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!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September updates - doughnuts, Greek Tragedies & homeless cats

Fell off the grid there for a bit, unless you follow me on twitter, then you would have noticed I've been around (making delicious doughnuts apparently), just not blogging.
Tasty doughnuts I made.
And no @theCesspit did not win the blog competition. @theCesspit and I negotiated a "blogging cease fire". That is, we don't blog during fringe festival, when one/or both of us have a play in the festival. I feel this cease fire could apply to any festival that one or both of us is involved in...

I know you are wondering: Andrea had a fringe show and didn't tell us! Does she hate us?!

So before you start a riot over missing the most awesome fringe show EVER, I urge you to put down your smashed beer bottle, take a deep breath, and let me quell your worries.

I assure you, that if I had a fringe show, you would most certainly hear about it AND irregardless of my feelings towards you, I would expect you to come to my fringe show. 

But alas, it was not this great blogger who had the show, it was the other. Yes, @theCesspit had a show and I hear it was amazing. And yes I missed it. But not for lack of trying!

Which brings me to what my fringe show would be about if I were to have one.

Title of show: The Oddness of Jenny

Short Description: All Jenny wanted to do was see her BFF's one-person-show at the Marginal Theatre Festival. But the gods had other plans!

Basically the show will take the format of a greek tragedy.

The protagonist, Jenny, is the tragic hero of the piece. She is a good person who spends all her time looking after the poor and preforming miracles and such, kind of like a millennial/hipster version of Mother Theresa. Her fatal flaw is she puts others before herself all the time AND she doesn't always carry cash on her.

There will also be a Chorus, that sing and dance around the stage emphasizing all the key parts (for example, The Trial below)
Jenny feeding an orphan child
Plot will go something like this:

On the day Jenny goes to see her BFF's show she forgets that she donated all her cash that morning to one of her favourite charitable organizations, the cat sanctuary (a shelter for homeless cats) and neglects to get more cash from the bank machine before she heads off to the show.
Cat Jenny cares for at the Cat Sanctuary
She decides to walk to the show (Jenny is also an environmentalist), which just happens to be tucked away (5 miles uphill) in some upscale neighbourhood that has it's own theatre but no bank machines. When Jenny gets to the show the ticket holders won't let her in because she doesn't have cash and they don't take credit.

Jenny is sad she is going to miss her friend's show and a back and forth happens with Jenny and the Festival goers (played by the Chorus). This part will be the climax, which we will call The Trial, and it will deal with the banking institutions, our debt ridden society, credit cards being evil and hippies only using cash, as well as some anti-technology rants etc. etc. (this part will be fleshed out a bit but I'm thinking there will be some good marxist rant stuff in there).

The Trial ends, the Festival goers decide Jenny is an evil person because she doesn't carry cash and they mob and kill her.

The End
The Chorus in agony that Jenny doesn't have cash!
Not sure if Greek Tragedies have explicit morals to them but if this one did it would clearly be "those that don't carry cash at all times will die by the hands of some hippies".

Awesome right! I will let you know when it comes to a festival near you and you better have cash or they might not let you in!!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

(uplifting) musings on death, god & relationships

Today, I was sitting in the media room at the Church I serve at (GT Victoria) and was putting up slides promoting the events for next weekend and it occurred to me, next weekend is August 14th. And yes I do follow this thing called a calendar and it shouldn't be that shocking really but in all fairness it was early, I barely slept the night before and I hadn't yet met my daily quota of coffee. So the fact that August 14th was almost upon us felt like some sort of revelation to me at the time

So why is August 14th significant? Well it's my father birthday and just to be clear I'm referring to my earth father not my heavenly father, in case you were confused...

My father went through chemotherapy last year, and it seemed like that whole cancer thing was kind of touch and go at times, or perhaps it seemed so based on the fact the information I was receiving on the situation was being funnelled to me through my mother's over zealous interpretation of events. Regardless, of how information was relayed or not relayed to me throughout the experience it never changed the fact that we were dealing with cancer.

And cancer is just, well, it's not very predictable. And no amount of medical intervention is going to tame that beast. So you just have to go into the experience with a positive mindset, an acceptance of the way things are (not as we would have them be) and plan for the worst while hoping for the best. So yes, one year later, my father is cancer-free (I haven't heard otherwise so I will assume this to be the case) and I'm feeling way less suffering than I was during that time.

Now I don't want you to take away from this that my suffering is less because my father is cancer-free because that is not the case. And I know that is hard for people to hear, and that is because people are not accepting people. See suffering is created from the expectations we have of how a situation should unfold. My suffering is less because I have no expectations of how this cancer thing should play out.

See you can live a "healthy" life, do all the "right things" and you will still die (true story). Maybe you will die from cancer, maybe you won't. Maybe you will get cancer but not die from it. Or maybe you don't get cancer...but you still die.

And it's ok. Because death is supposed to happen. No really, it is. And maybe you don't want to think about death but you should think about it sometimes. And I don't mean dwell on it and get all teenage angsty Andrea goth about it, but do think about it.

Think about death in terms of your life. Are you living your life the way you want to be? Are you fulfilling your purpose? Or are you living for someone else. My guess is, if you are not living your purpose and you find you are living for others, you are probably not one to think about death. In fact you probably avoid the topic all together (maybe you have even stopped reading this post long ago, which is unfortunate for you because this is a damn good blog post you are missing out on!!).

