Using social media to distract me from an incurable addiction to chocolate
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When I was 11 years-old I did a terrible thing.

I shoplifted a Sweet Valley High novel from my neighbourhood discount department store. It was spring time and my jacket had these giant pockets on the front perfect for slipping a paperback novel into.

I don’t remember what volume of the series it was. Most likely something to do with Jessica getting herself in trouble and Elizabeth needing to bail her out. You know, like almost all of the novels in the series.

Although in Dear Sister, Elizabeth and Jessica kind of switch personalities… That novel was one of my favs.

svh007-dear-sister - Sweet Valley High series

Anyway, back to my thieving ways…

I was filled with trepidation when exiting the store. But no one stopped me. I was actually quite surprised by this. But I guess no one was paying much attention to the girl wearing the large-pocket white spring coat  hanging loitering around the paperbacks section.

On the walk home I felt relief at not getting caught and excitement at having a new book to read, albeit undeserved. And I knew it was undeserved because coupled with that relief and excitement was a tremendous feeling of guilt. Because I knew better.

Did I confess and bring the book back? No.

And no one found out about me stealing that book. Until…well, now.

Not proud of this shoplifting story. Not proud at all.

I was an avid reader as a child. Money was tight in our family. And while the library was in walking distance it didn’t have the latest and greatest in the Sweet Valley High series. None of these reasons are a valid excuse for taking a five-finger discount that spring day.

Not at all. Just fact. And poor decision-making.

We all have un-proud moments in our histories. Perhaps not about shoplifting but rather some other less than a stellar example of human goodness.

This story is one of mine.

 

 

 

It’s no secret that I love chocolate. It is literally my favouritist food ever. In my mind chocolate is its own food group. A yummy food group that is needed to support my ability to handle everything from PMS to cranky child syndrome.

chocolate stash

What you might not know is that I pretty much don’t care how old the chocolate is. I’ve been known to eat chocolate that sat at the bottom of a tradeshow booth crate for three years before landing in my lucky grasp (thank you, Joan!).

It was delicious.

The dark days of my chocolate addiction…

Now I’ve had some dark days when it comes to my chocolate addiction but I don’t consider the above to be representative of my downfall. What happened is that I succumbed to the lure of cheap chocolate: the Rosebud in particular. I seriously don’t know what happened.

And it took a while to shake that Rosebud-eating habit. But I did it.

You may think it’s crazy that I see eating cheap chocolate as worse than eating three-year-old chocolate but it’s not. That three-year old chocolate was dark chocolatey goodness that only got better with age. Cheap chocolate doesn’t taste better with age. It simply tastes blegh-ier.

Speaking of blegh, I’ve never understood the appeal of white chocolate. I may eat really old vintage dark chocolate but please. White chocolate? I do have some standards. Besides, it’s not even real chocolate!

What’s your fav food or snack? Is it something sweet or savoury?

MelGallant-#365feministselfie-projectFor the past 63 days I’ve been participating in the #365feministselfie photo challenge, created by Veronica I. Arreola.

I first heard about it through Instagram a day or two after reading James Franco’s New York Times article on The Meanings of the Selfie.

I loved that Veronica quotes from James Franco’s article on how “attention is power.” Because it is.

The project is about owning (and sharing!) images that represent our true selves. Who we are, what we’re feeling or focused on and how it can all change day-to-day.

This challenge is so fun. And so hard!

I’ve only been posting my #365feministselfies to Instagram so far…for some reason I feel more comfortable sharing myself there. Maybe that will change over time.

Here’s a compilation of my January and February selfies:

and…

Taking a photo of myself everyday, especially on days I feel crappy/grumpy/less-than-human, requires stepping out of my comfort zone. But stating those feelings when sharing such a photo is surprisingly liberating.

This is me at my best. And at my worst. It’s me telling the world to take me as I am. But it’s also me telling myself that. There’s a bit of self-forgiveness and self-acceptance happening here.

And I’ve met so many interesting women. Gained a short glimpse into their lives. It’s all so cool.

Check out what I’m talking about by following the #365feministselfie hashtag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

What about you? Are you participating in this project or a similar one? 

 

This winter I’ve finally done something I’ve been wanting to do for three years. I bought cross-country skis and got myself skiing!

I love this sport. Full-body workout, communing with nature, embracing winter instead of hibernating from it. Well, okay maybe not a full-on embrace of winter. More like a fist bump.

