Friday, 17 February 2017

My Goals for 2017

I revealed my word for 2017, HEALTH, in January but I'm a bit late to the whole 2017 goals party. That's okay! The great thing about personal goals is that you can start any time! I'm still going to refer to this as my 2017 goals list though, since we aren't actually that far into 2017. For this goals list, I had to force myself to keep it a bit more simple. For one thing, I limited myself to five major goals. I did this so that my goals list wouldn't be overwhelming. I have so many things that I want to do but I needed to choose to mainly focus on only a few of those things and I needed to choose the goals that are the most important to me at this time. I also tried to be specific with my goals. Instead of writing down to just do something more often, I decided to say how often I want to do it. I also decided not to go overboard with each goal. Of course I'd love to do these things way more than I decided, but, once again, I don't want to overwhelm myself. I put a limit on things so that I can ease into my goals more easily. I'm also happy that I have two health related goals on my list to go with my word for the year. So, without further ado, here are my goals for the year of 2017.

1) Read 25 novels: I chose this goal for one specific reason: I want to read more books. It's as simple as that. I studied English Literature in university but I don't read as many books as people would think. Sometimes it takes me months to get through a novel. It sits on my table or keeps getting packed in my purse, hoping to be read a lot more but that just doesn't happen. I become busy with other things or I just have trouble concentrating enough to sit down and read. That's just the way I am but I want to change that. I thought of setting my goal at a much higher number, something crazy like 50 or 100 novels this year, but I felt that that was much too high. I get overwhelmed easily so I often need to start things off small and go from there. I have a feeling that I'll probably read more than 25 novels this year but I'm still keeping it at 25 in my mind just so that I don't scare myself too much. I want to actually achieve this goal.

2) Do yoga every day: This one is so important! I have found that yoga helps me a lot. If I start feeling down, yoga picks me right up! I just do yoga at home in my living room. I have lots of yoga DVDs so I move furniture, set up my mat, take off my socks, put on some finger-less exercise gloves to help with grip, pop in a DVD, and away I go. My Mom often joins me and actually gets a bit mad if I start doing yoga without her. I love yoga because it helps with strength, flexibility, balance, and it helps me relax and concentrate. I feel great after doing a yoga practice. I feel happy and ready for anything. So far, I've been doing some yoga here and there but I want to do more. It is definitely something that I need to do every day.

3) Meditate every day: This another important one. Meditation is so beneficial but I have a lot of trouble with it. My mind wanders too much so I have trouble concentrating on the meditation whether I am just meditating on my own or using a guided meditation. Meditation takes practice and we need to train our brain to meditate so I need to practice meditation much more to get any better at it.

4) Practice piano and flute once a week: I miss playing piano and flute. I used to take private piano lessons and I also taught piano. While I was in high school, I played flute in concert band. I miss all of this. I want to bring piano and flute back into my life but I'm a bit nervous to start playing again since I haven't really played much in the past few years. This is all for my own enjoyment, however, so I though that I better take it slow and ease my way back into practicing my instruments again. I decided that once a week isn't too overwhelming and I can make sure that I definitely set aside time to practice.

5) Publish blog posts three times a week: I started this goal two weeks into January and so far so good. I enjoy writing blog posts and it really helps with my writing and it gets me thinking about certain topics a lot more. I looked back on some of my old posts, thinking that they weren't so great and I actually considered deleting all of them and starting fresh but they weren't actually that bad. Some of them were pretty good. I realized that I've become better at writing blog posts and I want to keep improving. I have also been working on writing longer posts and expanding more on the topics that I write about whenever I write a post. When deciding on how often to post, I felt that three times a week was good. It isn't too much or to little and it isn't too overwhelming.

I guess I'll just have to see how it goes. I'll talk about my goals again at the end of the year to see how far I've come with them. No matter what, it's a start. And we all have to start somewhere.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Friendship of a Dog and a Rabbit

Since today is the 2nd anniversary of the day that my brother and I rescued our rabbit, Geronimo, I thought that I'd share the story of how Geronimo and our golden retriever, Finnlegh, became best friends. You'll also learn a bit about how Finnlegh came to live with us as well as a quick description of Geronimo's rescue story, although you can read more about his rescue story in the post that I wrote last year on the first anniversary of the day that we rescued him. Enjoy!

