Sunday, March 18, 2018

a week of coding, compassion & Catholicism (03-18-2018 update)

Although the next 7 weeks are likely to involve the three areas of coding, compassion & Catholicism, this week felt particularly noteworthy, if for no other reason, then the alliteration it gives the blog title.

My building websites from scratch course is still going strong, it is all consuming, as in consumes most of my free time at the moment. Free time is defined as time I am not at work, studying the Bible, or sleeping. Yes, I do still sleep, just not enough probably.

Compassion. I've been trying to cultivate this one for years. Building a relationship with God has increased my capacity for compassion 10 fold. Yes, I still have moments of anger and disappointment and general dislike for the human race (which includes myself) but the moments are less prevalent in my life as they were before. Every time I strengthen my relationship with God, through prayer, meditation, study and works, the compassion grows inside me taking over the dark depression spots. The latest expedition into compassion has been leading a weekly non-violent communication study group with my parents. Apart from my Tuesday night bible study this is the highlight of the week. Growing closer and cultivating compassion with ones parents has got to be one of the most fulfilling things one can do. Possibly a reason one of the 10 Commandments is honour your mother and father.

And Catholicism. This may seem like an unexpected addition to the Andrea-verse but I assure you, it is a long time coming. Those who have known me through the past few years (or have kept up with this blog) know I have a thing for going all in when it comes to things I love. Well God is one of those things and to be honest, I'm almost ashamed to admit it, I don't really know anything about Catholicism, other than I grew up Protestant and that makes us different somehow save that whole loving and worshiping Jesus thing.

Since we are all in the body of Christ, I kind of feel we are on the same side despite a history of killing and pipe bombing each other. I don't get it. And I want to understand it. So picked up and read a book this week called "Rome Sweet Home" by Scott & Kimberly Hahn. The Hahns are a (now) Catholic couple, raised Protestant Evangelical who through study and trial came to believe there is something to the doctrine of Catholicism. The book records their journey to Catholicism as it happened from both of the couple's perspectives. I read the book in two days, it was a page turner for me. Mostly because I could relate to a lot of what they were searching for in the story and there has always been a part of me that craves the ritual that Catholicism seems to bring to the faith. And no I can't explain that craving but I do love solitude, prayer & meditation.  I really do not know enough about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism and as I'm a curious gal who loves to research, this seems like the next Andrea adventure. Other than website building of course :)

So until next week, may peace, love, and blessings fill your week xo

Photo credit: The lovely Natasha :)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

a week of coding, book writing & Black Panther!! (03-11-2018 update)

Well another week has gone by and I'm not entirely sure what all the pertinent points were or if that even matters at this point. So why don't I give you the top 5 highlights of the week that just happened:

1) I received some positive feedback on the last post, even got some readers writing in to share their stories of getting things done they have been putting off. Nice to know the writing is connecting with people. So keep writing in, I love to hear from my readers and to know what you are thinking.

2) Moved into unit 3 of my 10 week intensive building websites from scratch course, I'm now dreaming in code, to the delight of computer programmers everywhere.

3) Went and saw Black Panther, can I ask why can't all movies be as good as that one? It is rare to watch a film where you feel uplifted and hopeful for the human race on a general whole. A very powerful and empowering film. I must say I was also delighted that the women portrayed in the movie were strong, smart and funny without being sexualized. Another win. So thank you Black Panther. I was not expecting that.

4) Did some research for a book my sister and I are writing together. Mostly just involves internet research right now, but I'm hoping we can organize a trip for some field research for the book. What is the book about you ask? It is about two sister detectives who solve mysteries in New Orleans. So yes, another trip to New Orleans is in our future.

5) This writing also ties in nicely with my building website course, as I'm creating us a promotional website for the book series. And yes, it will be a series, you can't have detectives that only solve one case can you?!

Cool painting of a saint and his pig!!

Victoria alleyway - photo inspiration for the book

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Doing things you put off - feels so good (03-04-2018 update)

It was not hard for me to remember what I did this past week as I have adopted a new addiction and everyday has been full of that. I must say I'm using the term addiction very loosely here, as really I have just stumbled upon something that I'm very passionate about. So yes, not a real addiction, like my kale addiction, where I have a mini-meltdown if I don't know when my next meal of kale will be coming from.

If for some reason you are not into reading a cute and adorable Andrea adventure this week and would rather read something more real, like my struggles with addiction, I invite you to click here and check out some previous blog posts of mine on the addictions thread. If not, keep on reading.

