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I survived!

>> Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Well, I did it!

I survived Christmas!

It was quite stressful this year (not the actually Holiday itself - that was pretty great), but the lead-up to it seemed to be "a lot" this year. Working as a retail manager over the Holiday season is always stressful and nerve-racking, but it's finally over now, and pretty soon it'll be my fave holiday of the year - New Year's!

I got to see my family over Christmas, and saw my sweet little niece Claire again (who is already speaking in full sentences at only 19 months!). I had two great days off with the fam, and then it was back to work for boxing day. I'm off now for two days though with my hubby, so we're planning on just hanging out and taking it easy. I also seem to have caught the cold that's been going around at work, so I'm glad I have a chance now to just relax and recouperate for a few days.

Hope everyone out there had a great Holiday with their loved ones, and that the New Year brings about a great start to 2011!

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Another reason I love my husband . . .

>> Friday, December 3, 2010

So as you probably know by now, I am a bit of a Taylor Swift fan - not a crazy fan or anything, I just love her songwriting and the honesty that comes out in her lyrics. The songwriter in me also thinks it's pretty cool to have a young artist be really popular nowadays who not only writes their own songs, but seems to be a good role model for young girls as well. She isn't famous for her partying, or her scandals - she's famous for her songs, and I love that.

Well she's coming back to Toronto next summer for her "Speak Now" tour, and tickets went on sale today, and . . . guess whose hubby went online and got a ticket for her today?!!!

That's right - I'll be a proud t-swift concert attendee next July! (And it's a pretty good seat too!) I've attached a video of one of her new songs "Haunted", that was on a TV special the other week:


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Harry Potter!!!!

>> Monday, November 22, 2010

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" came out in theatres last week and I finally had a chance to go see it today on my day off.

Absolutely AMAZING!!!! Even my husband (who very nicely came along with me) thought it was really good! I've been looking forward to this film for a very long time, and it definitely didn't disappoint. The acting was great, pacing was perfect, and the things the filmmakers chose to focus on was spot-on. I'm both really excited and really kinda' sad for Part 2 to come out next summer. I can't believe that soon Harry Potter will really be over! It was one thing when the final book came out, but we all new that we still had a few films to go, so it wasn't too bad. But now with only one to go, it's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that after next July there will be nothing HP-related to get excited about! I guess a trip to "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Themepark" will have to be in order?


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How did I get so lucky?

>> Thursday, November 4, 2010

Every day there's at least one moment (at least), where I wonder how in the world I got so lucky that I get to have Chris as my husband.

How in the world could I be so blessed to have someone like him in my life?

I love you babe . . .

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Still

>> Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Still sick.

It's horrible. Every time I think I'm starting to feel better it comes back and I feel I'm back at square one.

I've been back to the doctor and have now been referred to a specialist and will probably finally get a CT scan so they can get a thorough look at everything ('cause I guess a million ultrasounds doesn't show certain things?) Arghhh - I'm so frustrated.

To be honest, it's really getting me down. I keep trying to remind myself of advice I always give to other people (which is everything happens for a reason), but man - it's hard to follow your own advice sometimes! Even Chris has said that I'm not myself and am acting different, but I just can't be my usual happy, goofy self when I have this constant pain and feel so blah all the time. I want to go out and do stuff and have fun, but I just don't have the energy, and definitely don't have the energy to act like I'm fine when I'm not.

My doctor was quite reassuring today though, and assured me we would figure out what's going on. I was even starting to question whether it's all just been in my head and nothing's wrong at all and maybe I'm just going crazy, but I know that's not true (and she doesn't think that's the case either - yup, don't worry folks, I'm not crazy!). They said it's normal to start feeling a little depressed after feeling sick for this long - they said anyone would after feeling like they've had the flu for 2 months (which is kind of what I've been feeling - like it's one long bout of the stomach flu - with some other things thrown in there just for fun).

I know I shouldn't complaim, 'cause plenty of people out there have serious illnesses and things that are uncurable, and I know whatever I have isn't life-threatening (or I definitely would have kicked the bucket by now), but again - everything's always easier said than done.

I guess I'll just end this ranting, venting post by saying - Sickness - I hate you and would very much appreciate if you would just leave me now. We've become a little too well-acquainted and I think it's time for you to MOVE ON!!!!!!!!

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Speak Now

>> Monday, October 25, 2010

The perpetual teenage girl inside me was very excited today. Why you ask? Oh, just because the new Taylor Swift CD came out today!!!! Yes, after completely jumping on the Swift bandwagon last year after falling in love with her last CD "Fearless", I was very excited for her new album "Speak Now" to come out today. Even went out and got the "deluxe" edition, which comes with a bunch of extra songs on it! I never was able to get tickets to her Fearless concert when it was in Toronto awhile ago - hopefully when the Speak Now concert comes into town I can snag some and see her live!

Here's the video for her new single "Mine":

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Is it Thursday yet?

>> Sunday, October 24, 2010

I have a little wee obsession with the show "The Vampire Diaries". So fun and silly and drama-filled and addictive! Thursdays are now my favourite day of the week as it's Vampire Diaries Day, and I just had to post the preview for this weeks episode as it looks soooo good . . .



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Update!

>> Friday, October 22, 2010

So I'm still not feeling so great. I actually ended up spending the day in the Emergency Department at the hospital the other day. The pain just got to be too much and I couldn't take it. I have to say that I was really impressed with North York General though - I went it right away and was all hooked up to an IV with medication within minutes. I had to have another ultrasound and some more bloodwork done. On the previous ultrasounds I had done a few weeks ago at the medical office, they found a cyst on my kidney and on my ovaries, and my blood tests and a few other tests had some slightly abnormal results. On this ultrasound though, they were all gone! Soooo, they think they all must have ruptured either all at once or all around the same time, which is why the pain intensified over the last few days. They gave me some really strong pain pills and told me I need to have a follow-up ultrasound in a few weeks and to come back if the pain got worse or if I had a fever.
It's weird though, 'cause even with the pain medication it still hasn't gotten much better since my ER experience, and everything I've read about ruptured cysts says that every day the pain should lessen.
I have a feeling it still might be something else. The ultrasound tech asked me a lot of questions about my appendix while she was doing the test. She seemed pretty convinced that it was my appendix that was causing all the pain and went to go talk to the doctor. When he was discharging me though and I asked if that could be it, he said my white blood count would be higher (which it wasn't).
Hopefully it was just the cysts and in the next few days it'll get better. It's just hard to believe that a few cysts would be what's been making me feel so sick for the past month and a half (and that it would all start right after I got back from Africa!)
Weird, weird, weird . . . but like I said before, it could always be worse!
I've gotten quite behind at work the last little while because of this as I've missed several days and we're gearing up for the busiest time of year. I came in this morning and was bombarded with the sense that Christmas is definitely upon us - the evidence is in the sheer amount of stuff we're getting each day! It always amazes me that when you work in retail, the first feeling you get when you think of the Holidays isn't a nice warm and fuzzy feeling, it's pure panic! It immediately tenses up your shoulders and you start counting down to when January will arrive and it'll all be over! My countdown has started and it isn't even Halloween yet!

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Argh . . .

>> Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And . . .

still sick.

But - it could always be worse I suppose. I think I'm actually getting used to just feeling sick and gross 'cause it's been so long. :) I had 3 ultrasounds last Friday. It was not fun. Having a full to bursting bladder when your stomach and pelvic area are already feeling horrible is definitely one of the worst things I have had to do recently. I can't imagine what it's like for someone whose pregnant to have to do that for an ultrasound, when they already have a baby pushing against their bladder!

Anyhoo, this post isn't actually about that (or wasn't supposed to be). I really wanted to post a video of a band I'm currently obsessed with called NeedToBreathe. I knew about them quite awhile ago, but kind of just hopped on the bandwagon again recently after I was listening to their latest songs and happened upon this wonderful, live acoustic performance of "Stones Under Rushing Water", one of my favorite songs. It's hauntingly beautiful and really makes me want to drive to the States next month to see them live in concert. Sooooo good!!!! Enjoy . . .


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Yuck

>> Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Still sick.

Just had my third round of bloodwork in two weeks.

They took about 8 vials of blood.

Not fun for someone who doesn't like blood.


Next up?

2 ultrasounds scheduled for Friday.

Have to have a full bladder for them.

Not fun for someone who already takes a lot of pee breaks on a good day.

Will pray I don't pee my pants and embarrass myself forever.




Yuck.

