Liebster Award Nomination

Leibster Award, New Blogger

I blog to share because “sharing is caring”. I’ve said that before. It’s therapeutic for me to just share whatever I’m passionate about in the moment and if other’s join me on my journey, wonderful. If they comment and share back, even better. Yesterday though, I received a gift that I never dreamed of. I was nominated for The Liebster Award. An award to spotlight new bloggers and to allow them the opportunity to pay it forward. I’ve seen the badges on other blogs but never thought I’d get to put the badge on mine.  Well guess what?  Today, that all changes.

I need to thank Beth Wylie for the nomination.  She is a fellow blogger (Life in the Past lane) that I met a few months ago through blogging and Twitter.  On her brief bio she is described as:  “an Arklahoman- an Arkansas native who became an Oklahoman by marriage. She’s on a mission to shake all of her ancestors out of her family tree even if it takes a lifetime. When she’s not researching family history, she’s busy being a healthcare administrator, wife and mommy to a precocious three year old”.  Through brief conversations over blog posts and twitter, I derived that we have much in common.  We are both Gingers, which in itself creates a unique bond, we are passionate about our family history, we love to blog despite upholding demanding careers and busy families and we love Outlander.  Practically twins if you ask me.  I love to visit her blog to hear about a family history search South of the border.  I am truly grateful, honoured and thrilled that Beth nominated me.

There a few rules to accepting a Liebster nomination:

Leibster Nominee, New Blogger

 

My Nominator’s Questions:

1. What motivated you to start your blog and how long have you been blogging?

I am a journaller.  I think I got my first diary when I was 8 and from then on, I was writing my feelings.  I have a subconscious need to get my story out.  I’m not sure why or where this comes from for I have always had a need to do this.  In my early twenties, it became therapeutic when I suffered a few identity crises.  With the onset of blogging and social media it was a natural progression to take to the internet to get the stories out.  As I mature, my writing has a more meaningful purpose and blogging has helped with that evolution.  I’ve been blogging for about 4 years but only 1 seriously and consistently.

2. Where do you get the ideas for your blog posts?

Good question.  I don’t always know.  I make lists but I rarely choose from my list.  It is usually a surge of inspiration that will come at random times.  The Crestleaf 12 Month’s of Fascinating Family Finds challenge has been a great way for me to stay on track with my family history.  I have lots of great stories to share about that and the challenge gives me the focus to do it.  I’m pretty certain I have ADHD so any help with focus is great.

3. Do you ever get “writer’s block,” and, if so, how do you deal with it?

I have yet to experience writer’s block with blogging.  I used to suffer it immensely with university papers.  It helps when you write for yourself.  When I have to write to someone else’s expectations, it’s much more difficult.

4. What is the best advice you can give your fellow bloggers, especially new ones?

Read all you can about creating a blog and then toss it all away.   Take what you understand and make your own rules.

5. How do you network with other bloggers?

Twitter and by posting on their blogs.  I’m interested in taking it to the next level and start going to blog conferences to actually meet some of my “Blog World” friends in person.  I’ve met so many unique and wonderful characters in the Cyber World but it makes me long for a physical face-to-face chat over a cup of tea or coffee.  As great as it has been to meet so many people I’d otherwise never get to know, I love the energy of being with another person in the physical realm.

6. What is the best feedback you have ever gotten on a blog post?

One where someone read a post about a lost family branch and actually knew my family and gave feedback on sources of more information.  It was like finding a chest of rubies in the shipwreck you’ve been trying to uncover for years.

7. What kind of writing experience did you have prior to starting your own blog?

Bachelor of Arts in Drama.  I thought I’d be doing more acting but ended up writing a lot of papers about plays.  I’ve also written a few magazine articles about graduates for the post-secondary institution I work for.

8. What is one goal you have for your blog in the next 12 months?

To finish all 12 months of the Crestleaf challenge without missing any months.

9. What is your favorite blog?

I have many favourites for different reasons.  I like Life in the Past lane because I feel I relate to Beth’s genealogical journey. I like ADHD Kids Rock because of challenges myself and my son face with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). I like A Bowl Full of Lemons because I like organization and DIY stuff.

10. Who is the one person (not related by blood or marriage) that has influenced you the most.

Richard Branson.  I love his “Screw It, Let’s Do It” mantra.  And I love his philosophy that if you take care of the people they will take care of you.

