Thursday, November 25, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#23 - Good Timing

My great uncle Oskar passed away this morning. It may sound like a weird thing to be "thankful" for, but I really am. He's been very, very sick for many years. Last week he had a stroke and was hospitalized. They stabalized him and he's been in a coma ever since. Mom and I talked yesterday and were comparing his situation to his mother's (my great Grandma). She also had a series of strokes but she had a STRONG heart and she "lived" in a nursing home for years. It was so hard on my grandma to see her mother like that and stressful to have to go visit someone who doesn't even recognize you :( The doctors told Aunty Helen that Uncle Oskar (her husband) really has no hope of recovery so the fact that he didn't linger, really is a blessing.

Other things to be thankful for? Mom is there in Alberta right now. She's had this trip booked for months and she's scheduled to be there for all next week as well, which means she can be there to assist with funeral arrangements and doesn't have to make separate travel plans. Oskar and Helen's oldest daughter (Mom's cousin) is there as well. So she got to say "good-bye" to her Dad and again, doesn't have to make a special trip. She can just stay.

Death can be so inconvenient and while it's sad and very final, we really couldn't have asked for better timing or less suffering. And for that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#22 - ScrapShare

This crazy wonderful website has helped me meet people from all over the world. I've been a member of it since January 2003 so almost eight years already (!) Five years ago it took me to Pennsylvania where I met an incredible group of women. It's hard to believe that's been five years already. Tuesday I met another "SS Sister". GACynM is in town visiting her family and inlaws and took a few minutes to run to the LSS where we hooked up. We were able to have a quick hot chocolate at Timmies as well and chat a bit. I love this website and the fact that it has given me friends all around the world. I was trying to tell her all the people I've met "IRL" and I couldn't even get through half of them. Awesome. I'm thankful for ScrapShare!

Attitude of Gratitude V3#21 - Skype

I finally got Skype. I can't remember if I've mentioned it or not but it's pretty much the only way of contacting me that I didn't already have. You can email me on four different email addresses, text me, BBM me, call me, send me a message on Facebook or SS and I technically have a Twitter account though I've only tweeted twice and I rarely log in over there. Anyways, I have Skype as well now. I don't use it very much but last night was pretty sweet. I had planned a call with my best friend and just as the call was starting I posted my last blog entry. We talked for awhile and then I asked if she had read it yet (which was a trick question because I knew she hadn't. Sorry Mere ;)) But I got to watch her read it. <3 Very cool.

I'm not planning on blasting the fact that I'm going home for Christmas all over Facebook because I don't want everyone to know that I'm there and then feel left out because I'm not making time for them. There are a few people I will tell and others that will find out that I'm coming but I'm not going to make a huge deal of it. It's fun to tell the ones that I am telling though :) And Skype made telling Mere REALLY fun!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#20 - My Brothers

I've been waffling about whether or not to try and go home for Christmas. There's lots of reasons on both sides of the "pros vs. cons" list and I just couldn't decide. The pros are pretty obvious. I can get time off work without an issue and it would be nice to see everyone. The cons include the fact that it's so expensive, it's a horrible time of year to travel, my last exam isn't until December 22nd, etc. etc. Well I talked to my brother Robert last week and he and Seth have decided that they really, really want me there so, as an early present, they're paying for my ticket! I fly out on December 23rd and back to Ontario on January 3rd! I'm flying Buffalo to Seattle and I still haven't figured out all get-to-the-airport stuff but the point is, I'm going home for Christmas!

I am thankful for my brothers!!! (and their pocket books :D)

Attitude of Gratitude V3#19 - My School

So I'm two thirds of the way through these posts and I haven't profiled some of the major things in my life. I've alluded to them but not talked about them directly. (and I'm avoiding homework so now sounds good :D) Saturday was Sir Wilfrid Laurier's birthday but we celebrated on Friday at the school. I am thankful for my school. Considering I literally picked the school off Google maps, it's been a great choice. The school is small but it offers everything I want (so far at least). This term, I really enjoy every one of my profs and I've made friends in every class. I can't wait for the next semesters so I can experience new classes (although I still have to get through this one!)

