Tuesday Smiles…

I’ve had these tabs open in my browser for a while. The videos just make me smile…

This first one is so beautiful and I think highlights our openness and willingness to love. It doesn’t matter what colour, race, shape, religion, or faith we all need love and have so much to give.

This is a touching video too.  This one emphasizes that when we show one another respect we can gain each other’s trust. (plus the lion kind of reminds me of how Basil likes to play too… we’re all just big kids at heart)

I hope your day is filled with smiles, laughter and love!

 

Window pane/pain = kindness gained

I will never take double pane windows for granted again!!!! It is COLD in our flat except when the radiators are on… and even then they aren’t on for most of the night.  By the time morning rolls around all of the hot air has escaped through the single pain slatted windows (they look like blinds that open horizontally….) Last night we bought a kit to insulate them, and I just did the windows in the bathroom. Next will be the kitchen and then perhaps we’ll get fancy and do some of the windows in the bedroom/sitting room. We’ll see!

During the process, I had to go across the street to a house under construction to see if they had an extension cord (because you need to use the hair dryer to seal it and it wouldn’t reach). They lent me a long power bar and it was oh so useful. When I returned it I gave them cookies (Delicious dark chocolate digestive biscuits) I had just bought. NOTE: I would’ve liked to have whipped up something homemade but time constraints did not permit. They weren’t a big extravagance at only 80p.  and at first the man didn’t want to take it but I insisted. I was so appreciative of their gesture and he seemed happy too. A nice afternoon treat with their tea, and warm windows for me. WIN WIN – hooray everybody wins.

As I was walking back I thought. Being nice is NICE. Having people be nice to me is so NICE! Isn’t it wonderful to take care of and be kind to others. It’s like a big group hug in the day to day of life.

How can you be kind today? Someone like me, is so grateful that you are!!!

Feeling Good: A New Beginning

I have to say I love social media for one specific element: the ability to share unique, touching and meaningful stories.  The radio station we listen to in Victoria has the “Good News News”… and if you know me, you would know that I pretty much stick to the sports section because I find the rest of the newspaper/news depressing. However, I love how we can uplift one another through Feel Good stories, and so I’m starting a section on my blog that is based on just that!

Today is the first Feel Good article I will share with you and I hope you find it as moving as I do.  The video follows the story of Jodi DiPiazza who was diagnosed with Autism just before her Second Birthday.  Through incredible programs, and her passion for music she has made leaps and bounds in terms of development and socialization.  Take a peak at this video where she fulfills a dream and performs with one of her heroes (performing one of my favourite & most up-lifting songs!)

Enjoy (and maybe grab a kleenex!)

If you have any other Feel Good suggestions I would love to hear them. Feel free to leave a comment or email me: erika@erikahoward.ca

Why not?

It has been just over a week since I arrived in Oxford. The first few days were spent picking up our cat, exploring the shops to find all of the essentials we were missing (for the lowest price possible), and then setting up our little flat.  But since that I feel like I’ve pretty much been L.A.Z.Y

And I have been feeling VERY guilty about it.
Then today I saw this… (Thanks to wonderful yoga teacher Maria Filippone for linking to it)

After watching that I had a little realization. Why do I feel guilty about still being in my pyjamas at 11:30am? Why am I worrying that I’m “not doing enough”? Why do I feel bad about myself for not leaving the house, going to workout, watching all of the X-Factor videos on youtube? Why not? I deserve a little downtime – we all do! Why shouldn’t I have a little r & r and snuggle with my cat while watching every show I can find that is like HGTV here in the UK (Oh how I missed you location location location!)

But I need to own my choices. If I give myself permission to enjoy what I am doing, then those choices can truly be relaxing. Nourishing even. (If not and I harbour guilt towards myself, then my choice isn’t a good one – though we know what the change should be there right?!)  There are many times in my life where every second of the day is accounted for. It is quite lovely not to be in that position. Now if this carried on for months on end – well, that would result in a different blog post right! But for now I have to share my new resolve. I will not feel pressure or guilt simply because I truly don’t have anything to do.

In fact, I would encourage us all to find the joy in what we’re doing. Regardless of whether it is lying on the couch, attending a class in school, going to our job, playing with our children…. there is so much happiness that constantly surrounds us. It is up to us to find it 🙂

Finally, just to show that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (ok I know he’s not my child, and that I’m becoming that crazy cat lady who only talks about her pet, but whatya gonna do), here’s a picture of Basil. I walked into our bedroom this morning and this is how I found him (all snuggled under the covers – and got into that position all by himself – smart little guy)

Apparently Basil has the same idea!

The days of Dark Blue

It was bittersweet leaving Canada and heading across the pond for this year (ish) in Oxford.  However while Oxford’s colour is dark blue, I don’t expect I’ll be experiencing the “blues” this year.  It was wonderful to be back together with Malcolm (as he was describing, two weeks is a nice vacation, but beyond that the missing-you’s set in).  Our little family made the move so that Malcolm could be here to do a year Masters and row in the prestigious Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.  We decided to bring along our cat Basil. Some of you may have seen my social media posts lamenting the cost and hassel of bringing a cat to the UK.  Apparently the UK is one of the most complicated and stringent Countries in the world in terms of ‘importing’ animals.  We were shocked by the cost of a company to receive the cat. Then when I attempted to pick up Basil after his long journey over I was told that the Rabbies product name was missing from the form and until our vet in Canada had sent a new form he would have to remain at the Animal Reception Centre. Oh jeeeeeezzzzzz. Thankfully our vet is a family friend, and generously came to our rescue on the Sunday of the Thanksgiving long weekend!!!! I have to say that for all of the expense, the worry of shipping ‘our baby’ in Cargo, and the aggravation of the paper work/returning to Heathrow again – it was all worth it! Basil seems to be adapting well, albeit cautiously.  I love having someone (errr ok, something) to chat with during the day, and of course top notch cuddles.  He seems quite grateful for us, or at least has been even more affectionate than normal!

