Category Archives: The BIG 30 Project

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The BIG 30 Project #18: Swim with Sting Rays

Maybe it’s because my Mum took me into a lake for the first time at roughly 9 months old, maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces, maybe it’s because the movie of my birth year was The Little Mermaid, but I have always been a big fan of water.

More than that, I’ve always been curious about what’s underneath the water.

My childhood is full of memories of swimming, pretending to be mermaids with my cousin, and gleefully using goggles to look at the bottom of the lake. As a kid, I was fascinated by the Titanic and shipwrecks in general. For a while when I was a kid, ALL I wanted was to go to Marineland (note that I no longer want that now that I understand the needs and conditions the animals live in).

Given my propensity for all things underwater, you would THINK that I would have been to an aquarium before the age of 28.

You would be wrong.

Growing up inland with no aquarium closer than 3 hours away, I didn’t really have the opportunity to go to one and as I got older, I kind of forgot my childhood passion about seeing one.

When I started to put together ideas for what I wanted to do on the The BIG 20 Project, I immediately knew I would like to swim with sharks.

Of course, I also immediately knew that I don’t have a scuba licence or equipment and that those things were kind of necessary. When it was announced that Ripley’s Aquarium was going to start letting people swim with sharks, I was very excited and immediately added it to the list.

After looking into it, I realized that I would still need a scuba certification first and while that is on my overall bucket list of things I would like to do in this lifetime, I don’t really have the time or money to dedicate to it right this second.

However, it was while looking into swimming with the sharks that I found out you could also swim with sting rays- no scuba certification required.


I looked forward to the experience from the moment it was booked, but I was pretty sure we probably wouldn’t get that much time in the water or that much time at all given the reasonably low price the entire experience cost.


Not only was our admission to the aquarium covered, we got a behind the scenes tour, a free towel and totebagggy backpack thing (that I literally use every day to bring my lunch to work), a really decent amount of time petting the sting rays and snorkelling with them, and a USB with photos and video of the day.

All of that was less than $150 per person, by the way. I know I sound like a freaking infomercial, but it was an amazing experience, the staff are all majestic and magical wizards, and I would HIGHLY recommend anyone do this.

We arrived at the aquarium in time to go through the displays with friends of ours before our swim time with the rays and in retrospect, this was a genius idea because it meant that when we then did our behind the scenes tour, we would have some context to put the new side of the aquarium into.

There were a lot of things about the tour I really liked but my favourite fact was that the aquarium has a kitchen were restaurant grade produce is prepared for some of the fish (all of whom have food diaries and their own distinct menus).

I just like the idea that the fish have their own personal chefs.

After our tour, it was time to suit up.

With our names written on a dry erase board on the door to a whimsically nautical dressing room where lockers had our names on them with wetsuits waiting, we felt like VIPs.

This was a feeling didn’t diminish when we walked out into the ray bay area in front of a hundred or so curious tourists but the feeling did vanish the second we got to meet the rays because how can you feel like a VIP when you’re too busy being lovingly swarmed and butt patted by a whole bunch of flappy water babies?

Now, obviously, I’m not saying you should hang out with wild rays and expect them to be this sweet, but these sting rays were the sweetest little derp pancakes I have ever met in my life.

As our guide (and let’s be honest, supervisor) told us some ray facts and fed bits of squid to the enthusiastic flappy-flappers, I found myself overwhelmed in the best possible way.

The most prevalent species of ray in the bay were cownose rays, roughly the size of a car tire, and expecting delicious treats, they swarmed around us and up into our laps as we knelt in the sand. This in itself was overwhelming, but I was also amused as hell that an eagle ray (think the teaching ray in Finding Nemo) kept swatting my butt as it floated past hoping for a morsel of what the cownose rays were getting.

We were allowed to pet the rays and I found myself talking to them the same way I talk to my dog. They were so silky smooth and soft but acted like such derpy pancakes that it just reminded you of puppies before they know how to dog.

When it came time to snorkel with them, we moved to the edge of the bay where a deep glass grotto allows the rays access to larger areas of the tanks. Below were more than just rays, there were all kinds of different fish and though I know at least one was a kind of shark it was not the kind of shark I’m sure you’re thinking of.

Hanging on to the edge of the bay, looking down at the 20 or 30 feet below, I felt like I was on top of the building I had rappelled down all over again and when I first put my face in the water and swam out over the depths, my brain had a brief moment of vertigo where it went “WE ARE GONNA FALL, DUMMY” before I remembered that I was in water and thus obviously wasn’t going to plummet to the depths.

I can’t honestly tell you how long I swam there, leisurely making circles around the surface and watching the marine life underneath. It felt like ages and it was so completely and utterly relaxing that I would have happily stayed there the rest of the day.

It made me feel at peace and connected in a way that I can’t really put into words and there was something about swimming with these amazing creatures in a shared environment that felt, for lack of a better word and at the risk of sounding really corny, right.

