Thursday, November 12, 2015


Our original plan was to go on a fun celebratory trip post mortgage pay off.  Due to D starting a new job (unforeseen 6 months ago when this booking occurred), he will be too busy to get away.

Add to it a surgical procedure suddenly booked for the end this year (we've been waiting for 6 months for the specialist appointment) and it is definitely a no go, even if he never left his old position.  D's going in for hernia (day) surgery, likely a result of all of his sports activities over the years and will be out of service for at least 2 weeks.  Expect it to be straightforward.

Our fun trip was supposed to be a surf camp... We had already purchased new rash guards, suits etc. in preparation. 

To our complete surprise, Delta offered us a medical waiver (surgery date is day 2 of the trip), so that we are able to keep the full value of our tickets towards future flights!  I didn't know they would do this as in my mind, that's what travel insurance is for.  Boy was I thankful for their kind gesture.

The flight credit has to be used by next April.  Normally that isn't an issue except I have a number of things in place already for the spring.  So I am going to use it up before D's surgery date.  Can you believe it will be a relaxing trip finally??!!

Part of me feels like a bit of a "wimp" for not going for a bigger challenge, to really take advantage of the opportunity but the other more tired side is feeling less stress because I'm not.  I really don't need to be cramming a new language and culture right now.  Important to be gentle towards myself.  I've made good contacts though for when I'm ready to tackle it. 

If everything stays the course, I will end this work year having worked a week longer than last year with income matching last year's already with one more month to go.  Neat how that works out some years. 

There has been some quite advanced planning for 2016 because I am using points to go fairly far and you need to snag those flights as soon as they are released.  Right now I'm all set all the way to next September.

I have enough status with the airline such that  I could cancel or make changes without penalty up to 72 hours before.  I've made use of this a few times already to trade for better flight times.  It is a fabulous thing, but fairly dangerous for someone like me.

Am also building in more time up north over the summer and fall, as well as out west over the winter.  It's as balanced a year as I've ever had it.  We'll see how it ends up working out...

P.S.  Our great Delta travel credit card is now finished.  To our disappointment, we weren't credited with the prorated amount of our yearly fees, like other companies would do (think utility, cell phone etc.).  D called and was told that because we were beyond 6 months, we would not be receiving anything.  Not acceptable thought I, so I sent an email asking for their reconsideration and to our surprise, it was answered barely 2 hours later and we were credited! Well done Capitol One!

P.P.S.  The results of the election in Myanmar meant a lot to me as I can almost feel the elation of the people.  Everyone I spoke with held such high hopes for Aung San Suu Kyi to win and strong belief she will be able to put in place policies that will allow their country to prosper once again.  Let us hope there will not be any unreasonable blocks from the military.  The world is watching. 

Friday, October 30, 2015


  • I really enjoyed the latest rendition of Cinderella (the movie).  It is one of my favourite fairy tales.  Maintaining the good inside in the midst of great difficulty is something many of us can relate to.
  • D is enjoying the rest of his time off.  I've gotten back to work.  It dawned on us a few days ago that we are in that zone where we are not insured against disability, extended health etc.  
  • My mind is still somewhat foggy and energy/enthusiasm not like it was.  It is slowly coming back at times but feels like it will still take a while.  Somewhat frustrating that I cannot rush it.  
  • Don't enjoy dwelling in this funk as it comes in waves.  Surprised with how much I've managed to bury when I consider myself someone that doesn't like to hold back.  We are making some strong changes in our communication moving forward.  I don't want to feel this wounded again when we can do something about it. 
  • Emotional strength and maturity can be achieved by recognizing the need to set healthier boundaries.  
  • Due to D's crazy work schedule for the last few years, we haven't made it to any art classes.  Hoping that will change.  Until that day comes, I'm suggesting we "draw the house" for an hour or so every week.  We live in an old house with lots of neat architectural features, so plenty of subject matter, without counting the items inside.
  • Our mortgage amount outstanding sits at around $1600 (representing what is left of main house, ski condo and D's half of car) with 2 biweekly payments left.  Exciting times ahead...I've put through about 5 cents worth of extra payments (they are probably wondering if some kid was playing around on the computer) so that the last payment could be exactly finished... I admit to being weird that way...
  • Can you believe it has taken 3 months to get the confirmation letter from our Federal tax department saying that they have finally looked at my uploaded receipts and will allow my charitable donations after all?!  
  • Even though Fall is my favourite season, I have opted to travel rather than spend it up north much of the last decade.  I see that I've been missing out.  Summer is beautiful in her own way but the feel of Fall is unique.  Join me on a photo journey of a few of my daily walks.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


I usually avoid dousing myself with local everyday news but with each country visited and those currently being researched, I make an effort to keep up with current events -- Election in Myanmar, response to bombing in Ankara, fuel crisis in Kathmandu, haze in Indonesia, uprising in Palestine/Israel, flooding in southern France, pollution control in Delhi.  Unfortunately not all happy.