The problem with thinking about death is that it makes you look at your life, it makes you evaluate yourself. And the last thing you probably want to do is take a look at yourself in any sort of critical way. So you ignore it, distract yourself with life's pleasures, until you can't ignore it anymore. Because life's pleasures are nice but only if they are serving you. But most of the time you are a slave to this world. And you become beaten and broken until there is nothing left but the sweet release of death. And there is only one way to beat this life trajectory and that is to live the life you were meant to. Live a life of purpose.

Yes, I'm being preachy (I'm having an Andrea evangelical moment) but I speak from experience. From spending a lifetime in the trenches of despair, addiction, hopelessness and depression, I can say the only way out is purpose. And purpose comes from having a relationship with God.* True story.

Maybe it was not what you wanted to hear. I know when I first heard the instruction to develop my relationship with God it was quite literally the last thing I would have thought would help my situation. But it did. And I'm so thankful it did. Because for the first time in my life, I can actually say, I'm happy to be alive and experience all the moments God has for me: the good, the bad and even the cancerous ones.

So get on developing that relationship with God. After all you only live once so make the most of it please, as your fellow humans will like you much better for it :)



*Note: I call it God but you can call it whatever you want, Creator, universe, spirit...etc.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Originals - the latest Andrea obsession

So in an effort for me to still be connected to this Earth, I split my free time between scripture study and binge watching shows on Netflix. Although, right now it is binge watching Shomi. And yes, I have both streaming services and no tv...please don't judge me, as even though I binge watch tv I am still quite selective of the shows I choose to watch.

And interestingly enough, it turns out my tastes haven't changed much since I've started studying the Bible, if anything my somewhat questionable tastes in media content make a bit more sense. For example, I'm still drawn to my superhero/comic genres; what can I say I've always enjoyed characters birthed out of trauma and yet still manage to maintain a moral compass. And am still a fan of my zombies (not surprising at all given my love for the Zombie Jesus) and of course my vampires.

And this brings us to my latest vampire show obsession: The Originals. Already showing season 3 on Shomi, I have finally decided to get around to watching it. I held off because the show is a spin off from The Vampire Diaries, which I love; however, The Originals is based on a character named Klaus, who honestly wasn't that appealing to me at first. Without getting too much into the character of Klaus, especially for those who really don't like this vampire supernatural stuff but basically Klaus is a vampire/werewolf who is tyrannical, abusive, murderous and kind of insane and not in the fun sexy way. Him and his siblings are original vampires (hence the series name), meaning all vampires can trace their lineage back to them. So yeah...the show is kind of like Creation mythology but told with vampires...kind of cool, I know!

So despite the show being of questionable value, it was based on a show I liked and seemed to have some potential parallels to this book I was currently studying, and The Walking Dead's next season wouldn't be on Netflix until September and so I figured I would give it a shot.

Turns out it's not bad at all. First off, it's based in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities, so I get to experience the sights and sounds of that every time I watch it, and it's pretty bang on with replicating the sense of place of N.O. Secondly, the characters and plot is fairly engaging if you like dark, psychologically intense and morbid stories. I mean who doesn't love that?! And it's not just dark and morbid because it's vampires and stuff but because it deals with issues of abuse, family and redemption. After all one of the main characters is Klaus, the result of a physically and emotionally abusive upbringing and instead of having an awesome therapist to help him through his issues he instead has spent the last 1,000 years with his siblings who are equally as damaged and messed up as him, although with different scars and coping mechanisms to deal with their past. Not sure if that is the best way to heal but we will see. Right now it is entertaining enough, and although a tad unconventional, it still manages to keep me grounded in the Word.

So for those of you that don't want to hear about my Bible studies but for some reason still insist on wanting to connect with me on some level, you now have The Originals. So I guess that is a win for everyone.

Want to talk vampires?!



Sunday, July 10, 2016

weekly snapshot - imaginary fashion mag bio

Sometimes when I'm flipping through my fashion mags* I like to sit and meditate on the contributors section and imagine what I would put there instead...not that I have some huge dream to write for Vogue, I think this exercise is more about being spontaneous and creative, as well as just giving me an opportunity to think more about myself (because I just don't do enough of that!).

And just to quell any rumours that this post is really because I can't come up with anything else to write about this week (hello blog competition is still going here!!), it really is something I do when I read my monthly fashion reports, I'm trying to share with you! And yes, I really am that self-involved.

a.k.gregg (my pen name will be in some cool retro vintage punk font #justsaying)

Picture:

Surprisingly the picture I will choose will not be a selfie but instead will be a picture of my bloody foot after one of my 3.5 hour training runs and my toe nails will be painted in metallic sliver. I feel the silver will complement the blood and bruising quite well actually, I feel my editors will agree.

Or I will use a picture where my feet are fully clothed!
Profession, location, what I contributed to the magazine: 

writer (obvs), island village located on this island in the NE Pacific Ocean (aka Victoria, B.C.), reports the Island Style Dispatch  found on page XXX (that's not page pornography but page 30 for those of you that don't speak Roman Numerals)

Some quote about my awesome experience working on this piece:

"writing about me and my opinions was like a dream, I'm really hilarious, best time ever!"

Hails from: Winnipeg, Manitoba (that city that is the Capital of that Canadian province that isn't Ontario or Quebec, yeah, that other province located on the other side of Ontario, and yes the country goes farther West than Ontario!)

