Sunday 29 May 2016

Resume of failures

Here is a little-known fact about me: I went to school with a genius. We didn't run in the same circles at school (I definitely wasn't part of the smart kids), but we did share the same piano teacher once upon a time. That and the fact that we graduated the same year from the same school are the only similarities between us.
Johannes is an assistant professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton, a fact I didn't know until he posted something on Twitter: His "CV of failures".  

This is my senior class from high school. I circled him and myself. Puberty wasn't kind to either one of us, feel free to laugh! I sure did. In my defense, someone dumped a glass of water over me shortly before the picture was taken, so I was pissed. 

I came across this refreshing document because his equally accomplished sister shared it on Facebook.
Here it is:

(If you are interested in Johannes' real resume, it's right here. Prepare to be intimidated.) 

Obviously, I had to re-create it for my own life in a somewhat more casual manner, with less grants and more personal stuff. 

Here is my tongue-in-cheek history of failures:

Miriam Verheyden 
Resume of Failures

Academic failures    

2002   Dropped out of college in 2002 with no degree whatsoever

2004   Received a "certificate in hospitality" for which I paid $8,000.00, and which only got me an entry-level, minimum-wage job 

Blog failures

2016   Blogging for 3 years. Still not blog-famous.

Relationship failures

1995   Ended a "relationship" (it was a platonic one) to a guy who had a crush on me, and whom my family loved. They invited him along on our family vacation in France and made me share a tent with him (I was 14, he was 19). He talked about marriage. I was flattered, but uncomfortable. After 10 months I ended it, which resulted in him packing all his stuff in a huff, dramatically stalking out of the house and yelling that he would never return. I was relieved, my family was angry. With me.

1997   Broke up with my first love (whom I thought I would marry) for my second love.

1999   Broke up with my second boyfriend (whom I also thought I would marry). 

2001   Got dumped by a guy for my sister, whom he ended up marrying.

Womanhood failures

2016   36 years old, never been pregnant. What a waste of ovaries.

Aren't these uncannily similar to Johannes' failures? No wonder we were so tight in high school ;-)

What are some of the things you tried that didn't work out?   


Thursday 26 May 2016

Abbey Road

Beatles Abbey Road inspired

Sometimes you see a friend's photo, love her outfit so much that you want to copy it, and before you know it you are singing "Hey Jude" at the top of your lungs, while photoshopping yourself into a Beatles picture.
What, just me? Alright, then. 

The Beatles Abbey Road
Image found here

(If you want to know what's happening at the famous road walk right this minute, you can see it on the Abbey Road Crossing Cam.) 


Anyway, when I saw Kristen's photo, I was overcome with the need to own a wide-legged pair of jeans. My fondness for boho-inspired clothes is growing ever more, so I went on a hunt for the right pair. The most important criteria was affordability - funds are tight right now. Not going shopping would be more sensible of course, but you can't always be sensible, right?

Well, luck was on my side: I found the pictured pants at Winners, on sale for - wait for it - $12.00. Twelve bucks! Can you believe it? I couldn't say no! It's like the universe wants me to have wide-legged hippie pants, and put these ones (the only pair, hanging all alone by itself!) right into my path.
There is only one tiny flaw: They are a wee but tight. If they would have come a size bigger, they would have fit perfectly. As it is, I am putting all my trust into the 2% spandex, and will wear these pants mostly after bouts of diarrhea, the flu, or when my water retention is exceptionally low. 
Or I'm using the rubberband trick, in which case they will fit just fine even on bloated days!
Thanks, Pinterest.


Pants: Winners (similar)
Top: SheIn
Shoes: Old Navy (similar)
Necklace: SheIn

Wide-legged pants

Shop the look:

Linking up with Fashion Should Be Fun, A Pocketful of Polka Dots, Rachel The Hat, Sheela writes and Elegance and Mommyhood


Dreaming the dream

I have been engulfed by a sea of blah lately. All I have been able to think, talk, and dream about are the following topics:
- Work (SO annoying). 
- Money (we don't have enough of it, and that's annoying). 
- Husband (not living up to my expectations. SO annoying).
- Rashes (I have talked about it several times lately, because it's on my mind a LOT: this "stress rash" I get in an unfortunate spot (hint: south of my lower back - very sexy), and that's itchy, scarring, inescapable, and unattractive as hell. Again, SO annoying).

