out with the old...

the end of the year is near and I welcome it.  sorry!  I am ready for 2009!  I usually procrastinate about everything, but not this.  bring it!

this past year has been quite the "full meal deal" if you will.

I saw my father go from in pain to in the hospital and then bounce back to that energetic man that I remember from so long ago.  he rode his bike again and despite the boy shorts, black socks and dress shoes he was out on his bike!  




I saw my mother go from fairly healthy to steadily increasing pain which she is still battling.  I have to give it to her - she is a trooper and she is willing to try everything to feel better.  my wish for her is that 2009 brings her some relief.

my wish for both of them is that they are healthy enough to make a trip to italy next summer.


speaking of italy I was fortunate to have my uncle here from italy here for over six months. he is my fave and I enjoyed every single second of his visit. we spent more time together than we ever had due to my dad being in the hospital. I talked to him about worries that I had with my parents and he reassured me about a lot of things. love that guy!

I lost two family members this year.  one cousin to breast cancer.  mary battled a long time and she fought hard.  cancer won and that makes me mad!  I also lost my uncle to cancer.  his battle was short and in some ways people might think that is the better way to go.  either way it is the cancer that beat them and I will continue to do my part to help find a cure for this disease.




my one and only son graduated high school this year.  that in itself was a relief.  ha!  I knew he could do it and I also knew he was ready to be done with it.  he was one of those bright children who were bored in school long before anyone figured out they were bored.  now he is working on what he wants to do and where he would like to end up doing it.  all in all he is a great kid who amazes me on a daily basis.  

my wish for him is that he takes what gives him passion and makes a living doing it.  his will be an interesting life.  I know that for sure.


I saw my better half shine his way through the sale of a business and cross the finish line of his first marathon. each instance required dedication, determination and commitment. I knew he could do it and I needed him to see that he could do it.

my wish for him in 2009 is that his ticker keeps on ticking and he takes more time to do the things he loves to do.

and me? I was a rock star this year! my whirlwind tour began february here in edmonton with a week of babysitting my two nieces. what fun and how lucky was I? in april I was off to north carolina for inspired. I was overwhelmed by the talent and all the people I met. I learned so much and have so many wonderful memories.

I traveled to airdrie in may with laurie to teach workshops. we had quite the adventure. between no bottled water in the hotel and jumping balconies. mind you we always manage to put smiles on our faces and carry on.

then it was off to dawson creek in june for our first summer solstice party. we laughed, played games and stayed awake to watch the sun come up. it was so much fun.

in august I was given a trip to chicago for my birthday. I have never been so stunned in my life. I couldn't believe that in one week I would be leaving on a trip. you got me harry!

september took us to banff for melissa's. our first time entering that race and we have decided it won't be our last. we love the mountains and running in them is just the icing on the cake. good friends, great food and a visit from the nieces and their kids. it was wonderful.

october we had our annual trip to st. louis. this year was more low key with all the food intolerances that I was having. we still managed to get out and see some sights and do some shopping.

november we took our last minute trip to punta cana. aren't those sell off's awesome! a week in the sun, sand and surf did us a world of good. we love the beach and the sun and who can say no to sand in your toes?

december we went to las vegas to make him a "marathon man". my first trip to sin city and although it won't be my last I would probably only return to run the race again.

my final stop of the tour was back to dawson creek (they begged me to come back!) for kurjata christmas. always a good time and with the exception of "cardiac patient" we did have fun visiting with everyone.

last year my word for the year was "live" and live I did. so much so that I am exhausted! I am still thinking about my word for 2009. it will have to be something that encompasses all that I am striving for in my life. I want less chaos and more time to do the things I love to do. less pressure and more support. don't be going all "the secret" on me and telling me that I asked for it all and that is why it is coming to me!

looks like I will need to gut the house (chaos) and hire a maid (more time). move the button on my pants (less pressure) and apparently get a new bra (more support).

my wish for you is that you have what makes you happy or in 2009 you find it and treasure it and are grateful for it. we need to remind ourselves that who we are is okay. that the people that surround us are to support us and lift us up not bring us down. that the world is a better place because of us and we need to take care of it as much as we take care of ourselves.

not a creature was stirring...

at least not yesterday morning. back from the last stop of my tour this year. christmas with the kurjata family is always full of adventure, laughter and lack of sleep. so I slept till noon. I must have needed it. it is all quiet and weird. there was a lot of hustle and bustle during the holidays. let me re-cap for you and share some of my fun memories.