Ok, ok, enough about the cat.  The jet lag is taking it’s toll, but I have felt pleased with my productivity when I’ve gotten my butt in gear.  The nesting bug has hit me hard (and no, I’m not pregnant).  I’ve rearranged the furniture in the living room, bedroom, and all of the cupboards in the kitchen too. I’ve been out and about trying to pick up a few more essentials and familiarizing myself with the city.

My initial impressions of Oxford are: holy students batman. It makes me feel at once young (because I could be one of them and likely look very much like them) and old (because it’s been nearly 10 years since I graduated from University – really?!).  It’s also adorable.  Walking through the streets I wondered to myself why I do I think cities in Europe are so cute/quaint?  Perhaps it’s the history, perhaps the size?  There is always interesting architecture and historic elements to revel at.  Speaking of which, I should get out of the house and go explore this new city of mine.

BUT, I couldn’t write a post and not say how extremely touched I was at the kindness, generosity and love that surrounded me in the various goodbyes/send-offs.  I feel so blessed to have made such incredible friends in Victoria, and leaving you all feels all too much like leaving my dear friends in Ontario as I did just a few year prior.  However, as one of my favourite movies Steal Magnolias says “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a life time full of nothing special”.  Or another ‘goodie’, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.  What a happy predicament to have developed such wonderful relationships that you are sad to leave for the time-being.  To those of you who have left your imprint in my heart (both in BC and in Ontario) – thank you. Thank you for opening your lives and your hearts to me, thank you for the thoughtful words you shared during my departure, and thank you for the fuel supporting my courage as I embark in this new adventure.  Please keep in touch, and hopefully this blog will help share what our Oxford experience is like…

The touching well wishes I received 🙂

 

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” – Unknown

“Ready for my close up Mr.Camera Man”

As I’ve previously noted, I had the privilege of working for CTV at the Olympics as an analyst for the Rhythmic Gymnastics competition.  Although I was pretty nervous before it all began I have to admit, it was a lot of fun!!! I guess all of those years of “practice” paid off! I hope that I will have the chance to do it again, be it for rhythmic gymnastics or as a springboard for something else/different.

For those of you not in Canada, and unable to watch it I have found a youtube version. Enjoy!! (click on the name below)

Evgeniya Kanaeva , 2012 Olympic Champion – ball 

Russia’s Evgeniya Kanaeva performs her ball routine in podium training.

Looking forward …looking back

Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, and years they spent preparing for it.  The victorious performance itself is merely a demonstration of their champion character. ~ T. Allan Armstrong

It is a very natural occurrence that at important events in our lives, we often feel retrospective.  As I think of, dream about, and have mini-“EB” (aka emotional basket-case, or as I like to call it Emashional bosket-case) moments I cannot help but remember the road that brought me to this point.  I’m talking about it like this journey has really been mine – when in reality, I have been a happy helper (tag along) as Malcolm climbs this next mountain.  But, wow the view from the top!  It’s hard not to imagine what’s on the other side… and I frequently have to stop myself from thinking of all of the new adventures that await us Post-O. I sometimes picture what my husband will be like when he’s not the zombie version of himself due to constant all out training. How will I be able to adapt to making normal size meals? How will he adapt to having to clean the bathroom on occasion?

I think I must be pretty good at living in the present moment because I feel like the Games have snuck up on me.  I really cannot believe they are almost here.  And the thing is living in that present moment is going to be the key – for all of us.

To drink in this incredible experience. To not to fret about what is coming, but focus only on the here and now.  To not to try to control or manipulate things but stay open to what opportunities come about.  And first and foremost to stay grounded in the fact that what we are is what we are. For the athletes everything that brought them to this point. Each step they took to climb this mountain has carved them into the person they are. Who knows what will happen in London. Big challenges create big moments.  And to not let the past define us, nor determine our future.  There will be many who will rise even higher… but the thing I always think about is as incredible as those moments are, as brilliant as those accomplishments, they don’t actually change someone.  (well we hope not).

My wonderful husband pre-O will be the same post-O, though perhaps a little more chipper Thursday through Saturday 😉  When I was at the Olympic training centre in Colorado Springs one year I found some motivational papers… written is one of my favourite all time quotes:

A true champion is a champion in life, not just in sport.

He is my champion. My anchor.
CTV produced a little profile on him…

AND, then to end on a bit of lighter note, here’s something to make you laugh. One of my favourite videos is this one of a young girl and her daily affirmations.  Well I made my own version for the rowers.  Hope you enjoy!

Long overdue…

I’ve wanted to enter the Blogosphere for a while now. I, like most people of this generation, have much to say and think that somehow other people might be interested in what comes out of my mouth (or rather off the keyboard).  Perhaps that’s you? Perhaps you’re my mother and you love all* that I do.  In any case, thanks for stopping by. Hopefully something I write, link to, post, or make magically appear on the screen before you resonates with you in some way. Best case it will inspire you. Great case it will make you think. Worse case it will make you think less of me. I’m aiming for anything but the latter 😉

So, enjoy my musings.
~ eh.

(* Note: my mother will likely say not all but most. I can think of a moment or two she wasn’t very in love with me!)