That time again, with turns ahead

Christmas bird ornamentAnd I’m not just talking about Christmas, although I am trying to remain in the spirit of the season. This year has been one of the craziest years I’ve lived through. It was month after month of riding such a huge emotional roller coaster. Every truly wonderful thing was so quickly followed by something down right tragic. I’m not an overly dramatic person, but when I talk about ups and downs this year, I mean life and death-type stuff (although thankfully, that’s not the challenge I am currently facing). I should have known that following such an amazing weekend at Market Collective, during which I finally felt like I’d found my passion, I would be hit with some hard news. So for now, I’m in one of those upside down twists in the roller coaster. That’s just the way this year has been. It is humbling. Truly humbling. And a bit motion sickness inducing. The whole expression of old doors closing and new doors opening springs to mind. Is that too cliche?

Counting the days until the end of this year and now seriously wondering what 2011 will bring. Certainly things have to get better in general. I mean, they must. I suppose deep down I’m really ready for a fresh start with things, which is why this most recent bit of news is more a mix bag of challenge, uncertainty, relief, fear, excitement, hellos and goodbyes.

For now, Christmas is fast approaching and I have a list of gifts still to make and traditional baking I want to indulge in. That should keep me busy right up until December 25th. Wishing you all some quiet time by your Christmas tree to reflect on things that have gone and things to come.

Shoe boxes everywhere

We spent an evening this week volunteering with friends for Operation Christmas Child (a program run by Samaritan’s Purse). Many years ago, my mom and I used to put together shoe box donations for the program. In recent times, I missed out on this while we focused our donations on local needs through our church. This year, though, hubby and I had quite a bit of fun organizing items to fit in our shoe box donation. We have friends who volunteer each year at the actual facility where the Calgary shoe box donations get sorted, packed and shipped. So it was with great thanks that we accepted the offer to join them in their volunteering efforts. It was just one evening, a few short hours, but it was nice to spend some energy towards helping others after focusing so much on starting up the craft business these past couple of months.

Samaritans purse banner

Gonna need some more bookmarks

Stack of new booksThe end of the year is fast approaching which means that it is time to use up any remaining benefits at work. I tend to be one of those people who holds off using up benefit funds until the last quarter of the year because I’m worried that as soon as I use them up, I will come across something that I wish work could pay for (like a class).

Looking back, this year was just so crazy, I really shouldn’t be surprised that I have so much of my benefits remaining. There was no time to apply them to anything career, creative or active related in my life. So I took great (great) pleasure in ordering two-dozen new books! It was such a treat! Thankfully, throughout the year, I had been keeping a little list of books I thought would be interesting, with the notion that I might pick up a few at some point. Well, I was able to get them all and then some! The massive book order fell into two categories “career” and “creative”. I know a lot of people shudder at the thought of reading “career” related books, but one of the nice things about my job is that it is in a very creative industry, so “career” books can be just as fun as “creative” based books. I hope to give you some quick book reviews as I work my way through them all. I’ve already started reading Blogging for Bliss: Crafting Your Own Online Journal by Tara Frey, which has obvious applications right here. Interested in the rest of the book treasure? Here is the BIG list, in no particular order:

Thawing

Frost on front doorFor folks who live in the Calgary area, this post might seem like old news or something you’d rather ignore than admit. As Calgarians we do indeed choose to live in a place that can easily get down to -35 Celsius (without wind chill), which is I believe about -30 Fahrenheit. My American friends and family think that is down right ridiculous and I’ll admit that at below -40 Celsius, I begin to question my decision to leave the house.

This week was our first bit of deep cold and snow hit. Roads were bad and traffic was insane. Thankfully I take public transit to and from work, but even that becomes challenging in bad winter conditions. Not just because you risk frost bite, even if you bundle up, but because our light rail transit runs into problems with track switches freezing, doors freezing, vehicles getting stuck on tracks, and general passenger overload. Le sigh. If you’re lucky, you have a job that allows you to work from home on days like this. If you’re brave and smart, you’re prepared with lots of good quality layers. For me, this last part is a must and my go-to for the best stuff is Mountain Equipment Co-op. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from M.E.C. and it was great for all our family outdoor adventures which included camping, hiking, and skiing. Not to mention just going out to shovel the sidewalks. When I was in University, I got a part-time job at a local fabric store that specialized in all outdoor related textiles (fleece, water-proof breathables, and lycra to name a few). One of the many amazing skills that I developed while working there was learning to sew with all these fabrics. Sadly, the store has since gone out of business, but I still have several technical fabrics in amongst my craft stash longing to be made into winter survival wear.

For now, the temperature is quickly rising and it looks like we are in for a bit of a break, which means that I can shed a few layers.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the folks south of the border! Wishing you safe travels and mild weather!