Latest Discovery: essential oils to hydrate the skin, vegan mascara that works and that dude Jesus (so cool)

travel plans: right now, my only plans are to make daily pilgrimages to my patio, where I can lounge in the sun, sip tasty mocktails and hang out with my plants in the herb garden. It's summer in Victoria, everyone leaves town to go camping, can't imagine why I would want to be anywhere else.

playing on repeat: various Bethel music compilations on shuffle on my iPod nano (worship music is my new Ellie Goulding)

online fixation: Netflix/Shomi or whatever online streaming device that assists with my tv show binge watching (just finished Pretty Little Liars Season 6, and yes they are still pretty and stylish and still lying...)

compulsively reading: the Bible (seriously can't stop reading, I even have it on an app where I can read it while pretending to check my email)

mode of transport: my feet

secret skill: I can find a way to bring up my love for God in pretty much any conversation I have (even when I'm getting waxed!), I can also pretty much end any conversation I don't want to have by brining up my love for God

sartorial signature: fleur de lis necklace, 3-hole black doc martins and oversized sunglasses I wear during the day-rain or shine

or a more traditional photo for the bio...#selfie :)
*Special thanks to my September 2013 copy of NYLON for the inspiration for this post.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

biweekly update - kale, chocolate & scripture

There has been lots going on in the life of Andrea but most is really hard to write about right now because I'm in a preparing type of phase right now.

What I'm working on (a work in progress):

Meditation/prayer - exploring different techniques to take my meditation to the next level, which is to create silence in a world that doesn't stop talking 
my urban garden meditation spot
holistic health approaches - reading a lot right now on Edward Bach, the physician who invented the Rescue Remedy flower essences. A fascinating guy to learn about, schooled in Western medicine approaches to health and grew dissatisfied with how doctors treated patients, moved towards a holistic healing approach where he believed that dis-ease was rooted in humans not living out their life purpose. Really enjoyed his essay "Free thyself" - health is a human right and is good when it is in harmony with our souls...meshes well with everything else I'm reading in scriptures

kale salad! holistic yumminess


Scripture studies - found myself a Torah study group! We meet every Saturday (on Skype) and discuss the bible for 4 hours. Feel so grateful to have met these fine souls and to be able to talk about God and the scriptures in a non-judgemental environment. I suppose this may sound awful to some people but to me this is the highlight of my weeks right now. I just can't get enough of reading theological works and being able to talk about them with others! It is like school but without the hefty price tag! 

Chocolate! And speaking of grateful, I made chocolate in celebration of me and my colleagues 3 month mark at our new job. It is so nice to be in an environment where people genuinely care and support each other. Especially when they are work people, i mean after all we have to see these people more than we see people we love so we better enjoy their company! So my way to give thanks to my new team for taking me in, was in the form of chocolate (I know what you are thinking, Andrea is the best co-worker ever!! #truth). 

vegan chocolate! 

I have to say life is pretty good right now. I will try to write when I can but mostly right now, I'm just living and experiencing life right now. No need to write it all down, so I will try to take more photos for you :)

And now for a selfie!
Post chocolate super cute selfie


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Biweekly update - Shavuot, food, and God loving

 So today I'm off up island to celebrate Shavuot- the feast of weeks/new fruit. My understanding of this holiday (I.e., what I could gather from Google God) is that it's a day where the Jewish people celebrate the giving of the Torah. 

I'm always keen to hang out with other believers and see how their world functions, as I'm still in my discovery phase of this whole building a relationship with God thing I got going on. So yay to knowledge acquisition! 

You know you are in an interesting phase of life when your idea of fun is spending the day reading the bible, talking about God and eating yummy food. Actually, that's not so much interesting anymore as it is obvious. I mean who doesn't love yummy food!? 

And speaking of yummy food, I ended up purchasing a vegetable spiralizer so I could finally make zucchini noodles! And yes that was on my foodie bucket list!...

"Zucchini noodles" 

So I have survived the yummy-ness of Shavuot. And I have this lovely selfie of me to give you...

"I ate a lot of bread"

Hope you all had a lovely weekend :)


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cesspit invites me to quiz night


It always seems like a great idea to get me out around the humans...

I hear more beer gets consumed when I'm around. I'm sure this is not a coincidence. 

But me + humans + beer + quiz night will likely lead to some interesting times. Especially with a team name like this one!


6:57 pm @ the Northern Quarter and the games are about to begin!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

a week of: making lists, gardening and dreaming of kale juice

It's true, I love lists. Mostly this is because it's a handy way to keep track of all the things I need/want to do. All OCD people love lists. And sure my lists are different than most people's lists, as about half of what I put on a list never actually gets accomplished...but I assure you this is not to be perceived as a failure on my part.

Lists are just a natural way for me to express everything I want to do in a perfect world (i.e., not a real world) and then it becomes a way for me to determine which things are actually needs and/or wants. See needs are things that I will put effort into achieving and wants, let's just say, once I start thinking about how I will achieve said want, it becomes too much effort and turns out to not be worth my time. Therefore, my lists are an excellent example of how to determine what is actually important to me (i.e., a need) and what is not worth my time (i.e., a want).

One could argue this may be my way of justifying my inability to put effort into things that are really hard to accomplish. And I would agree that could be a valid argument, except that it's me and I don't do easy. In fact if something is too easy to accomplish I find ways to make it extremely hard just so I feel I worked for it. Yes, I'm also a masochist. From the girl who runs half-marathons like they are Sunday strolls, this should come as no surprise.

Anyways, back to me. So this coming week I took off from work, so I could do that rest and recover thing humans do. For me, I need a break from my neurotic perfectionist self who insists on torturing me for the first 3 months of any new thing I take up. In this particular case, I'm beating myself up over my new job. I just finished 2 months, taking a week off, only 3 more weeks of torture left and I should be good for another 3 months, at about which time I will get "bored" and decide to take up something new. And the cycle of torture continues.

