What’s Exciting about 2017?

I can hardly believe I’m going to be writing 2017 as the year starting now. Like many in my community, I am ready for 2017, but I am also feeling bittersweet that it is over so fast! My son’s first full year has flashed by. Some days felt like they would never end, but all in all it was an experience like nothing else I have had. My husband and I have decided to only have one child, so every new ‘first’ also comes as a sort of last. I am looking forward to seeing what changes happen for my little guy in the upcoming year, watching him smile as he takes in the world around him is the best thing in my world.

Many of us start out 2017 with a strong resolution about what we are going to stop or start doing. Using January 1st as the day to set the magic in motion. I have never been great with resolutions. The only resolution I ever really held through with was a few years ago when I went on a clothing detox (no new clothing), it was great and really felt easy. This year I have decided to not really do any resolutions, but simply to take some time and look at what is getting me excited for the year ahead.

The Desire Map Planner Daily Edition 2017 From Daniele Laporte

I always use a paper day planner even with the invent of Iphones and other tablets. My brain works better when I use a writing utensil to make a plan. I am finding day-week-month planning critical with my mommy-brain. I have been taking Gloria Latham‘s online Kundalini Yoga programs, and I love the style of goal setting outlined in the Crystallize Your Vision and Breakthrough Your Blocks segments. While I was attending Its Time To Bloom Festival a couple of years ago the guest speaker was Danielle Laporte. I did not make it to the session, but the name interested me enough to look into her and what she had to offer. Her website is amazing! She is a real person, and this really resonates with me. I found her website and shares through social media very worthwhile. Reading about the ‘Desire Map’ and the concept of knowing how you want to feel can change your life, I purchased the Desire Map Planner Daily Edition 2017. The cover states “What I Will Do To Feel the Way I Want to Feel”, and inside are so many writing exercises including core desired feelings, soul prompts, want to change, to do, envision and of course a place to schedule your day and list to-dos. Every month has a monthly check-in, and each page contains words of wisdom. You can get free samples of the desire map on Danielle Laporte’s website. I am truly looking forward to using this day planner to do what I need to feel the way I want to feel.

Banff Film Festival World Tour

I started volunteering at the Keyano College Theatre a couple of seasons ago, and one of my first volunteer opportunities was ushering at the Banff Film Festival World Tour presentation. As ushers you arrive prior to the show, set up the coffee/tea stand, and when patrons arrive assist them with finding their seats. During the show, you get to sit inside the theatre and assist patrons needing to exit the theatre, and also make sure everyone is following the theatre’s guidelines. I watched the show from a stool, and was blown away. The visual effects, plots, experiences, nature, extreme sports, feelings of euphoria were jumping out of the screen. The passion on the screen tugged at my heart, I wanted to be part of this. The following year I grabbed tickets the day it went on sale, and we bought our then 2.5 month old son earmuffs and watched both evenings of the show. Amazingly you can find some of the Banff Film Festival selections on Netflix, such as Unbranded a documentary about 4 cowboys riding wild horses over 3000 miles. This past October I also grabbed a ticket to watch the Radical Reels Tour which is a selection of the most high-adrenaline films from the festival (highly recommend). This year’s event is being held on January 11 and 12, and you can grab your tickets either by calling the Keyano Theatre Box Office at 780-791-4990 or online, and get both nights because the film line up is different each evening. Tickets are 25/adult or 20/student or senior, I hope to see you there!

Climbing

I am afraid of heights, well I have convinced myself that I am. I have indoor climbed a few times as a teenager, it was OK. In university I was in a sports group which signed up for an introduction to climbing at the University of Alberta Butterdome. The group started out bouldering, which I hated, I felt weak and unable to go anywhere. We then moved to some fun competition style timed climbs to the top of the wall, I became angry, I participated, cried at the top when I knew I had to let go, and vowed to never climb again. Macdonald Island converted one of the courts into a climbing center a few years ago. I had just watched my first Banff Film Festival and was feeling inspired. I was terrified, and shook when I had to release at the top, but I loved it! I continued to climb here, and even tried walls out in Edmonton, and in Boston! Due to a little baby in my belly, I had to take a break, and have just started back up last fall. I bought climbing shoes, which initially hurt, and I can feel my body becoming more flexible and stronger. This Christmas Santa was very good to be and gifted me my own harness, belay clip, and chalk bag. I also am registered for the Intro to Bouldering course at MacDonald Island and am in the inquiry stages to set myself up to pass the belay exam. My goals are to not give up, and keep trying. I am far from being good, but continuing to try feels oh so satisfying.

