Day 364 of 365: One…

A year ago tonight, I sat in a restaurant with my husband and shared with him my goals for 2013.

“2013 was the year I…”

  • Settled back in Canada
  • Challenged myself to be active for 365 days
  • Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.

A year ago, we were on a work assignment in Poznan, Poland.  This assignment had us spending the majority of our time there.  As much as our time in Poland was simply amazing (my views on life and culture have been greatly broadened), it was isolating too.  Not being able to fluently speak the language has major draw backs.  It’s limiting when attending parties or even considering joining a social group.  People were so kind and helpful but once the encounter of working through the language barrier was over, I both sides were happy to go along our merry ways.

Being isolated and feeling bored was no way to live.  And I was also feeling like I was on a treadmill, going nowhere.  I needed to get focused on something, anything (other than work) to help avoid wilting away.  The building our apartment was in had a good gym and pool.  We lived in a neighbourhood near three large parks.  Being active seemed like a great option.  I could challenge myself to try different activities and it gave me something to focus on each day.  At the same time, I also wanted to be back home.  We had not lived in Canada since 2005 and when we finished up in the USA, we went right to Poland.  An exciting adventure far away from where I wanted to be.  Exciting and boring all at the same time.  2013 had to be the year that I took my life back.

Setting these goals didn’t happen overnight.  In 2008, I came up with the idea of 365 days of straight activity while reading Julie & Julia.  The idea came and went because the timing wasn’t right mostly due to a lack of real motivation.  Getting settled back in Canada was something my husband and I had been focused on since 2010.  We knew our assignment in Poland would not last through 2013 so this was the time to seize the opportunity.  Personally, I’ve been struggling with being in touch with my feelings for some years now.  (Coming out of the other side of 2013, I believe this is natural for most humans.)  Overall, it took me about a month (December 2012) or so to get pen to paper and narrow in on three huge goals.

It paid off.

Getting settled back in Canada.  My husband and I finished up our overseas work assignment at the very end of August.  We were back in Canada for Labour Day weekend.  Part of settling back in Canada included stable employment, buying a home, reconnecting with friends, and getting engaged with the community.  Our employer was very happy with the work accomplished in Poland (and with the Dutch office) along with our dedication and flexibility in working in three major manufacturing facilities.  He has now assigned us to corporate global projects and allows us to be based in Toronto, Canada.  Prior to coming back to Canada, we were searching for a condo to buy.  In October, we made an offer and it was accepted.  We are almost homeowners being that we do not close until May 2014.  Until then, we live with my husband’s parents.  (It’s everything you could possibly imagine and more.)  We see our friends all of the time and we have begun to establish ourselves in our “temporary” community and in our “upcoming” community (which also happens to be the neighbourhood we lived in prior to moving to the USA in 2005).

Challenged myself to be active for 365 days.  If you are a follower, “THANK YOU!!!!”  There are 176 of you (and over 3800 hits!) and that is something I never expected.  Being active for 365 days was something else.  The first ten days were horrible.  Actually, one, two and three were not bad.  It was really four through ten but I’ll get more into that in tomorrow’s blog post.  Blogging as part of this challenge has been a great outlet.  Isolated in Poland, this blog allowed me to share with others in a free-flowing manner.  Daily blogging was also a chore.  I had two major times this year where 1) I had to take a break for a few days and 2) I just didn’t do it regularly.  I moved past both of those phases and I’m finishing the challenge strong.

Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.  As I mentioned above, I think most everyone goes through a phase when they feel like they are on an emotional treadmill.  Sometimes you need to be there to get through.  Treadmills are boring but if you use them correctly, you are a better, stronger person when you get off them.  This past year I’ve let go of some hurt and I realized what it is that I want and why I couldn’t see that I was actually moving in the right direction even when it felt like I was going nowhere.  Being on the back-end of this goal, I thought I would be in a different place right now but I’m not and I’m okay with that because where I thought I needed to go ended not being where I needed to be.  Emotions, feelings, desires…they are all tricky but as you peel away layers the fog slowly clears out and the view gets better and better.

With 2013 about to come to a close, I’m getting ready for a big 2014.  Most of my goals this year will be broken down into multiple projects, big and small.  In writing my goals and using the statement, “2013 was the year I…” I create a mini vision and/or feeling of what it’s like when the goal is achieve.  I start to create something to move towards.  Here’s what I’ve got for 2014.  Again, it’s all going to breakdown into a bunch of big and small projects this year.

“2014 was the year I…”

  • Became a homeowner in a neighbourhood and condo that I love.
  • Took control of my weight and moved my BMI to the lower quarter of overweight.
  • Helped my family move towards where they need to be. (Yep, this one has a ton of personal content.)
  • [I haven’t filled in this blank just yet.]