So this past week I started a 10 week intensive course on how to build websites from scratch. Why did I do this? Well it wasn't to obtain a new skill set so I could go in a different career path, although that does sound really awesome. It was more because I felt (or I have been feeling for some time now) that it would be really good for me to learn how to do this.

To a normal earth based person that doesn't make a lot of sense. But for me, it is pretty much par for the course. Sometimes I just feel like doing things. And not in a spontaneous way but more in I will feel like doing something for 10 years and then decide to finally do it. Ten years is about the time limit I give myself for doing things that I don't get around to doing immediately because they don't make rational sense to do them in the first place. Let's just say if God chose me instead of Moses, the exodus from Egypt would have been delayed by at least 10 years.

So this week was filled with not one but two experiences that I have been wanting to do for about 10 years and have never really gotten around to doing them.

First - learn how to build a website
Second - volunteer in a residential care home

Yes, the second one is not a typo. So this past week I had my residential care volunteer interview where I got to discuss my long-standing desire to volunteer in a residential care home and be around older people. The home I interviewed with is faith based and it that serves all faiths and those without, so I felt it would be a good fit for me (as I do not believe in forcing my faith on others). Also, I got to talk about my love for Jesus in the interview and that was just super cool, as I can't say that has ever happened to me before. Although in all fairness, now that I have been baptized I feel it may happen more frequently, it's kind of hard not to talk about my faith. As this blog is illustrating quite nicely at the moment!

Anyways, will keep you posted on the latter, as that won't start up for awhile. But the coding on the other hand is in full swing. Basically just doing online classes and coding and forgetting to go to bed on time! It is true, I'm a tad into the coding right now. Maybe that will be a fleeting fancy or maybe this is the setting the foundation for something more. Regardless, I do think it would be cool to build my own website, even if it is just to continue my blog writing from it!

I'm curious is there something you have been wanting to do for awhile and have not got around to doing? Maybe now is the time, even if it doesn't make any rationale sense. I know I feel pretty good about the past week even though I have no real world tangible explanation for any of it. I know for me, I like to make sense of my world but truthfully I have wasted a lot of time & energy trying to make sense of things that may never make sense.

I think this week was an exercise in faith, as it was much easier to just take the next step and not worry about where it would lead, as the path will eventually reveal itself. I don't need to know everything and I don't need to know the reasons for every little thing I do. This week has been freeing to just trust in God and know it will all work out the way it is meant to.

Until next week, go do something you have been putting off and then tell me about it!

Profile picture for my website course!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

02-25-2018 update

So today I came across this article/video in the Huff Post on the key to connecting with others is in sharing the mundane details of your life, which after watching I realized is just more evidence to support that my blog writing is an excellent tool for connecting with others without me having to leave my condo and actually talk to real people. Good news for the introverts. 

The week that just past is a blur like every other week for me and the only real way to remember what I did over the past 7 days is to go back and examine by iPhone calendar and text messages and any tweets I may have sent out and try to see if anything flags my memory, it's like Momento over here except without all the tattoos, murder, and intrigue. 

So after last week's stellar blog post came Monday, which apparently according to my iPhone, I had an appointment with my psychiatrist. Not nearly as memorable today as it was 7 days ago but nonetheless I do recall it happening. Outcome of meeting: Still depressed but making good progress. How do we know I'm making good progress? Well I'm alive. Yay. 

Tuesday was my parents 47th anniversary, a huge accomplishment I would say being together longer than I have been alive...such a long time. These are the people you want to thank for creating me. A miracle indeed. How did I celebrate this momentous occasion? A text message, that is how. And before you get all "I'm a horrible daughter" about that, I will have you know that it was a beautifully crafted and heartfelt text message with adorable emoticons. So there. Plus we are saving the big exciting celebratory stuff for the 50th, because that's what humans do, go big on the 1/4 bicentennials. 