I am not a person who is particularly good at letting themselves feel things. I’m working on it, but most especially I am not good at admitting my feelings or showing them accurately. It is tough for me to put my guard down enough that you can really see me be purely whatever it is I am feeling.

The pictures and the video from this day are especially precious to me not just because of the experience that day but because you can actually see the pure childlike joy on my face.

I don’t often look at my own face and recognize the insanely happy toddler I was somewhere in there. I look at this photo below and that is ALL I see.


May you all find something that makes you toddler-level happy.


The BIG 30 Project #17: Rappel Down a 20 Storey Building

“I changed my mind, I don’t wanna do this anymore, and I want my Mum.”

Those are the immediate thoughts I had as my body harness was being attached to the rope I would use to rappel down a 20 storey building.

Let me back up a bit.

Easter Seals holds an annual fundraiser, called Drop Zone, which asks folks to raise money for the charity in exchange for the opportunity to rappel down a building. Superhero costumes, while not mandatory, are highly encouraged.

I’ve always been tempted to sign up for the event but every year I found a reason not to. These reasons were generally bullshit about me being uncomfortable either with asking folks to donate to the charity in the first place or some version of me being afraid that once I got up to the top of the building, I would panic and bail.

These reasons, I had come to realize, were nonsense. Worst case scenario, I raised money for charity but just not enough to do the thing (to participate you must raise a minimum of $1,500) and really that wasn’t such a bad outcome- money for charity is good even if it isn’t as much as you’d like, right?

So, I registered and asked for support from all of my friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else I happened to be speaking to.

If I’m honest, I really didn’t know if I would raise enough. I had my doubts but was surprised by the support and generosity of those in my life.

Donations came in from folks I didn’t even expect to donate when I was talking to them (my amazing massage therapist for one; Hi Jennifer!) and I ended up meeting my goal.

The period between meeting my goal and the practice run was a time of pure excitement, it wasn’t until I did the practice run that I started to worry.

The Sunday before I was slotted to rappel, I went to the location to have my brief moment of rappel training and to go down the side of a small truck to show that I could do it. My folks happened to be in town and since they couldn’t come to watch me do the real deal, they stayed to watch me do my test run and take a look at the building I would be coming down.

Now, I don’t know if they could sense the pure panic I felt leaning off the truck to start my mini rappel, but I was so freaked I could TASTE it.

I think it was part excitement and part shock that this was really going to happen. As I listened to the trainer and started putting on the equipment, I could feel my heart racing.

In an effort to fake it until I made it, I was all excitement on the outside but internally I was starting to worry. Walking away from the site with my folks, I had the very real concern that maybe I couldn’t do this.

That being said, if there is one thing that doing all of these random things for my 30 list has taught me, it’s that I underestimate myself a lot. I reminded myself of all the other things I had done and that all I could do was try and if I freaked, it was fine.

The day of the rappel, I was a bundle of excited nerves. Walking to the site, I listened to the most empowering Florence + The Machine playlist I had and told myself I was living in the Marvel universe…which is slightly ironic given I was dressed as a DC character but let’s not even get into how hard it was for me to get a costume together at all.

I arrived on site with friends and gave them my phone to take documentation, checked myself in, and then headed up to the roof.

20 storeys is higher up than I had really thought it would be.

From the roof, I could see my city in a way I’ve never seen the downtown core before. It was truly beautiful and yet seeing how far up above the downtown Ottawa core I was, I started to worry.

I could see over and above Parliament, the river between Gatineau shone in the early morning light until fog from the Quebec side slowly enveloped the majority of the downtown core. Watching the fog roll in was beautiful but also more than a little intimidating, especially as in the 40 or so minutes I stood on the rooftop waiting for my turn, I heard the city slowly start to make some noise.

When it was my turn, I put down my mask, joked with the staff, and took a brief moment as I stood on the edge of the building with my back facing the open air and the 20 storey drop, to just go ahead and feel the panic in the split second before I took a deep breath and leaned back.


I’m the one on the right. 

At first, I had a hard time moving. My movements were a bit too impatient for the safety gear to allow me to move and it took several tries before I figured out I needed to move more slowly to get the rope to start uncoiling.

The first little drop made my heart leap and my mouth taste like metal. I took a couple deep breaths, wondering why everything was so quiet for a moment before I let myself go down again.

By the third time I loosened my rope, I was wondering how fast I could go.

I could have, and suppose maybe should have, taken my time but there was such a thrill in sliding down the side of a building that I couldn’t bring myself to slow down. Each time I stopped (because the rope was hot in my hand) I found myself giggling like a kid.

The sounds of the busses, cars, music, and people below increased with every storey I descended and I got so lost in all the sensations that when I did come down to the ground, I let myself down too quickly and ended up sitting on the ground having neglected to remember to use my legs.

The entire experience left me buzzing with adrenaline and I can honestly say it was as satisfying and more terrifying than sky diving.

Not only did I get to raise money for a cause near and dear to my heart (how can kids be anything but?) I got to really push myself and I totally succeeded.