-day we are scheduled to leave the NEW car has no regular source of heat (it is minus 35 degrees!) (NEW car? more later)

-day after we arrive I jet him off to the hospital to reinact a scene from gene simmons family jewels. it is the episode 40/41 where he ends up in the hospital with his heart beating irregularly and they try different medications until one finally works. he was in a-fib for twelve hours.  he (not gene) was minutes away from being blitzed to a hospital an hour and half away. thank goodness he converted and the holiday fun resumed. unless you asked him. minus alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate not a lot of fun!

- during christmas mass my tummy decided that NOW would be a good time to start acting up. several trips to the bathroom and watching mass on the big screen in the play room I was finally able to return for communion. yuck!

and with any family christmas comes christmas carols. mom loves it when all the kids get together and sing. now that the kids have kids they also join in guitars and all. and if you were unable to make it to christmas we will serenade you via ichat:


video

I became the godmother of this beautiful girl seen here with her mom. equally beautiful, but not my godchild.




it was a kurjata infomercial starting with this. we were also able to try this and this. missed out on the demo of this.

we had homemade salsa, herbal teas, polish waddka and no mandarin oranges. apparently there was a shortage! also no kurjata cookies. wtf?

we visited with family, played cards, ate, drank and were positively merry! I loved seeing everyone!
I will share my family christmas tomorrow!

vegas update...

time passes quickly when you are watching the snow fall...

he finished and he was happy and I bawled like a baby!



I am SO proud of him! he worked so hard to make this happen and I was the lucky one who got to be there when he crossed the finish line.

and ME?



do I look happy?

at around 15 km (which is when I snapped this pic) I lost all feeling in my toes. then it felt like I was running on teeny pebbles and it hurt like hell. I wanted to quit, but knew if I did that I would never have the medal so I kept going. this run wasn't about me. it was about him and I am so happy it worked out so well for him.

happy national chocolate covered anything day!

I, of course, had to join in and celebrate this wondrous occasion by eating a half pound bag of peanut m & m's. SURE! why not? he ate a half pound bag of chocolate covered almonds! I couldn't let him party without ME!

so what!



this made me laugh, cry and know this for sure:

that which does not kill you - makes you stronger


ROCK ON!

vegas baby!



I won the car? SHUT UP!

holy crap!

thursday? already? so the headache continues and so do the car issues. I decided that whatever I needed to get done that involved leaving the house yesterday was not going to happen. "betsy" agreed and I let her rest some more. in her final days I want to make her as comfortable as possible. oh who am I kidding! I was scared to drive her any farther than a 5 km radius for fear that something would break and I would be stranded and freeze to death.

yes, people it is freezing cold out there! I may not have gone out, but I did have to let the dogs out and every time I did I got quite the chill.

yesterday I managed to get the laundry all done, christmas cards completed, and a secret present I am working on for someone special who might read my blog so I won't spill the beans was also worked on. amazing what happens when you stay in!

this made me very happy yesterday:



muffins! I found an awesome muffin/pancake mix which is locally made. I substituted apple sauce for the egg and coconut extract for the vanilla it was nummy! REAL muffins! it has been a long time.

this was my mid morning snack:



muffin, latte (REAL milk!) and applesauce. yum! 

focus on the good and the bad will melt away, right? perhaps I have been trying to focus SO hard on the good that I have literally given myself a massive headache? ahhhhh......and tomorrow? vegas! where I will witness his FIRST marathon! so excited for him! and hey, it will be pretty kewl to see elvis too! 

