celebration

So I don’t have a turkey on my head.

Today, here in Canada, is Thanksgiving. I wanted to write something meaningful, but I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating myself, so I went back through the archives of Octobers past and found a rather alarming amount of… nothing. October 2009: Back pain. My bank account getting hacked. October 2008: A modelling gig. Daleks reading the weather.  October 2005, 2006 and 2007: No posts at all. It seems I’m long overdue for a post of gratitude, especially on a day like today.

In England, we didn’t have Thanksgiving. I remember watching those episodes of Friends and wondering what the significance was behind the holiday, and back then, wondering why English people didn’t have a special day for being thankful. I figured it was just because my experience of most English people involved English people from Stevenage, commonly known as one of the biggest chav towns, famous for Public Profanity, Vandalism, Disrespecting the Elderly, and Single Teen Mums. Not exactly gratitude central. When we first moved to Canada, I’d met a girl in high school whose parents soon became friends with mine, and had invited us over for what appeared to be a giant Christmas dinner come early, except with pumpkin pies instead of mince ones.  I finally learned about the significance of the holiday, in both the US and Canada, but also adored the chance to get together with friends and family every year for a big stodge up and just take a moment to truly count our blessings.

This year, we’re having three Thanksgiving celebrations. Two with my almost family-in-law, and, this past Friday night, one with our friends. I’d always wanted to have a Friends-style Thanksgiving, but until now, my friends had all either moved away, or didn’t know each other well enough to enjoy a whole evening celebrating together. This year however, I have a huge amount of things, opportunities, events, and most of all, people to be thankful for – the perfect year to throw our first one. This group of people came into my life after a series of events unfolded in the spring causing my whole social circle to change. It became apparent that, after a few periods of tension, misunderstanding, and subsequent distancing, a handful of people I’d known for most of the time I’d lived in Canada no longer belonged in my life. At the time, I was hurt, confused, and didn’t understand why it seemed I was being thrust out of a group I’d been a part of since first-year university. I was worried and scared of being alone – most of my good friends remained home in England, or had moved away. So I did what I do best: burst into floods of tears for a good two days.

But then came the lightbulb moment. The time spent saying “I wish” could just as easily be spent saying “I will”. So I made an action plan. Signed up for an evening class in the hopes I’d learn more about something I’m passionate about, and have the opportunity to meet new people.  Started reconnecting with people I’d lost touch with. Signed up for Meetup groups online and spent my birthday with a group of brilliant strangers who brought me cake. It was from that moment that my world began to change. I met some really fun, creative people, one of whom ended up sitting at my table for a good portion of the night, who just so happened to live a stone’s throw away from where we do. We stayed in touch, and soon after, introduced our other-halves to each other, and the four of us began seeing each other quite often. In the last few months, we became introduced to their group of friends, and have since recorded radio plays together, shared music, sunbathed at the beach, attended house parties, learned about Vikings, sung our hearts out at bonfires, planned Halloween costumes, and asked two of them to be in our wedding. These people came into my life at the perfect time – just as one door was closing, they opened another and allowed a flood of friendship to follow suit. I feel more blessed to have been accepted by this group than I think I ever have in my life, and celebrating Thanksgiving with them was beyond amazing, full of great food, laughs, “Antelope Canteloupes,” and fun.


This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for so many things. For being given a job where I can incorporate my passion for helping people, do things I’m good at and be given chances to work on the things I’m not, to be pushed out of my comfort zone, and see real lives being changed.  I’m thankful for my friends, new and old, some who’ve just come into my life and have already enriched it so much, and some who I got to see this summer who have been in it since childhood and still remained strong. I’m thankful for my family, my Dad and stepmum and all they are, and the new family I’m about to join, too, for all the times they’ve welcomed me into their home and their lives.  I’m thankful for Sweet, of course, of everything he’s helped me become over the last two and a half years, and for this amazing next chapter we’re about to embark on.  I’m thankful for little things, like access to great music that excites my soul, an education that I’m passionate about growing, cat cuddles on cold days, chair dancing at work, great books to read, and being able to keep up with the latest news, TV, radio and events back home in England. And I’m so very thankful for you. For any time you’ve ever taken to read something I’ve written, to offer your comments, thoughts, support, encouragement, or alternate viewpoints. For your continued readership and, more importantly, friendship. Through this blog I’ve met some people I’m honoured to be able to call friends, both over long distances and in real life, and for that I feel truly blessed. Thank you… and though it may not be Thanksgiving where you are right now, just know that today, somewhere out there in the world, there’s someone who appreciates you.