So what am I going to get up to this week off?! Well, let me tell you, in list format!!

Top 5 list of things to do on my week off (that don't involve torturing myself)

1. Plant my herb garden - sounds simple enough but it's me any we know it is anything but simple. First I have to research which herbs I want (culinary, medicinal or combo) and this involves intensive research of the book reading variety. No worries I've got a head start on all this research on account of me taking those holistic nutrition and traditional Chinese medicine courses last year. After I've decided what herbs to plant then I got to go purchase them. Depending on availability and such will determine what actually gets planted in the end. Of course how I plant them is the other consideration. I've decided on a mason jar herb garden, possibly attached to the wall or resting on the window sill... seeing as me attaching anything to a wall is a major feat in and of itself, the herbs will likely just end up on the window sill. Of course my herbs need to be planted in containers that have drainage, which the Mason jars do not have. Apparently i can recreate the effect by filling the bottom of the jars with rocks. Rocks of course I will need to collect from the beach because I refuse to buy rocks when there are a whole bunch of them on the beach not even a 20 minute walk away from me. This leads us to number two of the list

2. Go to the beach - enough times to come up with enough rocks to fill the bottom inch of 12 mason jars...I think this means I have to go to the beach more than once...

3. Make cupcakes for a birthday celebration - again sounds simple especially considering I already have an amazing quinoa chocolate cupcake recipe that is my go to for yummy awesomeness...however, that was from a couple of years ago and now my tastes have changed. Like now I'm all that vegan and no refined sugar annoying type of person so there will be some experimenting happening, which means there will be taste tests. Feel free to get in touch.

4. Plan at least 1 outing which involves socializing with another human (not God) per day for the next 6 days. Sounds simple but again it's me. If I can get my socializing to revolve around rock collecting at the beach, this will be accomplished!

5. Sleep lots, eat well, and get moderate amounts of exercise. This is likely to be the one item on the list that actually gets accomplished. If I've learned nothing else in this life I've learned that if I'm not getting enough sleep, not eating kale and not moving my body life is much harder than it needs to be. Doing the basics, even if it means sleeping in until noon, drinking kale juice and doing yoga in my living room, gives me a good solid foundation to tackle anything life throws at me.

So enjoy the week, if you are lucky chocolate quinoa cupcakes will be in your future :)

A lone mason jar contemplates its future as a receptacle for herbs (he's hoping for basil)




Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why is it so hard to believe?

So lately I've been engaged on my own little speaking tour, where I'm going out of my way to connect with people I haven't really talked to in awhile. Most of these people are friends/co-workers I've not much talked to over the last few years since I've been dealing with my depression.

Now that I'm feeling in a more stable place, I've just been letting people know that I still love them (even if they don't see/hear from me). Not like I expect people to think I don't love them if I'm not physically around (hello, I'm an introvert!!) but I do like to remind people that I'm thinking about them despite the fact that I may be holed up in my condo unable to interact with other humans half the time.

And what exactly is the content of this speaking tour of mine?

Mostly it is me telling my story of how God has saved me. Yes, very exciting stuff for people to hear coming out of my mouth, seeing as no one really expected to ever hear those words come out of my mouth...like EVER.

And through all my sharing, I've noticed a similar trajectory in the response given back to me from my non-believer friends:

1. Shock/disbelief - one person asked me if there was a hidden camera somewhere when I told them
2. Need for clarity - usually i have to confirm that I am in fact talking about the God/Jesus Christ that I have been historically known for dismissing as irrelevant to my super charmed life
3. Loop to step 1 and 2 for a seemingly infinite amount of time
4. Acceptance of my story (they believe that I believe that God saved my life)
5. Provide a variety of arguments to me as to why they can't possibly believe in God/Jesus

Just to be clear, I have no issue with this interaction because it is precisely how I would have reacted 5 years ago if one of my friends told me my story. Only I'm pretty sure my non-believer friends reacted to me in a far less judgemental way than I would have reacted (#justsaying I was a bit of a jerk back then).

I actually really enjoy telling non-believers my story because I love hearing the rationale of why they can't believe. I get to study their thinking and find fun arguments for their beliefs.

My favourite right now is asking people "why is it so hard to believe that there is a God and you are capable of receiving unconditional love from God?"

Usually the response is something to do with bad things happen therefore God cannot exist, a Bible that is inaccurate because people have written it, and/or they do get love from humans so they don't need God.

Truth: bad things happen and that has nothing to do with the existence of God but more about humans doing mean things to each other
Truth: people interpret things through their own lens so even if you are reading a super hilarious blog post (or The Bible) there are some people out there who will find it utterly offensive they will have you voted off the island or they will read said blog post and form a cult in your name and from that day forward your name will be synonymous with evil dictator.
Truth: humans cannot give you unconditional love, to give unconditional love means there is no opportunity for them not to provide you unconditional love, which is impossible to achieve for a human because they will abandon you, likely because they have died before you.

So what does this all mean? Well I think it is pretty clear there is one super truth here (yeah I said super truth!) and that is "humans kind of fuck shit up, like all the time".

So I can discount God's presence/love because humans suck or I can believe that there is a God that loves me unconditionally because humans suck.

And I'm going to go with the latter because that is the belief that we get unconditional love regardless if humans suck. I mean if humans are going to suck anyway why would I go with the more negative of the two options?! More interesting to me is that we (humans) find it so hard to believe that we could be given unconditional love by something greater than ourselves. Seriously though, if given the choice why would we choose the option of receiving no love?!

