Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Easter!

Lent seems like it's the longest period of time ever and then suddenly, it's over! This was only my second time participating and it went way better than last year. Let's review what I committed to:
So this year I'm doing candy. All small wrapped hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars, you name it, I'm not eating it. Just cutting out very identifiable sugary sweets. 

And I did! Did I give up sugar entirley? Not by a long shot. I still had dessert every night on the cruise and I still baked at home but I didn't eat ANY hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars etc. Candy is EVERYWHERE and it was good to be aware of it. It was actually a lot easier to pass up than I thought it would be and a lot easier to avoid than cheese was last year.

I think my biggest accomplishment was giving up Candy Crush. I deleted it off my phone and never looked back. The withdrawl from that was HARD. I ended up surfing Pinterest a lot more than usual initially but after awhile even that went back to normal. I will allow myself to eat candy again but I won't be re-downloading Candy Crush so that's a big accomplishment.

I did start using Instagram a lot more www.instagram.com/agent_713 but it's because I was participating in the rethinkchurch.org's 2015 Lent photo-a-day-words challenge which I have found to be deeply rewarding.

Lent is supposed to be a period of reflection on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and on Easter we celebrate the sweetness of his resurrection. As I re-introduce (limited amounts of) candy, I will savour that sweetness and be reminded of the joy that only he brings.

Happy Easter everyone.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lent 2015: The one where I give up candy

Hello blog world. I'm fairly sure this is the longest I've gone without blogging but hey, summer is coming right? Anyway, just thought I'd check in and record my plans for Lent this year. I never really followed up on last year but the bottom line is, it went well. After the first slip up I willingly had cheese just a handful of more times. Twice on pizza I got for free (which was a rule I set before I started. As a student I don't refuse free pizza and I got it twice last year during Lent. I wasn't about to pick off the cheese either so I just ate it.) Another time friends of mine who own a deli brought a bunch of different cheeses for me to try and obviously I couldn't say no. So yeah, cheese a handful of times in six weeks is way better than all the time like normal. Of course I made up for it in France ;)

So this year I'm doing candy. All small wrapped hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars, you name it, I'm not eating it. I developed a nasty chocolate addiction last year and I need to kick it. Late last year I was toying with the idea of giving up sugar entirely but that turned out to be WAY harder than I thought it would be so I'm starting small. Just cutting out very identifiable sugary sweets. 

Here's the hard part though. I also have a horrible addiction to Candy Crush. The game on your phone? I only have a handful of games downloaded including that, Candy Crush Saga and Words With Friends. Well I'm not giving up WWF but I DID delete both Candy Crush and Candy Crush Saga from my phone. That's a big deal because I'm on something like level 406 in CC and it's going to be weird to not have it to zone out with. That's the thing though. It's like candy. I'm very mindless when it comes to eating candy or playing the game and being more mindful is what this is all about. 

I'm going to replace the desire to play Candy Crush with reading scripture and the desire to eat candy with praying. I know that sounds pious but isn't that what Lent is all about? I've been doing a lot more of this anyway so it shouldn't be too terribly difficult but getting rid of those two candy addictions in my life will force a reminder to keep my mind on what is most important. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Three Three

All day I've been trying to figure out how to capture what it means to be thirty three. I feel like it's not much different than turning eight, or thirteen or any other age. With a summer birthday I was often at my grandparents house in Edmonton for my big day. I remember waking up on those hot summer days, stretching and then remembering BAM! It's my birthday. I'd lay there for a bit and wonder if I felt any different. Any older. Not really. Then I'd get up and look in the big round mirror. I didn't look any different than yesterday either. So then I'd shuffle out to the kitchen and the only thing that made the day different was that Grandma would give me a big happy birthday hug and each person, as they woke and found their way to the butter yellow kitchen, would add their good wishes and hugs. 

That's pretty much the same as today. It as just another day. I swept in the morning, did some dusting, and let a parade of repair people through the gates. And periodically throughout the day I'd check Facebook where I always had a host of new birthday wishes waiting. They're coming in from all over the world and in multiple languages. That is how I know I am loved. The fact that these people took a few seconds out of their day to send me some good wishes. I appreciate each and every one. 

I don't feel any different today. Yes 33 is closer to 35 which sounds closer to 40 but this next year is going to be exciting. I'll be graduating in June and starting, as Meredith and I decided "the third half of my life." More chapters in this book of life. Bring it on. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

#32 Watch all the movies on the AFI Top 100 list

The American Film Institute has published a number of Top 100 Lists. #32 on my list of Trucs a Faire is to watch all of the ones on the "100 Years...100 Films" list. That's the original list and even though it was published in 1998 and there has since been updates, that's the one I'm going with because it's the one I was referring to when I started my list in 2006. I don't watch a lot of movies in general and rarely during the school year so I tend to make the most progress on this list in the summer. I think I have a note somewhere on when I watched these movies but that doesn't matter so much. The point is, if they have an X beside them, I've seen them and some of them, like "The Sound of Music" I've watched multiple times. My most recent viewing was of "The African Queen" and I was pleasantly surprised. It's a pretty simple story but quite enjoyable. I'll try and remember to post updates of my progress from time to time. For now, as of July 28, 2014 I've watched 43/100 movies on this list.

