2016

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This is it, guys!  My final post!

Thank goodness!  haha

In recent previous years, I’ve made a list of things I’d accomplished over the year, the number of which would match whatever year it was. This year, though, the general populace seems intent on bringing me down, so I’ve altered the plan a tiny bit.

Oh, I know it’s not intentional, necessarily, but regardless – y’all are ruining my zen thing, man.

So this year, I’ve instead made a list of the 16 best things to happen for me in 2016.  The original list was quite a lot larger, but I’ve managed to whittle it down to the following, in no particular order:

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  1. Mark Hamill

Luke Skywalker is my earliest and longest-running heroes, from about the age of 5 years, or so.  I mean, it all kicked into high gear when I was about 12, but my love for Luke and Star Wars had already been brewing for several years before that.  So it was a near-lifelong dream come true to finally be able to meet the man who brought the character to life.  I’d rehearsed everything in my head leading up to those few precious moments I’d get to spend interacting with him – and ended up doing none of it when the time came.  But everything that did happen was so much better than I could have hoped, and even the group photo op I had done with my awesome niece and nephews was perfect and priceless.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

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2. Hudson

It’s impossible to explain to another person my absolute love for this polar bear.  When he was a little guy, I found myself getting up in the morning after an injection night (they were terrible – not much could get me out of bed the next day) and trekking out to the zoo just so I could spend some time with him; watching him, and getting to know him.  There’s just something that happens to my heart every time I see him.  When he was moved to Winnipeg, I was devastated, and knew that, even if I ever saw him again, it wouldn’t be the same.  I wouldn’t be able to see him all the time anymore.  Until now.  2016 saw the return of Hudson and his brother Humphrey to the Toronto Zoo, and I have been out there almost every week since their quarantine ended.  I spent some quality time at the window with him one day, and since then, he’s back to greeting me upon arrival, just like he used to!  He’s now the biggest bear I’ve ever seen, but that thing still happens in my heart when I see him.  When we make eye contact, I pretty much explode.  The giant fool is truly my spirit animal, and even though our time together is temporary, I am making the most of it.  No regrets this time.

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3. Dark Matter Set Visit

Mind Reels on a spaceship, guys!  Every bit as amazing as you’d think…and more!  Of course, that’s really all I can say right now.  Keep an eye out for the S3 premiere, when we should finally be able to talk about our day on set!

4. Bowling For Kids Sake

An all-star team put together by actor Ennis Esmer challenged fans to help raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto by donating and/or building teams to compete against one another in the Superhero-themed bowling night event!  Two “civilian” teams took on two all-star teams and basically had such a ridiculously good time that we have been thinking ever since of trying more things like that in the future!  So much fun, and all for a great cause!

5. Good Credit

When I learned that my bankruptcy would be cleared from my record with one of Canada’s two largest credit agencies after just 6 years instead of 7, I went online one day to find out how I was doing.  I’d gotten myself a secured Visa so that I would have SOME credit, instead of no credit, once the 7 years after my discharge had passed.  I got my credit report done, and was surprised and excited to find out that I was already squarely in the GOOD section of the scale!  Before I knew it, I was pre-approved for far more credit than I wanted, so I talked the guy down to a $500 Scotiabank Scene Visa, and have been happily earning more Scene points AND improving my credit rating ever since!  That’s so huge, guys!

6. Hands On Exotics

I had tried to volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, because I really wanted to feed baby squirrels in the nursery, but the schedule didn’t work out for when I was available, so I went a different direction, and began volunteering at an exotic animal shelter, instead.  I was taking it week to week for a long time, as I wasn’t sure how I’d do over the winter and such.  Plus, it’s a lot of cleaning poo.  Then there was a boatload of upheaval, and I wasn’t sure what was going on or how things would work moving forward.  The past couple of months, things have settled down a bit, and I am doing better with the routine.  I’m getting to know some of the animals, and they are getting to know me, and to be honest, it’s starting to feel a bit like therapy now.  My usual team and I work well together, and we get things done quickly so there’s a bit of extra time at the end to visit with our favourites a little longer (an in the example photo below, with young miss Cricket, the baby kangaroo).  And oh, the stories I can tell!  I’m hoping to continue to make new ones as we move into 2017!

