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Something that I’ve been thinking about myself a lot lately.

British Asian Woman

*Trigger warning* This post contains potentially disturbing material of rape

Picture the scene. A woman in a bar. Dressed up for a night out, drinking and having fun. A group of men at the other side spot her. She leaves her drink on the table with her friend and goes to the toilet. She comes back and finishes the drink. Gradually she becomes more and more giddy, as if going under an anaesthetic.

She wakes up in hospital with sharp stabbing pains in her groin and pelvic area. Her legs and arms are covered in bruises. Her left eye is so badly swollen she can barely see out of it. She has no recollection of the night before, what happened to her or how she ended up in hospital.

It transpires that her drink had been spiked. She was taken outside and gang raped by the group of men that…

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The Rhone at Avignon.

My mother and I are planning a trip to Provence. I know, I’m so excited! I haven’t been on a trip since 2006, when mum and I went on a cruise of the Adriatic. This time we will cruise down the Rhone for something like 12 days, then we’ll send 3 days in Paris, then we’ll fly back to Toronto and collapse exhaustedly into our beds. Mum will rest, and I’ll have to get up and go to work, but there are worse fates.

The point is, when we booked this trip my mother made me promise that I would try to lose some weight. Our experience on the European cruise ship in 2006 told us that we were heavier than we should be, and, in fact, we were heavier than just about everyone else around us. Mum wants to make sure that we fit in. Maybe “fit in” is the wrong way of putting it, but she doesn’t want us to stand out either.

So I wish I could stand here today and tell you that I have been trying really hard, and then show you some fabulous before and after pictures of me and my fabulous new body. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case. Not because I’m not trying. I dutifully log onto my fitness pal every day: in fact it tells me that I’ve been logged on for 100 days in a row. I watch my food intake and try to balance it out with my energy output, but in spite of that I haven’t lost a pound. Not 1 pound in a 100 days. Not a goodwill pound, not an atta-girl pound. Nothing!

I have to stop giving into temptation and making these types of treats.

Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t a mystery. I know why I’m not losing weight. For all the tracking and balancing that I’m doing, I’m still eating yummy things like cakes, cookies and homemade peanut butter cups, and that’s just my snacks. For lunch and dinner, I’m eating my greens, and my corn, as well as squash and tomato, but I’m doing it in veggie burgers and on pizzas.

Controlling my food intake has always been a challenge for me. When I was 16 my grandmother told me that I had the appetite of a man, and went on to say that she had never seen anything like it. Still, I was young, and healthy, and active, so it seemed to me that it was only normal that I should eat like a horse.

At 12 I lost a ton of weight, maybe as much as 30 or 50 pounds. I’m not sure, I didn’t have a scale. I just worked out in secret until all of the weight was gone. My eating habits were once again the topic of conversation, as my family, some friends, and their mothers all remarked that I had lost a ton of weight; they added that they hoped that I had the good sense to know when to stop.

What was I thinking when I made these?

My goal in life has never been about being stick thin, rather it was about reaching a healthy weight and then being able to maintain it. That way, I told myself, I wouldn’t have to have these humiliating and debasing conversations with well-intentioned people. Unfortunately, I once again find myself needing to lose weight, but this time I’m struggling to find exercise that won’t hurt my back, while also struggling to get the binge eating under control. As delicious as it all is, these treats are interfering with my life, and my goals. I’d like to go to France lighter and with more energy so that I can make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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Ottawa Ontario Canada  March 2011 — Rideau Can...

I used to run a lot when I was in my 20s, at least 3 times a week, and sometimes more if I need a breather from school, or if I felt that I had over-indulged. Running gave me such a nice, weightless feeling. It was a place where I could escape and just feel free. I remember my hair streaming out behind my head while my breath came in regular puffs of white mist. These were the days when I loved running, when I pitied anyone who couldn’t run. I felt strong, and independent and healthy, and I loved those feelings.

Those were the good runs, but there were also bad runs: runs that were fuelled by a broken heart, or crushing disappointments. These runs always seemed to end in hyperventilating, extra-stiff muscles and lengthy delays as I tried to regulate my breathing so that I could continue on my way.

My coach

Still, when I think back to my running days all I remember is the good: the runs where I felt invincible, where I knew I was young, healthy and strong, and there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. There was the time in Ottawa when my run was fuelled by a broken heart and had been delayed by crying fits and hyperventilating. But I managed to get myself going again, and when I reached the end of my route and set my first foot on Laurier bridge the sky exploded into bright greens, reds and blues as we started the annual Winterlude celebration. There was also the Christmas morning when I decided to head out for a run before the festivities began. The sky was so blue, the trees so bare, and the earth covered by a thin layer of crystallized frost. The memory of that run is so idyllic to me that I sometimes forget that I was running down service roads, past empty factories and warehouses. I can’t remember anything else from that Christmas day, but I relive that run regularly.

