Gardening update!

I have created life!

My plants are actually growing – OK, not all of them, but most of them. Enough that I think I may be a successful gardener. Not a great gardener, by any means, but adequate.

Most of my tomatoes, sweet peppers, and paprika peppers have gone from seeds to little green-leaved wonders. Which made the next step all the harder. I had planted a few seeds per pot, and in many pots I had two or three little wonders bloom. Which would be fine, BUT the book said to trim (ie kill) all but the strongest plant in the pot, so that it would get the most sun/water/soil. I had to destroy some of my little darlings.

I get that it sounds like I’ve become some weird plant lady (like a cat lady, but with plants instead of cats). And I basically have. Whenever I’m given the opportunity, I tell stories of how my plants are doing and what I want to do with my community garden plot. I don’t really care that you’re not interested – you’re hearing about my basil!

These plants are my children. (But they require far less work to keep them alive. I think.)

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Week 23: Stand Up

This was a big one that I’ve been working on for a while. At the beginning of the year I started taking stand up comedy classes, which includes an end of term stand up show.

Stand up has been on my list of things to do for a long time, but I felt I needed the guidance and push of a class (or at the very least, a deadline) to get started. I had heard of Comedy Girl classes (a stand up class for women only) and decided to sign up. I ended up doing a co-ed class, purely because of my schedule, which was fine by me.

As it turns out, the more work you put into this class, the more you get out of it. Strange, that seems so similar to so many things in life. And yet, of course, I was so good at procrastinating that I put in the absolute minimum amount of work required from me. I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere, but I can’t find it right now because I’m quite busy – Facebook isn’t going to stalk itself.

Even though I feel like I could have worked harder throughout the seven weeks of class, I think my show went fairly well. I had a solid 3:30 minutes of material, and got quite a few laughs.

During the class, Dawn Whitwell, the amazing and talented teacher, told us that it’s always good to have a bit of nerves before a show, so that you aren’t too relaxed and care-free on stage (you have to work for it). The problem was, I was somehow way too relaxed leading up to the show. I had rehearsed my material all day, and had confidently memorized everything. But nerves eluded me.

This fact alone should have made me anxious, but it didn’t. During rehearsal, I was so relaxed that I messed up most of my material, couldn’t remember the order of my jokes, and overall did exceptionally poorly. Because of this (I’m pretty sure) I was put third in the line up (while stronger performers were put later in the show). While I was a little disappointed by this, it acted as incentive for me to work harder and prove that I could be funny.

A few days before my stand up debut, I had an interview for a tour guide position. The person interviewing me had done stand up before, and gave me some good advice. He said to tell the audience the material like I was delivering a tour. I’ve done many tours, so that wouldn’t be too difficult at all.

Listening to the first couple of acts in the show (everyone in the show was from the class), I realized that speed is pretty gosh darn important for stand up. Go too slow, and the audience gets ahead of you or gets bored. Go too fast and no one can understand what you’re saying. I think that part of my problem in rehearsal (besides being unable to remember what came next), was that I was speaking far too slowly.

About five minutes before I was due to be on stage, I got nervous. Success! If nothing else, those nerves boosted my confidence. I went up on stage and delivered my material like a tour to a sea of black (I couldn’t see anyone because of the stage lights), and got some nice laughs. It also helped that I had written down a show order on a post-it and brought that on stage with me.

I would like to continue with this but I know myself, and I know I won’t have motivation without a deadline. Fortunately there’s a level 2 class, which I will be signing up for. And I plan to actually work hard in this one.

Week 14: call backs

Call backs are fun! Sometimes.

I was fortunate enough to get called back to re-audition for a few plays in the NIF. This was my first time going through this process, and I learned a few things about it, in no particular order.

First of all, it helps if the director already has an idea of what they want for the character, and can actually convey that. There was one call back in which the director gave me two opposing ways to read for the character. I’m still not sure what she wanted.

Secondly, I am not great at call backs. I’m not good at interviewing either. This is not ideal when you’re looking for a job, so any extra practice I can get, I take.

Third, there are a lot of very talented people in the city. It was really cool to watch how different people read the parts. Kind of like getting to see a play for free.

Fourth, I’d like to try this again. Auditioning is fun, and it’s something I’d like to keep doing. Maybe I’ll get better at it, and maybe I won’t, but that doesn’t really matter, because it’s something I enjoy.

 

Goodbye 2015!

It’s been quite a year for me. I’ve tried lots of new things, learned a bunch about myself, and had some fun along the way. Here are some of the highlights of my 2015:

