Crunch Time, Part 1 of 3

I'm studying for an international professional exam - that is three parts. I tried to write the first exam last year but failed miserably. Mainly because:

  1. I didn't put in enough study time
  2. I don't really know how to study
  3. I was super stressed with a weird work travel schedule
  4. I didn't realize that I would have to be under such strict conditions, such as NO WATER, no watch, no scarf, have to have my finger prints taken, a retina scan (YES A RETINA SCAN!!!) followed by a pat-down before I could write. If for some reason I left the room (like to pee or DRINK WATER), I would have to go through the finger printing, retina scanning, pat-down again. This stressed me out big time
For my birthday this year, my mom generously paid for a $500 USD prep course that I've been following until TODAY (I started in June). TODAY I finished the course and now starts the intense study days, where I write a minimum of 1 practice exam per day (they are 2.5 hours long), in exam conditions (no water), and then spend the afternoon studying my weaker points.

Tomorrow, Friday, August 3rd until Monday, August 13 - my life is study, sleep, eat, run, rinse and repeat. The exam cost is an additional $500 USD, the textbooks are an additional $500 USD, so this test (now valued at $1500 - plus an additional $150 that I used to postpone my first attempt twice) is pretty freaking important to me.

Failure rates are at 60% - that means SIXTY PERCENT of the people that write the test fail. The minimum passing score is 75%, which can vary on the year. 

Can't wait to get this under my belt, and start it all over again after taking a few days off!

July Update

Creative blog title, no?

My creativity isn't so great lately.. there has been so much going on and I miss documenting it like I used to in the old days.

The biggest event is that I am officially and totally moved in with my guy and life is...essentially perfect. Except for - my brain.

I know that when I have a lot going on, when things are kind of unstable - like no job + moving + starting a new relationship + studying for a test that basically sets the tone of the next chunk of my career... well, my brain associates all of this change and technical "instability" and relates it to the previous times in my life where things have been rocky and sounds the alarms and wants to freak out a bit.

I will have to deal with that (actually, I should say, "we", because my guy has been so incredibly supportive and takes this issue on as a team problem #alonenomore), but for now, here's a quick update and I hope to start posting more photos and "Day in the Life of" like I used to. First, because its entertaining for me to post photos and events of my day or weekend, and second, because I love looking back and reading old posts, to see how things have changed.

But for now, here's a quick list in point form:

  • I no longer live on the island of Montreal, but on the Island of Ile Perrot
  • It's about a 4 minute walk to the lake (that meets the St. Lawrence, I believe)
  • I'm studying my ass off for part 1 of 3 of an international designation. It's a 2.5 hour test, I'm not allowed water/paper/pen; it's all multiple choice; I will have to be fingerprinted and have my retina scan before taking the exam
  • I spend the majority of the time at the town library where I've had some cute little adventures
  • I've learned that I CAN LEARN, I just have to find the right forum (I struggled a lot in school)
  • I am now in a Party of Five. What a party it is. My guy, Josephine, Napoleon, Maggie, and me. It wasn't the easiest integration - we had to keep Maggie on a different floor than Jojo & Popo for two full weeks. Now - Maggie no longer wants to sleep with us in our bed - she wants to sleep downstairs with the big dogs. Maggie and Napoleon are buddies, but Maggie and Josephine just tolerate each other. She spends all day, every day outside barking and chasing things and is LIVING THE LIFE!! The other two dogs are extremely vocal - it's their breed. The "talk" a lot and it sounds hilarious (but it took me a bit of time to get used to....the noise of the party)
  • The move is complete and now we are just deciding what goes where and how we can merge our stuff together
  • I could easily start a blog called, "The Clueless Gardener", because I love taking care of the lawn/garden, but I don't have a clue what I'm doing and come up with random ideas..and our lawn....may have paid the price
  • We are looking at taking a 10 day cruise in November. There's a 70% chance that we are going, we are just waiting to see how a few things roll out.
  • My aunt and step-father, who were recovering from cancer treatment, are doing so well and it makes my heart very, very happy.
  • My grandmother and aunt are coming to visit us mid-September. Now those are going to be some blog-worthy adventures.
I'm sure there's a hundred more things or so, but those are the big ones. Be back soon with some photos and fun. 

4 months plus a lifetime

Four months ago today, I went on a date that would change my life.

It was so unexpected, when my guy asked me out to have coffee I was confused because I thought he was going to talk to me about a fraud or work-related issue....and my response was pretty much clear that I had NO idea this guy was like, interested in me. I remember even asking my two carpoolers if they thought that my guy just wanted to make friends and talk about our dogs (which we had done many times before).