We bought our golden retriever, Finnlegh, from a breeder in 2012. We had lost our beloved golden retriever, Angel, at the age of fourteen when we had to make the tough but caring decision to put her down. We didn't think that we wanted another dog right away but she had left a space in our hearts to give to another dog. We searched for a good breeder and brought Finnlegh home. He grew into the perfect dog for our family; hyper and active at certain times and sweet and quiet at other times. Sometimes he'd race around the yard but then in the house he would curl up and nap or give us tons of sloppy kisses. During the Winter of 2015, there was a new addition to our family. We rescued a rabbit. He was born from domestic rabbits that had been breeding outside in my Grandma's neighbourhood. He was approximately two months old and was hopping around in the snow in -18 degrees Celsius weather so we brought him in out of the cold only to find that his eyes were stuck shut. We got him some help and found out that he had been dehydrated but he was going to be okay. We made the decision to keep him instead of him going to someone else and we named him Geronimo.

Of course, we had a challenge to face. Finnlegh was a golden retriever: a dog bred to retrieve animals for their masters while hunting. Naturally, he chased small animals and birds but could never catch them. This situation was going to be different. If Geronimo was running around and playing in the living room, Finnlegh might bite him or scare him too much for his little heart to handle. We had to teach him to be gentle with our new rabbit since we wanted them to get along and not have to be separated. We would let Geronimo hop around and play on the couch and if Finnlegh went to nip him or play with him in a rough way, we would stop him and tell him to give kisses. He eventually caught on and would give Geronimo such a sloppy kiss that our little rabbit's fur would be all wet. As Geronimo learned to hop off of the couch and play on the floor, we helped Finnlegh adjust to that too. All of the encouragement paid off.

With continued commands from us, Finnlegh learned to be gentle with Geronimo. Finnlegh would go and sniff our rabbit or give him a kiss. Sometimes Finnlegh would be lying on the floor and let Geronimo hop right on top of him. When our rabbit became playful, Finnlegh would become playful too. He would chase Geornimo a bit and sometimes they would play a mix between a game of hide-and-go-seek and tag around the old trunk that we use as a coffee table. Finnlegh and Geronimo have become best friends, which would fascinate people who see a relationship between a dog and a rabbit as being extremely difficult. It also teaches us a lesson: If a dog and a rabbit can become best friends, maybe it's possible that we humans can get along better with each other and we can make the world a more peaceful place.


Monday, 13 February 2017

Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II (Marvel Comics)

The messages and ending of Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous were beautiful but wow, did things ever go downhill for Kamala in Ms. Marvel Vol 6: Civil War II (part of the 2015-2017 collection). Things started out pretty good and then they just seemed to get worse and worse until the last chapter which wasn't so heartbreaking. Ms. Marvel definitely learned some lessons but things are still not quite fixed so it definitely has me wondering if things will work out. I am excited to read the next volume but let's talk about Volume 6, shall we?

There was definitely another message about friendship here. There were problems with Kamala's friendship with not only her closest friends in her everyday life but also one of her most important superhero influences, Captain Marvel. All of it is caused by a new crime fighting tool that Captain Marvel is trying out called predictive technology. There's a new Inhuman called Ulysses who can determine events that are going to take place and Captain Marvel has put together a team that will use these "predictions" to stop crime before it happens and detain the criminals until the time when they would have committed a crime has passed to ensure that they do not commit that specific crime. Of course, some people think that this is great but others don't like it and think that it's not fair to arrest someone before they even commit a crime.

A student that Ms. Marvel knows, who is also the ex-boyfriend of one of her friends, gets arrested because something that he was going to do to scare people was going to get out of control and cause a fire in the high school. The team detains him and Kamala's friends find out and are very angry, especially Bruno who knows that Ms. Marvel is really Kamala. He doesn't like what she and the team are doing. Bruno ends up going to the building where the criminals are being kept and blows up the door but ends up hurting himself as well.

Ms. Marvel ends up really mad about everything that is happening. The team is being way too serious and strict about using Ulysses' predictions and Kamala starts seeing how it isn't really fair to hold people for something that they haven't even done yet. She tries to show that this new system is flawed but it doesn't really work out as planned. She gets into a bit of trouble and calls Captain Marvel who she becomes angry with and she ends up upsetting. She also finds out that Bruno is still upset with her and doesn't want to have anything to do with her. Kamala says to herself: "We're all bound up in the people we love--the people who make us who we are. So who am I without them? Who am I now?" (end of chapter 11). She doesn't know who she is anymore without the people that she cares about. The people who helped and encouraged her. The people who always stayed by her side. The people who helped her define herself. She goes to Pakistan to visit family and try to find herself again. She ends up learning a lesson about thinking about a situation more before acting on it.