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Update + Johnny Reid

>> Sunday, October 3, 2010

So I've still be feeling pretty horrible these last few weeks. Have been to the travel doctor a few times, as usually if you feel like crap after an international trip it means you brought a little "souvenir" home with you. I had a bunch of blood work done, and some other tests, but so far other than my red blood cell count being low and my white blood cell count being a little high (which only shows that my body is trying to fight something off), he's kinda' stumped in terms of an actual diagnosis. I have to go get an abdominal ultrasound done this week, plus more blood work and go see my family doctor as it's looking like it's probably something not travel related.

I've missed some work because of it, and also had to stay home this weekend and not go on the annual fall retreat with Chris and the youth group up in Bancroft. I'd actually been looking forward to that since the summer, so that kinda' sucks, but I know it's probably been good for me to just stay home, sleep and take it easy.

Hopefully they figure out what's going on soon as it's driving me crazy not feeling good and always being so tired and yucky. The whole month of September was pretty much a write-off - for the most part when I wasn't at work I was sleeping or trying to sleep, so here's hoping that October is much better!

So while I've been at home these past few days, one of the things I've been doing a lot of is watching CMT (Country Music Television). I watched the "One on One" hour-long interview special with Johnny Reid, and I must say - how amazing and inspiring is this man! I was absolutely captivated throughout the entire interview, and loved hearing about his journey as a singer/songwriter and how he never gave up on his dream, even though he was knocked down time and time again. I wasn't a fan of his before - to be honest I'd never even listened to one of his songs or watched a video, but after watching this interview I just had to check out his website and a bunch of videos on youtube. He's an amazing country/soul singer from Scotland, (who moved to Canada as a young teen) and he just has a great, honest vibe about him and a really powerful voice. I'll definitely be picking up his latest album the next time I'm out and about! Also just found out he's playing a few shows at Massey Hall in November, so maybe Chris and I will go see him live!

Gotta' love CMT for introducing people to artists they may not have considered listening to before!

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Middle of the night = Great Ideas indeed!

>> Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I haven't been feeling so great for the past few several days. I think maybe a bunch of things just sorta' caught up with me 'cause it really just hit me the other day. I had no energy whatsoever and just felt overall really "blah". I've been off the last two days though, so after pretty much a whole day in bed yesterday, today I'm feeling a little like my old self again.

So due to the fact that I slept for most of the day yesterday, of course I couldn't sleep last night and lay in bed wide awake until about 4 o'clock in the morning. It turned out to be quite the productive bout of insomnia however, as I was struck with an idea at about 3am. It just sort of came to me - the whole thing, top to bottom, all in one neat little package. I actually had a moment where I kind of laughed at myself, 'cause I thought "wow, my best ideas really do come to me in the middle of the night - I should stay up late more often!!"

I don't want to write out here what my idea was just yet, as I want to register it first and actually do up a real proposal, but I will say that it encompasses a whole bunch of different things I'm interested in, and has the possibility (if it succeeds) in growing and branching out in lots of different areas.

It may even involve some of you who are reading this, so stay tuned for more details!!


On a side (and completely unrelated note), is anyone else out there completely obsessed with The Vampire Diaries tv show? The new season started last week and I am in complete Vampire Diaries mode right now. Love, love, love that show!!

And on another side note - I finally jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for Twitter, so if you're on there as well just search for me and we can "follow" each other!

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Day 365 - One year!

>> Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wow. One year has passed since I started this little journey of mine. One year ago, I set out a challenge for myself that I promised I would continue to document on this blog.

That challenge was this - I would give myself one year to get my goals back on track and try to pursue a career in songwriting and in acting. I would blog every day, and use this blog to account for what I was doing to go after my dreams.

The reality? Well I definitely didn't blog every day - I have learnt that if you blog every day, you either blog for a living or don't have a full-time job. ;) My life is just too busy a lot of the time to set aside a moment every single day to sit down and blog, and sometimes I just didn't have the energy to do it or want to do it, even if I did have the time! My blog also became a lot more to me than just a blog for tracking my career aspirations. I kind of like to use this blog as a little diary, and I know that a whole bunch of stuff I've posted in the last year had nothing to do with music (or acting), but was just a lot more about my thoughts and random stuff that had happened, etc.

Looking back over my progress over the last year, I can see that some things haven't changed. I'm still at the job I was at before, and part of me still feels as confused as ever as to what I'm going to end up doing as a career. I still struggle with finding a balance between what I spend my time doing, and what I want to spend my time doing. I still have huge moments of inspiration (creatively) and long stretches of time where I don't do anything creative at all.

What has changed? Well I know for sure that music will always be a part of my life, but I'm not sure how large a part that will be, or in what form. I know now though that worrying about that is not a good use of my time, because frankly whether or not I "make it" in the music business is not up to me. God knows what His plan is for me, and I'm confident and sure enough now in my spirituality to know that if that's the path I'm meant to go on, than it will happen. I also know that the humanitarian work I've done in the last year and a half has changed my life for the better and has (in a big way) changed the course of my life forever. That is, and always will be, a major part of my life and who I am, and I am forever grateful for that.

I also know now that acting is not what I'm meant to be spending my time on right now. I still love acting, and if the opportunity ever presented itself to do something in the acting field, I would definitely seriously consider it, but for now my life is focused on music (when the inspiration strikes) and continuing to find opportunities for myself and others to travel to Africa (specifically Uganda) to continue helping in that country in whatever way we can.

It's funny - I've always been the kind of person who wants a "plan", and wants to know where I'm at and where I'm going. Trying to document that this last year I think has actually taught me that it's okay to not have a plan, to not know where you are and what's coming up next. I feel now that my life is sort of in "limbo" - I don't know what the next year, or 5 years, or 10 years will hold. Heck, I don't even know what the next 6 months will hold! But you know what? I'm okay with that. I'm okay with having different aspects of my life up in the air and not knowing where they're going to land. At 30, I don't have it all "together", but the one thing in life that is really important, the love, well I've been blessed in that department time and time again. I've got that in spades. Whatever else encompasses my life is icing on the cake.

So what of this 'ole blog of mine? Well a year may be up, but I'll continue to blog about my life and what I'm learning along the way. Hopefully whomever reads this will find it either useful or hopefully at least somewhat entertaining.

It's September, a new school year has started for all the young-uns, and it's the season for new beginnings and fresh starts for the rest of us. I'm excited to welcome Fall just being grateful for the amazing summer I had and for all the amazing things I know are to come.

Thank-you to everyone whose followed this blog, left comments or sent me email messages, and hopefully you'll continue to do so as I continue to stumble along this "road less traveled".

Cheers . . . :)

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Day 364 - Update

>> Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's been 7 days since I got back from Africa. 7 days. Part of me feels like it was already ages ago that I was in Uganda and Kenya, but there's another part of me that feels like I just left. I have so many stories to tell, and so many thoughts swirling through my head and emotions tumbling around my heart, it's hard to know where to begin.

That being said, I probably won't be blogging about Africa anytime soon. It's just too soon, and it's too close to my heart for words to even begin to describe the breadth of feeling I have about the people and places of Uganda, and what I saw while I visited the Kibera slum in Kenya. I just attempted writing a first "Africa update blog" about our visit, and then promptly deleted the whole thing as it just didn't even come close to describing things properly. I will end up posting some stuff, but it'll probably just be snippets of certain days or experiences, or random thoughts about the trip, rather than a thorough recap of each day. It's just too much to describe and I know there's certain things I just have to sit with and wrap my brain around before I could ever think to probably describe or explain them.

So please bear with me as I struggle to get back into the swing of things here in Canada, and for any disconnected or disjointed blogs I post in the next little while . . .

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Day 358 - I'm home!!

>> Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm back!!

Chris and I arrived home in Toronto yesterday afternoon, after two very long flights.

After bringing in the luggage and saying hello to Franklin (who we were really excited to see), I pretty much crashed for the rest of the day and evening. My body is still on Africa time, so I keep thinking it's 7 hours ahead - hopefully the jetlag doesn't last too long.

It was an amazing trip. I'll post some detailed blogs about it soon, but for now I'll just say that it was amazing and that our trips there continue to change me and the course of my life in a drastic way. It was an immense honour to be able to go back and to meet such incredible people, and I can honestly say that although I'm back, I left my heart and a huge piece of my soul in Uganda.

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Day 341 - It's here!!!!

>> Sunday, August 15, 2010

So the day has finally arrived! We leave for Uganda tonight (first leg of the journey is an overnight flight to London). I'm all the things I was last year (nervous, excited, exhilarated) and more (sooo happy to be able to see my friends there again, stressed 'cause Ryan from GIVE isn't on this trip and overseeing everything is up to Chris and I, and not quite as excited about the actual travel part as I was last year 'cause I now know that the journey there is a long and tiring one).