If you ever find yourself with an opportunity to do something like this, I highly encourage you to do it. It is SO very worth it.

A BIG shout out and thank you to everyone involved with Drop Zone 2017. To learn more about Drop Zone, Easter Seals, or to register for this event yourself click here.

The BIG 30 Project #16: Go Backwoods Camping

I grew up as a fat kid and worse, as far as society was concerned, a fat girl.

Knowing this is important because I feel it adds significance to what I’m about to say: I’ve always wanted to go proper camping with friends but been terrified to do so.

I love nature. I find it grounding and relaxing. So you’d think that camping would be right up my ally. Weeeeeeeell, yes and no. Camping always seemed like a thing for people in better shape.

Camping seemed the realm of fit people. Not meant for me. There were too many opportunities for a kid, constantly concerned that everyone was thinking about how fat she was, to embarrass herself.

It’s a defeatist frame of mind I’ve been battling for a long time and honestly, doing things on this Big 30 project has really helped.

I know it’s helped because when friends offered to let me join them on a backwoods camping trip that I was totally terrified I would be a drag on, I said yes.

Not only did I say yes, I fucking WENT.


I know I don’t look thrilled there, but that’s mostly because the first night was freezing and I was nervous about our first day of proper hiking.

Not only were we hiking, we were hiking with heavy packs on our backs that included our tents, food, and evvvvvvvvvvvverything.

It wasn’t exactly easy hiking either, but damn was it beautiful.



It was honestly a super challenging but super fun weekend.

We cooked meals by campfire, we swam in frigid lake, we hiked across a beaver dam, I used one of those plastic thingys so that I could pee standing up like a man…it was great.

Hiking with a heavy pack was something I was really nervous about and although I was slow, I was mostly able to keep a fairly good pace. One of my friends who was with us had a concussion and while I wouldn’t wish that on her, I appreciated having someone else who went the same pace as I did.

Going on this trip really pushed my boundaries and it made me realize that sometimes I say no because I’m afraid I can’t do the thing I want to do and saying no is easier than trying and failing. It also made me realize that I resent the hell out of myself when I do that.

When we set up camp day 2, the other two ladies in the group and myself decided to go jump in the lake.

I’ve swam in lakes before, so you wouldn’t THINK that’s a big deal for me, but I’ve almost always swam in familiar waters or at least in places where I can wade in and sort of see what I’m going into.

Here’s a recreation of what I was thinking before I jumped in the water:

“I saw a snake in the water not far from here earlier, what if there are more snakes in the water? What if a snake is in the rocks and I freak it out when I jump in the water and it bites me? Are there poisonous water snakes in Ontario, I thought we only had Rattlesnakes that are poisonous, I should learn more about snakes and indigenous species in general.

These rocks are slippy, if I jump in the water I might not be very able to get out again and then it’s this big thing and I’ll look like and idiot and I’ll feel like and idiot and can I even get into the water in the first place? What if I slip on the rock on my way into the water and crack my head open? What if I jump in the water and there’s a rock I can’t see and I cut myself?

I don’t like not being able to see the bottom of the lake, it’s cool if I can’t touch the bottom but what if there’s something in there that bites me or touches my feet?!”

As much worrying as there is above, I didn’t dither too long before I jumped in and once I was in, I was really happy. Not just happy because I did the thing, but happy because I felt all gross and sticky and no longer did. That and I just genuinely love swimming.

Not that long ago, I would have begged out of the swimming and either sat on the side feeling like a loser or gone back to my tent feeling left out. I didn’t do any of that, though. Instead, I just did the thing I wanted to do and felt amazing for having done it. That’s pretty much how I felt about the entire weekend, really.

It was stuff I wanted to do but wasn’t sure if I could and I didn’t want to be a drag on anyone if I couldn’t, but I did it anyway. Not only did I try, I succeeded!

I learned a lot that weekend and I can’t thank my friends and their friends enough for letting me tag along and for being so freaking supportive.

I’d backwoods camp with you kids any day…although not right now because it’s winter.

Freezing my ass off is not on my bucket list.

TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I might be slightly freaking out about my attempts to do 30 things before I hit 30. 

I will be 28 in exactly 1 month from today and I HAVE ONLY COMPLETED 14 THINGS!

I mean, I have one more thing done that I haven’t written about yet, but STILL!

That’s 15 more things to get done between now and March 2 2019.

Now, I do have three things planned for this year so far, but that still leaves me 12 things.

Dear God, there’s a lot of math in the blog today.

F*^king math, following me throughout my life.

In addition….heh. Get it? Because I was bitching about math and addition is a mathematical term? Some of you get it. Some of you maybe didn’t. Sorry, didn’t mean to DIVIDE my audience. Hopefully all these puns that keep MULTIPLYING don’t SUBTRACT from your enjoyment of my nonsense. Ok. I’m done.

Ok, sorry for the TANGENT.


