27 June 2014

Book Review: Kaleidoscope World

 "Kaleidoscope World" is by Croatian author Tomica Scavina. I received a copy from the author herself as an ebook for free. It's her only book that has been translated to English and when I read the description of the book of a troubled woman in search of her past and some stability I was intrigued.

The first fifty pages were a bit hard to get into as the plot dragged considerably and the author kept flipping back and forth between the protagonist's, Dahlia's, past and present. The flow of the writing didn't feel quite right and I wonder if something wasn't lost in translation as the dialogue was really rough of English speaking people, the dialogue of the Spanish people speaking English was too fluent, and the syntax and structure of the sentences felt awkward.

There were other aspects of Dahlia's journey that were presented by the author that I wasn't keen on either: there was a lot of telling and not enough showing. I felt that too often Dahlia's therapist spelled things out and supplied all the answers at convenient moments in Dahlia's thought process. From my understanding a therapist is supposed to guide a patient to self-actualization, not put ALL the pieces together for a patient.

When the pseudo-science of out of body experiences, other dimensions, discussions of reality, secret societies, and breaking the fourth wall started happening I couldn't take the novel seriously anymore. To me, it over shadowed the real plot of Dahlia remembering her childhood and growing as a person.

Overall I just really struggled to connect with the protagonist. Perhaps the potential of this being a great story was overshadowed by the translation but I can't say I would recommend it to anyone.

26 June 2014

Throwback Thursday

I've never participated in #throwbackthursday before. The throwbacks I see are usually from only a year ago, at most two, which seems sort of pointless. Every once in a while someone will post a picture of them as a child, which makes me go "Awww! how cute!".

Sort of.

As much as I enjoy seeing old(er) pictures of people I know, to see the changes and transformations that they've gone through, see what they got up to as younger versions of themselves (particularly what they were wearing), I hate when people want to see what I looked like or know what I was like when I was younger.

I'm toying with idea of #throwbackthursday because on Saturday was my second anniversary of living in the UK. I wrote my "Knowledge of Life and Living in the UK" (or something like that) exam on Tuesday as part of my application for a settlement visa. And it's been 10 years to the week since I graduated from high school.

A long time ago, I saw a media clip of pivotal events and major innovations during human history that drastically changed and improved people's lives. In this clip the gaps between innovations became closer and closer together, and at the risk of sounding old, I can say that a lot has changed in the last 10 years. MSN Messenger, MySpace, ICQ, LiveJournal replaced by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress not necessarily in my lifetime but just in the last 10 years.

Other things have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years, including people's attitudes towards body image and health. I was in high school on the cusp of change, when the concept of accepting different body types was sort of surfacing in the media. But that meant that I grew up with a lot more concepts of body shame versus body acceptance in some of my most formative years. Not that I'm going to lay a sob story out today, but it's hard to change your way of thinking.

I'm bringing this up because my trainer asked me to write a testimonial for her and her business (which I'm excited to write) she also asked if I had any pictures of myself from before I started training, any bikini pictures preferably to show the change more obviously.


I don't have any bikini pictures.

I went through 10 years of pictures and not one picture of myself in a bikini. Hardly a picture of me at all, never mind me at my heaviest. Selfies just weren't a thing and there was enough body shame going around that "plus size" people just didn't wear bikinis. On the one hand I'm sad that there's no evidence of the progress I've made but on the other hand I'm glad that Facebook wasn't around to ingrain my former self into people's memories. It's nice to have moved to a place where people have never seen me at +90kg or with such horrible low self-esteem as I did 10 years ago.

I don't know if my high school is putting on a 10 year high school reunion, and I know some people get really excited for that sort of thing, but I'm quite relieved I'm not in a position to go to a reunion. I'm happy to leave my 18 year old self where she is because my 28 year old self is so not just "so much cooler" but she is more inspiring, more motivated, more friendly, and more comfortable in her own skin. I wouldn't trade the last 10 years for what I've gained.

OK, maybe one or two years.

So here's to the only #throwbackthursday I'll like ever participate in:

23 June 2014

Spitfire vs Army Charity Cup

Two big and important things happened on Friday June 20. First, I participated and supported a charity event and secondly, during that charity event I registered as a bone marrow donor. This a culmination of a few events: several months ago Rob, a member of Spitfire TKD, was diagnosed with Leukemia. It was shortly after he was given the go ahead to start his basic training for the Army.

I've had to face people with cancer before but this was the first time I've had to face it outside of work, outside of a hospital, and outside of me being a nurse. I like to think of myself as a compassionate person so after being a nurse to the terminal cancer patients in Stettler and seeing Rob come to training following his chemo was no less emotional. The story of a 40-something year old woman, wife, and mother to a 13 and 18 year old dying one week after diagnosis is no more or less tragic than that of a 19 year old being diagnosed because both lives are changed and everybody around them is affected.

I bring up the 40-something old woman alongside Rob because they are similar. I don't remember anything about this woman, except her story, her positivity, and her gratitude: She knew she was dying but she was so grateful to have had the chance to get married and have children and work and learn and just do the things she has done. I had left the hospital room close to tears.

