Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Wedding-ness Day!

A few fun developments this week on the wedding front as we start focusing more on pinning down the details.

  • We have selected and booked our venue. Waiting for the contract in the mail to sign, seal and deliver.
  • This means we have also a date set in stone (possible wedding pun that I will overuse in the next 15 months)!
  • As you know, we picked our theme and colours right away -- which has helped me in determining some of the decor items to keep my eyes out for. Think "martini glasses"
  • I have an appointment tomorrow evening to discuss my candy buffet to match the colour and theme!! Not going to lie, but I am really hoping there is some sort of tasting element to this.
  • We have had friends offer their services ( the cake and DJ-ing) at a discounted rate for our day. This is great because it feels like we are supporting their business while they are supporting us on our day. Win-win!
  • We have our tentative guest list and are seriously considering evites. There will also be a hashtag for my tweeters and instagramers on our day too. It just wouldn't be my wedding without social media.
My beautiful maid of honour gifted me with a bride book to keep track of to-dos and our budget. We are well ahead of schedule right now. My thoughts are that we continue being well ahead of schedule and that way, it's only slightly stressful those last few weeks that I still go by my maiden name. I think we all know that it's still going to be hectic with last minute details, but it feels great that big stuff is out of the way!

YAY! I'm gettin' married. This became super real to me this week :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Becoming McAwesome

I have mentioned once or twice about the volunteer group I manage called Team McAwesome. We create, cook, and serve brunch once a month at Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta.

Do you remember reading the Babysitter's Club and every book in the series always reminded us about Kristy's great idea and how it came to her watching her mom one night try to find a sitter for David Michael? And then her idea grew and took on a life of it's own becoming something that wasn't imagined at first? From just friends getting together to organize babysitting for neighborhood moms to hosting backyard fairs, parades and pageants? This is what happened with Team McAwesome.
2011 Rock the House Run. This is why I started to follow RMH on Twitter

In Summer of 2011, I was looking for opportunities to fulfill a goal of meeting 100 volunteer hours when I read a tweet from Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta about their Home for Dinner program. This program has volunteers come into the house, making a meal for the families staying there to alleviate some of the stress surrounding their stay while their children are at the hospital for medical treatments. We have all been stressed out in life -- maybe not to that extent, but we often forget to hit the grocery store or find time to cook a nutritious meal while we are worrying about other things in life. Thinking about all of the times I have prepared meals with my friends and the fun we had, creatively exploring new recipes while chatting and laughing, this seemed like a great opportunity to give back, hang out with my friends and try some of those food ideas I seem to find on Pinterest.

Creatively combining ingredients
I put out a call on Facebook about my idea to create a group to regularly cook at the House and initially 15 of my friends showed interest. We cooked our first Sunday brunch in December of that year, serving egg-in-the-hole, bacon and fruit salad. Friends told friends who told their friends. I was able to organize a brunch for every month of 2012, filling the 8 available spots in record time (I think the quickest one filled in 24 minutes). I had 2 of my friends sign up for orientation with me, knowing from my experiences with GirlTalk that sometimes life gets in the way every month and I could fulfill commitments with alternate hosts.

We felt we could do more then just cook. In summer of 2012, we held a Bag-o-Booze raffle to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House, The Calgary Children's Hospital and to supplement the cost of our groceries every month. One of my hosts took it upon herself the challenge to complete the House's wishlist with her personal development group and did it outside of a box store in 3 hours, convincing friends, family and strangers to buy items like toothpaste, shampoo and diapers (they raised about $5000 worth of items in that short time frame).

Reaquainting with old friends and meeting new friends

The ripple effect among the team was amazing to watch. We grew monthly (as of today we are at 56 members) and each member had a different way to contribute -- from creative ideas and themes for our meals, sharing their talents with the House (our photographer member donated mini photo sessions to families staying at the house and our baker wants to donate some of her beautiful cakes), promoting events around town that would benefit the House, collecting pop can tabs for the House -- it was inspiring. We have approached a few businesses around town to sponsor our brunch by donating some of their product for the meal and it's creating even more of a community as we promote shopping locally to our group members and to those staying at the House. I now have 6 Team Leads and we are looking at increasing the frequency of the meals we serve.

Super Hero Halloween Brunch
Teen Toy Drive

Our efforts were not going unnoticed. I was invited to speak at a Networking groups luncheon about Team McAwesome and they in turn donated money they had collected all year to Ronald McDonald House on our behalf. The House itself wrote about us in their family newsletter and will be publishing an article about us in their external newsletter this quarter as well (with a distribution list of about 10,000 people!!!). And to end the year on even more of a high note, we were notified by Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta that we had been nominated and selected to receive their 2012 Volunteer Team Award in honour of Leeza Nielson. Last night was the award ceremony where we were recognized and treated to a Death-by-Chocolate buffet.