# MOVIE YEAR
X 1 CITIZEN KANE 1941
X 2 CASABLANCA 1942
X 3 THE GODFATHER 1972
X 4 GONE WITH THE WIND 1939
X 5 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 1962
X 6 THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939
X 7 THE GRADUATE 1967
X 8 ON THE WATERFRONT 1954
X 9 SCHINDLER'S LIST 1993

X 10 SINGIN' IN THE RAIN 1952
X 11 IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE 1946
X 12 SUNSET BLVD. 1950
X 13 THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI 1957
14 SOME LIKE IT HOT 1959
X 15 STAR WARS 1977
16 ALL ABOUT EVE 1950
X 17 THE AFRICAN QUEEN 1951
18 PSYCHO 1960
19 CHINATOWN 1974

20 ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST 1975
21 THE GRAPES OF WRATH 1940
22 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 1968
23 THE MALTESE FALCON 1941
24 RAGING BULL 1980
X 25 E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL 1982
26 DR. STRANGELOVE 1964
27 BONNIE AND CLYDE 1967 28 APOCALYPSE NOW 1979
29 MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON 1939

30 THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE 1948
31 ANNIE HALL 1977
32 THE GODFATHER PART II 1974
X 33 HIGH NOON 1952
X 34 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 1962
X 35 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT 1934
36 MIDNIGHT COWBOY 1969
37 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES 1946
38 DOUBLE INDEMNITY 1944
39 DOCTOR ZHIVAGO 1965

X 40 NORTH BY NORTHWEST 1959
41 WEST SIDE STORY 1961
42 REAR WINDOW 1954
43 KING KONG 1933
X 44 THE BIRTH OF A NATION 1915
X 45 A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 1951
46 A CLOCKWORK ORANGE 1971
47 TAXI DRIVER 1976
48 JAWS 1975
X 49 SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 1937

X 50 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 1969
X 51 THE PHILADELPHIA STORY 1940
52 FROM HERE TO ETERNITY 1953
53 AMADEUS 1984
X 54 ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 1930
X 55 THE SOUND OF MUSIC 1965
56 M*A*S*H 1970
57 THE THIRD MAN 1949
X 58 FANTASIA 1940
59 REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE 1955

X 60 RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 1981
61 VERTIGO 1958
X 62 TOOTSIE 1982
63 STAGECOACH 1939
64 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND 1977
65 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 1991
66 NETWORK 1976
67 THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE 1962
X 68 AN AMERICAN IN PARIS 1951
69 SHANE 1953

X 70 THE FRENCH CONNECTION 1971
X 71 FORREST GUMP 1994
X 72 BEN-HUR 1959
X 73 WUTHERING HEIGHTS 1939
74 THE GOLD RUSH 1925
X 75 DANCES WITH WOLVES 1990
76 CITY LIGHTS 1931
77 AMERICAN GRAFFITI 1973
X 78 ROCKY 1976
79 THE DEER HUNTER 1978

80 THE WILD BUNCH 1969
81 MODERN TIMES 1936
82 GIANT 1956 X
83 PLATOON 1986
84 FARGO 1996
85 DUCK SOUP 1933
X 86 MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY 1935
87 FRANKENSTEIN 1931
88 EASY RIDER 1969
89 PATTON 1970

90 THE JAZZ SINGER 1927
X 91 MY FAIR LADY 1964
92 A PLACE IN THE SUN 1951
93 THE APARTMENT 1960
94 GOODFELLAS 1990
95 PULP FICTION 1994
96 THE SEARCHERS 1956
X 97 BRINGING UP BABY 1938
98 UNFORGIVEN 1992
X 99 GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER 1967
X 100 YANKEE DOODLE DANDY 1942

Friday, July 25, 2014

Epiphany Island

I guess I haven't blogged about it yet but my first few weeks here in France were rough. They were rough last year but I blamed it on the fact that I had already been travelling for six weeks and had only spent one week of the past five plus months in Canada. I like France but the bottom line is, it's a foreign country and even though I understand and can communicate in the language, it's not my mother tongue so fully expressing myself is difficult. Also, my job is housework. I don't like housework at the best of times and even though I get to do it in a beautiful place, I still don't like it. So PMS and homesickness and missing Canada Day and the start of summer and the fact that my parents were on vacation so I couldn't just Skype with them whenever I wanted, resulted in me feeling very alone and unhappy for the first few weeks I was here. I reached out to a few people but the general consensus was "You're in France. You're not allowed to complain." Or feel any emotion other than ecstatic happiness apparently. That was frustrating in it's own way.
Anyway, the third week I was here I went to Île Saint-Honorat on my day off. It's the smaller of the two Lérins Islands which are both just off the coast in the Bay of Cannes. I visited the larger one, Île Sainte-Marguerite, last year and this year I made it to Saint-Honorat. It was a crazy hot day and even though I stopped and bought lunch at the Monoprix and an extra bottle of water, I probably still could have had more liquids. The island has been home to monks since the fifth-century and they cultivate six types of grapes for wine and olives for oil. There are a number of small chapels dotted around it and the main church in the middle.

