Taking on 2013 and hoping to revitalize my life

Archive for the ‘Out of My Shell’ Category

Adventure is Coming My Way!

I’m uber excited!!! Adventure is coming my way! During the last few days, I decided to take my kids on a road trip to see Katy Perry this summer and my boss asked me if I want to go to Vancouver next month!!

I know, can you believe it?

The road trip was kind of a spur of the moment idea and will cost big bucks but the 3 of us will have an A-MAZING time. I was actually considering not going when I discussed it with Sven and he said I should definitely do it.

I thought he would be all practical and say it was a lot of money, but what he said was, “Do it, you won’t regret it.” And I’m quite sure that I won’t regret it. Plus, it will be so exciting and it will make an awesome memory so I put down a deposit and we are doing it!!!

vancouverThe day after that, my boss asked me if I wanted to go to a conference in Vancouver. First of all, I’ll be working a booth and forced to network which I hate,but the conference is definitely going to interesting and I`ll be exposed to a different culture, plus I get to go to Vancouver and I have never been before! I’m so excited about going that even the thought of exploring Vancouver by myself has not got me down. I’m going to bring my camera, take some pictures and just enjoy.

I have been itching to go somewhere for ages and this trip to Vancouver falls on a week that I can actually go and leave the kids with their Dad. And it will be Springtime and there’ll be mountains and the Pacific ocean and flowers and grass. I am all over that! Can you tell I’m excited?

I was hoping for travel adventures with other people but that plan fell through so I’m just going to suck it up and have my own adventure! And then have another one with my kids. Adventures are good for the soul so I’m glad that I have grabbed both opportunities.

I think there are always the possibilities of adventures, you just have to agree to take part in them. I’m really excited that I said YES!


Data Entry, Not Just for Volunteers

On an impulse I signed up to do some volunteering. It’s nothing very exciting, just some data entry, but it got me out of the house yesterday for a few hours. I am helping the Conservation Council compile the water access spots in the province. Basically it is taking some information out of binders and putting it into a spreadsheet. It will take several days to get it all done so perhaps this is the right kind of positive energy to put out there to get me a paying job.

The great thing about volunteering is there is no interview process. They don’t even care what your skills are. You just say you can do something, they assume that you are telling the truth, then they put you to work. Simple. It’s kind of refreshing actually after the multitude of interviews that I have been on. There is someone out there who assumes I am a good fit and can do the work.

I know, I know. This is not a full-time job so they don`t have to determine if I would fit in for more than a few days or weeks but I do think the whole interview process could be better than it is.

As for the volunteering, I could have picked something more fun to do than data entry, but the Conservation Council interests me so I thought I`d give it a try.

Making Old Friends New Again – the Results

friendsI came up with a simple plan about a month ago to re-connect with some friends I have not been in touch with recently. The concept was to have a lunch, coffee or drink date with 4 different people over a period of 4 weeks.

In theory that sounds pretty easy but once you throw work, vacations and just general scheduling into the mix it becomes trickier. After a few cancellations and some creativity I managed to meet 4 of my friends in a slightly over 4 week time frame. I also have 2 outstanding invitations which I plan to follow-up on later.

The first meeting was lunch. The woman I met was more of an acquaintance than friend so I had great hopes. I always thought we might hit it off if we had the time to chat, I don’t think I’ve found my new best friend but I’m still really glad I made the effort to connect with her.

The next lunch was with a friend that I meet sporadically. We met about 14 years ago at school and we reconnected again about 3 years ago when we came across each other in the realm of online dating. He has asked me out but I’ve always put him off as I think we are much better friends than we ever would be in any type of intimate relationship. I always enjoy getting together with him though because he is the perfect person to share dating ‘war’ stories with. He seems to attract a multitude of  crazy women and often has great stories to tell.

The third meet-up was at a wedding, I admit, I cheated on this one. I didn’t invite this friend but I knew she was going to be there and I knew we would hang out. We used to work together in the same office and sat right next to each other. We got to be pretty good friends during that time. She moved out of the city to be with her boyfriend so as time passed our chats grew less and less frequent. It was so great to see her at the wedding. She’s always smiling and so fun to be around, I really enjoyed seeing her again. I was glad we got the chance to catch up a bit. (If you’re reading this Jess, I just want to say that I miss you and was so happy to see you at the wedding :).)

