Not Ladylike Hikes – 2022 Recap and Goals for 2023

Not Ladylike Hikes is my most successful club. I don’t think it’s a secret that I struggle with acknowledging my successes, so in this post I will try and convince myself. And in doing so, hopefully entice more people to join in on the fun.

VISION AND MISSION

One of the areas I see the most opportunity for improvement, is better communicating my vision and the mission of our group.

Our mission is to build community while we explore nature.

Working on solidifying this message begins now. There are some other resources I have found to help me do this, but it’snot like I have a fancy coach or anything to talk this though with! NLL Hikes continues to be a fun hobby, and I walk a very fine line between that and something “more official”. Is that my ultimate goal? Not really, as I enjoy the casual aspect of the hikes. And again, I am only one person. We’ll see what happens this year!

SUMMARY OF OUR 2022 HIKES

2022 was the year I started purposefully tracking number stats for our group. A simply designed document printed out and stored in my planner, it made it easy to track a few key stats each week.

GOALS FOR 2023

Tracking distance, weather and number of hikers worked really well in 2022, so I will continue to track those numbers for fun in 2023. I have also set up a new system for planning and organizing the upcoming trailheads. I have approximately 35 hikes to choose from in my list currently, and no true system for choosing hikes for the upcoming months. It would be so helpful to get this flowing more smoothly.

Land acknowledgements and introductions every time. More fun hikes with props. More day hikes! All of these depend highly on my energy levels, and how vulnerable I am willing to get.

I set a goal in 2022 to “expand NLL Hikes”. More specifically, I wanted to get more folks interacting with us on social media, and ultimately coming out to hikes. This became a S.M.A.R.T. goal, with dedicated next steps. It worked fractionally, as we had five new folks out to hikes this year. My goal hasn’t changed and I would still love to see more folks out on our hikes. The questionnaire I sent out in the fall gave me mixed results, and I nmow realize I have a lot of relationship building to do first if I want to see any of the tire kickers come out.

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

The Edmonton Nature Centres Foundation (with the assistance of the Wild Rose Ramblers walking group) has put together some trail maps for some parks around the City. They include details about the location’s history of use, and important figures.

You can find the full list of upcoming trailheads on our site here, with a month lead time. We also post more details about the trails, including more accessibility details on our Instagram (@notladylikehikes) and Facebook.

If you want to read more about our group, check out NLL Hikes July through September 2022, or the review of our 2021 hiking season.

My Year in Books (2022)

You may remember from my recent post “How To Read 80 Books a Year” that I made some pretty lofty book-related goals this year. Well unfortunately for my reading goals I didn’t even come close to reaching them! This meant that I was busy chasing other goals, which is great for me as a whole. I read a lot of great books this year, 48 to be exact. Here are some of my favourites.

MY TOP SIX BOOKS OF 2022

These are the books that I would want to talk to people about, if people in my life talked about books. Alas, those people do not exist for me, so instead I will shout into the void of my blog.

Top Non-Fiction
  1. Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town by Charles L. Marohn Jr. If you encountered me shortly after I finished this book, I talked to you about it. Guaranteed. One of my passions is planning our cities and communities – and building them – so they actually benefit our residents. And this guy builds his whole life around that premise. It was mind blowing to read so many of my random, unfinished thoughts actually planned out with data to back them up.
  2. Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and a Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. This book came at a time in my year when I was thinking and feeling more about my space in nature. It came at the best time.
  3. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell. Y’all might think this book teaches you how to quit social media, but it is so much more than that. Full of heart and hubris too, she really shaped a lot of my internal dialogue for the rest of the year.
Top Science Fiction
  1. Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. You know those books that you read, and wish you could go back and read again for the first time because they were so spectacular? I put the third in the series on hold immediately, and y’all, the library doesn’t even own a copy yet. Dark science fiction, gothic horror, this book is also a puzzle. You might solve it, but it will probably also kill you. Super gay.
  2. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I grabbed this one as my souvenir from Munro’s Books in Victoria B.C. It’s written like a poem, with each chapter alternating perspectives between the two protagonists. Who are also trying to kill each other. And they can time travel. And then they fall in love. And then YOU fall in love. And oh, it ends so perfectly. Super gay.

I had some more specific goals within my larger goal for the year. These are crafted around my values, and are meant as a challenge.

