2017 in review.

This was an interesting year. When you first suggested doing end of year review posts like we did last year I was hesitant. Mostly because it felt like I had done nothing and accomplished nothing this year and my post would just say “I worked at the mill” while yours would talk about how you were finishing your masters degree, getting married, buying a house. You know, real actual life accomplishments.

Also I feel like I have spent the majority of this year angry. Not like rage anger, more like disappointment anger. Like something inside of me is constantly rolling itself into knots. Things are not fair, things are not just, and it infuriates me that its all being allowed to happen. The president is a racist, hate-filled, selfish narcissist who has the emotional maturity of a spoiled child. I don’t live in his country yet somehow he is managing to have a large impact on me and on everyone else in Canada and around the world. And to make it worse, millions of people are pandering to him and stoking is already grossly inflated ego in order increase their own wealth and power. Their motives are so unbelievably transparent; they blatantly display their greed and hypocrisy and it makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t even look at the president without feeling full on rage. It used to be that hearing him speak brought on the rage, but as the year has gone on it has progressed and now just a photo will do it. And don’t even get me started on the sexual harassment stuff. I have written about that a bit already and will probably do so more in the future.

I didn’t know it was possible to be this angry for this long. It has kind of turned into a sort of despair. Sometimes I can be a bit of a know-it-all and when I am convinced that I am right about something and someone else is clearly wrong, I have an almost compulsion to prove that I am right and have people agree with me. This is not a great quality I know. I’m working on it. But this year has been an absolute nightmare. I don’t understand how so many people are able to shut off their empathy and put their own wealth ahead of the well-being of others. I don’t understand how christians can be against immigration, health care, and welfare. I don’t understand how rich white people can’t see the advantages they were born into. I saw a tweet that described the president as “born on third but convinced he hit a triple.” I think that applies to a lot of white people right now. I don’t even know how to have a conversation with them because I can’t understand how they can’t see and understand that they did nothing to earn the privilege they were born with. Can they not see what a colossal stroke of luck it was for them to be born rich and white in north america? How can they look down on others, dismiss them, and even condemn them to death because they had the bad luck to be born into poverty? And how can they call themselves followers of Christ and do this? Have they really convinced themselves that Christ is on their side in this? That the bible backs up them up? That God loves them more than he loves poor people? It baffles and infuriates me.

But this is not supposed to be a rant so I’m going to try and get back on track. This was a difficult year in a lot of ways. I have had to figure out how to process all this anger and disappointment and not let it consume me. I have had to figure out how to merge the insanity and fear of international news with the relative quiet and monotony of my day to day life.

There have also been some positive things come out of this anger. I have become a lot more invested and outspoken about politics. I see all the more clearly how important it is for me to raise my voice and speak out when something is wrong. I used to care a lot more about keeping peace and having people like me/think I’m nice. I think I have reached the point where I am so fed up that I just don’t care anymore. Or at least I care a lot less. I am still a lot braver inside my head than I am in real life, but like anything, it takes practice and I am doing my best to take steps forward.

Okay, now on to some less heavy and more specific ups and downs of the year.

THE BAD

(it makes more sense to get the bad over with first. I am not really interested in dwelling on the bad things that happened, or sitting here racking my brain to try and remember them. So if it doesn’t come to me in the moment that I am writing this section, I just won’t include it. I’m also not going to talk anymore about politics as I think I’ve already spent enough time on that)

♦ My grandpa passed away.

♦ My dad was in a mountain biking accident the day before my grandpa passed away. He broke five ribs, punctured his lung and spent a week in the ICU with a chest tube. (He is almost completely recovered now)

♦ My province was on fire for most of the summer.

♦ Chester Bennington died. I wrote a post about it. He was an incredibly influential voice of my youth and I don’t really have anything new to add except to say that I am still sad and to reiterate that being killed by mental illness is not a sign of weakness.

♦I got a kind of terrible haircut. I was bored of my hair and decided I wanted an undercut. Which in itself is not a decision that I regret. However, through some miscommunication, some bad luck, and just an all around bad haircut I ended up with an outrageously large undercut and was not at all what I wanted. I knew instantly that it was a disaster but I tried for a couple months to convince myself that it was okay and that I liked it. I could never actually bring myself to get someone to take a good picture of it and show it to me because I think I knew that as soon as I actually saw it straight on I wouldn’t be able to pretend to be okay with it. Eventually I admitted it and am slowly waiting for it to grow out.

