Wednesday, 30 January 2013

City Living

Despite living almost exclusively in places classified as "cities" (Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa), I have never considered myself a "city girl". Especially recently, with my new(ish) obsession with country music, flannel shirts, and cowboy boots! Living out in BC, where it was literally a 5 minute walk to complete wilderness, has not helped this idea.

So when I got the job I have now, even though I was thrilled to be employed again, I was also seriously resentful that I had to move back to Toronto.

All I could think was: noise, smog, no grass, no parking, ugh.

Which is funny because I lived in Toronto from the ages of 9-14, and I loved it back then. But every time I came back, it felt...bigger somehow. It stopped feeling like home.

But now that I'm here (and to be fair, only working and not actually living downtown), I am remembering all the things that are great about Toronto. Like...

The CN Tower

I remember when I used to go on holiday or to Ottawa for the weekend, seeing this on the horizon always meant I was coming back home. The other day I was coming up out of Union Station to meet a friend for dinner, and saw this sight. Despite being in T.O for over two weeks by the point, it was the first time I'd seen it. (I seem to go from one train, to a tunnel, to another train, to work!)


My new office is only a couple of blocks away from the Eaton Centre, which is both awesome and very dangerous. But all those stores I complain about not being in Ottawa? Toronto has all of them, plus tons of cute boutiques and vintage markets. 


I refuse to relinquish my (admittedly still lackluster) support for the Senators and become a Leafs fan. But I have ALWAYS been a Blue Jays fan, and I can't wait until spring rolls around so I can take advantage of the proximity of the SkyDome and take in a baseball game!


Right now I'm staying with my aunt and cousins and its been a lot of fun catching up. I've also got a cousin living about 10 minutes away from my new house (North of T.O) and he's promised to introduce me to some people. It's nice to have that support, even when I'm away from home. Plus, my cousins are hilarious, and have gotten me into the habit of quoting Pitch Perfect whenever the opportunity arrises. ("Don't sign me up for cardio.")


Okay, admittedly, this is a lot more annoying now that I work from 6:45-7. But even so, the GO and TTC systems aren't that bad, and because of the long commute, I've been able to read WAY more in three weeks than I think I have in the last three months. This is awesome. 


I mean, restaurants that are NOT just Kelsey's or Montana's. Not that Ottawa doesn't have great dining options too--there just aren't any where I live. Now that I'm downtown so often, a whole new world has been opened up to me, and I can't wait to try more! Any recommendations are welcome! 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

No sleep tonight

Okay, first of all, I have been so lame about updating for the past two weeks. I always forget how exhausting working full time is, and that has translated into a lack of posting/commenting. It definitely became one of those procrastination things where I felt so bad, it made it even harder to actually write something, and I HATE that feeling, so I'm going to try and prevent that from happening again. Now that I'm done full time training, it should be easier. 

Speaking of work, I'm writing this at 1am while I attempt to stay awake. I had my first 12 hour shift yesterday, and tomorrow is my first 12 hour overnight shift, so I'm trying to stay up later so I sleep in later. I have never had a hard time staying up until the hours of the morning, but despite sleeping in until 1 today, I'm struggling! 

Since all I can think about is sleeping, I was completely intrigued by the throw pillows available on this site. Since I will have a brand new room in my new place, I kind of want some new pillows to decorate it! 

I love compasses
And anchors (who doesn't?)
This is too cute (and matches my blog!)
This would look good with my current bedding, which is white and aqua.
My favourite Disney movie of all time.
I love the picture, love the sentiment. 
I think I might have bit of a bedding addiction (that has nothing to do with the fact that I'm exhausted). If it were up to me, I'd have different bedding for every month of the year! 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Figuring it out

I had dinner with one of my cousins on Saturday night. She is 19 years old, beautiful and smart and in her second and last year of college. After catching up on family gossip, we turned to more serious matters, like the fact that she was struggling to stay motivated in school and didn't know what to do once she graduated. 

"I don't know, Alex," she sighed. "I feel...lost, you know?"