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. First female ice-resurfacing machine operator in the Township of Norwich (the Zamboni driver)
  2. My favourite food all my life has been spaghetti
  3. I can clog
  4. I love Macaroni and Cheese loaf
  5. Christmas fanatic
  6. I’ve written 3 (maybe 4) major papers about George Bernard Shaw
  7. My first album was Destiny by The Jacksons
  8. I saw Michael Jackson in concert when I was 11
  9. I am fussy about food textures
  10. I have a secret crush on Hugh Jackman and Robert Pattinson
  11. I’ve seen every episode of Friends at least 3 times

My Nominees

Wear Out There, Christina Proctor

 

  1. I am an Image/Leadership Consultant on the side and I’ve fallen in love with Christina Proctor‘s blog Wear Out There.  For me, it’s (somewhat) local – I’m Canadian in a Southwestern Ontario world so I relate to many of the local business and style recommendations.  I also connect with her on her “About” page.  I believe that choice of style and expression can be the difference in the pursuit of success.  Congratulations on a great blog and presence Christina!

 

On Becoming a Wordsmith

 

2.  On Becoming a Wordsmith is a special blog to me.  It was created by my high school English teacher, Elaine Cougler on her “journey to publication and beyond”.  After high school, I ventured off to the world of post-secondary education, established a career and a family and several years later reconnected with Elaine.  She had since retired and told me about her dream to publish.  I enjoyed following her blog about all the steps she took to make her dream come true.  The first book of her trilogy “The Loyalist’s Wife” is a remarkable telling of a story of a young couple’s struggle to start a life in a new world with a looming Revolutionary War.  The young man in the story, John Garner, joins Butler’s Rangers in the fight for Loyalist freedom.  “So what”, you say?  My 6X great grandfather, William May, was a member of Butler’s Rangers.  It was like reading my own history.  Not only am I so very proud of my teacher’s pursuit of her dream but she has been a huge inspiration to me in following my own.  Congratulations Mrs. Cougler!  (I know it’s Elaine but there is a certain amount of endearment that comes from referring to you as the teacher who helped instil a love of literature and writing in this girl’s heart).

 

My Travels, Crazy Aunt Susan, Susan McLachlan

3.  My close friend and colleague, Susan, started a blog a while back, My Travels, to capture her travel experiences.  She only blogs when she travels but it allows me to almost be there with her.  With a busy family of 2 young boys, I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like so it’s a great way for me to feel a part of it.  Unlike other travel blogs, for me, I know Susan and can imagine her experiences.  I am nominating her blog and hope it encourages her to continue sharing her journeys.

 

ADHD Kids Rock, Jeff Rasmussen

 

4.  I don’t think my next nominee qualifies as a small blog but I believe it is relatively new.  Jeff Rasmussen is a 15 year old individual with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder).  He has had significant challenges going through school and at 13, he created a web site and blog to share his experiences, strategies and stories to help other kids who have similar challenges.  I love visiting his blog ADHD Kids Rock, because someone close to me is one of those kids.  Jeff embraces his ADHD and celebrates his gifts.  It’s a unique perspective.  Often, when I am researching ADHD to understand how to work best with its challenges, the focus is on “how to deal with it” or “what are the symptoms”, “how to medicate it”, “how to feed one with ADHD”; most resources are about reacting to ADHD and not accepting it.  Thank you to Jeff for having the courage and the drive to go forward with his vision.  He has certainly touched us and given us a positive place to go to learn about and embrace ADHD.  Congratulations Jeff!

To my nominees, I pose the following 11 questions.

  1.  How has blogging changed your life?
  2. Where do you get ideas for your posts?
  3. What 3 tips would you give new bloggers?
  4. What do you find the most challenging about blogging?
  5. Has blogging brought you any surprises that you didn’t expect when you started?
  6. Which social media platforms do you use (if any) to promote your blog?
  7. How did you gain your expertise on blogging?  Did you take courses, have someone assist you or did you just jump in?
  8. What is the single most rewarding thing you get out of blogging?
  9. Have you attended any blogging conferences?  If so, what did you gain from attending?
  10. How do you nurture relationships with your followers?
  11. Which of your strengths has helped you the most with your blogging?

I hope you enjoy your nomination as much as I did.  Thanks for your inspiration and your stories.  I wish you abundant success as you continue on your blogging journey.

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The Sound of Happiness

When I was young, let’s say my teen years, happiness was loud. Sounds of laughter, loud music, screams from roller coasters, the phone ringing when a friend would call, traffic because I was in a car travelling to the next event, parties etc. I loved the buzz of having noise around me. I preferred visiting the city over camping and hiking. If I was alone, I turned on the television or the stereo at high volumes to have sound with me all the time. I fell asleep at night to the radio. I felt safe and I was happy.

