Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Happy New Year

Well it's that time of year again - the completion of one year and the beginning of another.  With that comes the dreaded New Year's Resolutions.  Pictured above is the list of the most common ones. The last one just enforces the fact that many resolutions just never get met. Apparently 40% of people make resolutions and about 8% achieve them.  Not great numbers!

Why is it that we wait for a new year to make goals? Why is it that we then feel a compelling need to make them BIG? Then, if that isn't a recipe for failure, we make them almost unreachable.  Failure is almost guaranteed with that plan.

We all agree that goals are good, and needed.  We can improve on many areas of our lives.  Being better tomorrow than I was yesterday is a good idea.  But how can one achieve this?  I have a few suggestions.

Firstly, don't tell anyone! Why? Well, watch this TEDTalk and you will understand.  Ted Talk

Basically, according to research, if you tell someone your goal your brain believes it has achieved it.  We have often been told to tell someone, so we are held accountable, but that generally doesn't work (it usually turns into nagging). So, why not try personal goal setting that no one knows about?

Next, try to use the S.M.A.R.T. goal plan:

This might look a little overwhelming but if you unpack it, it actually makes sense.  Be as specific as possible, make it measurable and attainable, make it relevant to you, and make it time sensitive. For example: losing weight is not a very specific goal, not necessarily measurable, and can often seem unattainable (making it the number one broken New Year's Resolution), no matter how relevant to yourself it feels.  Lack of keeping the goal time-bound is exactly why it fails as well. 

I know that if I had 'lose weight' as my goal for going to the gym I would have long quit.  Why? Because I lost nothing after the first couple of months; I actually put weight on! I would have been discouraged.  But weight loss has never been a goal of mine.  I want to be fit and I want to see muscle forming. 

Goals might be better in smaller pieces. A goal of:  I will eat no pizza, or hamburgers, or french fries, for 6 weeks.  It meets the above mentioned requirements, and might be attainable. Then change it up. Maybe after months of smaller, more attainable, goals you will have reached the larger goal of losing weight.

So, do I have goals for 2017? Yep! But I am not telling anyone.  If I reach a goal, I'll let you know. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas - Traditions - Family

Our Mexican Family
Well the season is upon us once again...Christmas.  I sometimes wonder if it is the same worldwide, or just in places I have visited, but it is a time for family.  We have been fortunate, wherever we live, to get 'adopted' by someone. Since this is the every first year we will be away from our kids, it is so nice to have a 'family'.

The family pictured, with myself, (above) has been our family in many senses of the word.  We have joined this family every year for Christmas since we came to GDL.  We feel a part of them, we love them.
Me with Ale and Paty
You might by now recognize these two ladies as my Mexican sisters.  They are sisters by birth, I am by 'adoption'. Ale was our next door neighbour till just recently. She moved across the city, some 1/2 hour drive away.  So we no longer go to the gym together, we no longer have SEAN together (they just recently graduated), and we don't see each other daily.  But we have become family and so we will gladly drive across the city to be with her and her family.

Ernie brought a tradition to the gathering and they brought some as well:

For a gathering to be an actual 'posada' one has to go through the tradition.  This means you sing a song where the weary travellers are asking for room in the inn.  Half the group goes outside, lights candles, and begins to sing. The other half are inside, responding.  By the end of the song you let them in.  Aside from a few lines that are outside of our theology, it's a nice tradition.

Ernie introduced table games.  Here he is pictured teaching them Skippo which everyone enjoyed tremendously.  This was played throughout the night. Later he took the little kids and taught them 'Go Fish', which quickly had adults joining in.  The kids only wanted to ask Ernie for cards.  He is a kid's favourite wherever we go!
Ale and her son Esteban
This tradition is very Mexican, although not necessarily a Christmas one - karaoke!  Music is a part of absoluely every party.  Singing is often forthcoming as everybody knows every song.  I have learned the words to one song, completely because it is unheard of that you won't participate!

And then we ended with the exchange of 'bolos' (this is a toocha - or a treat bag).  Everyone is assigned someone to give theirs to, hugs and a Merry Christmas are exchanged along with the bag.  It is loud and fun! 