I am incredibly thankful though for this amazing opportunity, and I know that this will be a great, purpose-filled trip!

I'm going to try and keep a daily journal while I'm there (I tried last year, but there were some days where I just felt too tired at the end of the day to do much of anything). I really want to document this trip well, so I hope to have some detailed stories to share when I get back.

Please keep our team in your thoughts and prayers, and I hope everyone has a great couple of weeks!

See you in September!

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Day 335 - a few things about Uganda . . .

>> Monday, August 9, 2010

I love Uganda for many, many reasons - it's a fascinating country and would take me much longer than one blog post to articulate why I love it so much. I thought I'd take a few minutes though on this 'ole blog of mine, to share with you some things about one of my favorite countries that you might not know. So here goes:

* "U-gan-da or U-ghan-da?" A question that I've been asked by more than one person when they find out I'm going back. From what I know, you can say it both ways, but most people (including the locals I met on our last trip) would pronounce it "U-ghan-da." You can actually also pronounce it "oo-gan-da". Interestingly, I've also seen Uganda spelled "Ughanda".

* The two official languages of Uganda are English and Swahili, but there are a ton of different indigenous languages and dialects, and Luganda is pretty much the major language spoken in Southern Uganda

* Uganda's largest export is coffee

* 84% of the population is Christian

* Winston Churchill was the one who coined the term "The Pearl of Africa" while describing Uganda's beauty

* Lake Victoria (on the southeastern side of Uganda) is the third largest lake in the world

* At 236,040 sq km, the country of Uganda is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon in the U.S.

* Uganda achieved independence from the UK in 1962

* The movie "The Last King of Scotland" (which takes place in Uganda) was also filmed in Uganda!

* Uganda has about 2.5 million orphans

* Uganda is one of the few remaining places in the world where Mountain Gorillas reside (im fact, at least half of their population is in Uganda)!

* the average humidity is 80.3% (my frizzy hair would attest to that)!

* the average annual family income is $200.00 US dollars

* the source of the River Nile is in Uganda (near Jinja)

* the highest mountain range in all of Africa is in Uganda (the Rwenzori Mountains)


Those are just a few little interesting tidbits about the country I'm going back to in just a few short days!!

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Day 334 - one week to go!

>> Sunday, August 8, 2010

Well today marks the start of our one-week countdown! I can't believe that one week from today we'll be getting ready to head to the airport! We had a great morning at church - our lead pastor called the team up in front of the congregation during both services and had everyone pray for us. It's a wonderful thing - to be prayed for, and know that our church family will be keeping us in their thoughts and prayers while we're away. It was also nice just to be at church with everyone to be honest. I usually work on Sundays during the day and can't go to church too often, so when I can it's always nice - especially today when the whole Uganda team was there and we could have this time together in service before we leave next week.

After church, we had a team meeting to go over some details, and then a bunch of us went out for lunch. Hearing everyone talk about how excited they are just keeps getting me more and more excited, and I'm counting down the days (and hours) until we can load all our luggage into the van and head out! Chris and I have spent the last two days running around Markham and Mississauga, having doctor's appointments, running errands and doing all of our trip shopping and getting final trip details sorted out. I still feel like we have a lot to do this week, but I know it'll all get done and it's more just the "pre-trip stress" I always get before we go away. I'm actually having a rather relaxed afternoon right now - I'm sitting on our couch in the family room, working on trip paperwork on Chris' laptop (okay besides taking a break right now to update my blog), but I have the "Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers" movie playing in the background, so I still feel pretty chill (while getting things done - awesome)!

On a fundraising note - it looks like we've made it! We had a great week last week for fundraising - a lot of cheques and online donations came in, and we got a large sum from the church, which is such an amazing blessing! To have the fundraising side of the trip finalized is a huge weight off all our shoulders, and we are so incredibly thankful to everyone who has supported us financially!

I'll try and do some more blog posts before we leave. It's gonna' be a really busy week, but I'll get in a few updates over the next several days. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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Day 330 - kinda' out of it . . . .

>> Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I had to go to my travel doctor today to get my third (and final) Hep B vaccine. I normally don't mind shots at all, and hardly ever have allergic or adverse reactions to anything.

Not the Hepatits B vaccine apparently! I knew going into it that I may have some issues - when I had the second shot several months ago, I started feeling sick about 10 minutes after leaving the doctor's office and then felt like I had the worst flu ever for about 24 hours straight (and then felt fine after that). When I told him that today, he said that kind of reaction was very rare and that although I may have the same kind of reaction with the third shot, I probably wouldn't. He did say we could forego it altogether, but of course I'm like "no no, I'll be fine - it's cool".

Well I get the shot, feel fine afterwards and head to work. Sure enough, after being at work for only about 10 minutes I start feeling really, really weird. Thankfully I didn't feel flu-ish or even sick really - I just felt really weird. It's hard to explain, it's kind of like I felt just really drugged or something. I was kinda' just out of it - even my co-worker was asking "are you sure you're okay?". My head felt really foggy and everything felt kind of dreamlike and not real. It was the weirdest sensation, probably made even the more weirder by me simply thinking "wow - this is really weird . . ."

Argghh - it was not fun, although thankfully a few hours later my head started to feel a bit clearer, and now I'm feeling pretty normal again.

Needless to say I am not fond of the Hepatitis B vaccine, although I recognize it's importance and I'm okay with dealing with some temporary side effects so I don't ever actually need to suffer from the horribleness that is Hep B. It's just scary to react to something and not really be able to do anything about it and just wait it out.

I do quite like my travel doctor - he really is very knowledgable and I find him really funny at times. We were talking today about possible malaria medication for me as I'm allergic to Malarone (of course the one thing I'm truly allergic to just happens to be the best and most popular anti-malarial available). He talked about the first option, which sounded okay, then started talking about the other option. When I asked him about the side effects for that one and that I'd heard they could be pretty bad, he goes "well yeah, there is a chance you could go slightly psychotic on that one."

Hmmm - I think I'll go with option #1 . . . .

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Day 327 - What??!!

>> Sunday, August 1, 2010

How in the world can it be August 1st already? Seriously, what??!!

I am in serious denial that July has come and gone. I kinda' feel like July just passed me by completely and I have yet to experience anything "summerish"! I've only been to the beach once for goodness sake, and I'm a total beach bum!!

Most of me is actually stoked that it's August, as we leave for Africa in less than two weeks now, but I know that it'll be September when we get back and in my mind that means summer is over! It's also stressful, as my work schedule is a bit crazy right now, and I still have some scheduling to do for our trip, and shopping and packing, and all sorts of last minute prep work.

Oh time - you're going by too quickly!

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Day 324 - Soooo close!!

>> Thursday, July 29, 2010

So I've been working on the detailed trip outline for our Uganda trip for the past couple of hours, and it's getting me soooo excited about our trip! It feels really real now, now that's it's only a little more than 2 weeks away! I found out today that a good friend of ours has volunteered to take care of Franklin and our house while we're gone, which is awesome as I always feel really guilty when we put him in a kennel for an extended period of time (plus it's crazy expensive!) She stayed with him last year when we went, and Franklin loves her (I seriously think he was a little depressed when we came back and she went home!)

I'm really excited that Chris and I get to lead the trip this year. It's a huge honour to have GIVE International trust us with this one, and although I was pretty nervous about it, after meeting with Ryan (the director of GIVE) this past weekend, I'm feeling a lot more confident that we're up for it and ready for the challenge!

I'm also super excited as we've just confirmed with GIVE that we get to lead another trip next year! We'll actually be leaving again for Uganda only about 6 months after we come back from this trip, as it'll be over March Break next year. That trip won't be a church or group specific trip - we're opening it up to several churches and groups, and it'll be for people aged 16-20. I think that trip'll be very cool as it'll be interesting to see how people who don't know each other interact under the amazing circumstances they'll encounter in Uganda. I am in a bit of a quandry as by that point next year I'll be out of vacation time at work, and technically I'm not entitled to the next fiscal year's vacation time until April 1st of 2011. Please pray for me that either my work will let me take a week of unpaid time off, or that they'll let me use some of my next year's vacation early!!

A BIG thank-you goes out to everyone who has donated money so far. After our Run for Uganda last Saturday we've been able to get our total donations up to about $40,000.00!! It means we still have almost $22,000.00 to go, but I know it's possible for us to get there. If you would like to donate, but haven't already, please see my previous post from a few weeks ago that lists a few different ways you can donate.

T-minus 17 days!!!!

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Day 320 - Run for Uganda Update!

