Try this: listen to a podcast

Trying new things is a great way to feel an invigorating boost in life. Occasionally, on a Monday, I’ll be posting an idea for trying something new with the details on how and why I think you should do it, too. Consider it your mission should you choose to accept it. 😀

For a while now, I’ve been pretty in love with podcasts. Over at the last six months, they are all I’ve listened to on my phone. Music has been relegated to runs and runs only and that is probably only because I haven’t yet found a way to listen to podcasts while I do that, too. I listen to them in the office, while traveling, there are even a few that Kevin and I listen to together in the car.

March is #Trypod month, a campaign which encourages people to share their favourite podcasts and to get their non-podcast-listening friends subscribing as well.

A podcast is an episodic audio series that can address a specific topic or theme, a story or be based on personality of the host and/or guests. They can be fun, humourous, educational, thought-provoking or any combination of those things depending on what you like. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there so there has got to be a few you would be into.

Getting started couldn’t be easier. If you have a mobile device, it’s pretty likely that you have a podcast app at your fingertips. Just open it up, search the name of a podcast and subscribe. (Don’t have any leads? Look below or ask your friends.) You can also look back into the archives to listen to older episodes. I would recommend (from experience) that you download a number of episodes while connected to your home wifi and store them on your device. This will save you risking going over your data plan limitations if you’re streaming them on the go. Your podcast app can likely be set up to delete them once they have been played.

If you find the right podcasts, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. Here are a few that I listen to on the regular.

My favourite podcasts.

  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin & Elizabeth Craft. If I had to pick a favourite podcast, this one would be it. Rubin, the NYC authour of books like The Happiness Project and Better Than Before is joined by her sister, a TV writer in LA, Liz Craft. They talk about creating habits that help make for a happier life with tips and tricks for and from listeners as well as interesting guests who expand the topics to their areas of expertise. Some of my favourite episodes have been about picking a signature colour (episode 75) and picking a Happiness 911 song (episode 87 – more on that below.)
  • Radical Candor. This one is a doozy. This is the one podcast that I only feel comfortable listening to when I can give it my full focus. This is one I listen to alone and at a time when I’m in quiet surroundings. In fact, I want to devote my attention to it so deeply, I often listen to it with ear buds. Radical Candor – Care Personally and Challenge Directly. Episodes include: Ruinous Empathy and Praise, Ruinous Empathy and Criticism, How to Get Feedback from Your Boss, Make Meetings Less Awful, Radically Candid Criticism (<– this episode was my favourite so far.) This podcast is really, really impactful, but it’s a personal challenge at the same time.
  • Note to Self. Host Manoush Zomorodi tackles “essential quandaries for anyone trying to preserve their humanity in the digital age.” Lots of talk about technology and modern living and the mixing of the two. I’m put off by information delivered at a level that is over my head and Note to Self is easily digested and applied to life. Recently, they launched The Privacy Paradox, a project to help listeners/participants better understand how they control their personal information. I was only able to go through a few of the exercises (the others are still waiting in my inbox) but it was definitely eye-opening and worth the effort.
  • Making Oprah. I don’t remember how I ended up listening to this one. I’m not particularly oprah enthusiastic so it seems kind of random, but it was very enjoyable and, in fact, it brought a whole new respect for her. Short and sweet, it’s a six episode series with a bonus Donahue installment at the end. This would be a good starter podcast for a newbie.
  • Serial. Season one or two is a seriously divisive distinction when it comes to Serial listeners. Season one told the story of the death of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent arrest and questionable conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed. Season two took a totally different approach and addressed the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier who abandoned his post in Afghanistan. To me, season one was attractive because it was sensational. Season two, however, that was the season that I enjoyed the most. I recorded countless tidbits of information on little pieces of paper or in the Notes app on my phone and I think of the dynamics of the story often.
  • Anna Faris is Unqualified. “Not-so-great relationship advice from completely unqualified Hollywood types.” Fantastic. And hilarious. They’ll go off on these improv riffs that are just phenomenal. Like, literally laugh out loud while you’re walking down the street phenomenal. It’s the kind of stuff you can’t plan and can’t rehearse and people that are just really damn funny. My favourite: episode #77Milo Ventimiglia.
  • Love Alexi. Alexi Wasser is adorably neurotic and super fun to visit with – at least, that’s the vibe she gives off. Her podcast is set up as interviews with people most of whom are just slightly off my radar. She is so cute and so fun and so completely out there sometimes, but it’s impossible not to love her. Check it out. My favourite discovery via Love Alexi was Dallas Clayton (episode 28 here) and my favourite episode was with Lisa Loeb. (Lisa Loeb! Episode 40!) The only drawback is that some of the episodes are loooooooooooooooong. I don’t love that, but, for Alexi, I’ll do it (sometimes.)

