. A couple of changes of clothes each, consisting of sarongs. They ate mostly rice with some flavorings and sometimes added homegrown fruit, chickens and pork that were only eaten on special occasions. Now that was a simple lifestyle. Dad worked in the rice fields long enough to earn a bag of rice and a few dollars. Mom kept the area tidy and cooked the rice. They mostly sat around after that. Kind of boring for me, if I couldnt afford decorations, I would have used that time to make something at least.I can't bear an empty space lol.

I came back from Bali feeling very overwhelmed by all my possesions. It felt like I had enough crap to feed three villages for a year. ( I had stored all my belongings in a friends basement while I was off gallavanting for the year) I had huge urges to pack it all up save a mattress and a pot to cook with and donate the lot of it. Then I would waver and figure as I had this huge space to live in, might as well have stuff I already owned, decorating it. My clutter bunny took over and the stuff stayed and got added to over the years.

Then came the boat. Again a major downsizing was in order. I have to admit, a part of me wasn't ready to let go of all the wonderful things that had been a part of my life. I stored all my things I might need someday to work and my favorite ornaments and three thousand books in the basement of my old house. I gave alot of large furniture items to David to furnish his floathome with the understanding that "some day" if and when I ever got a bigger space I would take them back. I did manage to let go of four or five vanloads of stuff that got donated or recycled. The rest found its way onto the boat.

For a year I lived with sketchy utilities, a teeny tiny fridge, microscopic storage space and the equivalent of an outhouse. I hauled water and chopped wood. I stumbled over my dishes trying to find room to cook. I made various trips to my storage to pull out seasonal things as they applied. Trying to have exactly what I needed without having too much. My three main complaints were, no room for all the tools needed to live on a boat, no room to cook, no room in the fridge for food once all the condiments were accounted for. I dont know how to make those needs much smaller without compromising too much. Also the fact that my job here is massage and winter living requires alot more clothing, I spend alot more time and money at the laundrymat than I did in NZ.

So I have tried the simple life in many forms; downsizing belongings, working very little, living in tiny places, living off the grid. They all have their charms and disadvantages. Im still trying to decide what is the minimum amount of stuff I need to live a semi-comfortable life. It seems enough to say , well really all I need is a bed and a pot, but then the rest of your life insideously tries to sneak in. "Well of course I should have the laptop, and then might as well have the camera and cell phone. And what about those cute dressy shoes in case I ever get a real date? Might as well bring my drum in case I get invited to a jam and better have something to read in case I get bored and".............well you get the idea. I still have a mountain of stuff and an addiction to fossil fuels. Some days my life is simpler than others.

PS. here is my "simple life packing list for travel" ( this is for hot climates only)

I took only this with me for a 6 month trip

1 pair of long pants that convert into shorts
2 pairs of shorts
4 cotton long sleeve blouses
4 undershirts/tank tops (I dont like to wear bras)
4 underwear
2 pairs of socks
1 pair of light weight hiking boots
1 pair sandals (something like Tevas, waterproof, strap on, some arch support)
- good for walking in dodgy water or wearing in public bathing areas)
1 sarong ( has a multitude of uses- skirt, dress, blanket,sheet, beachblanket, privacy curtain, quick drying towel,or turned into a carry-all)
1 bathing suit
1 fleece Hoodie
1 lightweight rain poncho with a hood
1 Australian Style, lightweight foldable ,waterproof hat
1 pair of sunglasses

I wear the pants,an undershirt,blouse,hoodie and boots on the plane,everything else goes in a carry-on small backpack

A small flat camera, ipod and headphones, a journal, my bankcard, credit card, some US dollars, photocopies of all my documents/tickets, a doorstop( use this to jam your door from the inside to prevent break-ins while sleeping), a flat plastic sink plug, a small travel clothesline, my makeup bag, first aid kit,face cloth and small sample size toilitries take up the rest of the space.

