September 25, 2006

Sunny Monday

Ahhhh, I love my days off! Monday being the nicest of them all!
The busyness of Sunday is over, I can sleep in and enjoy my day.
However, after my slightly unsuccessful and boring Saturday, I figured it was best to get up and get moving...after I slept in a bit of course.
So I check some e-mail, watched the latest episode of the lonelygirl15 saga on Youtube (highly entertaining), watched last night's Family Guy that I downloaded, downed a quick strawberry and yoghurt smoothy and finally headed off to my 30-minute workout at Curves. Yay me! I got out of the house! I hadn't been to Curves since July so I was a bit rusty but I remembered how to use all the machines and got my weight and measurements taken again. I wasn't drastically different from my last visit in July (Phewph!) and I'd even improved a bit. I then came home and mowed my lawn to get rid of all the yellow weeds that have been sprouting up, that was a workout in itself!
In case I haven't said anything in any previous posts, I've decided to change my life. No, I didn't join some weird cult or decided to pursure an alternate lifestyle, no way....I just decided that I am not happy about the way I look and feel, so I'd better do something about it. I'm not on a "diet", not at all. I'm simply and radically changing the way I eat and enjoy food. It's not like I hate vegetables or fruit or anything healthy, in fact, I really love fresh foods that are healthy for me. It's just that I enjoy everything too much! And once I got into the habit of enjoying delicious foods that were not so good for my already unhealthy body, I didn't choose healthy foods, I made poor choices. I mean, if a person doesn't mind extra weight and doesn't care that they can't go hiking with friends then honestly, good for you, great! Enjoy life and enjoy the no-so-healthy foods! I was just at a point where I wanted to be able to keep up if I ever went hiking and I want to feel better about the way I look. So my choice came easy: change the way your eat and exercise! I still eat well and I'm really loving all the yummy foods I'm picking out, I just have to consciously make the effort to choose foods that will help me have energy, help me trim down and help me become more healthy.
And going back to Curves was an important step today. I joined with my mom sevferal months ago, but after her back got worse she couldn't go any longer, so it was just me on my own, which is a lot harder to do. I just didn't seem to make the time anymore, even though my schedule was the same. So now I'm going back and I'm going to try and go 3 times a week to get my Curve buck so I can work towards buying a shirt I saw in Curves today. (You get 1 Curve buck for every week you go 3 times. And the shirts they have range from $25-30 Curve bucks.)
Anyway, I've had a lovely shower, threw in some laundry and now I'm headed voer to my parents house to have dinner.
Buh-bye for now!

September 23, 2006

Saturday outdoors exporation

SO today started with the blahs, and if you don't know what that means, just think of your most boring day and compound that with the fact that none of your friends are around, no family, your pets are mellow, your house is projects to do nothing interesting on the horizon....that, my friend is "the blahs".
Anyway, my day began with a dismal case of the blahs but finally I decided to pull myself out of the malaise and DO something. So I hopped into my car, grabbed Sophie, my dog, and took off for drive. (Sophie quickly turned from sleepy to utterly ecstatic at the mention of walk and car ride!) Our journey took us to Dallas Road where we had a lovely walk in the sunlit evening. We met other dogs and their people, sniffed noses and butts (Sophie, of course), and generally enjoyed the fresh air. After about an hour we got back in the car and drove. We drove, and drove and drove some more. Along the scenic roads, looked at the expensive neighborhoods, and even started driving through the farming communities on the Peninsula. Our drive ended at a place I hadn't been since September of grade 11 - Island View Beach. Wow! What a lovely place to walk along the shore and enjoy a sunset over Mt. Baker in the distance! Simply gorgeous! Sophie and took a quick walk along the grass then, as darkness was setting in, got back to the car and headed home.
Now I'm off to watch some movies with a friend who called along our drive.
So, the moral of this story is: Lazy, malaisey days can turn out lovely if you just get off your duff and DO something.


September 21, 2006

"Little Miss Sunshine" - a Big Emotional Hit

On Tuesday, September 19th I ventured over to a downtown theatre with a friend to watch the film that festivals are raving about called "Little Miss Sunshine". We arrived a little late, disappointingly missing the previews but we sat down just as the film began. The theatre was an odd corner shape, moderately full, mostly of middle-aged and older patrons. We picked decent seats near the front but mid-screen level and sat back to see what the interesting cast and plot would give us.

Since I have been known to enjoy a very eclectic and wide variety of movies and genres, so it may sound uneventful when I proclaim that "Little Miss Sunshine" is one of the best films I have seen in a very long time. I truly enjoyed the mixed ensemble cast, the realistic portrayal of their everyday mediocre lives and the way this family behaved together both in and out of trauma and duress.
Greg Kinear is excellent in his role as a father seeking to sell his 9-step motivational ideas on being a winner, yet falling short when his own children and wife need his support whether they win or lose.
Toni Collette is also exceptional as a busy, flustered mother, exasperated by her husbands failing project yet we see her loving nurturing side when she bring home her scholar brother after a botched suicide attempt. She is the many-handed driving force holding this family together as she, juggles her husband, brother, her Neiche-devoted and silent teenaged son, her innocent six-year old daughter who aspires to be the next Miss USA, as well as her socially blunt and crude father-in-law. Collette's character shines as she helps her daughter pursue her beauty pageant dream without becoming an overbearing and psychotic stage-mother, preening her child into one of the unnervingly fake child beauty contestants. She simply wants her daughter to be herself and follow her dream despite the odds stacked against her.

