Gameplay

I was born at the beginning of the Millennium generation. How do I know that? My parents bought us a computer when I was eight years old.

Go on, laugh you younger Millennials. I won’t even tell you what it looked like or how many bytes of RAM it had (not a lot.) You can look it up on Wikipedia anyway.

Everyone from my generation onwards has some sort of relationship with video games. Those who don’t live under rocks. Curiously, mine has always been a more observational role rather than participatory. I’ll explain why.

As a child, I had an IBM personal computer 2. The elementary school where I attended had a computer teacher who took a shining to my sister and I and he provided us with quite a few games for our own machine. Our collection of floppy disks was pretty impressive.

These crazy robots would scare the bejesus out of me.

These crazy robots scared the bejesus out of me.

The games we’d play were often educational, since he was a teacher after all. I remember being particuarly fond of Mixed-Up Mother Goose when I was really young, then transitioning to Where in the World (or Time) is Carmen Sandiego?, the Super Solvers series like Midnight Rescue, and Operation Neptune, which was a math game that frustrated me at first until I began to understand concepts.

But what I really wanted was a Nintendo.

Specifically a Super Nintendo, so I could play Super Mario World. I would do anything to play it and often overstayed my welcome in many a friend’s house because of it. But, for whatever reason, be it financial or idealogical, I was never granted full access to SNES by becoming the proud owner of one. And trust me, I’m pretty sure it was both a financial and idealogical reason for me not to have my own.

I remember hearing my mother calling these types of games “stupid”. I certainly didn’t agree, but there was little in my control over that situation. She held the purse strings after all. To be fair, my mom also thought The Simpsons was a dumb TV show. And to her ears and eyes it did look stupid. Her command of English is not as strong as my own. To her these were just weird, yellow characters saying stupid things in loud, obnoxious voices. What I picked up on very quickly was the wordplay, which I had begun to already learn through the various computer video games I’d been granted access to. Thanks Mama!

ugly-children

I still kill myself laughing over my Simpsons quote board on Pinterest.

I digress.

When it did become financially feasible for me to get my greedy paws on a system, the video game world had actually moved onto bigger and better things. My first console was actually a Playstation 2.

I was excited to get it. My current boyfriend at the time offered it to me when he upgraded to the next system and I accepted readily, imagining days and nights spent in front of the tube catching up on all the gametime I’ve been missing all these years. But when I fired it up, I was surprised to find that none of the games I had were capable of holding my attention. Even worse, I wasn’t enjoying the play time.

So I quickly dropped it. I think I threw out the system after the break-up. Sorry Gord.

Here’s the funny thing: I love video games. I still don’t play them unless I’m coerced and I’m pliable enough to acquiesce. But I love to watch them. Video games are that pleasurable distraction, but I like the ones with a bit of substance. I’d never thought I’d ever say this but GTA 5 is one of my favourite games. To watch. And sometimes attempt to drive in. I’m better at driving in person. The wonderful part of GTA is that the online world is constantly adapting and so the game continues to change, thus keeping a lot of people interested. And let me be clear, I don’t sit in front of the TV slavishly while my boyfriend plays. It’s a source of relaxation for him and a great bit of background noise for me that I can choose whether I want to pay attention to or not.

And as for video games that I’m actually playing? I continue to be horribly boring. My latest obsession is 2048. Built by a 20 year-old Italian, born well into the Millennium generation. I bet he likes video games too.

A Year Ago

How do you go to Las Vegas and not hit a pool?

That’s been the question on a lot of people’s minds since I got back from the glittering Sin City a week ago.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t for lack of effort. I brought my bathing suit. I bought a new cover-up and a pair of flip flops. But when you’re stuck from 8 am to 7 pm in a conference room with 26,000 other people, it’s hard to get the time to hit the water.

What kept me from the pool? I was at convention for World Financial Group.

turning-point-sign-wfg

Today is Throwback Thursday. If I may, I’d like to explore roughly a year ago what my life was like.

My father had just passed away and I was in the midst of crisis. They say that everyone grieves in a different way. My grief sent me into a tailspin of emotion that was both horrifying and difficult to get out of.

A year ago I was fragile. I had to reboot. Slowly, over time, with lots of help from family, friends and professional advice-givers, I was able to do it. In March of this year I joined WFG to begin taking control of my finances. The company teaches its associates to build and save their wealth. I knew this was something I needed to have in my life. I love being a freelancer, but I also want to live a life that my father sacrificed his comfort and stability in Poland for. He knew that coming to Canada would enable me opportunities that I would never see in Poland.  I chose WFG as my path to ensure that this would happen. It’s also a company built on helping other people. This was something I was looking for in my life, even before my father’s illness took him. The mentorship and support was just the cherry on top of everything.