That's kind of messed up. And for the majority of my life that was my messed up thinking. But not anymore. Nope, now this means if you do decide to hang out with me, you will have to hear about how I chose love. I'm done with anger. And if this change is fueled by my relationship with God, why is it so hard to believe that I wouldn't share that love with others?


Sunday, April 17, 2016

quote of the day

If you ever wonder if I will spill your secrets on my blog, let this quote give you some peace of mind:


and of course a selfie!


Sunday, March 27, 2016

So remember when...another Easter adventure

So remember when I said a couple of blog posts ago that the blog competition between the @TheCesspit and I would be changed from once a week to every other week? Well that is still the competition but I will be posting every week.

Now why on Earth would I commit to that after my careful negotiation with @TheCesspit to change the parameters of our competition? Well that is an excellent question!

The answer is simple: my fans were unimpressed.

Apparently me switching my posting from every week to every other week was seen as "an inability to commit" and just another example of my abandonment issues. Apparently my fans are a tad over dramatic (no wonder they like reading my posts?!).

But seriously, just yesterday I received a strongly toned message from one of my loyal readers who I quote (I shouldn't quote because I don't remember the exact wording but it was kind of like this):

"You have fans all over the world who rely on you! Some of us just finished a really shitty week and look forward to Sundays when you post and now we find out you aren't posting regularly!! It is very disappointing, people want to know what you have to say and it's like you don't even care anymore!!!"

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by this response given the fan mail I had received last year from that gaggle of gals in Alaska who felt betrayed that I posted about access to guns/mental health services instead of my previously promised blog topic post regarding the importance of drinking clean water....true story.

Seeing as it is Easter, all I can do is admit I was wrong and ask for your forgiveness.  After all, I honestly didn't realize the negative impact my decision to post less frequently would have on others. Mostly because I wasn't thinking about others when I made the decision. Nope I was thinking just about me (shocking I know). Yes, I was being selfish. So in an effort to correct another one of my past wrongs, I will go back to posting every Sunday for you my lovely and loyal readers. I will make this sacrifice for you, kind of like Jesus dying on the cross for your sins, I will do this for you.

I'm sorry that was a horribly inappropriate comparison wasn't it?! But it is Easter weekend and you didn't want this post to go by without me mentioning my favourite dude ever, Zombie Jesus! And no I don't think Zombie Jesus is offensive he is fucking cool. See zombies are in right now (well for me they are always in so I'm not sure if this can be taken as a factual statement) and so is Jesus, so naturally I will merge the two. So please get over yourself and your moral superiority and just revel in the fact that all over the world right now people are celebrating Jesus (which some of us affectionately refer to as Zombie Jesus). And that is just cool.

And why is that cool?

Because Jesus is about love. And right now how can we, as a world, not want to get behind the idea of being loving and kind to one another? Honestly being any other way is the true offense. So Happy Easter, I will continue my weekly blogging, everyone is happy. The End.

Now go eat a chocolate bunny and enjoy this selfie...

First selfie with my new iPhone 6 :)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Rebirth of the Blogger

Happy Spring! In Traditional Chinese Medicine this is the season of liver/wood- the time to detox/cleanse one's self, a time for growth and renewal. To move from the cold (yang) of winter and transition towards the warmth (yin) of summer. A time of great energy that can lead to some glorious happenings or destructive...just depends where you are on your journey.

And speaking of journey...liver represents your life plan, so spring is a good time to reassess your goals, your path and make necessary adjustments. What's working, what isn't? Time to let go of things that no longer serve you. It's basically the time for some Spring cleaning.

For me, back in December 2012, I decided to make an intentional decision to leave behind my destructive tendencies and evolve into something new (see Andrea version 2.0). Something more pure, healthier...a human who respects her self and the world around her...completely...none of this half ass-ed sitting on the fence bullshit, we are talking all in kind of commitment.

Part of this involved learning the art of compassion, kindness and forgiveness.  Not just towards others but towards myself. None of which has been easy, after all I've been known to be a very judgmental and angry person at times...I had to learn how to open my heart and let love in completely, feel love, return and receive it and continue that cycle indefinitely. Preferably without hurting myself in the process, which there was a lot of hurt and still is, just less so now...

You don't just decide to make a decision to be better and then everything is better. No, first you need to identify your destructive tendencies, examine them (obsessively) and get to the root of them in order to overcome them. Then you create new patterns and relearn life through this new healthy gaze. It takes time to relearn a lifetime full of suffering and emptiness and see it through the eyes of love.

And it isn't easy but nothing is easy really. Things just feel easy when you are really drunk or high or whatever (relationships can be this crutch too) but then you sober up and you are left with this crushing pain that is so unbearable you just pick up the proverbial bottle and start the self-destructive cycle all over again.

But guess what people? Easy is an illusion. Basically what you want is a life full of purpose, a life worth living (read: a life you don't need to pick up the bottle to get through) and that isn't easy, that is being intentional and that is a life of work.

And work is not your crappy job, it is not hard but it's not easy either. Work is what you are designed to do. And you are doing that 24/7. Work is not what you want to to do but what you need to do. If you are in tune with the universe/the Spirit/God (whatever you want to call the power that you believe in that is greater than yourself) your wants and needs are the same thing.

However, if you never seem to get what you want (or what you think you need) and if things feel hard, and you are tired of life and need the self destruction patterns to get through it, that is because you are doing what you want and not what you need. And you have not learned the difference. And rest assured, we are always in a continual state of learning this difference. Just some of us are actively taking courses and others haven't even bothered to enroll yet.