Saying "Uh, yeah!" felt like a complete understatement. I feel lost about once a month, and seriously lost about two or three times a year. I told her this, and I also told her some other things I had learned, like:

It gets better, but it doesn't get better all at once.
It isn't selfish to focus on your own happiness.
You can't change other people, you can only change yourself.
Being too hard on yourself is really never going to help you.

Throughout the conversation, I could see that what I was saying made sense, but nothing brought about that "Aha!" moment, the way other people have been able to give me major perspective.* 

She kept saying things like "I just need to focus. I just need to have some discipline." While I could relate to the sentiment, it sounded a lot less like her problem was with focusing and more about confidence.

After we had paid, I said to her, "I think you need to add four words to your vocabulary: 'I'll figure it out.' You don't know how you'll get four papers done in a week? You'll figure it out. You don't know what you want to do with your life? You'll figure it out. You don't know how to bus from campus to the hospital? You will figure it out." 

After all, I told her, how many times has there been something you struggled with that you didn't eventually figure out in the end? Maybe it took a few mistakes to get there. Maybe you don't do it perfectly the first time. But it gets done, even if you're not exactly sure how. So often I find myself completely paralyzed with not knowing how to do something, that I can't get started in the first place.   Saying "I'll figure it out", does not give you permission to procrastinate, like "I'll figure it out...later", It's giving yourself permission to try, to start, and the confidence that it will work out.

My cousin totally got it. "I'll figure it out," she repeated. "I LOVE that." 

I got to have the warm and fuzzy feeling that happens when you feel like you've gotten through to someone, but I also got to remind myself that I don't need to know how to do everything in order to do something. I don't need to figure out my entire life before I apply to grad school, and I don't need to have my entire novel planned before I start writing. Because I know that just by starting, I am that much closer to figuring it out along the way. 

*This is actually a feeling I'm pretty used to, because as an RA I felt like I spent most of my time sharing my brilliant insights, which were (unsurprisingly) not received as such by my residents. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

What I'm loving this week

My first week at work has been good. Really good, actually. Despite waking up at 5am every morning (or 7 on Tuesday),  commuting for an hour and a half, training for 9 hours and commuting again, I'm enjoying myself. 

This job is different form almost every job I've ever had (with the exception of being an RA) because I'm receiving two weeks of training before starting. Once I start work, I'll be working 12-hour shifts, overnight or days, alone. So I am enjoying the chance to get to know my fellow trainees and the rest of the organization. 

Some things that have been making my week great: 

This song by the Avett Brothers:

I heard it for the first time on Friday Night Lights (obvs..when can I go for more than a week without mentioning FNL?) and it is the perfect song for introspective train rides home, when I am in the weird semi-delusional state of being both really tired and pretty hungry. It is also good for making up dramatic stories in my head about my fellow commuters. 


I spent Wednesday learning about nuclear fission. My job is neat. 
Fun fact: Second Cup is almost $2 cheaper than Starbucks, (probably because they don't charge for lactose-free milk) and it tastes almost exactly the same. Also, there are three Starbucks within two minutes from my office. I am not used to city life. 

Early morning light:

My train ride in is almost completely dark. Ditto for my train ride home. But as I am walking to the office, the sky is just beginning to get light, and in those moments I'm happy I'm working in Toronto (as opposed to resentful that I couldn't find a job in Ottawa)

 Comfy-Business Casual:

Thanks goodness for business casual. Most of this week, I've been alternating between grey dress pants and my Gap Really Skinny pants, with cardigans and scarves (I am always cold, it seems). Yesterday, since I was meeting a friend for dinner after work, I wore the Lilly Pulitzer dress I got in Florida for the first time. 

It's great because it's kind of stretchy so it's super comfortable. I wore it with tights and a cardigan and the amazingly comfortable flats recomended by Kaitlyn at kaitastrophical

Here's hoping I find even more things to love about Toronto next week!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Portals of discovery

My train leaves for downtown at 6:30AM. Yesterday, I woke up at 6:57AM. On my second day of work. My devastation: Utter and Complete. 

What did I do? I swore, jumped out of bed and got ready and into my car within 3 minutes. Then I continued as if it were any other day. Because the truth is, there was nothing else I could do. I couldn't make the train go any faster. I couldn't push past everyone else on the subway. Getting upset and panicing wasn't going to help me go back in time and set my alarm for 5am instead of 5pm. I just had to deal with it. 