>> Sunday, July 25, 2010

I did it! I finished the Run for Uganda on Saturday and am still alive!! ;)

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous beforehand - my "how hard can it be?" mentality pretty much dissipated as the minutes counted down to the start time. Mainly because it was so stinkin' hot Saturday morning - I think it was something like 39 degrees with the humidity? Definitely fitting I guess as we were running for Uganda! I had no grand plans of being fast or anything, I just wanted to keep going and be able to say I didn't stop at all (and by the looks of some of the people running the 10k and the 5k, I'd have had no chance anyway of coming in anywhere close to the front of the pack)!

I put my MP3 player on as Chris counted the seconds down to zero and started the run with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, although sadly I must admit that at the 1k point I was already thinking "oh right, maybe I should have practiced beforehand!" I ran for a little bit more, but then had to stop and walk for a bit. I pretty much kept myself to a run for a song or two / walk for a song or two pattern. When I walked though, I was definitely "power-walking" and not taking a leisurely stroll or anything. I got a little deflated (okay, a lot) when I reached the 2.5k mark (where there was a little tent set-up with water and stuff). I couldn't believe I had only reached 2.5 kilometres! It definitely felt like I had gone a lot further than that, but then I told myself that I at least had passed the halfway point, so now I just had to get to the finish line!

One huge motivating factor for me was seeing the 10k people on their last 5k stretch of the run. Basicially for those running the 10k, you simply turned around at the 5k mark and ran back. They started their race a half hour before ours, so we started passing them as were getting into the meat of our 5k run. Wow - it was so fun and inspiring seeing them trek along and still running strong. Seeing our Uganda team members especially who were doing the 10k was awesome - I cheered for all the 10kers as they passed me, but I have to admit I saved most of my cheering for our team members. Seeing Ashley, Renee, Eddie and Gord go by and seeing how committed they were to finishing the 10k definitely kept me going!!

I finally, after much huffing and puffing, saw the 5K mark approaching. People cheered as I passed the finish line and I clocked in at about 43 minutes (which, yes is a long time to do 5k, but hey - not bad for the first time). I grabbed some water and sat down for a minute or two, and heard Jeff tell someone else that it might be awhile before the shuttle came to to take everyone back to the church (where it all began). I was still kind of amped up, so in a split second decision I decided to get back up and do the other 5k back to the church! I just didn't feel like I was quite "done" yet, so I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back! I ran for a bit, and walked for a bit, but it pretty much took me the same amount of time to go back as it did for the first 5k. Finally crossing the finish line felt awesome - even though every inch of me was covered in sweat and I felt like I couldn't move another muscle, it was definitely worth it!

There's definitely something about running that is a lot of fun, and I can see how runners get addicted to races and marathons - being able to say you actually did it is pretty cool! I think once I give my muscles another day or two to recover, I may just finally take up running! (maybe - I make no promises). The route along the Don Valley Trail was absolutely gorgeous btw. I simply can't believe that in all my time living here, I hadn't experienced it yet! It follows the Don River, and it really is amazing. Very shady in most parts, lots of bridges, and you definitely forget you're in the city! Now that I know what it's like, if I do start running regularly, I think I'll be traversing it's trails more often!

So all in all, a great event, a great run, and a great day (even though I had to get showered and changed right after the run and go to work for a full shift!) Note to self - make sure you get the whole day off next time!

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Day 318 - Run for Uganda!

>> Friday, July 23, 2010

2 posts in 1 day? Woo hoo!!

So our "Run for Uganda" is tomorrow. I'm slightly nervous as I've signed up for the 5k run, and well - it's been about 8 years since I've run for any extended period of time.

Ummm, yeah, so it'll be interesting.

But really though, how hard can it be to run? I think I'm in relatively good shape considering I don't actually follow an exercise regime, (although does aquacise count? I have been "working out" and "running" in the pool a lot). If I can run in water, running on dry land would be easier right?

Right?

Hmmmm, so okay - as long as I don't have a heart attack I guess we could call it a success!!

I have heard that if you're running for a cause it makes it easier to stay motivated while you're in the thick of it.

So . . . I've decided that I'm going to be running for someone in particular. Actually two people. They're both kids I met in Uganda last year. One I met in a village by the sugarcane fields and the other I met at a school. They both touched my heart a lot and I haven't forgotten the time I spent with each one.

So I'm going to run for them, and if I get tired and want to stop, hopefully the images of their faces in my mind will keep me strong and lead me to the finish line!

Please keep our run tomorrow in your thoughts and prayers - we're hoping for good weather (no rain, but not too hot or humid either!) and that we raise a lot of money for our trip.

Here's to the Run for Uganda!!

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Day 318 - Music, Africa, Possibilities, Realities . . .

Sometimes I wish I could just turn my brain off for a second. Seriously, sometimes I just want to tell my internal dialogue to "shut it" and let me get some rest. Even in my sleep it just keeps going at warp speed and 6 nights out of 7 I end up having crazy, crazy dreams that leave my waking up a) still tired and b) going "Whaaaat was that??!!"

Especially now, when I feel like all the different possibilities for my life, all the paths I could have taken, have finally converged on one point, and as much as I'm ready and willing to take that giant leap of faith forward, the reality of the situation makes things more complicated and turns everything into a waiting game. (And if you know me personally at all, you know that waiting and "patience" in general is not my forte).

There is also the unknown of how to merge my two biggest passions into one and make them symbiotic of each other. I have so much passion and such a love of Africa and the humanitarian work happening on that continent and some African countries in particular, and I know I'm being led there for a reason. I also have this crazy love/hate relationship with music and songwriting though, and have for the past few months been getting some awesome comments, messages and emails from people who are so incredibly supportive of my singing and my songwriting, and have been really strongly encouraging me to continue and come out with new stuff. But, how to merge these two things and do both, I'm not sure. I tend to have a "singular-focus" kind of personality - if I just focus on one thing I tend to accomplish the goals I've set out for myself. If I try to do too many different kinds of things, it all kind of falls apart. Now that it's clear I have these two passions, figuring out how to do both tends to occupy a lot of my brain power during the day. I know many would say to just "do it" - do both, see what happens, and if it's meant to be it will be. Which would be awesome, if my brain would just chillax for a minute. I need to stop worrying about it and just be.

LOL - I just had a realization that I guess this isn't a good indication of what I'll be like when I have kids. Everything else will just fall by the wayside 'cause I'll be all about my kids. Geez - how do mothers do it? How do they have babies and still work and still lead balanced lives? I'm freakin' out 'cause I can't figure out how to merge two career paths into one, yet my friends are balancing motherhood, jobs, husbands, friends, and hobbies. Haha, see brain? You need to chill 'cause you ain't see nothin' yet - just wait 'till a baby comes along!

Oh boy . . .

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Day 314 - I need your money! (Well, Uganda does)

>> Monday, July 19, 2010

I need your money.

Well, to be more accurate - Uganda does.

Our Uganda 2010 Team leaves in less than a month now and we still have quite a way to go in terms of fundraising. I'll be honest and say it's been a lot more challenging this year getting donations than it was for last year's trip. I think there are two main reasons for this:

The first is that last year we were taking high school students, so a lot of the money coming in was from parents, relatives, school friends and the parents of school friends. This year it's all adults, and I think people are a little more hesitant to donate to adults than to a younger group. Plus, last year if one of the kids fell short on their fundraising, we could pretty much count on the parents paying the remaining of the balance owing.

The second reason I think is that people are just being a little more careful with their money now due to the economy. Even though they would like to donate, they don't feel like they can afford to. Of course this is completely understandable, and there's not much we can do when people are financially strapped and don't feel they have the means to donate.

We do have high hopes though as we gear up to this weekend and our last "big" fundraiser which is this Saturday July 24th. It's the "Run for Uganda" - a 10k run or 5k run/walk along the Don Valley Trail. We're aiming to bring in another $10,000.00 on this event, but even if we do we'll still have about $20,000.00 to raise in the span of about three weeks.

I don't know how many people read this blog, or if you're in the position where you can donate money for our trip, but I thought I'd put it out there anyway and ask. If you're reading this and you can afford something, even if it's just $5.00 - that $5.00 would be more appreciated than you could ever imagine. If I may, I'd just like to outline exactly where the money would be going and how it benefits Uganda.

It costs an average of about $4400.00 for each team member to go to Uganda for two weeks. That covers everything from both individual travel fees (ie. roundtrip airfare to London, Kenya, then Entebbe, travel and medical insurance, accomodations, transportation, Visa fees, etc.), to the costs of running GIVE International and being able to go over in the first place (ie. payment for the local GIVE guides, paint and construction supplies for building projects, the costs of buying the family kit elements, etc.) I think this is important for people to know as your donations are not paying our way to a vacation or an exciting adventure on the other side of the world. Every penny that isn't going towards the actual travel expenses goes directly to benefitting either the local economy in Jinja, the people in the villages in and surrounding Jinja, and the many, many babies, school children and orphans we come into contact with each day on our trip. The benefit of each of these GIVE trips for the people of Jinja and the people of Uganda is overwhelming. I saw it first hand when I went last year, and I hear it in the many stories from other GIVE volunteers who have travelled to Uganda in the past few years.