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Oh, Canada…

Yesterday was Canada day.

[Church bells chime in the distance. Insert tumbleweed.] No, I’m kidding. 🙂

I’ve lived in this country for ten years this year, and though I may have the occasional moan about disliking Winnipeg, Canada Day always kicks my arse into gear with fireworks, flags, performances and MORE cake, since it also happens to fall on Sweet’s birthday.  You all know I’m pretty patriotic when it comes to England. I post videos all over the place, burst into tears of pride at Britain’s Got Talent, have BBC radio accompanying me a good 12 hours out of every day, and am on an ongoing mission to convert all my friends to Dr. Who loving Anglophiles. I’m probably going to be rocking Union Jack socks at my own wedding. National pride is something I think the Brits do really well – they still flock together to support things their nation does brilliantly. And not so brilliantly, if you count their last World Cup game.  It really makes me proud! But this week, on Canada Day? I wanted to take a second to forget all the things I dislike about where I live, join in with the rest of the nation and really appreciate the great things about this country to make it a day worth celebrating.

I love Canada for the education it’s given me, both scholarly and socially. I arrived fresh from a school of tucked in shirts and scoldings for more than one pair of earrings, where everyone was part of a sea of conformity. I was blown away on my first day in a real high school, where there were people of every clique or style imaginable. Sure, I spent my lunch hours in the physics room with the other IB nerds making science jokes and eating pizza with a knife and fork. But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t introduced to an enormous variety of people. I got to geek out in a program designed for kids who loved learning. I got to take classes with people who did improv and wore blue Mohawks and let me join their punk band. I got to experience a culture so drastically different from everything I’d grown up with, and I loved it.

Nobody hates Canada. I’m living in the friendliest country in the world! In France, the natives will turn their noses up at you. In America, they’ll tell you to go back home and throw things at your baseball supporting, Canadian flag-bearing classmates. (Yes, I can vouch for this first-hand.) In England, you’ll walk cobblestone streets – covered in gob, pigeon poo and old chewing gum. But in Canada? Even the homeless tell you to have a nice day!

Living here, I get to experience a real white Christmas. Nothing can top spending Christmas eve huddled up inside with a warm mug of Baileys and hot chocolate, or popping out to grab some milk in deserted, twilit streets, freshly covered with the softest, sparkliest, most ABUNDANT snow I’ve ever seen. Sure, it sucks that we spend 8 months a year below zero. But there’s something magical about December in Canada, when the world almost transforms into the forests of Narnia.

It’s cheap to live here. Like, beyond ridiculously cheap. Allow me to demonstrate my living expenses for all my international readers. I live in a two-storey, pretty new house with hardwood floors, two big bedrooms, ten minutes away from downtown on a beautiful little street facing the river, with the downtown skyline in the distance. There’s no crime in my area, it’s close to everything, and the view is gorgeous. There’s a riverside path leading anywhere you want to go, and you can walk for miles under canopies of trees. Sure, there’s about a bazillion mosquitoes. But that’s small peanuts. (Ask me this again in a month.) My rent? $950 per month. Split between two. That’s $910 US. Six hundred quid. People are astonished when they hear how cheap it is to live here.  Every time I want to move back home, I stop in my tracks and remind myself I’d have to work three jobs just to be able to afford a tiny little flat.

Summers here are beautiful. The skies are forever blue, the streets filled with festivals celebrating the arts, theatre, music, diversity and culture.  I’m so excited there’s still another two months of it. And maybe best of all? It’s DRY. (No frizz!)  But most importantly, Canada has brought me everything that’s shaped the last ten years of my life. It’s brought me culture. It’s where I learned I had a passion for design, for learning, and for writing. It has made me realise how much I love England, which, maybe I’d never have appreciated had I remained there. It’s dragged me through hellish situations which have given rise to a huge desire to grow. It’s where I shaped my friendships, grew closer with family, and learned of the kind of person I want to be. It brought me pain and passion, highs and lows, longings and gratitude, all the while giving me a landscape of natural beauty and extreme seasons. This country does battle together. Anyone who lives in Arctic conditions for two thirds of their lives are pretty tough cookies. But they’re also the friendliest, nicest people I’ve ever met.