The youngest cast member of this piece, Abigail Breslin, plays the oddly cute and extremely innocent daughter who, after an inadvertent runner-up win at her cousins beauty pageant, makes it to the regional finals of the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Los Angeles. He little life is consumed with this new passion and every moment is spent rehearsing with the help of "moves" from her crass but loving grandfather. Breslin is oddly magnetic, attracting the view to her wonderful bright eyes and her young and unbiased perspective on the harsh, critical world around her.

As one of my favourite actors from the television show "The Office" and movies like "Bruce Almighty" and "The 40-Year Old Virgin" Steve Carell creates a new side to his usual annoying, predicable characters. His role as a suicidal scholar who loses his job after a love interest in one of his graduate students goes afoul added a lovely sarcastic echo to the theme of this dysfunctional family. At first Carell's character feels out of place, the country's number one Proust scholar, the head of his field, by all rights a "winner", yet when his personal world collapses around him, taking even his will to live and landing him in his sister's home sleeping on a cot in his nephew's room we truly see that his life meshes so perfectly with the winning and losing motif played out in all the family member's lives.

The most striking character and the one that affected me in a deep emotional way was the role Paul Dano plays of the teenage son and his quest for his hellish teen years to be over so he can finally pursue his dream of becoming a jet pilot. Despite the fact that the son has taken a vow of silence until he reaches that dream, Dano manages to portray such a rich, complex and troubled teen without a word spoken. He frequently and vehemently pulls out a notepad and sharpie to convey quick snippets of conversation to which his family quiets and waits to read. Later on in the film as we see a possible inadvertent wrench thrown into his plans his anger, fear and pain wrap the view so totally in emotions that we cannot help but mourn with him. He is also endearing in unexpected moments as his little sister's protector and friend. The two siblings seem to communicate without the need for words even though there is a large age-gap between them. Dano is exquisite in this film, from his dark, lanky teen look to the silent refusals to cooperate and subtle facial expressions. His character embodies the loss of innocence more than the beauty pageant experience does for Breslin as daughter. The self-disciplined, driven teen must come to terms with a huge disappointment, and possibly a loss of his dream after a moment of revelation that almost sends him into a downward spiral similar to his uncle's recent loss. Yet the teen, in a conversation with his uncle played by Carell, must realize that his life's struggles are the times when he learns the most about himself and his world and despite those struggles he can choose to give up or persevere.

The daughter's beauty pageant experience ends up being more of a strengthening and bonding moment for the family rather than a time of lost innocence for little Olive. Though a little unsure of her place in the pageant, she simply does not see the critics and fakery that the world judges us with, instead she is wonderfully confident in her quirky personality and brings her family along side her to help realize they are winners in any situation if they simply choose to be winners.

"Little Miss Sunshine" had me laughing, gasping, howling, chuckling, smiling and even shedding a few tears in one place. The film is a delightful look into an strange yet ordinary family on a road trip to take their little daughter to a pageant. Through their moments of failure and their small personal triumphs, we learn a little more about what it really means to win or lose and how we look at the struggles we go through to get to that finish line.

Growing Up and Sow's Ears

I think some children's author said once that growing up is hard to do.
I concur heartily.
There are certain times in one's life when you stop, blink your eyes a few times and think, "Whoa! I really need to grow up!".

Those moments, those epiphanies are times that I wish I could hang on to whenever I slip back into my childish ways or my foolish ideas of settling for less than I deserve. 

For some strange reason I tend to take the back seat when it comes to hoping for the best and I know that affects my decision, my behaviors and my entire outlook on life. 
And I'm not necessarily talking about spiritual hope, because I know true hope for our lives comes from God and whenever we need it He will give it to us. 
I'm talking now about basic everyday hope. Hoping for the best, hoping for good things to happen, hoping for life to get a little less bumpy soon.

The way my brain has somehow twisted hope is to only hope for the mediocre, the middle of the road, the okay, the so-so. 
On a spiritual level I may trust God to give me hope for a good life, happy times, good health et cetera, yet on a more basic, rudimentary level for some reason I only hope for an okay job or semi-decent lifestyle, just enough to eek by in life, at least an okay marriage and I'll make the best of it.
I know that most people do "make the best of it" whether that is in their job, marriage, home life or otherwise, and I know I will have to "make the best of it" many, many times in my own life, BUT I don't think I should have to look forward to mediocre, making the best of it forever in everything I do. 
I don't think I will have to deal with the short straw all my life, in every area. 

I need to hang onto the hope that sometimes I'll be better than second fiddle, that once in a while I will shine or I will be able to delight in the best of something instead of fooling myself into thinking that my less-than-best is best.

Basically, I need to grow-up and realize that I am meant for more than the proverbial sow's ear! (You know the saying, making a silk purse....) 
I do not have to settle, to sit back and grasp the lameness that I think is all I will get. 

I know there is more, there is better. 

As my pal Stuart Smalley once said, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!"