We simply can't afford not to go. The need is too strong, and the timing too immediate. The work GIVE and other humanitarian organizations are doing in Uganda and other African countries is truly inspiring and amazing, but there is still so much to be done, and it will be a continuous need that cannot be ignored.

If you do decide to donate towards this trip, please know that your money is a blessing greater than a "thank-you" would ever suffice. Your money can literally save lives. The mosquito nets we give out as part of our family kits for example, has helped in the drop in malaria infection rates amongst both children and adults. The water jugs, pots and pans we distribute help families in their daily safe meal and water preparation. The portable health clinics we're doing this year will address and teach the vital importance of proper wound care. The books, clothes and toys we hand out to children put a smile on their faces that could light up a room, and the teacher education and playground construction we're doing this year I know will help draw in more kids to school, education, and perhaps a future where they too will have the skills and knowledge to pass on to the next generation and benefit their country.

If you can donate (and again, no amount is ever "too small") there are a couple of ways in which you can do so:

1) You can mail a personal cheque (made payable to GIVE International) to:

GIVE INTERNATIONAL
Cheque memo line: BVG Uganda Project 2010
763 Zermatt Drive
Waterloo, Ontario
N2T 2W8

or

2) You can make a credit card donation online:

• Click on www.giveintl.org
• Click on DONATE NOW icon (bottom right side)
• Click on DONATE NOW icon (top right side)
• Enter Donation Amount $:
• Enter Fund/Designation: BVG Uganda Project 2010
• Enter my name in the Message/Instructions
• Fill in your contact info. for your charitable tax receipt



Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I would ask that even if you can't make a donation at this time, that you please keep our team, the work we're going to do in Uganda, and the people we're going to meet in your thoughts and prayers. Although these trips are of course exciting, there's also a lot of hard work and struggle involved (physically, emotionally and spiritually). We need all the prayers and support we can get.


Sincerely,

Suzanne Judge


GIVE INTERNATIONAL is a non-profit, relief and development organization committed to working alongside existing health, education, and development organizations in East Africa. This is accomplished through establishing, directing, and supervising our community-based health and education programs; through donating supplies, equipment, and materials to our programs where needed; and through providing trained volunteers to assist with our programs.
(Canadian Registered Charity #: 85914 1970 RR0001 ).

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Day 310 - back to "real" life

>> Thursday, July 15, 2010

So I'm back from vacation.

Yup.

Sigh . . . getting back to "real" life sometimes sucks. ;)

How in the world can 7 days on vacation go by so fast when 7 work days will drag on like there will never be an end to it? Oh time, you can be such an evil trickster!

The farm was great - weather was perfect and I was able to chill with the fam and also do some reading and thinking (on one of my favorite "thinking" spots - the hammock!!)

Now it's back to life, back to reality - and a bit of a crazy reality at that. We leave for our Uganda/Kenya trip in exactly one month today, and we still have a lot to do between now and then. I pretty much have Uganda on my brain 24-7 these days as our departure day will be here before we know it! It just feels a little hectic as between that, and my "real" job, and working on music stuff and trying to get into shape, and trying to just do some "summer" stuff, I feel like there's just too few hours in the day! I guess I can't complain though - my "problems" are all good problems to have and I know that I'm blessed to have them!

Anyway, I hope everyone's having a fantastic summer so far and that you're all enjoying the weather and hopefully getting in some lazy relaxin' days as well!

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Day 302 - Done and Done

>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm officially on vacation!! I probably won't be blogging much for the next week, but will have a post-vacay blog when I get back.

Have a great week everyone!!

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Day 301 - almost there

>> Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I feel like there's been a lot going on lately. When I think about it though, it doesn't really seem like there has been a lot going on other than the usual stuff. I think it's probably more a combination of the usual stuff, and then thinking and worrying about all the stuff that's coming up in the next couple of months and the next year. I have a tendancy to worry about things and if they're going to go according to plan, instead of just being confident in the fact that I've planned and done my best and then just let it go.

Thankfully though, I plan on letting my mind take a "break" soon, as I am officially on vacation as of tomorrow at 3pm! I have seven whole days off and I plan to make the most of them! I'm really, really excited to spend some time at the farm with (almost) the whole family, just hangin' out, maybe get caught up on some reading. I'm also planning on spending some time running - I've signed up to run the 5K portion of our 5 or 10K "Run for Uganda" marathon. While I don't think 5K will be too bad, it's been a looooonnnng time since I was a "runner" so I need all the training I can cram into the next rwo weeks! Hopefully I can also squeeze in some trips to the beach as I haven't had a beach trip yet this summer (although I know, I know, the summer's just begun).

I am so very thankful for this time off. I feel like I really need it - just time to recharge and restore my spirit. Nothing cures my frazzled spirit better than time with family, with mornings on the veranda and afternoons lying in the hammock staring up at the trees or running around the fields with a whole bunch of dogs! Add in being far away from the city, with the beach at my doorstep, and I'm bound for some serious relaxation! Now I just need to figure out what books I'm going to bring!

Here's to vacations and time spent with family!!

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Day 294 - An interesting weekend in Toronto . . .

>> Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So I'm sure I don't need to recap what went on in Toronto this past weekend. With it being all over the news and online, I'm sure it's safe to say most people reading this blog would know about the G20 Summit and what it's impact was on our city.

I knew things would get heated, and I knew things would probably get a little ugly, but I really didn't think they would get as heated and as ugly as they did. I was really, really glad to be far away from downtown this weekend, although it did affect a few people I work with who live downtown and weren't sure what to do when the subways and buses running through the core were shut down.

I don't want to say too much about the actual act of protests, as I'm a little conflicted as to whether or not they actually work - even the peaceful ones. While I do of course value our right to free speech, I think it's pretty clear that the kind of protests we saw this weekend did way more harm than good. The destruction of store-fronts, cars, and the violence overall were completely unnecessary. From what I've seen and heard, all it did was anger Torontonians and those of us watching it unfold on the news. It seemed a lot of the protestors using these "Black Bloc Tactics" (the ones doing the vandalising) were either from elsewhere in Canada or from the States. If they want to come here to protest the G20, fine. But to come here and cause property damage, assault our police officers and cause us to pay for, (with our tax dollars) all the clean-up needed to restore Toronto to it's pre-G20 state . . . not fine.

I personally found the spending on this "summit" outrageous and excessive. But it's now clear that the security budget was going to be high anyway due to all the protesting going on. Did it need to be approx. one billion dollars? Certainly not. Are they going to be able to justify it now with all the images and media of protestors clashing with police? Probably. Should the whole concept of the G8/G20 Summit be looked at for its true value, and what we as the public can do to hold them accountable to any and all decisions (and timelines) these leaders are making on our behalf? Definitely. But I was ashamed of what I saw on the news this weekend. And to anyone out there who vandalised and put other people's safety in danger? You should be ashamed. You did not make your voice heard, and you pushed aside the voices of those who did come together to hold a peaceful protest. If you came to make a mockery of yourself and the issues that really did need some media attention, well on that you most definitely succeeded. Congratulations.

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Day 294 - Welcome to the world Benjamin!

A Big, BIG Congratulations need to go out to my friend Kim on the birth of her baby boy!! Benjamin Gravel was born on Sunday, and both mom and baby are doing well.

I am so excited for Kim and her husband Eric. They already have a gorgeous daughter named Claire, and I'm sure she's super excited to be a big sister!

The Gravel family is pretty awesome, so congrats again to the whole family on this wonderful arrival, and welcome to the world Benjamin!!

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Day 292

>> Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 292??!!

How did it get to be day 292 already? Crazy!

Anyhoo - I found a new blog template I liked more than the last one, so once again - may I introduce my new blog design!!

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Day 289

>> Thursday, June 24, 2010

I had the day off both today and yesterday - booyah!! It was not the most productive two days to be honest. I was actually kinda' hoping it would rain, as I wanted to clean the house, do some laundry, go grocery shopping, and just get caught up on a bunch of things - but . . . it ended up being a beautiful day both days and I am not one to miss a beautiful day.

I slept in both days (awwweeesommmeeee!!!!), swam a lot in the pool (and did my aquacise), hung out with my hubby for a bit, read quite a lot, watched some movies at night, did some prep for the Africa trip in August, and changed my blog template! It's not exactly what I want, but it'll have to do for now until I find one I really like. I was just tired of the old one and figured my blog needed some updating. What do you think?