Lastly – Arcade Fire anyone? Most of you know I’m passionate about great music, and though I am guilty of favouring British bands, Canada has produced one of the most amazing bands in a very long time. This is the band that was formed by a husband and wife team, went on to add tonnes more members, along with harps, accordions and string sections, and became nominated for 5 Brit Awards, 3 Grammys and 6 Junos, and more. They recorded their stunning second album in a defunct church, including the haunting Intervention, full of church organs, choirs, and lyrics that continue to wrench at the heartstrings half a decade on.Way to go Canada, for producing something this brilliant.

I may have been waving my England flag strong and proud during this World Cup, but this Canada Day? Here’s to you, Canada, for everything you’ve taught me, shown me, and been to me. I know I’ll whinge when the mosquitoes hit hard, and I know I’ll whinge harder when I’m stuck at a bus shack next February picking icicles off my eyelashes. But today, I’ll celebrate with the rest of the nation, for all the great things this country really is.  It’s important to count our blessings every once in a while, after all, right?  Happy birthday Canada – and happy birthday Sweet!

Twenty-Five

At the beginning of the month, on top of being slightly lame and asking the Internet how I should celebrate my 25th, I decided I wanted to make a list of goals for the year of 25.  I’ve heard from so many people that 25 was their best year EVER, and I really think this will help make it awesome in terms of challenging myself, trying new things, and continuing a journey of growth. So here’s what I’ve got so far. The 26 Before 26:

  1. Get in crazy good shape. I’ve used my back pain as an excuse for far too long, and I’ve come to the realisation that it’s going to hurt whether I’m exercising or not, so I may as well be doing something good for myself! Right now, I’m running once every two weeks. Not a good plan. Now my evening classes are done, I’m scheduling time for at least 2-3 times a week for running, and getting back on board with strengthening exercises as well. SO I CAN DANCE LIKE TOBIAS.
  2. Start hot yoga. There’s a place ten minutes away from me that I’ve heard rave reviews about, and I’ve talked about trying it (without actually doing it) for six months now. And last night I met up with someone for dinner who absolutely raved about it, goes for two hours every day (intense!!), and offered to be my hot yoga buddy. Apparently it’s life changing! Hopefully as much so just three times per week.
  3. Learn a choreographed dance. Last week I posted videos from this year’s Britain’s Got Talent finals and the incredible precision, strength and creativity of some of those dancers just blew me away. So what if I wasn’t in gymnastics or dance at five years old? I may be 20 years late to the party, but even if it’s just learning Bad Romance off YouTube, I want to dance properly.  Or pop and lock. Yes, I realise the eighties are calling and want their moves back. Yes, I also realise I will need to vlog this. I’m on it. 🙂
  4. Team up with Sweet and cover a really popular song in a totally different style. Bluegrass Radiohead or something, I don’t know. He’s a drummer and has guitars and banjos upstairs, I’m sure we could figure something out! And I can bash a… Tupperware drum? I just think it’d be really fun, and the whole point of covering a song is to do something different with it, right?
  5. Get my driver’s license.  I know this is the only 2010 resolution I haven’t tackled yet, but I still have 6 months left of the year. 4 before the snow comes back. I need to get my arse in gear.
  6. Write non-blog or magazine material. The creative writing class I took this spring really opened my eyes to what I really love to write. Blogging and writing for magazines is all well and good, but I’ve found that I don’t really feel proud of that kind of style when showing it to people. I’ve been working on some fiction over the last couple of months and have found a passion for literature, for creating, for the English language, and for eloquent prose, and I’m feeling totally motivated to keep going. Even if it is a sci-fi story. 🙂
  7. Meet new people.  Pretty self-explanatory, but just taking opportunities to invite people into my life instead of being held back by societal “norms” of keeping to myself. I’m not going to lose anything by trying. This one started last Saturday, when I met my first Internet Stranger (thank you Brittany for checking in throughout to make sure I was safe, LOL), a friend-of-a-friend penpal of sorts I’d been exchanging emails with for the last couple of months. It was a brilliant time, not awkward in the slightest, full of interesting, inspiring, fun and intelligent conversation, and I’m really hoping the beginnings of a new friendship. 🙂 This challenge continues this week , when I meet a bunch of local ‘strangers’ I met on Twitter for a “Creative Show and Tell”. Who are apparently bringing me birthday cake. At the pub!
  8. Do REAL karaoke.  The infamous Wicked! attempt was tough cookies but it went over pretty well, and even if I can’t sing well or reach the high notes it doesn’t mean I don’t LOVE doing it!! This year I won’t be scared to break into song, and I want to gather enough balls to do it in front of real LIVE people. 🙂 Partner in crime, anyone?
  9. Plan meals and cook better. One of the big things I decided in January was that I wanted to cook from scratch more often instead of getting so many takeaways. This proved far more difficult than anticipated and we’ve ended up eating out at least once a week. I want to make it a routine to shop on Sundays, and prepare for a week’s worth of meals, including buying less prepared/easy stuff and switching to healthier options. Including switching my beloved morning porridge to these Green Monsters – started this week, YES that is spinach in a smoothie… but I just feel better starting the day without copious amounts of sugar and carbs.
  10. Speaking of cooking, MAKE ENGLISH FOOD! There’s a local place called The Brit Café that makes brilliant Toad in the Hole, Bangers and Mash, Steak and Kidney Pudding, and of course, Fish and Chips, and I miss it all terribly. I want to make something traditionally English. But maybe once every 6 months, because I don’t want to be a lardarse.
  11. Floss. Self-explanatory.
  12. Stop hating how I look. Short of winning the lottery, I can’t change it. I can’t half the size of my nose or shrink my chin or erase the bags under my eyes. I can’t grow taller and I can’t chop my thighs in half. I can’t make my hair naturally straight and healthy and I can’t in good conscience keep up the “olive skin” look.  I want to be able to look at a picture of myself and NOT have my first thought be of how much I wish I could change. I want to seriously be able to like myself just the way I am. Apply to myself what I try to do with life: that things are the way they are for a reason, and to make the most of the cards I’m dealt.
  13. Get a laptop and become a Starbucks blogger. Or writer. I just want to get out there and do more writing.
  14. Perform something in front of my coworkers.  Around Christmas there’s all sorts of festive events – costume competitions, talent shows, games and cook-offs – last year I was too scared to get up and rock the sing-off. But it’s all in good spirits, and nobody really cares if it’s any good. This year, I’m joining in.
  15. Teach a full class of people without shaking with nervousness and actually be excited about doing it. In the year of 24, I managed to work up to a classroom full of about 8 people, max. I want to be able to do 30 like a proper teacher. In July, I’ll be starting a new position where facilitation makes up fifty percent of my job. For some reason they think I can do it. I just want to thrive on it instead of being scared, and fuel the nerves into enthusiasm, focusing on the fact I’m in a position to relay information that will help people. Which is way more important than fear!
  16. Get (and stay) entirely debt-free.  After the Europe trip in August, the only major expense left is the wedding, for which we’ve been putting money aside for months. Sweet’s parents are helping with the cost of the food (which is an ENORMOUS help, we’re so lucky!!), and with our savings (and DIY stuff), it’ll hopefully not be TOO big a surprise in December. I can’t even imagine having $0 debt, but I’m determined to get and stay that way during 25.
  17. Volunteer somewhere. I haven’t volunteered in two years now and I feel dreadful about it. I’m going to make time for a good cause again.
  18. Go on a blogger meetup. Some of my favourite people in this world live MILES AWAY FROM ME and it’s about time I met them. And thankfully I am marrying the best man in the world, who BOUGHT ME A TICKET TO CHICAGO this September. I get to see Ashley and Brittany, Jen and Phampants . Go on a chocolate tour and visit a secret bar and dress up and have a Glee-off and my first big girly weekend ever.  SO. EXCITED.
  19. See more of the world. Somewhere I’ve never been before. And soak up every last drop.
  20. Go a bit feng shui. Right now my walls are covered in black and white photos from a year or two ago, and oversized framed Doctor Who, Tim Burton and Hives posters.  Sure, I have some “grown up” stuff, too – the Book of Kells hangs proudly in my living room along with a cityscape of the London skyline. But I need more art. Modigliani, this is your year to move from my heart to my bedroom walls.
  21. Finish my tattoo, even if I have to be hypnotised, drugged, hardcore trained or anaesthetised. This thing’s getting finished THIS YEAR.
  22. Forgive. I’ve learned that relationships will only work if two people’s timelines are ready to coincide, and that it’s okay to opt out if clearly the timing isn’t quite right, all the while having faith and leaving the door open. I also realise that by not forgiving people, we waste so much time we’re given on maintaining grudges and harbouring negativity, instead of doing the hard thing, sucking it up, swallowing pride and actually being the one to take the difficult step toward what’s hopefully a better future.
  23. Do something drastic with my hair. After the wedding I have no reason at all to keep abstaining from haircuts and keep it black, so I may very well go for a totally different cut and colour. Hey, I’ve had a pillarbox red pixie cut; nothing can be too drastic! (What’s that, pictures?)
  24. Become more spiritual. I don’t tackle the topic of faith on my blog at all because it’s something I’m still relatively new to, but I’m determined to grow more spiritually this year, and learn all I can about faith and purpose in this world, really figure it out and try to be the best person I can be. Things have happened in the past week that are just BEYOND coincidental and I feel are leading me down the right path, and I’m so excited to explore that this year.
  25. Stop being scared of talking on the phone. I know it sounds ridiculous but I’m more scared of talking on the phone than I am of talking in front of a group of people. Up until now, this has pretty much been my rulebook (you can’t say you don’t agree with at least HALF of those!!), but I’d love to be able to chat on the phone or ring somebody up without worrying that I’m bothering them. Less e-mail time (well, maybe not) and more real conversations. This means phone me up and hold me to it. 🙂
  26. Set up a professional website. (Read: have someone set one up for me.) Right now I’m using a WordPress-hosted site for my graphics and writing portfolios and though it does the trick, it’s hardly the most impressive thing in the world. This will be the year I get a site to match my business cards, and look like a real pro.