  1. Read 10 books by Canadians
  2. Read 10 books by authors with marginalized identities (intersections of BIPOC, queer, trans, immigrant/migrant)
  3. Read 10 short story or essay collections (4/10)
  4. Read 1 book of poetry (1/1)
  5. Read 1 book translated into english
  6. Read 20 non-fiction books (7/20)

Some of these challenges were difficult to track. I think it’s disrepectful and sometimes just wrong to call Indigenous folks who live in Canada, “Canadians”. Some bios aren’t clear on sexuality (which, why should they be). Science fiction (and fantasy) will always be my top picks, but I like to push the genre boundaries too. Thank goodness I found food mysteries last year. I don’t think that would make a great challenge goal unfortunately.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR 2023

Over the past many years of me making book goals and tracking my reading, I have consistently reached 70 to 80 books read. This year I didn’t even come close. I have already reduced my big number goal down to 60, and adjusted some of my challenge goals to match my values, but avoid the ick factor of tracking people’s identities. I have a bunch of books on hold at the library, I’ve got a monthly book club, and I might even get back into audio books. The sky is the limit!

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

Charles Marohn Jr. and his team publish a lot of great stuff over at Strong Towns if you’re interested in city – and street – planning.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt has written a few books about nature, birds specifically, if that’s your jam.

Jenny Odell is a prolific writer of essays and articles. You might find one here that tickles your fancy.

It felt very wholesome and twee to discover Tamsyn Muir’s tumblr just now.

Amal El-Mohtar has a story in the Starlit Woods anthology, which was a fave from 2021 and Max Gladstone also writes games. What?!

Get Booked, my favourite podcast for book recommendations isn’t publishing new episodes, but there are hundreds of old episodes that I can still troll through.

If you’re looking to diversify your list, check out this list of 15 Native Authors to Read This Year (Cowboys & Indians)

No longer buying new books – unless they are for a gift or a souvenir – means I am getting better at finding good spots to grab used books. Some of my favourite spots in Edmonton are: Alhambra Books, Paper Birch Books, Wee Book Inn, and the library!

And not that I think anyone on God’s green earth would be interested, here is my tracking spreadsheet! Follow along as I add books throughout the year.

Venn Diagram of Lisa

BUILDING A VENN DIAGRAM OF LISA

This was a fun exercise I did for myself back in October. I can’t remember what prompted it, but everyone loves a Venn diagram, right?

I love everything. When asked a direct question about my interests, I either freeze up, or I list a dozen and have a dozen more on my lips. It can be hard for me to focus on one passion. So I try to do everything, and I stay generalized without becoming an expert on any one topic. This exercise helped me reframe that distraction into intersecting groups.

CREATIVITY – THE OUTDOORS – JUSTICE

Generalists are like omnivores. We tend to survive when the going gets tough and our niche speciality becomes unsustainable. I may not be an expert on any one thing, but I know a little bit about a lot of things AND I am always open to learning. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but I have tempered that with swaths of self doubt that I am slowly correcting to simply “keeping an open mind.” Being flexible with my opinions, and free with my knowledge sharing, and acceptance.

I think the rainbow in the middle represents that LEARNING and SHARING.

SO WHAT?

You might be asking, who cares if you made a Venn Diagram of yourself. Fair enough! I think it is interesting as a neurodivergent person to continually learn how my brain-body system works best. And recognize positive and unique things about myself that I used to think were broken. Sharing this is my way of finding other folks who feel the same. Or encouraging neuro-normalized folks to recognize that there is a different way that is not better or worse.

I’m making connections in my thoughts, and hopefully making connections with community members.

These connections will ultimately help me make decisions that make the best use of my energy. Unfortunately, I can’t do everything, and trying leaves me cranky and burnt out. Any guiding tool or lens is a welcome source of relief.

Our Annual Family Vacation to Jasper and Letting Go Of Mom Guilt

Land acknowledgment: Jasper National Park suffered the effects of another large forest fire this summer. We waited to return until we knew it was safe for us to do so. We as a society now know that the Indigenous fire keepers of the past kept the forests of the mountains healthy and strong. But the cultural burns they cultivated were made illegal on “public land”, and their communities were forced from their homes and their traditional territories to make space for White people to experience “wilderness”. Ignoring Indigenous wisom, combined with the impacts of climate change means we have been seeing larger, hotter and more frequent fires in these lands. The National Park Service has only recently started to welcome back the Indigenous peoples who have called this land home since time immemorial. Traditional ways of thinking and ways of being that might seem like new ways to some of us, make our land, our non-human kin, and our communities stronger.

INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY

Dan, Lucas & I have been doing some form of this trip since 2016. Jasper in November has become a lovely family tradition. The specifics change, but the core stays the same: cabin at Bear Hill Lodge, hike on Saturday. The impetus came from a trip that Dan & I took in 2014 to a different set of cabins (now called Miette Mountain Cabins). But really, the inspiration for these trips came 30+ years ago thanks to my maternal grandparents, who took my sister and I to Jasper each Thanksgiving. We stayed in a cabin, did a lot of hiking and exploring, played games, and ate a turkey dinner at a restaurant in town. It was a beautiful tradition they built for me, that I am grateful to be able to continue with my family.

OUR BASIC ITINERARY FOR THE WEEKEND

I wrote about this more indepth in 2020 (read that blog here), but here is the basic itinerary set up for our trip.

Day One is travel day. It works best for us when Dan & I take the day off to pack and prepare, then pick up Lucas from school and head straight out of town. This gets us out of Edmonton around 4:00pm, into Edson for dinner, and into Jasper between 8:00 and 9:00 pm. The less dark, winter, late night driving I have to do in the mountains, the better. In my younger, wilder days, I used to be able to make the drive in much less time, but I stopped speeding years ago. We get there when we get there, as safely as possible.

Day Two is the only full day we have, so we sleep in and take our time. Ha! Honestly, this trip is equal parts “gruelling” hike to lazy bones chill fest. Breakfast is made in our cabin, usually eggs for me and Dan, and toast and fruit for Lucas. Truthfully, Lucas is not a breakfast person, so I let him choose what he wants to nibble on to give him some energy for the trek ahead. We always make lunch to eat on the trail, then bundle up and head out the door. This year we left the cabin around 11am.

Next up, the hike! See the next section for the write up.

Finally, back to our cabin for some more relaxing before dinner. We alternately nap, read, and play Switch for an hour or so until we’re ready to eat dinner. Over the years this part has taken a few forms. In the early days, I would bring food to cook, to make use of the full kitchen. The past few years we have been ordering pizza takeout or delivery. And this year we decided to go into town and eat at the Korean restaurant. After dinner we do more relaxing. Or “chill-axing” as Dan calls it, to make me cringe.

Day Three. We have to get up slightly earlier on Sunday, as it’s check out day. Breakfast in our cabin, followed by packing the car. After a final sweep of the rooms, we are on our way. I like to stay in Jasper for as long as possible because it makes me feel nourished to be in this place. Some years we have headed to a more “touristy” part of the park that is close by – Maligne Canyon, Pyramid Lake, Athabasca Falls for example. This year, we walked through town, and poked our heads into some of the (lame) souvenir shops. Then got snacks and drinks at The Other Paw, an excellent bakery-cafe with two locations in downtown Jasper.

HIKE COORDINATOR FOR MY FAMILY

If readers are looking for some hot tips about hiking in Jasper, I am afraid this post might not be it. My only strict requirement for selecting a trail on these trips is its accessibilty from the front door of our cabin. I’m not looking for grand peaks, and we’re not chasing waterfalls. The purpose is to be together in the snow, moving through the National Park.

That being said, I still have to be mindful of some basic trail selection tips. This year we found that heavy snowfall in some areas eclipsed the trail and we had to wade through the snow. That was less than appealing for Lucas and his fabric boots. This also meant that the trail effectively disappeared, and we had to take to the road. Also less appealing, but thankfully there was not a lot of vehicle traffic to contend with. It is difficult to know the trail conditions ahead of time, so we take it slow and easy and prepare for whatever detours we need or want to take. This is where the generalized goal for the hike comes in handy. I’m rarely disappointed if things don’t work out according to plan, because there was no plan!

We started from our cabin and headed south into town. I was aiming for a trail – 12A – that would take us along the Athabasca River down to Wapiti Campground. This appeared to be a more popular route out of town, as there were a lot of footprints to follow. This became important when we “lost” the trail a few times. I was not going by a map or app, simply watching for trail markers along the way and heading in what I knew was the general direction of the campground. We wandered throug two vacation cabin properties, which is always fun in the winter when no one is around! The Athabasca River is really neat this time of year. It’s there, but a lot of it is covered in huge chunks of snow and ice. We followed it all the way to Wapiti, where we cut into the trees and into the campground. Another cool place to see in the winter with no one around.

