Jan 26 2012

Surviving Winter With Minimal Suffering

tumblr_lwk8yvyupW1qzx6wko1_500Ahhh…such a great movie!

My dear friends,

Today was a day like any other.  A lot of day-dreaming, a lot of thinking how I could really go for a hot dog right now, a lot of time congratulating myself for drinking green tea, a lot of time wondering what my dog’s favourite song is, and then a lot of time genuinely wondering where the day went.  Except today was not quite a day like any other: I had to book an appointment to get my winter tires balanced and slapped on my car.  (Yes, I am aware that this is January, I live in Canada, and thus have already had to contend with snow for at least a month now).  I looked outside, and saw not-so-special snow flakes piling up so spitefully on my car, and blanketing the rest of the countryside with their treacherous lies of “Oh, there’s no ice over here…You’ll be saaaafe…Just a little bit closer….” and BOOM! Broken hip!  Although most winter guides have already come and gone in November, well, January *is* the month where all the holiday baking runs out, you feel pressured meet some sort of obligatory New Year’s resolution, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full, glorious swing.  January is also the month where one comes to the grim realization that maaaaaaaannn, there are at least two months left of this suckitude.  So here are some tried and true words of wisdom from someone who knows this weather all too well:

1) Maybe winter doesn’t have to suck. Like all your mom’s self-help books are quick to remind you, we may not have the ability to control everything that happens to us, but we certainly have the power to control how we respond to them.  Changing our mindset about winter just might allow us to enjoy ourselves, and appreciate the season as one of crucial of restoration.  Instead of seeing winter as something to endure, let’s try to see the positive things winter has to offer.  Look to Canada, Scandinavia, the Northern U.S. and other places who have incorporated winter into their culture, identity and pastimes.  And y’know, while we have to trudge through un-plowed driveways and warm up our cars well in advance, let’s give major props to our wintry ancestors, who wouldn’t really know whether or not they’d survive the winter. It lends an extra urgency to Christmas celebrations, eh?

2) Dress for the weather. Just because you’re wearing a pair of tights as pants, it doesn’t mean that Old Man Winter is going to take notice and crank up the sun.  To paraphrase an old saying from Somewhere Cold, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation for it. If there’s a blizzard outside, don’t put on your Spring trench and ballerina flats.  For the longest time, and to my mom’s dismay, I’d be the idiot who’d wear little sneakers everywhere and spend half of the time assuring my friends that my feet weren’t freezing.  Two years ago, I finally got myself a pair of boots, and they changed my life.  I no longer prance from semi-dry spot to semi-dry spot like a demented deer ballerina.  If you have go-go-gadget arms like me, winter ushers in at least three months of cold wrists.  Step out of that most un-fun rap fame, friends, and get yourself some extra-long mittens to stave off the chill, and keep your eyes open for coats with long sleeves.  It’s a bit of a challenging hunt, but they’re out there, and they’re worth it!

3) Make sure others can dress for the weather, too. Donating your surplus warm clothes and coats to the less fortunate will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling elsewhere: your heart!

4) Try to exercise. Think of those rosy-cheeked snowshoe and ski enthusiasts you see in weekend adverts, forget that they’re models who are likely posing in front of a screen, and head out for some winter fun of your own. Skiing, skating, sledding…endless possibilities to take advantage of!  Plus, if you fast-forward to a dreary, rainy Spring day, you’ll be wishing for an afternoon at the skating rink, followed with hot chocolates (extra chocolate, extra marshmallows).  My former boyfriend got really ambitious last winter, when he was training for a fitness test.  Regardless of the cold, he would run laps outdoors at top speed.  Flush with admiration(while he was flush with wind-burn), I had the oh-so-important task of logging his progress…from my seat on the (indoor) couch.  If you’re cabin-bound, try to do some indoor exercise, like tackling a long-procrastinated project around the house, or spending a few minutes dancing, or head out to the gym with a friend.