♦ I spent months fighting with my union local about a harassment case that I believed they handled poorly and in direct opposition to the bullying/harassment policies they claim to stand behind. This involved multiple emails back and forth as well as in person meetings. I was also in contact with the USW Wood Council Chairperson; I emailed back and forth with him and met with him in person as well. I knew when I chose to begin engaging with the union that it would almost for sure be a fruitless endeavour but I felt that it was important for me to speak up anyways. It was frustrating and drawn out and kind of brought on the same muted rage that the news has been bringing this year. I won’t turn this into a rant about the union and how they treated me and the ways that I am completely convinced that they are outdated and wrong. If anyone reading this is actually interested in union dynamics or my fight with them, it doesn’t take too much to get me going. Next time you see me just bring it up casually and I’m sure you will get an earful.

While it was a frustrating endeavour, it was not all bad. I learned a lot more about how unions work and benefits/drawbacks of them. I spent a lot of time talking with a really great union guy from my mill who continuously went out of his way to help me, affirm me, and explain union complexities to me. And even though I got no tangible results from the encounter, it felt good to be direct, honest, and in loud opposition to something that I truly believe was wrong.

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THE GOOD.

(these moments were chosen from memory/from scrolling through the photos on my phone and seeing what I photographed over the course of the year)

♦ It snowed like three feet one night in February and I literally couldn’t get out of the driveway to go to work so I had to call in and Haley came and picked me up and we spent the day snowboarding in waist deep powder.

(I just feel like I should add that I have had this jacket for at least 5 years and I still love it as much as I did the day I got it. Maybe more. Even just seeing a photo of myself wearing it brings me joy.)

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♦ I went to a Fred Penner/Shred Kelly show with Jocelyn and we danced and had a really really really good time.

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♦ I found a bakery in Kimberly that is peanut-free. The baker is more allergic to peanuts than I am so I can eat everything that they make. I have been up to my ears in croissants and I finally understand what non-allergic people feel like in every coffee shop/bakery. I can go in and look at the display case and just choose something that looks good without having to read ingredient lists or look it up online or actually just say I’m not hungry because it would be impossible to actually read an ingredient list for a cookie in a display case in a coffee shop. (I wrote in an earlier blog post about my first trip there).

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♦ I put pink in my hair. What I really wanted was like a coral, which it faded to and was really nice for the few weeks before it faded out entirely. This photo is right after it was put in so it looks more on the hot pink side.

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♦ I went to Ty and Jenn’s wedding with Sami and Seth and we went to Kangaroo Creek and I spent the afternoon petting wallabies, taking selfies with emus, and mostly just being completely and totally happy. I did a whole post about it.

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♦ Laura came over from Tasmania and I got to spend a day with her climbing through a creek and swimming in a waterfall.

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♦ I photographed more weddings as a second shooter. Sally Ann randomly reached out to me a little over a year ago and asked if I would be interested in second shooting for her. I think I wrote about it in my review last year. This year I shot a few more weddings with her. She is wonderful and I love working with her. I am getting a bit better at taking photos of people and at editing my photos. This year I got a new camera and I am beyond excited about it still.

I really have only put significant effort into editing one of the weddings. Here are some photos from that one. The other wedding I did in the summer was the week before yours, so those photos are still sitting on the card waiting for me. I’m not sure I will ever get around to them. But I really should, I’m pretty sure there are some good ones.

Sally Ann is super fun to work with. We take lots of selfies. Also yes, that is a mirror selfie taken in a trailer bathroom. I had just gotten that shirt and my look was FINE and needed to be documented.

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♦ You got married. I was in a wedding party for the first time, wore fake eyelashes, gave a speech, and didn’t have a single public breakdown about the fact that I was literally the only non-married person involved in any capacity with the wedding. It was a wonderful day and you and Josh were both beautiful and happy and I was so happy for you. Also everyone laughed at my speech jokes and that made me feel very good. I pulled some photos from your online gallery, sorry but they are only ones that I am in. You looked amazing in like every photo and I know the day was all about you and Josh, but this is my blog post so I’m allowed to make it all about me.

Can we just take a minute to appreciate how many photos there are of me speech giving in your gallery. THESE AREN’T EVEN ALL OF THEM. Which I am taking to mean, “you were funny and even the photographers loved your speech so much that they took tons of photos of you talking” and not “you talked for a long time.” But for reals, I had been writing this speech in my head since long before you asked me to give it. I’m pretty sure I had a rough outline floating around in my brain before you guys were even engaged. I got nervous in the couple days leading up to the wedding and my brain was doing that thing where it tries to convince you something you know is good might be bad. And a part of me wanted to cut out parts and change it to make it less vulnerable or less like I was trying to be funny or just shorter. But I knew that I wanted to say all those words so I did what anyone would do: cut nothing out, drank a few glasses of wine, and just went for it.