This was a tough one to make – but I’m going to ask you lot to keep me on track, and I’ll be sure to share the fun ones when they happen. Can you do me a favour? Take a look at the list I made for 24.  Just a few bullet points about halfway down the page, but this time last year, they seemed impossible. I can’t believe this weekend I will be 25. This year’s flown by and been full of amazing things, in a large part thanks to YOU, and I really hope I can fill this upcoming one with even more adventure. Wish me luck!! Has anyone else made one of these lists? If not, what would you put on yours? Resolutions don’t only have to come in January. 🙂

See you on the other side!

In which I celebrate 25 with Internet strangers and…

It has come to my attention that within a matter of weeks I will be turning 25 (contrary to popular belief – when asked how old he thought I was, my stepmum’s son replied “16”!!).   Since my last birthday, I’d like to think of the year so far as the year of finding myself in this world.  It sounds dreadfully cliché, but I feel like I’ve really been… awakened?  And maybe even grown more in the last 365 days than I have in my entire life. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs recently that talk of new chapters, of goals and determination, awakenings and realizations, and it makes my heart happy to read that so many of us are going through such positive transformations.

I’ve heard the term “quarter-life crisis”, but I don’t think the word ‘crisis’ is that fitting at all. It would be fine if, upon reaching our mid-twenties, we all went into a panic about time running out and not having long before thirty and OMG what do I do with my life everyone else has a degree and a house and a baby on the way and WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME. But these days, instead, it seems this generation is waking up. Questioning and exploring and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Not being content to settle, or let people tell us we’re not good enough.  Proving our capabilities to the world and learning to love ourselves. Maybe it’s just a blogger thing, maybe it is generational, but whatever it is, it’s making me smile.

Since my last birthday, I’ve been on a mission.  I’ve really tried throw myself into terrifying situations, knowing that the only way to overcome them is to take a leap of faith and throw myself in headfirst, assured by the hopes of coming out the other side unscathed, and for the most part, relatively untraumatised. Learning to weigh my priorities, and realising fear is never going to outweigh the desire to grow, to serve, and to inspire. I’ve added to my education, I’ve had doors close and new, shinier ones open.  I’ve grown in my faith and been amazed at the unfolding of the grand plan in front of my eyes, but I still have so much to learn.  I’ve come out of my shell of an existence and led meetings, taught classes, and serenaded the Internet, Broadway-style. (I’m sure that’s going to resurface on my wedding day.)  I’ve learned to give myself a break and actually have a little bit of self-belief – an ongoing effort that I hope one day may become effortless.  It’s been a year of a 180-degree change, and so many  amazing things, and for all of the above I’m eternally thankful.  But I’m still fuelled by the desire to keep learning and growing, and I want the year of 25 to be even better. I want to continue this journey of learning, of growth, and of becoming someone who’s capable of contributing something good to the world. To continue to document my story in the hopes of encouraging others to begin theirs.