WLU is celebrating 100 years of existance over the next twelve months (counting it's inception as Western Lutheran University) so there is a lot of pride being felt around the school. I suppose you'd get that anywhere but I'm really enjoying being a part of it.

There are lots of universities in Southern Ontario but I am thankful for whatever led me to pick Laurier.

Attitude of Gratitude V3#18 - Via

I've confessed before in this blog that I'm a closet instant coffee drinker. Well, I'm happy to report that, thanks to Starbucks, I've "upgraded" my tastes. I still drink "instant" but now it's "microground" and really does taste much better. As barista's we get a free pound of coffee a week, or, a box of Via. As you can see, I have a bit of a collection :) I *love* the Christmas blend and there's rumours of Verona coming as well. The Iced Via was my saviour this summer while I was packing in a major heat wave and while travelling. I went through a few boxes of it on the road. It worked well to stop at a gas station, buy a bottle of milk, and have coffee!

A quick Via funny, the other day one of my fellow barista's said that he keeps Via in his glove box and when he's out and about he'll drive through at Tim Hortons and just order hot water, and then add Via. Smart!

Today, and most days, I'm thankful for Via. It's faster and cleaner than "real" coffee and cheaper than actually goin in to the store (although I do that a lot too). Have you tried it? What do yo think? What's you're favourite flavour?

Attitude of Gratitude V3#17 - Last Week

So I kind of got off track with these posts. I will catch up, I just may be bit slow. My first one is being thankful that last week is over. I knew it would be in-freaking-sane and it certainly was. I closed on Tuesday and Thursday and had a group project and two book reports due. I alluded in post #15 to the amount of reading I was doing and frankly I feel kind of lazy not having to read at every turn. It's nice to have the break though. Oh, I also had a midterm on Friday but my prof delayed it to Monday for me. I know I didn't do great but I did better on Monday than I would have on Friday.

This last weekend I had a classroom training session for work in Burlington (which is about an hour from where I live. It was the most convenient time and location) and then I spent the night with my friend Jess. Sunday we went to church and then I worked again. Last night I closed and now I don't have to work again until Saturday!!! My school work is "normal" this week because we're getting down to the point where we're wrapping up the semester so it's nice. I need some time to breathe!

I am thankful that last week is over!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#16 - Rain

Tonight, even though I'm wet, I'm thankful for rain. Because it means it's not snowing...yet... And it's cool rain. Heavy, hard driving. If it WERE snowing, it would be a blizzard. I feel like everyone around here is holding their breath just WAITING for the first snow of the season. We know it's coming, we just don't know when. In the meantime, I'll take the rain...but I DO need to buy another umbrella since I seem to have misplaced mine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#15 - The Ability to Read

I am absolutely swamped with required readings and papers right now. I have two novels that I have to do book reports on, on top of all my regular readings. I'm reading whenever I have more than two minutes strung together. In between classes, before bed, while I'm eating breakfast, on the bus, during my 15 minute break at work. You name it. I've finished one of the books and I'm halfway through the second one. My regular readings have to slide a bit this week because there just aren't enough hours in the day. So here I am, not complaining, but commenting on the sheer volume I have to read and a few classes ago in Geography, my prof was lecturing on literacy levels and the amount of people in the world who CAN'T read. I don't have time to look up the stats right now but it's a significant amount. Can't read at all. That boggles my mind. I am such a voracious reader that I can't even fathom NOT being ABLE to read.

Today, I am thankful for the ability to read, to comprehend, to write, and to not go crazy while doing it!!! (hopefully)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#14 - Mondays

Mondays are my favourite day of the week right now. Sounds crazy doesn't? Let me tell you why.
  1. They are the start of a fresh week and full of possibility with plenty of time to get everything done
  2. I have Latin and then back to back History Lecture and History Tutorial. Three hours of classes that I really enjoy and I can go home.
  3. I seem to rarely work on Mondays so I have the whole afternoon/evening to do school work
  4. Mostly I just like knowing that deadlines are still a few days away.

