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.

Advertisements

One hundred and fifty-five

The start of Out of My Comfort Zone month

This month I will be putting myself Out of My Comfort Zone every day.  Stretching my boundaries.  Doing things that challenge me and make me (and sometimes other people) feel uncomfortable, but ultimately I will learn from them.  And it will be hilarious to read about!

Day one – Lunch with a stranger

Yesterday, for my first day of the month, I went and had lunch with a stranger.  I went into the Eaton Centre (that mall is generally out of my comfort zone – can people walk any slower?!), got lunch at the cafeteria and looked around for someone sitting alone.  I found a girl in her twenties and asked if I could join her at her two-person table.  She agreed and I started a conversation.  We started with small talk – how busy the mall is, the New York fries she was eating, my Thai food.  I asked her why she was in the mall.  Then the conversation developed from there.  She’s from Winnepeg, is a part-time student deciding whether she wants to stay in Toronto.  She’s studing Latin.  She lived in Montreal and Quebec City.  We spoke about our lives, our goals, where we have lived, what languages we speak. All while we ate lunch.  In the city of Toronto, where rarely will anyone make eye contact with you, let alone share a full conversation over lunch, it was very strange.  But really lovely.  More people should do this.

When we were done our lunches, we went our separate ways.  A random interaction with a complete stranger with nothing before and nothing after.  A beautiful moment that I think made both our days a little brighter – with no strings attached.  Just a moment of connection.  And after the initial fear of rejection and nervousness at speaking to a stranger, it was actually quite easy.

Tonight

Karaoke!  I am FREAKING OUT.  I have been trying to find a good song to sing all day and I can’t find one.  I am so nervous.  Ahhhhh!!!

An update on online shopping

I got my red rubber boots today in the mail from Beyond The Rack.  I was so excited, as I love the colour red and I really needed a pair of rubber boots.  This was also my first buying experience with Beyond The Rack and has been four weeks since I ordered the boots (after an e-mail saying they were “PENDING” because they hadn’t received them yet).  I received them through Canada Post and tried them on right away.  Well, the boots were in two different sizes!  They were both labeled size 9, but the left was clearly way smaller than the right in width and length (it didn’t fit my foot and my feet are the same size as each other).  I’m a little bit annoyed.  I called customer service, sent an e-mail and am sending them back.  Hopefully they have another pair that are both size 9, if not I better get a full refund (including shipping).  I will most likely never shop with Beyond The Rack again.  And I’ve heard other horror stories of things taking 5-6 weeks to arrive.

One hundred and fifty-four

Making it through Only Online Purchases month

I made it through a month of buying everything online – except a couple of ‘cheats’ that were unavoidable (transportation costs – my one allowable area of cheating, the fuel cap replacement for when I drove from Orangeville to Burlington forgetting it on the roof of my car, and the antibiotics for my crazy bug bites) and one that was avoidable (I was asked to buy ice on my way over to my friend’s house and I felt bad for always asking people for money for things, so I just bought it…oh the shame of cheating!).

Recap of the month

I’m going to do my recap a little differently this month…

My top fourteen reasons why you should shop online:

#14. We might be programmed to shop.  Why not do it online and not have to get off our sofas? (ABC Science)

#13. Rare objects to rural areas. (interview with my friend from Gibsons BC)

#12. Between the kids, the career and the house, who has time to grocery shop anymore? (Grocery Gateway, Front Door Organics)

#11.  Trying to communicate an order over the phone and actually interact with another human being is so hard.  With online food ordering, there’s no room for error.  Or is there? (online pizzaJustEat)

#10.  The most asked question of this month: what about tampons?  Yes, ladies, you can buy tampons online and have them delivered to you. (Well.caFront Door Organics)

#9.  You can buy a virtual space station in a virtual land online for only $100,000.  What a deal! (virtual economies)

#8. You can also auction off a 10-year-old, partially eaten grilled cheese said to bear the image of the Virgin Mary for $28,000. (eBay)

#7.  Craigslist comedy shopping.  Search the online classifieds and have a laugh. (Best of Craigslist)

#6. Cheap travel.  Cheap events tickets.  Need I say more? (airlines, accommodation, tickets)

#5.  Now you can see the tall, thin model walk around with the dress that will never fit you the same as it fits her. (catwalk videos)

#4.  No need to strap to your bike those four cases of beer you bought for the house party of the century on Friday night and try not to fall into traffic while riding them home.  You can have beer, wine and liquor delivered to your house! (The Beer Guy)

#3. Having flowers delivered to yourself at work (then keeping the vase and wrapping up the flowers for a gift) is only embarrassing when you tell everyone what you’re doing.  My advice – pretend you have a secret admirer. (online flower delivery)

#2.  Where else could you find pubic lice to punish your cheating ex or buy real estate on the moon? (bizarre online shopping sites)

And the number one reason you should shop online is…

#1. After three weeks of waiting to hear about red rubber boots you bought online, “PENDING” is so comforting. (Beyond The Rack)

What did I learn?