I remember not being able to sleep that night...totally confused and not sure what to do. I had just formally ended a...well, relationship that was effectively already over...and I thought I needed to have a longer waiting period before agreeing to go on a date, but then I thought, what the hell? What do I have to lose?

Coffee somehow turned into brunch and I was really, really, really nervous. The deal was that he was going to line up for the restaurant (there is always a ridiculously long line up) and I was going to pick us up a coffee, since it was still pretty chilly outside. We were sat fairly quickly and then we stayed there for nearly THREE HOURS.

We each ordered another coffee, another hot chocolate...just trying to draw out the date for as long as possible. I was COMPLETELY blown away as I had this impression of who he was and I was EXTREMELY mistaken. He was way funnier, and kind, and...our conversation just kept going on and on and I learned more about him and vise versa. It was like we had known each other for decades but hadn't seen each other in a few years and needed to catch up.

Eventually....there were no more hot chocolates or coffees that either of us could fit in our stomach, so we left. He walked me to my car...and I awkwardly double-cheek-kissed him (which I did when I saw him as well - it's a Quebec thing but something that I just can't get used to).

If I remember correctly....I said that we should do this again... and the rest was history. I remember being on this confused cloud 9. Unsure how I could have possibly met someone so amazing and unsure if I was ready to date him. I just had it in my head that I needed to be single for like six months before dating again. But there he was.

The next week passed by so quickly. I remember trying to keep things calm and secret but wanting to see him so badly before our next Saturday date. We had Facetime calls every single night...and decided that we would have a quick supper on Thursday night. I was so nervous that I couldn't eat (I ordered soup.... I was that nervous that I didn't know how I could possibly fit anything in my stomach!!!), but I was determined to kiss him that night. I couldn't like him so much if the spark wasn't there.

As he walked me to my car, I stood on my tiptoes and kissed him. And yes, sparks flew. And yes, I may have squealed in delight once I was in my car and safely out of hearing distance because I couldn't recall kissing a man taller than me.

And then we were pretty much inseparable. I had to let down a lot of walls that I had no desire to get rid of. I couldn't believe I had met someone so incredible....but also SO LIKE ME! Ok, so he keeps his car clean and doesn't understand how I forget to close the fridge door.... and I don't understand how he WANTS to get up at 5am...but deep down, where it counts, I have met my match. 

And my roommate officially as of August 1, as I have rented out my apartment and am giving up the city life for the lake life. Maggie has adjusted soooooooo well to her new brother and sister (ok.. still warming up to her sister....but they can peacefully co-exist).

The other day a friend asked me if I was happy. I replied, "Well, yah.". She expected a more enthusiastic answer....but it's not like that. It's not like some giddy, new relationship excitement. it's just always been there since he's been in my life. We might not know how to navigate every situation...but together...we can figure it the most kind and caring way...

4 months doesn't seem like a very long relationship...but when you know that you've met "the one"...when you didn't believe in something like "the one"...well, spending 4 months with that person is pretty freaking wonderful.

And I look forward to each and every day that we wake up together (ok...we don't actually wake up together since he wakes up at 5am....but you get what I mean ;))

June 2018

Somehow nearly another month has passed by...the later half involved the mountains

 This guy
 Us together a lot

And me bringing my main squeeze back to Alberta to meet my family.

I was a little stressed....I don't have the best luck travelling with a boyfriend/significant other, so I was worried there would be a lot of tense moments and arguments spattered throughout... but it was perfect.

He just rolls with whatever is happening...was so happy to meet my family, and they were elated to meet him. It's clear that this guy - is different. We compliment each other so well....we have such a nice time together...even in the stressful times...and all I can say is that I hope it continues to be more like this.

It's also official - I have found a renter for my apartment here in Montreal as of August 1st, so I am now a resident of Notre-Dame-De-L'Ile-Perrot, a much, much smaller island. Studying has continued, I'll be ready by the end of the month to write exam #1 out of 3, and I have a job interview on Thursday (which I do not think that I will like....but it's good practice).

Life is good. Now to just let that soak in.

Getting my groove back

Despite any inner...turmoil (aka overthinking) in my last post, I have to say that almost every morning I wake up with a very full heart.

I haven't officially moved (but will be shortly), but basically, I'm living the lake life. It's in a house, filled with noise (the dogs), love (A and me and the dogs), and just....a kind of peace that I hadn't yet found.