I’m done now. I mean, PARABOLY.You know? Like parabola?

Ok, I’m actually done now.

Anyway, in addition to the limited time I have to complete these 12 or so things I also have a problem in that I DO NOT KNOW OF 12 MORE THINGS I WANT TO/AM ABLE TO DO.

There’s a reason that movie montages always feature the same few activities when they’re trying to ‘live life to the fullest’, it’s because NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO DO THAT UNLESS THEY’RE STUPID RICH (writers generally are not rich).

I mean, everyone goes horseback riding or skydiving or goes off in a hot air balloon ALL OF WHICH I ALREADY DONE DID!

I even met one of my favourite musicians!

I HUGGED her. I PLAYED and SANG in front of people, her included.

So…NOW what?

I’m going to try to go dog sledding, try falconry, and go on a vintage plane ride with my Dad this year, but that still leaves quite a few things to do…

I could try to face some of my fears, but I only have like two fears if you don’t count love and electricity.

Sidenote: Love and Electricity would make a really hipster band name.

I’m going to the UK in March, so I can look into things to try while I’m there…but it’s hard to look for things when you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

I kind of wish I could browse around a shop of unique and different things to try in your life. Although, admittedly, that would suck some of the fun out of hunting them down in the first place-and by fun I mean, the bragging rights that automatically come from having done something cool someone else hadn’t thought of before you told them you did it.

So, here’s what I’m asking, handful of readers: HALP ME!

Please leave me a suggestion for the next neat thing I could try because I AM RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS AGAIN.

The BIG 30 Project: #14 Attend a Ball

I’ve seen so many movies and tv shows depicting balls and galas, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to attend one.

I’m not a fancy person. In fact, rich people make me uncomfortable. I always have the sneaking suspicion that they’re going to try to have me killed or something, which I know logically doesn’t make sense but it’s an instinct I can’t explain.

I’m the kind of person who feels inexplicable guilt when I buy something new if the old thing is still semi-functioning, so maybe it has to do with that. Maybe I just have trouble trusting people who have large amounts of wealth because unless I see a guilt matching my own on their faces I feel like they must be a James Bond villain or something.

While fortune does make me uncomfortable, that doesn’t stop me from wondering what it would be like to go to a non-wedding fancy event. Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend an actual ball for charity.

Through the generosity of one of the partners at work, myself and a good friend of mine were able to attend a ball held for the benefit of Nature Canada, the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada and one that has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat.

The entire evening was like a weird dream for me. Which is probably why I made this face for most of the night:


The moment we stepped into the cocktail hour, we were handed complimentary glasses of champagne and surrounded with an atmosphere that made me fear we were actually on the Titanic and may hit an iceberg at any moment.


The room was filled with silent auction items, a green carpet for photo opportunities, and a live owl. You know, so people could see this great magnificent bird of prey and be like ‘Oh yes, lovely. We should en-devour to make sure this graceful creature doesn’t die out because of our asshattery’

The owl was awesome and seemed kind of pissed, which made me feel like he was my spirit animal. It also made the evening feel more surreal, which really wasn’t necessary because the ballroom looked like this:

First off: the place looked like it was King Trident’s palace. I really expected Ariel to burst into the room and sing Under the Sea, but given that the main course of the diner was fish, I guess it’s a good thing that didn’t happen.

So yeah, we were basically in a live action Disney movie.

Also, look at that cutlery! Never did I think in my life I’d need the knowledge that your work your way in when dealing with multiple cutlery settings. I mean, I have on occasion eaten a meal with a spatula. I’m not exactly cutlery girl but not only did I know the rules, I managed to get myself into a situation where I would need them.

Now, lastly, let me point out the stuff on our chair. THOSE WERE OUR SWAG BAGS. They included a sleeping bag, African Honey, and the first volume of Margaret Atwood’s new graphic novel.

Oh yeah, Margaret Atwood was there. She was hilarious and articulate, because of course she was, and I would like to grow up to be her. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was also there, as she was being honoured as the 100th Woman of Nature, and she gave a nice talk about the importance of Nature to the development of children. We were also treated to a live performance by Juno award winning singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, who is somehow better live than recorded and hilarious in her own right.

Of course, we were fed, as well.


First of all, LOOK AT THOSE BUTTER BALLS. Who, why…like. Who’s like, you know what this room needs? Fancier butter. I mean, it’s a nice touch I guess but it really seems to my that spherical butter isn’t the most practical in terms of shape choices. How do you spread a sphere? They roll! I mean, they roll and go ON a roll which is fun, but really not practical.

Ok, I’m done with the butter.

I promise.

I just think a different shape would have been a BUTTER idea.

Get it? Like better, but butter, because puns.

Yeah, you get it.



The first course was a fancy beet salad that I didn’t take pictures of because beets are gross and taste like dirt and also I forgot. The main course was Lake Eerie pickerel and fancy veggies and barley berry risotto, which was fancy although I was slightly worried about eating fish from the Great Lakes considering how crap they get treated by humans.