A fantastic way to celebrate with my team leads while representing all of the milestones the Team crossed in 2012 and to motivate us to raise the bar in 2013. Congratulations Team McAwesome!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I made a list of 13 things I wanted to complete in 2013

  1. 30 Day Yoga Challenge
  2. Watch 3 movies from the 1001 movies you should watch before you die
  3. Hike Johnston Canyon
  4. Go to a sushi making class
  5. Take a kick boxing class
  6. Go to the Opera
  7. Have a Go-carting date with my fiance  DONE! March 30 2013
  8. Play Laser Tag
  9. Try a round of golf
  10. Read Anna Karena
  11. Grow my own herb garden
  12. Take a Burlesque Class
  13. Pose for a Boudoir photo shoot DONE! February 18 2013

Last night I was speaking with Rainman about how we should have a shared challenge. Something that is our thing. I put out the idea of a 365 day movie challenge where we watch a new movie every day for the next year. Instead of watching back-to-back episodes of CSI or Duck Dynasty, we could watch all of those films we wanted to see, have been told to see, never want to see again. It's simple, it means we spend time together, and we can switch off who picks the movie every night. We can have nights out at the cineplex, the cheap theatre and the art house theatres. And in the year leading up to our wedding, it would be a way to save some money while still staying connected and close, sparking conversation and making each of us open up to genres we may never have normally chosen. And it also means I won't have an issue meeting goal 2 on my list.

I know that the first month of January is almost over and this post is a bit late -- but do you have any challenges or a list of things you want to do this year? I would love to hear/read about them. I always feel inspired reading about people setting out and completing their goals :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I started my new year like any other and cleaned up my friend list, removing those that I had met once or twice and never spoke to after the initial meeting, deleting old high school acquaintances that I had nothing in common with except for a shared class, and letting go of a relationship that hasn't been on the same path as mine for quite some time.

Normally I don't feel anything when I clean up my "friend" list. Those I am removing didn't have any impact on my life as it stands today. They didn't offer anything meaningful to conversation and I was pretty sure they would never notice that I had quietly omitted them from my profile. My facebook page is mostly public. I don't believe that anything online is actually private and if one does want to be private, social media sites are not really the place to hang out. So, although I have removed these people from my feed and I won't actively show up in theirs, if they have a hankering to check out my life, it's online for others to find.

Once upon a time, I was the girl who danced on speakers, drank copious amounts of shots, while hanging out with people in dark clubs with loud music. One of those people was a girl that became my speaker dancing partner in crime and the times we had at the bar were a blast.We would often meet to shop, or have drinks at a restaurant, or hang out at her place around the fire, drinking the nights away. The one thing we had in common was drinking and dancing. We called each other best friends and enjoyed dressing up and going out for the night. She would listen to the drama I was facing and I would listen to hers, then we would toast the night away.

But, as some wise woman may have said at some point, there does come a time that you let the drama go. I began to focus more on creating the version of me that I am going to be most proud of when I am a rickety old lady, sipping gin and tonics out of tea cups. I started to volunteer more and used my ability to rally the support of my friends to help others in need instead of ourselves all of the time (disclaimer -- helping others in need actually does help yourself, try it for a month and you'll see). I spent less time in dark clubs and more in the light. I created a group of friends that shared this value with me to give back to the world and to make it a better place. We would help each others causes. The support from this group is amazing. Everyday I am more and more encouraged and inspired by this group of people. I let the he-said/she-said BS go. And my life began to seemingly have a purpose and was full of meaning.

The girl that I believed was my best friend was not as enthusiastic as I was about this change and about being the change. She was recently married and just had another son, our lives were on different paths. She wrote a letter to me, filled with accusations about my lack of thoughtfulness, my irritating eagerness, my inability to be a friend, peppered with all of the mistakes I had made according to her. Which hurt my feelings, but worse, marred our relationship. You know when you have this amazing support group that cheers you on in the direction your life is going and then one person you wanted most to be at the finish line tells you this direction is annoying? It's really hard to call that person to talk about anything anymore. You feel like you have to hide who you are and what you are passionate about and this loss of authenticity makes it so you avoid that person. Which creates more and more of a void in the relationship. Until finally, no matter how many times you want to reach out to that person and tell her that you miss her, hoping things can change, when you do, you just feel saddened, and guilty, even though you really haven't done anything wrong in making the decision to live your life in a more positive way.

This is a story about the tough choice I made to remove this person from my life. And though I believe that our paths could cross again in the future, I don't believe we will ever have that relationship where I don't feel judged by her again. And without that absence of judgement, there isn't a friendship. A part of me wishes it could be different, that she could be on this path with me now, celebrating all of this awesome that I have had happen in the last year or so since we have spoken, although I would never give up what I have now for it. And although not being on my facebook friends list really doesn't mean anything in the entire scheme of things, it does have a symbolic impact. And cutting that string was way harder than I thought it would be.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” 

Anaïs Nin