Loch Ness

Tranquil Loch Ness

 

Sometime in my early twenties, that changed. I spent 4 months in England for school and when I think back to my most loved memory of that stint, it was a day spent outside Inverness, Scotland, on a rock, skipping stones on Loch Ness. We ventured away from the crowds of tourists who wanted to view the lake from Urquhart Castle and shimmied our way down an embankment with a snack of apples, crackers and cheese. There were just 3 of us, 2 other travel companions and myself. It was so tranquil. I remember being hyper-aware of the sound of each skip of the stone before the final “plop” into the lake. I felt calm and I was happy.

Soft snow falling

Gently Falling Snow

Another time, my oldest was 2 and we were at a cottage in the winter in Northern Ontario – far off the beaten path of civilization. My husband, son and I were outside playing in the snow – real snow – 5 feet deep. We were doing somersaults and jumping off the deck into the fluffy banks below. After one spectacular jump, landing on my back looking up at the giant flakes of snow gently falling from the sky, I felt I had been pulled back out of warp speed and my senses became super-attuned. It became quiet, my body completely relaxed into the snow-form my body made from my jump and I could hear the sound of every snowflake land around me. I felt love and I was happy.

Birds chirping

Early birds calling

Just this morning, being on holidays and sleeping in without the hurried routine that I am accustomed to on a “regular” day, I had the window open and I listened to the birds as they began their calls. The world was still asleep. There were no cars, back-up alarms from heavy trucks, sounds of conversation or lawn mowers. Just the sound of the birds and the trees swaying in the breeze. I felt peace and I was happy.

The sound of happiness has changed from when I was young. Once busyness and noise was necessary to feel content. Now, the absence of noise is much more profound in experiencing happiness. I still have great moments of happiness when there is lots of uproarious laughter and sounds but I do cherish the tranquil moments of silence.

What are the sounds of happiness for you?

6 Annoying Movie Cliches

Unbelievable Movie Cliches

I love movies. It’s on my list of “8 Fun Things”. I know that what happens on the screen is only a reflection of what happens in life and sometimes it is completely make-believe. It is not real life. No matter what, however, it is to be believable (depending on the genre) to the audience; they are to believe that what the characters go through in the film, are reality for them.  Having seen many films in my day, there are some common occurrences that are simply NOT believable and they have become pet peeves of movies for me.  You may agree.  Here is a list of 6 that come to mind:

1.  Shut-up Moments – When in an argument in real life, no one ever comes up with that one magic line that shuts the other one up and shocks them into silence.  At least, not in any of my arguments.  I see it happen a lot in Hollywood whether on television or film.  One of the best “shut up” moments came in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson was pushed to the edge with questioning while on the stand and responded to the statement “I want the truth!” with “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!”.  What do you say to that?

2.  Choreographed Dance Scenes – I love a good dance sequence but in some movies, I find it distracting when a group joins in the dance and they know all the moves.  Like the closing scene in Footloose, Kevin Bacon yells out “LET’S DANCE” and the teens of the town, who were previously forbidden to dance, join him in a perfectly choreographed number on the dance floor.  Wouldn’t happen … unless it was a flash mob I guess.

3.  16th Century Glamour – In historical romance movies, the romantic couple usually consists of a beautiful Hollywood actress complemented by an equally beautiful male counterpart.  Shakespeare in Love comes to mind.  The exquisite Gwyneth Paltrow and the handsome Joseph Fiennes make a most lovely couple in this movie about William Shakespeare’s love interest.  Guess what?  Back in the 16th century, nobody would look like that.  Their teeth would be brown if they had teeth at all and their hair would be frizzy dull mops.  There wasn’t any toothpaste or moisturizing conditioners back then.  I don’t think they would pluck unsightly stray eyebrow hairs either but I could be wrong.

4.  Crazy Fighting Stamina –  It drives me crazy when a hero in an action scene, gets shot, punched, kicked and slapped several times and keeps fighting as fiercely after 15 minutes as he did when he started.  Chances are, if someone gets shot, they are down.  Maybe not dead but definitely hindered.  Die Hard is a perfect example.  How many times does Bruce Willis get punched, shot, body-slammed and head-butted and still carries on with wild intensity.   No way.