The joys of adult life. 

Here is the thing, though: We ALL have to deal with daily bullshit. Work, bills, neighbours who complain about something, grass that needs mowing, carpets that need vaccuuming, pets that misbehave, kids who have issues, spouses that annoy us - it's part of life. Most of the time, I'm totally fine with it, and can handle it easily, with a twinkle in my eye and a silly joke on my lips. And I'm sure that you can as well. 

But, there are those times when we feel vulnerable, sad, and fragile. Where the daily bullshit threatens to crush us. 
I just lived through two of those weeks, and it took me until today to pull myself out of it. 

Now I can see the light again. The clouds have cleared, and the sun is coming through, shining brilliantly. 
What gets me through the tougher times is dreaming about a fictitious future life. I don't actually want that life to become real; but I love imaging myself in it.

In that dream, I would sell our house, solving the money problem at once. Then we would buy a beautiful place in this valley, up in the mountains: In the pure mountain air, away from civilization, but still only a 15-minute drive to shops, restaurants and medical help if we need it.

We would get this tiny house:

Words can't express how obsessed I am with this house. I want it.

I would bake my own bread in my tiny oven, eating it when still warm, filling our tiny home with its delicious smells. Then I would do all the things I love: Yoga outside in the fresh air, with the mountains as beautiful backdrop. Blogging every day. Writing a bestselling novel. Reading to my heart's content. Going for lunch dates with Rich.
We would still have all our animals, and Rich would putter around outside all day.
At night we would cook healthy meals together (because in this parallel universe, I love cooking), and eat them outside under the stars.
The dogs could bark all night, and nobody would complain. Because the next neighbour is too far away to hear them.

We would buy a canoe and go canoeing on Chilliwack lake. With the corgi and Nina in the boat with us.
Rich would have a sixpack.
So would I.

Also, my hair would look like this:
Image found here

It would naturally dry in perfect waves, always looking stunning.
Because, why not? My dream, my rules.

I would dress like this all day long: 
Images stolen from Pinterest

And I would meditate. And love it.

Several times a year we would travel, leaving the farm in the hands of the most trustworthy and reliable person in the world. We would know that we could trust them, and not worry at all while we are away. 

Oh yes, I would never worry at all, but be calm, wise and at peace.

Would I love horseback riding in this scenario? Why the hell not - yes! 
And we would gallop into a perfect sunset together every night.   

What's your refuge from reality when you want to escape your life for a while?


Tuesday 24 May 2016

10,000 hours

The other day I came across an interesting fact: If you invest 10,000 hours in anything, you will become an expert in it. The author Malcolm Gladwell states that in his book Outliers, a book I haven't read yet, but intending to read asap.
In lieu of reading the book I found this article highlighting a few key facts about Gladwell's research, which are:

When psychologists studied violin students in Berlin, Germany, they asked them how many hours they had approximately practiced in their lives. The best violinists had practiced more than 10,000 hours, while the less accomplished ones had only about 4,000 hours of practice.

The perhaps most interesting fact about the study was that natural talent didn't make a difference. The more someone had practiced, the better they became, no matter of natural ability.

The Beatles started out as an unknown high school band, but with an unlimited passion for making music. They went to Hamburg, Germany, and played in night clubs every night. As they became better known, they played even more: 8 hours a night, 7 nights a week. When they became huge in 1964, they had already played 1,200 concerts together. Most bands nowadays never manage to play 1,200 concerts in their entire career.

Gladwell discovered that the secret of highly successful people is that they are obsessed with their work. They not only work during normal working hours, but also afterwards at home, and on weekends, and instead of mindlessly watching TV. They love what they do and love the practice of it, and that's what makes them so extraordinary.

10,000 hours is a lot. If you practice something for an hour every day, it will take you over 27 years to become excellent at it. Which is discouraging when it comes to yoga and writing, two areas I want to get better at. Maybe I should step up my game there?

