Another Round?

I started my new job in Madagascar, EIGHT YEARS ago today.

You can read about it here ....but there wasn't much to say. I was in shock.

I remember everything so clearly....I thought I had an idea of what I was in for....I would never have guessed that those 4+ years would have changed my life so much.

I learned how to re-live my life. I stepped way out of my comfort zone. My life will never be the same.

Every two months or so....I get an email to see if I'm interested in another expat position....and the last email is still on my mind. Resident status, 49 vacation days, in Guinea. I will already know quite a few people there... But it's not my time.

But I still feel....like I left my heart in Africa.....(but haven't written the country song to accompany it yet)...and my time in Africa is not over. It's just on hold for now.

The first offer to expat life came in at the right time in my life. It was such a wonderful time...because I was ready for it.

If I wanted to take the resident job, I would either need to dump or marry my current beau (neither of which is an option), I would need to be healthier (which is still going to take some time), and things would have to be calmer with my family (which will happen but will take time. There's some personal stuff going on with quite a few of my family members that I'll talk about eventually).

Oh, I can't forget about Maggie! I wonder how she would like Africa. With all of the changes she has had....I'm sure she would adapt nicely - especially with all the new people.

Ok...I have to stop fantasizing. Madagascar also came with A LOT of negative aspects...it wasn't a perfect life...and I need to focus on my life today before I can look that far into the future.

But it's still nice to think about....

Perspective








It's been a long week (month?) (year?) and on Thursday night I had quite enough. I was exhausted, sad (family stuff), and numb at the same time....


So I decided to go and get a few groceries and a small bottle of Coca-Cola....'cause I needed that artificial sugar and chemical mix to cheer me up.

While in line at the grocery store, I noticed a service dog (because seriously, aren't all labs/service dogs the cutest things ever!?? They are sooooooooo smart!!!). Then I noticed the service dog's owner. I wouldn't have looked at her twice, she appeared to be any random Joe (or Joanne, I guess). I tried to be discreet as I watched what took place.

The cashier totaled her order, the woman then gave the cashier the palm of her hand. The cashier used her index finger to "write" the total cost. The woman then spoke, with a voice of someone who is hearing impaired and said (in French, of course), "Thank you, please go ahead. Also, I'd like to take out $40 on top of that please".

The cashier then took her hand and put it on the debit card machine, the woman hid the part where you enter your password with her other hand, typed in her debit card password, and then gave the cashier her hand again. I'm not sure what the cashier wrote, but I think she wrote "Approved" to tell her that the transaction was completed.

The cashier passed her the receipt and the extra $40, the woman put her debit card away, along with her money and receipt, and thanked the cashier, wished her a nice evening, and then left.

With my jaw on the floor.

Thank you humanity. Thank you for showing me that we are capable of anything. Thank you for showing me that everything is relative. That perspective is everything. That no matter what, the world continues on whether you fight or accept your limits.

To-Do List for the day

"Explore Montreal" has been on my To-Do List...for far too long. Last summer, just when things started to get good, I hurt my leg and was on crutches, and then off-crutches, I couldn't walk for very long, and I had air-conditionning in my car was broken, and I was too afraid to go and see what it would cost because I wasn't working...and I was still kind of exhausted, so I didn't explore very much.

It was kind of cruel because two weeks before I hurt my leg, I went exploring and spent the entire day outside and it was fantastic.

Since then, I've went to a few places here and there....but for the most part, my focus has been on finding a job, keeping a job, and making sure I have enough energy during the week for my job... Depression has played a huge role in my life since 2014. I was sort of getting better until February of this year, which is a story for another day (if you haven't already read it on my other blog).

So this weekend, it was my goal, to waste an entire day. No errands. No groceries (although I'll go later tonight...), just...me.

I love water, the outdoors, and camping...but I'm still not sure how much energy I have, so I thought renting a kayak was a great idea. There was a place not too far from me (Montreal is an island, so there are probably more places than I realize), and off I went this morning.

I actually couldn't sleep much past 08h30....so it was a quick shower, a quick stop at Starbucks, and off we went. Yes, "we". Of course I was going to take Maggie on my first kayak trip in Montreal!