Today I went to the gym in the morning and spent 45 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

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Day 363 of 365: Two…

My dear friend Sherri completed her first marathon today. She ran the last five miles in a downpour but still managed a 4:35 finish.

Congrats Girl! You owned no matter how much Mother Nature tried to interfere!

After tonight, I only have two more blog entries for the 365 day challenge. Tomorrow’s blog will be about 2014 goals. Tuesday’s blog will be a reflection on this challenge. (Between you and me, I’m really happy that it’s almost done but have little to no energy to be excited.)

Tonight my husband and I went for a thirty minute walk after dinner and then I spent a bit of time stretching. We’ve both agreed to go to the gym together in the morning. I need a good sweat!

Day 352 of 365: One Week Until Christmas

My goal is always to finish my Christmas shopping early so that I can enjoy the time leading up to Christmas. I usually leave a few things to pick up days before to be part of the last minute “fun.”

Luckily a significant portion of my gifts get sent to my parent’s home so getting my shopping done in advance is a must to allow time for shipping. It’s truly a blessing in disguise.

I think my husband does the same although I’m not completely certain. But that doesn’t matter do much because he enjoys the week leading up to Christmas with me. We take time to enjoy dinner out together, checking out Christmas lights and watching everyone else rushing around. It’s a really nice way to enjoy the Christmas holidays.

Yesterday my mind was completely distracted and I forgot to blog. Yesterday I was at the gym and spent 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

Today I was on my feet for a good portion of the afternoon and the took some time tonight to do yoga for runners and some additional stretching too.

Day 340 of 365: Christmas Markets

Last year at this time, I was hitting a different Christmas Market three weekends in a row. First was Berlin. Second was Poznan. And last but not least was Stockholm. (In Stockholm we actually went to two different markets.).

Christmas markets are a beautiful, wonderful thing to visit in December. It’s a very European tradition of vendors setup selling great little finds in wooden stalls. It’s also mulled wine and open fires to keep you warm.

In the last few years, Toronto has started to host a Christmas market in The Distillery District. I didn’t learn about this until a few months ago and really didn’t have high hopes. I expected something small and simple with a beer tent. Instead we found something quite large with a couple amusement rides, a very large tree, carollers, and food, mulled wine, and open fires.

It was great time. It made me a little sad, missing Europe, but we really enjoyed ourselves. We spent three hours walking around and warming up near fires.

I took a couple of pictures at the Christmas market but they are very, very blurry. Let me assure you the market, like all Christmas markets, are enchanted, wintery, and beautiful.

Aside from walking around the market, I’m going to take some time to stretch before bed. Off to the gym in the morning.

Day 338 of 365: The Holidays Are Coming…

  • Day 331 – 4.5 Hours Walking at Show
  • Day 332 – 20 Minutes TriAngle, 30 Minutes Elliptical
  • Day 333 – Yoga for Runners (plus a few other stretches)
  • Day 334 – Yoga & Stretching
  • Day 335 – 15 Minute Run on Treadmill, 33 Minutes Elliptical – Intervals
  • Day 336 – 45 Minutes Hill Walking on Treadmill – 3-10% Inclines
  • Day 337 – 65 Minutes Elliptical – Random
  • Day 338 – 30 Minutes Walk Through Neighbourhood

As I write this post, SNL Christmas is on the television and just earlier tonight, my husband and I walked around the neighbourhood not only to be active but to also check out the Christmas lights.  My shopping is almost done and most of the my Christmas cards will be in the mail by the end of the week.  This really means that the only thing left to do is enjoy the season and celebrate.  For me, this is the best way to celebrate the holidays.  (Okay – So we still need to mail some gifts and hang some Christmas lights in the tree outside but that’s nothing.)

As I logged my activity above, I originally came out to be at Day 336 however, there are only 27 days left in the year so something is off.  I suspect that between international travel and the fact that my blog post time is based on Central European Time since I created this blog while in Poland, that these reasons would point to where the count is off.  (When this blog posts tonight, it will show tomorrow’s date.)  I’m also at fault for not continuing to blog every day as I originally committed to do. 

So I’m down to 27 days.  Yes, that is less than one month.  On the last day of this challenge, I’ll be participating in a 5 KM run on December 31st.  It’s the Running Room’s annual event.  I’m really focused on just getting through this month and then taking a day off from being active.  Recently, I’ve been enjoying the gym a lot but going three days in a row is taking its toll on my mind and body.  By the third day I’m dreading it and I am genuinely tired.  To top this off, I have tendonitis in my right shoulder and have started to go to physiotherapy.  This is limiting what I’m able to do right now.  Really it’s just a lot of cardio and some mid to lower body strength work.