5.  TURN ON THE LIGHT! –  I always wonder why the main character in a suspense thriller, never turns on the light when s/he is searching for strange noises in the dark.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.   I find myself screaming at the protagonist to TURN ON THE LIGHT!.  I mean come on, that’s a stupid move.  I turn on lots of lights even when I’m just home by myself let alone when I hear a strange noise and want to investigate it.  Maybe that’s just me.

6.  Real Life Soundtrack – Music certainly can enhance a film and help to set the tone of any particular scene.  I find it disappointing in real life, that a soundtrack is not playing overhead to give me cues to perhaps in-suing danger or something uplifting to build inspiration.  When my husband walks through the door, certainly we should hear “Take my Breath Away” right?  Or when I am getting ready for a night on the town shouldn’t I hear “I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain?

What are some of your “Unbelievable” movie cliches?

 

 

8 “FUN” Things

FUN

FUN

Continuing with “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, she talks about “Finding Fun”. It got me thinking about what I find fun. I know how I feel when I am HAVING fun but I can’t say as I have ever consciously thought about what it is that I seek out when I go in pursuit of “HAVING FUN”.  With intentional thought, I created this list of 8 things I find fun (as of March 2015 – it is ever-changing and evolving):

8.  Crafting – I don’t like to make all crafts but I do particularly like to make cards or creative ways to give simple gifts.  My mom is a crafter too and so it’s even better when the 2 of us can get together and share resources, ideas and time.  A pot of tea is often a must-have for a good crafting session.

DIY Money Jar Gift

The Money Jar

7.  Travel Adventures – I love to visit new places near and far.  Experiencing something for the first time is exhilarating.  Sometimes you find something so wonderful that you put it on a list to come back to in order to experience it more thoroughly or differently another time.

6.  Girls Night/Day – As a wife and mom, I’ve discovered the awesomeness of time spent with the girls.  I live with all boys so sometimes it’s the estrogen factor.  Just being in the company of other women is enough to just feel fun because it’s different.  Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a conversation with another adult who is not my husband.  I feel with my girlfriends I don’t even have to speak and they just get me without any explanation.  I find it fun just to not have to work to be understood.

Girls Night Out

Girl Friends

5.  Board Games – Great memories of times spent with family revolve around board games.  I love games.  I thought at first it was the competition but when I thought about all the solitary games I loved to play I decided it was the challenge.  Even better to work through challenges with teammates.  Not only is the challenge good for the brain but there are usually lots of laughs which exercises the soul.

4.  Social media – Social media blows my mind.  I can’t believe how many connections you can make, relationships you can start and things you can learn by tapping into the vastness of social media.  I am taking a Social Media Marketing program and the more I learn about it the more enthralled I become.  I find the philosophies, possibilities and the speed of it, fascinating.  Sometimes, I get caught between embracing it and fearing it for I think it can be powerful whether used for good or bad.  Of course, I strive to use its power for good.

3.  Genealogy – I compare it to treasure hunting.  There is always a map in the form of your family tree and you never know what information or artifacts it will lead to.  I have been known to spend a nice quiet day on a weekend, travelling to cemeteries to look for resting places of my ancestors.  I’m sure if you are not interested in genealogy, that might sound boring or creepy but I know there are other genealogists out there that will agree that this is a super fun way to spend a day.

Genealogy, Ancestory

Noel Ancestors

2.  Outdoors – Spending time with Mother Nature is a wonderful “fun” thing.  It can take on so many different shapes for me.  Sometimes, it’s a hike through a conservation area with my boys, a boat ride on the lake in the summer or quietly resting on a river bank reading a book.  I can’t forget camping, canoeing, fishing, swimming or bird watching.  Just about anything that I can do that requires me being a part of the outdoors is what I would call “fun”.  Although, I must admit, add rain to any of those and the “fun” factor is gone for me.  I’d have to shift to sitting on the covered deck, especially during a brilliant thunder storm, with a glass of red wine.

Oscars, The Movies

Let’s Go to The Movies

1.  Watching Movies – What can I say?  I LOVE movies.  I love going to the theatre to watch movies, or staying at home.   I find it extra fun to stream a movie on the laptop and use a DVP to project the movie on to the wall so it’s like a theatre at home.  The ULTIMATE in movie watching, is project the movie on to the side of the house on a beautiful summer’s eve and have a home version of a drive-in.  No movie is complete without popcorn and a coke (in my opinion).  I find movies fun to watch by myself and even more fun to watch with friends and family.  One of my favourite events throughout the year is the Oscars.  I try to watch as many of the Oscar-nominated films as I can each year to see how well I predict the winners.