Gretchen Rubin & me at Happier LIVE in Seattle

Have you already curated your own best podcasts list? Are you hooked on your own favourites? Then I have a challenge for you, too!

Try this: go see a live podcast.

Friends of ours went to see the live recording of one of their favourite podcasts last night and seeing their posts reminded me of how much fun we had when we went to see Happier live last October. (This was the Happiness 911 episode I mentioned above.) Also last night, I listened to Happier‘s second anniversary episode when they talked about favourite moments and many listeners wrote in and referred back to that night in Seattle. It sounds silly, but the memory of it, listening to the theme music and hearing others’ recollections of that night brought tears of joy to my eyes. I had a very strong emotional reaction to the memory and it was such a good one. It was definitely an experience that made me happier.

So, tell me: are you a podcast listener? If so, which are your favourites? If not, what’s stopping you?

Monday, monday

Happy Monday, friends!


Pic above from Dallas Clayton whom I adore. He posted it on Instagram.

***

Less than one week until we get the keys to our new place! Excited doesn’t even begin to cover it, but I’m such a bizarre combination or eager to start and not knowing where that I feel a little paralyzed. Sigh…

***

I was thinking about it and it’s a good thing I’m on vacation this week since all my work besties are away. And that’s depressing. Partly because they’re away and, well, I’m not. Partly because I’d be lost there without them. One is in San Diego via Las Vegas, one is in Mexico, one is in Hawaii. Thankfully, one is on maternity leave which means she is nearby and my time off will allow me some quality time with her and her gorgeous little five-month old.

***

I’m on vacation and we were supposed to be away now. This is the second trip we have had to cancel this year – not something I’m comfortable doing. In fact, as I’ve found out, cancelling travel is pretty low down on the list of things I’d like to do. We should be visiting friends and family in Ontario right now. Unfortunately, with planning a move and a wedding within three months of each other, staying home was unavoidable. 🙁

***

It snowed here again yesterday. I think we’ve all lost track of our snowpocalypses. And, though it’s just one particularly bad winter, it’s hard to not wonder if things are changing. We’d feel differently, I’m sure, if we hadn’t been living in this apartment that turns into a prison cell the second the snowflakes start falling. Maybe we’d be less annoyed/tormented/exasperated. I’ve actually been awfully lucky. I’ve had time off booked for almost every workday snowfall all year! So, while it is annoying, I haven’t been overly inconvenienced. This time yesterday, they were predicting about eight snow days out of the next ten. Now, they’ve back it off. Phew!

***

But now I have a week off and all to myself. Kevin is working and my plans are intentionally minimal. I have a few projects that I would like to work on and a few fun things to focus the rest of me time. (This blog probably reads like I write a lot of lists, but I don’t. I swear.)

  • Clean up my Goodreads Currently Reading bookshelf. I have way too many partially finished and even just started titles on that right now.
  • Order wedding invitations. Oh my word. This is turning it the longest, most drawn out ordeal.
  • Choose cakes to taste. This might be my favourite part of wedding planning so far.
  • Watch Big Little Lies. I blasted through the book over the past week and I quite enjoyed it. Now, to put the HBO version to the test…
  • Watch Riverdale. I have to admit, the hype definitely has me intrigued.
  • Cook. Spending time in the kitchen is tough when you’re out of the house 60+ hours a week for work. I need to get reacquainted time food that is made at home.
  • Pack. Of course. This is mandatory.

***

Fun or not, what are you up to this week? What do you hope to accomplish before next weekend?

