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Crazy bizzy but ready to reignite my Spark (which never REALLY went out!)

Friday, September 07, 2012

My did I have a great summer! Also, a very TOUGH summer! Juggling several jobs, active kids and hubby's bumpy first months out in the culinary world all while trying to live on NO money has tested my patience, creativity and resilience. I'm happy with how things have turned out.

I've been very active - biking, working outdoors in the garden, walking.. I've also eaten VERY well. Since I work at a vegetable garden, I get to bring home virtually limitless amounts of fresh vegetables and herbs, so we are eating extremely well! I managed to put away about 5 dozen jars of tomatoes, 3 cases of mixed vegetable salsa and I've frozen a ton of fruits and veggies and made some jams, pickles and jellies. Oh, I've frozen a bunch of basil pesto, garlic/ginger puree, parsley pesto, cilantro... lots of nice healthy herbs. I'm super happy to be going into the winter with preserves like these. I think it will really help save us some money. My hubby has REALLY embraced local, fresh food in his cooking - rather than his old meat & potatoes and cream tendencies. Yay! I'm looking forward to carrying on with these great diet habits - packing my lunch or eating at the Seasoned Spoon (the vegetarian, student-run restaurant that I grow food for!), sticking with clean food, no food of the packaged/canned or fast varieties. I have to track my diet for my nutrition class, so I'm hoping to revive my food-tracking habit. I haven't lost a bunch of weight this summer, but I have held my own. I feel really healthy and strong, physically, these days - so I'd call that a pretty Sparkly Summer.

Now I'm back at school and a little overwhelmed with the work load, but I'm also seeing some real bright spots! Today's bright spot - Math! There. I said it. The bright spot of my day has been doing math. I've always had a hard time with math because I never learned the fundamentals. I'm not sure why - whether it was that my teachers gave up on me or that my parents were uninvolved in my academic life... I don't know. But I never learned my multiplication tables, never learned long division, my understanding of fractions is really basic... I took all the maths and sciences in high school, even took calculus and statistics in university - but I never got the fundamentals. So, now I need them; it's time to get over the fear and anxiety and just do it. I am VERY happy to report that I am plugging away at my workbook, and things are going really well! It's nowhere NEAR as hard as I thought it would be.

The other thing that's really changed for me is that I feel like I'm developing the confidence I need to become a nurse. That is a big hurdle for me. It's one of my summer jobs that tipped me over that edge. After the Respite meet & greet I mentioned in my last blog, I met and began work with a *lovely* family and their delightful daughter. This little girl is aMAZing! She has so many challenges; she can't speak, sit up on her own, control much of her body or even eat solid food. But, she is a happy, boisterous, giggly, beautiful, sweet girl, full of enthusiasm for life. I so enjoy my time with her! I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with this child and her family.

I was unsure about taking this job at first; I did not feel I was prepared to care for this child since she has such complex medical and physical needs. I really didn't know how to approach her; I'm such a word-person. I worried whether we would find common ground. But, I reasoned that I need to start facing challenges like this if I have any business at all becoming a nurse, so I took the leap and, with support from her fantastic family I've met the challenge. I am so glad I did. One of my major areas of interest is family functioning during challenging circumstances - what better way to learn what those challenges can be like! Plus, this child has utterly redefined my views on participation in life. Spending time with this little girl has been transformational!

The one thing I've missed this summer has been hanging out with my Spark buddies - which I plan to remedy in the comng weeks. I'm also hoping to get a couple of runs a week done. Not sure how that's going to happen yet, but I'm just going to have to make time somewhere.

So there's my update. I hope to see you all around here more often. *muah* to all my Spark friends. You have inspired me to do all of this - thank you!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GODDESSOFHOME 9/27/2012 10:11PM

    Welcome back friend! I am renewing my commitment to live healthy, and hoping to lose some weight and regain my energy levels of yore! I look forward to catching up with you, and I love that you have such positive reports of your time away! You Goe Girl!