Tuesday's aren't horrible but they're long and I usually work so they're REALLY long. Friday's are a short day but by then I'm exhausted and conflicted about wanting to go out and needing to do school work. Saturdays are okay but they're usually really busy. Sundays are good too but there's something special about Mondays. I am thankful that I enjoy Monday's so much!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#13 - Bus Codes

I don't even know what to call this post. The picture here is of the bus stop by my house. What I am thankful for is the four digit number on every bus stop (2775 in this picture). I can send a text and within seconds I'll have a reply stating when the next buses are scheduled to arrive. This stop only has one bus that goes by but some of them by the school have up to four. It is SO convenient to know, to the minute, exactly how long you have to wait. Saturday after work the next bus wasn't scheduled for 25 minutes (which meant I probably missed one by 5 minutes :P) so I ended up walking most of the way home which was kind of nice. I have a note in my phone listing the codes for the stops I use the most and I'm starting to use the system more often. It is so convenient and I know I'll appreciate it even more once the snow starts to fly!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#12 - Understanding Profs

Question: What do you get when you combine PMS, homesickness, a midterm that I am not prepared for and $10?

Answer: A medical note with a diagnoses of "acute stress teary unable to cope"

Money can't buy happiness but it does buy a repreive. The stress of the last few months finally came crashing down last night and I ended up in a teary mess. Today's not much better. I managed to make it down to my prof's office two hours before the exam and she agreed that I'm not in any shape to write a test. I had to go get a medical note and I can take the midterm next week. In the meantime I'm going to meet with her a few times so I can properly prepare for it. I am thankful for understanding profs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#11 - Remembering

I'm trying not to be annoyed that Ontario is apparently the only provice (and no I haven't researched this so I could be wrong) that hasn't designated November 11th, Remembrance Day, as a statutory holiday. I'm not annoyed that I have classes, in fact I'm thankful that I'm free to attend university but I'm annoyed that, because I DO have class, I wasn't able to attend a proper Remembrance Day ceremony like I usually like to do. Interestingly enough though, this minor annoyance provided me with a very profound Remembrance Day.

Today, instead of attending a large ceremony with parades, lots of flags, pomp and circumstance, I had to make do at a local memorial just across from campus. I see the memorial most days and I've stopped to reflect on it before. Today it was drapped with hand knit poppies and there were wreaths from the local Legions in front. What was amazingly profound was that at 11am, without prompting, without anyone directing and without any sound whatsoever, a group of people stopped, stood at the memorial and silently remembered. After a few minutes they each took off their poppy, placed it on a wreath and many briefly touched the monument or kissed their finger tips and then laid that kiss on the monument. It was all wordless and fairly short but it touched me deeply.

It reminded me that we don't need big flag waving ceremonies to remember. It can me done quietly, reverently and individually. We also don't need to wait for November 11th to remember. But, today I am specifically remembering. Remembering the family and each person that I never knew who gave their lives so that I can gripe about the fact that I had class and had to attend a quiet "ceremony" instead of the big one.

Attitude of Gratitude V3#10 - Stories

I kind of cheated on my 7th post: Live Music. That wasn't actually what I intended to call it but with the pictures and the recap of the concert it got too long so I renamed it. Now I'm going to blog about what I was actually trying to get at: Stories.

The premise of that evening was "Stories and Songs". It was more about the stories behind the songs than the songs themselves. I am a history major and I find I am confronted with stories everywhere, and I love it! History is all about stories, of countries, of people, of events. Genealogy is the same. It's all about stories. Even at work, in the bathroom we have a poster that says "behind every drink is a story" (or something like that, I'll have to verify it) The point is, stories are everywhere and for that I am grateful!!!