*Note on the first aid kit contents( This is what I took for an extended trip to Asia. I could buy bandages ect as needed, but brought medications I wasnt sure I would find there, and things I could self- medicate with to avoid costly trips to the Dr in a foreign country)

-A couple of sterile packaged syringes ( if you need to get a shot, a lot of 3rd world countries reuse their needles, best to bring your own)

-Tube of aloe vera gel for burns

-Advil ( anti-inflammatory)

-Arnica gel for bruises and sprains

-Tube of polysporain (cuts and scrapes)

-Moleskin for blisters ( I love this stuff)


-Tums with Calcium ( Im prone to heartburn/ulcer attack occasionally, calcium calms it as quick as prescription meds)

-Anti-diarrhea aid

- A small container of activated charcol ( this is awesome for any kind of poisoning, venamous bite etc)

-Deet bug spray ( I didnt want to take meds for Malaria as Dengue Fever was also prevalent and there is no prevention or cure for that. Best to avoid the mosquitos in the first place, so long sleeves and bug spray for me)

-A prescription for antibiotics for a bladder infection and some acifidofolous(this is hard as they should be kept refrigerated. Hopefully you can find some where you are, as needed, or have access to live cultured yogurt) to counter the yeast infection you might get from the antibiotics.

- Condoms ( a lot of Asian countries sell cheap, poor quality condoms, if there is any chance at all you might be needed condoms, I highly recommend you bring your own)

I carry a large canvas tote on board with me that has a book to read, a water bottle,a small pillow, a light weight blanket,1 pair of lightweight cotton pajamas, earplugs and an eye mask.

When I get on the plane, I change into the pajamas in the bathroom, get out my pillow and blanket, put on my eyeshade and earplugs and try and sleep my way through the flight. Just before landing, I change back into my bording gear which is still nice and fresh and not slept in.

I did one small load of laundry every 4th or 5th day often by hand in the sink. When I finished reading a book, I would trade it in a local used book store for another.I could carry onboard all my stuff so could always keep an eye on it and carry it easily through town. It made for easy , carefree travel. If I couldn't control myself and did too much shopping, I would mail the stuff home to myself on the slow boat. It was cheaper and I had time to travel and get home before it showed up.

I went on a trip to England for a month another time. It was in the spring when the weather could and would be anything from blazing hot to quite cold to pissing rain. I tried to pack light but with having to pack for three different climates I didn't fair so well. It was a serious pain dragging two suitcases through the London Underground for miles. Never Again! Tahiti here I come!

Bon Voyage!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Breakup Letter

Tana found an article in the Ubyssey newsletter the other day about the authors "breakup" with snow. It was a hilarous read, thanks for that Tana. It inspired me to write my own breakup letter to cigarettes.

The Breakup Letter

Dear Cigarette,

I’m sorry its come down to this, but I think its best if we go our own way. I don’t want to be rude, but you can’t take a hint so I will have to be blunt.

I’d like to say it’s not you, it’s me…. but, it’s not, it is you! Frankly you stink. You take my breath away but not in a good way. You offend my friends and neighbors, everything I own reeks of your filthy stench, and you distract me all day long with your stupid “smoke breaks” so I never get anything done.

I’ve asked you nicely to butt out when I’m in the car, but you insist on being a part of every drive. I’ve told you it’s embarrassing for me when all my massage sheets reek of smoke, but you just can’t keep away from them. I think you have a thing for all my fabrics in general and that, kind of creeps me out to be honest.

Every time we go to a party, I have to keep you company out on the porch all night and end up missing most of the festivities. You leave your un-recyclable, un-breakdown-able filters, lying around everywhere like dirty used condoms. You’re a PIG! Oh yeah, and my lungs hate you! They may never have said so to your face, but they shriveled in disgust every time you came to visit them. For hours after, they would cough and heave in an effort to rid themselves of your foul cologne.

Oh, I know it wasn’t like that in the beginning. I still remember when we first met. You were the cool guy that would come around my parents’ parties. I was intrigued but too young to understand the attraction you had for me. Finally we were properly introduced at my school in grade 6. I felt so honored that you would include me in your exclusive circle of uber cool friends.

Our first meeting didn’t go all that well as I was so nervous, that after chain-smoking six of you, I went home and puked for hours. I got over my shyness though, and went on to become very close friends with you. Oh the times we had. Back then we hung out in bars, restaurants, movie theatres, grocery stores. Really anywhere we wanted to. We were so cool, no- one thought to tell us how rude we were by displaying our affection for each other everywhere we went. I cringe whenever I think of those times now.

You were my lover, my best friend, my ally in tough times, my backbone when I felt weak, and the best diet I’ve ever been on, so it hurts me to do this. However your behaviour of late is getting out of hand. You keep upping your price, my lungs are threatening to walk out on me, and you are way too clingy. I am reminded of you constantly by the stench of those rotten chemicals you hang out with. Could you have not gone green along with the rest of the world…sheesh! You really need to clean up your act. I can’t afford to be friends with you anymore. It’s you or my health, job and friends. I’m sorry but you lose.