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BILLALEX70 9/17/2012 6:14AM

    Sounds like quite the rollercoaster!

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TIGGER622 9/13/2012 10:27AM

    You are so amazing!!!! I know i am late reading this blog, but I am glad I did!!! You overcame a lot this summer and I cant wait to hear how things go from here!!! MUAH to you!!! Miss you bunches!

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    LOVE this blog and seeing how happy and strong and healthy and deteremined you aRE!!!!! Hope to see more of you this fall~~

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CASSIOEPIA 9/8/2012 12:01AM

    Crazy buzzy is the word (s)! Nice job on all that canning and preserves. I'm up to my elbows in tomatoes, peppers, and corn right now, but you are so right that come winter it is all worth it. Nice job on the Sparkly summer and feeling strong.

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KAYE454 9/7/2012 11:59PM

  Sounds as if you had a great summer

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LANAHAUTH21 9/7/2012 11:58PM

  Wow your a busy girl. Good Luck on the math. I know where you are
coming from on that subject.

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Blessed beyond imagination

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I love it when a plan starts to come together....

I moved my family here about 10 months ago - full of ideas that were hazy, hopes that were a little thin and very little idea what it would take to really get settled in a new place. It's been hard, and more than a little stressful, but this week I'm really feeling some pieces begin to fall into place.

This economy has seen a lot of changes for a lot of people, and I know lots of folks are having trouble getting adequate/appropriate/fulfilling/or just plain paying work. I knew that I had to be pretty creative to get work - and I've worked for many months to get things in place. Things have turned out a little differently than I expected, and better than I could have hoped. I feel like all my disparate goals and interests are really beginning to come together.

I started work this week at an amazing garden - the Trent University Rooftop and field garden. We produce food for a campus restaurant, to donate to a local humanitarian group and for the volunteers who work at the garden. It's a permaculture garden - sustainable, organic and self-sustaining. The rooftop garden is about 1/3 of an acre ABOVE the spectacular Trent Campus, overlooking the incredibly lovely Otonabee river, and the field garden is nearby. I get to teach new gardeners how to produce food for themselves and their families. I STRONGLY believe that people should have access to food, and the means to produce their own food, so that they can be powerful, autonomous and secure. I also believe that people who have access to land that they control in their community are more likely to care for, contribute to, and look after that community. I'm about as giddy as a person could be over a job!!

I've been pursuing teaching First Aid and, I have to tell you, it's tougher than I thought it would be. And, in the spirit of 'everything seems to work out the way it should...' I'm studying, preparing and working towards teaching - but in the slightly more distant future. This is ok - this is as it should be.

I've also been pursuing work as a respite worker, caring for children or adults with special needs. So tonight I went to a meet and greet for respite workers and families - it was a wonderful experience! Most of the families have children (varying ages) with either developmental disorders (like ADHD, Austism, Downs...) or medical conditions (stroke, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy...) I can safely say that full time work (and then some) has been sewed up for the summer... but more than that, I am really excited about doing it!!! I met some absolutely inspirational families. Strong, creative, dedicated... I am absolutely floored at the calibre of parenting that I witnessed. And of course, I can never complain about the picky eating, arguments or other trivial parenting challenges I may face again. There but for the grace of God... I end the day feeling tired, fortunate and grateful.

On top of that, I had SUCH a nice day with my hubby. We built a little garden off the side of the house (for his special peppers, eggplant and heirloom tomatoes). Then we went to the Wednesday market and bought some of said plants. We also bumped in to a bunch of people that we (separately) know, and got to introduce each other to these disparate parts of our lives. Then he made me a to-die-for omelette for lunch. Mmmmm.... chef husband.... mmmmm.... Then I picked my DS up early and took him for a haircut and treated him to new pokemon cards. A lovely day indeed.