The fourth meeting was yesterday at a coffee shop. I have this awesome friend who lives an hour away from me so it’s not that easy for us to connect. I had an interview yesterday near where she works and she was able to get away for an hour for us to chat. It was so nice to catch up. I always wished we lived closer so we could hang out more. She’s funny, talkative and a bit crazy – just the way I like my friends. We went to a Metallica concert together a few years ago, it’s definitely not my genre of music but I figured if I was going to be there I was going to be up front. The two of us wormed our way to almost the front (using the excuse that anyone tall could see over our heads) and we had a blast. I even caught a couple of the guitar picks they threw out to the crowd at the end of the show.

So how would I rate my little experiment? It was a definite success. I really enjoyed re-connecting with these people. And like I said, I have a couple more on my list that we tried to meet up and couldn’t make it happen within this time frame but there’s always next month.

If you have some old friends that you haven’t seen in quite a while then reach out to them and make it happen. Old friends are good friends and you’ll be glad to talk about life, listen to future plans or reminisce about past adventures. It’s worth it!

Making Old Friends New Again (or the revised Great Social Experiment)

friendsI just finished reading an article called Making Friends at 40. I thought it was interesting that the author said that making friends is a process. Isn’t it funny how friends just happened when you were younger, but after you reach a certain age, you have to come up with “a plan” to make new friends?

The author explained how she tried some of the standard techniques for making grown-up friends, like joining clubs where you and the others have common interests. However, she ran into problems when they were existing groups and not so accepting of new people. (Apparently those folks had no need for new friends and weren’t accepting applications :P)

She also talked about how she felt like she might have been trying too hard and that she was too focused on her desire to connect instead of just getting to know someone. I think that this is a valid point and can hinder your well laid-out plans. Sometimes in our quiet desperation to quell the loneliness, we can come across too strong and perhaps make the whole situation awkward.

The point of all this is that I have been feeling guilty about not moving forward with my Great Social Experiment plan. I haven’t forgotten about it, but I really think that although it felt like a good idea at the time, after much consideration I’m quite sure that the whole thing would make me more than just a little uncomfortable. So I have come up with a variation. The new idea struck me today when I chatted with a Facebook friend of mine for a minute and now we have lunch plans for next week.

Basically, my plan for the next month is to reach out to one of my Facebook “friends” per week and make plans to meet them in real life. As you all know, many of your friends on Facebook can be more like acquaintances and less like actual friends, I mean seriously, who has over 1000 real friends? (I have over 250 FB friends and sometimes that feels a little unrealistic.)

But back to the plan… it’s really very simple.  I have a few friends that I have lost touch with, other than stalking their lives on FB, plus I have some friends that it always felt like there was more potential there but we just never found the time. So I will reach out to one person a week for the next 4 weeks, including the one I already have plans with this week, and see if I can set up a coffee date with them, or lunch or even a drink.

I wanted more meaningful relationships this year, so this seems like a good way to try to deepen some relationships I already have without going out and harassing strangers at the local coffee shop, lol.

Potluck Planning

potluckMy Revitalizing Me plan for this year involves creating more meaningful relationships, so with this goal in mind I organized a potluck.

I invited a bunch of girlfriend’s over to eat, drink and be merry… and that plan was all fine and dandy when it was two months away, or even two weeks away, but now it is this weekend! There is no more procrastinating, I need to come up with an actual plan and get ready and I only have 5 days to do it!

I’m quite sure I will be running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off all week as I begin the pre-panic phase of this endeavour. Top of my to-do list is clean the house (have I mentioned before that I am a bad housekeeper?). I should probably start on this task immediately as my house always looks like a small tornado just passed through moments ago.

Next, I need to figure out what a good hostess has on hand at one of these things. The only time I have a large group of people at my house is for an annual family gathering and since they are family they don’t care if I have to run out and pick something up mid-get-together. I would prefer not to leave my house mid-potluck though as there is the possibility that I could be drinking extensively :). Perhaps extensive drinking should be my whole plan and then I won’t care when my friends realize I can’t even organize a small potluck.

I will have to have my own dish for the potluck… chilli and store-bought rolls seem like an easy option. They fill the requirements of being filling in case all the guests bring booze and no food but they also have the possible side-effect of flatulence. How does one weigh the pros and cons of satisfied farting guests with hungry non-smelly guests? Maybe I should think on that one…

I will need to have some booze and non-alcoholic beverages available as well. It’s BYOB but a good hostess should have some drinks on hand… which brings me to coffee. I don’t drink coffee so I don’t own a coffee maker or coffee supplies. Do you think I should borrow a coffee maker or just send the designated driver on a Timmie’s run if someone needs caffeine?