*pack lots of tylenol, motrin and don't forget sunglasses to protect eyes from all the lights. I am picturing a truly tacky, uber noisy place with lots of cheap food and drinks so that you will spend your money gambling. am I wrong?

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

SOMEWHERE ELSE!

okay, got that off my chest...

yesterday was a day of flying by the seat of my pants. no plan. a list, of course, but no plan. does that make sense? not really. anyway the day started out with picking up "betsy". my car who was in for some surgery and it didn't go well. in other words I was not willing to pay what they asked to get her all spruced up.

let's be real. she is thirteen years old. she has almost 300,000 km under her belt. and she is just SO tired. so I drove her very carefully to the mall to pick up presents and groceries. I then went to meet her for lunch.

no art day this week. I have been feeling very discombogulated because of all that has been happening around me. I have been creating an album for my next trip. you can see it over here so the art keeps happening despite my state of mind.

christmas is right around the corner and things need to be done and I absolutely hate feeling rushed about it all. so today was a day of forgetting about the rushing and slowing down and checking off the things on my list.

after lunch I went off to my mom's to do her hair as she had a party to go to. she sat in the chair and I pretended like we were in a salon and asked her the salon type questions. did your husband drop you off? why are you getting your hair done? where are you off to tonight? are you finished with your christmas shopping? she giggled and answered the questions as if I was her stylist. dad thought we were nuts. god I love those two! I am really enjoying our moments together. we have all worked hard to get to where we are today and I treasure our relationship. afterwards she tried to pay me! how silly!

betsy got me home safe and we had a really good conversation about where she is headed. the time has come to say good bye. I will hang on to her for a little while longer, but I understand that she is ready to go. I cannot watch her suffer any longer. and so the sleepless nights, the headaches, and some tears will continue... 

yes, people! I realize I am talking about a car! I am NOT completely nuts! YET!

holly, jolly december!

how's the christmas shopping going? need some original ideas? a very talented canadian artist has some kewl things on sale. her name is kal and I found out about her by purchasing one of her magnets. starting today she is putting them on sale and they would make great stocking stuffers! not only that, but you would be supporting "shop canadian" and you would have some amazing original gifts!

it all started with buying her magnet and then this...



yup, met HER! I attended this because I just knew I had to meet her and find out all about her. I learned so much in her class about letting go and having fun with it.

enough babbling! head over there and scoop up some prezzies! I would like "be you" just in case you haven't finished shopping for ME. just sayin'!

HAPPY MONDAY!

happy thanksgiving!

no seriously! all day today I have been happy and SO thankful!

I started the day off with a list. not like that is anything different from any other day in my life, but here is the kicker!

I DIDN'T FOLLOW MY LIST! 

I know! I surprise me too. now get off the floor and back into the chair and let me tell you what happened. 

it all started with two happy puppy faces saying "good morning mamma". they were happy because they finally had some relief after being diagnosed with lice! yuck! drugs are GOOD! thankful that they are feeling better!

then off I went to meet my friend for a run in the trails. we have beautiful trails and sans snow and ice it is quite nice to run without fear of going ass over tea kettle. so after the run she invites me in for coffee. sure! and we then spent the better part of the morning just chatting and laughing and reconnecting. I also made a new furry friend as she was babysitting. "chewy" is the sweetest big dog I have ever met! it was awesome! and I was so thankful that I forgot all about what I needed to do this morning.

from there I ran home to shower and have lunch and who happens on my doorstep but dan. what a lovely surprise! we lunched together, chatted and shared a big hug. I love my time with him and am so thankful that I get that and his hugs make me SO happy!

then off to pick mom up and take her to the doc's. dad decided to stay home so he missed out! while we were waiting for the doctor to come in she said she was hot. "oh I better not tell the doctor I am hot or he will think I am hot for another reason" she said. good lord! poor thing was having a hot flash. we leave the doc's and I ask her if she needs to stop anywhere before I take her home. she says no and asks if I need to stop somewhere. I tell her I need to stop and pick up some toiletries for dan and so she says okay I'll come with you!