I'm in huge denial right now that it's almost the end of June! How is it possible that time can go by so fast? I guess to some extent I am glad time's flying as I can't wait to go down to my parents farm in 2 weeks for a week-long vacation with the whole family. I can't believe though that we leave for Uganda in about a month and a half - crazy! We still have a long way to go for fundraising, but I know we'll get there. I'll be posting some details in the next couple of days about our next big fundraising event, our "Run for Uganda", so stay tuned for that soon!

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Day 285

>> Monday, June 21, 2010

I have no idea what to write about today. I figured I should, as it's been a few days - but as I sit here I really don't know what to say . . .

Hmmmm . . . . . .

Ummmm . . . . . .

I liked the weather today - it was super hot & sunny and yeah, that was cool . . .

I had little mini tacos for lunch - yummy!

Everyone at work was grumpy, and that put me in really bad mood for awhile, and then I realized I too was now grumpy and could therefore be making someone else grumpy (who was in a good mood) and snapped myself out of it.

I really need a hair cut.

I finished reading "The Passage" by Justin Cronin - pretty good! Too long though - was his editor on vacation or something?

The last two nights Franklin has fallen asleep while snuggled up against me in bed with his head burrowed into my arms. It's really, really cute - but he snores (and drools), but it's worth it.

I really like cantaloupe - I bought a whole container full of diced cantaloupe the other day. I promised myself I wouldn't eat it all at once . . . that didn't work out.

Mmmmm . . . cantaloupe . . .

Three more weeks of work and then I'm on vacay with my family! Yee haw!!

I have a car again - it's a used 1998 Volvo. I have named it Bob.


Hmmmm - okay, sleep time I think! Off to get covered in more drool from Frankers!

'till next time . . .

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Day 282 - there's a change a comin'

>> Friday, June 18, 2010

I feel there is a change coming. I've felt it for a long time now, but it feels now like it's right on the horizon - I can almost see it or touch it.

From the time I was little, I've felt like I was meant for something big. Not big in the sense of money or fame or anything like that, but big in a more meaningful, impactful, kind of way. I find more and more now that I'm being called towards something bigger than myself. I'm beginning to understand now that perhaps that's why I've never quite felt "settled", and perhaps that's why God has given both myself and Chris the desire to not put down roots somewhere. Perhaps that's why I've always been able to very easily put myself in another's shoes and feel what they feel.

Chris and I often talk about what the next 5 or 10 years will hold for us. It always comes back to the same thing, the same place, the same idea - of using our voices to speak out for those who cannot, in places that are continually forgotten about.

I don't know for sure what context change will come in, but I know it's coming - it's the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing in my mind before I fall asleep. I don't want to write about it too much in detail here until I feel we've sussed it out more, but I will when the time is right.

I do know that a giant leap of faith is coming, and I think I finally have the guts to take it.

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Day 279

>> Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I will not walk with blinders on
as you don't walk alone

I will not cast my voice aside
while you don't have a home

I will not sit, stand idly by
while your child cannot eat

I will not celebrate my greed
while you stuggle to sleep


I will open my eyes enough
to see what's going on

I will speak out on your behalf
until you have a home

I will invite you and your child
to my house for a meal

For we are one, both you and I
that much I know is real

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Day 274 - Summer!!

>> Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ahhhh Summer . . . it's almost officially here, my favorite season! I personally think summer already started a few weeks back when we started getting amazing weather. We opened the pool back in the middle of May, and I've already made good use of it so far. I've also made very good use of our hammock, which is pretty much the best place to be on earth (in my humble opinion).

This summer is going to be a busy one, that's for sure - but it's also going to be a very exciting one. I'm spending a week in July down at my parents farm with pretty much the whole family, so I'm really looking forward to that and just chillin' out there for awhile. And then in August we go to Uganda for two weeks, and then Kenya for about 4 days. Exciting!! I'm really, really stoked to be going back to Uganda - I'll get to see the friends I made last year and continue the work we started with GIVE International. Then in Kenya, Chris and I are going to visit where he used to live, go to school, where his dad used to work, and some other places that were really significant during his childhood. In addition to that, we'll be spending some time meeting with people GIVE is working with to see how we (and groups here in Canada) can help facilitate them in some community projects and incentives. Both Chris and I can't wait to get to Kenya, as he hasn't been back since he left at age 3, and I've been wanting to go there for as long as I can remember! It's the summer of Africa, and I'm so blessed to be able to go back so soon after our last trip!

We still have quite a ways to go in terms of our fundraising - we held a very successful garage sale here at the church last weekend, and although we raised a lot of money, we still have over half to go! Our next big fundraiser is the "Run for Uganda" - a 5 or 10k run/walk being held in Toronto on the Don Valley Trail on July 24th. I've made the commitment to run, so I better get in shape and fast!! I still haven't decided if I'll do the 5 or 10k, we'll see how training goes in the next week or so!

Other than all that, I'm just excited that the warm weather is here. I really do wait for it all year, so I try and enjoy it as much as possible during the few months we get it. I have a great summer read I just cracked into the other day ("The Passage" by Justin Cronin - just came out on Tuesday and there's a lot of buzz about it, it's supposed to be the book this summer), so although my work schedule is a bit crazy this next little while, I'm lookin' forward to some afternoons on the porch, hammock or beside the pool, reading and just taking in some rays! (while wearing the strongest sunblock possible of course!)

Hope everyone is enjoying June so far!

'till next time . . .

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Day 254 - Oh hello there Dr.Jung . . .

>> Friday, May 21, 2010

So I decided to do one of those personality tests today. Chris took one awhile ago for work, and had raved about how accurate and insightful it was, so in my boredom this morning on the computer I decided to give it a go. I did the Jung Typology test from humanmetrics.com, and it's actually pretty cool. It doesn't take too long and it gives you a pretty good breakdown of your personality type - what jobs you'd be best suited to, what your relationships are like, what kinds of things you gravitate to, etc.

It turns out (according to this test) that I am the "INFJ" Personality type, which is an "Idealist - Counsellor" type. So here's a bit of the summary of the INFJ Personality:


INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.

INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.

Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil. The most important contributing factor to this uncanny gift, however, are the empathic abilities often found in Fs, which seem to be especially heightened in the INFJ type (possibly by the dominance of the introverted N function).

This empathy can serve as a classic example of the two-edged nature of certain INFJ talents, as it can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a "tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively.

In their own way, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ "systems" are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology. Their systems may for these reasons be conceptually "blurrier" than analogous NT ones, harder to measure in strict numerical terms, and easier to take for granted -- yet it is these same underlying reasons which make the resulting contributions to society so vital and profound.

by Marina Margaret Heiss


I think most of it is pretty accurate. It was really interesting for me to read the part about INFJ's withdrawing from time to time. Just recently I kind of did this, and was trying to explain to someone how I just need to kind of step back from everything every once in awhile in order to recharge my spirit. I always thought I was maybe a little odd - my need to just be alone sometimes, so it's encouraging for me to see that it's totally normal and may even contribute to the other sides of my personality being so strong.

Anyhoo - it turns out it is pretty insightful to do these kinds of tests, so check out the website if you want to find out a little bit more about the "whys" of who you are and the things you do.

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Day 246 - otherwise known as "don't mess with me when I have PMS"

>> Thursday, May 13, 2010

Had an interesting "almost altercation" on the bus.

The set-up - I'm on my way home from work. It's raining, there's traffic, the bus was late, I have killer cramps. A group of teenage girls come on the bus, one of them talking way too loudly and being more than a little obnoxious. She starts telling some story to her friends, liberally dropping f-bombs here and there.

The following is our conversation:

Me - "Hey, watch your mouth!"

Girl - "Excuse me, it's not like I was talking to you or nothing"

Me - "No you weren't, but I'm pretty sure the whole bus, including those little kids over there, can hear every word you're saying. So - why don't you do all of us a favour and lay off the swearing until you're off the bus, okay?"

Girl - "Yeah well whose gonna' make me . . . you?"

Me - "Well, I'm older, wiser and stronger honey, and I'm pretty sure the bus driver here wouldn't have a problem kicking you and your buddies off, so yes, Me. Go ahead and try me. I dare you to . . ."

At that, the girl muttered "whatever" under her breath and her and her friends didn't say a word for the rest of the bus ride.

But I did have an older lady and a young mom say "thank-you" to me on my way out.


So there you go - don't mess with me . . . especially when I'm tired and I have cramps . . .


