Three hundred and sixty-six

Three hundred and sixty six days

I made it through it all.  All 366 days of it!

Normally I do a recap of the month, but as this month was a bit of a recap of the year, I’m going to skip that and just do a final post of the year.

Recap of the year

Where do I even begin?  So much has happened over the past year.  I’ve decided the best way is to share my favourite posts, divided by the months.  Although I have lots of ones I am proud of, these in particular resonate with me for some reason or another. (If you want a short description of what I got up to each month, click on the monthly topic below and it will take you to my recap posts for that month.)

MARCH 2011 – Extreme Couponing

APRIL 2011 – 30 Days of Art

MAY 2011 – 31 Days, 31 Dates (there’s a tie with this one – I also really enjoyed my dating advice at the end of my final post for that month)

  • The speed-dating date – I have always wanted to go speed dating and it was quite the experience.  It was one of the worst ‘dates’ of the month, but also one of the most memorable.
  • The social experiment date – A confusing date that forever changed my life, the way I feel about myself, and my future plans (we had a short, passionate affair that ended badly, then I drove across Canada with him during First Kiss Interviews month, we hated each other, then became sort of friends, he made me doubt all the great things about me, and now we don’t really talk – advice to all the ladies out there: listen to your instincts and don’t get blinded by a pretty face).

JUNE 2011 – Cooking 30 Countries (funnily my two favourite posts this month were meals I shared with the man who taught me stop motion animation and the one who confused me)

  • Italian with the Italian – a wonderful evening with a wonderful man, and lots of practical information about Italian cooking.
  • Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi – Kangaroo and Tim Tams.  It reminds me of living in Melbourne, and some very interesting facts about kangaroo meat included.

JULY 2011 – Only Online Purchases

AUGUST 2011 – Out of My Comfort Zone (there were so many great posts this month, but here are a few of my favourites)

SEPTEMBER 2011 – 31 First Kiss Interviews

OCTOBER 2011 – Vegan for the Month

  • Freeganism – I find this world of living without money fascinating, and although extreme, I think we can learn from them.
  • Raw Vegan Food Diet – Another extreme way of eating, taken from a lecture I went to at the University of Toronto.  Lots of great information.
  • Makeup and Skin Care – Interview with Kait Gray from Arbonne.  This changed the way I look at the cosmetics industry.

NOVEMBER 2011 – 30 Holiday Celebrations

  • Guy Fawkes Day – A fascinating discussion with some of the Occupy Toronto camp.
  • Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day – I was a model for the Toronto Star and did an online video for them!
  • Happy Movember – I love this holiday.  Men with moustaches for a month – very sexy in a Tom Selleck sort of way.

DECEMBER 2011 – Good Deed a Day

  • Extremely good and bad people in one day – A shocking negative event followed by an equally shocking positive one.  It brought tears to my eyes.
  • Hitting the bottom mid-month – including a very personal (yet very public because it was on the blog in the comments for all to read) debate between a friend of mine and I which almost cost us our friendship.  The debate crossed several posts, with this being the finale.  It really opened my eyes to my own views, but also how others perceive what I write.
  • The science of good deeds – How good deeds affect us mentally and physically.

JANUARY 2012 – Life at the Poverty Line

FEBRUARY 2012 – A Photograph A Day (month suggested by and voted on by the readers)

What I learned

In each of the month recaps (click on monthly topic above to read them), I talked about what I learned as an initial reaction.  As a year-long learning experience, I have no idea where to start.  I have learned so much from skills to knowledge to personal growth.

I am a different person than when I started March 1st, 2011.  Besides physical changes of losing weight through being vegan (and keeping it off through keeping up the no dairy and yoga), there have been many emotional and psychological changes.  The knowledge I gained about the different topics has given me a wider perspective on the world.  I feel like I have a purpose – like I’m fulfilling a need in myself and sharing it with others.  I am now part of a community of bloggers who are as supportive as they are talented.  I am happy and calmer, but also a bit more jaded with the world (damn porn cinema!).

