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.

Two hundred and fifteen

I made it through First Kiss Interviews month!

This month has been as much about my journey across part of Canada and the people I met, as it has been about the first kiss stories.  I am still in awe of how beautiful this country is and what a wide range of people live here.  I thank everyone who shared their story with me and took time to talk to a crazy writer from Toronto.

Recap of the month

I have been told amazing first kisses that have led to marriages, very first kisses in the playground or the field, spin the bottle, playing doctor, and disgusting first kisses.  There were first kisses with friends ‘practicing’ for the real thing, two sides of the same story, my mom’s first kiss (I can’t tell you which story it is because she made me use code names), kiss with a married man, first kisses that changed people’s lives and ones that they would rather forget.  One first kiss even caused a supernatural occurrence. I love all the stories, but here are a few of my favourites (I obviously like the romantic or funny ones):

What did I learn?

You might not think it if you met me, but I can be really shy and introverted at times.  It’s really hard for me to approach people I don’t know and ask them for something – even if it is just a story.  I don’t think I realized how personal asking someone about their first kiss can be until I started trying to ask strangers about that intimate moment in their lives.  I had to practice a way to approach the question without sounding creepy or too invasive.  Generally, though, people were so kind to share with me and actually seemed happy to reminisce about the past, even when it was a bad first kiss.

As the month went on, I almost became more interested in how the people reacted to the question of what was their first kiss, than the actual story.  I loved what a strong emotion it brought out in so many people – especially older women.  I realized a few days in that I would have a better chance getting a good story from people who I was already having a conversation and had a rapport with. So I ended up having some really great conversations with people I will probably never see again in my life.  I need to do more of that.

A few other things I learned… Women tended to remember more than men did.  Most people didn’t think their story was very interesting.  About half were bad first kisses – some even made the person swear off kissing for awhile.  Women made the first move in just over a quarter of the stories.  Most people remember the full name of their first kiss.

Where do I go from here with First Kiss Interviews?

It would be interesting to have a separate project devoted entirely to first kiss stories, perhaps where people can submit and vote on their favourites.  I don’t have the time to work on that now, so maybe one day I will, or maybe someone else will run with this idea and make it grow.

What I got out of this was how wonderful it was to talk to people from all walks of life.  I will make an effort to connect more with strangers and stop hiding in my private bubble.  Taking the time to have a small conversation with a random person can brighten your day.

Today I start a month of being vegan.  I never realized how many things have animal products in them.  This is going to be hard!

Two hundred and fourteen

Today’s post is a little different – a reoccurring character in the blog has given me a video of his first kiss story, as opposed to me writing it.  The famous Eco-comedian (who I met during date month, accompanied me for my two lunches in Yorkville – one as a ‘hussy’ and one as a ‘bum’, and has become a good friend of mine) tells the story of his first kiss and why he’s never really gotten over it.  It’s a one-take video, so he does go on a bit of a tangent at times (sorry Josh), but the raw emotion of what it feels like to never get over your first love is there.  Josh shares a lot of his life online through video and photography (his You Tube page is here if you’re interested) and is currently running for Green Party MPP in Eglinton-Lawrence (his Facebook page here).  Thanks Josh for really opening up and sharing this part of your life, even though I know it was hard for you.

The Eco-comedian/Josh’s first kiss – a tragic story of love and loss

Two hundred and thirteen

I’m back in the swing of things.  I forgot how comfortable my bed is and how much I love my apartment.  I ran into an old university friend yesterday that reminded me how many people there are in Toronto I care about.  I guess this city isn’t so bad.  Although I still wish it had mountains surrounding it!

On to the topic of the month – as promised, a double bill of first kiss stories from my two amazing university friends:

Angie

“The best story about a first kiss that comes to mind is my funniest.  I’d been on numerous dates with this guy and he hadn’t kissed me.  I was getting really frustrated.  I’m not the type of girl to make the first move.  We had just seen a movie at the Scotiabank Theatre and we were standing at King and John or somewhere around there.  It was cold out and snowy – in the winter sometime.  I was so aggravated he didn’t make a move, so I just put my face up really close to his and kissed him.  He looked a little shocked.  I thought ‘great, done, out of the way, that’s the way it’s done!’  It was more a kiss out of aggravation than romance.”

Siobhan

“My first ‘first kiss’?  It’s a little kid one.  I was 9 and he was 10.  We were in the school yard.  Myself and my best friend from grade three were ‘dating’ these two boys who were in grade four.  We decided we would both kiss them at the same time.  It was behind the portable so the teachers couldn’t catch us. We counted down, then gave them the tiniest little peck on the lips that didn’t really count.  They ran off cheering. We ‘dated’ for three weeks.

I’m still friends with both of the guys.  Funnily enough, later on I ended up kissing the other guy.  My original kiss still introduces me as ‘This is Siobhan – she was my first kiss’.”

Two hundred and twelve

I’m waiting to hear back from the second part of my double bill, so it will have to wait another day.  Today’s story comes from my friend Jenn.  When I first talked about writing first kiss stories Jenn sent me the most adorable video of two little kids having their first kiss.  She was also excited to share her first kiss story.  I will let her words and the video speak for themselves:

 

Jenn’s childhood friend’s “kissing medicine”

“When I was a kid I grew up with a boy named Ryan.  My mom was best friends with a guy she went to high school with and when he got married, she became best friends with his wife.  They had a kid…that would be Ryan.  He was 2 years younger than me and I met him the second day of his life and we were pretty inseparable after that.  We hung out, played normal kid games, watched Howard the Duck for hours on end and were the best of friends.  The “When Harry met Sally moment” came pretty early for us (if you don’t know what I am talking about, it is the debate as to whether men and women can actually be friends).  I was 8 and he was 6 and he wanted to play “doctor”.  I had no idea what that meant.  What that meant to Ryan was that I would pretend I was asleep from a spell from an evil wizard and he would be the doctor who would wake me up with his “kissing medicine”.  At first he would kiss my hand and I would wake up all sleepy and then thank him for saving me.  We would giggle and run around the room (even then we knew we were probably doing something we shouldn’t).  One day, I had just been poisoned with the sleeping potion from the evil wizard (a role Ryan decided he also wanted to play.  We would fill a cup up with Tang and pretend it was a potion), and I shut my eyes and waited for the kiss on my hand but he planted one right on my lips.  At the time I wiped it off and ran around the room coughing and screaming and laughing.  Now I look back on it as one of my favourite memories with Ryan.  I have now known him for 26 years and we still hang out, play games, watch Howard the Duck, and talk about his “kissing medicine”.

*When I called Ryan and asked him if I could share this moment he stated that he was not my first kiss.  I had a moment on the playground in elementary school where two boys who I was in class with, Marc Upton and Andrew King, tapped me on the shoulder at the same time and when I turned around they both kissed me on the cheek.  I insist that this happened AFTER Ryan and I kissed.  He insists before.”