Weird things that make me happy

I recently read the blog post “Embrace Whatever Makes You Happy (Even If It’s Totally Weird)” on Cordelia Calls it Quits. I love this site and how Cordelia/Kelly thinks. This post talks about reveling in the random, weird things you like and owning those likes. More importantly, it reminds the reader that we all have random weird things that give us joy. You aren’t the only one that likes random, weird things and neither am I.

Here are some weird things that make me happy:

Doing errands

This sounds strange, but I really like doing errands. I like making lists of what I need to get done, then figuring out the most efficient plan of attack to get as much done in as little time as possible. Ticking off all the items and seeing a visual representation of what I’ve accomplished feels good. I like doing errands with Flora or Sean (or both, which is rare), but I like it even better when I get to go on my own. I have very few things that I have complete control over so I think this is my way of taking charge of things going on in my life.

Driving with loud rock music playing

When I’m driving alone, I’m a rockstar in my car. I crank up the radio (this my favourite radio station). I sing along. I laugh at the jokes. I tap on the steering wheel. I am that cliché you see out on the road and I’m okay with that. I love pulling into parking lots playing music that doesn’t scream “suburban mom”. I realize that there is no genre of music called “mom” (suburban or otherwise) but there is some sort of irony of Rage Against the Machine blasting on my radio as I pull into Walmart. This happened to me last weekend while I was doing errands. By myself.

Staring at the lake

I’ve lived either on or near lakes all my life. Gazing out into the water makes me feel alive and centered with the universe. Despite living close by, I don’t get down to the lake much these days. It’s good meditation so I think I need to start.

Tell me about the weird things that make you happy.

Priorities

On Monday, I did yoga for the first time in… a really long time.

I used the Yoga Studio app on my phone and chose a ‘Beginner Balance’ class. I felt angry and ashamed when I couldn’t do every move. I know logically that I was being too hard on myself, but that’s who I am. My inner voice is really mean sometimes.

Any tips on how to calm a cruel inner voice would be greatly appreciated.

As I wrote this, I thought back to this post from 2013. The whole post still resonates, but this part sticks out:

I know I need to move more. I’ve spent the last few weeks (months? years?) figuring out what I’d like to do to be able to introduce more activity into my life. Everything I want to do seems to have barriers: too expensive, not enough time, worry that I will look stupid in front of people who I wouldn’t give a shit about if I wasn’t feeling so vulnerable in front of them.

Monday’s yoga session, while frustrating at times, felt good and I’m glad I did it. Small steps to making my health and myself a priority in my life.

How do you restart your writing practice?

I’ve lost confidence in myself as a writer and I need help.

I haven’t written anything of substance in months. Work-related emails don’t count no matter how detailed and thorough they are. I get an idea for this site and I quit before I’ve even started: my brain turns to mush and I can’t seem to string a sentence together. I haven’t been making – or taking – the time to write anything. I think about journaling and my eyes get so tired all I want to do is nap.

Is this normal writer’s procrastination, or is it a sign that I should just give up?

I don’t want to give up. I know I need to stretch myself to get going again. And stop listening to the defeated voice in my head that tells me that I’m just not Good Enough to share my thoughts with the world. Because everyone is Good Enough to share their thoughts and the web is the equalizer that allows all of us to do so.

What do you do when you’ve lost confidence in your skills and it’s time to build them back up? These tips could be for any skill: writing, running, chainsaw juggling. I’m very open to your suggestions.

What I read in 2014

Thanks to Goodreads, here is a list of all the books I read in 2014. I fell two books short of completing my 2014 Reading Challenge by reading 48 out of 50 books. There were a few books I abandoned this year, but I can’t count them as complete in good conscience.

As always, I read a mix of fiction of varying quality, trashy romance and a few memoirs. Here is the complete list:

Melissa’s bookshelf: read-in-2014

S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
delightfully-trashy-romance and read-in-2014
Mad About the Boy
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Barefoot
3 of 5 stars
I’m a sucker for light summer reading that takes place somewhere in New England.
tagged:
read-in-2014
Silver Girl
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Tell Me
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014 and delightfully-trashy-romance
The Rosie Project
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
The Bitch
3 of 5 stars
Supposedly the version I read was updated and completely rewritten in 2012. Outside of a few current celebrity references, I’m not sure how updated it was. Still, it was a fast, easy read and a typical Jackie Collins book.
tagged:
read-in-2014
We Are Water
5 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Dead Brilliant
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Eleanor & Park
5 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
The Oakdale Dinner Club
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
The Imperfectionists
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
No Relation
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
The Fire-Dwellers
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Two Sisters
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Infidelity
5 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Deenie
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Tiger Eyes
4 of 5 stars
Never read this as a kid/teen. Glad I finally read it now.
tagged:
read-in-2014
Hellgoing: Stories
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
On the Rocks: A Novel
2 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
The Glass Wives
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Love Me Anyway: A Novel
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Worst. Person. Ever.
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Four Friends
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
How to Love
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Valley of the Dolls
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
0 of 5 stars
I felt like a cliché reading this book. Then the ending went ridiculously sideways.
tagged:
read-in-2014
S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Landline
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Fangirl
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Hidden
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
The Interestings
5 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
The Silent Wife
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
A Life in Men: A Novel
4 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
If I Could Tell You: A Novel
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
How Lucky You Are
0 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014
Sinners at the Altar
3 of 5 stars
tagged:
read-in-2014 and delightfully-trashy-romance




goodreads.com

If you’re on Goodreads and we’re not connected, feel free to add me. I’m always looking for new books to read. Leave me any book recommendations you have in the comments.

How I learned to drive

The comment I was writing on Rebecca’s post about learning to drive blew up and turned into its own blog post, so I posted it here instead.

1994-1996: Getting my G1

Growing up rural (I lived in a small town, then moved out into the country in 1996), I got my G1 as soon as I could. I was a nervous driver (even on country roads) and my mother was a nervous teacher so we didn’t drive together till I had some more practice – and lessons – under my belt. If I was going to be able to go anywhere on my own, I needed to be able to drive. I wanted that freedom – and a social life – so I learned to drive.

1997-2000: Not fully licensed, and not caring

When I moved to Oshawa to go to school, I had my G2, but didn’t have a car. My now-husband did and sometimes I rode with him. I always had a bus pass so I could get where I needed to go without relying on him since we were on different schedules.

2000-2003: Had my license, but rarely drove

Once I started commuting into Toronto to work after college, I was willing to let my license lapse – transit got me where I needed to go. The larger city roads and more aggressive drivers (never mind the 401!) scared the crap out of me. My mother insisted I get my license and I signed up for two batches of refresher lessons  (one in Oshawa, one in Belleville) when I was 20-ish. I got my full G license before my G2 expired, which was a relief – I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I took my final G test in Belleville and not Oshawa because I was more familiar with those streets, having driven them on my own as a teenager. Those roads didn’t intimidate me. When the tester told me I passed, my first reaction was “ohmygawd, REALLY?’ – I had really messed up the parallel parking (something I’ve never even attempted since).

When we first moved into Toronto proper back in 2000, I didn’t drive. City streets still scared me and everyone was so aggressive! Sean had an ancient vehicle (a 1982 Chevrolet Caprice) that I was intimidated to drive as I had been spoiled by power steering and newer cars. I relied on the TTC and made Sean drive us places when we needed to go somewhere that was transit-unfriendly.

2004-2008: Getting braver

The Caprice was retired and Sean had purchased a 1994 minivan at the end of 2003 – nearly five years before we had our first child (we were lugging a lot of stuff around then I think). We were engaged to be married and had recently purchased our first house in Scarborough. I still relied on transit, but after a few successful trips to the grocery store in the van, I started to drive around my neighbourhood more. Errands got done with less nagging and everyone was happy.

2008-2012: Early Parenthood

When Flora was born in 2008, I stayed home with her for the first nine months. New babies are intimidating to take on public transit when you’re still dragging so much stuff with you (I wrote about my experience with that). We had a newer car by then (the minivan gave up the ghost in 2007) and Sean usually drove to work and I took transit. Once I was off work, I insisted that I get the car at least once a week so I could leave the house with Flora without it being a complete production. My driving radius got a lot bigger during this time. Necessity and boredom create bravery and Flora and I drove to the mall a lot. I drove the 401 more, but mostly heading out of the GTA.

2012-Present: Commuting again

We left Toronto in 2012 and were back to being commuters again. We bought a second car. Even though I commute to work by GO train, I do a lot more driving than I ever have. Short distances mostly, but lots of them. I drive to and from the train station, do my errands and get Flora where she needs to go. I’m not nearly as nervous anymore, but Sean is still the alpha driver at our house. When we can drive together, we do, but it happens rarely outside of visits to our parents. I drive the 401 when I have to, but I don’t enjoy it.

I guess I should thank my mother this Mother’s Day for forcing strongly encouraging me to get my driver’s license. Without it, I wouldn’t have the independence I do now, even though I live in an urban area. Thanks Mom.