we get into the store and off I go to grab shampoo and such and when I go looking for her I find her down the candy aisle with a bag of jelly beans in her hand. apparently she had found what she needed. so I keep shopping and she goes through the till and rips open the bag and starts chomping down on them like she is two. it was the cutest thing. she was so happy with her bag of $1.99 christmas jelly beans. so thankful I still have my mom and dad and I can enjoy these moments with them.

before I head home I decide to stop and get my glasses checked and adjusted. as the lady is pulling the lenses out she ends up breaking one of my lenses. I tell her I can't drive without my glasses and I will have to get someone to come and pick me up. no, no she says we are making it up for you now and it will be about twenty minutes. so twenty minutes later I had not one, but TWO new lenses! I am so thankful that I stopped to get my glasses checked! 

so I head home and he is smiling and feeling better too. so puppies are on the mend and he is on the mend and I? I am so thankful that I tossed my list out the window today so that I could just "enjoy" the day as it rolled out.

love this...

thank you vivian.



pass it on...

welcome...

to what I like to call the "season of the forced smile...



I was reading a blog the other day were she talked about a fellow blogger and how her life sounded way too perfect to be true. I hope that I have not given you the impression that MY life is perfect. whoa!

so yesterday was supposed to be my longest run before the half marathon in vegas and needless to say it was a short 5 km. I had stomach cramps, was worried about him, feeling overwhelmed at all I had to get accomplished and so I headed back home. we have not been well since returning from our tropical get away. tests are due back any day now. it sucks!

so after my bouts of crying and crying some more and many hugs I pulled up my big girl panties and started to tackle things that needed to get done. I have been feeling so tired lately and have no energy and yet my mind says "go", but my body says "whoa". hopefully my doc visit today will help me gain some insight on that. 

do you feel overwhelmed? or am I the only freak? not that you are a freak. you are probably a really nice person. I label myself as "the freak". I tend to walk around the house and in doing so I spot all the things that should get done. organizing, moving items out of the room, cleaning, purging and so on. it bothers me! it bothers me SO much that when I open a door and see the "it" that needs to get done I feel awful. I open a lot of doors each and every day and so that awful feeling really piles up.

I know, you are saying, so, stop opening the doors! easy solution! but how do I get dressed? I could have him get my clothes for me. done. how do I clean my eyeglasses? move the cleaning stuff. how do I cook? do take out. and let's not even mention all the piles of books and magazines that I have now come to the conclusion that I will die before I get to read them all. 

and so that brings us to - winter - aka as the season of my forced smile. why? cause I hate it! there I said it! the stork dropped me off in the wrong country and I have been trying to get back home ever since. damn bird! so basically in the next couple of weeks I need to come up with a plan that will turn this frown upside down. a new way of looking at winter in a good way. I have already discovered that tanning beds are out. I will pay the price for tropical fruit without complaining. revamping the rec room into a beach was not looked upon as a "fun" reno idea so no go on that. 

I'll keep trying and in the mean time I will crank the goLITE to 30 minutes and pray that I get a slight glow. happy monday!

travel journal...

I love to make travel journals for all my trips.  I usually make them from scratch and apparently she
would like me to do a little step by step over at the studio.

hoping to get that up next week.

in the past my journals mostly contained writing with some sketches and bits and pieces like receipts, business cards and such.  when I was introduced to this wonderful world of "scrapbooking" and all the kewl papers, embellishments and toys, well, I went crazy!  I have started including patterned papers, transparencies and pictures.  yup, pictures! and I love it!

the thing I love about my art journals is that they are busting open from all the extras and now I am getting that same effect with my travel journals and it is making me SO happy!

here is my most recent journal from punta cana.  it is SO full!  I LOVE it!  enjoy!  