  • Moved in with my boyfriend. This was a biggie because neither of us have killed each other in the almost 11 months we’ve been living together (because yes, I’m writing this blog post mid-January). Good thing too because I gave my bed away so I’m pretty committed now.
  • Started an herb garden. And kept it mostly alive. They don’t look great and occasionally they go through a prolonged drought, but they’ve been alive since the summer, which is really good for me. (Let’s just turn a blind eye to the orchid I killed.)
  • Got a full time job. And then left said full time job. Sometimes I’ll be doing something and I’ll just stop and think, “I’m so glad I quit my job!” If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have the opportunities and the time that I do to enjoy myself and do things that make me happy and fulfill me.
  • Got into and out of a funk. I got really unhappy toward the end of my full time job and I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I left that job. All of a sudden it was like a weight had been lifted off of me. I felt more confident, happier, and lighter. A few people commented that they noticed a difference in me. But more importantly, I noticed a difference in me.
  • Started a series of part-time jobs. These part-time are mostly in fields that interest me, and at the very least provide adequate income and don’t take up too much of my time – this allows me to continue doing things that I love, even if they don’t pay.
  • Travelled to Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Montreal, but not on a bike. Vacationing is fun! And it had been quite some time since I had taken a vacation that wasn’t also an epic journey across a country. So that was fun.
  • Started my challenges challenge. Even though this sort of fell off the tracks at the end of the year (I was busy!), it’s back on track now. The challenges challenge has opened me up to new things, and forced me to try things I’d always wanted to try because I have a deadline! Deadlines rock.
  • Found a better balance between saving and spending. I’ve always been a good saver. My credit score is ballin’ (bet that’s the first time anyone’s ever used ballin’ to describe their credit score). This year though, I started spending a bit more money on things I would enjoy – like the occasional nice dinner or new clothes so I don’t look like a homeless person.  I still have a budget and savings and RSPs and all of those fun things, but I also have the memories of the experiences I spent the money on.
  • Bought a stove. OK, half of a stove. And we’re still paying it off. But this is a big showing of commitment for me. A few years ago I had a lot of trouble signing a two year phone contract because I didn’t know where I’d be in two years. At least now, wherever I go, I’ll be bringing half a stove.
  • And of course I had a birthday and matured as a human being and met a bunch of cool people yada yada yada.

All in all, it was an amazing year. Thanks to everyone who made it so special.

 

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Week 12: Cold reading

This is finally happening! My LONG overdue blog post about my week 12 challenge. 

You might be thinking, hey, didn’t this happen over a month ago? And the answer is yes. Have I been way too busy to write a simple blog post? Nope, just the normal level of holiday busy combined with a bit of laziness and a dash of procrastination. Better late than never?

If you know me, you may think that this post will be about me huddling in my apartment reading a book, under a blanket, with my Magic Bag hidden under an oversized hoodie. But no! I did something I’d never done and I went to a cold read for the New Ideas Festival (NIF). It’s basically just a bunch of actors (and me) reading scenes from newly written plays, without looking at the scripts beforehand.

My friend, Natalie, who is currently in the lead for most shout outs on my blog (I seriously want her to be a life coach for people like me), wrote a play for the festival and mentioned on Facebook that they were looking for people to participate in the cold read. Initially I wasn’t interested, but then I remembered that this is my year of trying new things, and this was a new thing!

I signed up for a time slot and made my way over to a theatre in the east end on a Wednesday night. There were a few directors and writers and stage managers sitting in the theatre, as well as the festival organizers and some actors. I was asked to read a character in two of the four plays that night, because they needed a 27 year old female for two parts. 

On the one hand, I was a little nervous going into this, but on the other hand I felt completely fine. After all, I was in the same boat as everyone else – no one had seen the plays before. But I was also in a room with people who had done more theatre than I have (except for that one play I did in university, and improv, I’m a newb to the theatre). 

I am so glad that I took the opportunity to do something new! I had a lot of fun, met some really great people, and ended up signing up for an audition for the festival (2 challenges in 1). Even if nothing else comes of it, it was still a good experience and something fun and new.

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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 9: Financial Planning

Well, they can’t all be lipstick and tattoos. Occasionally, I force myself to do something responsible and adult-y. So this week, I went to the bank, and actually sat down and had someone explain to me (for the 3rd time) what an RSP is.

Years ago, an article was published saying that someone who starts an RSP in their early 20’s is better off than someone who starts an RSP in their 30’s, regardless of how much the person in their 30’s actually puts into the account. So obviously both of my parents sent me this article every day for 2 weeks. I finally just set up an RSP to make them stop. (The same thing happened when an article came out recommending to wash the outside of cantaloupes before cutting into them, because salmonella had been found on the outside of some melons.)

So I set up an RSP, started automatic monthly deposits, and didn’t look at it again for 4 years.

Smart, right? Turns out, could have been smarter about that.

But this isn’t a post about whether I invested in GIC’s or mutual funds (ha, as if I know what either of those are), it’s a post about growing up and actually paying attention to what the big bank is doing with my money (or lack thereof).

I got to the bank and met my advisor, Brad. Apparently Brad thought it would be a good idea to participate in Movember. He’s a financial advisor. With a patchy moustache. It did not inspire confidence.

Although Brad was definitely better than the people I’ve had before. I don’t know if it’s because I’m young or don’t have a lot of money, but banks seem to set me up with their freshest advisors. The last guy I had had so much gel in his hair that I initially thought he was wearing a helmet. He did tell me about a pretty cool party he’d gone to though, which was awesome. I’m super interested in where the guy who is handling my money goes to get drunk.

When you are setting up an RSP with TD bank, they make you fill out a questionnaire. My two favourite questions were as follows (paraphrased):

  • How long do you intend on living once you’ve retired? (The options were pretty grim, with the max being 10+ years.)
  • Do you plan on needing to withdraw a large sum of money in the next few years for a house, wedding, or child? (Because I love planning out the next few years of my personal life in a bank.)

But I’m glad that I went. I now have a pretty decent idea of how much money I have (clue: not much), how much interest it’s getting, and how much cat food I’ll be able to afford when I retire and die almost immediately after.

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How I feel about financial planning.