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People thought it was way funnier than I thought they would. Which was nice, but I knew that you would find it funny and that was all that mattered. When I looked up to see this I knew that it was a success. (If you want to read my actual speech, I posted it here)

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Also this photo. This photo is amazing and maybe my favourite. It is my favourite not because it is a good photo of us (which it totally is) but because of what was happening at the time. It looks like we are just sharing a little joke or are just really happy about how you are getting married or something like that. But I remember very clearly that I was trying to get your hair right and IT WAS NOT COOPERATING. I kept pinning it and it would fall out, or I would curl it and it would fall and hang funny and finally I leaned in really close and said “Glynis, f*ck this hair.” We both burst out laughing and in the background I heard a camera shutter go off. I’m very glad they captured this moment.

And finally here are a couple more photos of me at your wedding.

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♦ Alex came for your wedding. I got a new camera (as mentioned earlier) and Alex came and spent a day with me taking photos before he went back to Tasmania.

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♦ I got a new tattoo. It was done by the same artist who did my tree. His name is Craig and he works at Blackbird Electric in Calgary and he is funny and kind and amazing at what he does. I came to him with a vague idea of what I wanted and he drew something that was exactly what I wanted. I love it so much.

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♦ My dad and I went to Vancouver to watch the Maori All Blacks play. I wrote a whole post about it so I won’t go into a ton of detail except to say it was amazing and the All Blacks absolutely demolished Canada and I loved every minute of it.

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♦ I knit a sweater. Okay, technically I am not quite done so I didn’t finish it in 2017. But I only have a couple rows left and I did the bulk of it in 2017 so it counts. I just have to finish off the neckband and it is DONE.

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♦ I consistently ran all through the spring, summer, and fall. Most weeks I went for at least two runs, sometimes three. I did take a couple weeks off when I got sick for a few weeks in the summer, and it was hard to run a lot when we were in that crazy heat wave, but by the end of summer a quick, short run was no less than 5km and I could do it easily and without needing much recovery time. I switched from Fitbit run tracking to Strava part way through the summer so unfortunately I can’t give you stats for the year (for the record, I love Strava infinitely more than Fitbit). But I can tell you that between July 20 and Nov 14 I went on 19 runs and ran 111 kms.

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♦ I started going to hot yoga again. This was right at the end of the year, but still in 2017. I haven’t gone to yoga since I lived in Lethbridge. It has been a good way for me to feel like I am doing something during the winter while it is too cold to run.

This year has been a really good year for me in terms of fitness. I have been making consistent choices to be active and eat well. I know that I have never really been overweight or grossly unhealthy, but the last five years or so I have just felt terrible about how I looked and my fitness level. I knew that the simply solution was to start exercising, but I just couldn’t make myself care enough to do it. It feels so amazing to finally be doing something about it. I have never really been a fan of my legs and have always felt like they were much too big. However, I decided that I could settle on having my legs be bigger than I want them to be if they were toned and strong instead of chunky. Running has been good for this and honestly I feel better about my body than I have in YEARS, maybe better than I have ever felt about it.

.♦ I wrote this post. I had been feeling like I should write it for MONTHS. But same-sex marriage can be a polarizing topic in the christian community and although this blog is not written specifically for the christian community, I know that there are people who read it who come from that background. I also have a lot of friends who live in Australia who I hoped would read it. I was nervous about putting my thoughts in writing because I was afraid I might not do a good enough job explaining them and then people would judge me or be upset. But it just sat in the back of my head for months nagging to be written. I realized that it was important for me to speak up and say what I believe is right. That it was worth the chance that I might lose a friend or have an acquaintance judge me or write me off. I finally wrote it and was content with how it turned out. I felt like the tone was calm and I said what I believed in an honest but un-confrontational way. It has the most views of any post I have written, but remarkably few comments or interactions. I was kind of expecting some angry/earnest comments,  or questions, or some sort of agreement or disagreement. But I got nothing. It was weird but I still feel good about having written it.

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Okay, that’s probably enough. I will tackle media and the coming year in another post. A hearty congratulations if you actually made it the whole way through this marathon of a post.

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