*I left the music off so it is up to you if you want tunes while watching or not

dominican art

seriously! did you think I would go away and forget about aRt? the colors in the caribbean are so beautiful. the houses we saw were covered in a buffet of bright blues, green, yellows and reds. all distressed from age and the air and so amazing. we were your non typical tourists in a sense that we took pictures of the weirdest things. benches, sidewalks, doors, dogs and food. I took pictures of everything that inspired me. we had two cameras and would often take the same shot to then compare once we got home. I love digital photography! you can take a billion photos! awesome!

we were walking along the beach one day and came across this row of shops. on the beach! lucky for us there were no signs that said "no shirt, no shoes, no service" cause we didn't have either. lol! there was your usual mass produced tees and keychains, but we were after something unique. we always try to pick up a little something for the house.

we came upon this guy and he told us his name was "scooby doo". yeah, right! anyway I was admiring these plates that he had and he pulled some down for me to look at and started explaining the story behind them. he told us that the plate was "taino art" and that the taino were the dominant culture in the dominican before columbus arrived. he explained how the plates were made and I asked him if he made them, no. I love to talk the actual artist who made the item every chance I get. here is a pic of the plate we purchased:



love the colors! and he was delightful too:



in the same row of shops we also saw rows upon rows of paintings. I asked our buddy "scooby doo" if there was one artist who painted all of them. a lot of the paintings looked the same everywhere we went. he explained that a lot of them were done on computer with color added later, but there were some that are original paintings. we walked around trying to figure out which ones were computer copied and which were originals and I could hear music. not a radio, but someone playing keyboard. we kept walking to the very back and came upon these two:



they stopped playing as soon as they saw us and I said keep going, keep going. they laughed and the one playing said he wasn't very good and I told him he was doing just fine. it reminded me of when dan is singing and playing in the basement. I loved it!

on the resort they had a little stand set up where you could pick a piece of pottery and paint it and of course I had to do that! the man who worked there was from haiti and we chatted him up while I was painting away. he told us how he came to the dominican in hopes to make more money. he would talk to the tourists and try to pick up other languages. we overheard him talking to someone in german and he spoke very good english. his dream was to one day be a tour guide. one of the things we did learn was that the dominican government does not assist students so that they can attend university. the people with the money go to university. he told us about his uncle in canada who was trying to get him to go there and had a job waiting for him. we told him it could be a bit cold for him!



an outdoor studio! imagine that!

the entrance of the restaurant had an archway made of palm leaves and they had food carvings. very kewl!



also on the resort they offered henna tattoo. of course I indulged! lol!





ouch!








and we must not forget..."SAND ART!"

I was about to lay back down and saw it in the sand smiling back at me.  how fun to find "aRt" in other countries. 

thank you for all your comments. I loved reading them!

¡mis favoritos!

besides the obvious sand, surf and sun there were other things that made my get away so amazing. we stayed in an all-inclusive and although we love being spoiled rotten we also like to get off the resort and rub elbows with the locals. 

we took a tour which started out with horseback riding where I had a gentle, slow and well behaved horse. I could have done this everyday if I had the chance! we visited the sugar cane fields and sampled some sugar cane. we visited a dominican home and had coffee, hot chocolate and mama juana and feasted on fresh fruits. we took a walk down by the river and saw people bathing and washing clothes. little children everywhere yelling "ola". we went to a ranch and had lunch and visited a school. unfortunately it was saturday and we were unable to see the inside of the school. bummer! our tour ended at a local beach where there were vendors of all ages. a little girl trying to sell me some flowers and a boy with hand woven hats. we saw the most beautiful water and the softest sand. it was an incredible day. the rest of our time was spent walking the beach, laying in the sun and cooling off in the water.

like I said before I create a travel journal for each trip I take as I like to document our adventures away from home. what I have started doing with the last few journals is adding a daily "top five" list of favorites. so here are my top five from the trip:

1. fresh coconut juice



2. painting



3. passion fruit



4. yoga on the balcony



5. cappuccino on the beach (my starbucks understudy)



aw hell! can I add one more?