I gained skills like extreme couponing (the auto correct on my computer kept wanting me to write extreme “coupling” – when you’re tired like I have been on numerous occasions this year and am right now, you find this very amusing) and cooking.  I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to do this and I have such amazing people in my life who support and encourage me.

I wrote this on Day 100 and it still rings true:

There have been days when I’ve hated that I’m doing this – that I’d love a ‘normal’ life where I don’t have to blog and make Taboulleh at 1:30am.  But most days I love it.  I love that I’m learning something new and writing every day.  I love talking about my project – still.  I love sharing my experiences with other people, whether by the blog or by them being a part of whatever adventure I have planned for the day.  I love that I’ve created this for myself (with the help of so many great people) and I feel so fortunate every day that I can do this.  Whether this turns into a million-copy selling book becomes less and less the point (although that would be fantastic).  It’s about the experience, the knowledge and the growth.  And the chance to share that with you.

Where do I go from here

The plan is to write the book about my experiences.  I will also be blogging at least once a week.  Every Wednesday I will post a recap of how things are going with me.  Sometimes it will be a comment on a topic or research on a subject that I’ve discovered about one of the ideas from the year.  And sometimes it will be just about how I’m feeling.  A bit like the daily blog posts I’ve been doing, but on a bigger scale.  I will also be posting occasionally during the week if there is something that inspires me to write or a very interesting or timely topic I want to discuss.  So keep reading for all that.  I will also be updating you all on how the book is coming along and my search for an agent and publisher.  This could be interesting to those of you out there trying to get your own work published.

I’m also going to stick with some of the things I learned this year.  I’m still trying to buy all natural cosmetics, and not eat dairy or pork.  I am determined to pick up my guitar again, paint, make pottery, sew more and do all the other projects I started during art month and never finished.  I still use my online and coupon shopping skills.  I’m still pushing myself to  do things out of my comfort zone on a weekly basis, and I’m a fountain of dating knowledge for my single friends out there.  I’m working on arranging some more volunteer experiences for me to help out more in the community.  I’m donating money regularly to help those less fortunate.  All of these habits I learned through experiences in the past year and I am grateful that I can stick with them.

Thank you again everyone for following along through three hundred sixty six days of posts!  Check back next Wednesday to hear how much I miss my blogging routine, how the book is coming along, and hopefully some other fun information.

Three hundred and sixty-five

A big thank you to my supporters

This is a MAJOR thank you to all my supporters out there over the past year.  I really couldn’t have done it without you.  Whether you are people I know – friends, family, co-workers, or friends of friends of friends.  Or you’re people I’ve never met who’ve found the blog somehow and are entertained by it.

Each of you have a role in the success of this past year.  Some of you have helped out – held a camera, took me to a pottery class, forced me to practice stand-up comedy (this is still going to happen – I promise), went on a date with me, ate weird food, held me up on an escalator when I was too tired to keep my eyes open.  Some of you have been put into the blog without you knowing ahead of time and have laughed about it.  Some of you have commented, or in some cases debated, to add more depth to the topic of the day.  Some of you I’ve been hurt by and some I have hurt (and I’m deeply sorry to those people).  Some have made me smile and feel so loved.  Some of you have followed along my journey and each “view” that I see on my blog encourages me even more.

My mother will probably kill me for this photo, but as she’s on holiday right now, I won’t hear it right away.  This is the look she gives me when she ends up in the blog – again.  Probably the same look the Jackass** parents give their kids when they involve them in a prank!  Love you, mom!

** I talked about falling down the rabbit hole of research the other day and here’s a perfect example.  While looking up Jackass online I came across this:

A Montana man named Jack Ass has sued MTV’s parent company, accusing the music channel of “plagiarizing” and “defaming” his good name in connection with the show “Jackass.”

The 44-year-old Ass, who legally changed his name from Bob Craft in 1997, is seeking at least $10 million from Viacom, which Ass contends is “liable for injury to a reputation I have built and defamation of character I have created.” (thesmokinggun.com)

There are some interesting people in our world.  (Apparently he changed his name to raise awareness for drunk driving, after his brother and friend were killed in a vehicle accident. )

Tomorrow is my last post of the project, but don’t fear, I will still be updating the blog at least once weekly, plus you’ll have the book to look forward to!