So, this is but one of our Christmas parties.  December is a month of 'posadas'.  I have gone to one for the dance class ladies, one for just the gym ladies, one for the missionary ladies, Ernie and I did a couples one, and then this one.  We will be joining a family for the 24th, plus a couple of impromptu ones.  Its about celebrating friendships, love, relationships and on occasion someone reminds us of the real reason for the season.  

I trust each of you will not forget that the real gift was Jesus, then, as He is today.  As you remember Him, remember why He came.  He loved us, love others.  

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


Red tape is so much fun! NOT! Every country has its rules, its way of doing things, and its bureaucracy.  

Recently you may have heard that our Prime Minister has removed the need for a visa for Mexican's to enter Canada as tourists.  Everyone here is excited about that, as for them it translates into "they like us", whereas the USA does not.

When I mention that we need to get visas to live here, the paperwork involved, and the cost, they are shocked.  They were unaware of what was all is involved.  They are amazed that their government charges us so much to live here.

I tell them, no worries, just to be aware that every country has their way of doing things and there is no picnic either!

So, recently we again embarked on the journey of renewing our paperwork.  The last time they gave us 2 whole years, so we had had a year off!

You are only allowed to initiate the renewal process within 30 days of expiry of your present visa.  It is not overly complicated if you go in with the attitude that thing may be completely different from the previous year.  Then its at matter of getting everything together, making copies of everything, and heading going to the Immigration office.
Just a few people waiting to be attended
Today we had everything together and headed in.  Armed with the previous days instructions, we were ready.  Well, things were a little different, but doable.  However, the documents that Ernie had filled out at home, had one little blank empty. Meaning? There is a computer in the corner, get in line and redo it!  UGH! Oh well, such is life.

That done, we were instructed to go to a nearby bank and pay the bill.  However, that bank was unable to do what we needed done due to the construction outside!  The closest bank was some 8 blocks away! Off we went on a brisk walk.  Finally we took a taxi (from the first bank to another bank - because the 1st one was full to the doors!) as downtown was crazy.

To make a long story short....we got home some 5 hours later! Within 20 days we should be ready for the next step: finger prints, pictures, etc.... and then, finally, after another wait, we should be 'legal' again!

Life is anything but simple in Mexico.... ...

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Run Forest Run!

Ready- Set - Go 

Ernie and I would not say we are athletes by any stretch of our imaginations, however, we do enjoy participating in gym events.

This past Sunday morning, we got up early - 6:30 a.m. (my normal weekly time) to head out for a race.

We had tried to get our Bible Study people to join us, and even got several yes's, some even paid to join.  But, alas, they all bailed out on us.  We did meet several friends from the gym. The race had almost 1000 participants, walking, running, or pushing wheelchairs.  It was exciting to join in this event.

You see, for us, the gym is about people and friendship.  We just happen to enjoy working out but really we went to meet people.  This gym is a family - we are friends who meet daily to work out together.  We spend equal parts working out as hanging out in the lockers, visiting.

I also attend classes and have formed friendships through going to the same classes and meeting those same people each morning.  There is some ebb and flow, some leave because they are tired of a class or some even leave the gym because life becomes too busy for it.  But new people replace them, allowing for new friendships to form.

Me with Hilda, Ernie and Hilda's husband Flavio
Several friends from the gym (Jorge beside Ernie, Eduardo and Francisco in back, both with hands up)
Me with my cycling coach and Lorraine (classmate)
Ernie and I with 2 coaches from the gym
I say anyone can run a 5K!  Maybe not but I was not doing any real regular exercise before I came to Mexico.  Now 5K is not a challenge (although 2.5 K uphill was not a picnic for me) anymore.  We are looking at trying for a 10K.  Our co-workers are more amazing yet: John has run several 10K and a half marathon, Dallas also has done 10K's and is thinking of a half marathon.  

But for us, and for many of our friends at the gym, the gym is about friendship.  Because life in the end is about people.  I would not be running if it wasn't for running with others and the bonding that happens during it.  

Hockey was like that while in Canada.  I would have frozen my backside off just to watch my sons play, but hockey was about family to me.  Our boys played with the same guys year after year, they were our winter family.