By the way, you owe me about a gazillion dollars and a new set of lungs. I doubt Ill ever see that from you, your such a cheapskate. Please don’t contact me again. I want to make a fresh start with my new habit. You don’t know him. His name is exercise and he hangs out at the gym. Your kind isn’t welcome there, so stay away and leave us alone. And take your friend alcohol with you. I don’t mind hanging out with him on occasion, but I don’t want him taking your place. I’m hanging with a new crowd now, habits that respect me, me and the environment.

So been nice knowing you, don’t trip on the way out. And seriously, stop trying to wheedle your way back into my life. My mind is made up. Your no good for me and never will be so just piss off already.

Truly and sincerely, Rhianna

And for my friends that didn't see the snow letter, here it is for your reading pleasure.

The breakup letter (Dear Snow…)

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Could you sit down for a sec? I think we need to have a talk. Now,
don’t cry, but…I think it’s time I saw other weather systems.

Look, it’s not you, honestly. You’re amazing. I remember that
Saturday night last month when you showed up in my life. You were
beautiful. What we had was beautiful. You made my Christmas such
a memorable one. I’ll remember it forever, babe.

I’m just not ready for this sort of long-term relationship. Don’t
shout, please. I’m not implying that a one-night stand where you
melt away would have been better. It’s just that when I’m with you,
there’s no room for anything else. Buy new clothes, cancel plans with
friends, stay at home…you just want too much from me. I won’t say
it’s a hassle, but…it’s a daily adventure. We can still be friends. I hope
we stay friends—heck, I generally like seeing you. Just a little less of

Frankly, I didn’t expect this would happen. If I wanted this type of
relationship, I would have gone to plenty of other universities. This
sort of thing is just more appealing as a mountain fantasy.
And Sunday night? That was the breaking point. You can’t just
show up like that without warning. That crossed the line. It’s getting
to the point of harassment and stalking. I had plans that night, buses
I needed to take, and then you show up and…forget it. There’s no use

Seriously, I’d prefer if you left, snow. We’ve tried this for a month
now. It was fun at first, but now, it’s more hassle than it’s worth. I
want to go back to the life I had before. Your icy, exotic personality
was wild for a bit, but now I realize you’re just plain cold. I never
thought I’d say this, but I think I’ll be happy to see rain.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Smoking Diary- updated daily until I have a grip

Day 1 - New Years Day. I wait until David goes downstairs and chainsmoke two cigarettes. When he gets back and asks whats up, I tell him there is half a pack left and I feel like finishing it before I quit. We share each cigarette till they are gone. Then we straighten out butts from the ashtray and grab a few puffs on them. When they are done, we salvage what tobacco we can and roll our own. Yuch! I think thats cured me.

Day 2- I wake up and surprisingly feel very little urge to smoke. When I do, I take a few drags from the electronic cigarette. Im not real fussy about the taste. I thought the Marlborough flavor would be best but now Im thinking, as I want to quit smoking, having the taste of it in my mouth is just gross, like licking an ashtray. Should have gone with the mint! It's doing the job tho, I passed the first big test, driving the car without a smoke.

Day 3- Today goes easy. I dont even use the gizmo. I feel alot of tension in my jaw and face that is irritating. Im so used to stopping and having a smoke before I begin any chores such as the dishes,I keep feeling like I'm missing something. I feel very scattered and can't focus on anything for more than a few minutes. Trying to have a sensible conversation is nearly impossible.

Day 4- Still feeling ok, I go to work all day in the clinic. I am happy to notice that I did not cough once all day.I usually cough during every massage, its been a real embarassment for me. I normally dont smoke once I'm at work until I'm done for the day, so today is not a big stretch for me. My big test comes on the way home.

We get an unexpected blizzard that makes the roads super slippery. Geographically, I have to climb a hill and decend the other side to get to where I live. Each main road I drive by is blocked by buses and trucks that have spun out and are blocking the way. I keep driving east hoping to find a clear way home. Spotting a side road that looks good, I take a chance and vear off the main road. Big mistake. A few blocks up, I end up in a quagmire of vehicles all stuck in the snow on every corner. Twenty minutes or so to get one or more on their way and go one block and get stuck with another foursome at the next intersection. This is turning into a long,scary night. I just want to get home, I have to pee, Im hungry, my feet are wet and cold and now I REALLY want a smoke! I break down and have a few puffs on the gizmo. It does the trick and three hours later Im finally home.