Now the dessert. Let’s talk abut the dessert.


LOOKIT THAT DAMN GLORIOUSNESS! That’s magic dust pressed together to form a chocolatey pillar of doom, a shortbread cookie dusted in fairy powder, a chocolate ribbon BECAUSE OF COURSE THERE IS, and strawberry compote pureé with a candied strawberry because a glaze wouldn’t be fancy or confusing enough.

This dish was the most filling and most delicious course of the entire evening. I get it fancy people. I get why you eat beet salad despite how terrible beets are and a small main course, it’s so you can eat this glorious-ness. I get it. I get it and I approve.

After dinner we were treated to the most Canadian auction on the face of the planet that included a canoe with safety equipment and two cherry wood paddles signed by Mr. & Mrs. Trudeau the sequels. It was carried into the room by folks because you know how easy it is to forget what a canoe looks like.


There was also a raffle where Margaret Atwood won both prizes (she was gifted the second place prize by the winner and then won the first place prize) because she’s clearly magic and frankly I’m ok with that.

After the raffles and auction, there was a DJ and dancing, but my friend Megan and I left about that point because it was late and we were tired. WOOOT! WE ARE HIP YOUNG PEOPLE!

Despite the entire evening feeling surreal, I had an amazing time. It was really interesting and fun to see things from a different perspective and I’m so glad Megan agreed to go with me so I had someone to help me resist the urge to fake bid money I don’t have and to reassure me that I’m not crazy for not actually owning a ballgown. She is a treasure not only for her company, but for patiently putting up with my frequent bouts of paranoia that someone would point at me and yell “IT’S A POOR! GET HER!”


Thanks for joining me for a crazy evening, lady. It’s gonna be hard to forget this one.

The BIG 30 Project: #13 Adopt a Dog

Ever since I was a kid, I had a dog around.

Growing up, our dog Cindy was everything to my from my first word to my protector. Uncommonly intelligent for a dog, she was my parents furry baby before they had me- their slightly less furry baby.

My life until I moved to university, was never without a dog and I always knew that some day, I would want a dog of my own.

I never envisioned my life as an adult without a dog and then, as I became and adult, I wasn’t sure how one would factor in.

Last year, I had decided I would keep watch for an elderly dog sometime in the next five years and adopt them. Give them a few last good years of life.

Of course, very little ever goes as planned.

This year has been hard for me. I’ve struggled more than is usual with my depression and taking care of myself became a gargantuan task. I was also lonely. Now, it’s important to note that these are not good reasons to get a dog, and they are not the reasons I got a dog, but they are reasons I factored into deciding to get one.

I’m self aware enough to know that I will take care of others before myself, animals included. I had no concerns about taking care of a pet, I knew that I could fiscally afford it, the only question was did I want to?

I’m slightly ahead of myself. See, when I first saw my dog he was nothing more than a picture on a friend’s Facebook post.

A puppy, he belonged to the co-worker of a friend of mine. He was half Pug and half Japonese Chin (which I had not heard of), and he needed a good home. I fell in love at first sight. On impulse (which as a non-impulsive person for the most part is rare) I sent a message.

The rest of the details don’t matter to me as much as the end result which is that I got the best puppy in the world.


This is Dougal when I first got him. Originally named Link, he was just  five months old when I got him. I fell in love with him and his temperament the moment I met him.

He didn’t respond to the name Link at all, so I renamed him Dougal after Father Dougal from Father Ted. I feel they bear a striking resemblance


Now, as much as I knew what I was getting into, getting Dougal was overwhelming at first. I felt guilty for not being around as much as I felt I should, I wondered if I’d been selfish in adopting him when he could have gone to a home that might have given him more freedom, and he was in fully crazy puppy mode and I just wasn’t quite sure if I was going to be good enough to handle it.

But bit by bit, it got easier every day. Having Dougal to take care of, forced me to take care of myself in times when I wouldn’t have otherwise. He made and still makes me feel less alone, and he introduced me into a community of great dog-owners who I’m glad to count among my friends.

A lot has changed since the day I got him in March.

It’s been a hard year and I’m not sure I could have gotten through it without Doogs (which is one of his many nicknames. Dad calls him the Dooginator). He’s my cuddle buddy, my reason to get up in the morning instead of sleeping in, my foot warmer as I’m writing this, and my best friend.

Dougal is the friendliest little dog in the world. He greets everyone he meets with enthusiastic love, he has the swaggering confidence of a big dog, and he loves nothing more than to leap into your lap and accept lavish affection no matter who you are. There just aren’t enough words to express how much joy he spreads around.

Now, originally I was going to post this last Thursday but I figured I’d wait till today because today Dougal turned 1 year old. He’s come a long way since I got him. He’s no longer crated, he’s WAY better at coming when he’s called, and he hasn’t chewed anything I own in I don’t know how long. I’m very proud of him.

Happy Birthday, Dougal. You’re  a good  the best boy.