Attitude of Gratitude V3#9 - Stars

(I know I'm behind so I'm going to try and catch up a bit here)

This is a simple post but I am thankful for this on a regular basis. I live in a residential neighbourhood, not totally removed from commercial zones but apparently it's enough. I'm also on a bit of a hill but I don't know if that makes a difference. On clear nights, like tonight, and like we get frequently the stars are just amazing. I enter the basement through the back door so I have to walk around to the back of the house. Unless I make a wide arc and get close to the garage, the security light usually doesn't come on. The backyard is lit well enough from other lights that I can see just fine. The benefit of not having lights is you can really see the stars. I don't know if they're clearer than they were back home or if I'm just appreciating beauty when I can find it but they make me smile everytime I look up at the night sky. I love stars and I'm thankful that I can see them so well here!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#8 - My GG102 Group

Group work is always a crapshoot. You never really know who you're going to get stuck with and if they're any good or not. For my GG102 (Human Geography) class we have five lab sessions during the semester and in those sessions we've had to do a group project. Five topics were posted and you had to write your name on the one that interested you. Unfortunately, the topic I wanted was immediately claimed by a bunch of guys that I knew I didn't want to work with. I ended up putting my name down for "Economics" which was the dumbest topic, we struggled with it the whole time. The good part? My group ROCKED! We had SO much fun together. There were five of us total. Three girls and two guys. Three business students, two history students. One fifth year, two second years and two first years. One living on campus and four living off. Only two of us kind of knew each other before the lab. The rest of us were strangers but we've had so much fun with this project and we all sit together in class now. We got together Monday night at one of the girls houses to put together our final presentation. It was tons of laughs. I don't know how well we'll actually do on the content part of the project, but I know I had fun working on it and to me, that's what matters. So, for this post, I'm thankful for awesome group members!!!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#7 - Live Music

Saturday I attended a very special event. It was called "Stories & Songs" and it was hosted by the local radio station. It was a fundraiser for a local women's shelter and it was tied in with a songwriting conference. The whole event was organized by Canadian singer/songwriter Jamie Warren (in the white shirt) and it featured Deric Ruttan (plaid shirt), Victoria Banks, Duane Steel and Jamie. I debated going until about an hour before the show, which meant I ended up going alone because I hadn't arranged to go with anyone, but that was fine. It was a really cool event. The premise of the evening was that each artist in turn performed either a song that has been a hit for them or for someone else. Before they sang they gave either a bit of background on the song, a story about writing it, or some other tidbit. It was fascinating!

I've seen Deric quite a few times and he does an acoustic bit in his shows so I'd heard at least one of the stories before. He had a bunch of others to add though. He is by far one of my favourite songwriters and the people he collaborates with (Dierks Bentley, Doc Walker, etc) are my all time favourite acts.

I saw Duane live about eight years ago and he put on a great show. This was obviously very different but it was fun to see him talk about the songs. He`s just released a new album so he played a lot of new material. There are some great songs there!

This was my first time seeing Victoria or Jamie live and again, I have only good things to say. Victoria is the reigning Canadian Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the year and, even in an acoustic show, it is a title she really deserves! She has an INCREDIBLE voice! She is an extremely accomplished songwriter as well with cuts by Sara Evans, Jessica Simpson and Johnny Reid among others.

The show was in a smallish venue so I didn't have to wait long afterwards to meet them. They were all awesome and very sweet. I'm glad I convinced myself to go! I am thankful for live music, in whatever form!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#6 - My Roommate

(Yes I know I'm a day behind, I'll catch up, I promise)

This is a bit of a Pollyanna post. As a general rule, my roommate drives me nuts but these posts are about being positive and looking for the good so I'm going to list why she's a good roommate.

1. (and the most important) Having her here makes the price right. We're in a basement suite and it's not a fabulous space but it's not bad. It's quiet and well located. I could have the whole basement to myself but that would be prohibitively expensive. Putting up with a roommate is well worth "saving" almost $500 a month.

2. She's quiet and I don't have to talk to her if I don't want to. In the beginning she'd try and strike up conversation but as we both got into the school year and I started working (and therefore am not here often) we can go for days without seeing each other or talking. We're both here but we're so caught up in our own lives that it's not really that big a deal.

3. She's respectful of my stuff. She said something that annoyed me the other day and I started thinking about what I COULD have. I realized that having a roommate that you can trust, who doesn't touch my stuff, who cares for her own stuff, who shares her housewares, etc, is pretty darn good.