When I first heard of Rob's diagnosis I couldn't remember what he looked like and in all honesty, I didn't really know who Rob was. I tended to only attend Friday night sparring classes of Spitfire and not everybody could or wanted to make it to those (I get it, when you're 18 you spend your Friday night's vastly different). But I've come to know Rob just a little over the last few months and his perseverance and determination not to let leukemia stop him from enjoying life is astounding. Not only does he show up for training, but he hardly takes a break, and I've never heard him say anything negative when I've spoken to him.

(c) Kenga Photography
And Rob? That day it was hot and humid during training and you got frustrated you were taking a lot of breaks and couldn't keep up? Just know we were pushing ourselves because your presence invalidated any excuse we had.

Rob & Mark
(c) Kenga Photography

Our Spitfire TKD instructor/coach Mark has been the driving force behind setting up the Spitfire vs Army Charity Cup. Between him and Colin, the British Army ITF coach, ten matches were lined up for the night for people to watch as they bought raffle tickets, baked goods, and registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust, a charity that helps register bone marrow donors in the UK. Rob needs a bone marrow transplant and three matches have been found on mainland Europe but with the event the register has been expanded by over 50 people, myself included. Maybe we can find a donor a bit closer to home.

Oh yeah, we also raised 1300 pounds that night towards an iPad library for the Royal Surrey Cancer Ward.

This isn't the first time I've participated in a charity event. The first time was three years ago in Medicine Hat where Clifford, my brother Daniel, Mirando, and I raised money for a 5k Kidney Run. Clifford was so fast around the course that they didn't believe he ran around the whole track (he is actually that fast). The second charity event Clifford and I were part of was when we hosted a Movember Party complete with a raffle and raised $300.

But this is the first time I've participated in a charity that really meant something to me, where I felt part of a team, like an adopted family, and where I felt so disappointed that I couldn't do more.

Myself & Charley messing around before our match.
I was playing for Team Army.
(c) Vero de la Rosa
One of the few snap shots where I look good! Charley won the match 20-11.
We showed everybody what a chick fight looks like.
(c) Vero de la Rosa
Kat Paes coaching me
(c) Vero de la Rosa
Red v Blue! Mark, Ryan, Charley, Myself, Ahmad, and Kat
(c) Kenga Photography
Still friends! Though I'm left with a scratch on my face...
(c) Kenga Photography
Clifford also part of the team!
(c) Vero de la Rosa

To see more photos of the evening check out Kenga Photography's FB Page. Please also check out the FB pages of Ryan Powell, Levi Goodridge, Kat Paes, and Charley Rousell and show some support as they chase their Olympic goals.

17 June 2014

Getting There

Oh em gee, life has been happening. While I was trying to help motivate Britney from The Drunk Runner to start blogging again (who, by the way, did become motivated and inspired to start blogging again), she pointed out that I haven't actually blogged since April of this year.

Well, uhm, whoops.

I keep saying that I will become financially independent through blogging, I'm pretty sure this isn't the way to do it. I'm aware a considerable more amount of consistency is required, however, in my defense, my life hasn't exactly been consistent, steady, or conducive to sitting at my desk and blogging.

Since April
  1. I learned everything I needed to know for my Kukkiwon Dan grading in two weeks.
  2. I had my mom visit and we did a bit of the touristy thing
  3. I had to study for my ITEC & BTEC massage therapy exams
  4. I am in the middle of starting a massage therapy business while halfheartedly remaining on employment register of a local, publicly run hospital. 
  5. I'm trying to get back into a training routine and hitting a lot of stumbling blocks that way. 
  6. I'm trying to get Indefinite Leave To Remain (ILR) in the UK which requires me to take a test and then fork over my husband's entire paycheque, my left arm, and possibly my spleen so I can stay in the UK
Mmm... yep. Feeling a lot like that.

 I feel like I need a vacation. I feel a bit like a brat for saying that, for wanting one, but why? It's not unreasonable to want a break from my routine, from my surroundings, from the work, from the chores for a week. But I'm not in a position to be like, "I'm taking off to Ibiza bitches" although I've been tempted a few times.

Apparently there's sunshine.

Back to blogging, and this blog. I started this blog being inspired by the Day Zero Project and then lost motivation and clearly didn't finish very impressively. I never did make another list of 101 Goals I'd like to accomplish in the next 1001 Days. My reasons were something like it was too long, too broad, I took on too much, etc etc. In actual fact, I wasn't committed. I wasn't committed to the Project, to the goals, or anything besides making money and making up for lost experiences I thought I would forever miss out on.

Not that it did much good since I kept missing out on the things I wanted the most.

But there's been a real shift in my life in this last year, well, since 2014 started, and I'm starting to feel good? ...satisfied? with my life. Regardless of my future plans will take me, I feel like this is where I'm meant to be right now, doing what I'm doing (see above). I don't know where massage therapy or Taekwondo is going to take me in the next couple years, but I'm not really concerned because I'm honestly just having a good time. 


I thought I'd add to the good time by creating another 101 Goals in 1001 Days, incorporating the lessons I learned from my last attempt: be flexible and open to change, even halfway through the Project. I haven't finished my list yet, but that's OK. I feel like I'm giving myself permission to be flexible and open while still charting my course.