(Okay, I thought I might burst into tears when I got to Union station at 8:30, half an hour after I'm supposed to be at work, but I soldiered through it)

It was a good lesson for me. After worrying so much about making mistakes (see Monday's post), I made a Huge and Glaring one, and it wasn't the end of the world. Yes, I felt really stupid, and yes, I still flush when I think about it, but no one died, and now I will never make that mistake again. 

In related news, the people at my new job are really, really nice. 

Some other observations:

It has taken me a grand total of two days to give up on style and abandon my Longchamp for a backpack. I am just carrying way too much stuff from one place to the other.

Ditto for heels vs. Uggs. 

People are surprisingly courteous during rush hour in the subway. I'm trying to return the favour by smiling more, holding doors, and thanking people for their kindness. 

Food and coffee have become 1000 times more important now that I'm in training from 8-5 every day. Without food, I am cranky, cold, and tired. With coffee, I am friendly, outgoing, focused and so, so much happier. I missed breakfast this morning, and I'm sure everyone could tell the difference in my mood before/after lunch. 

It is shocking to me how much warmer it feels in Toronto than Ottawa. Maybe it's just warmer in both places, but I am really enjoying not having to wear Sorels/my Canada Goose jacket every day. 

I have zero energy when I get home from work. I keep thinking "I'm going to write/answer emails/paint my nails/do something productive when I get home". Instead, I put on sweatpants and lie on the couch. It's tres pathetic. 

I've also been super lame at keeping up with other blogs, but I really appreciate the comments I get on here. They make me smile during the day, so thank you :)

Monday, 7 January 2013

New job, new mindset

I start my new job tomorrow! I am so terrified, and so excited. This is my first “grown-up” job, in the way that it’s not a student/placement/co-op position.

Yesterday, my very sweet brother drove me down to Toronto because I was too flu-ish to drive myself. It was weird being a passanger in my own car, but it gave me a chance to nap and try to recover before starting work tomorrow.

For the time being, I am staying at my aunt and uncle’s in Mississauga, and it’s been great hanging out with my cousins, eating too much food, and playing with puppies!

Today I ventured into downtown Toronto to practice taking the TTC. It seems stupid, but I was so worried about getting to work on time. I lived in Toronto years and years ago but I’ve completely forgotten how to get around—and it will be pretty intense at rush hour. I am determined to remain positive about the commute. I know that it’s going to be hard to keep a smile on my face at 6:30 in the morning, crammed onto the subway, but I want to remember that it has to be better than waiting in traffic at 6:30 in the morning!

I’ve also been trying to combat my nerves by reminding myself that the thing I am most terrified of—making mistakes—is not only okay, but is going to happen. Like every girl I know, I can be way too hard on myself when I mess up. This time, I want to remember that I am going to have to learn how to do the job before I can be good at it, and that’s what the training is for. 

I know a lot of people are going back to work/school tomorrow--what are some things you're trying to keep in mind at the start of the new year?

Friday, 4 January 2013

What would Tami Taylor do?

Whenever I'm feeling a little insecure or need some inspiration, I ask myself "What would Tami Taylor do?"

I know I'm not the only person to do this. Obviously there's the original "WWJD" and I think that still holds up pretty well. But on thinking about it a little further, I realized that while it really helps to think about what Tami would do, what I actually want to know is "What can I do so that I will be happy/proud of myself later?" What I'm really asking is what I would do, if I believed in myself a little more. 

About a year and a half ago, I made the (difficult) decision to break up with my boyfriend, rather than do long distance while I was at school. I was sitting in my room with my friends later, sniffling and wondering aloud whether I made the right choice. My friend said something I'll never forget:

"I trust in the innate selfishness of humans that we usually do what we want. Overanalyzing is just how we justify making those decisions." 

I laughed, and realized that she was probably right. As much as I love a good overanalyzing session (and I engage in that a LOT), when it comes down to it, my decision making process is pretty simple:

1. Will this make me happy in the long term? 

2. Will this hurt other people?

3. Does this feel right? 

(I'm trying not to think too much about making other people happy. Not because that isn't a noble goal, but because it is far too overwhelming of a task. I firmly believe that the happier a person can make themselves, the more they contribute to the world as a whole. It's the whole "secure your oxygen mask before helping others" idea.)

