The state of the View

2017 was a year of personal growth for me.

At various points throughout the year, I found myself questioning why I was doing something that was not making me happy. Why was I trying so hard to foster a friendship that felt so one-sided? Why was I shopping at a store when their products didn’t appeal to me anymore? Why was I trying so hard to be accepted by a group of people when their interests were the polar opposite of mine?

Why was I wasting my time?

A few major events occurred this year that shook me to my core and strengthened my resolve to live a more authentic life.

Chris Cornell‘s death on May 18 was unexpected and heartbreaking. I didn’t become a fan of his until his work with Audioslave, but once I did I worked my way backward and understood why he was a such a well-respected artist. I mourned the loss of a good human being and the fact that I would never hear my favourite Audioslave song, Like a Stone, performed live. It was a harsh reminder that we never know how long we have with the special people in our life and we need to appreciate the time we have with them.

We were in London the night of the terrorist attack at London Bridge and Borough Market on June 3. Luckily my husband and I were in our hotel room at the time, but we had been in the exact same area the day before. It was a chilling feeling to know we were so close to tragedy, and yet a huge part of me felt so far removed from it because in my mind we were still in Canada just watching the events unfold on the BBC. I’m still surprised that I was unfazed and ready to continue sightseeing the day after. The event really didn’t hit me until we came home, and I’ve struggled with wanting to travel far from home ever since.

Then I lost my hero.

Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, passed away on July 20. I became a fan of Linkin Park just as I was finishing grade 12, and their music helped me through the years that followed as I transitioned into adult life. It was Chester’s voice, his raging scream, and his raw emotion that helped me feel like I wasn’t alone in the myriad of emotions I was experiencing at the time — Chester was with me. When he died, I felt gutted and abandoned. I still feel abandoned and find myself crying whenever I think of him. He helped me get through 17 years of my life and I was unsure how I was going to go on without him. I still can’t listen to any music by Linkin Park because hearing Chester’s voice hurts so much. As a way to sort of hold onto Chester forever, I got my first tattoo on August 4 of the six-sided Linkin Park logo behind my right ear (my right side is my dominant side). The placement behind my ear symbolizes how I became a fan through their music. The placement on my head symbolizes Chester’s struggle with mental illness.

Now he is always with me.

These three events helped steer me towards becoming my authentic self. I’ve felt like I’ve wasted a lot of my time with things I shouldn’t have so I have shifted my focus to doing more for me: I surround myself with people I like being with,  I do more of what I enjoy, and I’m getting better at putting myself first.

Which is why I’ve decided to push my blog to the side indefinitely.

Time and again I’m told I’m a talented writer, but other writers will tell you how awful it feels to write when you are completely uninspired — it’s soul crushing. Keeping up with a blog schedule and writing week after week while uninspired becomes more of a chore, and the more I did it the worse I felt. I don’t want to do that anymore. I may write something at some point in the future and feel it best to post it here, but I don’t know when that will be, if at all. I’m active on Twitter, so you can continue following me there if you’d like. I’m still iffy on how active my Instagram account will be in the future, but I do think I will close the Facebook page.

Thank you for reading my little blog for however long you have been. At the very least, I hope you learned a little bit more about me and my view of the world.

Kindest regards,

Jenn

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Our 10-year anniversary in London

I want to start today’s post by wishing my folks a happy 46th wedding anniversary!

My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past June. To mark the occasion, we decided to spend a week in my favourite city in the world — London!

Here are some highlights from our trip.

Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe from Sherlock

I’ll admit this right out of the gate — I chose the hotel we stayed at in London solely based on how close it was to Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe from Sherlock. During our May 2012 trip to London, we visited the filming location of Shaun’s neighbourhood from Shaun of the Dead. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to visit another filming location on this trip, so being close to Speedy’s (a real, operational restaurant) was a natural choice since Sherlock is a show we enjoy watching together. After snapping a few touristy photos of the facade, we went inside and ate a traditional English breakfast.

Tower Bridge

On the two previous trips I’ve taken to London, I never spent as much time as I wanted to at Tower Bridge. I rode tour buses that would drive across it a couple times and that was it. Whoop-dee-flippin’-do.

This time we did it properly.

We started from the Tower Hill tube station at the Tower of London and walked across from north to south on the foot path on the west side, finishing at the east end of the Queen’s Walk on the south bank of the Thames. It was spectacular! I took so many photos that I could make a coffee table book of just Tower Bridge!

And I loved every minute of it.

The Champagne Experience on the London Eye

After Tower Bridge, we strolled along the Queen’s Walk towards the London Eye. We’ve both been on the regular 30-minute rotation before, so we wanted to do something special this time around for our anniversary. After browsing their website, I made a reservation for a special package called the Champagne Experience.