The BIG 30 Project: #12 Huck Axes at Stuff

As I have admitteded repeatedly in this blog: I was kind of a coward as a kid.

A lot of shit scared me, but I always dreamed of doing cool and potentially dangerous things and what is more potentially dangerous than putting an axe into my hands and allowing me to throw it at stuff?

Part of what I want to do with this Big 30 Project is connect with my friends and share crazy experiences. When my birthday rolled around this year, it was the perfect opportunity to do a Big 30 Project with friends.

Now, before I talk about the axe throwing, I’m going to gush for a moment:

I have a crazy cool group of friends and the group I did this with are kind of wonderfully nuts. They encourage me to be an actual human, they support me when I’m unable to human, and they encourage me to do crazy shit that could make a great story and probably won’t kill me.

I don’t think you can ask for better than that.

Anyway, you didn’t come here for sappy gushing word vomit, you came for pointy things.

Believe it or not, Ottawa has multiple axe-throwing facilities, but for our purposes we went to BATL Grounds.

The staff were super great and encouraging.

They taught us not only how to throw the axes, but encouraged us not to worry about being good at it so much as having fun. They encouraged us not to fear the axe, which is easy to say but harder to do when you have to haul this hatchet over your head and lean back with it only to whip it like you’re a human trebuchet. (If you don’t know what a trebuchet is, look it up because they’re awesome and also something I probably shouldn’t ever be allowed to operate.)

Despite my familiarity with axes/hatchets (we mostly threw small axes which is a hatchet to me but in the event of a tie there was a proper axe brought out that thoroughly intimidated all who threw it), I sucked at this.

I mean, really.

My Papa (Dad’s Dad) was a lumberjack and I thought that might somehow give me a competitive edge, but clearly I have inherited none of his strength or aim. I kept hoping he’d pull a Ghost and possess me so I could impress everyone and win, but no such luck. He was really Catholic, is there something in the Bible that says “Thou shalt not possess thy granddaughter and help her to win a tournament of axe-throwing”?

Serious question. I don’t know. I kind of skimmed it.

Anyway, the only thing that really matters is that we had fun….

AND that I managed to get a bullseye once and had it documented so you can’t prove I wasn’t amazing at throwing axes.

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Suck iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Ok. So it’s not a perfect bullseye, but it was still a bullseye and I tried so shut up.

Seriously, though. It was a super fun night.

My friends were their normal hilarious selves and I enjoyed everything from catching up with people to the chanting of DEVICE DEVICE DEVICE (a thing used to measure how much of an axe is in what area) and BIG AXE BIG AXE BIG AXE (when a match between two people ended up tied, the Big Axe was brought out and highest score thrown won).


The only down side to this night was the day after.

It turns out that axe-throwing is a major core workout. My abs killed me the next day.


Now I know, with painful accuracy, where they are.

Thankfully that only lasted about a day but apparently I wasn’t the only one hurting. I’m tempted to take this up as a hobby just so I can get shredded abs but then I remember how non-bus accessible these places are and how much I enjoy sleep.

Seriously, though. I love this and I find the more stuff I do like this, the more I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t do stuff like this before.

What was I afraid of?

Was it a kind of laziness?

I suppose when it comes down to it, the answer doesn’t really matter because what matters is that I’m doing this stuff now.

Oh! I almost forgot: At the end of the night, I was given the middle plank of our target and all my friends signed it.


I don’t know what the f#@k I’m going to do with it, but it’s covered in axe puns and smells good and I love it.

P.S. Apologies if this post seemed a little scattered or poorly written. My new puppy figured out how to hump stuff this evening so…


That’s a whole thing.

I’ve had to get up to move about 10 times to discourage it.

I love the little bastard but I now look forward to the day he gets neutered.

Snip, snip, motherf**ker.

*incomprehensible whining noises*

In about a week and a half, I am going to be turning 27.

I usually find a looming birthday causes some introspection, but the older I get, the more a looming birthday feels like a NO, DO NOT WANT moment more than anything else.


I never thought I’d be terrified of turning 30.

I thought that I’d never turn into one of those people who was at all conscious of their age, let alone self-conscious about it.

Age is just a number, I thought.

How naive I was.

Lots of things are just numbers, it doesn’t make them any less horrible.

Take math for example. Math is just numbers, but it’s still the worst.


Maybe it’s because I have such high and flawed expectations for myself.

As you can probably tell from my blog, or just from knowing me, or from sorting through my recycling (stop doing that by the way, it’s creepy), I am a big list person.

I like plans. I like to know where I’m going and when.

I have planned and re-planned out my life multiple times and it’s never bothered me too much but there are some milestones I never thought I’d be missing at this point in my life and despite the fact I know that life doesn’t work that way and I’m not failing at being an adult by refusing to meet the unrealistic expectations of my childhoods self, it still feels like failure and why am I aging and OH MY GOD, ONE DAY I WILL DIE!


I know it’s childish, and even privileged, but I want to just stomp my feet and refuse to get older.