Three hundred and sixty-four

My second guest post is from the man who started my adventures into more serious photography.  I’ve always been a picture taker, but it was Mr. Will O’Hare who made me a photographer.  He helped me pick out and buy the camera I have now – my Canon Rebel T2i that I love.  He taught me a lot of technical skills.  But most importantly he has inspired me by his AMAZING photography (you must check out his work – his websites and daily photo blog are included below).  

Without further ado, Mr. Will O’Hare:

The Decisive Moment

The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.”
-Henri Cartier-Bresson

The Collector, NYC - Will O'Hare Photography

After living in Toronto for the past few years, I moved back to New York City about two months ago. The energy of New York is unlike any other place in the world, and it’s something you feel as you walk around the city, even late at night. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been trying to take my camera with me wherever I go so I can capture the vibrancy of this city and its streets. Of course, New York City offers so much to a photographer – the architecture, the streets, and of course, the people.  Street photography as a genre is something that I’ve been increasingly interested in exploring in my work for a little while now. Most of my work as a photographer consists of formal shots of people (portraits, headshots, and wedding photography), but I also love to shoot the regular, everyday life of people on a particular street or in a distinct neighborhood of a city. In Toronto, I loved to wander around Kensington Market and just discover all of the interesting people there. Inspired by the father of street photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who wrote about “the decisive moment” that makes for a great photograph, my goal is to catch the fleeting moments that almost go by unnoticed on any given day – to stop time and record the ordinary people that make up a city.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted “The Collector,” a photo I captured as I was walking through the Lower East Side. I came across a woman collecting cans to be recycled. Hoisting a large plastic bag over each shoulder, she was a striking subject – a person who is often overlooked in the city as people rush from destination to destination. I raised my camera and clicked three shots. As they began to click, she looked right at me, but she didn’t stop walking. She just briefly looked, and then carried on. When I looked at the shots later that day, I felt that the middle shot, the photo of her looking right at me was the “decisive moment” here.  I liked all three of them, but the one shot in the middle just spoke to me more than the other two. I’ve included the before and after shots as well for comparison. What do you think?

I feel like I’m just starting my exploration of the possibilities of street photography, and I’m certainly excited to be back in New York, with all that it has to offer.

Before - Will O'Hare Photography

After - Will O'Hare Photography

Three hundred and sixty-three

I thought it good to add a couple guest posts from two of my photographic inspirations.  Both are friends of mine whose images make me want to be a better photographer and have taught me a lot about the art form and the mechanics of using my camera.  The first is Mr. Michael Andrew Reid – a man I met during date month and has become a good friend.  He is also a writer and blogger and agreed to put something together for us. (The second I will post tomorrow.)  Without further ado, Michael Reid:

These photos were inspired by Virginia Woolf’s essay.

This isn’t a commentary on gender equality or female writers, just about writers. The need for a writer to have their own space to create is very important.  Whether that space is a quiet room or in my case a cafe on a Sunday afternoon.

Having a place to create, brings about wonder, passion and moments of satori.

As a writer, I love getting lost in words. The joy of creating something from nothing, turning an unfocused image into clean clarity…

It’s like seeing snow for the first time as a child; all you can do is smile.

Even though, as writers we need a room of our own, don’t wait until you’re in the mood to go to that place. Just go and start writing, put pen to paper or fingers to keys. Whether you were in the mood or not, I’ve found the rest takes care of itself.

‘Cause at the end of the day, writers write.

Michael Andrew Reid
Blog: michaelandrewreid.wordpress.com
Videos: vimeo.com/mikereid
twitter: @TGATMAR

Three hundred and sixty-two

The random photos from the month

Because I’m experimenting with photography, I tend to take a whole lot of photos of random things that I find interesting to look at.  Sometimes it’s the colour, sometimes the shape, sometimes the light.  Some of the photos work and some of them don’t.  That’s what happens when you’re learning a skill.  It’s a bit of trial and error.

Not all of the images I’ve taken can be connected to something that happened this year, but I’d still like to include them.  Here are some random photos I took this month that I really enjoy:

“Randoms”