What is it that you find fun?  Actually, thinking about what you find fun can be fun. 🙂

Playoff Time for the Norwich Merchants – A Special Team


The Norwich Merchants


It’s hockey play-off time in Canada and it’s Friday night.  You know what that means … (or maybe you don’t if you’re not from around these parts) there will be a hockey game somewhere to watch either live or on television.  My family can be a stereotypical Southwestern Ontario family in that we love our hockey.  And in our Oxford County community, our Merchants are in a “do-or-die” playoff situation tonight against New Hamburg.

The Merchants and I have a special relationship.  At several points in my life’s journey, I have been connected to this Junior “C” hockey team.  Here’s how:

1.  As one of  the few female ice resurfacing machine operators (The Olympia) in the Township of Norwich, I used to clean the ice for the Merchant games.  This was one of my favourite jobs of all time.  I loved waving at the kids in the crowd, being a part of the hockey experience and having the community all together in one place showing their community spirit.  And just driving the machine itself felt very empowering.  That’s a lot of machinery to be trusted to one small person.  It was fantastic.  Not-to-mention, it makes for some great interview ice breakers since this fact is on my resume.

2.  I met the man I married working for the Township of Norwich at the Community Centre/Arena.  In fact, he trained me to operate The Olympia for the prestigious Merchant games.  I regret that I never got a picture of myself driving it.  I do, however, have this picture with my husband and I on it.  We were only dating at the time. #SickeningSweet

Myself and The Boyfriend (currently husband)

Myself and The Boyfriend (currently husband)

3.  The Merchants trainer, Mark, was my boss while I worked at the Community Centre/Arena.  He could tell you some scary stories about some of the mistakes I made learning to drive the Olympia.  He’s part of the reason I’ve been able to move forward in my career.  He must have told a few good lies as a reference, to a few of my employers along the way; to which I am very grateful. (front row, second from left)

2013-2014 Norwich Merchants

2013-2014 Norwich Merchants

4.  My brother-in-law, Jason, was a former Assistant Coach for the Merchants. (in above: front row 3rd from right) Those were some exciting times to be cheering on the team with a relative on the bench.  It became a regular night out for the family since my parents, my sister’s family and me and my family, would have a reason to go out together.

5.  My nephew, Sawyer, was selected to be a “Mini-Merchant” for a game.  This meant he got to put on the jersey, skate to the centre of the ice and hold the flag for the National Anthem.  Another reason for the families to come together.

Sawyer as the Mini-Merchant

Sawyer as the Mini-Merchant

6.  My son’s, Noah, and Sawyer’s rookie minor hockey team, got to play an exhibition game during an intermission for a Merchant game.  This meant that they not only played, but, got to hang out with the “Big Boys” in their dressing room before they went out.  They each felt very special to be buddied up with a Merchant of their own.  My son even made sure he got a hat signed by all the players afterwards.  He just took the hat for show-and-tell this week.  He is still feeling very proud of those moments.  Those guys made some significant impressions that night.  I hope they know the magnitude of their influence.  #SmallTownHeroes

The Big Bro's and Lil Bro's

The Big Bro’s and Lil Bro’s

 

As you can see, the Merchants show up in a few key spots of my life’s journey.  So here’s a little shout out to this special team!   #GoMerchantsGo!!

 

 

These Little Piggies …

These little piggies stayed home…

 

Do these little guys not make your face squish up with delight?

Piggy Brothers

Piggy Brothers

Meet Levi and Olaf, the newest members of Frog Hollow Animal Sanctuary.

How Cute Am I?

How Cute Am I?

 

They were just born a few weeks ago to Mya, the Pot-bellied pig. There were 3 to begin but sadly, the first female of the litter, was not able to grasp life.

Cute Piggy Bums

Cute Piggy Bums

Her two brothers, however, took hold and have been having amazing adventures as they explore what this world has to offer.

I am Loved

I am Loved

After plenty of suggestions and lots of thoughts, Frog Hollow has settled on the names Olaf and Levi for the newest little piggies.

How can you stay mad at that face?

Please visit the Frog Hollow Sanctuary Facebook page. I can’t speak for everyone but I know my days certainly get an injection of sunshine when I see these cuties come across my screen.

Little Piggy

Little Piggy

WARNING: May be too cute for some who can only handle cuteness in small doses. Viewer discretion is advised. 🙂