She said, he said: LOGAN

So, here’s a relationship dynamic of ours: Kevin? He loves movies. Me? Meh. He likes to go to the theatre every week. I use movies as background noise while I write. I meet him part way by going to see shows with him semi-regularly. He appeases me by going alone more often than not.

This isn’t the only way in which our opinions differ. While we were watching the previews last night, I thought it would be fun to compare notes more thoroughly and since he has talked about writing movie reviews in the past, this would be a great opportunity to do both.

And an idea was born…

Here’s the first edition of movie review segment that I’m calling She said, he said.

She said: Logan.

I’ve seen my share of comic book hero movies over the past six years. Sure, I’d seen some pre-Kevin as well, but I’ve definitely upped my game (or had my game upped for me) since we started dating. Many a late Thursday night or early Friday morning I’ve been found sitting in a movie theatre surrounded by people far more devoted than I to watch one of the city’s first showings of a long-awaited installment of some franchise I’d only vaguely heard about.

Last night, we got into the 7:15 showing which was a blessing in a few different ways. First, it isn’t uncommon for me to get stuck in the office until ten or eleven on the night before I go on vacation so our tickets insured that I got out the door at a reasonable time. Second, I had definitely been fantasizing about couch and pjs since early in the day so the earlier the show, the sooner I’d be able to realize that.

First, the movie is focused on just a handful of people – a foursome of heroes, an army of villains. Like many, and even though I’d only just met him, I felt a little disappointed by Logan and what he’d done with his life as well. He was old and weathered and just wasn’t really living his best life. That’s the vibe of the movie throughout: Logan could have been someone better.

We’re quickly introduced to Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-Men, Caliban, a caretaker of sorts and then Laura, a little girl version of Wolverine (which is Logan if you don’t already know.) The villains are so villainous they don’t deserve their own descriptions.

So, heroes and villains. You know it all this plays out…

This isn’t a movie for kids. It was loud and it was violent and it was explosive and it was extremely intense. That surprised me a little since traditionally you’d expect to see young boys watching a Wolverine movie, but they’d be best left at home. In fact, with its R-rating, they wouldn’t even be allowed in.

While there may not have been kids in the theatre, there were kids in the film. I don’t usually like kids in movies, to be honest, but Laura really grew on me. They never made her inappropriately cute or act in that quirky way that they do with kids – making them do or say overly adult things for a cheap laugh. She was stoic and she was damaged and she was haunting and she was really, really good.

And Logan, as you’d expect, got better. He grew as a person and restored some of the faith that people had felt robbed of. He, also, appeared damaged and haunting in his own way, but he starts to live again, he starts to inspire hope.

The cinematography was spectacular. This isn’t something I wouldn’t usually even notice, but it had a really huge impact on this movie. The way they slowed down some scenes and sped up others really added a lot of depth to the film. Jittery camera work made battle scenes more engaging and rugged cuts from one vantage point to another and back added to the feeling of action.

For a non-comic book fan like me, I didn’t feel like I was missing or had missed anything. The storytellers did a good job filling in the gaps with either actual explanations or obvious implications. I never felt out of the loop or wondered who was who or why they did what they did. The action was enough to qualify it as that type of film, but never over the top. (Okay, well, maybe in the final battle scene.) It had enough emotion running through it that I bought the story and it was well spaced in that it didn’t feel rushed in wrapping things up.

I found out later on that the film was set in 2029 which I have an issue with: I have a lot of hope invested in the snacks being much better by then. The stuff that Laura picked out in the gas station looked exactly the same as today and that would be a huge disappointment.

Overall, I would recommend this film for comic book fans and for those who love them. If you’re worried about getting wrangled into some nerdfest for your partner, this is the nerdfest you would want to get wrangled into.

On a scale of one to five, bad to good, Sweet November to Lost In Translation, I give it a 4.

He said: Logan.

I will try my best not to give any spoilers.

In 2000, Marvel treated us with the first X-Men movie and though it had its flaws it was by industry standards considered a blockbuster.  In that movie we saw for the first time Hugh Jackman take on the iconic role of Wolverine. During this film the Wolverine character was a work in progress but he managed to develop Wolverine’s “bub” catchphrase and showcased the competitive relationship between him and Cyclops. Overall, it was a very good first movie in the X-Men franchise and kicked off a series worth watching.