With the Champagne Experience, you get to skip the lengthy June tourist lines (in the afternoon of June 2, it was incredibly long), and you board a capsule with a host who carries the champagne and glasses inside a large, wicker picnic basket and serves you the champagne while on board. You still have to share a capsule with other passengers who are also there for the Champagne Experience, but we didn’t mind.

During the rotation, our host asked if anyone in the capsule was celebrating anything special that day. We said it was our 10th wedding anniversary, to which our fellow passengers congratulated us and our host gave us a cork from one of the champagne bottles as a memento. After a couple glasses of champagne and numerous photos of the London skyline, we staggered out of our capsule and into the gift shop. (We truly did stagger. It was really good champagne.)

A poorly framed photo I took of the London Eye while drunk off champagne.

Dinner at The Shard

We really wanted to do it up right for our anniversary dinner. While I was researching different places to visit during our trip, I found out that there are six restaurants located at The Shard — the tallest building in London. We decided to make a reservation at a Chinese restaurant called Hutong on the 33rd floor.

The view was incredible. Both of them. ;)

The food selection was a little different (and pricey) than what we were used to in North America, but we enjoyed the culinary adventure. Our dessert was by far our favourite item. Look at the pretty!

Terrorist Attack at London Bridge and Borough Market

(This was not a highlight, but it was a major event that occurred during our trip.)

I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 4. As I reached for my phone that was sitting on the bedside table, my husband gently touched my shoulder to get my attention. He calmly told me about a terrorist attack that happened the night before on London Bridge and at Borough Market. We were in the exact same area a few days prior. I went to bed a little after 10 p.m. while my husband opted to stay up a little longer and watch an episode or two of the then newly released season of House of Cards. He told me that his phone started lighting up with messages from people back home asking if we were okay. Instead of waking me up, he decided to let me sleep and contact our friends and family to let them know we were safe.

After processing what he told me, I switched on my phone to see that I too had a barrage of concerned messages. We spent an hour or so watching the news on the BBC until nothing new was reported. We discussed whether we still wanted to do the sightseeing we had planned. To this day, I am still surprised that I wanted to continue on with the trip as if nothing had happened. I think I was still in the mindset that this was happening “over there”, so I had nothing to be scared of. We got ready and set out for another day of sightseeing.

A map showing the road closures on the morning of June 4.

Oddly enough, our travels that day took us past some of the barricaded roads around London Bridge. We knew we were close, but we didn’t expect to turn a corner and find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a crowd amongst a lot of TV news cameras and police vehicles. (We were walking to the Tower of London because the Tower Hill tube station had been shut down.)

Seeing it all in person was very odd to me, and the gravity of what happened still hadn’t sunk in. Even today, my brain is still far removed from it, but I think maybe that’s just how I’ve subconsciously decided to deal with it. Would I go back to London? I would, but not for another 5 to 10 years. This last trip allowed me to see everything I really wanted to see, so I think it’s time that I visit some other destinations.

Damn you shiny distractions!

I had big plans, BIG PLANS for what I was going to write for this week’s blog post, but some shiny things were waved in front of my face and I succumbed to their wiles as I waved a dismissive hand at my blogging responsibilities.

Sorry ’bout that.

But I think it’s good every once in a while to give myself a break from the extreme pressure I put on myself to write a blog-worthy post *cough* and churn out a piece of tripe.

So here it is.

I have finally been making some headway as far as work is concerned. It felt like I had been lagging behind since the beginning of December, but after working some overtime a couple weeks ago, I’d say I’m caught up to about March now. Huge, HUGE relief. (I hate being behind, but sometimes with my job it cannot be helped.)

This reduction in my stress levels allowed me to actually focus on relaxing at home in the evenings instead of trying to plan out the next work day in my head, thinking of everything that needed to get done. It was in this relaxed state that the shiny things took control.

I paid for a month-long subscription to Ancestry.ca and couldn’t stop clicking through all the hints that had popped up since the last time I subscribed to the paid content. The first night, I stayed up a little later than usual just clicking through immigration records and photos of gravestones. I mostly worked on the part of my family tree from the U.K. and got as far as my 4th great-grandfather and grandmother. I also found out that one of my ancestors baked a birthday cake for a member of the royal family back in the day. Very cool! I used Google Maps to help me plot my places of origin — all of which are close to London!

I heard that Netflix added some new content recently, so I spent some time browsing through their new additions. MISTAKE! Soooooo much good stuff! I had to add the new Louis C.K. stand-up 2017 to my list (sorry, but I’m a fan) as well as 13 Reasons Why (have you watched it? I’ve heard really good things so far!) But I have to say, if you are waffling on what to watch next, watch the BBC drama series Thirteen. It was amazing! But I will tell you right now that there are no plans for a second series, so enjoy the five episodes you do get. Just… wow. I’m not saying much because I really want you to see it for yourself… then we can discuss it once you have!

Photo credit:  BBC

Like I said, I had big plans for a great blog post that obviously didn’t happen. But I only work three days this week then I get a nice five-day weekend, meaning I will have time to type up a super spiffy post for you!