Mountains 101

Mountains 101 is a Massive Online Open Course being offered through the University of Alberta. This course will cover physical, biological and human aspects of the mountains found in Alberta, Canada and around the world. The class is offered in a variety of no credits to full university credits and consists of 12 60-min lessons. Each lesson will have lecture videos, course notes, glossary, and recommended readings/additional resources. To ensure you understood the lesson’s main points short quizzes will also accompany each lesson. If you are taking the class for university credit there will be a final exam. If this course appeals to you, act fast as the course begins January 9, 2017!

#Canada 150

2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, and to celebrate there will be local to national events throughout the country. Of particular interest to me is that in 2017 you can get a free admissions to Parks Canada places, meaning all national natural and cultural heritage sites coast to coast have zero entry fees! You can download a visitor guide and order your pass from Parks Canada. Check out these 10 tips to make the most out of your free pass here. Reminder that entry is free, camping is not, so make your reservations early as this year is going to be busy! While checking out our parks keep your eyes open for Parks Canada red chairs and snap a photo of you enjoying the location!. Another cool thing happening in 2017 is #onthisday which through the Library and Archives Canada heritage collection where today in history highlights will be featured on society shaping events. You can check out the Library and Archives website, Facebook or twitter page and follow #Canada150 and #onthisday.

Shine Kids Fitness

I’ve had the pleasure of giving and taking classes with Shine Kids Fitness here in Fort McMurray. The last two summers I have done a nature talk with the kiddos, I love talking about nature! I am thrilled to be on this upcoming Jan/Feb schedule for family yoga, there is still time to sign up! Conway and I have enjoyed Mom and Baby yoga, Family Danceplay, and Family yoga and are looking forward to taking more classes. During the summer Shine Kids Fitness offers kids camps, which I am hoping to offer some nature sessions to again! I am currently taking online Kids Yoga training with Cosmic Kids out of Australia. I also am 95% complete my pre/post natal training with Mamata Yoga, just need to film and submit a teaching video. We all can learn (re-learn) a thing or two from kids.

Hike It Baby Fort McMurray

I randomly found Hike It Baby just before the November Hike It Baby 30 Challenge began. To sign up it was a donation of what you could afford, and then you were able to log miles, partake in discussion with other hikers, and were eligible for prizes. There are branches of Hike it Baby throughout the United States and Canada, but the closest one was Edmonton. After the challenge I decided to submit an application to be a branch ambassador for Hike it Baby Fort McMurray branch. I am really excited to bring this group to Fort McMurray families. The program is designed to get families outside, you record both your miles and time outside with your little ones. Please note that if you are expecting, it is advised that you speak with your midwife or physician prior to starting any new exercise program. When I have completed the training and other necessary technicalities the branch will offer group hike get togethers. These hikes are great for families who are not comfortable hiking on their own, or feel unmotivated. Once up and running there will be a minimum of one group hike a week. This is a great group for motivation, support and also for fighting depression, postpartum, and getting fit. There is a membership fee for this group $10 USD providing you access to the website, view of calendar of events, discounts on gear, stickers for Hike it Baby 30 challenges, Facebook groups, etc. I am doing another Hike it Baby 30 challenge during January 2017, so if you want to come out for a walk/hike let me know!

365 Mile Challenge

Another challenge I am so excited about in 2017 is the 365 Mile Challenge which also starts today January 1, 2017 and runs until December 31, 2017. This challenge is also to get you outside, but differs slightly from the Hike it Baby. For the 365 Mile Challenge, you can be solo, or with your kids, family, friends, etc., and you can count other forms of activity such as running and cycling. The fee goes up to $15 USD today to participate and that gives you motivation and support, a sticker, access to the Facebook community page, discounts on gear, and entry for prizes. I am so excited to get recording some miles!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost Project

I have had a personal journey this the 3 R’s throughout my adult life. This year is no different. I love animals (is it obvious?), and unfortunately many animals are suffering around the world because of our human waste. I am going to be challenging myself to make some bigger changes for 2017. Plastic-ITS LITERALLY EVERYWHERE! I watched a video of someone pulling a plastic straw out of a turtles nose, it broke my heart. I am sure many of us have also seen the videos of the island of plastic in the ocean, and know that our plastics do not disintegrate over time. Living where I live in Fort McMurray, I do not have the luxuries of committing to a no-plastic life, its impractical, but small changes can go a long ways. We have over time implemented quite a few changes in our household-wool dryer balls, cloth diapers, reusable wipes, green laundry soap, reusable shopping bags, reusable snack bags, glass containers, using recycling bins provided by the municipality, green cleaning products (vinegar and baking soda), green personal hygiene products and eat vegan/vegetarian dishes (not exclusively in the household but a majority, and my favourite cook books are vegan).