Cut to this year. Convention 2014 “Turning Point” started on June 24, the first anniversary of my father’s passing. Suffice it to say, it was a turning point in my life.

The people I have met so far through WFG have been an inspiration and a great source of support. Can you say the same thing about the company you work for?

team-united-LV

Although I didn’t dip a toe in a pool in Las Vegas, I certainly didn’t waste my time while I was there. It was worth the flight and the money which, all told, wasn’t even that much. Remember, they’re teaching me to save my money, right? ;)

 

Hidden Sugar

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Over the last month I’ve been tracking food with an app in an effort to identify key areas I need to improve on my nutrition. My first observation – I’m eating too much sugar and fat.

This is by no means a surprise for me. I have a typical North American diet – meat, carbs and some veg. But I’m putting effort into eating “clean”, non-processed foods. So when I think I’m eating better and I still see the sugar warning pop up I have to wonder why. Now I’m reading nutrition labels and I’m startled to find that nutritious food can also contain sugar.

For instance, the yogurt I eat in the morning with my granola is artificially sweetened. Given that I already add fresh fruit to it, I’ve now switched to plain yogurt. The granola itself is also full of sugar, so my next step is to make my own granola, which is very easy to make according to Pinterest.

Not surprisingly the Internet has a lot of other suggestions on how to avoid or reduce your sugar intake. Several claim that you should quit cold turkey, while others say that you should reduce your sugar intake gradually.

Sounds like kicking an addiction, doesn’t it? There’s debate over whether it is an addictive substance, but from the anecdotal evidence and my own experience in my diet, I lean towards the notion that it is addictive.

While I like the idea of quitting cold turkey, I don’t think it’s a sustainable practice. I know my body is not going to enjoy the first few days of being sugar free and I’m concerned that I won’t be able to make it over that initial hump. Plus, my track record of making a drastic change to my habits is poor. (RIP Spring Streak.) But I know that I am capable of making small incremental steps towards a goal, so I think my best option would be to go that route.

Maybe this is a conversation I should have with my doctor. At least one (only one?) blog post suggests speaking to a professional.

Short term, medium term, long term

Goals. We all have them. Are they written down somewhere? Do you think about them frequently? How actively are you working towards them?

I have loads of goals. Health goals. Career goals. Creative goals. Family goals. Some of them I have voiced, others are merely thoughts in my head that bubble up now and then. They don’t all need to be planned out. But I think it’s important that some of them are because if they all remain intangible ideas that remain in the wishes category then how will they ever come to fruition?

There’s another layer to add to that, though. Priorities.

Goals and priorities have to go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and jelly otherwise things don’t move forward. Or they move forward in one direction but not in any of the others.

So it’s important to also decide what’s a priority in your life. In May I made a priority list for myself.

My priority list for May was:

  • Continue my Springstreak
  • Pass my LLQP exams
  • Build my business
  • Say “no” more often
  • Spring cleaning

I managed to do 3/5 of those goals for the month of May. My springstreak fell off woefully. I didn’t build my business very much through the month, but I did pass my LLQPs and I learned how to say “no” more often. Okay, the “no” thing is an ongoing habit which requires me to prioritize a little better. To build on that, I decided to stop using my paper agenda and move to Google Calendars for all of my scheduling needs. As much as I love using my pretty paper agenda, it’s not very efficient. It doesn’t give me reminders and it’s easily avoidable if I don’t want to think about what I need to do for the week. It can keep sitting in the bottom of my purse for days if I don’t want to see it, which leads to crazy problems. So I’m growing up and learning how to use the right tools to keep my life in track, which helps me with the fourth goal.

And truthfully, by passing my exam I did build my business. Without my insurance license, I can’t move forward, so it was necessary for me to prioritize that as my next step in building my business. By the way, I passed my provincial exam on May 30th, so I just made it under the wire. I guess you can say that 4/5 goals were met.

And even though I did not continue my springstreak, I have been making steps in my health. I had a full check-up done with my family doctor and I’ve been tracking my food with an app on my phone. I notice there’s a lot of unnecessary sugar in my diet, so I’ve been keeping my eye on where I’m consuming my sugar. There are many places where it hides.

Finally I did a massive clean in May. There was scrubbing, sweeping, dusting, bathroom cleansing. All the good things. And it felt really good to get it done.