5) Comfort food! Comfort food is always the right choice, regardless of the season.  This winter, though, take advantage of the special pleasure of stews, hot soup, dumplings, fancy bread, pierogies, heavy beer, mac and cheese, Korean BBQ, cinnamon rolls, holiday baking, turkey, heavenly mashed potatoes, and every possible combination of sugar and carbs.  Leave those microwave suppers and “salad-for-supper” meals for warmer times, when they might actually be filling.  Winter is time for hibernation!

6) Try to keep your house kind of clean. In wintertime, we have Ab Fab marathons to watch, hot chocolate to drink, and skates to think about lacing up.  We don’t really have the time to be scrubbing mountains of dishes, nor do we have the will to.  A dirty house can put a damper on your spirits, so try to keep your house semi-clean on a regular basis, with the hope that you won’t have to summon massive reserves of energy to spend the weekend cleaning house.  Since we’re indoors more often in winter, our surroundings play an even bigger role in our moods and motivation.

7) Treat yo’ self. Wear your favourite outfits on undeserving days.  Have that second lunch.  Spend the entire day crafting a winter playlist.  Splurge at the grocery store.  Buy yourself flowers.  Top up your savings account.  Put off your chores to write in your journal.  Hot drinks that are heavy on the Bailey’s. Call your friends to hang out, even if you just saw them yesterday.  Buy fancy coffees with flavoured shots, whipped cream, and a high sprinkle quotient.  Take your vitamins. Look at puppies doing cute things on Youtube. Daydream.  Anything you do to cheer yourself up, by all means, do it!

And there we have it! An exploration of our winter patterns, and a pretty formidable list of ways we can make the most of this winter season!  I’m sure you have your own winter survival secrets squirreled away, so share them with us, won’t you?

On to the next round of hot chocolates!


Sep 8 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Navel-Gazing Edition

4599694345_727cc9e102_oThanks to rodmanstreet.tumblr.com

No, no, I’m not going to clutter this post with MySpace-esque poses of me (duck-faced, gazing upwards, attempted expression of profound boredom and ennui, and dark-eyelinered) or with unnecessary Facebook updates like “Kylie Cumming ate porridge for breakfast. Yum! MY LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS!!!”

And now I’m hungry for porridge and ego trips.

The brain-rattlingly-awesome Mademoiselle Alexandra Franzen mused a little bit on Ye Olde Days of Past and Yore, when Ye Youth of Ye Olde Days of Past and Yore would continuously write lists along the lines of “~*~25 Things You Didn’t Know About Me~*~” and they would reveal such scintillating details like who they last spoke to on the telephone, whether they preferred kisses or hugs, and what they were doing an hour ago.   I decided to be a copy-cat, and write my own version of indulgent drivel- all while remembering the days before we realized that this was indulgent drivel and felt a sense of collective embarrassment.

Here are some things you may or may not care to know about Kylie J. Cumming:

* Last night, I helped deliver a baby calf who, given another minute in there, who have certainly died.  I’ll write some more on “Magic” and take some pictures of her soon!

* These navel-gazing things were my JAM in university- and not just first-year uni, when the high-school influence was still strong.  If I spent enough time and energy meticulously proof-reading my essays as I devoted to these “Getting to Know Meeeee” things, I would be a Rhodes Scholar a million times over.  Or something like that.

* I have a tooth that suddenly just up-and-quit.  It’s still there, although the root is calcified, but it’s protected by loads of sealant.  Hopefully, that will keep it from taking a long walk off a short plank anytime soon.

* My friend Ali and I once tried to convince our friend Kelly to drop heavy objects on us from great heights, in hopes of not having to write our exam.  Fortunately for our skulls, she kindly declined.  She is a good friend!

* I swear I really liked school, and was a keen student.  I swear!

* One time, my hand got stuck in an elevator door.