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7. Grandma

This is a story I don’t wish to go into, so I’ll just say that I’ve started writing letters to my grandmother.  By hand.  At least once a week, but usually more.  That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Reconnecting with old friends

2016 was a good year for me in terms of reaching out and reconnecting with people who used to be in my life with much more regularity.  I started going to some WLU Toronto Alumni events, which – I graduated in 1995, and have been in Toronto since late 1997 – why have I not been going to these?!  So much fun!  Especially with my gal, Izzy, and her guy, Phil (who went to Western – boooo!  haha), and my hope for further reunions with my fellow Laurier alum may actually come to pass!  As well, I got reacquainted in a big way with one of my Rogers boys from back in the day.  We fell into our same old rhythm with each other – and then changed things up a bit, as well.  Right from our first conversation, it was obvious to me how much I’d missed him, though, so now I’m doing my best to make sure he and I don’t drift apart like that again.

As well, I started seeing my therapist on a regular basis again.  We also fell into our same old rhythm, but this time it seems like everything is more heightened.  We are connecting on a much deeper level than ever before, and as difficult as it is, I couldn’t have asked for more.  It’s exactly what I need.

What’s more is that I’ve spent more quality time in 2016 with more recent friends, and made at least one amazing new one, to boot!  Maybe my obsession with stronger connections is starting to pay off.  Also GO HAWKS GO!

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9. CSA’s Red Carpet

The Mind Reels has covered the Canadian Screen Awards (aka The Candys) to some degree each year since they began.  We’ve been extremely fortunate to have been invited to do so, and to have as much access as we’ve been given each year.  This year, however, was our first time on the broadcast gala’s red carpet, chatting with the talent as they arrived for the big night.  We were squished into a spot at the very end, and while many of the big names walked right by after having done their required time with the big media outlets, just as many amazing peeps actually stopped to talk to us – and many of them weren’t people we already knew!  This was our most incredible year at the CSA’s by far, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to apply for accreditation again for 2017, because it’s quickly become one of my favourite events in the city all year!  Besides, we were told by one wonderful woman that we’re a relief to see at the end of the red carpet – that people feel like they can just relax and enjoy themselves while they’re with us, and that’s got to be one of the biggest, most humbling compliments I think I’ve ever received.  More chances to make that happen, please!

10. Crown

This may seem like a weird thing to include on a Best Of list, but I was finally able to have my first dental crown put in, and I couldn’t be happier.  After a root canal, gum surgery and getting my mold taken just under the lab’s holiday deadline, I am now – for the first time in years – pain free.  Well, as far as my mouth is concerned, at least.  And for me, that’s a huge good thing!

11. Creativity

Figured I’d lump a couple of things into one spot, just to help whittle down my list!  From my Etsy store (where I sold my first felted item), to my meeting with the Toronto Library’s Writer in Residence (who made me excited about my book again), to my first attempt at shooting footage solo throughout my day for the Canada In A Day film that gets broadcast next year.  I was pretty disappointed with how mine turned out, but I still got a few emails saying that some clips may or may not make it into the final film, so I signed all the required releases and sent them off into the ether.  We’ll see what happens, but either way, I learned a lot just in that one day, so with any luck I can carry that forward to bigger and better things soon, too!

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12. The final 10-15 lbs

The majority of the weight I gained following The Betrayal was lost slowly over the course of the following decade.  I’d resigned myself to just staying at one particular point because I couldn’t seem to get the scale to budge any lower – until late January 2016.  Suddenly, the weight started coming off and the final 10-15 lbs – also the most dramatic pounds – dropped away by the end of March, or so.  Not only am I now back to my pre-gain weight, but so far I’ve kept it that way without too much trouble.  Okay, fine, maybe not the past couple of weeks, but it’s the holidays.  If all goes well after this weekend, things will get back to normal soon.  It’s nice to have a glimpse of my former swagger back, too!