4. She's slightly OCD on the neatfreak side. I try not to let it bug me because again, it could be worse. I just get annoyed when I've *just* finished cooking dinner, I'm eating, and she's doing dishes. Maybe she likes doing dishes. I haven't asked her but I can't help but think "Leave them!!! I'll do them when I finish eating!" Now we know that I tend to err on the "leave them for a few days" side if I have my choice so knowing that it probably drives HER crazy if I leave dirty dishes around, is probably a good thing. Still, it's strange to feel like she's cleaning up after me. I guess I'm just not used to that.

5. She's also anal about making sure we have milk. For the most part we keep our groceries separate but we share milk. She starts panicking when we get down to the last bag (milk is sold in there one litre bags that you put into pitchers here) Personally I could go for a few days without milk IF we run out, but she'd have an anxiety attack, so we work to keep the milk at an acceptable level. (Hey, I work at Starbucks, we run out of certain types of milk all the time. It happens. It's not the end of the world!)

6. (I think most of my annoyance with her relates to the fact that she DOES have diagnosed "issues" and I have diagnosed impatience for such issues. Horrible and probably not something I should post on the interwebz but it's true.) One of the benefits of her "quirkiness" is that she will only use her own linens. That means that the brandnew towels that our landlord provided us with? I got both. And the comforter for her bed? I'm using it because my room is kind of cool at night. She brought all her own stuff. works for me!

7. Even though she has a boyfriend, I've only met him once and seen him around once when they stopped by before going somewhere. If they do spend time together, it's at his place. I am very thankful for that, considering any potential alternative!

8. She is a great resource. Okay, that's my way of saying "she's an annoying know-it-all". After hearing her talk about her parents I think it may be the way she's raised but one of the reasons I avoid having conversations with her is she acts like she knows EVERYTHING. She's native to the area so she "knows" what the weather is like. She knows the roads. She knows ALL about the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) (note the sarcasm). It gets tiresome especially since I'm obviously older than her (I don't know how old she is. I don't want to know how old she is.) So I generally just avoid conversation as much as possible.

9. She goes to UW (I go to WLU). Neighbouring schools but I am glad that she's there and I'm not. She has the typical UW/engineering superiority complex, but I don't really care. I'm not here to be an academic anyways.

10. She is "local". Her parents only live 1.5 hours away so she often goes home for the weekend. I am most thankful for that!!!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#5 - Sleep

When you are busy with school, and work, and everything that goes with it, sleep becomes very important. Some people don't value it as much as I do. They tend to let everything else take precedence. Maybe it's not the best choice, but I chose sleep over homework any day. I'm not worth much without sleep. For the most part, I get good, uninterrupted sleep, and for that, I am grateful.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Attitude of GratitudeV3#4 - My Parents

This one is definitely a repeat but it is extra important tonight. I found out earlier today that a friend of mine lost her dad and a cousin, both to suicide within less than 48 hours of each other. :(

I have just moved 3,000 miles away from my parents but they are still a huge part of my life. I text with both of them frequently and in September I spent a combined 500+ minuters on the phone with them. I can't fathom not having them in my life. I miss them terribly but they are super supportive of me being here and being away so it's not as bad as it could be.

I have two of the world's best parents. They're not infalliable. They have faults, but overall, I wouldn't trade them for anything. So tonight, while reflecting on my friend's loss, I am thanking God again for my parents and praying a prayer of blessing and strength over them as well as her family.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Day in the Life

See? When I start blogging I just keep going!
Tuesday was a crazy busy day. Not exactly "typical" but at the same time, not really untypical either. I want to share what I dealt with just so you get a sense of what I have to put up with sometimes.
9:30 am - get up, get ready (rough life. I know :P)
11:03 am - catch the bus
11:08 am - realize I forgot the poster board for a group project that I was supposed to deliver. Get off bus.
11:15 am - catch bus home, grab poster board.
11:33 am - catch the bus to school again.
11:45 am - arrive in Human Geography class. 15 minutes late, I've really only missed YouTube videos. Gotta love university.
12:20 pm - class finishes
12:30 pm - Geography lab. Meet with group, deliver poster board. Work on group presentation.
2:10 pm - accompany Geography class to an art exhibit that we have to do short answer questions on for next class
2:20 pm - grab a bagel and chocolate milk from the Tim Hortons in the Science Building (across campus from where my Geography class meets)
2:30 pm - North American Studies Lecture (a political science course)
3:40 pm - get out ten minutes early from class.
3:50 pm - go to a local cafe for dinner, read book for History course while eating.
5:00 pm - Languages & Literature "Meet the Profs" night organized by the French club
6:30 pm - Work at Starbucks
9:00 pm - break, try new Caramel Brule Latte. Yummy!
9:15 pm - back to work
11:30 pm - finish work
11:38 pm - catch the bus home
At home I washed my hair and attempted to do Latin for awhile before going to bed at, I don't remember when.