So I'm in school. I'm learning. And it's exciting. This school is life and right now I'm I'm enrolled in an intensive study of the growth of my spiritual self. And I've opened doors I never thought I would open or could have opened for me and it is miraculous, there is no other word to describe the feeling I have for my life right now.

And I know this is all vague (and perhaps a bit cheesy and cliched?!), so in an effort to be clear and basically "out myself", I will say that my journey has taken me to Church (total cliche I know!!). For those of you joining in now, this may not seem paradoxical to you but for those of you who have known me a bit longer (longer than 6 months?!?!) I will wait now for you to pick yourself up off the floor, let that shock wear off, before I continue...

For those who know me, know I have had some serious Church trauma in my past and for the majority of my life I have been a very vocal skeptic of organized religion and god (Read: I was a judgmental asshole to all those who went to Church and identified as Christian/believed in god).

So now that I've gotten that off my chest [breathes sigh of relief] I will say that I'm really enjoying this path right now. And it is simple as to why I enjoy it, because it is a path of love and non-judgement and if there is anything we need more now than ever it is those two things! The Church I attend, the people I have met along the way, have been so supportive (compassionate) and helpful in my journey of self-discovery. I have no idea where this path is headed...does this mean I'm being a Christian, becoming a Christian, or overthinking everything (definitely overthinking!!). I have a lot of issues to work through when it comes to my spiritual journey (and that whole Jesus thing), but I am excited about finding out where it takes me.

So if you read my blog because of either of the following reasons:
a) you are a member of my family/friend tier and know that I will quiz you on my blog the next time I see you;
b) you think I'm amazing, awesome and a damn good writer and you don't care what I write as long as I keep writing;
c) you really like my selfies;
d) you identify as agnostic and are just interested in reading about this gal's spiritual journey;
e) you are Christian, becoming Christian, or ex-Christian and you feel like reading about the subject of Christianity.

[I think that covers the the entire human population]

So yes, if you picked any of those above-mentioned reasons, keep reading this blog, otherwise it is probably best we part ways for now. After all, the days of me writing about cocaine, hooker and hot tub orgies* are over and it is all about the faith journey now. 

* Ok my life was never that interesting but I think you get what I'm saying?!

And now for a quote:

“You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before all humans, that they may see your good deeds and give thanks to the Creator.” Matthew 5:14-16 AGB*

*that’s my interpretation of the Bible

and now for a selfie...


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Food, friends, blog competitions and the introvert's brain


Saturday night I’m out for dinner with my good friend @TheCesspit, catching up after several weeks of misses (read: me bailing due to feeling too sick to run and hence socialize?!). So what’s new in our lives? Actually a better question is what is new in my life?

After all, for me to answer the former question of the two it would mean that I was listening and comprehending our conversation over dinner, which is about as likely as me not having the attention span of a rat jacked up on stimulants and who is now being electrocuted at 2 second intervals for the duration of the evening. What does that mean exactly?

Well, it means I was in full on Andrea mode Saturday night. ADHD to the max baby. So every time something moved, it caught my eye and my thoughts followed. Which wouldn’t be as bad if I were an extrovert, as apparently extroverts process information in a linear fashion, whereas introverts (read: me) process the same information through a neural network so dense it resembles a chaotic intertwined ball of yarn. Basically my brain processes information by taking the scenic route. And since I’m ADHD, it is like I’m driving a really sweet sports car with zero understanding of what putting on the breaks is.

Yes my brain does weird shit like that.
And so Saturday night, hanging out at my packed upscale Vegan restaurant with my good friend whom I haven’t talked to in weeks is overwhelming to say the least. So overwhelming I’m actually impressed I was able to have any semblance of a conversation with him.  I am still Andrea though (read: perfectionist with a god complex) so I’m never entirely happy that I can’t give him the full attention our friendship deserves.  And I will hide my disappointment at myself underneath a glorious covering of OTT humour because maybe if I can make him laugh it won’t be such an awful experience that he will end up rejecting me as a friend and never speak to me again.

That last sentence is ridiculous. Intellectually I know that thought is such incredible diluted childish bullshit that if I actually thought that, like BELIEVED that, my ego would reach such incredible heights, we would have to redefine the notion of Kanye West. 

Impossible.

Emotionally the thought of me being rejected because of me being me hardly has an impact anymore. I mean the thought is there (we just read it up above) but it doesn’t permeate as often anymore. It mostly floats by my consciousness and dissipates into the fog of modern society.  Until it gathers and takes shape again and tries once again to get me to latch onto it.

The notion of rejection, in all its misunderstood fucked up-ness, knows it doesn’t get very far when it comes to my friends; the ones who know my deep dark shadow self and accept me for me anyways. After all, despite all my previous transgressions, I’m still pretty fucking hilarious, I mean who can reject that?!

So how does this Saturday night end? Well two good friends did get to catch up over a lovely meal. And I did receive a text message later from @TheCesspit, which indicated that the evening was in fact not awful and that no regrets were had over being in my presence for said evening.

Oh and we negotiated a new challenge for the blogging competition, you know that competition that began 3 Decembers ago and doesn’t ever seem to end…

Blog posts are now only required every other week by Sunday at Midnight. Sure we can continue to do one a week, hell we could do one a day if we wanted but still that would only count towards our every other week blog post quota.

So, now you know why last week’s blog post didn’t happen (save the hate mail please!) and know you know why next week’s isn’t going to happen. And that is your latest Andrea update!

 And now for the selfie...





Sunday, February 21, 2016

And there goes February...

