Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Birthday Blog

I am 27!

Every year around my birthday, I get sentimental and I think back over the years. It's goal-setting time for me, moreso than New Years. Every birthday is a personal new year.
This year I thought about all God has done for me and in me throughout my life. He has been so good to me!
I look back at all I've accomplished, all I've learned, and all the ways I have grown I feel confident and thankful. Apart from God, none of this would have happened, while at the same time, I can't help but feel proud of myself, too.

So here's to being alive for 27 years, stronger, happier, braver and more hopeful than ever.

26 things from last year

1. Toronto is home. It really only took a week for me to love it here, and only a few weeks to realize I wanted to stay and not look for a job, even a better job anywhere else in the country. I have a home, one I actually felt home-sick for while travelling.

2.* I was a nanny for 8 months. It was a great gig with awesome parents and a laid-back schedule. However, it was a hefty commute. I departed on good terms, and maybe one day I will see the little boy, three or four years older.

3. I learned how to lead climb. It is so much fun, an adrenaline rush and makes me feel so proud of myself and physically and mentally strong.
4.* I began volunteering with a restorative justice program called Peace Builders. I really enjoy it and have learned a lot about the different approaches to restorative justice. I just completed the training to lead restorative circles on my own.

5.* I still have my part-time position in criminal justice with young offenders. While the opportunity has presented itself a few times to apply for a full-time position with this organization, I have not been enticed to work full-time with youth in a residential setting. I'm looking into other options outside of working from a home-setting.

    6. Went to Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. They were all wonderful. Here are some of the highlights:
    7. Kissed a giraffe.

    8. Rode a camel on the beach.

    9. Visited the ancient Amboni Caves

10. Performed first aid on a woman who was hit by a car, including organizing a human back-board to load her into the back of a mini-van. (First Aid really is such an important thing to know!)
    11. Attempted (unsuccessfully) to eat a chicken head

    12. Sort of learned how to swim the butterfly stroke.

    13.* So, while I didn't technically touch a dolphin, I'm counting this one as completed because I swam with wild dolphins in the Indian Ocean and it was amazing! So much better than if they had been trapped in a lagoon and trained. They were just swimming in family-groups, going about their day and swam all around me (I sort of jumped out of the boat directly into their path). It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
    14. Visited (actually stayed four nights) at the site of the last open slave market in the world and got an inside view of the restorations of the 100-year old church that stands over the former slave market.
    15. Met one of my sponsored children. It was an honour for me and something I will cherish forever.
    16. Made my own passion fruit juice: it's a work-out, but worth it.
17. Drank tamarind juice for the first time. I don't like tamarind as a fruit, but the juice is amazing. Imagine a Long Island Ice Tea; but fruit and therefore healthy!

18.* After 3 soccer teams and 2 soccer seasons I can say that I have improved my soccer ability. And, made quite a few friends! I'm joining a team for the summer that is really good, I know they will push me in my abilities and I will continue to improve.

19. I now make my own granola. And granola bars. Its so easy, I won't pay for a box ever again.

20. Went to Montreal with my travel buddy and Canadian sister, Karina. It really felt like a European city, taking the train was so relaxing and enjoyable.

21. While in Montreal, Karina and I at at “O Noir”, a restaurant that is completely black- no lights at all inside. The waiters may even be blind, because really, everyone is temporarily blind. Don't order the lamb shanks. It is really difficult to eat something with bones when you can't see anything! It was a great experience.

22. Ate escargot. I like it! It was really delicious. 

23. Took the ferry to the Toronto Islands. Its not the ocean, but its the best beach option I have for hours around, so I'll take it.

24. Bought my own bed/mattress. This might seem silly, but this is the first time in my life I have bought a bed! Before, one was always available, or given as a gift. Or, I slept on a couch for a month. This is my first bed that I actually paid for, it only took me 10 years to ever need to buy one.

25.* Tried different styles of dancing. I took a break dancing class, hip-hop classes. So now I have merenge, bachata, salsa, hip hop, and belly dancing. What's next? Swing, soca and jazz I'm thinking.

26. * I really have to give all the credit to God on having a home church here. It's not one I ever would have chosen on my own- its much too big for my initial liking. But I know that I'm supposed to be there. Do I always agree with the message preached on Sunday? Nope. Do I get frustrated with the show-like worship and neon lights. Of course! But there are people there who pray for me, encourage me, challenge me. And most importantly, I am growing in my faith. And that is so much more important than liking the worship or agreeing with the sermon. It's supposed to be a family, after all.

27 things for the future

1. Go hiking in Banff ++++

2. Surf +++ (or attempt to surf)

3. Get a bike and start biking to work instead of taking transit and sitting for an hour- I could bike for 45 minutes.

4. Climb the roof at my climbing gym. I got about half-way around Christmas, but then I went away and didn't climb for a few months, so I lost that upper body strength to hold myself upside down and climb. Before the year is up I hope to finish it!

5. And, as I seem to be on an adventure/outdoorsy thread I will throw in my dream to hike from Toronto to Niagara Falls. There is a trail, the Bruce Trail that some friends from church on planning on hiking. Maybe I will join in the hike. Or maybe I will be lazy and just take a bus to Niagara falls. Either way, I've never been and would love to see the Horseshoe Falls.

6. Go sky diving ++

7. Make my own clothing, some T-shirts, altering some dresses. I always imagine making my own clothes, time to turn that into a reality, possibly one that is actually fit to wear.

8. Obtain Canadian citizenship (Ironically, I'm replacing “Move from Canada” from years before with this one. God has such a sense of humour).

9. Speak Amharic fluently ++++

10. Lead a program for groups of teens +++

11. Return to Zanzibar

12. Learn how to make yogurt ++++

13. Go to Spain ++++

14. Be more conversant in Spanish ++++

15. Do something with my writing. ++

16. Drive a standard/stick-shift vehicle ++++

17. Return to Phi Phi Island ++++ It is nearing on 10 years since I was there, I am trying to be sensible about how much the Island will have changed in that time.

18. Take a pottery class. +

19. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro.++

20. See the Grand Canyon. ++

21. Go to New Zealand. ++

22. Get another tattoo.

23. Get laser eye surgery. +

24. Visit Algonquin Park, for hiking and kayaking. +

25. Don't waste so much food. I hate throwing away food that just went bad because I didn't eat it. So I'm attempting to shop more often, but buy less and buy specific for what I want to make for dinner that night or the next. Better planning!

26. Be thankful. I've termed 2014 the year of thankfulness, because I want to ingrain that in my life, and my lifestyle.

27. Be happy! 

* denotes on my list from last year that I completed
+ denotes on my list from last year that I still haven't completed
++ denotes on list for two years running
+++ denotes on list for three years running
++++ I may never accomplish these ones. Oh well!