Tomorrow DH has a 'tryout' for a cook job, then we'll meet up to train for work at a local organic food coop. After that we're off to the gardens to haul compost from the field to the roof. I imagine Brian will head home for a nap while I hang out for probably a good six hours of weeding... and I can't WAIT! lol!

So, I had a great life in Mississauga. I was deeply involved in my community, doing work that I cared about and that I felt mattered (entirely unpaid, mind you, but I could afford to). My life was all set up the way I liked it - and I was concerned about getting to that point EVER again in this new town.

But, 10 months in, I have a 90+ average in University, about to begin the program of my dreams. I work with youth in my community, helping them pursue their goals, learning about service and social justice. I'm helping to build a new school and community garden, producing fresh food for local families and teaching children how to grow food for themselves. I'm producing food for and with students, families, homeless people and to support a fantastic restaurant. I have the privilege of supporting some of the strongest, most resourceful and inspiring families in caring for their exceptional children...

I am fortunate to have a lovely home, a healthy family, friends and neighbours that I like and enjoy, work that fulfils me and pays my bills, and a community that I love and am proud to support. What on EARTH a girl could wish for above this - I can't even imagine.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARYMO22 5/22/2012 4:13AM

    what an amazing journey you're on - I'm so happy that everything is working out even better than you'd hoped!
Well done also on your averages in your studies - that's brilliant!

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CARILOUIE 5/18/2012 9:51PM

    I love this so much! I am so incredibly happy for you.


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TIGGER622 5/18/2012 5:26PM

    WOW! I always knew it, but YOU ARE TRULY AMAZING!!!! Soooo glad to hear everything is working out - you deserve it!!!! MUAH!

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GSDMIKE 5/17/2012 9:43PM

    So so so much "Wow" in this post.

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BOBBYD31 5/17/2012 2:50PM

    you deserve it, you have worked hard and you are an incredible person!

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CASSIOEPIA 5/17/2012 2:39PM

    It's not luck, but when Opportunity meets Preparation. You, my girl, are preparing yourself in a way that you can take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. I love it.

The title of your blog really made me smile, and as I read through it, I am so very happy for you.


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CHEPRBYTHEDOZN 5/17/2012 12:03PM

    WOW!!! I am soo thankful,too,that you are so incredibly happy!!! A nd you are such a blessing to EVERYONE you come into contact with.

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RUNNINGWILD 5/17/2012 11:38AM

    I'm beyond happy for you! You deserve every bit of happiness that comes your way. emoticon
Oh, I also appreciate the shout out to A-Team LOL

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CALVIND 5/17/2012 8:36AM

    I am so happy for you Kirsten that things are working out for you. I hope that everything goes well for me too when we move to Trinidad shortly.

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Looking for your best advice about overcoming fear

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Hi gang!

I'm looking for tips about how to beat my fear of public speaking! I know, ironic that someone with this fear would choose to teach public workshops... I'm having a lot of anxiety about getting up in front of the large groups I'm teaching lately.

So, what are your tips and tricks for getting yourself to do something you're afraid to do or dread? How do you get past the fear and push on into success??

I'll wait here while you think about it....

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GIANNA345 5/13/2012 9:27AM

    How are you doing? How did it go?

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TORTUETOO 5/10/2012 10:03AM

    I'm a shy person but ironically I've never had a fear of public speaking - however, I would advise that you talk to them as if you were talking to a friend, not as if you're giving a speech. Like Mike said, make a general outline of what you're going to cover and then work from the bullet points. The more you write out a lengthy, prepared speech, the more flustered you're going to be when you lose your place or get sidetracked by a question (and you will). Just make an outline and have a conversation with the audience. You're such a warm person, I'm sure you will do a great job. emoticon

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GSDMIKE 5/9/2012 10:50PM

    When I was younger, I used to be really uncomfortable with public speaking too. I've done a fair amount of it: training seminars, sales presentations, emceed a lot of dog club events. The more you do it, the easier it gets. But there's always the butterflies in the stomach as the hour approaches.