First stop, of course, Starbucks! I love how the Gay Village looks early in the morning. It's so peaceful and colorful at the same time. I'm embarrassed to admit that if provided a Starbucks cup of water, she will only drink out of it if it has ice cubes. She is really getting the royal treatment these days....


On top of the royal treatment, I found a cross-body purse that works perfectly for her. Especially when I'm trying to run in quickly to a place that I'm not sure allows dogs. She hides and it's perfect. I throw in a little ice-pack so she doesn't overheat and we are good for hours in the heat with this thing.

Of course, I decided to get the "Intermediate" kayak. I'm not sure why and I'll get the beginner kayak next time....this one wasn't as stable but apparently I had more control with this one? I just felt like I was going to fall over a lot more - and into Lachine Canal....it's not somewhere I want to fall into...

Maggie started to get bored being in the safe spot with me, so she walked almost to the end of the kayak. And then fell in. Immediately after she fell in there a boat passed and there were some pretty big waves...so she was swimming underwater for a few seconds until I could pick her up. She's been swimming in a lake before, but I'm not sure it's her favorite thing...
She was soaking wet and shaking because she was cold. Next time I'll bring a little towel, I guess.

I kayaked the 2km to the end of the canal and then slowly started my way back. It was less choppy on the return, so the big dog decided again to be brave and head to the front of the kayak.
Her balance amazed me and her bravery amazed me even more. This is the dog that used to be scared of EVERYTHING, and here is she is falling and slipping on a kayak, but then wanting to try again because she's nosy (and I think she liked feeling the wind in her fur....).

It's funny because we get quite a bit of attention when we are out....but the very last thing Maggie cares about is people. She's all about the new sites and smells and is constantly trying to roll in disgusting things on the ground.

I use the excuse that I don't want to leave Maggie home all weekend....but really.....she's kind of my security blanket some days. There are some weekends that I'm pretty much on my own....and I can get lonely or anxious....and when she's around I feel less so.

I'm not feeling so great this weekend, so we went home shortly after and I finished some errands. I didn't do an entire day not doing anything, but at least half of it...and it was much overdo.

I'll be spending a lot of time travelling or working late the next three weeks, so I hope to go kayaking again...or find another outdoor activity to do. And start exploring my home city.

Perspective

I’m sure it’s come up a time or two that I haven’t met any “true” friends here. I’ve met some people that I hang around with….a friend that I keep in semi-regular contact here….but no one…really “solid”.

Add to the equation of 7 months of not working, an injury that kept me in crutches for 2 months, and some pretty low moments with my depression...

I hosted a brunch one day and met some super people I met, and I predicted that a natural friendship would take off, but work came up, I was sick, then stressed, then sick and stressed, and while they reached out, I kept forgetting to reach out back once I felt better (it’s still on my to-do list…)
I’m realizing that instead of searching for “true friends”, I need to meet more people and most importantly, I need to realize the people that I already have in my life.

Example: the dog walker. I met this guy while I was sweeping up leaves on my patio at my first solo apartment in Montreal. Maggie ran up to the other dog that he was walking, or else I may not have noticed him. He asked me if I was looking for a dog walker (I was) and then he gave me his flyer. We chat for a little bit…I was pretty standoff-ish… but he mentioned two other dogs that he walked in the neighbourhood. I didn’t think anything would come out of it….but that weekend I ran into the other dog’s owner and asked if she knew my dog walker and what she thought of him.

Of course, she gave him glowing reviews, because Mr. Dog Walker, is a dog lover and has invested…at least the last ten years, into taking care of dogs.

I called him the next day, we met, and talked about some rules…and I gave him the key to my apartment. How’s that for big city living?

That was July 2015. Two years ago.

Since then, we’ve developed a relationship, no, a friendship, which I never thought as something special, but it is extremely special, and he’s more a part of my life than I realized.

He’s respectful of my place (it’s probably cleaner after he leaves it). He love love love loves Maggie and I’ve called on him last minute more than once. He puts up with my hanging my dirty/clean laundry everywhere – I often feel bad for when I’m hanging my bras to dry for some reason. He doesn’t care.

