The 12 Adventures of Christmas

12) On the 12th adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me – a delicious carbonara in the heart of Bologna, Italy.

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11) On the 11th adventure of Christmas my true love gave to me – an evening walk through the twinkling streets of Mantova, Italy.

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10) On the 10th adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me – handmade gnocchi from a bustling Christmas market.

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9) On the 9th adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me – crowds of Christmas shoppers in Madrid’s main square.

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8) On the 8th adventure of Christmas my true love gave to me, a sunset above the clouds.

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7) On the 7th adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Spanish dessert on an empty stomach.

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6) On the 6th adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a late night conversation in an open cafe.

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5) On the 6th adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a fuzzy kind of feeling.

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4) On the 4th adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me – improv decorations.

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3) On the 3rd adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me – a mouth-watering lunch in Valladolid, Spain.

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2) On the 2nd adventure of Christmas, my true love gave to me – flying Christmas presents.

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1) On the first adventure of Christmas my true love gave to me, an accidentally heart-shaped walnut.

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What Happened When I Stopped Watching T.V

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I’m just like everyone else. After a long day at work, my favorite thing to do on a weeknight was to pass out in front of the television. Most of the time, it didn’t even matter what I was watching, I just needed something to lull me into my zombie-like sleep.

This past summer, I decided to move to a different city here in Italy. After having lived in Milan for several months, I decided that I hated the city. It was too grey, too expensive, the people are always pissed off, and most importantly, it was full of litter with few green spaces (a big deal for a Canadian). So I headed off in search for a new apartment in my new city of residence, Bologna, Italy.
After having found a temporary apartment, I met with the landlord.
“You know there’s no television at the moment, right? We can look into getting one though, if you’d like?”
WHAT?! You mean no re-run marathons of my love-to-hate reality shows?!
“Nope, it’s no problem for me, I don’t want one.

Now don’t get my wrong. I love films and t.v series (Big Bang Theory and How I met Your Mother in particular), but I felt that the 2-3 hours of “couch potato time” per night was taking away from self-improvement and productivity.
So what did I do with the free time I was suddenly given?

1. I started my blog. I forgot how much I loved to write. It would be a waste not to write something down in my situation. I’m living abroad and moving from place to place, yet I didn’t even have a journal! Even if nobody reads what I write, I’ll have something to look back on after my 20s are over.

2. I started taking classes at the gym – I love the gym, but it’s hard to commit to going regularly, especially during the winter months when you want to curl up in front of the television. Since I didn’t have the t.v option, I forced myself to look at the classes offered at my local gym in the evenings. I signed up for body pump, among others, and made this a regular habit before bedtime.

3. I started reading regularly – I’ve loved reading since I was a child. It’s a habit I’ve carried with me throughout high school and university, but it died down a bit once I began working full time. I replaced the t.v stand with a bookshelf, and I choose something to read before I curl up on the couch and fall asleep. Reading makes me feel positive. Each time you read a new book, you open yourself to a new world of imagination, something that’s obviously missing from many television shows.

4. I made things – A travel box (see post), scrapbooks, photo albums, etc. making things makes you feel better, especially when you feel down. It’s really great to see a finished project that you designed yourself. The feeling of fulfillment that used to come from coloring books and crafts as a child has followed me into adulthood.

5. I stayed informed on my own – The news programs we see are biased. If you don’t make an effort to look for a second opinion, you don’t see both sides of the story. The internet has a mass amount of information from different countries with different political and social opinions. It was great to see how Italian television, BBC news, and CNN, all morphed the same news stories for their own benefit.

6. I had a drink with friends – When you’re exhausted on a Monday evening, the last thing you want to do is get dressed and go out. Actually, don’t even need to get dressed, just go out. Having a drink with friends after work was surprisingly therapeutic. Laughing about my current frustrations allowed me to sleep better, and I found myself walking home smiling after catching up with some friends.

The purpose of this post is to remind you that you’re full of ideas and creativity. Routine has a way of draining us of our imagination, but we don’t have to let this happen. Staying informed is easy with the internet, so you won’t be missing out on anything, but discovering a new sense of self that you thought disappeared a long time ago.

Photographs and Flags

Prompt: 500 years from now, an archaeologist accidentally stumbles on the ruins of your home, long buried underground.

This is my bedroom as of Monday morning. If someone were to find its remains in 500 years, they would come to the same conclusion as anyone else looking at these photos in 2014.

– She traveled very far to reach her destination (as evidenced by the nostalgic ambience of a massive Canadian flag).
– She has no valuable possessions.
– She loved to move around (39 postcards and counting).
– She was in love, and surrounded herself with people who made her a better person.
– This was a temporary living space, because “home” was a series of different cities around the world.
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The Pursuit of Happiness

Finding a sense of contentment has become difficult in a society that advocates sadness. We focus so much energy on the pursuit of happiness that we risk losing it during the journey.

If I ask you, what was the happiest moment of your life?
You won’t tell me about the time you bought a new car, or your new phone, some may say a job promotion, but hardly that either.

The moment you most felt alive was with another human being – your children, your partner, your friends, your pets. This is what gives everything meaning and makes you feel alive.

What good is it to watch the world from your new television, when you can’t be there – to smell it, to hear it, to live it! The following year will be devoted to being grateful, rather than searching for something missing.

– I vow to make my time meaningful. I want to be scared. I want my beliefs and ideas to be tested. I will do something each day that will help me grow, even in the mundane tasks of daily life.

– I will not look at my small apartment and wish for more space. I’ve got a bed! Yes, a wonderful bed that waits for me every night. How lucky I am to have a bed when so many people do not.

– I’ve got so many books hugging the shelves around my bedroom. Yes, books! Wonderful books that will teach me new things and fuel my imagination. I can read a new chapter everyday – a gift that must be appreciated, as many don’t have the ability to read, or a place to curl up with the pages of a fantasy world.

– I can’t buy a new computer, or a new phone – but let me take a look at the one I have. Filled with photos of my favorite people. How wonderful it is to be able to have pictures with so many wonderful people who love me. My friends, and my family, and the love of my life! Many people in this world have been torn away from their loved ones – yet I’ve got loved ones in different countries around the world! What a beautiful thing.

-I will learn another language so I can speak to new people. What a privilege it has been to study and continue to learn after so many years. Some individuals don’t have access to education, yet I was in school until I turned 22! What a wonderful opportunity.

-I’ll save for a trip to somewhere new. It’s amazing to be able to discover so many new places, and see the beauty the world has to offer. These are the memories that will be mine forever.

Most importantly, I will be present. Present to those around me and grateful for every opportunity that has been presented to me. I will not lament for having less than others, for I am already so rich, in so many ways.

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