I generally try to avoid scripts. I use an outline to frame my major points, and fill in the details on the fly. I've found the more I have on paper, the more I worry about forgetting something.

More likely than not, you are going to know your material better than anyone in your audience will. Keep that in mind, and try to relax and let them learn what you have to share.

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CASSIOEPIA 5/9/2012 9:54PM

    I loved Penny's comments. What you have to share is too important to keep to yourself, so take a deep breath and spew! I know you do your homework, and would never do this unprepared, but that would be my best advise.

Is this a new anxiety? Did someone ask you a question recently that had you guessing or stumbling for an answer?


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GIANNA345 5/9/2012 2:14PM

I used to feel really awful doing it. I wouldn't say that I enjoy it now, but it doesn't cause me any particular angst. For people like us, I think it just takes lots of practice. I never tried Toastmasters, but a lot of people I know speak highly of it. My best advice is to prepare well, and then rely on your material to get you through. If you can take a few moments for breathing and meditation right before you have to speak, that might help too. Let me know how you do. emoticon

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TIGGER622 5/9/2012 9:33AM

    Kirsten, you are so personable and terriffic, you were MADE to do this! My advice, talk with each person individually as they walk in, introduce yourself so it starts out as more of a one on one, that will not only make your students more comfortable, but once they are all seated, you already know them! Not a room full of staring strangers, more like a room full of comfortable friends!

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    I agree with Penny-I am NOT very good in front of people. But, Kirsten,you have SOOO much energy and knowledge that you'll be such an asset to people. Maybe, while 'offstage', visualize yourself speaking in front of a crowd but you're calm and in control. And then, like Penny said,'just do it'! Sorry, I'm of no help but I'm confident that you will do very very well!!!

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KERRNEL 5/9/2012 2:22AM

    I HIGHLY recommend looking for a local Toastmasters club. I joined this organization about 3 years ago and it's a life changer for people who want to get over their fear of public speaking or even to improve their public speaking skills!

Go to www.toastmasters.org and select Find a Club and plug in your zipcode and it'll show you the closest clubs. Good luck! If you have any questions, just let me know!

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RUNNINGWILD 5/9/2012 1:01AM

    Just do it.... and keep doing it. After 5 years of instructing the HM clinic I still get ill on the first night BUT I just push through it. I have to. I love getting people hooked on running too much to keep that to myself. If you really care about what you're speaking about, it'll happen easily. Let the words flow.
I have faith that you'll knock 'em dead.

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Success and goals for crazy weeks

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hi gang! I've missed you this week! It's hard to believe I had an exam on Monday, and now it's only Friday. Wow, it seems like this week was a month long.

I know, it's hard to get a job in this economy - but it depends on what you want to do. If I wanted to get a full-time office job, or teaching, or in industry... sure, that would stink. But first aid training and respite (caring for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities) - there is always a demand - somewhere!

I got a first aid job in Mississauga that I'll start next week - it's on a course by course basis. I interviewed for another FAI job that's more local - and got it. Just have to start working out a schedule and locations, so that will take a couple of weeks. Also got 'hired' on as a respite worker yesterday, but now I have to go through the process of connecting with a family. There are several waiting, so it shouldn't take more than (again) a couple of weeks.

I did something really weird and applied for a job as the assistant gardener at a community/university roof top garden. I know, not very nurse-y. But it's something I have a lot of experience in, and I've been working on as a volunteer - if I can get paid for it, woo hoo! Now, the only problem would be if I actually get that job. Not sure how I'm going to fit school in.... Also, I'm hoping to get hired by the university athletic centre as their in-house FAI. I'll have to promote the classes like crazy, since they have such little demand for it. But it's the ideal position for me. Year round, local, great pay and I have total control over my hours... I turned down the garden centre job.


Hubby is looking hard and has had a couple of interviews. One was for a four-hour a week position. emoticon Really? ugh. Anyway, he'll get out there at least part time soon. Probably will end up working a couple (or several!) part time/casual positions till he gets his foot in the door.