On the home front, D is starting a new position and will have 2 1/2 weeks off prior.  This position came out of the blue as he was approached with the opportunity.  This previous employer was a good one and was the company D was downsized out of about 5 years ago.

Having never experienced returning to a previous company, D didn't know that the process would be more involved than if he were a new hire because it is interpreted that the company is hiring him back because it had "made a mistake" in letting him go in the first extra checks were needed... I am so glad I don't have much to do with the corporate world!

Yes, it was a big decision on one level, to walk away from a defined benefit pension plan back to a defined contribution one.  But he is ready and if this move places D in a better place emotionally as well as professionally, I'm more than happy to make up the difference financially.  I am way beyond caring about the minutiae of numbers right now.  We have to take steps to improve things for D, even if they are incremental and tiny.

What this work position does offer, is a role almost identical to the niche role he was offered when we were investigating a move out west, without the massive amount of traveling.  This is a smart move career-wise and if it works out, will put him in a great position for contract work later on within Canada and globally.

Financially the salary is higher, but not high enough to offset the loss of the full pension plan.  Extended benefits are comparable.  D was able to negotiate the real gain (in my mind) in the form of more time off and work flexibility.

Canadian companies are not known for its generous time off.  So even though this is a senior position and D had worked there before (3 years), he did not get any credit for it and the initial offer reflected it.  Needless to say, he turned it down and started applying to other companies.

Long story short, they did come back and the result is 4 3/4 wk (don't ask) plus one additional week off without pay each year.  Guess who fought for that one?  It is important that it was included clearly in the contract.  Also, with eventual work from home 2 - 3 days a week and the ability to work remote from up north and out west during ski and summer seasons.  For a corporate gig, this is as good as it can get for D.

I have to admit that I'm not hanging too high a hope here.  For sure I want him to do well and get satisfaction from this role but I have become jaded from all of this so am managing my expectations appropriately.   Just don't want any more drama.  D doesn't want to be the bearer of the bad either as he's also had enough.

He will be spending the time off between jobs up north.  I'll get to be there for 1 week of it, enjoying the fall. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

5 days

I ended up taking 5 days.  

Days 1 and 2:  I was literally in a daze, my eyes not seeing with clarity, as I walked and sat by the water, feeling somewhat like a zombie.  Even my feet hurt as they weren't willing to mold to the terrain.

Day 3:  Things felt clearer while walking.  Happy to be moving.  Happy for the silence and chance to look out on the water and write it out.  Grateful I had no issues with spending time alone.  I don't know how one would do it otherwise.

Days 4 and 5:  D and I had it out.  My frustration over the last 4 years came out.  I had been carrying it along with me, not realizing how large it had become, not wishing to let it out completely and coming across as an unsupportive spouse.  

I know D's numerous job changes has taken a huge toll on him as well.  However, I was being negatively affected by the angry energy coming from him that he hadn't been entirely conscious of.  We have discussed this before but he hadn't really understood the extent of it until now.

He thought that by keeping silent meant he had it under wraps and was saving me from stress.  I'd rather him let it out than to remain silent, as I'd know it was happening instead of being bombarded energetically by anger and rage when I least expect it.  

As I'm exceedingly sensitive to such things, I get rather affected.  It's exhausting and winds me up at the same time.  And it progressively burnt through my defenses or the lack of, as I don't expect to need defenses at home...and has damaged me over time despite my becoming progressively stronger the last few years.  D feels horrible about it.

Add to it, the fact that I've been challenging myself in my own travel journeys, in ways that required more energy than ever, to prepare as well as recover from the many more difficult places I tended to go to nowadays.  So the sum of both, to put it simply, pushed me over.    

And I found myself feeling the reminders of what I remember burnout was like.  That scared me as that point in time was pretty horrible.  The math didn't add up in my head when I believed I was doing a decent job orchestrating my life.

But of course, I don't live in a bubble.  However, I do believe both parties in a marriage have to take responsibility for what they add and take to and from the relationship during the highs and the lows.  Sometimes just awareness and willingness to protect what you have can make a huge difference.

Now what?  Modify my goals so that I'd leave more energy free to handle the stresses with D's career?  For now, it is the best decision.  I don't feel like I have enough energy to embark on what I had planned later this fall so after another week of reflection I willingly cancelled it. 

D cannot give me any assurances that career wise, things are going to get better, other than to keep searching.  Even his excited energy during that process is difficult for me to handle.  This is one of the few instances I've seen him cycle between extremes in an almost frantic way.  Otherwise he is uber laid back.

It has been a long time since I've felt desperate for time to recover.  Reasonable or not, it feels like failure to me, especially when it may potentially be impacting my work. Thinking further, I have pushed myself greatly the last couple of years and time to reflect on my experiences is warranted.  On my own terms though.  

My eyes are seeing clear again right now.  It's not over but is immensely relieving. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Inspiration from Pico Iyer

Have you seen these two Ted talks by Pico Iyer?

Caught them on a plane ride last year and find myself coming back to them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mental Health Day

It is a difficult thing to admit, the need for a day where I say "no" to any more demands on my time and more importantly, mental emotional load, however slight. 