As the franchise grew there has been one consistent actor and character and that is Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. For 17 years and eight X-Men films, Jackman has been the only actor to play the Wolverine.  So when the studios announced that they would be filming another Wolverine movie last year, Jackman also announced that this would be his last time being the man with the adamantium claws.

The final Wolverine movie was released last night and it was titled “Logan”. Logan is based on the comic series “Old Man Logan”.  At first it was difficult for me to see such a strong character beaten down and haggard, but Jackman has been in this role for 17 years and he handled it with ease. The director James Mangold did a fantastic job showing how vulnerable Logan is and just how distraught our hero is with life.  Logan is not your typical X-Men movie.  Mangold allows the viewers and fans to see the Wolverine as he was meant to be seen: as a conflicted, vicious man who is battling his demons.

Logan is a fantastic movie, it treats fans to a different view of a beloved character.  After watching it, I rank this right up there with the Dark Knight that’s how good this film is.  It has everything from violence to humour to tears.  Logan is a roller coaster of emotions for the fans. Hugh Jackman could not have asked for a better way to end his reign as the Wolverine.

On a scale of one to five, bad to good, Dog Soldiers to Dr. Strange, I give it a 5.

February in review

Catching up with February. How can two to three days difference leave a month feeling that much shorter?!? We had a few big plans that went by the wayside, but we also had a couple of little surprises creep in there, too. It was a good month, but it felt a little less energized than usual. Our impending move put us into a bit of a state of limbo – not out of here yet, not into the new place… It was a quiet month, but sometimes quiet is good, too.

  • Road trip to Vancouver, Washington – SNOWED IN
  • Super Bowl. FEATURING THE FALCONS. Rise up, errbody! – HEARTBREAKING
  • Make and send Valentines – I sort of did this! But I forgot to take pics for proof.
  • Nate Bargatze! In Vancouver! – AMAZING
  • Run 25km – We got back to it, but not as a routine. We need to tackle it this month. Seriously.
  • Order change of address cards AND wedding invitations – Change of address – yes. Wedding invitation – no.
  • Make plans for a weekend check out at our wedding venue, organize meetings with flower vendors, cake makers, hairdressers (?) –
  • Secure officiant and photographer – Officiant – hallelujah! Photographer – this.close.
  • Finish reading two books – I read way more than two books, BUT I didn’t finish two. I read half to three quarters of five books, but only finished one.

Extra things we DID do…

What were your greatest experiences or your proudest accomplishments this February? What made February 2017 memorable for you?

Marvelous March

March!

The third month of the year.

Already.

Also, the first day of Lent and I may not be religious, but I’m big on practicing deprivation. Does that sound weird? No matter, it’s true. I like to give something up for periods of time and see what happens. When I was a kid, we always had Pancake Tuesday. Now that I’m an adult, I do Lent. (I’m not that into pancakes.)

It’s March!

This is the month when we will move into our new place!

This is the month when we will send out wedding invitations!

This is the month when we will have fewer plans than normal!

This moving thing is taking a lot of our energy and attention and that’s mostly in good ways. We knew we were moving more than two months before we did so it’s been a little agonizing being excited to get to the new place, but having to wait so long to make it happen.

I have vacation this month. Twice, in fact. One week next week, two (very busy) weeks back in the office, and then another week again.

In the midst of all the packing and the cleaning and the decluttering and the unpacking, we’re also going to try to have some fun…

  • Start tomato seeds
  • Celebrate St Patrick’s Day
  • Visit the library
  • Run 25km
  • Clear out my remote garden
  • Order wedding invitations
  • Secure wedding photographer
  • Read two books
  • Plan first dinner party in the new place
  • Write! Write! Write!

What do you have planned for March? What are you looking forward to?

Discover Vancouver: Rogers Arena

Here’s another thing we like to do: explore our town. For Julie‘s birthday, she wanted to check out the home of her beloved Vancouver Canucks. So that’s what we did.