I've been working out this week too! I *finally* hit my seven-days-in-a-row milestone, AND I'm down two pounds since last Friday. emoticon

Now, every time I get on a streak and say it 'out loud' I blow it. I'm hoping NOT to this time. It's going to be tough though! Especially leaving for work Wednesday at 5am and getting home near 10 probably. I'll have to make sure to get in a 20-min brisk walk or something.

Anyway, that's my goal for this upcoming week - to keep the streak alive and get a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise each day.

Second goal - do NOT use a drive-through. No matter what. Period. There, I said it! When I travel I can get sucked in to fast food soooooo easily. Not this time. I'll be packing my lunch and snacks. The most I'll stop for is coffee, and I will walk IN, order it (and only it) and walk OUT.

Hmm... I think that's it for this week.

Have a spectacular weekend, everyone!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKINNYSOON13 4/30/2012 8:26PM

    Enjoyed reading your updates - feeling the same about 4 hr a week job....that won't help much :-D LOL Curious to see if you get the gardening job.

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TIGGER622 4/30/2012 11:54AM

    WOW you certainly have a TON of options out there don't you? It looks like we are all in the job market :) So glad you are finding work! I did a respite search for illinois and the google search came back confusing! i so admire your broad range of skills and how you go for it! taking some of your mojo! keep up the good work girl, miss you!

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CASSIOEPIA 4/28/2012 11:21AM

    Your 20 minutes a day can certainly be broken down into two 10 minute walks! Just saying.....

Great job on the work opportunities.

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BE-THE-CHANGE 4/28/2012 5:29AM

    Wow, I got tired just reading all this!

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CARILOUIE 4/27/2012 10:11PM

    My drivers side window is currently out of commission - that seems to help me with th drive-thru thing...

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The view from here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I keep saying that, if a person HAS to run on a dreadmill, I have the best one there is - and I've been meaning to post a picture of my view from it. Finally got the technology together (and up off my butt), so here it is:

I wanted to take more, show you the whole view, but I felt weird taking pictures in the gym! (Generally kind of a NO-NO!)

Just to go on public record - I've ruptured a tendon in my foot, leaving it feeling 'weird' but not, in any way, dis-abling me to run. (There is some debate about whether it's the fibularis peroneus brevis or tertius... not even sure if there really IS a fp tertius! Not really important) The fact is, I've got 20k legs and an 8k gut. Anatomical limitations may keep me off the race circuit forever (or at least till major surgery, many years away I imagine) but they can't keep me from running! I have fewer problems on the treadmill and if I do run into trouble, there are facilities nearby. So that's it. That's my dreadful 'mill story. SO sorry if that's TMI - I tried to be delicate!

And for these reasons I am SO grateful to have this lovely view to enjoy. Four seasons of daily change on the river. Boats, beavers, muskrats and lots of birds. There's always something to see and enjoy. Even if I can't be out IN nature, at least I've got a front row seat.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAYERS_OF_ME 4/25/2012 5:34PM

    Facilities are important! All runners know this. Great view, btw.

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BILLALEX70 4/25/2012 10:23AM

    That's a great view for indoors!

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    sweet view! glad you've got that to help you thru the dreadmilling.. :)

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CARILOUIE 4/25/2012 7:11AM

    What a great view!

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TIGGER622 4/24/2012 11:06PM

    Hey, if its gotta be a dreadmill, at least you got the view!!! Keep at it girlie! You rock!

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CASSIOEPIA 4/24/2012 10:40PM

    Wow, that is a great view. What a bonus for a gym. At first I thought it was a wall mural, but when you said it changes with the seasons, then it must be real.

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DELBIZZ 4/24/2012 10:28PM

    I could run looking at this...so sorry about your foot...it sounds really painful...hope things work out with that...thanks for all your support I really appreciate it

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