In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to come up with a new list. 26 before 26. Twenty-six new things I’ve never done before that will keep my horizons open and keep pushing me forward. Twenty-six dreams to achieve and twenty-six experiences to make my little corner of the world that little bit better.

Looking back at this past year, the ups, the downs, and the incredible difference a change in attitude can make just fills me with excitement at what 25 could bring.  But first, I have a question for you all.  After seeing what you guys got up to in Vegas, who else could I ask how to celebrate? Last year I was put on a glider plane, taken shopping, and ended the day with friends at a local wine bar, surrounded by laughter and sparklers.  I do have a handful of wonderful people I love dearly, but my relationships with them are separate of their relationships with each other. Ideally I’d love to have a costume party, or a posh wine and cheese cocktail night like a Proper Grown Up where everyone got dressed up in dress shirts and cocktail dresses. With endless rounds of Cranium and Balderdash, surrounded by great music where everyone would get along with each other like a house on fire.  But I don’t want to put anyone into an awkward situation where they don’t know anybody. And I don’t want to force anyone to do something they’re not interested in!  (Like a cheese rolling competition – you can’t tell me this wouldn’t be the funnest thing EVER!! Anyone? Hillary? :))

So how do I celebrate 25? My birthday falls on Father’s Day this year, so naturally I’ll be spending most of the day with my Dad. And two nights before, I’ll be meeting a bunch of awesome Internet strangers – apparently the city has a group of local “creatives” who meet up at a local pub monthly and share projects and drinks – which can definitely count as part of the festivities!!  But SATURDAY NIGHT is still open… and your thoughts as to how to spend it would be greatly appreciated! And yes… a mass group Skype date definitely counts as a suggestion. As does a one-man World Cup party. 🙂

Go!

Celebration!

February’s pretty much one of the coldest, most awful times of the year here in Winnipeg.  You get the post-Christmas “mild” spell, when it’ll go up to -10 and everybody will walk around without coats, secretly hoping that this time it’s going to carry us through right until summer – and then February hits, along with our annual Festival du Voyageur, a time I associate with dashing into the nearest shop to warm up for five minutes and possibly by something further to wrap around your face to stop it falling off, because it inevitably ends up being minus fifty!  This February – well, so far, however – has felt kind of different.

Kind of… happier.

Kind of… full of reasons to celebrate.

On February 1st, my best friend declared it was a day of celebration.  She and her Mister had five whole years of being with each other to celebrate – an amazing couple, a wonderful friend, and definitely worth a big smile.  Then came my first day back from holiday.  I was greeted with hugs from coworkers, and little cupcakes to celebrate the ‘month of love’ – followed by a devotional on what love really means to each of us.  Then came the birthdays.  Actually, we’re still on Feb. 1st here – the ever-wonderful Brittney who I love to bits turned 27, and it was definitely a day to celebrate her and all the wonderful things she is.

The rest of the month is full of birthdays of dear friends, and Valentine’s day – a day to really celebrate this life-changing, soul-destined, wonderful love I’ve been blessed with – especially since six years ago, it could easily have never come back again.  To celebrate and be thankful for the man who’ll happily cook, clean, watch Eastenders, and show up with gifts and flowers if I’m having a hard day.

But there’s one person in all of this who has a very important birthday.  I’m not sure exactly which day it is, because she wasn’t with me until a couple of months after birth… but this February, Miss Rose Kitten is turning four!

Sorry Britt - Baily pwns Rose at dress-up, a fake hat had to do 🙂

LOOK AT HOW LITTLE SHE WAS!  And so confused…  🙂  This little cat has brought SO much joy into my life – she’s developed such a personality, likes to talk, play football, and cuddle (but only on her dad’s “fat lap”). And she’s named after a Doctor Who character.  I cherish her dearly, and I couldn’t imagine life without her – happy birthday to the sweetest little cat in the world!

What are you celebrating this month, or what’s bringing a smile to  your face these cold winter days? (A big thank you to all of you for bringing one to mine on Wednesday, too – you guys are awesome.)