So what do you do?

This is a question we all get pretty often. What do you do? At one time, this was easy for me to answer. I didn’t like the answer, but it was pretty straightforward. Now, however, it’s a mish-mash of jobs, hobbies, and “others.”

It’s been just over two months since I quit my job, and I am so glad that I did. Sometimes I’ll be working, or reading, or doing nothing at all, and a smile suddenly appears on my face as I remember what a good decision I made months ago. Everything that I’ve done in the past 9 weeks has made me happier than the job I left.

Right now, I have seven-ish paying jobs, although two are wrapping up for the winter season:

  • tour guide (x2)
  • bootcamp instructor
  • newsie
  • swim instructor
  • marketing for a zombie clown show
  • writer (my first post for blog TO just came out!)
  • being a Kijiji god (although this is done now)
  • fitness instructor (volunteer)

I am working on two new job leads and I just applied to Big Sisters Toronto. I am also turning my biking across Canada blog into a book, and pitching the idea to travel publications. On top of that I am doing improv, attending shows, reading, writing, doing my challenges challenge, baking, working out, and thinking about what I want to do in five years.

So basically I’m keeping busy.

The newsie job is where I spend most of my time (a whopping 15 hours per week), and pays most of my bills. It’s a very easy, very relaxed job: I hand out free newspapers to morning commuters. All I have to do is smile and say “good morning.” That’s it. There’s no stress, no pressure, and no mean people yelling at me! Although my first day on the job I ended up with a ton of ink on my face.

I have a new sense of freedom. With that freedom, though, comes a bit of anxiety. Of course I worry a little about money, but I’ve done a pretty decent job of only taking gigs that pay well, so it’s not a huge concern. I think the anxiety comes from not feeling like I’m doing enough: some days I feel unproductive and like I’ve wasted time. Writing “to do” lists for the next day before I got to sleep, and keeping my calendar up to date is helping with this. Being organized and being able to cross things off a list as they get completed is a great feeling to me.

I’ve also been turning down work that either doesn’t interest me, or won’t pay enough per hour. I’m valuing my time more than I was when I was employed full-time, and getting better at saying “no” to things that won’t further my goals, and will take away precious time I could better spend working on things I enjoy. And that feels great.



Week 11: Fitbit!

I used to work in a gym, so I used to get paid to work out. Now it’s all up to me, and boy am I lazy.

OK, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I’m not as motivated to actually go to a gym, or push myself. One of my favourite things about teaching classes (and attending them) is that I get pushed further than I would ever push myself when I work out alone. Two pushups? Yeah, that’s probably good for the day. Who has cake?

So when my boyfriend bought himself a shiny new Fitbit (it’s actually pretty cool, it keeps track of your heart rate and sleeping patterns), his old one was up for grabs. And free – let’s be honest, I was mostly interested in the fact that it was free.

His old Fitbit (my new Fitbit) is pretty basic: it keeps track of the steps I take and the calories I burn. I’ve never been a big believer in a machine’s predictions of calories burned, but since I’m looking at it every day, it’s a nice gauge of how I did compared to yesterday.

And now, I get to compete. I’m a pretty competitive person, so when I’m offered a challenge (do over 10,000 steps, have over 60 minutes of activity, exercise 5 days per week), I have to complete that challenge. Even if I set the challenge for myself. I find myself “forgetting” things in one room so I’ll have to walk to them later to get my step count up.

The Fitbit is providing accountability for me. I’ve made my steps visible to my friends (at least I think I have, I’m still figuring out the app), so if I don’t achieve a goal, everyone will know! And I will not accept public failure.

For example, my boyfriend challenged me to a “daily showdown” challenge today (please insert your own duh-duh-duuuuuhhh music here, because that will help this sound way cooler). Unfortunately for me, he walks about 20,000 steps on a work day, and I work from home. Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of on-the-spot jogging today. But I also went for a run and did some yoga, because that was also a part of my goals.

The Fitbit app also offers a calorie food counter, which I would never have used before. When I was working in the gym, I could basically eat whatever I wanted, and then just volunteer to teach a bunch of classes and work it all off. Now, I could easily spend the day in front of the computer eating everything in the fridge, and lose my incredible two-pack (which is actually better than a six-pack, for reasons I won’t get into now). So I’ve started keeping track of calories in and calories out. This is actually a good idea for me because some weeks when I do end up teaching several classes, I sometimes don’t adjust my food intake accordingly and end up not eating enough. You think I’d have figured this out by now.

Although this is a weekly challenge, I think it’s going to be more long term. At least to make sure I get 10,000 steps, and as a tool to motivate me to workout. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go walk back and forth in the hallway because I’m losing by 8,000 steps.

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Get stepping!


Week 10: Apple butter

I’m not really sure how apple butter ended up on my list of things to do this year, but it’s on there, so I had to do it.

I remember my mother making apple butter when I was very young, but I haven’t had it in years and years. Then a while ago, I was in the organic foods section of a grocery store (I probably got lost) and saw a jar of apple butter, and the taste of it came back to me.

My slow cooker and I have recently become best friends, so I looked up a recipe for apple butter in a slow cooker. I found a recipe, that called for 22 hours of cooking time. It took me 4 days to complete my apple butter – it definitely could have taken less but I’m a really good procrastinator. Like, really, really good.

Does anything ever taste as good as when mom made it for you as a kid? This definitely didn’t. Because it was my first time making apple butter, and I hadn’t eaten it in over 20 years, I could not remember the level of sweetness or thickness apple butter is supposed to have. As a result, I have a pretty sweet, yet very flavourful, apple sauce. I’m still spreading it on toast (and homemade cornbread, which is a delicious combination), but I could have cooked it down much longer.

This challenge made me feel a little like my 101 year old aunt, who makes everything from scratch and is the most healthy person I know, both physically and mentally. (Although the family recently found out that the only water she consumes is the ice cubes in her daily martini.) I love making things from scratch, and finding something new was nice.

I underestimated how much apple butter I was actually making, and as a result I now have a freezer full of tiny containers of apple butter. So if you want some delicious, homemade, watery apple butter, please let me know.

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Delicious, delicious apple butter