Monday, August 14, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Plan For The People You Love

Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.


I have nightmares about forgetting birthdays.

If there is a worse feeling than hurting a loved one because you forgot their special day, I don’t want to know what it is. Maybe you’re not great at keeping track of the date and you forget Christmas, Valentine’s Day and your Anniversary too. Maybe you don’t care about those things and you don’t think it’s a big deal.

However, it probably is a big deal to the people you love and if you love them, I know you wouldn’t want to be hurting them just because you’re forgetful. Particularly because once it’s done, it’s done and it’s very hard to undo.

I live out of my day planner, I have said it before. When I get a new day planner, usually in November or December some time, I put aside a few hours to go through and write in all the birthdays of the people who really matter to me, and any other important dates I need to remember, like close friend’s anniversaries. I never rely on facebook to remember people’s birthdays if I really care about them. Some of my friends don’t have their birthday listed on facebook and every year I am the only one who remembers to say happy birthday to them!

For the people I need to get special gifts for: my mother, my brothers, my best friends, etc, I put another reminder a week BEFORE their birthday. ‘Gift for X’s birthday.’ That way, I am reminded a week early and can go and shop for something really awesome.

It’s no good only having a reminder ON the day, particularly if you live with that person. Then it becomes obvious when you have to rush out and get them something!

If you don’t use a day planner, find another system. Your phone’s digital calendar might work. Or google planner. You may even want to find a system that lets you send emails on a set date and email yourself.

And remember, sometimes remembering a bad day is as important as remembering a good day. Don’t be like the ex-friend of mine who decided to read me the riot act on the first anniversary of my father’s death. If someone’s family member dies, make a note of it and give them a little extra care on that day. Few people will remember the exact date of tragic events, but you can bet they do.

Just a little effort in late December will make sure you have plenty of time all year to buy gifts, make reservations and send special messages to the people you love, to show them that they really do matter to you. That even though you are forgetful sometimes (and we all are), you care enough about them to make a note and remember when it matters.

If you want advice on how to shop for the perfect gift though, you’re going to have to wait for a future blog post!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

To Be Read Pile: Blue Line - Bo Driscoll & Dawne Walters

Patrick ‘Neiler’ McNeil, defenseman for the Atlanta Spartans hockey team is well on his way to the ‘Big Show.’ He has it all…looks, personality, talent, supportive family and the best teammates a guy could ask for.

What he doesn’t have? A woman to his life with. After a steady stream of bad dates, Patrick is ready to swear off women. That is until he sees her across the room…

Jane Sanderson is getting over a betrayed heart. Her ex left her with no money and no car. Abandoned. The last person she wants to get involved with is a hockey player. Yet, where better to run into one than the place she works, BLADES Sports Bar, where she sees him....

When the very charming and seductive Patrick sets his mind to something, he wins. Jane finds herself falling for him more and more each day with the things that he does for her.

At the peak of their happiness…her ex comes back to town hell bent on destroying her happiness.

Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is ice, there is hockey…and that’s where it all began.

Worst Line:  I slide my hands up to his hips and feel the indentation, the cut of his abdomen. What I call cum gutters. I know better, but that's what I call them.

I want you to go back and read that line again. Really read it. Absorb it into your soul. And the next time you read something that clunks or hear a line of dialogue that doesn't work, I want you to think to yourself 'At least it wasn't cum gutters'.

This book was bad, but it did have one redeeming feature: the hockey sequences are pretty ace. I've done a lot of research about hockey books in the last few months and in an environment that is mostly filled with players going to their lockers to get 'the things they need to get' all of the hockey sequences in it feel real and varied and like they might have been written by someone who not only enjoys the game but has played before.

The plot is meandering and without any real drive until it commits the cardinal sin of having a major conflict that could be resolved with a text message. The sex scenes included the phrase 'cum gutters' but did involve a faintly hilarious sexcapade that involved spreading a blanket on centre ice and no frozen genitals.

If you want to read a few good sports scenes surrounded by poorly written, barely proof-read prose that weaves between boring and mildly offensive, this is the book for you.

Get it here

Monday, August 7, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Organize Your Space

Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.

Our fifth post is: ORGANIZE YOUR SPACE

Everything you own should have a home, somewhere in your house where it belongs. That includes your handbag or wallet, incoming and outgoing mail, your remote controls, your keys, your shoes and all those other miscellaneous things that end up lying around on the dining table and kitchen bench. After all, its very hard to tidy your house and put things away if they don’t have anywhere to go!

I am a firm believer in the KonMari method of cleaning out clutter, which boils down to clearing your home of everything you don’t use and don’t love. Paperwork that must be kept can be scanned and stored digitally, but for a few vital documents like birth certificates. Clothes that don’t fit, that you don’t love, that don’t suit you, should all be donated. You don’t need as many clothes as you think. I have two dresses, about ten shirts and five pairs of pants. I don’t own any skirts. I also have three jackets and two pairs of shoes. That, for me, is plenty for all seasons and all occasions. Buying new clothes is a big deal for me and I only buy good quality things I can wear most days.
Even if you don’t like the KonMari method, it still helps a lot to have places to put everything, to make life more manageable.

If you are like most people, you will struggle to find homes for everything simply because there is not enough space in your house. However, it will be easy if you have cleaned out all those hundreds of items you don’t like, don’t need and never use.

I am someone who can’t tolerate what is referred to as ‘visual noise’. Remember when you were a teenager and you put up a collage of your favourite bands and actors on your wall? Or maybe you have a displace case full of trinkets. Or stacks of books everywhere.
I find that stressful. I like empty spaces and clean lines. So, my workspace is quite sparse with one or two focal items that I love.

Yours doesn’t have to be. Some people love visual noise and having collections and art all around them in a riot of colour and shapes. That’s great too, but make sure all the things around you are things you have chosen. There is a huge difference between posters and figurines from your favourite movies and a pile of dirty washing you haven’t put away.

It is also important a space be functional to you and what you want to use it for. Before decorating and arranging a space, write down how you would like to spend your time in it, what its function is going to be.

If you want your dining room to be a place where the family connects, don’t situate the table in a way everyone can still see the TV. If you want your office to be where you work, don’t store the kids’ toys, or set up your Xbox in there.

Sitting down and really thinking about how you want to use your spaces, will probably lead to you thinking about what is most important to you in life, how you wish you were spending your time. You might decide to get rid of your TV completely! Or at least put it in a cupboard you can close, so it’s not always there—a huge unblinking void in the middle of your space.

Not me though, I love my TV. Mine pivots so I can see it while I am cooking and while I am on the treadmill, but I also use it for audio books and music.

Organize your space and take pride in it, it’s your space, organized for your needs, not just a dumping ground for your stuff.