Soon it will be 2014 and I have yet to set any goals for next year.  I haven’t even had any luck brainstorming potential ideas.  Last year, my 2013 goals came to me pretty late in December but they were huge and I’ve been successful with them.  If you haven’t started to set some goals for yourself, don’t hesitate to.  Try completing the following sentence.  Fill in what sounds desirable to you.

  • 2014 was the year that I…

Day 319 of 365: I Have Plenty

  • Day 315 – 48 Minute walk, distance not tracked
  • Day 316 – 75 Minutes elliptical trainer, intervals
  • Day 317 – 25 Minutes yoga and stretching
  • Day 318 – 65 Minutes elliptical trainer, hills
  • Day 319 – 26 Minute walk, 2.5 KM (heavy rain)

Since we’ve been back from Europe, we have definitely noticed some differences in everyday life.  Very simply, people drink more coffee in Europe and less sugary beverages with shots of espresso.  People love to walk and easily do as opposed to driving around for everything.  (Sometimes I even question if my vehicle will be towed if I “cross the line” to the next property to pick up something even though I did shop there already.)  One colleague I saw in Miami, who I also saw in Poznan, said to me, “I just want to walk somewhere.”

So quality of life is quite different.  Attitudes and perspectives on how to live and what’s important are similar but have very different approaches. 

One of the most significant changes I’ve noticed is how different advertising is and the message that is consistently sent in most ads.  Before reveling this, please let me assure you different colleague in Pittsburgh who spent approximately a year in Europe noticed the same thing. 

Advertisements in North America constantly sends you a message that you are “without” or “lacking”.  This could be anything from simple retail purchases (clothing, etc.), to vehicles, to food. 

So the question I’ve received from other is, “What is European advertising like?”  Well, I have a hard time telling you about television advertising because I did not watch a lot of television in Europe (another major difference).  What I can say is that most advertisements were for banking, at home hair colouring, and over the counter medication.  The advertisements I noticed the most were billboards.  Their focus was movies (at the theatre), travel, and grocery stores.

The other major difference between Poland and North America is that most people in Poland live in flats/apartments/condos.  This means they do not have yards and as a results, there were many beautiful parts in and around Poznan.  These parks gave people the ability to spend quality time outside.  Parks have great playgrounds for kids, gym equipment structures for adults, open spaces for very young kids to learn to kick a ball, and lots of park benches for people to sit on.  This point ties back to two above; one, I was rarely at home seeing television commercials and two, people are not being told they are without even when they have less than the average person in North America who is constantly being told they are without.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve probably had 2-3 major shopping expeditions.  I believed I was without adequate fall and winter clothing.  To a certain extent I was.  After living in Miami for 18 months and making do with what I had in Poland last year, I needed a few things.  However, as I see so many advertisements (even while watching television on the elliptical trainer) telling me I do not have enough, that is simply just not true.

When I stop to take stock of what I have, I know that my vehicle is three years old with less than 20,000 miles and is soon to be considered outdated according to what I see on television, however I also know that I’m without car payments and my vehicle is more than large enough for my husband and I who share this one vehicle. 

When I look in my closet, I have more than enough clothes.  So many apparel companies now a days do short or small runs to make you believe you have to buy fast in order to get this “limited edition/limited run” item.  However, how many exercise tops do I really need?

When I stop and think about it, I’m not really hungry all the time.  Commercials constantly “tell” me I have not eaten enough and that I should be eating something more right now but I just had a great roast chicken dinner.

It’s crazy when you really stop and think about what you are without.  I have shelter and clothes and food and transportation.  I have plenty. 

Unfortunately, there are many out there that are not as fortunate as me however does buying a fast food sandwich, a limited shirt or a new vehicle really get people a true fix to their situation or does it provide immediate gratification that will quickly pass?

One of the other “things” advertisements are telling me is that I’m not “included” if I do not have whatever is being advertised at that moment.  So again, I’m without and not included.  These advertisements are playing preying on insecurities and truly not providing a solution when we cave to their advertisements.

There are so many differences in what I’ve seen between Europe and North America and what I’ve taken away is that it’s more important that ever to be confident in myself.

Day 314 of 365: Good Night

Just now I had fallen asleep in front of the fireplace. When I opened my eyes, my husband insisted that I go up to bed. I think he just wants the television to himself so he watch football. But without a doubt I do know that he just really cares.

Tonight after dinner, we went out for a walk around the neighbourhood. We walked for 35 minutes and apparently got pretty close to the lake.

Time for sleep as I’m already ticked in bed. Good night.