I wandered around taking in the peacefulness of the place and generally avoiding all other humans because I wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone.

I picked a spot overlooking the channel between Saint-Honorat and Saint-Marguerite for my picnic lunch. I also read a bit of the book I had with me and took a short nap under the trees. At some point during my time of reflection I realized something really simple. Something that everyone else probably realizes but something I needed to recognize as an attitude adjustment.

I don't HAVE to do my work here in France.
I GET to.

That's it. That's my big epiphany. I know a lot of people are probably thinking...yeah so. What's the difference. Or, how did you not realize that before? But that's just the point. I didn't and once I did, it was like the clouds lifted and the sun shone through. I guess it's because this is my second time here (and by here I mean in France at this job). The first time everything was new and exciting. I was constantly learning and discovering and I was dazzled by the beauty of this corner of the world. This year the shine has worn off. The sparkle is gone and while I'm glad I came, the romance is lost and it just feels like hard work. Still, I realize I am extremely lucky to be able to do a job like this, not once but twice.

I probably won't be back. Not to work anyway. And if I do it won't be next year. I need to spend a summer in Canada. I think deep down I maybe didn't want to come back this year. Or if I did my motives were wrong. I came back because it was easy. I mean I had the job given to me. Mine for the taking. All I had to do was say yes. That's way easier than applying for the jobs I want post graduation. Coming here was guaranteed. Plus it looks great. Not only to future employers, which was my rationale, but to my friends. And that's where my motive was wrong. I came because people were jealous that I get to be here and that's wrong. In the weeks leading up to leaving, I wasn't excited. I wasn't looking forward to leaving. I was already missing everyone back home. I booked my ticket and packed and came out of duty. I had committed and there was no backing out. But I would have been perfectly fine to stay in Canada. And that's why this epiphany was so important. Because my day on this little island where people have been reflecting for over fifteen hundred years, I realized just how lucky I am and I adjusted my attitude and I've been a lot happier since.

The pictures of me in this post were taken after my little revelation. Yeah I could fake a smile before but now these ones are genuine. Genuinely happy. Genuinely content. Genuinely in love with life. And ready to tackle the duties I have for the next five weeks that I am here, because I get to. Not because I have to.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Villa & Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild

In June Meredith had a grad party. They watched the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It takes place on the French Riviera and she called and asked me if I had visited the town of "Beaumont-sur-Mer" last year while I was here. With a bit of Googling we realized that Beaumont-sur-Mer is a fictitious town created for the movie but that yes, I have either been to or passed through many of the places where the filming took place.

When I arrived in France and actually had time, I watched the movie myself. I recognized a few of the locations and made a mental note to try and check out some of the other places. A few days later the family I work for announced they were going sightseeing and asked if I wanted to go with them. I took them up on the offer at the last minute and we headed towards Cap-Ferrat which I thought sounded vaguely familiar. I didn't know where we were going but since I was just along for the ride I didn't think very much of it. I figured it would be good to see the area and then maybe when I had a day off I could go explore the area on my own.

 Well it turns out our destination was the Villa and Gardens of Ephrussi de Rothschild which was one of the specific filming locations for the movie!!! It's not the main house (that's a private villa according to Wikipedia) but it was still used in the movie. How cool.

The villa is gorgeous. Aside from the fascinating history and the dancing fountains that do a choreographed water show every twenty minutes, the gardens are gorgeous. It was a super hot day but we had fun exploring this beautiful spot together. I definitely understand why they used it in the movie.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

#28 Visit Great Britain

Number 28 on My List is "Visit Great Britain." I realize that, like with many of the things on this list, it's pretty vague and unspecific. Therefore, even though "Great Britain" has a lot more to explore than just London, I'm officially crossing it off my list. It's like learning French. It will be a life long pursuit. But, even though this was only my first visit to London, I managed to see quite a bit. I took a number of walking tours so I feel relatively familiar with the downtown area. I visited the Parliament, Westminster Abbey, The Monument,
and the National and Portrait Galleries. In general I liked the city. There's tons to see and you'd never be bored. However, I also found it extremely expensive and rather overwhelming. Plus I was annoyed with having to use the pound. I do want to go back and explore some more. Maybe it will be better next time when I know better what to expect.