I've never been a city girl, yet somehow I made Montreal my home and it ended up feeling quite small...but I love walking up to the birds chirping, the dogs singing their good morning love song (aka either crying or howling for some love/attention/food), eating breakfast either looking out at the backyard, or as of this weekend, sitting in an outdoor recliner watching the dogs chase squirrels, bark, or chase each other.

And once they run around in the morning, it's nap time until the afternoon.

Then as the day progresses, my head starts to fill itself of everything that I'm not getting done, how I'm not being productive enough, and that I need to start doing more... and that's when the bad day sets in.

So, here I am, not even 9h00 yet, on my computer, ready to study (I'm studying for a set of three professional exams....the first exam fail rate is it's tough). I don't want to create a strict routine, but I need a little bit of one to get me motivated in the morning so that my extra breaks and time to myself don't take up the entire day.

While I'm not working, I want to stay fit, continue my progress in learning to love the person I am (it sounds funny, but it's not always easy), and to study. Oh, and move in my girl stuff into a house full of boy stuff, and let myself have some fun time too.

The gift of being with the one

“Giving is virtuous, but so is accepting gifts gratefully.” ~Doe Zantamata
I found that quote from this article and I felt like it could have easily be written by me. It's not to say that I don't find myself around giving and generous people, most cases, I would rather give than receive in my areas and aspects of my life. What isn't so easy, is to accept the kindness of others.

Since I have been with A, he has been incredibly generous. I don't just mean with material things, but with his time, patience, and constant love. CONSTANT love. No matter what. His family has been the same. Just one quick example: Last week I had a dentist appointment (and they give me drugs because nothing scares me more than dentists) and I needed a ride. A is nearing the end of a huge project, and taking a few hours off in the middle of a weekday was super tough. So, his dad offered to take me. He drove 1.5 hrs to pick me up, dropped me off at the dentist, waited for me in the dentist's office, and then drove about an hour to drive me home. He spoke the entire time about his life, his family, and his experiences. When I told A that, he was shocked. A couldn't believe that he had opened up so much and thought it was a great sign. His dad loved me. I can tell you that it was an overwhelming to receive his gift...of time and love. 

Now I'm living with A, and the constant amount of giving is never ending. I don't think twice about mowing the lawn when I know he's crazy busy and I don't think twice about spending my time or energy... to contribute to the well being of our house/couple/ fact, I get off on it.

But when it comes to accepting his giving nature. I fight it. I protest it. I'm not used to receiving all And it's not even presented as help, it's presented as being the other half a couple. There are areas in which he has more to give. Right now, I'm not working, so my budget is pretty tight. He - makes a decent salary - which disposable income, so he wants to make sure that I'm taken care of and don't in-debt myself while I'm job hunting and finishing my exams. 

It all sounds reasonable right? We are a partnership? But, it left me in tears, feeling overwhelmed, feeling like I'm taking advantage of his generosity. Most definitely, if the situations were reversed, I would insist for the same arrangement, but I'm still having a hard time accepting his kindness. In this area and in others. I'm touched when he makes me a hot chocolate and brings it upstairs for no reason. I'm flattered when he buys me this particular drink I like and brings it home...he remembers what I like and wants to make me happy.

I do the same for why is it so accept it back, without feeling like I'm being a burden? The article describes it perfectly...

Later that night, my friend said her mom thought it was strange of me to keep turning her down. I was shocked and hurt. I didn’t accept the invitation because I didn’t want to hassle her in having to prepare for an additional dinner plate. I had no intention of offending her.
The hassle... I don't want to put him through the's the joys of being in a healthy relationship...for better or worse.

The difficulty of trying to relax.

This morning I decided I was going to have a "sick day". I've kind of been running around in circles since last Friday, doing my best to relax, but then doing laundry, vacuuming, organizing, running random errands, etc...

Today, after running a couple of errands, I'm calling in sick. I'm laying in bed, watching a movie, possibly eating some chocolate, and giving up on adulting.

The boyfriend has been trying to convince me to do this since last Friday...but it just Like I should be pounding the pavement, calling all contacts, making a list of everything that needs done and get it all finished ASAP.

So today, after stopping at the grocery store, and chatting with a ninety-five (and a half!) year old, who walks every day with her morning mall-walk group and still drives herself, I decided that yep, I'm going to have a day where I just relax. And go for a walk later on.

But first, we needed a coffee, and Mags needs a little break from the other two, so we went and had an iced coffee on the patio.

Maggie doesn't need an excuse to chill, so I'll try to copy her and relax in the sun, or in the bed, or on the couch for the rest of the day.