However, I have become a master at a few things already.
After some thought, I came up with not only one or two, but five areas of expertise:

1. Worrying. 
I'm a world-class worrier. I suspect that I started approximately at the age of three, often spending much more than an hour a day on it, which makes me an absolute master in the field. Nothing to worry about? No problem, I will find something. If life is going unexpectedly smoothly, I can always rely on the classics: Money. Childhood. What if my husband gets sick and/or dies? The economy. Job security. Global warming. That weird rash that keeps showing up every time I'm stressed. How much wine is too much wine?

2. Nagging.
That one took serious dedication, since we have been together for not quite 14 years, only half of the 27 years it takes to reach expert status if you invest one hour/day. But I can be tenacious if I want to be, and I got this one down to a science.
A little dig about past transgressions? Check.
You didn't do something I asked you to do? I will keep going on and on about it.
You didn't tell me about this one little detail of your day? You never tell me anything, and I'm upset about it.
And so it goes.
It's a lot of work, but somebody's gotta do it.

3. Loving dogs.
I have been loving dogs since 1984, and I'm not planning on stopping. Ever. By now I have roughly 280,320 hours of dog loving under my belt. I have surpassed expert level and entered into crazy dog-lady territory. It's awesome.

4. Reading.
When I discovered the written word at the age of six, the heavens opened and angels started to sing. I was smitten by the power and beauty of the written word; it was love at first sight. This love affair is still going strong. 30 years in, we are as committed to each other as we were on the first day!
However, don't be too impressed by that. I have a woefully limited knowledge of classics, preferring
sweeping family tales encompassing several generations; stories with a touch of magic; a gripping tale with some mystery, intrigue and sass; and biographies and life stories in all shapes and sizes. Add the odd chic-lit, and you have my not-so-well-rounded taste in books.

5. Thinking about life.
Life is endlessly fascinating. Figuring out what to do with the one, precious life we have is a question I never get tired of trying to answer. I love learning about new and different ways of living, and about people: The Tiny House Movement; people who sell their stuff and travel the world; unusual childhoods; love stories; people who liberate themselves, at whatever age.

I met an elderly lady who had a new looking tattoo, and when I asked her about it, she proudly told me that her grandson is a tattoo artist and "practiced" on her (it looked beautiful - clearly he took his job on his grandmother seriously).

A couple I know retired in their late 60s, sold their large property and bought a condo in the city. Everybody had encouraged them to do so: For making life easier, having less work, being free to travel. They went on an extended vacation, and then sat in their condo, unhappy. After two years, they sold it again and bought a 5-acre property, opening a small-scale nursery and buying a few chickens and a couple of dogs. She is 87, he is 99 this year, and they are still living on that property, happily puttering away and selling a few dozen hanging baskets each year.  

Another couple had been married for 30 years, when they decided to get a divorce. The overwhelming public opinion was how awful and sad that is. While it is always painful and difficult to leave a relationship, I secretly cheered them on, wishing them to find their happiness. Many couples get married for the wrong reasons, or live unhappily together for decades, for the sake of keeping the family together. But don't we all deserve to be happy? Maybe (hopefully) leaving a relationship that was sad/cold/toxic/wrong for them will open up the possibility for a happier life. I really hope so.

That's the thing about life: We all have a story to tell. The trials and tribulations we all have to face unite us in a way.
I will continue to be a student of life for the rest of my life, for many more 10,000 hours to come.
Will I ever master it? Only time will tell.

Tell me: What skill have you mastered? Or what are you working towards?



Monday 23 May 2016

Practice, practice, practice

Due to my (over-)sharing of yoga poses on Instagram and Facebook, I'm becoming known as the yoga girl in my little world. It's a title I'm proud of. While I  haven't yet achieved the zen-like state of mind I'm waiting for, I do feel happier and more at peace since I started my practice last year, 450 days ago. If I estimate an average of half an hour of yoga/day, it's been over 200 hours of yoga. Kinda crazy!

People are telling me now how flexible I am. To that I have to say, bullshit! I was never a very flexible person. When I was 24 I did a fitness assessment at a gym (during the only time I ever joined a gym, which lasted for six months), and the main area I needed to work on was my flexibility. Or lack thereof. I remember I had to sit down, legs stretched out in front of me, and try to touch my toes (classic seated forward bend). I couldn't. My legs seemed endlessly long, the toes far off in the distance. I was convinced I would never be able to reach them. 