Then we’ll be about square. *draws a square in the air with her right pointer finger* ;)

Life Lately #1

I’m going to try something a little different on the blog called Life Lately.

life-lately-banner

Really, its just a quick and easy way for me to let you know what I’ve been up to lately. Feel free to do this on your own blog if you like the idea.

1. As my dance instructor announced this week, we have only SIX MORE WEEKS until our final show. Gosh, even typing that made my heart beat faster. We’ve finished learning choreography for the two numbers that I am in, so we will be using the remaining weeks to polish things and practice the difficult parts over, and over, and over again. It is tedious, we get yelled at, and your buttons get pushed, but it is worth it to make the show run smoothly and the dances seem effortless.

 

2. I’ve felt burnt out from almost everything these days. How about you? I don’t feel refreshed with the start of the new year but more like I’m constantly running to catch up. This leaves me exhausted at the end of the day and not wanting to do much but be a blob on the couch and watch my YouTube subscriptions. I’m also pretty sure my Instagram followers are wondering why the hell I have an account in the first place. Believe me, I do too. I’m not a photophile by any means. I’m more in the moment when things are happening, and grabbing my phone to take a photo is one of the last things I think of. Maybe I should start creating to-do lists so I can feel like I actually accomplished something when I’m that exhausted blob at the end of the day.

3. I may not be a photophile, but I am definitely a musicphile! I have quite an eclectic taste in music, and when I find something I love I am quick to share it with others.

These are some songs I have recently saved on Spotify:

  • Saint Cecilia by Foo Fighters
  • How Did You Love by Shinedown
  • Good Thing by Fine Young Cannibals
  • Plus five songs by Kenny Rogers (I told you I had an eclectic taste in music)

4. Who else has been watching the current season of Sherlock? My husband and I have been watching it Sunday nights during Masterpiece on PBS. O.M.G. How good was The Lying Detective episode? It now ranks as one of my top favourite episodes! Last week, while planning where we will stay during our trip to London, I found a nice hotel only a few blocks west of where they film the exterior of 221B Baker Street (which is actually 187 North Gower Street). This has ramped up my excitement about our trip quite a bit, so I hope we can book it and maybe eat a few times at Speedy’s (which is an actual sandwich shop). Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

5. Along with dance, I’ve started Couch to 5k again. If you followed me this past summer on Instagram (when I was posting every day, har har), you may remember seeing a few photos where I shared my progress. Well, I got to Day 3 of Week 5 and kinda just stuck there. Yesterday, I finished Day 3 of Week 2 and I don’t feel challenged yet. YAY! I’m one of those oddballs that actually loves running on the treadmill as opposed to going outside and pounding the pavement. What helps get me through my runs is a good playlist. I will share my running playlist with you in a future post.

Your turn!

What have you been listening to lately? I’m always interested in others’ taste in music.

Have you ever been to London? If so, what did you enjoy the most? I’ve been on the London Eye during the day, but now I want to see what it is like at night.

2017: A Lethbridgian Preview

Happy new year!

As much as I would like to charge onward into 2017 with a positive outlook, I already know that I will experience some sadness along with happy times — hopefully more of the latter. So, instead of delving into my resolutions for the new year (I have none, really), let’s gaze into my crystal ball to see what the upcoming year has in store for me.

Ammena’s last dance show

This is the sadness I was talking about. 2017 will be the last year the Ammena Dance Company will put on its annual show, An Explosion of World Dance & Music. This will be my fourth year dancing in the show, and I was shocked to hear it would be my last. I have made a lot of new friends through the company and have thoroughly enjoyed being on stage again, but I also understand the reasons behind the studio’s closure. Everyone involved in the show is dedicated more than ever before to make this year’s show the best ever, and I look forward to making that happen.

(photo credit)

Our 10th wedding anniversary

My husband and I were married on June 2, 2007, so this year we get to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Really, now… WHOOSH! Where did the time go? We’ve been through rough times and good times like most couples, but I am so glad that we persevered and made it this far. We are far from perfect and still have our difficulties, but I think we are in the best place we have ever been, so it can only go up from here.

(photo credit)

A week in London

To celebrate 10 years of marriage, we are going to spend a week in London late May/early June. YAAAAAAAY! I get giddy just thinking about it! London is my favourite city in the world and I always experience something new every time I go. This trip will be my third and my husband’s second. June 2 falls on a Friday this year, so we want to go out for a fancy supper and enjoy a night out on the town. I have been pinning ideas to my Pinterest account for MONTHS now. SO MUCH EXCITE! :D

 

So that’s a brief preview of what the upcoming year has in store for me. I am so glad that I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things with updating the blog on a weekly basis. I look forward to sharing my life with you in the upcoming months, so I hope you will stick around.

Your turn!

What are you looking forward to the most in 2017?

Can we all agree to never speak of 2016 ever again?