Also best part about Tuesdays is the bible study I go to every week. Harmony of the Gospels, a study of the 4 Gospels concurrently from a Jewish perspective.  What is that you ask, my atheist reader friends (read: Russians)? Well there are 4 Gospels, written by 4 different people who outline Jesus's ministry from four different perspectives. Reading them in silos just doesn't do Jesus justice, there is so much that is lost from not studying the different passages and perspectives around the same events. Also Jesus was Jewish (no he wasn't Christian, Christians are the people who follow Christ Jesus) so understanding the Jewish religion and culture is kind of paramount to understanding the ministry of Jesus I would say. Anyways, Tuesday nights are the highlight of my week. So if you feel like joining me for some bible study, you can find me here at the Christian Book & Music Store in Victoria every Tuesday starting at 7pm. Here is a link to their website: I would love to see you there, I will be the one ordering extra strong Americanos at the coffee bar and perusing the Catholic gift section of the bookstore because I really like pictures of saints and angels. I know I'm not Catholic, but I really like their rituals, I think it has something to do with being depressed and needing a routine to keep me grounded and out of my head with all its negative thought spirals. 

Moving on...Wednesday. Well Wednesday it snowed, yet I still decided to willingly socialize with my work colleagues after work hours at a place called Sult Pierogi Bar. I went mostly for the pierogi poutine but did in fact enjoy myself so much as I got to engage in many lively debates about whether or not Nicolas Cage is the best actor ever (I first thought no and then remembered Adaptation-best movie ever and Nicolas Cage plays twins in it!!) and the origin of the character Machete from the movie Machete (turns out the answer is Spy Kids, a children's movie, which is only moderately disturbing to learn about). So fun times all around, so much fun that by the time I got home later that night I had lost my voice.   

Thursday sucked because I couldn't talk and it turns out, I really love talking. True story.

Friday sucked less because I had the day off and got to stay home and not talk to people because I couldn't talk and also because now that I don't have Netflix I had some novels to read. So I did that. No one can really say you are anti-social when you don't have a voice.

Saturday I did a lot of writing, none of which was this blog post. 

Sunday watched church online because if I went to church I knew I would sing and then my voice would never get better! And I went and saw the movie Annihilation. A sci-fi movie with Natalie Portman about--spoiler alert--an alien life force "trying" to wipe out the humans...maybe. It's the first movie of a trilogy based on books (yay!) and I'm not really sure we are supposed to know exactly what is going on but what I do know is that i wanted to watch a movie with a bunch of women doing things that we would typically have men doing and it turns out, it made no difference to the movie whatsoever. Because it turns out women can do what men do and we are allowed to vote too. 

Signing out. Until next week.

Wednesday snow #BCSTORM

Sunday, February 18, 2018

2018 update of things to come

Apologies readers, I've been off the blog writing for over a year with no real reason for my lack of presence other than "I felt I had nothing of real substance to say." Laughable I know. I fully acknowledge that I'm not my generation's most brilliant mind, who in a delusion of charity-mindedness decided to grace the world with her presence by writing a blog on a weekly basis. Alter-ego aside. I am however, apologetic for not keeping up with the writing on a semi-regular basis. After all I have heard that some of my readers have missed my blog writing.

Three readers I can think of off the top of my head have told me they miss my writing in the past month, oh and I did get an email from our favourite blog competitor Chris suggesting we get back into the writing, kind of like the good old days, except there will be no competition and no dinner out for the winner (me) afterwards. Presumably because there will be no "afterwards" because the blog writing will never cease. It was a beautiful proposition, which of course I gave lip service to at the time.

Well, some time has passed since then and things have changed considerably enough in my life that I actually think I can resume the blog writing (for reals) on a somewhat regular basis.

Top 5 changes in the past month that make me think I can commit to blogging again:

1. The season of Lent is upon us and I gave up all entertainment streaming services for the next 40 days. Yes that means no Netflix and no Crave TV until Easter... 

2. Depression. Yeah it's winter and I'm down, no big shocker there but one thing i know helps with my depression is regular blog writing.The original blog competition started with Advent 2013 to help keep me in a routine to fight my depression. It worked then, so I really should implement this strategy now. Preventative medicine.

3. Did I mention the fast from Netflix AND Crave TV?!?!

4. I miss writing my thoughts down instead of just having them circulate through my head. Thoughts circulating through my head is kind of exhausting. As well, there is something very therapeutic about the writing it out (see #2) and this writing out my thoughts also lets me share with my readers, who miss me and apparently cannot read my mind.

5. I need a writing routine. I want to write more and I need to make writing routine (again). So part of the writing routine will be establishing weekly blogs again. Deadline: Sunday by midnight. No competition, just me writing for myself and my readers & Chris & the Russians.