He is also extremely reliable. I can text him or message him if there’s something going on, and he helps me out when he can. He sends me the most random and often funny pictures of Maggie.

When I was in a cast, he brought me things. When I was sick January 2016, he took on the job as house-cleaner for a bit. He leaves me ½ loaves of fantastic raisin bread (that I don’t eat anymore….but I work down the street from a bread factory, so it’s kind of our thing).

The other day, I couldn’t find my clothes iron. He moved it because I had left it on the edge of my bed – which is the perfect spot for me to leave it and Maggie drag the cord and have the iron fall on the floor (or more importantly, her).

He stays at my house when I’m travelling. I have never once felt unsafe.

On days that I’m sick or under the weather, he comes quietly to walk Maggie and respects my space. He’s asked me before if I was ok (I wasn’t…but if I felt like talking, I’m sure he would have listened).

When I messaged him last night, kind of in a panic, asking him if he could help me around the house for the next few weeks, because even though I’m feeling much better since getting a new doctor, I still don’t have the energy that I’d like to, and I haven’t done something “fun” on the weekend that doesn’t involve errands…..in months…  He told me that he’d be happy to and we’d work something out to get help me feel back on my feet on the housekeeping department.


Maybe it’s not the typical “friendship”….but it’s still a friendship. And just maybe I need to change my perspective about finding “real” friends in this big city. 

The new regime


I'm really excited to share how I've been eating the last four-ish weeks.


I've been able to  able to start a low carbohydrate, medium protein, high fat diet. It's not a "diet" per se, it's a lifestyle change. I have been eating this way for roughly 4 weeks, learning a lot as I go and in all of that time, I've felt like having a "cheat meal", if I'm going to call it that, ONCE.

That means, no sugar, bread, rice, legumes, potatoes, etc. Any carbohydrate that I get comes from vegetables, a bit of dairy, and a bit of fruit once per day. I eat a lot more protein, and A LOT more fat. Shockingly more.The focus in primarily on "real food". Nothing processed. Nothing that doesn't come in it's original state.

The first week I had a few headaches, but nothing major. I can't get over it, but apart from my cheat meal, I don't crave sweets. I don't crave french fries. I'm not interested in pizza. I bought a chocolate bar to "test" if I was going crazy on Sunday, and I ate a few bites and then THREW THE REST AWAY. I don't recognize myself.

Now, I have to say that the cheat meal was tonight, and contained ice cream and a lot of sugar and refined foods....so I'm hoping that....I won't crash too hard tomorrow and that I'll be back on my LCHF (low carb, high fat) way again.

A typical meal looks like this:

Breakfast: Coconut cream, yogurt (highest fat percentage I can find), cocoa nibs, coconut, chia seeds, walnuts, a few drops of Stevia, and maybe 8 or 10 berries. Coffee with MCT oil (or coconut oil) and hydrolyzed collagen (beef collagen that's been put into powdered form). I would really like to add some vegetables to my breakfast, but it's a work in progress.

Lunch: it's been a salad lately with chicken, vegetables, and the least processed, highest fat salad dressing I can find (I need to start making my own, but again, work in progress). If I end up eating out, I order a burger with bacon and order it with no ketchup and I don't eat the bun.

Lunch dessert: occasionally a square or two of 90% chocolate, but there is a recipe that I need to make for next week's lunches that's even better!

Supper: 3 eggs cooked in coconut oil with some ham thrown in. An avocado on the side with some Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or cucumbers. All topped with chives (from my garden).

Dessert: I'm a big dessert fan, so currently I have been having roughly 4 TBSP of 35% cream, with a few drops of stevia, with a tiny handful of berries.

The first couple of weeks my legs felt tired and heavy all of the time, like I had already worked out before I started my workout. Since then, I've increased my carbs a bit, and I'm learning more and more every day.

The hardest part is that I still have the habit of wanting to eat out or "treat myself" on the weekends....but nothing seems appealing to me (apart from my 1 cheat meal). I don't deny myself anything and if I'm hungrier one day, I eat more. I also have to supplement my electrolytes, because now that I'm eating primarily whole food - I'm not getting enough sodium.