So, crazy day. I was on the go for basically 12 hours straight with just over an hour for a dinner break but in that time I was reading the book I have to do a report on in the next two weeks. Like I said, not every day is that busy, and I only have that Geography lab every second week, but still. I was exhausted by the end of the day!!!

Attitude of Gratitude V3#3 - Buses

I feel like I spend so much time on buses. Unless I decide to walk to school (which I've been doing less of as I get busier and the air gets colder) I take the bus to and from school five days a week, and then often back and forth to work. It's gotten to the point that I can tell you pretty much exactly where we are in the trip (it's all of eight minutes long most days) just by the tilt of the bus, how many times we've stopped and when we turned the corner. Public transportation isn't the most convenient mode of transportation but the bus pass is included in my student fees and a parking pass is not, so I don't mind. Plus, once the weather turns really nasty, the last thing I'm going to want to do is clear off my car just to drive five minutes to school and park.

The transit system here is pretty reliable and even though my bus only runs every half hour, it gets me where I am going at an almost perfect time. I arrive at school 10 minutes before my class starts and at work about 15 minutes before my shifts. Just right. So, I am thankful for buses. They're a big part of my life and I've learned to enjoy the ride.

Attitude of GratitudeV3#2 - Sunshine

I am thankful for sunshine. Growing up in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, I got used to plenty of long dull dreary days in a row. They didn't really bother me. I have a lot of indoor hobbies that are perfect for rainy days and in some ways I would get confused when the sun came out because I would feel guilty about wanting to stay inside.

Newcomers and visitors to the area would comment about how depressing the weather was but I never really understood them. After two months of living in Southern Ontario, I think I am beginning to see where they were coming from. Yes it rains here, but rarely for more than two days in a row. It gets overcast but, unlike the Fraser Valley which is surrounded by mountains and traps the clouds and pollution, here the wind comes in and sweeps it all away. The wind is COLD (I wasn't mentally prepared for that) but it clears the air and let's the beautiful sunshine through.

So even when the temperature drops, you can still find sun and absorb some vitamin D. I didn't understand people who couldn't handle days and days of clouds, but if this is what they are used to, then I can see why they get depressed. Sunshine makes everything better.

Written early this morning while I was waiting for the bus and standing in the sun.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude V3#1 - Thrift Stores

My Attitude of Gratitude posts are making their triumphant return! Hopefully at least). I've done this for two years now and I'm going to make a go at a third. Between school and work my life is crazy busy but these posts help me focus on the good parts of life so I think they're a good exercise. I'm not going to restrict myself on topics too much but I will try and not repeat from previous years. If I do, I'll try and reference the previous posts to see how this year's thankfulness compares. Hopefully you'll enjoy seeing what I'm thankful for and me blogging a bit more consistently!

Attitude of Gratitude V3#1 - Thrift Stores
I enjoy shopping but I love getting a deal. There are quite a few different thrift/second hand stores in this area, but my favourite one is in a small town about 20 minutes North of where I live. I've gotten a fair bit of stuff there since I arrived and Saturday I had another successful visit. Here's what I got:
  • Ankle boots in my favourite red shoe colour for $4
  • A knee length black skirt that is perfect for work $2
  • Hangers (I didn't have any in my closet and I didn't bring any from BC so I've had to buy more) $1 for a bunch
  • The Devil Wears Prada book, my November book club selection 50 cents
  • Friday Night Knitting Club, a book I have wanted to read, also 50 cents

So for under $10 I got a bunch of stuff that I have been looking for. I love thrift shops!