13. Melissa O’Neil on stage

The weird thing about this is that I watched Mel on Canadian Idol back in the day, and may have had a little crush on her even back then.  Seeing her in Dark Matter has been an absolute joy, and getting to chat with her via The Mind Reels was a bit of a dream come true, as well.  The fact that I get to know her a little in real life is just…above and beyond.  So you’d THINK I would have taken the opportunity to see her perform on stage – to sing live – at any given point before now!  However, better late than never.  And so completely worth it that she gets her own spot on my personal Best Of list for the year.  Also, the wee crush lives.

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14. Ole Timey Radio Plays

These are pretty much the best thing ever!  For Mind Reels, Tim and I started bringing in random handfuls of actor friends and reading old radio play scripts from the 30’s and 40’s!  So much ridiculous and hilarious fun – to the point where we all but stopped doing regular interviews, even!  Don’t worry, though, I intend to get interviews going again, AND radio plays, AND maybe a few other ideas I have all put into play in the new year.  those radio plays, though.  We knew they’d be fun, but everyone continues to go above and beyond, every time, and that I am always in need of facial traction due to the amount of hard laughter each time is indication of exactly how special these things have become.  I can’t get enough!

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15.  Kate Tattoo

I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a new local tattoo parlour with a deal for small black and white tattoos available for $50 for a limited time.  A friend suggested we get one for “our girls”, meaning our doppelganger cats, both of whom have passed on and who are deeply missed.  I thought that was a great idea, and then, thanks to my very best friend in life, the whole experience ended up being more than I could have hoped for!  I love, love, love my homage to wee Kate the Kitten, and am naturally itching to get more ink done as soon as I have some kind of extra cash again!

16.  Lil Bub

Last but certainly not least, 2016 was the year I finally met Lil Bub in person.  I barely managed to hold back the tears, but I got to pet her wee head and we took terrible selfies on my phone and I love her so much I have a need to see her again someday!  What a remarkable little beast she is, that Lillian Bubbles.  She has no idea how much, really, which just makes her even more incredible.  I’m so grateful I got to spend those few wonderful moments in her presence!

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So there you have it!  My best moments of 2016!  Honourable mention goes to the ongoing shininess of my Firefly LootCrate subscription.  And the daily joy of living with my three wonderful cats – and this guy:

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I’m not going to say I’ll never post here again, but it definitely won’t be as often.  I’m sure I’ll get the urge to write once in awhile, though.  It’s who I am.

To that end, I am starting a new blog project, which I hope will work better for me moving forward.  It’s called My WildLife Awakened, and you’ll be able to follow along with it here.

I’ve been thinking, and will leave you with this one tidbit – almost advice-ish, really, though I hope I can take it, myself, as well.

As we cross into 2017, there may or may not be much to look forward to, so I’m going to try instead to make great memories to look back on this time next year.

Let’s see what happens!

Oh – and happy new year!

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Out of the Minds of Babes

I don’t really remember ever wondering where babies came from.

I mean, obviously they came from the mama’s belly. She grew them in there like potatoes, or something.

What I pondered over for some time, instead, was why a baby would look anything like its father. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the father had to do with any of it, yet people were constatly talking about how much some baby or other resembled their father. Once it had been alive for awhile, I could see how some would grow to take on certain traits or whatever, because people and pets start to look like each other all the time. But as a newborn baby? Why would the potato look like the father at all, let alone MORE like him than the mama who grew it? Made zero sense.

