Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quick Traveling (and Reading) Update

I wish I could post some photos of where I am right now - in beautiful sunny California! The weather is spectacular, the beaches are sandy and seem to go on forever, the people are friendly, and there's just a great vibrant atmosphere of relaxation and good cheer :) Ahh, how I love the sun! I'm also liking the healthy lifestyle that is so incredibly easy to enjoy here. It's actually a huge pleasure to go and be active outdoors (tennis! running on the beach! hiking! swimming! it goes on and on!) rather than thinking of having to exercise and being stuck running on machines indoors. And the food is delicious and nutritious so no problem there either.

Besides soaking up the sunshine, I've done a bit of reading as well. Especially during a magnificent stormy spell we had here - such huge waves! I finished reading The Mill on the Floss and couldn't help crying very hard at the end. I did not see that ending coming and it hit hard. It was a wonderful read, so true to life and yet artistic and thrilling and full of elevated emotion and profound insights. I love how Maggie's inner world becomes such a powerful force, and her character isn't a character but a breathing human being so full of life. The world she finds herself in is a living, breathing world as well, and sadly it does not provide the love and uplifting passion that she herself radiates and yearns for so badly.

After that intense read, I picked up 'Wives and Daughters' by Elizabeth Gaskell. I'm still happily stuck in the world of Victorian Lit., but this time I wanted something just a little bit lighter. I have to confess I have never read this author before, only seen 'Cranford' on PBS and the fantastic 'North and South' miniseries (starring Richard Armitage, one of my big favourites!) but I already knew I would love her books. This one is my kind of page-turner. The characters and their day to day lives are described with intricate detail, and the relationships that develop are interesting and make me hungry for more! I can't wait to find out what will happen next. I also really like how well Molly's sensitivity and emerging sense of self are painted by the author. Very true to life and subtley, intelligently described.

Whew. And now back to current concerns in the real world. Such as dinner :) Cheerio!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reading Update - The Mill on the Floss

I'm flying to a sunny destination tomorrow! But before that happens, I thought I'd jot down what my current read is as it's excellent indeed. One of my favourite authors is George Eliot - my favourite time period, extremely intelligent female author, compelling and intricate style, insightful, wise, feminist, political, emotional, and I could go on and on :) Seriously, 'Middlemarch' changed my life :)

So at the moment I am reading the Penguin edition of 'The Mill on the Floss' for the very first time. I bought it in a small bookstore in London, England (they had so many Penguin books - heavenly!) but didn't have a chance to finish it as travelling proved to be quite the busy activity. So I'm about a third of the way through and the writing is as detailed, witty, and brilliant as I expected. Her characters are so real, it's extraordinary!

Hopefully I will be able to post regularly while away. Wishing everyone a splendid start to the new year! So far so good :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rainy Weather for Relaxing

Well, we're definitely in the thick of winter now! Today is a grey, rainy day perfect for staying cozy, curling up with a book, watching a good film, cooking up a pot of soup, and all those other indoor activities that are enjoyable when frolicking outside is not really an option.

On days like this, I find that I slow down a bit, want to sleep a bit more, don't feel like exercising too vigorously or traveling too far. I think it's a reminder that this time of year is all about going inward, reflecting, and figuring out what we want to focus on once Spring comes around and flowers start blooming again :) It's quite nice to be given this chance to relax, rejuvenate, stretch, and eat vast quantities of hot soup!

I will be going to a much sunnier, warmer place in just a couple of days, so right now I am soaking up this opportunity to rest and enjoy the coziness :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Resolutions? Nah!

So this is the time when many people dust off their forgotten goals and desires, getting ready to plunge into the new year brimming with resolutions. I think it's absolutely fantastic to set goals and to aim for great things, whether it's quitting smoking or eating healthier. However, there are also good reasons why many resolutions fall by the wayside, only to get covered with dust (and guilt!) again. Maybe they weren't specific enough, or there were too many, maybe there wasn't a clear action plan to follow, or maybe it was something that willpower alone cannot tackle.

Many resolutions are phrased in a negative way - lose weight, stop this, stop that, quit this, cut out that, eliminate, give up, restrict - AGH! It's just not that appealing! And this kind of language doesn't motivate anyone. No matter what, it won't make you feel good about yourself in a healthy, genuine way. So I definitely don't like these kinds of resolutions.

Is there an alternative? Of course! It's always great to set goals and aim for the stars, while taking manageable baby steps to get there. For one thing, why not phrase resolutions in a positive, inspiring way? Why aim to lose ten pounds when you can instead aim to eat a varied, nutritious and delicious whole foods diet while also engaging in your favourite physical activity on most days. And you can make it more specific to suit your needs and make it super realistic and concrete rather than vague and mysterious. "I will go for a thirty minute walk every morning and cook vegetable soup twice a week" is way more stimulating than "I will break unhealthy habit #34".

Just think of what inspires you, stirs your passions, makes you feel better and healthier, what you daydream about, what you look forward to, what makes you happy, etc, etc, etc. and aim to integrate more of this into your day to day life.

One of my goals will definitely be to read more fiction books, it's something that I absolutely love but haven't been doing nearly enough of since graduating from university. Non-fiction is wonderfully informative and important, but fiction (especially Victorian fiction :) ) stirs the soul :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing everyone everything wonderful and sweet for the new year! I hope we can all experience more peace, love, community, hope, and joy :) Here's to a healthier, greener, happier planet!

Favourites Enjoyed in 2009

Before slipping into brand new 2010, I'd like to look back at some of 2009's highlights. Some of the following may have actually been created in earlier years, but somehow they made my 2009 a little bit more special :)

Favourite Places: London, England - the buzz, the culture, the history, the beauty, Marks & Spencer, V & A Museum, The Sunday Times, British Museum, the people, and so much more!;

Paris - pretty as a picture, sophisticated, the best place for gorgeous long walks, Musee d'Orsay, Eric Kayser Bakery, the language, the architecture

Favourite Outings: Everything I experienced in London, including opera (Turindot and Rigoletto) especially...the musical Chicago was lots of fun :)

Favourite Concert: Bat for Lashes in Vancouver.

Favourite Album: The ones I listened to most in 2009 were The xx, Lungs - Florence and the Machine, music from Carmen, Two Suns - Bat for Lashes, Veckatimest - Grizzly Bear, Hospice - The Antlers, Into the Wild Soundtrack, various classical music

Favourite Film: Didn't see many 2009 ones. House of Eliott was my favourite thing to watch, but that's an old television series.

Favourite Dish: Chicken and wild mushroom stew. Vegetable tart. And split pea soup :)

Favourite Book: The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett; The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde.

Favourite Tea: Rooibus Vanilla.

I hope your 2009 was filled with lots of lovely enjoyments, new discoveries, and happy times :)