Day 5- Today Im super emotional. Not sure if its the withdrawels, my menopause crazy hormones ( Im having a zillion hot flashes the last few days), or the fact its my
5oth birthday today and no one seems to care or notice. Im really missing my Mom of all people. She has been dead for half my life now, but today I really want to see her and give her a hug. Its my nieces 16th birthday today as well. Wish I was there to celebrate with her. I dont really feel like smoking but am on an emotional rollercoaster, I pray this ride ends before tomorrow.

Day 6- Today is Dave's turn to be sullen and cranky. I can't blame him after my melt-down yesterday. My mood is much better today but the munchies have hit. I think its from watching David, he is scarfing down anything edible thats in his path. The urge to smoke is the the strongest today so far. Everytime it hits me I stop and take a few very deep breathes, so far so good. I cant wait for this to all pass.

Day 7- Today I'm antsy. Antsy. Antsy. Antsy. I try to work on the boat, but every time I get going on it, David has some distraction for me and off I go. I give up after the third try. I seriously need to get my focus back, Im not getting much accomplished!

Day 8- I don't have the urge to smoke per say, but the withdrawal symptoms are very annoying. I'm edgy, irritable, cranky, sad, lethargic, spaced-out, and the muscles in my arms feel like coiled springs that want to reach out and punch something. I bought some vitamins tonight( C, calcium, multi and B complex) to help with all of this.

Im happy to say that so far I seem to be maintaining my weight. Weight gain is the main reason I went back to smoking in the first place. If I can motivate my butt out of bed tomorrow, I would like to go sign up for some Bikrams yoga classes.

They are done in a room that is 40 degrees celcius and about 100 percent humidity. Guaranteed to make you sweat and a total workout and stretch for every muscle in your body. The last time I tried one of their classes, I spent three quarters of the class lying on the floor trying to not have a heart attack from all the heat. This is making me leary to try again, but I think the workout and sweat would be a great detox.

Day 9- David is a mess. He pulled something in his back the other day and last night badly sprained his ankle when he wiped out on the icy docks. We basically spent the whole day in bed with him propped up on ice packs and me doing the fetch and carry.

I didnt make it to the yoga class so I pulled out a yoga cd I had kicking around and worked out to that at midnight. It was good, really loosened up my back and joints in general.I'm down one pound since January first. Not an impressive weight loss but awesome considering I havent smoked in eight days and havent done a whole lot physically. I'm trying to be concious of what I eat,adding more whole grains and eating a whole lot less sugar.

Ive discovered the BEST DESSERT EVER!!! If you even remotely like rice pudding, you have to give this recipe a try,its amazing.

Black Rice Pudding - makes 4 servings

1 cup sticky ( glutinous) black rice -rinse several times till water runs clear then cover with water and leave to soak overnight.

In the morning ,drain and rinse again, and cover with
3 cups of water and 1/4 tsp salt.
Crush a cinnamon stick and put it and 6 cloves (can also add some crushed cardamon pods if you have them)into a gauze bag tied with cotton and add it to the rice. Bring to a boil then simmer 45 mins with lid on.

Stir in 1/2 cup of brown sugar(I used rock sugar found in an asian grocery store), 1 15oz can of unsweetend coconut milk, 1/4 tsp salt and a couple of handfuls of raisens. Stir well, until sugar is melted. Remove guaze bag and discard.
Bring to a boil and cover and simmer for another 30 minutes

At this point the rice should be somewhat chewy and there will still be some water in the pot. Add 1 tsp of cornstarch to a small amount of water in a small jar, shake well and pour into rice. Stir for 5 mins until rice thickens abit.

If you want it very thick, let it sit for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. You can reheat it in the microwave, otherwise it is also good right out of the pot. Serve with milk, soy milk or coconut milk ( You can also sprinkle shredded coconut for a nice contrast in color to the black rice)

Make lots as I guarantee you will want seconds and thirds. It looks odd and is a process to make but well worth it. Bon Appetit!