I wanted to check out Whistlers Campground as well, which is on the opposite side of the highway from Wapiti, and back toward town. So we hiked the highway for about a kilometre. Not as fun as being in the trees, but it shaved some time off our trek. Whistlers has undergone renovations over the past few years, so you can see most of the campground from within it. And a perfect view of Whistlers and Pyramid Mountains, two iconic views in Jasper. We poked around here for a bit, but we were already at the 10km mark, Lucas was tired and had wet feet, and we still had to make it all the way back to town. So we popped out of the campground and back on to the highway. Boring, but fast. Again, the park isn’t super busy this time of year, so there wasn’t a lot of vehicle traffic to watch out for. I feel like the trails just outside the townsite don’t get enough love from the tourists. We passed a cool bike park, and walked alongside a train, which is an accidental tradition for us on these trips as well. Our cabins are located on the north side of town, so we walked through the commercial section and picked out our dinner location – Kimchi House. All told, our hike was 15.5km and we were on the trails for 4.5 hours.

If you’re looking for a tip for winter hiking in Jasper National Park, I guess I have a few:

  • Keep your plan loose and general. One year I really wanted to head up into the trails behind town, but the trailhead was so slippery we couldn’t actually get up there. Also, weather can change fast in the mountains, especially if you are in a higher altitude. A change of plans might become a necessity for safety reasons too.
  • Come as prepared as possible within your ability. This might look like poles and snowshoes if you have access to that gear.
  • Plan for your least advanced hiker. For us, that’s Lucas. There was only one section he struggled on – he took a tumble off the trail down an incline – and while I wasn’t super concerned for his safety, I know that he was no longer having fun in that moment.
  • There is some benefit to sticking to the popular trails in the winter, because that way you know it will be marked in some way, even if that’s just the footprints of the people who came before.
  • Hiking on a paved trail, or an “easy” traill is still hiking. Anyone who tells you otherwise is gatekeeping the outdoors and I just don’t have time for that nonsense.

MOM GUILT AND THE FUTURE OF THIS TRIP

I have a 17 year old son on the precipice of the rest of his life. Just like when he was transitioning out of babyhood, I will have many “lasts” to grapple with this year.

Almost the moment we stepped foot into our cabin after the hike, Lucas told us he doesn’t want to come next year. I have a feeling that a lot of that statement was influened by the snow in his boots, but he also got me thinking. He will be 18 next November, and finished school. He will be required to make other choices of how he wants to spend his time – work, post-secondary – so why would this family vacation be any different? It was always my intent to make this a vacation about fun and rest for all of us, but I missed the signs that Lucas was outgrowing it. That his tastes were moving on. Do I pivot and try to tailor next year’s vacation to his changing ways? Or do I keep doing what I have always done, and hope he sees the value of this time together. Whatever happens, my rational mind knows that it will be fine and good whatever he chooses. My Mom mind however, feels a tonne of guilt. I don’t have any answers today. But I will increase my communication with him around this trip and any others I plan. So that we can continue our traditions, even if they have to be tweaked a bit.

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

It looks like I’ve blogged only a few of these family tradition trips: 2019 & 2020. This trip that Dan & I took in 2014 the one that started it all. My family has been traveling to Jasper National Park since before I was born. And I have been documenting my trips in many ways, for many years. You can find all of my Jasper-related posts on my old blog here.

I have learned a lot over the years about the dark colonial history of our Parks system, and am always open to sharing what I’ve found. Please know that this is difficult subject, so prepare yourself accordingly, but White folks and settlers, we need to rise to this challenge.

Canada’s National Parks are Colonial Crime Scenes” by Robert Jago (The Walrus, 2020)

Rethinking the colonial Mentality of Our National Parks” by Jimmy Thomson (The Walrus, 2019)

The Shady Past of Parks Canada: Forced out, indigenous people are making a comeback” by Graeme Hamilton (National Post, 2017)

Nations of Jasper welcomed back to the Park” (Fitzhugh, 2012)

Hunting in Jasper – Reconciling the National Park Idea by Kevin van Tighem (Alberta Views, 2018)

Aseniwuche Winewak Nation

Five National Parks that honour First Nations” by Hans Tammemagi (Tyee, 2012)

From Parks to Prisons: Decolonization is the responsibility of people of colour too” by Shama Rangwala (The Star, 2019)

December Memory Keeping and Why I Quit “December Daily”

DECEMBER MEMORY KEEPING AND WHY I QUIT “DECEMBER DAILY”

I started writing this Blog in December of 2021, but I never posted it. Now it’s creeping up on December 2022, and I find that I am feeling all the same feelings. I know that the tradition of creating a “December Daily” is something that is important to many folks in the crafting, scrapbooking, and journaling spheres. As always, I would encourage anyone who is feeling “meh” about it, to critically examine why that is. And if there are better uses of your time and energy (and money!) in celebrating this season. It’s okay to let traditions go if they are no longer serving us, no longer align with our values, or make us downright cranky.