;) Suz

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Day 239 - Update

>> Thursday, May 6, 2010



Hey all,

Sorry I've been absent as of late. As some of you already know, my father-in-law passed away a little over a week ago, so it's been a difficult time and I haven't really felt like blogging or anything.
He was 89 years old, and had been in and out of the hospital for the better part of two years. The last several months had been especially tough on him, and he spent his last few several weeks in the ICU at North York General. Although we knew it was coming, it was still shocking when he actually left us - no amount of preparation
can ever really "prepare" you for that.
I wanted to do a little tribute for him here on my blog, so I've decided to post the eulogy I gave at his memorial service this past Monday. He had an amazing and fulfilling life, and I think many of us could learn from how he lived and viewed life:

Here's to Stanley Judge:


I first met Stanley back in 2001, shortly after I started dating his son Chris. I was very intimidated at first – he wasn’t “Stanley” back then, he was “Mr.Judge” - and at 80 years old then he had a very strong presence indeed – very dignified, wise, very British, and with an eye that could size up a person’s true self under a minute. He immediately made me feel at home though – every time I went over to their house, he would always ask me how I was and how my family was, what was going on at work and what I was up to. And he genuinely wanted to hear my answers – you never got just polite conversation with Stanley – he was much more interested in real conversation, and after 80 years he had perfected the art of listening, and making people feel comfortable in his home.

As time went on and the years started to pass, I learnt more and more about the man who would one day become my father-in-law. He was born in Birmingham, England in 1920, and entered the Royal Air Force in 1939. He was trained as a Wireless Operator Mechanic and served during the Battle of Britain at air fields in East Anglia, both on the ground and as air crew. Later on during World War 2, he was stationed in Malta, then India, Ceylon and the Cocos Islands. After leaving the Air Force in 1946 Stanley joined Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Services in the Engineering department, and then met his first wife and had a daughter Louise. Many years later he moved to Jamaica to work for J.O.S Limited as their Assistant Chief Engineer. That’s where he met his second wife, the beautiful Rosalie Wetli. In 1974, a move to Nairobi, Kenya was in order, as Stanley accepted a job as Chief Engineer for East Africa Road Services. They had their son Christopher in 1978, and finally moved to Canada in 1981. He was instrumental in each country and each company he worked for - heading up major transportation projects and initiatives, and was even honoured in 1975 by being elected an Associate Member of The Institute of Road Transport Engineers. Stanley had loved his work, and I remember how his eyes used to light up every time he spoke of his years as an engineer, especially those in Jamaica and Africa.

Over the years, I also learnt that Stanley and I happened to have a lot in common. We were both incredibly stubborn, loved good food, could spend hours watching the Discovery Channel and TLC, and much to Chris’ dismay – had a great love of hot temperatures and an even greater hate of a little invention called “air conditioning”. I remember many a night at the Judge household, hanging out with Stan watching the Discovery Channel, eating Chinese food while Chris attempted to convince us to either turn the heat down during the winter or turn the air conditioning on during the sweltering summer heat. Stan would say “Oh come on boy – this is perfectly comfortable”. Then Chris would look at me for back-up, but the temperature war was already lost – it was 2 against 1, and Stan and I would sit there revelling in the heat, while his son looked at both us like we were crazy.

Some of my fondest memories of Stan were those nights – just family sitting around spending time together. One night, after asking him about a particularly large shell in his display case – he proceeded to regal us with the history of each of the large shells and trinkets he had amassed during his years diving in the Caribbean. It was actually really fascinating stuff - Stan had been a true adventurer, and some of his real-life accounts were more like the material of books and movies and tales told by parents to their children at bedtime. It turns out, aside from his expansive travels, he had also been an accomplished diver – he was great friends with Robert Marx, who just happened to be one of the pioneer American scuba divers and is known world-wide for his shipwreck and sunken treasure finds. In fact, next time you’re in your local library, look for 2 of the books Bob Marx wrote - “Port Royal Rediscovered” or “Pirate Port”, and included in their pages you’ll find references and pictures of both Stanley and his daughter Louise as they helped on many his dives and the excavation of his finds. When I first found this out, as a book lover and reader of . . . pretty much anything, my eyes went wide with excitement at this news and after telling us his stories of adventure and history, Stan promptly got up, went upstairs and rummaged around for a few minutes, before coming back downstairs and handing me the books. “Now I want these back” he said – “but well, you can keep them for awhile dear – you might find it a little bit interesting.” Needless to say, the next time I saw him I was even more in awe of this man, whose life and history seemed to get even more exciting and unique every time I saw him.

In 2006, I had the great honour to marry Stanley’s son Chris and take on the Judge name. I remember how proud he was of his son, and how happy he seemed to be surrounded by family, friends, great music, and maybe just a little bit of rum.

I learnt many things from my father-in-law, but it was in the last few years, as his health started to fade, that I learnt from him what could perhaps be some of the most important lessons I could ever learn.

For in the face of great adversity, dignity remained. In all his hours of struggle, he stayed strong, fought hard, and never lost hope. He always greeted me with a huge smile and a “Hello Dear”, and continued to put others needs and concerns in front of his own. Always polite, he even went as far as apologizing to me one night when he was tired and falling asleep in his hospital bed – even when it was nearing midnight. “You’ll have to forgive me my dear if I fall asleep” he said, “but I’m quite tired”. It was the middle of the night, in the hospital, and yet he was concerned about falling asleep while guests where there. Even during his last days in the hospital, when he was too weak to talk, he still managed to put a smile on the faces of the doctors and nurses around him. When asked how he was doing, he would smile, shrug his shoulders, and nod, as if to say “well – I’m still here, and that’s a start isn’t it?”

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The strength of character that Stanley Judge possessed was like no other, and I think we could all learn from his example – both from how he lived, and how he died.

Mr.Judge, Stanley, Stan, Poppa, and my favourite Papa J. You made our world a better place. You showed us what it is to truly live – follow your dreams, follow your heart, and by all means, do it with a smile.

I am honoured to have been your daughter-in-law, and I see you and your love of life in your son, my husband. His eyes sparkle like yours always did, and the sense of adventure, tendency to put others ahead of himself, and easy laugh he gained from you are traits I hope our kids will have.

I’m grateful for the time we had together, and I found this poem I wanted to read for you, so bear with me up there:


We little knew that morning that God was going to call your name,
In life we loved you dearly, in death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you, you did not go alone.
For part of us went with you, the day God called you home.
You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide,
And though we cannot see you, you are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.


We love you Papa J . . .

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Day 228 - My new love, The Bahamas!

>> Sunday, April 25, 2010
















Well, I'm back from The Bahamas.


It.

Was.

Amazing!!!!


I have fallen in love with The Bahamas, and the Caribbean in general. What a place!! Just being in the airplane on arrival and seeing those amazing turquoise waters coming into view took my breath away. It really is like how it looks in the movies and the brochures - it's that beautiful.

We stayed at the Sheraton Nassau, and it by far exceeded our expectations. We had a beautiful room on the first floor, with a walk out to the beach and a spectacular view of the ocean. The hotel is on Cable Beach, which is far enough away from the busyness of downtown and Paradise Island (home of The Atlantis hotel) that is was quiet, peaceful, and relaxing.

We had some great food, swam in the ocean a lot, lay in the sun (and I got a pretty bad sunburn - SPF 50 or higher definitely recommended for the Caribbean sun!!), went parasailing, lay on hammocks, read quite a bit, went to Paradise Island, and overall just had a great, relaxing time! I'm really glad we went, and for a "mini vacation" this was a great, great choice. I'm already looking forward to going back (hopefully sometime soon) for a longer stay and checking out some other islands of the Bahamas!

Highlites of the trip:

- swimming in the ocean and just being underwater with my eyes open and in wonder at the beauty of the clear waters

- walking barefoot on the beach

- beautiful, out-of-this-world sunset on our last night

- having some great conversations with taxi-cab drivers about local life and the culture

- parasailing and being so high above the water and just looking around at all the beauty around us

- waiting at the airport for the trip home - we got there really early, but it was fine 'cause they have a big outdoor waiting area with flowery trees and benches. I just sprawled out on a bench under a tree and read and quite enjoyed the wait! It was super relaxed and laid-back at the airport and just reminded me a lot of the great laid-back attitude we loved when we were in Uganda.

- the locals - really friendly, talkative and funny.


Thank-you Bahamas for a great vacation and can't wait to come back!

