Monthly Archives: January 2013

Can a Book Change Your Life

A couple of posts ago a dear follower recommended the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I haven’t read it yet but as soon as I read the synopsis I ran out and bought it for a friend who, in my humble opinion, was in need of some inspiration. Some proof that crazy things are possible, that the world is bigger than our imagination and that all we have to do is have an idea and be fearless enough to try.

There have been many such books in my life – books that made me think big, books that scared me, inspired me and shook the way I thought. I can’t possibly list them all but here are a couple that left a impact on me, one way or another:

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemache
  • Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • On the Road by Kerouac
  • the Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani
  • Lit by Mary Karr
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

As luck would have it, a that blog I follow, coffee, light and sweet posted a link a little while ago to a list of Life Changing Books.

Anyone have any titles they should be added to that list?

Faithful followers of Ayn Rand need not apply… 😉

~ kate

The Great Gatsby

I am fairly fickle when it comes to books-that-are-made-into-movies. Generally speaking, I dislike them. I prefer the pictures and characters I create in my head to the ones orchestrated on the silver screen. However, as with any rule there are exceptions. I blogged about this very thing ad nauseam here.

The other night I went to see Ryan Gosling’s new movie (his presence being the sole reason I went) Gangster Squad and among the previews was Baz Luhrmann’s new movie the Great Gastby. This movie, starring the affable Leonard DiCaprio, was originally supposed to be an Xmas 2012 release in time for the Oscars but was delayed due to unexplained reasons and is now expected out in May of this year.

It’s a long time to wait but I must admit I am already excited! F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel set during the roaring twenties directed by the same man who directed two of my favorite movies starring an on-again-off-again heart throb  like Leo (when I see pictures of Leo in magazines in between films looking scruffy and rather portly I tend to fall out of love with him but this is all erased the minute he’s back on the big screen…) set to music by Jay-z and Kanye… could it get any better?? I ask you!

The release is still months away but the teaser below should help with the wait. Enjoy!

New Year’s Resolutions

In my first post of the new year I mentioned that 2013 started off on somewhat bumpy footing for me (it turns out 2013 unfolded similarly for others). In an effort to change this and regain my footing I set about making some goals for myself (and maybe some for my husband too but that’s a different post!).

When I thought about goal-setting, about changes that I want to make in my life, they could all basically be divided into the following categories: family, health, financial, career and mental. I made at least one goal per category even if it wasn’t an area where I felt like I was failing or even tiring and I tried to adhere to the criteria for making “SMART” goals. SMART is an acronym often used in the corporate-world when getting employees to set performance objectives for the coming year.  The hippy, non-corporate part of me gags a little when I think of porting this to my personal life but hey, they use it for a reason and, intuitively, it does make sense. The acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

For example, when I outlined one of my goals under “Health” it was not simply to “be healthy” but rather “to run a 10k road race before the summer”.  A 10k race is a specific target, the distance makes it easily measurable and since I am currently a casual runner it is definitely attainable and realistic. I added “before summer” because I figured it would be a good tool to get in better shape ahead of bike season – thus, the goal is also time sensitive. Another goal I made, under the “Mental” category, is to read 52 books this year. Obviously this is specific, measurable and time-sensitive but I have no idea if it is attainable/realistic. Reading 52 books means reading one a week which sounds easy but I’ve never kept track before so I have no barometer against which to measure this rate. I often read more than one book a week and when on vacation this rate probably doubles. However, I too go through periods of book-malaise where I simply cannot bring myself to read, succumbing instead to the mind-numbing comfort of Gilmore Girls (or currently Homeland!). I’ve seen similar goals floating around the book blogosphere lately so I thought I’d add it to my list – seemed like a good challenge and a good way to motivate me to get through the bed-side stack.

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Tumbling towers next to the bed

So, progress report. The third week of January has just come to a close and I am right on track with three books under my belt.

  1. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards
  2. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
  3. Ru by Kim Thuy

Hands-down my favorite so far is Ru. I don’t know if it was the story – a family flees Vietnam before the implementation of Doi Moi and ends up in an idyllic Quebec – or if it was simply the language which was so simple yet poetic (the novel was translated by Sheila Fischman) that it was completely evocative of Hanoi but reading it felt like being walked through someone’s dream. It was painless, beautiful and serene.