I find myself teetering on the edge of extreme frustration (already quite frustrated) and emotional detachment (my way of distancing myself when things get dark) even though on paper, things look good.  There's a disconnect somewhere, so I know it is time to do this before I sabotage things further. 

Cannot remember if I've ever taken a deliberate work day for myself.  Booked a holiday yes but don't feel the need to fly anywhere.  Just need to sit still by nature for a while to get grounded again and gain some control over perspective.   And it cannot wait another day. 

It scares me to feel this way especially after all I've done and seen.  It hasn't felt like this for a very long time.  But nowhere near the worst it has been.  Just wise enough to recognize the signs.

What is 1 day, 1 week or even 1 month within a career lifetime?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


  • I've gone back and added captions to the pictures of Bogota.  The city was surprisingly cosmopolitan and the area I stayed in (La Macarena), had a lot of trendy restaurants.  My Spanish was pretty pathetic so there was a good amount of gesturing.  Met some great people.  Would love to go back sometime.  And again, nothing during my time there tweaked my worry meter at all.
  • Our trip to Bangkok has come and gone as well -- It was good to be back.  Had the option to cancel our flights without penalty but decided to go and support the country, knowing full well we are responsible for ourselves should anything happen.  Do check your travel insurance policy as they may not cover you in acts of terrorism, war (declared or not).
  • D is going through yet another round of job hunting and interviews.  I've come to realize just how much I dislike this whole process as he gets super pumped and I get a headache trying to work through what various positions might mean for our life.  A change is needed, as the work schedule over the last year is unsustainable and very unhealthy.  Can't believe he has lasted this long, to be honest.  I would have had a fit a long time ago.  He likes the position but it is just too much work.  And he is situated around what seems to be all movers and shakers and they cannot understand why he isn't one.
  • We just got notice that our airline credit card will cease to exist in another month.  Quite disappointed with the news are we are fairly new users and have already gained a lot of bonuses and have been looking forward to many years of it.  Instead, we are working down the list of places we have to update automatic charges with.  Back to our old travel card it is.
  • I believe I may have hit on something that can improve my heat exhaustion episodes -- Sodium.  I'm not used to sweating a lot at home, even when working out.  But when I started to go to some very warm places, that changed and I've been just drinking more fluids etc.  In Bangkok, I started to feel overwhelmed with the heat again and the idea popped into mind, so I did a small experiment with ingesting extra salt from foods plus a different electrolyte and felt like a new person by the next day.  Maybe this is the key I have been looking for.  Hope so, because my next Habitat build will be in a warm weather place and I don't wish to be the one who passes out on the work site.
  • My goal to get stronger is slowly coming along.  I'm frustrated with how long it is taking and how much it hurts some days.  Granted I'm not doing anything ballistic and I have no coach pushing me, but still I am getting impatient.  Enjoying it, but feeling pressed for time.
  • Almost forgot to mention -- I had a George Clooney "Up in the Air" moment at the T4 Delta lounge on the way back from Bogota.  I flew out of T2 and an agent at the lounge there helped reprint some boarding passes for me.  Coming home, he was working at the T4 lounge that morning, saw me and said "Welcome Back!".  It was embarrassing as everyone turned to see who he was talking to.  I couldn't believe he remembered me when they must help thousands each day in each lounge!
  • One last thing -- The car windshield replacement worked.  No more drips!
 This is what was getting passed out at Sathorn pier, site of 2nd bomb attack in Bangkok.
The investigation has been a bit of a gong show and even though Thailand is likely the 
most developed of the developing countries in this region, they still fall far short, 
in terms of training, education and procedures.  It still is, everyone for themselves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bogota -- Photo Heavy...

Views from Monserrate

Lots of examples of street art.  
It is a respected thing there and police have been known to stand in protection of artists.
Huge contrast from Palestine.

Were these little guys ever cute.  How they managed to be so well trained is beyond me.
If you could only hear the level of noise on the street.
You place your coin bets on top of the houses and if they go into it, you win.

Lots of these cell phone minute vendors around the city.
For people who don't own a phone and wish to make a call, local or long distance.

Outside of the Paloquemoa market.  
This market was a real highlight for me.

I had the best shake made from that giant green fruit -- Guanabana.

Don't judge an orange by its colour there.  The greener ones are sweet!

Oh, the amount of money I'd have to pay for one of those papayas here in Canada...

I have never seen the need for such close egg size distinctions!!

Incredibly rich fruit shakes

It's obvious I'd never make it as food photographer.
I only remember to take a photo once I've mixed things up and take a bit or two...

On Sundays, major roads are close to cars -- Ciclovia!
Vendors line the roads selling snacks.  People walk, bike, roller blade.  Fantastic time!

This was the only food miss.  I thought it was some kind of coffee flavoured mousse.
Turned out it was a tough marshmallow thing and I could barely pull the stick out.  
Ended up having to just bite it. Horribly sweet. 

Walls of lottery tickets for sale.

Poster against the privatization of electricity.

Fantastic photo exhibit of the work women do in remote villages.