In this volume, Kamala learned how we can become torn between the different opinions that two friends might have about something. Captain Marvel thought that the prediction system that she put into place was right but Bruno, Kamala's best friend, didn't think so. As Ms. Marvel, Kamala became torn between Captain Marvel and Bruno. Did she want to listen to her great influence, the amazing superhero Captain Marvel, or did she want to listen to her best friend in the whole entire world, Bruno, an actual every day citizen in the city? Just like figuring out who to listen to, was she going to look at this situation as superhero Ms. Marvel or citizen Kamala? In the end, she learns that not only does she need to think like a superhero, but she needs to consider what the citizens think as well. She needs to consider how it might affect them before she does something. Think before you act. We can all learn from this.


Friday, 10 February 2017

Letters to my Future Self (Positivity Exercise)

I find writing to my future self to be an interesting exercise. Most times you are writing about your present life to your future self and then when you actually are your future self, you will be reading about your past. So basically it includes past, present, and future all in one activity. Pretty neat, huh?

There are various ideas for what to write to your future self but the basics of this exercise are as follows:
  1. Find some paper and an envelope.
  2. Write a letter to your future self.
  3. Seal the letter in the envelope and write the date on which you would like to open the letter.

You don't have to only write one letter either. You can write several letters about different things or you can write a letter at certain ages or certain stages in your life. Some people write about what is happening in their life right now along with their goals and dreams and choose to open those letters on certain milestone birthdays or at the time of other milestones in their life. Some people write letters to their future spouse or future children or future grandchildren. Some people write a letter to their best friend to be opened on a future date or for a milestone birthday. There are so many possibilities for this exercise!

Here are some ideas of what you can write about in your letter (a whole list, actually) or maybe you'd like to write a separate letter for each topic:
  • What is happening right now in your life
  • What is happening right now in the world and what you think of all of it
  • Accomplishments so far
  • Goals and dreams
  • Favourite memory/memories
  • Pep talk
  • What you think your future will look like/hope your future will look like
  • Challenges that you have overcome so far
  • Your current favourite things (music, movies, books, places, activities, experiences, etc.)
  • The most important people in your life and why they are important
  • What you love about yourself right now 
  •  Current hobbies
  • What you would like to change about your present self (what kind of person do you hope to be in the future?)
  • Things that you never want to forget (memories, experiences, people, pets, accomplishments, challenges, etc.)
  • Who, what, where, when, why, how (who: the kind of person you are right now, what: what you do right now, where: where you live right now, when: the date right now, why: why you do what you do and think what you do right now, how: how do you live right now [beliefs, morals, values]) 
More Ideas:
  • Include some photos 
  •  Add some drawings  
  • Write a poem to your future self  
  • Add some extra little (flat) things in the envelope like a movie ticket from a movie that you saw recently, the program or brochure from an event that you went to recently, a note from a friend, etc. 
  •  Get your friend to write a letter to your future self and add it to the envelope without looking at it
  •  Make a collage of your favourite things and attach it to your letter or add it inside the envelope
  • Decorate your letter and envelope in whatever way you like
  • Turn a small box into a mini time capsule and add your letter(s) to it along with other little things from your current life

I know that it's important to stay in the present moment but this exercise gives you an excuse to think about the past and future and celebrate them! We need to appreciate the past and feel grateful for it. The things that happened in the past happened for a reason and we need to learn from them. The future has yet to come and so we need to plan for it. We can dream about it too. Sure, some things will just happen and we need to be flexible but some things need a bit of planning.

I have already written a letter using some of these ideas to be opened on my 30th birthday and I know that I will definitely be writing more and coming back to this post for further ideas! If you choose to try this exercise, I hope you have fun!


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Book, Screenplay, & Film)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fun collection from J.K. Rowling since there is a book that is meant to be Newt Scamander's book that he wrote about magical creatures from the wizarding world of Harry Potter and now there is a film with the screenplay written by J.K. Rowling herself! So, we get to read the actual magical creatures book and then we get to find out a bit of the story behind the "author" and his magical creatures that he researched for the book. We also get to read J.K. Rowling's writing before watching the film (which is the proper way that her stories should be enjoyed) by reading the published screenplay for the film before watching the actual film.

The story of the film is centered around Newt Scamander, a man from Britain who was kicked out of Hogwarts and has a deep interest in magical creatures. He carries a leather suitcase which is filled with magical creatures that he has collected over time and which he cares for. He has been doing research into these magical creatures and observing them in order to be able to write a book about them. Some of his creatures get out of the suitcase while he is in New York in the 1920s and problems arise in the city, while an even bigger problem is of concern.