Day 10- We attended a shamanic drumming and dreaming circle tonight. Basically what happens is our teacher plays a steady rythym on a native style round drum for 15 minutes. This steady beat causes the brain to produce theta waves which are the brain waves you have when daydreaming. While he is drumming, we lie on the floor and have something like a daydream where you go on a journey to ask your spiritual guides for answers. I usually have no problem having very vivid, detailed visions that are very profound. Tonight wasn't like that. I struggled to get anything and what I did get was disjointed and fragmented.

When we were discussing our experiences after, I mentioned that I thought the reason I had such a hard time was because I had just quit smoking and my thoughts have been quite scrambled and unfocused in general lately. My teacher pointed out that tobacco was considered to be the mother plant that nourishes all the other plants energeticaly. It is revered by the Native people and used as an offering in important ceremonies and prayers. It was never meant to be smoked on an everyday basis and exploited by the tobacco companies.

I think I need to do a ceremony to honour tobacco and ask forgiveness for abusing it. Maybe then it will loosen its grip on me and give me back my focus.

Day 11- Worked all day at the clinic. Had lots of clients I hadnt seen in 7-8 months come in today. It was fun to catch up with them. They are all proud and excited for me quitting . Me Too! I'm proud of David too. I know this is hard for him and the fact that we havent ripped each others head off yet, is a testement to his good humour.

Day 12- Did absolutely nothing today.Just stayed in bed all day doing nothing. I still crave cigs and I'm wondering if its the nicotene in the gizmo.

Day 13- Finally a burst of energy. I take advantage of it and clean the whole house and spend 6 hours running errands. Got a Chapters certificate for my birthday
( thanks Stu!!) and spent a wonderful hour or so cruising all the books. As much as computers have taken over my life, I still miss sitting down with a good book.

I meant to make it to the gym, but was so wiped out from all the shopping, I just went home. The urge to smoke was the worst tonight since this all started. Why ??? Its been almost two weeks, let go of me , you filthy,stinky habit.....please for the love of god, just go already.

Day 26- Ya, so still not smoking. I get one or two super strong cravings a day. They overwhelm me but pass quickly. I am totally cold turkey these days, haven't used the gizmo in weeks. Still feeling somewhat edgy, although the insomnia has passed and I'm able to sleep 8 hours again, thank god.

The good news is I haven't gained any weight at all, in fact Ive lost 2 pounds. I want to make a bigger effort in that direction. I'd like to lose 30 pounds before summer starts. Just Need TO GET OFF MY ASS!! I feel like I'm super-glued to the bed these days, dont know what thats about?? My craving for sugar has pretty much disappearred as has my bad cough. I hardly ever cough at all anymore, when I smoked it was 24 hours a day. Hallaluyah!

This quitting smoking has brought a lot of changes into my life. Like a snowball rolling downhill, each change begets another. David and I have parted ways. Ive been packing all week and sorting out the storage of all my belongings. I'm trying to simplify my life as best I can. Its hard to let go of 50 years of memories and collectables. My diet has changed, my lungs have really changed, I'm looking forward to see what this new year and lifestyle will bring to pass. I feel like a butterfly emerging from one form and transforming into another. Its a new world and new horizens to discover.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Eve

So a few weeks ago, David suggested we hold a New years Eve party down on his floathome. I had my doubts as it still needs a ton of insulation to cope with the freezing temperatures and at the time was in utter kaos from ongoing renos.
With all the recent bad weather lately, all our energy has gone into survival mode and trying to keep everything afloat down here. David spent the whole night on the
29th doing a salvage job on a friends boat that sunk. He didnt get in till 6 am and didnt get much sleep the next day. Too exhausted to get much done, we decided to get a good nights sleep and tackle the house in the morning.

I really thought there was so much to do, that we would never be able to pull it off. Goes to show you the power of positive thinking. I decided when we got up that this was all going to be ok, everything would get done in a timely manner and no stress would be required. I wish I had taken some before and after pictures but we pulled off a miracle.

In 7 hours we:
-got the power lines fixed and power restored to the house
-got the water hoses defrosted and hooked back up
-got the bathroom put back together ( he had ripped it all apart to install a jacuzzi tub)
-got plastic stapled up over the ceiling to retain heat
-dusted and vacummed about a half an inch of sawdust out of the whole place
-rearranged all the furniture
-washed every dish in the house
-decorated the place with a bunch of Davids artwork
-cleared all the decks,docks,ramps and paths of snow and ice,laid down salt and put down some chickenwire on the docks
-cut a bunch of firewood to heat the place
-made a trip to Richmond to shop for groceries and other party supplies and to pick up a drum kit
-cooked up a feast of food
-lit a hundred candles

Unfortunately due to the weather and other social commitments not alot of people were able to attend, but we had fun anyway. There were enough musicans to entertain us with song, enough food for an army and the house has never looked better. It was an honor to have our friends with us to toast in the New Year.