February is generally my least favourite month, especially in Victoria. It is grey, like smokestacks dumping toxic fumes into the sky, kind of grey. Dismal really. It pretty much sucks the life out of me. I feel exhausted the majority of the time and would really just prefer to stay in bed for this month.

Unfortunately, I have that mortgage thing that needs to get paid off, which generally means going to work and doing that work thing, so I kind of need to not lie in bed all the time...

So how do I manage?

Well Andrea version 1.0 probably would have drank a lot or just buried herself in school & work hoping one day she would just magically wake up and it would be March and February would just be like waking up from a really bad dream. Stings for a bit and then you forget about it because you don't have to go back there, it's not "real," it's a dream. Unless of course February is best conceptualized as a re-occurring nightmare, which kind of sucks because that is really just what being depressed is like.

So how does Andrea version 2.0 deal? Well, first off, accepting that February is going to be a challenge is a great first step. Why deny it?! February is kind of dreary anyways but it is more so when you are me and you are depressed.

Acceptance is kind of important to me because it gives me a chance to plan, my plan of action for dealing with this crappy month. Now, I'm pretty in tune with myself, that I could tell back in September that this was going to be a rough winter and that I would probably need to find a pretty solid way to deal with it. And so, Hawaii happened.

And while everyone was feeling super jealous I was in Hawaii for a week, I encouraged those same people that the only reason I was in Hawaii was so I could make it through the month of February. So if a vacation that gives you a break from thinking about suicide is your idea of a fun time, I have to say, you need to work on finding a better definition of fun. Now it is not that I didn't enjoy my time in Hawaii, I did, it's fucking Hawaii after all but it is kind of hard to enjoy your entire 24/7 Hawaiian experience when you know you are only there because it really is just one of the many tools in your tool box that you utilize in the hopes that you will make it through the month alive. Personally, I would rather stay in rainy grey Victoria if it means I don't feel so depressed I need to flee the country to some sunny local in order to survive it.

And yes confessing all this feels super annoying to me, like some how I should be better than that and not be depressed and be able to magically cure myself by simply hoping on a plane to Hawaii but I can't. And really none of us can do that. If we could simply do that, there would be no depressed people. Obviously, not the case.

And so, when you ask me how my trip to Hawaii was, I want you to know that behind that glorious smile of mine and basic banter I throw at you (don't want anyone to feel too uncomfortable) I'm really just jealous of you. As if your biggest concern is whether or not you can get away for a vacation. Because I know nothing is that simple but god I really wish it was. I really wish for all of us that our biggest concern is whether or not we can afford to go on that vacation and escape for a bit and not whether or not we will be here tomorrow. Because the latter is depression and I don't wish that on anyone.

And so I will keep on smiling and pretending in the vain hope that one day I wake up, February is over, the fog of depression has lifted, and I don't have to try so hard anymore.

And if you read this and any of this rings true to you and you need to reach out to someone but you feel like there is no one, please know I am always here for you. You are not alone. This feeling will pass and you will feel better again. I promise. We will get through this together.

xoxo

Lionel Richie knows things get better...hello!

Happy in Hawaii (it's all window dressing)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Another V-day adventure: Where's Paulo?

You may remember my good friend Paulo, if not, you have some reading to catch up on...click here, I will wait.

It seems to be a v-day tradition of mine (no not venereal disease day but valentines day) to reflect on Paulo. Last year I shared a tale of some adventure that Paulo tried to get me to join him on but which got thwarted by US customs agents and this year I will share another tale about the beloved Paulo and US customs.

Actually US customs only get a small mention this time... this time, I was on my way to Hawaii that US customs detained me briefly for extra screening because of some suspicious items in my carry on baggage. Yes, I had two glasses cases, one to house my regular prescription glasses and the other to hold my sunglasses. I can only assume this was considered suspicious because I was in fact not wearing any glasses at the time and there was that guy the week before who tried to bring on a bomb to the plane hidden in his Ray-Ban sunglasses. Damn bombers, ruining protective eye wear for everyone traveling to sunny exotic locations via airplane from here on in.

So I arrive in Hawaii to a text that asks me if I have seen Paulo yet? If Paulo is to be found in Hawaii it sure wasn't on my Air Canada flight where I sat in steerage. So I can only assume Paulo decided to join me in Hawaii via some other route with less humans (e.g., private jet or naval carrier) and now it was up to me to find him. Kind of like a Where's Waldo but Paulo style which means trying to find a guy with no discerning characteristics. Good luck with that.

So here is what I can tell you... I can tell you where Paulo wasn't!

As we have already established, he was not on my flight to Hawaii...
Cute & adorable airplane selfie
Paulo was not in the rental car...not even in the trunk (a typical hiding spot of his!)
Car selfie
Paulo was not camped out in the backyard of the house I was staying at...apparently I was told, that the area I was staying in was a place people only ventured to if they had to visit family...


ghetto backyard selfie

Paulo was not on the side of this really dry mountain on the way to the Buddhist meditation center...
mountain on the way to meditate
Paulo was not at the Buddhist meditation center...

Me and a Buddhist monk (aka not Paulo)
Paulo was not at the bookstore where a giant snake tried to eat my head...

Me and a giant snake (aka not Paulo)
Paulo was not at the bowling alley (the bowling alley located in the rich part of town...fucking hipsters!)...
bowling!
Paulo was not at one of the many scenic lookouts we stopped at...
I see whales but no Paulo...
And finally Paulo was not at the waste sanitation facility...btw this facility was located in the neighbourhood I was staying in...in the ghetto...
Waste!! It smelled like it too!
After the waste sanitation facility and still no Paulo, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to see him on this trip.