But sometimes it is easier to think about doing the "right thing" in terms of how other people would do it. Would Tami Taylor prepare for an interview or go drinking with her friends? Would Jesus text a guy he wasn't really interested in just because he hadn't had attention in a while? Would Kate Middleton wear leggings as pants?*

When it comes down to it, my answers to those questions reveal way more about me than they do Tami, Jesus, or Kate (none of whom, for obvious reasons, I actually know). I have the same qualities inside of me that I admire in others, I just have a harder time calling those up when I'm feeling weak. I'll probably never get in the habit of asking "What would Alex do?" but I am going to try and remember that it's not out of the realm of possibility for that answer to be the right choice. 

I suppose a lot of this is coming from the fact that I am moving and starting a new job in a few days. It's much easier to try and adopt another personality than it is to rely on the strength of my own. But doing things like remembering the things I have accomplished this year and trying to mentally prepare, as much as possible, and maybe also re-watching Season One of FNL I'm just saying is helping a lot.

*If I had to guess, here are my answers:

-Tami would prepare for the interview. With a glass (or two) of white wine. 
-Jesus would find out if the guy would be better suited for his friend, and probably wouldn't have given his number out in the first place (it would be asking for trouble).
-Kate would wear leggings as pants if she was spending all day at home, writing in bed. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Proud of _____ in 2012

Normally, I focus on my goals much more than my accomplishments. Isn't that true for everyone? It's very rare that I sit back and think about how far I have come rather than how far I have to go. But I hit some major milestones tin 2012, and I feel like sharing some of the things I am most proud of:

1. Learning how to fight agression with kindness

I call this "Tami Taylor-ing" someone. I have a terrible, terrible temper, and am prone to saying things in the heat of the moment that I later regret. Sometimes I'll storm out of an argument instead. Neither are especially adult ways of handling things. This year, I've gotten a lot better at keeping a smile on my face, thinking before I speak, and letting the words "____ made me uncomfortable" become a bigger part of my vocabulary. The nicer you are to someone, the harder it is for them to be a complete jerk back. Even when they are, I have realized I would much rather leave an argument with my dignity that the satisfaction of a stinging comeback.

2. Completing NaNaWriMo

This was the first year I really gave National Novel Writing Month my all, and while being unemployed made it a lot easier, it was still a huge challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. There is so much satisfaction and comfort in knowing that if I sit down in front of my computer every day, I can create a story (not necessarily a good one, but something to work with, nonetheless).

3. Completing another major story

I have a project on my harddrive that I've been working on since I was 15. While it's not something I will ever try to get published, I am more proud of this story than almost anything I've ever written. Knowing that this monster of a project is completed gives me such a feeling of giddiness--maybe because I know that I wrote it only for myself.

4. Graduating from my grad certificate program

The college program I completed last year was more demanding than 4 years at university ever were. I wanted to drop out so many times, but now I'm glad I stuck it out.

5. Driving across the country

And not killing my best friend, or our friend Adam in the process.

6. Trying surfing

It was a major dream of mine, and even though I kind of wanted to chicken out at the last minute (I was suddenly aware of how not-strong of a swimmer I am) it was so worth it for the rush of catching my first wave.

7. Running a major training program for a huge client

This involved standing up in front of a big group and telling some very important people what to do. It was intimidating, and terrifying, and while it didn't go perfectly, I was so proud of the way I handled the things that went wrong. 

8. Networking my butt off.

Who likes networking? Not me. But I made a real effort to meet as many people in my field as possible, and I know that I impressed several of them. That was, and is, a great feeling, and one that has helped to boost my confidence as I start the new year and a new job. Which leads to:

9. Getting two jobs this year:

While I spent more time than I was comfortable with being unemployed, the fact that I am starting my first adult (if not secure) job next week means that I have come a long way from where I was at the beginning of the year, and even at the beginning of the summer. This job was not easy to get, and I am proud that I made it through the process, and even more proud of how hard I worked to get there. 

Here's hoping I have even more things to be proud of in 2013!