This week I completely forgot about all of my priorities other than working. I need money to pay the bills and I got a job that does can help with that. Unfortunately, it changed my whole schedule around completely and I lost track of other things. Which led to me finding my tomato plants looking like this this morning:

tomato-plants

Alarmingly sad. I hadn’t touched the watering jug all week. The poor things have been starving for water for days!

I’ve since watered them and will monitor their progress closely, but I’m upset with myself for having forgotten so completely this week because I was wrapped up in the day-to-day of life. I did the same thing with a bunch of dried chickpeas. I set them in water to make hummus this week. Today I opened the box to find they had turned into mush.

My lesson in all of this is that I can’t ignore the medium and long term goals when I’m trying to juggle the short term ones as well.

So I have a new job that takes up a lot of time. That’s fine. But I can’t ignore the rest of life, otherwise those other goals I set out for myself will never come to fruition.

Lessons from my Spring Streak

How quickly life charges on, am I right? May is half over already and my Spring Streak has officially ended this weekend. I didn’t really celebrate it because, well, it kind of ended on a whimper rather than a triumphant note. Regardless, here’s what I’ve learned from it.

Increasing activity levels

Running is hard. After the first three or four days of running my knees began to hurt too much for me to continue without risking injury. I switched to brisk walking for my cardiovascular health and I averaged 0.83 miles each day. So in terms of my goal of hitting 1 mile per day, I was just shy of the mark. Kind of a bummer, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. The overall goal was to increase my activity levels and I have!

Here’s the problem. I haven’t lost any weight as of yet. Double bummer. Last time I spoke to the nurse monitoring my progress I learned that in the last nine months I’ve actually gained 36 pounds. That’s… astounding. I knew I had gained weight. I didn’t know I had gained that much. I was estimating around twenty pounds. Boy was I off the mark! But it helps to monitor these things because otherwise I would not have known.

Exercise alone is not going to solve my problems

Having learned that my weight is still increasing I have to look at other factors, mainly what am I eating? I spoke to a friend who’s also a personal trainer about my issues and he pointed down at the beer in front of me. “It’s that,” he responded. I laughed nervously and took another sip.

But he’s right. I have to look hard at what I’m putting into my body as well as the energy I’m using to expend it. Cause if I’m walking a mile per day, but I’m taking in too many calories and not burning off enough of them, then it doesn’t matter how much exercise I’m doing because it’s just not going to work.

nothing will change

So my goals are still in place. I would still like to lose thirty pounds by November. But I have to change things up a little bit. I’ve begun tracking my food intake along with my exercise. I’m also going to attempt to eat “clean”, which was a recommendation made by my friend the fitness instructor.

Eat Clean

What does eating clean mean? It’s actually pretty simple. I need to eliminate processed foods from my diet. Minimize sugar and white flour. Decrease my alcohol intake (1 glass of wine a day!) Increase my fruit, vegetable and legume diet. Pretty simple, right? It doesn’t mean I have to stop eating, but I need to choose my food more wisely. And I also have to stop baking for a little while — only special occasions from now on.

Hopefully this will help change things around for me. I’ll keep you all up to date on it as I go along.

im possible

Happy May Day!

It’s the beginning of a new month and I’m thinking about what I want to accomplish in it. May is a good month to set some goals. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

Continuing my Spring Streak

I’ll be honest, I’ve been very lax on my spring streak the last two days. April showers finally arrived in Toronto, killing my motivation to be active. But I have 18 days left in my Spring Streak, so I need to pick up the pace again!

Pass my LLQP Certification and Provincial Exams

In March I became a training associate with a company called World Financial Group. WFG teaches financial planning concepts to middle-class individuals and families to help them build their financial wealth. I’ve learned a lot over the last two months about saving money and investing in your future. Now I’m nearly ready to become certified and start building my business as a licensed associate!

Build my Business

The appeal of WFG for me is that it’s a business that you build on your own. There’s a lot of support, but a lot of the work is on your shoulders and I have my work cut out for me! I’m already busy with activity, but I have plans as well, including setting up a seminar in my neighborhood on how money works and launching a blog called BecomeSolvent.com. It’ll focus on financial planning, personal development and I’ll probably throw in a few puns in there too.

Say “No” a little more

This week especially I’ve had a hard time saying no to things. Consequently I’ve been overbooking myself and cancelling a lot on people. I don’t like to do that. I want to be a person who keeps her word because trust is an important value. If people don’t trust you to show up for things, what’s going to happen? They won’t invite you out anymore, they won’t expect you to show up, they won’t want to hang out! So this is my pledge to be more honest when I’m making my plans. When I make plans I need to see the big picture. I need to see whether I can actually fit something into my schedule.