The best part, other than beginning to lose some weight, is that this type of diet is known to be very, very healthy for people with brain diseases (ie: depression, epilepsy, autism). The other best part, is that I just don't crave sugar anymore. I'm not always buying junk that I know isn't good for me. I'm not craving stuff that I eventually give in to.

I'm curious how the next four weeks will treat me, especially after my cheat meal (which....I might add....wasn't THAT great, but I still enjoyed it), and especially while travelling. It's a very exciting time in my life....and I'm looking to learning and sharing more about my new eating regime.


Bring in the New

I can't decide if I should write the long version or the short version.

Ok, short version since I just deleted ten paragraphs of the long version and am making a second attempt at this.

I bought my old Honda Civic in Alberta, went through a bunch of stuff, then my husband and I drove it across country to Quebec, where we would re-start our lives together....again.

Things started to go downhill on the drive half-way through. I was depressed and fighting just to be ok. We had planned the trip to be a honeymoon/sightseeing of sorts....and I couldn't deliver.

We arrived in our new little city, now to make up a family of four. I tried to adapt to being some type of step-mom to the girls, who are wonderful, but no matter how wonderful they are or I was....again, depression was running the show while marriage stress came in at a close second. Certainly we had our ups and downs as step-parent and step-child (since they were almost of age), but even more certain, I loved when they were around. I learned from them....I loved their energy, it felt like we were all happier when all of us were home. Despite the love diminishing in the marriage, the love I felt for the girls.....still hasn't gone away. OK, back on track.

During this time, my crappy little car drove me to the train in freezing conditions. It didn't get plugged in and it always started.

A while later, that little car carried allll of my possessions in just a couple of trips to Montreal, where I would slowly rebuild my live.....alone. I took little trips with that car. I pulled over and cried in that car. I probably had naps in that car.

A year later, same thing, that car moved me into my new apartment (ok, plus the help of some professional movers).

Last summer, I was off work, and that car carried me and the dog around EVERYWHERE. We spent a lot of lunches meeting my boyfriend, and if it was a rainy day, said boyfriend and I would cuddle in the car....some days we were both so tired we nearly fell asleep cuddling.

This year, when my depression became unmanageable, it was my safe spot as I pulled over to the side of the road and had many a panic attack or twelve.

It drove me to my new job for four months. The job that really felt (and feels like) a fresh start. It's far away (ok, it's 20km away but in Montreal traffic....that's really far! Thankfully I drive against the flow of traffic).

This car has gone through everything with me. I've had a very....chaotic three years....and it's been with me the entire time. I have never thought that I was or would ever be attached to a vehicle.

But it was starting to be more of a burden.....so after a ridiculous amount of thought/worrying/running numbers to see what I can afford....I traded my old car last week.

I was almost tearful as I carried my box of stuff from the old car to the new car. And then I saw the new car....and was in awe. I have never owned such a fancy car in my life. There are buttons and dooodahs that I have no idea how to work....I'm often overwhelmed by all of the technology...

But it seems like a very fitting time for me to let go of all the memories in the old car. Sure there were good memories....even great ones...but, my depression is starting to improve, my life-post-divorce is finally....beginning to flourish....and it was time to walk away from the old car.

It's time to start fresh. And see where the new car takes me.

hashtag MHM

Tomorrow is a Monday (or already is a Monday depending on where you are in the world), and for about a month now, I've been doing weekly Monday posts on Facebook regarding Mental Health. It started after I randomly dealt with a charity that....just...got to me.

Mental Health is in capitals - because my posts aren't about mental illnesses, it's about your overall mental health - and putting a spotlight on certain topics that come up in my life.

Mental health is EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT as your physical health - yet we often go months or years without realizing that we aren't well. You don't need to have a diagnosed mental illness such as depression or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to be unwell. You can be stressed to the max and not dealing with it, you can be ashamed of your negative thoughts....etc, etc, etc...

I wanted a place to keep these posts and not on Facebook because I don't always know if I'll keep my account...so I created a blog called Mental Health Mondays. I'll still post the link to the blog every Monday on Facebook....but I like having the "other blog" to do the Monday thing.

Check it out.

:)