Me, out for a rare run.

My running days are well and truly behind me now. A back injury and worsening asthma make if difficult for me to commit to a running routine, though that hasn’t stopped me from going on the occasional run. These days the bulk of my exercise has to happen in the pool. I don’t love swimming, not yet; I haven’t created the kinds of memories and the emotional bond that I had with running. In the pool I feel weak and uncoordinated, and I hate these feelings. I routinely find myself clinging to  the side of the pool gasping for air,  or clutching my side, waiting for the cramps to pass. So I find myself looking for more and more opportunities to skip out, to tell myself that I’m too busy, that I can’t get in the pool because it’s too cold outside, etc. But I know that this isn’t who I am, I know that I am a fighter at heart, and that I just need to commit myself to improving my skill, to becoming a stronger swimmer, so that I can find my stride, and feel strong after each workout. Then, maybe I could love it as much as I loved running.

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Please excuse our year-long absence, but it’s been a busy year for both Penelope and I. Penelope is now the proud mummy to a very cute and happy little boy. Penelope’s son Momo takes up a lot of her time, and some of mine, as I get to go over and be the doting aunt.

Still, you might say, why not share Penelope’s new son with the world? So many people do it, and you’re right, if ever there was a shareable baby it’s Momo (which is not his real name by the way).

Momo and mum, enjoying a sunny autumn day.

So, since this kid is cute, and babies are such a blessing, why the lengthy delay? The answer is two-pronged.

1) Penelope has been far too busy to write. Babies need a lot of attention!

2) I had what was very nearly the worst year of my life, and I shut down.

I started blogging so that I could focus on what was good in my life, and not worry about what was bad, or missing. My first blog was a simple blog, written by me, cataloguing my adventures with Cadie. But I started to realize that I wanted to talk about more than just dog walking, dog grooming, and dogs on television, so I started this blog with my best bud. Here we could talk about lifestyle, and we could be adventurous about sports, food, and social activities. But then I also started a blog detailing my love of vintage porcelain and glass. From there I had a scary moment with my finances, and I had to take on a part-time job, and then my weekday job became a nightmare. Suffice it to say that my plate was full, my outlook was bleak, and I needed to retreat.

Blogging for me was about seeing the positives in my life, focusing on what was working (Cadie and porcelain) rather than what wasn’t (my weight, my finances). I was determined to keep blogging a positive space for myself: I was going to “fake it [being happy]! until I made it!”

And I tried. I took copious amounts of pictures; every time I passed a cute little house, made a new treat, or tried something new I documented it. My plan was always to come back to this place, and to be the happy, positive person that I thought I could be.

2011 came to an end, and 2012 started out with some good and some bad. Before the 3rd of the month I was offered a new weekday job. I LOVE it! It’s the perfect environment for me, and I feel that my career is finally starting to get back on track. However, with the good, we must take the bad, and sadly my grandmother died in early January. I miss her every day, but I’m glad that she is now at peace, and no longer lonely or depressed. My grandmother and my mother also conspired to give me a little financial assistance that has allowed me to downgrade my commitment to my part-time job, and it has even opened up some new professional opportunities for me.

After a year plus of hard-core purging my home is finally starting to come together, and I am starting to feel calm and happy and I am once again looking forward to a pleasant future.

The plan.

Penelope and I have been talking about starting this back up again for quite some time, so the plan is to do two posts this week–just a little something to get us started again. From there we will do one post every week, probably on Wednesdays. Life has changed, and it’s more complicated now, so we’re not going to make this a weight loss blog; instead this is a blog about navigating life. Eating foods that make us drool, figuring out how to manage a housekeeping schedule, some talk about our hobbies, and of course we’ll keep you posted on what we did over our weekends, and why they were awesome.

I’ve been sewing. Wait until you see what I’m making Momo for his birthday.

If any of you are still left, I hope you’ll stay with us as we move into the next stage of our life and blogging adventures.

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The Official Month of Circe!

You might not know this, but September is my month. My birthday was the first, and I have always found that September is a month when everything’s coming up Circe! I got my very first job in September, and….well, that’s it, but that is a big one. So today I am celebrating/mourning the end of the month of Circe. So my confession is that I’m pretty superstitious.

This year the month of Circe has been pretty good; I had good luck with my surgery, and a really lovely birthday. It started with a great meal at one of my favourite restaurants, Korean Grill. Penelope and I both had Bi Bim Bap, stay tuned for more on  that on Monday. From there, we headed to the museum. It’s half price on Friday nights, and it’s a great way to see the exhibits without the crowds. In the picture above you can see me discovering an ancient Egyptian tomb. I’m an excellent archeologist!