Well, invest 200 hours in anything, and you will get better at it! Tenacity is the key. Not giving up. Falling and getting back up again. All that jazz that we tell our kids, and that we give high school graduates on the way to conquer the world, applies to us as well. 
I'm planning on investing many more 200 hours into the practice and into myself, and surprise myself by what this body of mine is capable of.  

It's been a while since I last did a progress report. I tried to find pictures from the first three months of my practice, and compare them to fairly recent ones. There are at least six months between all these poses, proving my favourite hashtag right: #practiceanditwillcome!  

If you click on the links below the pictures, they will direct you to step-by-step directions of how to get into the poses. 

Eight-Angle pose or Astavakrasana

Dancer pose or Natarajasana

Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I (Eka Pada Koundinyasana I)

Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

My new favourite video. I couldn't have planned this, they just all happened to pass through in that moment. Yoga on the farm - priceless!

What are you into that you practice regularly? Knitting, running, cooking, writing? 
Whatever it is, remember: We all start at the bottom. The more time and patience you give it, the better you will get!


Friday 20 May 2016

An ode to mediocrity

I have been mediocre all my life. I am 5'6", with size 8 feet, clothing size S/M, medium brown hair and an overall appearance that doesn't attract attention. 
There was a time during my teens when I tried to change that by dying my hair red and getting my tongue pierced, which of course made me even more mediocre. Not that I knew it at the time - I was smug in my belief that I was a rebel and stood out. Standing out against the boring old people of course - I was desperate to fit in with the people I deemed "cool". If I ever did I will never know - I suspect I was just one of the many, unremarkable enough to disappear in the crowd, never one to stand out. 

I was mediocre in school, always amongst the top 20 (30?)%, never on the bottom, but certainly never on the top.  
Now that I have been blogging for three years, I can see that this trend is not going to change. I have a very small, loyal following (I love you guys!!), and I have been growing - at a snail's pace. 
I have asked myself many times why that is. 

Am I not promoting myself enough? Definitely not, I SUCK at promoting myself.
Am I not analyzing "what works and what doesn't"? Guilty as charged. 
Am I not using my blog strategy correctly? Bahahaha, what blog strategy!?

On second thought, it's no big mystery why I'm staying small. 
If you read blog advice and motivational quotes and career advice, they always tell you that you have to "think big to become big", "dress for the job you want, not the job you have", and to "push your limits and step out of your comfort zone". All sage advice, I'm sure. 

But here is the thing: Being mediocre has its benefits. 
First off, it's pretty stress-free. There are no haters. So far I only had a hater once, but he/she chose to stay anonymous (shocker), and as soon as I disabled the option of commenting as an anonymous person, the hater was gone. It is a sad reality of fame and success that the better known you become, the more creeps will start coming out of the woodworks. They mostly don't bother with small potatoes like myself, and that's a-okay with me.

Another benefit is that you can take a few days off if you feel like it, and don't feel guilty about it. Some people thrive under pressure, but I'm not one of them. As soon as I start putting too many expectations on myself, I get a rash in an unfortunate spot, a sure sign that I'm stressed. That rash is itchy, and it's not in an area that you can scratch in public without causing raised eyebrows. 

I also feel free to mess up on here, make mistakes and contradict myself, sure in the knowledge that few will notice or care.

Mediocrity gives me the mental freedom to try things out, play around with different formats and concepts, and not worry about staying "true to my brand". I don't have a brand. I'm just one of millions of girls who likes to express herself, who wants to find out who she is and what she is all about. 

There are so many blogging rules to follow, mistakes to avoid, times when you are supposed to post on social media, reasons why you have to have Snapchat, need to write a newsletter, give your readers "great content". It's all important if you want to grow and gather thousands of followers, but to me? It's exhausting. And it takes the fun out of it.
I like to sit down whenever the mood strikes me, and write about whatever rattles around in my head that day. Blogging for fun is just that - fun

Wanting to create an online business and become "blog-famous" is something most of us probably dreamed about, and I'm no exception. But I learnt that it's not only a ton of hard work, but also the kind of work I don't like doing. Self-promotion makes me terribly self-conscious, and takes so much time away from what I love doing: Taking pictures, writing little stories and working away on the projects I dream up for myself. 