We arrived at Rogers Arena just in time for the first tour of the day and we were the only ones there. Bonus! We got registered up at the front desk quickly, were given lanyards with behind the scenes passes and we were ready to go!

We left the team store and promptly got a rundown of some of the history of the building and what to expect from the tour. Since it wasn’t a game day, the arena was relatively quiet, though there was some filming going on so we did see a few people including players and coaches on the benches and on the ice. We were allowed to take pictures of and with everything we saw (including any players we might encounter), but were asked not to bother said players since they were, after all, at work.

We headed up to the 300 level to check out the Canucks dressing room display which includes memorabilia from the four Canucks whose jerseys have been retired and Trevor Linden’s actual dressing room stall from before the rooms were renovated in 2009. (He wore the same shoes to every single game throughout his career. Like, exact same pair. And they’re in that stall still. Gross.)

Next up, we headed to the Olympic display where Roberto Luongo waves the Canadian flag after Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal at the 2010 Olympics. The wall features a replica of Luongo’s mask, his actual stick and a few other tokens from both the men’s and women’s tournaments that year.

When we finished there, we took the elevator up to the 500 level which houses spectator lounges including Club 500 – a ticketed area that offers several stations of various foods, bars and very loungeable seating, the press areas and media booths (no surprise that home is much comfier than visitors), the Canucks Alumni suite. From high up in the rafters, we got an impeccable look at the banners, a different angle on the jumbotron and a bird’s eye view of the ice.

From the top, we went all the way down to the bottom where we got to walk through the players’ entrance to the arena and in and around the dressing rooms. Because there were players in the arena, we weren’t allowed to go into the Canucks dressing room, but we did get to walk through the visitors’. (It smelled like watermelon gum.)

For those of you who don’t know or may not remember, when Rogers Arena was built, the Canucks weren’t the only professional team in town. One of the more interesting parts of the tour for me was when we walked through the area where the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA used to be housed. The remnants of having a basketball team in town is that, still, sixteen years later, there are way taller than normal doors in certain areas of the arena. Here’s 5’10.5″ me underneath a chin-up bar in the midst of them. If you sit on one of the stalls in the former Grizzlies dressing room, your feet still out like a child’s.

After checking out all there was to see at ice level, we headed back up an elevator and to the 100 level before finishing off the tour. All in all, we spent about an hour and a half exploring the arena and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested. Taking the tour also gets you a special 10% discount in the Canucks store on the same day.

Want to check out Rogers Arena? It’s $12 per adult ($6 per child over four, $8 per senior) and reservations are not required. For more information, check out their tours page.

To check out more photos from our tour, go to my album on Facebook. (Like my page while you’re there!)

The birthday paradox

Years ago, someone told me that in a group of people, it was more likely that two people would have the same birthday than that everyone would have a unique birthday. I never paid attention to the numbers so earlier this week, I looked them up.

Based on probability theory, with just 23 random people in a room, the likelihood that two of them will have the same birthday is 50%. With 70 people, that chance jumps to 99.9%.

It should be no surprise, then, when we know people with the same birthday, but I always (okay, sometimes) think that it’s a pretty cool and special thing. I often check out which celebrities share a friend’s birthday (mine include Lebron James, Tiger Woods and Jay Kay from Jamiroquai.) And, today, I have THREE people to celebrate. One came to town to spend her birthday with us, one flew to Maui to celebrate his in tropical paradise, one will be, I’m sure, painting the town red.

Happy birthday to Julie!

I was asked to select ten to fifteen words I would use to describe her and the top two I’ve come up with are vibrant and gregarious. She is fun, she is excited, she is a invigorating person to be around and she is the best third wheel we’ve got! We’re so happy to have her here in BC this weekend and we are going to do it up right in her honour!

Happy birthday to Karen!

We worked together on a few projects including the launch of her business and plenty of lacrosse stuff. Through it all, we developed a friendship that outlived all of our business dealings. She is a super fun person to hang out with and, in case you ever end up with any physio needs, she is amazing at her job!

Happy birthday to Mark!