I wanted to read the book before watching the film so that I'd know the end result of Newt's research and also to give me some information about the magical creatures that I would be seeing in the film. The book that Newt Scamander wrote about magical creatures (actually written by J.K. Rowling with the proceeds going to Comic Relief) is a textbook used at Hogwarts and the copy that was made available to Muggles is a copy that was owned by Harry Potter and shared by Ron Weasley because his copy apparently fell apart. The book therefore has little notes written on several pages by Harry and Ron (as well as a few by Hermione), which are quite comical and also remind us of certain events and characters from the main book series. The book starts off with an introduction to magical characters, some information about the history of magical creatures, and the Ministry of Magic classifications for magical creatures. The rest of the book is an A-Z list of  the magical creatures with information for each one.

It was interesting to read about each of the magical creatures and it was fun to imagine that I was reading a Hogwarts textbook as if I was an actual student at the school. There are specific creatures that readers will remember from the main book series and there are other creatures that were not really mentioned in the books. It's a fun read but it is definitely a comedic informational text and not a story.


Just like with the book, I decided to read the screenplay before watching the film. Some people might think that to be a bit odd since reading the screenplay would mean that I'd know exactly what happens in the film. It's different from reading the novel of a story before watching the film because with a film adapted from a novel, you still don't know how they adapted it whereas a screenplay reveals all of the dialogue, actions, etc. of the film. You're basically just "reading" the film. I chose to read the screenplay before watching the film, however, because J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay and so I wanted to keep up my tradition of reading her writing before seeing the films and I wanted to really appreciate the work that she put into this film. There were still surprises when I eventually watched the film since I had pictured things in my head while reading the screenplay and now I finally got to see what the filmmakers actually came up with for costumes, locations, props, etc.

Firstly, I just want to mention how much I love the cover of the published screenplay and all of the little illustrations inside, most of which were illustrations of the magical creatures. The style of the cover and illustrations definitely gives the printed book that 1920s feel and it was fun to get an idea of what the magical creatures look like in a 1920s style of illustration.

The story is very interesting, especially since it's a story set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter but it doesn't involve the character of Harry Potter. I loved Newt Scamander's concern and caring nature towards magical creatures. He wants them to be protected rather than killed. Other characters were afraid of the creatures and some would prefer that the creatures be destroyed but Newt showed that the creatures can be very nice if you are simply careful and show kindness towards them. It can be compared to animals in the human world. We need to be careful around certain animals because they can hurt us but we can learn to live in harmony with them. After all, we all share this planet.

I also loved how friendship was shown to be very important, just like in the Harry Potter books. Newt works together with fellow magical people, Tina and her sister Queenie, as well as a non-magical person, Jacob. He sees how he is able to change their thoughts towards magical creatures (they are scared of them at first but then they become interested and they start caring about the creatures) and they all contribute, in some way, to solving the problems at hand.

The story also touches on racism. Newt mentions how in America they don't allow magical people to marry or even become friends with non-magical people. Any non-magical person who finds out about magic has to be obliviated meaning that they forget everything that they learned about magic. We see how Newt, Tina, and Queenie become friends with Jacob and eventually don't want him to be obliviated. Especially Queenie, who falls in love with Jacob. On the non-magical side, the non-magical people who know about witchcraft are against it because it scares them and they see it as a threat. They only see it as being a bad thing. We see that one of these characters, however, wants to embrace magic because he is magical himself, although he tries to hide his magic. This is where we also see ties to what some LGBTQ+ people go through in real life.

The screenplay is very good and has some great messages of friendship and challenges. I think J.K. Rowling did a great job for her first time writing one!


It was interesting to watch the film after reading the screenplay because, as mentioned before, I knew every line and every action but it reminded me of reading Shakespeare plays in high school and then watching a film adaptation of the plays. I loved getting to see the screenplay visually and seeing how the actors interpreted the script. So, I actually don't have a whole lot to say about the story of the film since I already talked about that when explaining what I thought about the screenplay. Instead, I'll talk about what I thought about the acting and seeing everything visually.

I loved how Eddie Redmayne, the actor who played Newt Scamander, acted quiet and shy. He really fit the character of someone who is more comfortable with animals than he is with people. On the other hand, I thought that Alison Sudol, the actress who played Queenie, should have spoken louder. I understand that maybe she had a lighter, more quiet voice to go with her innocent, flirtatious personality but I personally thought that her flirtatious personality would be the thing that would make her voice a bit louder and less soft to match her more talkative, outgoing self.

I really thought that the special effects were great. I loved seeing Newt and Jacob go into and out of the leather suitcase, especially when Jacob made it bounce as he tried to push his way through. It all looked so real! I also really liked seeing the magical creatures that I had to picture in my head as I read the screenplay and which I also read about in the "textbook." My favourite creatures were the bowtruckle and the demiguise. The bowtruckle that Newt carried around was so cute and the demiguise ended up being a sweetheart.

I loved the film and I am really excited to see what happens in the next four films since this was just the first of five!