Cross-country skiing fun

Happy trails…

I’m not the most graceful. There’s been a lot of clambering along the trails. And few spectacular wipe-outs.

Despite elbows and knees flying, I’m having a great time. When I ski I feel…free. Running gives me that same sense of well-being but skiing is harder. It requires a lot more concentration. And coordination.

And aside from this sport offering a way to enjoy the winter season (as best can be expected), the health benefits of cross-country skiing are wicked awesome.

But more to the point, I’m finally doing something I’ve wanted to do.

As Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Word.

Thanks to Erin and Darlene who’ve shown me the cross-country skiing ropes and not laughed at my headers… aka wipeouts… that much.

;)

What I failed at in 2013

January 28th, 2014 | Posted by Melany Gallant in musings - (0 Comments)

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. To me it’s like paving a gilded path to failure. The entire process is so grandiose and pumped up with all this undue pressure to succeed.

If you want to do something, do it. Resolutions mean nothing without action.

Resolutions mean nothing without action

And I don’t like saying I’m going to do something unless I’m really going to do it.

Which is why I cringe at what I wrote last year as a declaration of my Three words to live by in 2013. Those words were: centered, discover, seek.

Let me be frank. I didn’t exactly shine at living these words. I’ve been thinking a lot about why. And one of the reasons is that I wrote the post and shortly thereafter forgot ignored it.

Every reason I come up with as to why I didn’t work at living these words rings as an excuse:

  • Too tired
  • Too busy
  • Too nervous
  • Too bored

I could go into detail to justify each of the above but they would still be excuses. So instead I’m listing how I failed at living those three simple words: 

  • I didn’t centre my attention on what mattered all the time. I still let stress get to me. Which means chocolate was a mainstay of my diet. Like a daily mainstay. You’re welcome, Lindt.
  • I didn’t pursue new interests or hobbies because I didn’t make time for them. Ya, look  half-knitted tea cozy that’s been sitting in my knitting bag for like five years…the likelihood of you living your purpose is slim.
  • I didn’t write as I intended. I wrote elsewhere (like here and here) but didn’t pay much attention to the words swimming in my head. As a result, they are still swimming. Rather impatiently. They’re making me dizzy. I may need to lie down.

Remaining mindful of those words – centred, discover, seek – would mean I would need to work at achieving them. And I didn’t. Ouch.

I’m not saying 2013 was a bust. I taught my daughter to ride a bike. I helped organize a social media conference, I had success in my job, and hells-bells, I turned 40!

But I’m no longer going to write down promises to myself I don’t mean to keep.

How about you? What’s your take on New Year’s resolutions? Do they work for you?

A friend shared an article about birth order on Facebook yesterday (thanks Julie!). And although there are a lot of generalizations made about the personalities of the oldest, middle, youngest and even solo child some of what the author says about birth order rings true for me.

I am a middle child.

The author, Dr. Gail Gross, describes the middle child as a peacemaker. I so totally get that.

the-birth-order-effect-just-call-me-peacemaker

Growing up I was the peacemaker in my family. Between my brother and sister. Between my siblings and my parents. Between my siblings and myself!

I won’t say I was always successful at it though. (more…)

9 things that gross me the hell out

November 12th, 2013 | Posted by Melany Gallant in musings - (8 Comments)
File under "gross"

Have you ever thought about the things that really gross you out? Just sat for a moment and listed them out for full contemplation?

Well, I’m telling you now that you should. Because when I put this list of gross together (don’t worry I don’t get too specific with the details), I realized that some of these things most likely aren’t considered gross by others.

Nope, some are just quirkily gross to me.

So take a look…here, in no particular order, here are nine things I get all blegh about. (more…)

I was 19. The summer after my last year of high school was coming to an end and I was starting university in just a few week’s time.

My parents and sister moved back to Victoria (my old hometown) and my brother was already out of the house living on his own.

In a way it was like I went away to school but in a reverse sort of way in that I didn’t leave my family; my family left me.

Sure my brother still lived in Ottawa but we weren’t all that close at the time.

I moved in with the daughter of a family friend and her boyfriend. They were housesitting for her parents who were out of country for the year.

I’ve always been pretty self-sufficient as a child so I knew I could take care of myself (I could cook, do laundry, etc.) but it was worrying to have to pay rent, buy groceries, adjust to life as a university student while working, etc. All of this with no real fall-back option. If I couldn’t make rent, no one was going to bale me out. Managing a budget those first couple of months was interesting indeed (thank you ramen noodles).