Spring Cleaning

This winter our apartment has turned into a cluttered mess. We’ve gained an extra desk and lost some space in the process. We’d like to paint and put up sound dampening foam in the living room because Phill is building studio space into our home. I’d like it to at least look nice. There’s a bunch of areas that need to be decluttered first before any of that can happen: closets, bookcases, drawers, even the balcony needs to be decluttered.

These are my priorities this month. They all tie into the bigger goals I have in my life: losing thirty pounds this year and becoming a full-time WFG associate and making our apartment homier.

Springstreak! Or, My Health Manifesto

This year I’ve been setting a series of challenges for myself. It’s been a wonderfully successful experiment in learning how much I can take on. For instance, in January, I challenged myself to write 100 days of gratitude in my journal. I’m about to complete those 100 days and I can’t tell you how beneficial it has been to write these things down. Now my journal become a depository for the wonderful things in my life, as opposed to my woes, which it was before. Some entries are as brief as a sentence, but others are two or three pages long. And almost all of them have been about the people in my life–not the things. Isn’t that funny?

After that became a habit in my life, I challenged myself to give up chocolate for Lent. I’ve never successfully given anything up for the 40 days and nights before Easter, partly because I never set the challenge for myself, and partly because the one time I did it quickly fell apart. Not this time. I last 40 days and nights! In fact, I lasted 41 days and nights because I didn’t realize that Lent was over the Thursday before the Easter weekend and I ended up caving on Saturday (after checking when Lent was over!) The reason it worked was because I told people about it and they kept me honest!

Now that I know I can deal with both self-denial in small form and creating a habit, I challenged myself to a spring runstreak. I tried it in early winter when a friend introduced me to the concept, but I quickly lost momentum when the weather got too cold and I wasn’t able to transition to a gym or get warmer clothing, so I decided I needed to try again in the spring when things began to warm up.

So here I am. I’ve challenged myself to run at least 1 mile per day. However, the challenge has somewhat morphed since I made it. Some days I just can’t get a full run in because I don’t have the time. Also, my body is not used to this much exercise and I don’t want to injure myself. So I’ve given myself permission to include other forms of exercises into the challenge. This is why it’s called a “Springstreak” now instead of a run streak. The goal is still 1 mile a day, but if I can do something else I’ll do that as well. So far I’ve incorporated long distance walks and yoga into the mix.

The goal here is not to say I ran the mile. The goal is to get my body moving again. If I were a more analytical person I would say the goal is to run the mile so I can track the time, the calories burned and the speed. Which I do. But it’s not the only thing that’s important to me.

The first week was difficult. I spent the entire week in pain. But this week I’ve woken up with fresh muscles that are not in pain. Which means the hard part is over and now I can actually concentrate on getting better at exercising. The initial go of it is always difficult because your body is not used to the movement and it protests the sudden activity. Or rather it tells you that it’s not used to the movement and tells you what parts have recently been put into action.

And as I’ve begun doing this I’ve developed a few more goals for myself to help me move past the initial 30 days (which ends on the May 2-4 weekend. See, I plan these things very well.)

Lose Weight

I’d like to lose thirty pounds this year. It’s a big number, but I’m giving myself until November, which is about when I’ll stop running outside. So when I break that down it becomes four pounds per month. A little more reasonable, right? And, again, I’m not being a fascist about this. This is a goal I’m working towards.

Gain Flexibility

The reason I’ve incorporated yoga as well is because I’m stiff. I need stretching out and yoga is the best practice for it. Luckily, I found a very good class in my neighborhood that I’m actually looking forward to taking! So that will help me in the long run as well.

Maintain My Health

My father’s illness and death last year made me take a really long, hard look at how I was treating my body and how I could do a better job of it. I spent the last two years largely ignoring huge swaths of my life trying to maintain my sanity and when even that went out the window I knew that this was because I wasn’t taking care of myself as a whole. So now I pay more attention to these things and I know part of what becoming a more active person means is that I will stay healthier for longer. My dad died way too young and that’s not a fate I wish to go through, so this is me saying my health is important to me.

A study published by Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University of California confirmed that when you write down your goals and you share them with your friends you are more likely to accomplish them than if you were to just think about them. So I’m sharing these with you, friends. Got any goals you wish to share with me?

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