On Saturday my brother gave me money to pick up toilet paper from the store (I live with my brother and it was his turn to buy tp, but he is a lazy brat and left me money to buy it instead before he went away for the weekend!).  I was walking by a Shopper’s Drug Mart after a lovely brunch with a friend who’s visiting from Shanghai and popped in to get the tp.  I was a bit afraid to go in there.  Last time (when I went to the pharmacy to get my antibiotics at the beginning of the month because of my bug bites) I had such a hard time resisting all the aisles of things I could buy I had to sit down and talk on the phone with my friend.  Yesterday, when I finally got the nerve to enter Shopper’s, I didn’t have a problem at all.  I walked to the aisle to get the toilet paper, walking past the makeup and the hair products and the snacks.  I wasn’t tempted to buy any of it.  I wasn’t interested at all.  I hadn’t planned to buy anything else.  I didn’t need anything else.  They say it takes 30 days to break a habit. I have lost my desire to buy random stuff that I don’t need.  The effort it takes to buy things online, choose what you need, and have it shipped or delivered to you in the time frame you need it, has taught me about patience, planning and selection of things I actually need.

I’ve also learned a whole lot about different websites to shop at (some useful, some not so useful), statistics, and crazy things people spend money on online.

Where do I go from here with Only Online Purchases?

I’m still waiting on a few things that I bought online during this month.  My eBay purchases (bike lights) are still being shipped from Hong Kong.  I haven’t heard about one of my dresses I bought and my red rubber boots should be on their way soon (I hope).  I will let you know if anything interesting comes from those purchases.

I will probably buy more things online now that I know where to find them.  If I’m lacking in time one week, I know that I can go online to order groceries or toiletries and have them delivered for a small fee.  But when I do have time, I still enjoy the communal experience of shopping at a store and interacting with other humans.  With clothing I still would rather try things on before buying them, so if I have this option (unless it’s a really good deal online) I would prefer to take the time to head to the shop.

Today I start a month putting myself out of my comfort zone.  I’m both excited and dreading the next 31 days!

One hundred and fifty-three

It’s late and I’m tired.  Too many long shifts and two glasses of wine after work have made me unmotivated and extremely ready for bed.  The comfort of my pillow-top mattress and soft sheets are calling to me: “Who cares about the blog?  Come enjoy me.  Dream of fairies and cool swimming pools (my house is a sauna).”  Alas, I will have to give in slightly.  The allure of Hypnos (Greek mythological personification of sleep) is too strong right now.  Tomorrow I will do my major wrap-up of the month.  Tonight, though, I leave you with a fad that has me completely baffled.  They are called ‘haul’ videos and is where people (mostly teenage girls) post themselves talking about what they bought.  The example video below has 1,212,333 hits.  The ‘host’ holds up what she bought and talks about each product and how much she spent.  Please don’t watch the whole thing or I’m afraid you might lose brain cells.  Who are these over one million people who are interested in this?  It’s not all bought online, but definitely involves the internet and shopping. Scary!

One hundred and fifty-two

The things I missed this month

For my second to last day of only online shopping month, here are a few topics I didn’t get a chance to talk about but want to mention:

Books

As the top purchase of online goods according to Nielsen research, books are an easy thing to buy online that you rarely would need right away, are heavy to carry so easy to have shipped to you, and so simple to purchase online.  Chapters Indigo and Amazon are two websites I have used to buy books (and many other things in the case of Amazon) that are fantastic.  You can either buy them new and (if you spend a certain amount of money) get free shipping, or buy them used for a fraction of the price, but have to pay for shipping.  You can sample the books and read some of pages to get an idea of whether you are interested in purchasing the whole book.  They even suggest other books you might enjoy.

Music

I use iTunes to download music as I’m a Mac user, but there are also a lot of other places online to download music from.  Mp3obsession.com offers cheap mp3 downloads.  Limewire, a peer-to-peer file sharing system like Napster was when it first came out, used to be a way to get music for cheap, but is now under a court order to stop distributing the software because of unauthorized sharing of copyrighted works.  Napster is now a subscription-based music-buying software owned by the Best Buy company and only works with a PC.

Movies and television

More and more people are buying movies and tv online, instead of going to the video store or buying cable.  There are no commercials and you can choose what shows you want to see, instead of flipping channels through a bunch of crap.  You can stream a lot of things for free online with a time limit.  Or join Netflix  or megavideo to name a few subscription-based streaming sites.  You can also stream television from most channels’ websites, but you do have to watch the commercials.

VISA gift card

My friend mentioned this to me today.  It would have been a bit of a cheat, but I could have ordered a VISA gift card online and used it for things like transportation costs and emergency beers.  Too late now, but good to know for future gift giving.

Tomorrow I recap the month, talk about what I learned and my monthly Top Ten list!