 Penelope is a better archeologist. She found a whole mummy. She even had time to open it up and put it on display. But seriously, have you ever looked really closely at a mummy? It’s remarkable and creepy all at the same time. Even the hair was really well-preserved, super greasy and gross, but really well-preserved. Also this mummy’s toes are exposed, and that’s also pretty gross.

From there we decided to head forward through the ages to Renaissance Europe. But before we could get there we found some adorable donkeys. I  think I want a pet donkey–that will fit in my one-bedroom apartment and get along with the dog right?

Look at the little ones capering, they look so sweet and friendly, and yes, I know, these are mosaics.

We couldn’t leave until we visited one of our favourite spots in the museum from when we were kids. It took some maneuvering to find it–to be honest it was a bit of a wild goose chase–and we had to walk by some creepy taxidermied animals. But then……

There it was! The entrance to the bat cave. Yes that’s right, this is where Batman hangs out.

Alright, so there’s no Batman, but there are fake bats, and the sound of water dripping in the distance. I guess it’s better when you’re a kid.

Then we headed over to see the dinosaurs.
And on the way there, we found the wild goose.
The perfect ending to the perfect birthday, and a pretty good month.

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As I mentioned Friday, this weekend was the holiday ladies’ luncheon and Scrabble grudge match. I know it’s just a gaming afternoon, but I wanted to try to make it special for my guests. What I really wanted to do was make the game come alive, and I wanted to serve a healthy snack. So I created an hors d’oeuvre that seemed to leap right out of the box. I wanted to created a healthy snack that screamed SCRABBLE! So I started by lining my table with paper, then I figured out the ratio of the playing board (I know, I’m still glowing with pride over that little mathematical feat).

From there I ruled out the individual squares on the board by using a saltine. I had intended to do a realistic board, but drawing the board to scale was a big enough time investment. Really, I’m not good at math, and I spent a lot of time working on the ratio alone. I also decided that drawing in the points system would increase the amount of ink that my guests would eat, so I don’t think it really mattered that the squares were left blank. I gave myself lots of time for this one. I drew the board on Wednesday evening.

On Saturday I prepped the food. We started by washing and cutting the peppers. The second step is very important. You need to make sure that the peppers are nice and dry, and cut into medium small pieces. As you can see, I chose two different kinds of hummus, the regular and the avocado hummus; both were delicious, but the avocado was very light and fresh — if you can find it I recommend trying it. The saltines did not stand up well, so if I were to do this again, I would look for something like mini malba toast.

Penelope came over to help me spell out some words, which I’m really glad she did, because it was time consuming, but lots of fun. It definitely provided the wow factor I was looking for.

Planning a party around a board game provides a lot of “wow” opportunities. The classic games have such iconic visual identities, there’s always a ton of opportunities. For example, if you’re playing Trivial Pursuit, you could make everything look like a pie. If you’re playing Battleship, you can do what my mum used to do, and turn deviled eggs into  “egg boats” by adding a leaf of lettuce on a toothpick. Happy creating! Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the other special touch I added…it’s less healthy. Oh well?

So, looking at the first picture again, do you want to take a stab at guessing the words that Penelope and I spelled out?

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Cover of "The Blue Castle"

Cover of The Blue Castle

It’s happened–despite my attempt to keep the Januaries at bay, the malaise has found me. Maybe it’s not malaise, maybe I’m just tired, and I need to book a couple of days off work to lounge around the apartment, reading, watching television, baking, and [ugh!] cleaning.

Alas, like everyone else, I’ve got to go to work, where I sit at my desk, trying to talk myself out of going to my exercise class, and considering whether or not to move. All of this instead of doing my work…I mean, while I do my work.

I’ve more or less decided not to move; there aren’t a lot of great rentals in my part of town for any less than what I’m paying now. Sure there are nice rentals; I saw one last night that was gorgeous, but it was $1900/month, almost double what I’m paying now. Plus the cost of moving…no, I think it’s best to stay put, and maybe think about a trip or something.

Over the weekend I started reading Lucy Maude Montgomery’s cheesiest and most pathetic novel, The Blue Castle. It’s not really very well written, and the story is kind of cliché, but I’ve always liked it. It’s about a woman who feels bored and unloved, and how she shakes things up by disobeying her horrible mother and taking on a large act of kindness. I also like it because with no more than 200 pages it’s a very quick read. So, as hesitant as I am to publically admit that I have read, liked and own this book…there it is. It’s also probably the book that I have read the most. I’ve done Gone with the Wind twice (though I watch the movie every November) and The Blue Castle maybe 6 times. I might need a new copy soon.

The problem is that I will go through this book fairly quickly, and I just reread Gone with the Wind this last summer, so it’s too soon to revisit it. That means that I am looking for suggestions. What are you reading right now that you think is awesome and we should all read? Or do you have a book that you go back to often because you find it super comforting?

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