Pics from the top:

- my hubby's message in the sand
- I fell in love with the turquoise water
- view of the beach from our hotel room
- I've never seen a cruise ship before, so I was a little bit stunned at how big they are!
- me and a palm tree
- me with another palm tree (who doesn't love palm trees!)
- at The Atlantis hotel resort just hangin' out
- baby sting rays
- the aquarium at The Atlantis
- watch out for the shark!
- Chris and I parasailing
- the view from a dock by our hotel

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Day 220

>> Saturday, April 17, 2010

What a week, what a week, and oh so glad it's almost done. It's been a busy one, but . . . I am officially now on vacation!!

Okay - I still actually have some things to finish up for work, but I can finish them from home and just send them in via email, so by this time tomorrow I will have no actual "work" to do for an entire week!

I am super stoked to get to the Bahamas and just spend a few days lazing around on the beach and taking in some sun and the blue waters of the Caribbean! I'm definitely ready for a get-away, and hope to come back relaxed, refreshed and ready to tackle some big things I know are ahead.

I wanted to share a video I discovered on youtube today. It just made me smile after a long day, so I'm hoping it'll make you smile too, or maybe help turn your day around if you've been having a bad one:


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Day 216

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Long day at work today. I worked an 11-7 shift, which felt a little odd as I'm so used to working the early shift now (which is 7-3pm). At least the sun was still up when I got home, so I guess it wasn't too bad.

Tonight I'm just taking it easy and am gonna' try and go to bed early as tomorrow I'm back to the morning shift. Tomorrow's a busy day 'cause after work I have to clean up the house a little bit as we're having a Uganda fundraising meeting here Thursday night, and then I need to really try and finish writing one of the songs I'm working on. There's a few songwriting contests coming up that I'm entering and one of the deadlines is coming up very fast. I'm continually being amazed at how fast time is going by - how is it that it's already April? How is it that it's already been 2 weeks since my birthday?!

Speaking of my birthday - I have to say I'm really enjoying this whole being 30 thing. Seriously, it's pretty great. I know it may sound weird to say, but I actually do feel different. Not that I feel old, but I definitely feel different. I wouldn't say I feel "wiser", it's more like I feel more sure of myself. Things continue to become more "in focus", and it really is an amazing gift to be able to wake up each day and know that you are on the right path. I'm also becoming a lot better at defining my priorities and not feeling like I have to apologize for my priorities being what they are.

Before - not just "before I turned 30" but more for the entirety of my twenties, I always felt such a strong need to apologize for things and to also never say "no" to people. I would commit myself to things I knew I didn't want to do or knew I didn't have time for, but I always felt too guilty to say "no" or if I did - would apologize profusely for saying no.

I guess maybe it's just getting older and realizing that time is a finite thing and we all only get a certain amount of it, but I'm pretty much at the point now where I really don't have a problem saying no. I know what my priorites are for myself and for my family, and I don't have that nagging sense of "oh maybe I should do this" or "maybe I should have agreed to this, even though I don't want to". It's not about being rude or not being giving of your time and your abilities, but knowing what your path is and what you're here to do and how to use your time to fulfill that.

Anyway - I'm starting to ramble here, but to all my friends out there who are approaching thirty and are perhaps dreading it or feeling "old", trust me on this - it rocks so far. I wish I could have felt like this when I was 20, but we all need to grow and go through uncertainty to get to the point where we know ourselves. If aging only gets better, I say bring it on!!

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Day 213

>> Saturday, April 10, 2010

It's been a loooooong week. I am very, very incredibly glad and thankful that I can now start my "weekend" as I have tomorrow and Monday off (2 days off in a row - woo hoo!!). Chris and I are hopeful that tomorrow's a nice day weather-wise, and that after church and visiting Stan at the hospital we can go on a nice drive and just enjoy the country-side and an afternoon/evening of doing nothing much at all. Monday, I plan on sleeping in and then spending the rest of the day writing. Of course I'm sure there will be some laundry, cleaning and other little errands in there - but overall I'm looking forward to a pretty low-key couple of days.

I wanted to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers for Stanley - he's still in the hospital but has moved from the ICU back down to a "normal" floor. He's in pretty rough shape though, and there has been talk of perhaps moving him back up to the ICU, but at this point it's all still wait and see. He pretty much has everything an elderly person could have, but he's a fighter and is holding up as well as can be expected. He will most likely be in the hospital for quite awhile, but we're happy that he's at North York General as we've been really impressed by the nurses and the level of care he's been getting so far.

We ended up cancelling our Mexico vacation as Stan was really unstable there for a few days, but we've now rebooked a shorter vacation in the Bahamas for a little later on this month. We both really need a break and to just get away for a few days and get some sun, so as the Bahamas are closer (and cheaper right now), we decided Cable Beach in Nassau was the way to go. We're staying at the Sheraton right on the beach, and the pics and reviews on tripadvisor.com are really good, so cross your fingers for us that it's a nice, relaxing get-away!

Music-wise, things are coming along - I'm re-recording "Never knew me well" as I thought it was missing a little something. I also stumbled upon a really great melody line the other day when I was fooling around on the piano, and have used that to start writing a song that I think is going to be something really special (I hope)! I'm getting a lot better on the guitar, and have graduated to more chords and am even now strumming without a pick and doing some finger-picking! I have a long, long way to go before I'd feel comfortable saying "I'm a guitar player", but I know I'll get there!

Also - my dear husband (aka my "manager") has started designing an official website for me and my music. I'm really excited to have a site just dedicated to my music and songwriting, and he's a great website designer, so hopefully it'll be up and running soon with lots of great content, music and video files!

Hope everyone is enjoying the Spring so far (and hopefully this last cold-snap is the last one)!!

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Day 206

>> Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sorry I haven't been posting a lot lately - it's been a very difficult and busy week. Chris' dad Stanley has been in and out of the hospital for the past year, but in the last week and a half he hasn't been very well at all.

He was admitted to North York General on Wednesday as he was having difficulty breathing - they found fluid in his lungs and diagnosed him with COPD and Congestive Heart Failure. They also discovered that his aortic aneurysm has grown from 2.5cm to 7cm. His heart rate was at about 125 beats per minute, and his blood pressure and oxygen levels were really low.

On Thursday afternoon he seemed to be getting a lot better, and the doctor was even saying they may release him on Monday if he continued to improve as well as he had been.

Today however, he was rushed to the ICU as his lungs pretty much filled up with fluid and he couldn't breathe - his heart rate is at between 130-140 beats per minute and all his other levels are really bad. He's hooked up to a non-invasive ventilator right now and all sorts of other machines and IV's and tubes, etc.

We're still waiting to hear from the ICU doctors what the prognosis is and what can be done, etc. Please keep both Stanley and Chris in your prayers as they both need a lot of love and support right now.

:( Suz

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Day 203 - Happy Pet Lamb

>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I saw this video online today and I just had to share it it's so cute!!


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Day 202 - Goodbye twenties . . . Hello 30!!

>> Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yup, it's my birthday! I turn 30 today - I'm technically still 29 as I was born at 1:22pm, so I'm holding on to these last few minutes of my twenties until the end!

Looking back on the last decade of my life, I have to say I'm happy with the way my life has gone so far. I did a lot of things these last 10 years that I didn't think I'd get to do or experience 'till later in life, and I don't really have many regrets or should-haves or what-ifs.

The most significant event of these last 10 years would definitely have to be meeting Chris and getting married. I'm so incredibly blessed to have found my soulmate so early in life and to have been able to grow-up with him during such significant years in a person's life. We've been able to experience some amazing things together and if the next 10 years are anything like the last 10 years, I know when I turn 40 I'll be able to look back and reminisce on even more amazing adventures and experiences with him.

I think the 20's for me were a time of great soul-searching and reflection. I kind of barreled my way through my teens - I thought I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted in life. I was a very "hard" person in my teens - I very rarely showed any strong emotion to anyone as I thought it was a sign of weakness and I was always quick to prove to anyone that I was smart, and independant and determined. Then I hit my twenties and it was as if all that angst you're supposed to feel as a teenager (that I didn't) suddenly caught up with me. I didn't know what I wanted to do as a career - should I act? sing? dance? produce? And then when I met Chris and fell in love , that unlocked a whole other side of me that was vulnerable and much softer.

I've always believed that everything happens when it's supposed to happen, and that everything happens for a reason. The last 10 years were meant to be my soul-searching, "figure things out" years. Not that anyone ever stops soul-searching, or growing, or learning about themselves - but as I enter my thirties I feel the determination I felt in my teenage years, but with the certainty and confidence of a woman who has taken the time to actually get to know herself. I feel like everything's come full circle in a way . . .

I am grateful for everything I've experienced throughout my twenties. It's made me who I am, and while I know I'm not perfect, I think I'm trying to be the best I can be. As long as I continue doing that, I have faith that my thirties are going to be . . .


TRULY AWESOME

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