* The last person I talked to on the phone was my boyfriend.  Well, technically, I think I sent him a text about this very sad video on youtube, in which a cat was run over (they did not show that part) and his cat friend was trying to revive him.  There was a Spanish vocalist singing about (presumably, since my Spanish is limited to about four words) very sad things, and there were two dudes in the background, shootin’ the breeze, which served as a foil to reinforce how sad and tragic it was.  However.  However. The more I watched it, the more I realized that the live cat wasn’t trying to revive his cat friend; he was trying to mate with it.  I’m a farm girl, I know of these things. Okay, I’m not from a cat farm, but still.  So I shifted uneasily in my creaky chair, feeling bad for both the cats and the other viewers who were probably sobbing uncontrollably watching the video.  But I had to sit and watch the video (which had been re-looped) until the very end, because it somehow felt disrespectful to the dead cat’s memory to change to that Kelly Rowland video.  WHY AM I SO AWKWARD?!?!

* It took me a very long time to text that.

Alrighty, then! I think that’s enough navel-gazing for me today.  I have to stop myself, because I really could go on…and on…and on…

Receiving these sorts of quizzes and blog entries are quite fun, I think, because you can tell a lot about a person and their life through these little details.  Even the mundane details are fascinating to me.  How about you?  Do you find these sorts of things to be a nuisance or a welcomed nostalgia trip? Care to share some random details?  I’m all ears! We can pretend we’re on a camping trip and we’re playing the toilet paper game!

Cheers to you!


Feb 14 2011

Valentine’s Day: A Guide


Valentine’s Day is almost here…just in case the rows upon rows of drugstore chocolates, influx of “diamond ring or it’s not truuueee looooovvveee!!!!1!!!” commercials, and the anxiety-inducing high school candygrams (ugh- not exactly an inclusive idea) didn’t make their point.  If the commercials are to be believed, ideally one spends Valentine’s Day riding a cotton-candy cloud, prancing around on unicorns (who are also riding the cotton-candy cloud- keep up, people), while being showered by diamonds, fancy jewellery, chocolates, candles (err..maybe the candles aren’t showered, but placed gently) and all sorts of romancey-things by your One True Love.  Oh, and you have really bitchin’ hair.

If our inner cynics had their say, VD Day (bwahahahahahaa!!) is just a hollow, meaningless day created to hawk chocolate and other faaancy expensive things faster, and to make people feel badly about themselves- no matter what their relationship status.   If you’re in a relationship, then there must be overwhelming expections that you simply cannot meet.  If you’re not in a relationship, then you surely must spend the day moping and trudging through a dreary, opposite-of-cotton-candy cloud, and round it off wearing ratty pyjamas and nursing pints of ice-cream.  Your hair lacks volume.

Both reactions are equally cliche.  Regardless of your plans for the day, or whoever you plan to spend it with, I propose looking at the day in a new way.   Carefully compiled from years of experience, I humbly submit my guide to both surviving and thriving Valentine’s Day.

1) Realize that Valentine’s Day is just a day, and that every single moment of every single day is a prime opportunity to tell and show all the people in your life how much you care about them.  Valentine’s Day is just a reminder- a powerful pink and red reminder- to do that.

2) Don’t forget that Valentine’s Day is a powerful pink and red reminder to take care of yourself.  Eat your favourite meals (and if that includes chocolate, then you’re in luck),  surround yourself with your favourite people, pull a Ferris Bueller and flake out on your day’s responsibilities, go out and enjoy a party to end all parties, stay in with your favourite movies, have a bubble bath, walk a dog…the possibilities are endless.  Do what makes you happy.

3)  While you’re being a valentine to yourself, you can also be a valentine to the universe.  Get outside your head for a bit, and show kindness to someone in dire need of it.   Spend some time volunteering at a soup kitchen.  Stick up for that kid in your class who is constantly tormented by bullies.  Visit someone who rarely gets visits.  Again, the possibilities are endless.

4) Candy.  Ohhhhh maaaannn, so much candy.  And it’s on sale the day after VD day!

And finally,

5) Always remember that at any given time and place, there are a million people and things that you can love.  Your capacity to love and be loved is endless. Limitless.


Much love and delicious chalky candy hearts (with subversive messages written on them!) to you!