So I guess I will stay mediocre, and you know what? It feels pretty damn good. 



Thursday 19 May 2016

Bloggers - they are just like us!

They open their trunks!

They fix their pony tail!

They take out their own shopping bags!

They carry their own shopping bags!

They show off their pedis! (Which they did themselves!!)

White tee: Old Navy
Chambray shirt: Old Navy
Sandals: Old Navy*
Sunnies: from Hawaii (similar)
Purse: old, but when you click on this Etsy link you will see lots of unique and fun bags!

*I'm expecting Old Navy to name me their official spokeswoman any day now. Geez! I seem to buy a lot of stuff from them, particularly basics. And shoes. I'm really liking their shoes. Old Navy, if you see this, I'm available!  

If they are really lucky, they have a best friend following them anywhere 

This is a little spoof to the Us-magazine segment Stars - they are just like us!
Because we are all stars! And stars are people just like us, which means we are all them same. Ladies and gentlemen, we just turned a very important corner here. We are all equal!
My job here is done. 

*drops mic*

Also, I would like to direct your attention back to the pictures again for a moment to appreciate the cleanness of my SUV. Let me tell you, it almost never looks like that. A series of fortunate events (hubby having my car washed, no rain=no mud for a while) conspired to make this miracle happen. 
And in true Miriam-fashion, it is now documented for all eternity. 

This is the kind of outfit I wear on a regular basis when I'm running errands. I do like to make a teeny bit of an effort, a) in hopes of getting another compliment, and b) because not only do I wear scrubs and farm clothes every day, but now yoga pants are making a daily appearance. I do like to put on "real" clothes at least a couple times a week, and sadly, running errands is sometimes the only opportunity I get in a week (cue: sad little violin playing). Ha! I'm kidding! (not really)

Anyway! If you'd like to recreate my amazingly inspired outfit, here are a few choices for ya!


Wednesday 18 May 2016

Good things come in fives

Some days are so magical and special, they make you want to weep with joy. Your heart is full to bursting with happiness and gratitude to a point that it's actually exhausting.
Yesterday was such a day.

In the morning, I picked up my furry grandchild Roxanne, who came with a surprise goodie bag containing sour candy, chocolate and iced tea and a sweet note from one of my daughters (thank you again, it was much appreciated!).
We were going to spend the day with another one of the girls on Bowen Island, a small, beautiful island 20 minutes away from the mainland.

Is there anything better than seeing a loved one having found her place in the world? Seeing her healthy, happy, and full of appreciation for the life she has created for herself?

There is no better feeling in the world.

My beautiful mermaid-haired daughter has found her island, and she shared it with me yesterday.
We explored, ate, went for a hike, watched sea lions, visited her dogs (she works at a dog ranch, caring for dogs all day long; basically my dream job), and talked for hours. Seeing her so happy and at peace was absolutely beautiful to see. I caught myself several times just staring at her, marvelling at the woman she has become. She may not be my biological daughter, but I love her just the same.
Step-parent or "real" parent makes no difference when it comes to this: All we want for our kids is for them to be happy, healthy and safe. And she is all three of these things.

Bowen has a definite small-town feel to it. Wherever she went, people would greet her by name, and stop for a chat. Everybody wanted to know who I was and welcomed me warmly.

It's how Richard grew up, minus the hospitality extended towards strangers. Germans are much more reserved and suspicions of outsiders. Such a fun twist of fate that his daughter chose the same kind of small town life for herself, but friendlier.

Before I boarded the ferry for the trip back to my own happily-ever-after, her boyfriend took us out for dinner. Having kids and son-in-laws that are old enough to take you out will never get old for me. I love it!  
I made a little video, but I basically left out all the good stuff. My video-taking skills have a LOT of room for improvement haha! But it serves as a reminder of this magnificent day, and that's really all that counts. 

That was good thing number one. 
The other good things happened after: A much-anticipated (and delayed) cheque we really need right now finally arrived yesterday. I let out a whoop of joy when I saw it in our mailbox. 
I also found a surprise package in there from my sister. It contained a magazine and the sweetest handwritten letter from my 10-year old god-daughter. In my emotional state, it brought tears to my eyes. As much as I love living where I do, being so far away from them sucks sometimes. 