6. this man



he made this trip possible and helped me make it through the week. there were some ups and downs which mostly involved my stomach and head, but I kept telling myself that I was at the beach and so I put my big girl panties on and worked it out the best I could. all in all it was an amazing trip, a great break and I acquired another sand specimen to add to the collection.

thanks babe!

remember...

the sand...





the surf...





and the sun...





and tomorrow? pics of my fave bits!

holiday highlights!

a few of my favorite moments from our trip to punta cana, dominican republic...

strangers who lean into photos - love that!



my feet touching the sand for the first time...



lying on the beach looking up at the palm trees swaying in the breeze.



horseback riding!











the children





michael jackson - in concert









this shot for kath:





more tomorrow!

back from the beach



more highlights to come...

"sweet escape" number ONE!



I'm off to my number one "sweet escape!"

THE BEACH!

love the sun, the sand and the sound of the surf! SO MUCH SO that it is hard to explain. I feel calm by the water and I love the sand beneath my toes. the sun is my friend. my skin craves it!

walking on the beach early in the morning when it is a little cool and the sand is moist and as you walk your foot leaves a slight imprint...

and at night watching the sun set. darkness starts to set in and the waves are rushing in to wrap themselves around you as you fall asleep...

it is my heaven...enjoy!


"sweet escape" number two



that would be "running" baby! love me some run! but heck you KNEW that! at least if you read my blog on a regular basis. I started running about five years ago. took a for women's only clinic through the running room. and have continued with it ever since. I started out running with women who to this day still meet once a week to run.

I have encouraged friends and family to try running and have been there for many "firsts".  what a thrill for me to be there as they cross the finish line.  the look on their face! and I know exactly how they feel!  it is out of this world!

I have participated in all kinds of runs/races all over. 5 km, 10 km, 15 km, half marathon and marathon. in december I am off to vegas to run my third half marathon. imagine paying airfare and accommodations, meals and race fees to RUN? am I crazy?

yup! it be called "runners high"...

"sweet escape" number three

this "sweet escape" takes me to my studio. yup! right here in my home! I love to go in there, listen to music and play! make stuff, try some ideas from my sketches and just be creative. 

here are some recent journal pages:




paper is my first love. I love making cards, books, collage and art journaling. my second love is fabric. I am not a serious seamstress. I find it hard to follow a pattern and usually start with the basic design and then wing it. not very perfect with the cutting either so some things are kinda wonky, but I love that! paper, paint, pencil crayons, canvas, stamps and a bucket of collage items are like heaven to me.

I love that my "sweet escape" number three is also the place where I make a living. I always tell dan that if he can find a job he loves to do that he will never have to work a day in his life. lucky for me I have THAT! 

how is your "sweet escape" list coming along?

"sweet escape" number four

am I the only one who loves to read blogs? probably not! I have my list of regulars that I go to every morning to check out whassup. I feel like I know them and love to hear all about their lives. I get ideas, information about products, links to other blogs and well SO much! I enjoy having a little "mini" escape into the lives of others.

here are some recent ones who have come up on my radar:

michelle

kelly

catherine

christine

melissa

and my daily faves:

kal

elise

ali

linda

donna

cathy

kath

I could go on, but you can always check out the list on the side. more good reading to be found there! what are your fave blogs to "escape" to?

"sweet escape" number five

meet "namaste"



I made her...

she represents, for me the last 93 days...

she, on a daily basis will remind me of my dedication to my practice...

"sweet escape" number five is my 25 minute morning yoga routine.

I use the yoga routine from kris carr's dvd (hi kris!). prefect! it is short, sweet and complete. it has totally changed how I start my day. I ease into it now instead of taking off like a jet plane. slow and steady wins the race. it has improved my balance and as I found out last week it is important as we age! it has also helped to stretch my muscles and that is huge for my running!

do you yoga?

"sweet escape" number six

MUSIC!




yesterday my girl came over for lunch and brought with her a gabazillion cd's. we reminisced about the good ole days and hummed a few bars of familiar songs and then the itunes loading began.

music has always been a huge part of my life. when I was younger I would listen to tapes and pause, playback and write the lyrics down in my notebook and then I could sing along. music is a great escape be it singing at the top of my lungs in the car with laurie or in the studio while creating. what are some of your favorite tunes?