To help achieve my reduce, reuse, recycle and compost goals in 2017 I am working towards the following steps:

  • greatly reducing the need of plastic wrap by using wax food wrap instead (trying Abeego Beeswax Wrap)
  • while dining out to request no straw be placed into beverages, and bringing my own container if I am expecting left overs
  • bringing my own produce bags to the grocery store, and choosing the produce not wrapped in plastic when given a choice
  • purchasing in bulk if there is an option
  • bringing my own re-usable cutlery and not using plastic single use cutlery
  • using bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic (Santa delivered us these)
  • trying to limit paper towel use through the Skoy Cloth (available locally at Blankies and Bums)
  • finding a green alternative to the dish sponge
  • when placing online orders, adding “please exclude any plastic wrapping if possible” in the additional comments section
  • using my own reusable thermos (hot drink cups are lined in plastic)
  • drastically reducing use of single use drinking containers by using my own re-usuable water bottle (great option-Swell Bottle available locally at Oranj Fitness, Blankies and Bums, and Cole Books)
  • switching to reusable feminine products
  • commiting to not purchasing fancy wrapping and instead using plain paper
  • switching to paper tape
  • research greener dish soap
  • research greener dishwasher soap
  • install green composter purchased from the city (having issues getting through our trailer pad)
  • researching small worm composter (fun project with the kiddo)
  • Christmas and birthdays 2017-trying to limit items and giving more experiences
  • researching greener garbage bags
  • garage sale and donations of things not being used

An area where I feel I struggle to come up with ideas is the re-use, if you have any great tips please leave them below!

Wildlife Garden

I love wildlife! The last two years I have made decisions in my yard to best suit bees as much as possible. I found the experience extremely rewarding and fun. Spring 2017 I am looking forward to making my yard even more wildlife friendly. These are some examples of how I am going to make my yard wildlife friendly (focus on pollinators, birds, small mammals, and amphibians):

  • bee boxes-placed in sunny location
  • butterfly box-placed in sunny location
  • bat box-placed in sunny location
  • using no chemicals-including non-treated soil and peat
  • using only native grass seed to green brown areas
  • bird bath
  • bird house and season appropriate feeders, also making a winter bird house
  • adding planter boxes seeded with pollinator blends
  • native flowers and plants-which flower/mature at different times in the season
  • leaving dandelions as long as possible (especially in early spring as they are early food sources to bees)
  • clay bee bath, and water source
  • water source for butterflies
  • re-using rain water for watering plants
  • re-using left over dog bowl water, and kid pool water to water plants
  • leaving lawn clippings on the ground
  • fall-leaving plant debris from season for animal habitat
  • fall-amphibian habitat
  • fall-using leaves and left over branches to create habitat
  • winter-using Christmas tree to create habitat

A few amazing resources for making your yard wildlife friendly include:

David Suzuki Foundation : Create a bee-friendly garden

ABC Bees: Habitat Creation, I highly recommend their book Little Book on Bees: Gardening

Canadian Wildlife Federation: Resources for Homeowners

Check out our library for some books, membership is free!

Photography

I have had my Pentax for a few years now and I have taken some great photographs. I do however to tend to not be confident of my abilities behind the lens. This year I want to accomplish a few projects with my camera, mostly revolving around my photogenic son and dog, Karl. I also am wanting to do some flat-lay photography, and do some play-shots with Conway’s toys. The largest block in achieving my photography goals is self sabotage, telling myself it’s not worth taking the shot. This year I am excited to leave that behind, and try. I am going joining Wood Buffalo Photography Club at its next meeting, and am hoping to get some 1-1 training from Danielle Germain Photography and Sithara Fernando Photography. Keep your eyes posted!

Paddleboarding

Many excuses later I have not been out on my paddleboard as much as I have wanted in the last couple years. This year that will change! Before being pregnant and having Conway, I was given an amazing opportunity of providing introduction courses for basic paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga with SUP Fort McMurray (Formerly Elara Fitness) down at the Snye. I want to do some river paddling and explore more of the water bodies  around us this summer. No promises, but also hoping there will be an opportunity to do some private lessons as well!

So right now, this is what is exciting me in 2017, what is exciting you? Leave me a comment, sharing is caring (except for germs).

*Embedded links in text above will bring you to appropriate websites as mentioned. Here is a list of additional resources*

Programming at MacDonald Island Park

Wood Buffalo Photography Club Facebook Page

Danielle Germain Photography Facebook Page

Sithara Fernando Photography Facebook Page

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