So I gave it some thought, and what I came up with (keep in mind my skull likely hadn’t fully formed yet) was that kissing must be how some of the dad could transfer over to the baby’s appearance. Clearly that was the only physical contact that moms and dads had with one another (actually, I briefly considered some sort of airborne transfer while they were sleeping next to one another every night, but disposed of that theory because it seemed too far-fetched, even to my young self). Pleased with my initial theory, I asked my mom about it. However, the way she said, “um…noooo” gave me the sense that she didn’t want to talk about it, so I dropped the subject and went back to my ponderings.

Eventually I did figure it out.

It’s funny how brains work, especially for children when they are learning everything about just existing in the world around them. I’m not sure, but I feel like I actually vocalized fewer questions than many kids seem to. I think I wanted to figure it all out on my own, if possible. I’m sure I pestered my parents for answers as much as the next kid, but on the inside it felt like I was working more inside my mind than I was speaking things out loud.

I remember thinking for the longest time that one of my great-grandmothers was actually named GRAPE-grandma, because that’s what it had sounded like when other people said it, and she often wore a purple dress. At least, my only memory of her is sitting in her chair wearing a purple dress when we arrived and went to hug her. Actually, she may have worn one to a family reunion, too. She may never have worn purple in real life, but that’s how she’s always existed in my memory. Grape-grandma. Whenever I got a glass of grape juice from the fridge I’d think of her.

One year I convinced myself that, while Santa Clause might not be real, the Easter Bunny most certainly was. See, I’d figured out the Santa thing, but while I was in – I want to say Georgia – over Easter one year, I was certain that I could hear everyone else asleep in their rooms while still hearing an extra “person” in the kitchen at one point during the night. Easter Eve, let’s call it. And naturally there was chocolate all over the place the next morning, so it must have been the Easter Bunny. Process of elimination, yo!

Even then, though, part of me wasn’t entirely sure I believed myself. I just wanted to believe. (cue X-Files theme).

What else? I had imaginary friends…I forget their names – Jody and…something? Both boys, a bit younger than me. And I think I pictured them as cartoons. I was also pretty confident in my invisible Smurf friends for awhile.

I wanted very badly to have some form of ESP, so I made myself some quiz cards with, like, the different shapes on them and such, but quickly learned that I could not, in fact, quiz myself very accurately. I’m too easy to fake out.

I think this card is…a triangle.”

(Turns over to see a circle)

I mean circle, I was actually thinking circle. What was I saying triangle for? Totally meant circle!”

I also was – and still am – quite skilled at mis-hearing song lyrics. Yet I dreamed of becoming a Mini Pop.

I was – and still am – a very big dork.

In other more current news, my #BowlForKidsSake team for BBBST has been registered! We are Esmer’s Lane-gels, and we’ll be rocking the lanes (with gutter balls, if you’re me) on Thursday March 3rd! Before then, however, we need to rasie as much as possible to help out the kiddos. If you have time, please consider a donation to the cause – no amount too small, trust me! – and even more importantly, please help spread the link around to everyone you know! There’s not a lot of time left, but I am confident in our communal super powers!

Here’s the link to my fundraising page: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3235990#.VrzBQHMc0ds.twitter&panel1-2

Please share!

What I’m Up To Today

I’m feeling a bit light-headed today, for some reason. It’s annoying today especially because there’s quite a lot going on. Also, I somehow forgot to mention Fizz candy in my post yesterday! How could I forget delicious Fizz?!

Working on getting teams together to #BowlForKidsSake in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto. Super fun, but the date is fast approaching and we were just trying to come up with team names last night, so technically we aren’t even registered yet, let alone starting fundraising. Hopefully it all works out, though! I’ll be hitting everyone up in our fundraising efforts soon, I’m sure!

A few new things – this morning I sent in an application to be a volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre! As a Nursery Assistant! How amazing would that be?! I hope I get to do it. I’d sent an application late in the season last year and never heard anything back, so hopefully this year it’s early enough that I can get through the training and such before baby squirrel season is in full swing. Because I really want to feed and care for and clean up after baby squirrels. Baby animals, really. Or any animals. I really want to be around animals more. So fingers crossed that I can get that opportunity to happen!