Good things four & five also came from other people: A really sweet note from a co-worker/friend who is such a wonderful person - cheerful, fun and kind.
And then this comment on my Tips for your yoga home practice  post:
"Some weeks ago, when I was new to your blog, I left a comment and you responded with this sentence: I hope I can continue to inspire and entertain. Truly, girl, you do, every day. Thanks to you I’m back in my home yoga practice, 30 minutes every other day. Following you on IG and seeing your amazing pictures and poses (seriously, what are they feeding you to get arm muscles like that?) has helped me along the way yoga-wise, and the insightful musings on the meaning of life give me peace of mind. Thank you for being here in this space and sharing your journey with us."

I am woefully unequipped to express my appreciation and gratitude for these kind words.
All I can say is that I am beyond touched, deeply humbled and so happy to share with other people the beauty of yoga and life.  

Believe in the goodness of life, and life will deliver.
Yesterday was a marvel, a day I will never forget. 

Thank you all for making my life so happy!



Monday 16 May 2016

Just popping in

Just poppy'n in - get it?
I'm cracking myself up here.

You are meant to be reading a post about "What prostates have taught me". Which is a LOT.  Alas, I got side-tracked last night by Chinese food with friends, so you can look forward to that post tomorrow. I am building suspense here. It will be a spectacular post! Life-changing!! You don't wanna miss in!!!

In the meantime, why don't you take a look at my new and improved New reader? Start here! page.
I made a button for it and everything: 

It's supposed to give new readers an idea what this blog is all about. Which is a question I ask myself regularly, because sometimes I barely know myself. But after some reflection I am back on track, and can reveal the grand purpose of this here blog:

***drumroll, please***

Figuring out life. 

There you have it. The topic I love to talk about more than anything in the world is life. How to live a happy life, how to find one's purpose, how some people seem to squeeze out every last drop of life, while others simply exist. How to be in the former camp, and not the latter.
I want to sit on my porch in about 50 years, look back at my life, and be able to say to myself:
"I lived the hell out of life. I did good."

That's my blog in a nutshell: Figuring out life, one blog post at a time. 

What about yours?


Friday 13 May 2016

Scroll and stop

Today I am participating in a fun challenge that my creative blog friend Liz came up with: Scroll and stop
It's super-easy, and a fun little walk down memory lane: 

// Open the camera roll on your phone.

// Start scrolling, and randomly put your finger down.

// Whatever photo you landed on, choose it! I took a screen shot of it, and then kept going. 

// Repeat as often as you want! I chose 10 photos. 

// Visit Liz and leave a comment sharing your post, so she can check it out. And please do the same here! We both LOVE photography. 

Most surprising revelation of this quick challenge: It's not all yoga photos! I do actually take pictures of other stuff as well. 
Most unsurprising fact: There are a LOT of photos of Lily, the Corgi. And the other dogs. 
Okay, here we go!

That's how Lily sleeps when she is reeeaaally relaxed. I take pictures of her on a daily basis. You could say that I'm besotted with this dog. 

I took this photo on a recent walk with the Corgi. There is no filter on it! I simply love my Samsung S6 camera. 

You guys probably can't fully appreciate how much this photo means to me. First, meeting my hero Kino MacGregor was a dream come true. Secondly, going up to her and asking for a picture took an almost superhuman effort. I'm the kind of person who is too afraid to do this sort of thing, slinking away and then regretting it for the rest of her life. But, not this time! And I'm so, so grateful for it. I want to remember this moment of bravery forever, so I can be brave again next time. 

A peaceful evening spent under the willow tree. There have been many since this one, and there will be so many more! It's my favourite spot in the world.

I love taking pictures when I'm on dogwalks. This is one of the literally hundreds that are on my phone. 


Ha! This one cracked me up. I took a selfie with Miss Phoebe, and inadvertently a crotch shot of Rich, who is picking his nose. I really wanted to post it as is, but children might see it. I don't want to scar them for life haha!

A photo of our beautiful cruise.

And another one (I didn't scroll very far, it seems).

At last, a yoga photo! This is from the beginning of the year, February maybe? I remember that it was cold, but that I simply HAD to get out in nature. I'm a true nature girl at heart.

Wanna give this quick challenge a try?

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