That’s him on the left and, sadly, this is the only photo of him that I could find. I know that we have a couple of others – from Pemberton Festival in 2008, from camping in Whistler and from various weird hijinks over the years – but this was the best I could do. At work, he is my sanity saver, my refuge in a storm, my sounding board and the one who sets me straight. I adore his commitment to what’s right, to treating people well and to being a good person. He is more resilient than anyone I know and always sets a good example for any and all human beings.

If today is your birthday, too, I can honestly tell you that you are in very good company.

#minsgame – week three

Last week’s update came a little late after Valentine’s Day and Wedding Wednesday claimed their rightful dates and bumped my decluttering and minimalism progress report.

This week spans days sixteen to twenty-two in the 28-day challenge. Those five days account for 133 items to total 253 things so far. Those things include bathroom items, craft supplies, books, kitchen stuff and many other random items from around the house.

From an overall perspective, I’m still early enough in the process that it’s relatively easy for me to piece together each day’s quota just by looking around. I was asked this week whether I am tackling my belongings by zones and I am reserving the need to do that for now. I basically just cherry pick as I make my way through my day and will get more focused and organized in the final week of the month after we have our last houseguest in this apartment and can really start packing up for the move. (We can start moving three weeks from today!)

What’s been your secret to keeping your belongings in check over the years? If they’re not, what’s your biggest weakness?

Six things that happened in year six

Today marks six years since Kevin and I started dating. What happened in year six? Well.

  1. We got engaged and started planning our wedding
  2. We traveled – Calgary, Prague, Portland, Orlando, Washington/Oregon road trip
  3. We adopted a garden space that wasn’t being used by its owners
  4. We united with our southern besties and formed the Trash Panda Union
  5. We started running
  6. We decided to move (again)

Cheers to six years! 🥂

Try this: say hello

Trying new things is a great way to feel an invigorating boost in life. Occasionally, on a Monday, I’ll be posting an idea for trying something new with the details or how and why I think you should do it, too. Consider it your mission should you choose to accept it. 😀

It was a Friday morning and I was on my way into my office. I was walking down the hall that leads me there and passed the door of a woman who was relatively new to the company and to whom I’d never been introduced. We work in different departments and for two whole years, we’d never officially crossed paths. We had, of course, literally crossed paths in stairwells and hallways, but never in a scenario that would allow us to get acquainted.

I trudged past her office, noticing that all the other doors on the floor were still closed. As I got to the door that leads from her hallway into mine, I stopped, took a deep breath and walked back to her office door. I leaned in and I said, “hi.”

I’m a serious introvert. I thrive in quiet and calm. I speak with purpose and (almost) never frivolity. In all honesty, I strongly feel that the fewer words I hear in a day, the better. I often come home saying, “I wish people would talk lessssssssss.” But I did it anyway.

What came of it? Well, to start with, we chatted for about fifteen minutes and got to know each other a little. In the months that have passed, she and I have developed a fun and friendly relationship and continue to connect a couple of times a week. I like her a lot and we keep spending more and more time together. It’s nice to have someone new to debrief with even if it’s just during chance meetings throughout our days.

Reaching out and talking to a stranger can be challenging. Maybe you’re shy. Maybe you’re not interested. Maybe you feel like you already have enough friends/contacts/acquaintances. Maybe you’re exhausted and feel like you can’t give any more.

Say hello. To your neighbour, to someone you pass on the street, to the person sitting next to you. I’ve maintained friendships for years with a student who sat beside me on a flight to Hawaii, a fellow festival volunteer who waited in registration line next to me and my matron of honour is someone I stood beside at a winery tasting.

Say hello and you risk someone not saying hello back, being dismissed or being ignored. But if that happens, so what? You carry on with your day.

Say hello and you take the chance that you could end up talking with someone you really like. Say hello and you might just enjoy a momentary smile and a nice little conversation. Say hello and you could make a friend.

•••

If you had the Matthew Good Band song Apparitions in your head the whole time while reading this, well, I don’t know what to tell you. So did I. Interesting fact: it’s nearly impossible to find that video online which is a real shame because it is such a great one. If you never saw it or haven’t seen it in years, I encourage you to take another look at it. Also, it’s TWENTY years old this year. Sigh…

Do you have any great stories about times when you spoke to a stranger?