Me not blog writing but at least I'm out of the house!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

1 of 25: en route to salvation mountain

Happy 2017 faithful readers! Hope the year is treating you well so far. I have a cold and if that is the worst thing that happens to me this year, I would say I'm off to a good start.

First up for the 25 new experiences I'm supposed to subject myself to in 2017 (#experience2017) is a trip to Salvation Mountain.

For those of you that need a quick refresher, the new blog competition this year involves me experiencing 25 new things for the year 2017. 20 I get to pick myself and 5 need to be picked from the suggestions of my readers. If you need more information than that, see my blog post closing out 2016.

So, Salvation Mountain was suggested by a reader as something for me to do while hanging out with my family in Palm Springs. What is Salvation Mountain? Well it is a historic landmark located just outside the town of Niland (pop. 1,006) which is in Southern California on the Eastern side of the Salton Sea. Leonard Knight, over 30 years ago created the monument as a symbol of his devotion to Jesus and his message of love for the world. Leonard has since passed but the art project continues to this day through the work of other like minded individuals.

As this experience taps into a lovely meta narrative about ones devotion to ones art, and I had to travel along the Northern Coast of the Salton Sea to get there, I thought I would tack on a small side trip to  Bombay Beach.

Bombay Beach (pop. 295) is known as a top photography destination and not because of it's beautiful sandy beaches but because the town has a apocalyptic feel to it. Naturally, I felt drawn to it. I mean who doesn't like to hang out in the dilapidated structures of an abandoned town?! In all fairness the town is not completely abandoned, there is almost 300 people still residing there and it has become a popular destination for artists. Plus I noted a baptist church and a couple of bars, so clearly there was life still in that town.

So in the spirit of art and ones devotion to something greater than themselves, I give you the post-apocalyptic photoshoot "en route to salvation mountain". Enjoy.

The Highway Shots - what one sees as they drive on Highway 111 towards the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea 

ubiquitous beach shot
Salton Sea signage

Bombay Beach


Welcome to Bombay Beach

Place we used to call home

vacation rentals $25/day
bus stop

beach ruins

archeological dig

beach ruins 2

Receding sea line
sunny day at the beach

Inside the artist's studio - pictures I took of inside the art installation "Death by Lemons" by Greg Haberny (thank you Greg!)

Death by Lemons

stroll on the beach

Acid & Alkaline 
light fixtures

Keeping watch

The new art

Inside the artist's studio


Recycling plant


Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain signage

Salvation Mountain

the yellow brick road
tire trail

Jesus' shadow

tire marks the spot
Special thanks goes to my unofficial Bombay Beach tour guide Ernie for getting me all the good shots.

me and my guide Ernie

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A quick update as we close out 2016

Hello faithful readers,
Apologies for not writing since September; however, you may have guessed that I did in fact win the blogging competition against @TheCesspit. Yes it was a glorious victory in which I celebrated by not writing in my blog for the past 3 months. A strange occurrence for the writer in me. But was feeling the need for a wee break from the public writing seeing as I had been going strong since December 2013. A long time in deed to keep up with the posting, when there is no coherent theme to my blogging other than it being random stuff in my head.

I suppose I could argue that the coherent theme to my blog is the randomness of the writing.

That all being said, next year will bring a new blogging challenge (apparently @TheCesspit likes having his ass handed to him) a challenge that at first sounded like it had some structure and consistency, except on closer examination it will be just as random as it has always been.

The challenge this time around is for me to try 25 new things in 2017 and write about my experiences every other week. 20 will be my choice and 5 will be suggested by others and vetted through @TheCesspit and my lovely friend J (you may remember J from such famous blog posts of mine as: where we find the answer as to what one should do if they ever meet their doppelganger and where we determine what my stereotype is and my personal favourite where we debate the merits of cannibalism cafe style.)

I'm up against @TheCesspit again only of course he writing about 25 new places to eat/experience around #YYJ. Should be fun and if not at the very least it gets me in the habit of writing again. Because let's face it, this challenge will probably be the opposite of fun for me, after all I am the gal who likes to hang out at home and read a book on a Friday night...alone.

So first up for me is to try something new in Palm Springs. So if you have any suggestions send them this way. And mark it down in your calendars lovely readers, as the first post of 2017 will be happening Sunday, January 8th before the chime of midnight, as per the rules of the competition.

Until then I will be resting up and trying to come up with some "new" experiences to try that won't totally destroy the introvert in me. Wish me luck, I may need it!