After I arrived home, I received this text picture...

Pablo is Paulo in Spanish!


Apparently Paulo is now Pablo and he's hanging out in Mexico City...at a Starbucks...that certainly narrows down his location.

Until next time, may your life be filled with all things Paulo or at least a nice sunny vacation during the grey month, also known as February in Victoria :)



Sunday, February 7, 2016

what to expect when seated beside me on an airplane

"If we get hungry I have scabs we can eat."

This was my insertion into the conversation my two friends were having about possible food options that would be served on our Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Honolulu. 

Random inappropriateness, that's me. But I don't just stop there, nope I have to take it just one step further. 
snack for the plane!

I pull up my legging to reveal my previously mentioned food offering. "I think it looks like Italy, see it kind of looks like a boot, don't you think?"

 This is seriously the awesome kind of fun you can expect to have on vacation with me, actually this is just me all the time. It is possible I get a tad more weird (or as I like to say eccentric) when on vacation because I'm not confined to the rules and regulations normal humans like to impose on one another. You know rules that suggest not discussing in public the possible nutritional value of various types of human tissue.

Not that I don't like rules, please don't misinterpret that!! I love order, rules, laws all sorts of things that confines ones rights and freedoms, I just like it best when I'm the one who gets to decide what should be law and what is considered normal. Hence, all my dictator fantasies. 

Now as much as I would like to turn this into another post about my love of dictatorships, I will instead loop back to the original intention of this post, which was to give you an insider's look at what to expect if you have the (un)fortunate experience of sitting beside me on an airplane.

 Flight One - Victoria to Vancouver

Nothing is more exciting than getting off Vancouver Island on to some adjacent land structure that is attached to the mainland (i.e., the continent of North America), in record time (i.e., not on BC Ferries). Sure the ferries are cool, like the first time but anything after that makes you feel like you want to bleach your skin. Too many people, too little space and takes way too long.  Flying solves one of those problems for you, and if you ask me it is well worth the price of admission. If you can't get rid of people or have access to lots of personal space, you may as well suffer these in less time than it takes to cross the Georgia straight on a fucking ferry.

I'm not entirely sure my seat mate would have agreed with this statement. He may have liked the ferry option because then he could have throw himself overboard as one last ditch effort to get rid of me. See on a plane seated at the window, you can't go anywhere but into the dark recesses of your mind. Which for my seatmate was a pretty terrifying experience I think judging from the fact he flew white knuckled the whole way. 

Yeah, he was freaking out and I did little to calm his nerves because I was afraid I would be very effective and he would falsely feel safe and secure in my presence. Naturally this would lead to him becoming obsessed with me (the unhealthy kind of obsession, not the healthy kind which are the ones I have). By the end of that flight, enough endorphin/adrenaline will have passed through his brain to create a strong enough delusion for him to think he is actually in love with me and I am his soul mate (not just seat mate). Then of course he would propose to me on landing, which would be very awkward, seeing as after I politely reject his offer of marriage, I would have to wait another 10 minutes before I could  exit the plane. 

Now i know what you are thinking, WTF Andrea, none of that makes any sense!? Were you reading Mindy Kaling's new book? Um, yes I am reading that but let me explain the context above.

First off, dude was hot and very stylish, perfect leading man material (i.e., charismatic serial killer), I sit down, we exchange pleasantries.  Then I go to put my bag under the seat and my pen falls out of the side pocket and rolls under the seat in front of him.

Now, if you know anything about me, I love my pens. After all, I am the gal who bought herself a $100 fountain pen because I liked the way it felt in my hand, perfectly weighted. Beautiful really.

Anyways, so my pen is rolling under the seat and I start to panic, I can't lose this pen, and no it is not the $100 fountain pen but it is still like a pretty awesome pen and I don't want to lose it in the bowels of the Air Canada cabin. So I dive in after it, with not much of a warning to my seatmate. When I realize the pen is out of my reach I look up to explain to him that I need to get my pen and that is why I'm forging around down below him not just because I want to get up close and personal with his moose knuckle (i.e., ball sack), which is what I end up getting a face full of as I turn to explain to him about the pen. Naturally this freaks me out more and I dive in even further to grab my pen, because maybe if I try harder my arm will grow and I will be able to grab it?!?!

Needless to say, I was down there longer than I wanted to be, it was the closest I've been to a dude's junk in like over two years, and it was extremely embarrassing for everyone involved. The good news was I got my pen.

So after that catastrophe I was kind of feeling awkward so I figured I would make a joke to lighten the mood and that is when I noticed he had pulled out a magazine and was reading an article on match making, meeting your soul mate on a plane. 

Well now I couldn't make a joke because then it would draw too much attention to the possibility of me being his soul mate, seeing as I was practically giving the guy a blow job over trying to retrieve my pen.

It was all so ridiculous. The moment screamed romantic comedy, so I pulled out my iPod and drowned out the experience with some Ellie Goulding.  Which I recognize is also kind of in the theme of what I was trying to avoid but whatever, it was the best I had at that moment.

In the end, if you ever have the experience of being seated beside me on a plane, you can expect the following: (1) your seatmate will be glorious, (2) your seatmate will not be the woman of you dreams, and (3) your seatmate will not give you a blow job. 

The last two may be mutually exclusive, not sure. After all, I 'm not a dude who got to meet me, be in my heavenly presence and not receive a blow job but I suspect that would be a horrible terrible experience akin to being eaten alive by cannibals. 

Selfie on a plane!