Additionally, I did a little research, and ended up submitting an application to make an attempt at setting a new Guinness World Record! Not breaking an existing one. Setting one of my own. I won’t likely hear back from them for awhile, and so won’t go into details unless I am approved to make the attempt, but I will say for now that it involves hearts. ‘Cause how appropriate for me would THAT be?

I love the Guinness World Record thing, apparently. It’s all so…I don’t know. I get all excited about it, and was so obsessed with having a successful first attempt at breaking a record, that now I want to do it more. I’m addicted! I love how it feels – every step from first thinking of an idea, and pouring over the website, the application process, planning the attempt, doing the attempt, and then collecting and submitting the evidence. I love looking for materials to use, especially from the GWR official store. For the first attempt (and only one I’ve made so far, but there are more in the works), I even got some fancy birght yellow vests with the GWR logo on them, and balloons! So much stuff!

This one will be much smaller in scope overall, but the feelings are much the same. I’m excited and constantly thinking about how I hope to set it all up and what I hope to achieve. I’m considering adding a charity, but my brain came up with, like, 5 different ones I’d like to include, so either I choose just one or figure out how to start a fund from which each of them would get an equal portion. Or something. Or not add a charity. It all really depends on whether or not I am given the go-ahead by Guinness, and because it’s a new record, rather than one that’s been set before, it can take up to 12 weeks to hear back.

Though it is very similar to other existing records, so maybe that’ll make it faster. And they might alter the title from what I suggested to something in the same vein but more suited to their ideals and guidelines. I don’t think the record attempt will be declined outright, but there is always a chance, so I’m trying not to go too far into planning and excitement mode until I hear back from them officially. I’ve only made one other suggestion for a record before (so far) and it was declined because it wasn’t globally recognizeable enough. Hearts are known around the world, though, so maybe I have a shot at this one! Then I could be GWR’s Queen of Hearts, at least temporarily!

What was I just saying about trying not to get too excited? I’m failing.

So, change of subject. I’m trying to get more clips from my first big GWR attempt cut and posted as often as possible. Still a long way to go until all of them are up, and admittedly I am less enthused about the ones I’m doing now because the audio quality is so bad. But I’m still managing to work on it pretty much every day. I won’t be cutting any new segments tonight because I will be getting home later than usual, but for the most part, I’m back to making slow but steady progress. I’m happy to be back at it, too. As much as part of me wants to move on to new endeavours, that weekend-long record-breaking event was pretty spectacular, and I never quite get enough of revisiting it – even almost a year and a half later. I mean, check out the complete photo collection here! Some of those alone are bound to bring back sweet memories and/or a smile or two! Sometimes I still just stand and stare at the signed poster and – to a lesser extent – the official record-holder’s certificate hanging on my living room wall. It’s all kind of surreal (especially now that the record is no longer mine…currently), but easily one of the greatest weekends of my life, and I love to revisit it all in my mind once in awhile. As much of it as I can remember, anyway!

So going back over all the footage and cutting segments together is actually really fun, but also really time-consuming on my ancient home computer. I’m so thankful it’s still churning stuff out, though, because I really can’t afford a new one right now!

I’m also about to get the next round of voting going for the Reelie Awards! That’s the Mind Reels award show wherein fans and viewers get to vote for their favourite Canadian films and television shows. It’s the People’s Choice of Canadian content. But mostly it’s just a fun little way to draw attention to and celebrate the talent and creativity we have going on in this here country.

I feel like there is so much more ongoing projects and things on my plate right now – getting a short story ready for a contest, updating my resume, crafting and writing and coming up with yet more ideas of things I want to do. There’s not enough time in the day, I tell you. Not while working full time! Haha

I know it’s about finding a good work-life balance, and I’ve mentioned before that I really am trying. I’m just also so tired all the time.

I need a good work-life-sleep balance, I guess!