I’m sure my friends will be gracious and everything will be fine, however, some of these women don’t know each other. Are ice breakers required? Or some attempt to make the evening entertaining other than just hanging out? I have some cards and board games or maybe we could have an air hockey tournament. Do people still play charades or some form of Win, Lose or Draw? Please post your entertainment option in the comments below, they can’t be any worse than my ideas.

In theory, I’ll manage to get everything organized in time and it will be a raving success, however, on the opposite side of that coin, I could end up with a group of gas-filled, drunk women who are singing off-key 80’s love songs in a Rock Band induced haze. Actually, that doesn’t sound too far from success :), wish me luck!!

The Great Social Experiment On Hold

This is a follow-up post to The Great Social Experiment Part 1. There was a reason I posted the first part online quickly before I thought about it too much, I guess I know myself well as I have since thought about it and really don’t want to do it, lol. Introverts do not want to go out and randomly meet people and ask them questions, at least this introvert doesn’t. However, part of the problem is that there are days when I wish I wasn’t an introvert…. you can see my dilemma.

Maybe part of the reason I have less motivation to conduct this experiment is that March is full of socializing for me. I went out both Friday and Saturday of this past weekend and I have plans for Friday and Saturday night of the next two weekends. March is a good social month for me apparently. But what about April when I am back to hanging out by myself on the weekends?

I probably shouldn’t do this but I am going to put this whole experiment on hold for now. Once the busy month of March is over I will revisit the idea. I still think it has merit, I like the idea of connecting with people. We are meant to be social beings. Perhaps I will make some adjustments to it and do it for one week, or with one stranger instead of 30. I don’t know.

I know it seems like I am chickening out but I am not shelving this project altogether, just putting it aside for a couple of weeks. I’m still moving forward with things, just not this particular item at the moment.

The Great Social Experiment Part 1

So as I sit home alone on yet another Saturday night an interesting thought pops into my head. What if I went out and met some people? Now for those of you with a somewhat outgoing personality that seems like no big feat, but for me, the thought of putting myself out there to engage in small talk with strangers is about as inviting as having tea with a pack of rabid wolves.

I briefly entertained the idea of heading to the local grocery store and saying hi to someone or heading to the local pub and ordering a drink at the bar and hoping that someone would come and talk to me. Both ideas filled me with dread. So I continued to sit on my couch and think sullen thoughts about being alone.

I know I am on this self-improvement kick right now. Some days it works better than others and some days I wish I wasn’t home by myself yet again. I’ve always wished I was a more outgoing person and good at small talk and yet I feel like I am becoming more anti-social and introverted as I get older. I find it difficult to “connect” with people. I wouldn’t say that I am socially awkward but I would say that I prefer a small get together with a few friends over a party filled with strangers any day.

As you can see, I am facing a challenge:

  • how do I stop spending all my evenings by myself when my kids aren’t here?
  • how do I create a larger group of friends to hang out with, esp some single friends that are not doing couple or family things?
  • how do I create more meaningful relationships?
  • how do I get comfortable talking to strangers?

As I sat on the couch, an idea started that made me a little panicky but also made me think I really need to kick this Revitalize Me project in the butt and get it moving. I need to push myself if I am going to change my life and there is no time like the present. The basic idea is to conduct a little social experiment and see what happens. I’m still sketching out the plan but I think it will look something like this…

Gwen’s One Month Social Challenge:

  • Go out and physically meet at least one person/ day for a month.
  • Have a list of potential topics to discuss.
  • Finish off the conversation with a photo of the two of you if they agree.
  • Exchange contact information (if possible), e.g. Twitter handle, email or phone number and send them a follow-up note the next day, plus another one a week later.

I think some of my inspiration for this experiment came from this video I watched recently. I LOVED it so much.

This video made me wish that I was the person who had come up with this idea or if nothing else it made me wish that I was the person who climbed into the ball pit and met someone. So since I don’t have my own portable ball pit, I’m just going to steal the basic concept and a few of the conversation topics for my social challenge (I’ve also added a couple of others).

  • share 3 things on your bucket list
  • what is the one thing that you are most thankful for?
  • share something about you that is quirky, unique or a special talent
  • talk about someone who inspires you
  • talk about one experience that changed your life
  • what would you change about the world if you could change anything?

This is a big project for me. I won’t be starting it tomorrow as I want to throw around a few more ideas first but I wanted to post about it right away before I over-thought things and talked myself out of it. Like I said, the whole thing makes me a little scared just thinking about it, but life is about taking risks and I think this sounds like something I can handle and will hopefully be a positive experience. Stay tuned, I will keep you updated on my plans.


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