(Incidentally, having this as a knee-jerk reaction might be why I get along so well with toddlers. Toddlers get me.)

I thought that by 27, I would maybe not own a house but at least have a decent down-payment for one. I thought I would be in the career I saw myself in for the rest of my life. I thought I’d be in a committed relationship.

I can’t afford a condo, let alone a house. I really like my job but I don’t see myself doing it forever, I’m not even sure if I want to live in Ottawa forever. I’m not in a relationship and the idea of being in one is currently like food the morning of a terrible hangover. I mean, I kind of want it but I also don’t and the entire situation makes me want to vomit profusely.

All of that is perfectly fine, by the way. It’s just…not what I expected. Life tends to be like that, mostly unexpected.

I’ve decided a don’t like it.

The upside, though, is that some of the unexpected stuff is pretty great.

I never thought I would have a Masters degree. I didn’t think I’d live in Ireland or travel near as much as I have. I never expected to forge some of the friendships I have. I never really thought I’d jump out of a plane, or play ukulele in front of one of my favourite musicians, or turn out to be kind of decent at pottery.

When I started the BIG 30 Project, it was because I wanted to accomplish something and push myself. I never expected it would become a balm to my irrational panic about aging and where I am in Life….but it has.

Before my birthday, providing the weather is good, I’m going dog-sledding. After my birthday, I’m going to go huck axes at stuff with the best group of friends a person could ask for. Those are things that have no age limit on them….well, except the axe throwing. I think you have to be at least 16 for that.

I look forward to seeing what crazy experiences my 27th year on this planet brings me….even if I’m absolutely terrified.

Oh, also? If one more person tells me not to begrudge getting older because it’s a privilege denied to many, I am going to clothesline you.


I will collapse your trachea.

I’m not kidding.


This Week I am Tired

So far, I don’t like 2016.

Work has been hellish, I’m always exhausted, and my personal hero died.

There are a lot of things I’d like to say about the passing of David Bowie, but as much as I want to talk about what a catalyst for my life he was (and still is, even if he’s gone back into space), it feels almost too personal.

And also, honestly, it hurts too much.

That might sound stupid to some, considering I never knew him personally, but those people can piss off because you don’t need to know someone for them to touch your life. If you’re inspired by a painting or sculpture, you don’t need to know the name of the artist for them to have reached you.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to look ahead and focus on the good because so much of right now has been less than good.

The biggest focus is, as always, what else I want to try to get done before I turn 30. Perhaps this has been on my mind in particular this week because of the loss of Bowie and today’s loss of the great Alan Rickman.

Both men were so talented and they lived SO MUCH in such a relatively brief span of time…that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to fit as much into my life as I can so that no matter what age I shuffle off this mortal coil (although, let’s face it, I’m more likely to stumble off this mortal coil), people can say “she sure LIVED her life”.

So, that leads me to what I want to try to do this year.

I want adventure.

I want weird.

I want to conquer my fears.

I want to stay within a reasonable budget.

Ok, so that last one isn’t particularly inspiring, but it’s true. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’M FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE, BITCHES!

What kind of stuff do I want to conquer?

So far, here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Dog Sledding: I like dogs, I like getting comfortabley dragged behind things, and I desire to be the most Canadian I can be. So this seems like a natural desire.
  • Axe Throwing: I like pointy things, I like throwing things, and I have enough pent up anger that I feel like this would be therapeutic. Also, they let you bring your own snacks.
  • Zip Lining: I didn’t get to it in 2015 but I still want to try this. Sure I’m not a huge fan of heights but if I can go in a hot air balloon and jump out of an airplane, surely I can manage a little Mission Impossible time?
  • Falconry: In general, I don’t trust birds, but I like birds of prey. They know what they’re about and I respect that. Also, this would be a useful skill for…reasons.
  • Sailing: I’ve never been sailing but my Grampa used to do it all the time and I’ve always wanted to go.
  • Sewing Classes: I can quilt and do minor repairs, but I’d like to get fancier.
  • Go Somewhere New: Yes, this is vague, but so is the fate of the Canadian Dollar right now.

So far, that’s all I can think of but I’m sure more will come to me.

I mean, I hope.

I think my favourite thing about this whole 30 Before 30 project is that it ISN’T an itemized list of stuff for me to do, it’s just a goal I have to accomplish that forces me to constantly be on the lookout for new and interesting things.

Sometimes that can be a little bit of pressure.

A lot of the time it’s kind of a relief.

Well, I’m afraid that’s all I have to say this week. I know it’s a short blog and kind of rambling, but note what I said earlier about being exhausted.

I am tired and there is still much to do.


Much more to do.

The BIG 30 Project: #11 Try Pottery

As much as I love the late-great Patrick Swayze, wanting to try pottery had nothing to do with the movie Ghost. 

Instead, it had a lot to do with the show Face Off. Not the movie, with Nicholas Cage, the show where special effects artists have to design and create unique make-ups in a short period of time before being judged by three experts in the field of creature design and make-up.