Pigeon English and Ru were both Xmas gifts as was Mister Pip, the next book on my way to 52 reads this year. Only 10 pages in so far and it’s Sunday night, better go make some head-way!

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Teddy opening his Xmas present. Just cause. Cause I’m a little obsessed.

~ kate,

The Adventures of Coop Dawg

I think the love affair started about three years ago. It was during an unhealthy stage of my life where one surgery was followed by another which was followed by a complication and so on and so on. I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place: I was too sick to do anything but was starting to go crazy as a result of doing nothing.

Some dear friends of ours lent us their pocket-sized maltese/shih tzu cross named Cooper as a pick-me-up and we took him to Canmore for the weekend  for what would forever forward be referred to as our “re-Cooperation”. I fell head over heels for this little guy and he was the perfect non-active distraction for me; content to sit on my lap all day long or tag along for a very very short walk.

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I became so obsessed with Cooper that I started creating stories featuring the hero Coop-dawg – Coops Goes to School, Coops Goes Down Under, Coops in the Navy, Coops Does the Calgary Stampede – and in each story he had a new challenge and a new outfit to suit his adventure. His staples were, of course: a blackberry (Coops LOVES to bbm), a fanny pack (orange, made by Eastpak because he’s European) an mustache comb (for the ladies) and chapstick (because dogs have those little leathery-looking black lips).

One thing I know I am not is a visual/graphic artist. I can describe the world that goes on in my head using words; I cannot draw it. So, the other day while feeling inspired and invigorated (amazing what writing down goals can do!), I started Googling comic strip apps and, as you might have guessed, there are tons out there! The first one I tried (and liked!) was called stripgenerator. It is a free website with a bunch of ready-to-use characters, objects, text boxes etc and is super easy to use.

I’m showcasing my first ever comic strip here but don’t get the wrong idea – this is just a teaser, a snippit of how things might play out in the Adventures of Coop Dawg (and yes, Teddy got a shout out).

Adventures of Coop Dawg

~ kate

The Universe is F@#$ing With Me

The first month of a new year is often tumultuous: there are bigger than normal bills, resolutions and goals to make, and Christmas guilt from too much eaten, too much spent, too much family or not enough family. And all around us are signs telling us that now is the time to get our shit in order…

I have a friend who often says to me “the universe is telling you something”. Well, so far in 2013, the universe has been throwing all sorts of stuff at me: work has started in a slump, there have been a couple of unwelcome surprises in my life lately, I am riddled with fatigue (post-Xmas sugar low?) and only today did I finish the book I’ve been working on for over 2 weeks now! Needless to say, I’m feeling a little out of sorts these days.

A former hair dresser of mine used to tell me how “coincidence” and “serendipity” and anything of that nature was all a load of bull. She said then people just choose to pay attention to certain things. Like the person who insists they ALWAY sees 11:11 when they look at the clock. They’re simply ignoring the 47 other times in a day they look and the stars are not aligned.

And that’s the thing with the universe, she gives us all sorts of messages, challenges and successes, it is up to us to decide which ones to recognize and the law of attraction/the secret/attitude of gratitude/positive visualization/the leader who had no title would all tell us that like begets like – she gives back what we send out.

As the universe would have it (!), a colleague of mine gave a talk at work last week and her entire message was that attitude changes everything. That as soon as we change our mindset, the universe will return the favor. She summed up her message by rhetorically asking “why do racehorses wear blinders?” to remind us to stay focused on the positive, to stay focused on our goals and not get lost in all the daily distractions.

Which is why I spent my Saturday night at a coffee shop with pen and paper in hand, making 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals, compiling lists of all the things that are good in my life and making one resolution – to start my days with an intention and a resolve to stay focused: I know where I want to end up, just not how I’m going to get there so I might as well enjoy the ride.

This is how I spent my Friday night

This is how I spent my Friday night

Happy New Year followers!

~ kate