Juggling it all wasn’t easy but having good friends as roommates helped.

moving day

We had a lot of fun that year together. We made meals together, celebrated holidays together, had movie nights, study nights and yes, the odd party night.

As much as life “on my own” was tough (life on a student budget is tight), it was also liberating. I made my own decisions. I was accountable to me. Yes, I had to pay my rent on time, do my share of house chores, etc., but it was all so much fun.

The funny side to all of this is the idea of my daughter someday moving out at a similar age is simply inconceivable. That time is still many, many years away but the idea of her leaving for school or “moving out with friends” at 18 or 19 years of age is just…no. Not happening in any reality I am comfortable living in.

Obviously I know she will leave. Eventually. One day very far off in the future.

Your turn: How old were you when you moved out on your own? Did you leave home in your late teens, wait until your early twenties or… gasp! … your thirties?

Image sourced via John Benson on Flicker

I need a chapter break

October 4th, 2013 | Posted by Melany Gallant in musings - (4 Comments)
People reading books

I love this photo of the inaugration of the Uberlandia Book Deposit, August 12, 1963.

You know when the chapter of a great book you’re reading ends and leaves you wanting more? You need to turn the page, no matter how late into the night it is.

You’ll stay up waaay past your bedtime because the shopkeeper has made a vow to avenge the murder of his son and you absolutely must know how he’ll do that. Or because the young up-and-coming account exec has sent confidential files to her cousin in Borneo, and you need to know…what’s in those files?!

I love books like that. A great chapter break is what turns books into those page-turners I can’ t put down.

Life should be like that too. Full of interesting twists and turns that make you want to jump into the next adventure, seek out new information, be open to changing your whole perspective on things great and small.

Living that kind of life needs to be intentional. There’s always the risk of complacency, getting stuck in a wheel of same, where predictability is the norm and boredom the flavour of each life experience.

I feel like I’ve fallen into that wheel a little bit. I’m not bored with my life. Yet, I’ve let the pattern of life lead me instead of weaving it to my own interests and strengths. Maybe it’s turning 40; maybe it’s my girl entering school. I feel a sense of urgency to explore something new, do something different. I need to make the time for it. Make it important part of my life.

Life satisfaction aside, doing so makes me a good role model to my daughter.

A busy schedule holds me back but so does fear. And both are excuses.

* Image sourced via Flickr Commons.

I love the summer. Even the days where the heat lays over you like a humid blanket. I like being outside. Hearing the wind rush through the trees – greeting each leaf with a rustling handshake. While bees hum their tune of productivity helping gardens bloom their riches.

There are still a few weeks of summer left, yet I’ve always felt summer ends after the Labour Day long weekend. After all, it’s when as a child you switch from spending most of your days outside, to spending most of your days in a classroom.

I always looked forward to that first day of school – the start of a new year where anything is possible. From new friends to new discoveries about the world; from sports honours to science fair ribbons. Yes. Anything is possible.

But saying goodbye to summer is always hard. Especially when it’s brimming with memories of family fun, personal triumphs and all around good times. Of course the year ahead is waiting to offer those same memories of our making; I just feel a nod of nostalgia to this summer in particular.

Because next week, my girl starts school for the first time. Sure, this summer has flown by, but wow – so have these past four years. The day my daughter was born I held her in my arms and felt it deep down to my soul how much she needed me, depended on me. I want nothing to harm her ever.

As she’s grown, that protectiveness hasn’t changed but her need for me and her dad has. Of course she still needs us in all kinds of ways but that need has shifted. She needs us to let her grow and do and try and be.

At the beginning of the summer we bought Sweet Girl a bike. She was so excited. But she gave us constant, earnest reminders to not let go of the bike. Lots of “Please don’t let go, Mommy.” and, “Hold the handlebar, Daddy.”

Yesterday Sweet Girl road her bike to the park. On the way home, she got stuck on a bit of an incline along the path we take. She asked me for a bit of a boost up, then turned to me and said, “Let go, Mommy – I’ve got it.”

The summer is transitioning into fall and my family is transitioning into a whole new life adventure. One where my girl needs me a little less. I’m watching those apron strings loosen bit by bit and feeling that bittersweet pride. That bittersweet joy.

letting-go-of-those-apron-strings-bit-by-bit

Letting go of those apron strings bit by bit.

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