Me taking a moment of rest with the food in front and the decorations behind me

David in front of his art

The stage set for the musicians

A jam under way

My biggest concern with having the party was peoples safety. The weather has made the roads and docks very treacherous. Funny enough the only person to fall on the docks was me and I did it four times last night! One of them really wrenched my knee, so Im laid up in bed today with ice packs on it. Not how I wanted to start the year but hopefully it gets better fast and today I will just enjoy a relaxing day off with my sweetie.


Well Happy New Years to you all, may 2009 bring you peace, good health, and lots of new adventures.

2008 was an interesting year. Like most of the years of my life it was fraught with many changes and challenges.

The marina where I live underwent a ton of changes. Lots of boats and people had to leave and the whole energy of the place shifted dramatically. It was a time of high anxiety and sadness. Things have mellowed out here alot lately buts its very quiet and I miss the company of the people who lived down here.

I lived on my boat for half the year, then hauled it out into the shop for the other half. I didnt think I would be a landmonkey for this long. Working on the boat has fluctuated between being exhilerating, boring, optimistic, overwhelming and a whole host of other feelings. I had hoped to have it all done and back in the water by the end of the year but at this point I am nowhere close to that.

I didn't do a single thing to the boat all of December. Between work, the holidays and the weather especially, I didnt have the time or motivation. Hopefully January brings me a new surge of energy and optimism so I can get on with things. I was looking over my posts from 2008 and it reminded me how much I had already accomplished and how much love and energy I put into it. Not the time to quit now!

Work was good this year, I had lots when I needed it and time off when I needed it with always enough money to do what needed to be done. I enjoyed working at the clinic, it was alot less stressful then working on-call. It was awesome to have a steady paycheck and hours for a change.

For years now I have wanted to teach a course and/or use the material to write a book about all I've learned about health care and life. For some reason I never felt ready before but suddenly I do. Ive been going over my notes and references and putting it all together. I need a place to teach from but am sure it will manifest itself when the time is right. I am excited as Im sure this is what Im meant to do, but have been putting it off forever. Time to make the shift and watch it happen.

Physically it was a good year. My tendinitis finally cleared up after 6 months of hell. Ive gained some weight which doesn't please me, so will try harder to incorporate some regular exercise into my life and cut back on the junk food at night syndrome.I also vow to try and get at least one massage a month and take better care of myself.

My asthma has had a rough time of things between smoking like a chimney and living in this dustbowl, so to that end, David and I will try to quit smoking. The other day I bought an electronic cigarette. It looks like a cigarette, the white part is a battery, the filter area holds a vial of nicotene which sits on a vaporizer. When you take a drag on it, the vaporizer gives you a dose of nicotene ( it comes in flavors of Marlborough tobacco, cherry or mint). The end of the cigarette glows red when you take a drag and you breathe out a puff of water vapor. So it looks ,acts and tastes like a cig,but no harmful vapours or smoke to bother others. Wish us luck, Ive done this twice before, quitting once for a year and another time for eight years. Hopefully third ones a charm!

My relationship with David went through some ups and downs but we are still here and stronger for having worked through some issues. He has been a real inspiration to me to take life by the horns and think positively. Nothing is impossible in his eyes and his ability to get things done has made a big impression on me. I continue to learn and grow in this relationship.

For many of my family members this was a year of loss. We had uncles, cousins, life long friends and most recently my brothers mother-in-law who lost her battle with cancer on Christmas Eve, leave us this year. May their souls rest in peace, you are all loved and missed.

I wasnt sure what to expect at the beginning of 2008. It didn't go quite as expected but all in all a good year. I think 2009 will bring many more changes. I'm hoping they will all be postive ones. For this year I want to manifest my teaching career, a healthier body,and a reconnection to spirit. I will strive to find more balance in my life by making time for friends,the gym,and my creative side. May the universe give me the focus to accomplish this.

Best of luck to all of you for the New Year, may all your dreams come true! xxoo Rhianna