My favourite part of that show is seeing the artist create something from nothing with the clay and then watching it come to life in the finished product.

I’m not a big make-up person (aside from Halloween), but I am and was fascinated by the process of taking a lump of clay and making it into a real life THING.

So, I signed up for a 6 week pottery class.

Obviously, I couldn’t take pictures because my hands were pretty dirty, but I did keep a small collection of notes to sum up each class.

Week One:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Today I met the instructors and the class. We have one token male among us but are otherwise a group of ladies of various ages. Our class is large, so we were split into two groups. Group 1 is learning with the wheel and Group 2 is learning hand-building.

I’m in Group 1, which is exciting because the wheel throwing part is what I was most excited for. I’m kind of nervous about trying something new in a group of strangers but it’s not too bad since most of my energy is spent valiantly resisting the urge to yell out the lyrics to Unchained Melody.

Despite being new and struggling a bit, I managed to make a bowl, cup, and what would have been a beautiful vase if I hadn’t inadvertently destroyed it but is now a ring holder. The ring holder is the derp-iest thing I made. It is a disappointment to me but less of one than I thought it would be. I have named it Horace.

Next week we trim our pieces. I have no idea what that means.

Week Two:

Dear Pottery Diary,

This class we trimmed our leather hard pieces. Leather hard just means, kind of dry but not totally dry, I think. It was pretty intimidating, but it’s basically just shaving the piece down and smoothing it, which I liked.

Our instructor showed us how to carve out a foot in our pieces so we can glaze the bottom, if we want to get fancy. I made feet for ALL my stuff because I’m so fancy, you already know.

I even carved a foot on Horace, though he remains a disappointment.

Still no sign of Whoopi Goldberg or my dead fiance, but I remain hopeful.

Week Three:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Our pieces were fired in the kiln this week, so now we get to glaze them.

As it turns out, glaze is basically powdered glass mixed with water and is not remotely the colour it will be when it gets fired. Like, the black glaze is red and the clear glaze is grey. This is clearly witchcraft, further research is needed.

I decided to make the bowl and mug I made match. I’m going to give them to Grampa and Granny Reta for Christmas, providing they don’t suck (providing my pottery doesn’t suck, not my grandparents, obviously). I’m glazing them with Coal and a Quartz, which should end up looking kind of cute.

Horace, the disappointment, I am glazing with Turquoise. That way, at least he’ll be a pretty colour.

Next week we start hand building, I still don’t know what that is.


The Hobbit set: Mug and bowl of adorable porportions


Oooh so fancy. 


Horace. The disappointment. F@&k you, Horace. 

Week Four:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Turns out hand building is kind of like a strange mixture of playing with a Play Dough machine and sewing. You flatten out a piece of clay, then you press or carve pattern into it, and then you can cut it out in a pattern to put it together to be a mug or a vase or whatever.

I decided to try to make a mug for Dad, so I took a plank of wood with the bark still on and pressed it all over my slab of clay before I cut out the pattern for a stein (which is closest to Dad’s mug size). I made the slab into a cylinder before cutting out a circle and ceiling the bottom. Then, I used more of the patterned clay to make a handle so that the entire thing would have tree bark patterning on it.

I think it turned out really well.

I wanted to make something different for Mum, so I pressed some pine needles into a slab of clay and made her a cheese tray, though I guess she could put whatever she wanted on it.

I may or may not have used the plank and the pine needles because I liked the smell of them. That’s probably weird but I don’t care.

Next week we’re learning sculpture but I’ll miss it because for some reason our staff Christmas Party at work is on a Wednesday.

Week Five:

Dear Harry Pottery Diary,


Week Six:

Dear Pottery Diary,

Today was the last class and we glazed our hand building stuff. I used iron oxide on Dad’s tree mug to make it look more authentic and glazed it with Moss colour on the inside and clear gloss on the outside to show off the texture.

With Mum’s cheese plate, I rubbed the outside with iron oxide to pick up on all the textures there and glazed the inside with Kryptonite so that Superman can’t come hanging around us.




Inside the Tree Mug


Oooh much texture. So tree. Wow.



The Cheesy Plate

I’m quite proud of my pottery accomplishments. I think they all turned out rather well. (Except Horace) I gave them all away at Christmas (Except Horace) and everyone really seemed to like them.

Dad liked his mug so much he has decided it should be displayed rather than used. I’m both exasperated and touched by this. It’s like when I got Grampa a really nice bottle of Sherry and he kept saving it for a special occasion. Like, just enjoy the thing I got you.

At least I know Dad will enjoy looking at the mug just as much as using it. Maybe more so as he can actually drink his coffee while looking at it this way.

Whoopi Goldberg never did show up, by the way. Nor did the ghost of Patrick Swayze.

Oh well, maybe I can hide in a convent and join the choir. If I’m lucky, our tour bus might break down at some kind of Roadhouse.