We’re all friends here right? I can be honest without y’all judging me too hardly?

I hate this project.

Yes, I realize that “hate” is a strong word, but the more I think about it (and try to write this blog) the more I am being honest with myself. A “December Daily” is a habit I have been trying to build for many years. And I don’t think it serves me anymore. December 2022 might be months and months away, but I think this is the year I let it go.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM MY 2021 DECEMBER DAILY

Say I was to try this again for next December. Here are some of my key takeaways from how the project went in 2021 (and some reasons that I want to cut this tradition off).

  • I didn’t print my photos often enough, and trying to play catch up all the time was exhausting
  • I printed too many photos and tried to tell too many stories
  • I didn’t have the finished product in mind when I started, so there was no cohesive theme and the size of the book didn’t make sense
  • I wasn’t thinking sustainability, not just over the course of the month, but over the life of this book: where was the album going to live, why was I doing this project, what did I really want to share and with who
  • I don’t have time to spend on this! aka I didn’t make time, but also making time was not a priority
  • The “professional” December Daily albums I see on social media and websites continue to set unrealistic targets, and encourage careless consuming within a craft that I no longer find myself fitting in to

WHAT’S NEXT FOR DECEMBER MEMORY KEEPING?

The answer to this might honestly be “nothing” and I’ve got some time to come to terms with that. January has always been a powerful month for me creatively-speaking. This is when I start my goal setting and word planning. Having an unfinished “December Daily” hanging over my head is depressing and zaps my energy and excitement for the new year.

Perhaps instead I can focus my December creative energy on preparing for Yule, and building my intentions for the new calendar year. I have excised many Christmas traditions from my life since leaving my ex. Perhaps 2022 is the year I have time and space to build a few new ones.

And so now that it is actually December 2022, and I realize that I can breathe a sigh of relief that I am not prepping for a memory-keeping project that I don’t want in my life, I can focus on building other traditions. Ones that are more in line with my interests and values. This might be a lonely time for me, as many of the folks I interact with are Christmas-obsessed. The way Christmas has morphed into this uber-capitalist holiday, where it seems like the only socially acceptable ways to celebrate – and document those celebrations – are with shiny and fervent commercialism, actually makes me very angry. I continue to address those feelings, while I untangle myself from them and search for folks who feel the same. I’ve also been thinking about hosting more community-minded options to celebrate the end of the year. Y’all I just want to sing traditional Christmas carols, light some candles, and eat warm food in the company of non-assholes…is that so impossible?!

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

All of my December Daily posts from my old blog are linked here. There aren’t that many! I have always struggled with this project. In fact, here are some more DEEP THOUGHTS on the pressure of a December Daily. And finally, because some folks really dig this tradition, a little background and intro from the creator of December Daily – Ali Edwards – is here.

Weekly Check-In Prompts

WEEKLY CHECK-IN PROMPTS AND GOAL REVIEW

Ideally, every Monday morning I open up my planner and do a little review. Sometimes this exercise is beyond my energy capacity, but I try not to ruminate on those days or weeks when it remains incomplete. This exercise has become important to my routine, and invaluable to my personal growth. It is an easy way to integrate goal review into my weekly routine, and check-in with my feelings and capacity. It also gives me a chance to prioritize rest and recovery. I want to share my prompts with you and explore why I complete this activity, in hopes that it offers inspiration or a starting point for you to integrate this practice into your weekly routine as well.

WHY DO I COMPLETE A WEEKLY CHECK-IN

There are loads of reasons why we “should” check-in on our goals, but here are my personal reasons for completing a weekly check-in in this manner.

  • Because it allows me to review my goals and action items, and recalibrate as needed
  • Because it helps me process my feelings about my schedule
  • Because I value the structure and routine it provides
  • Because it helps me to purposely incorporate rest into my week, which is core value that is sometimes difficult for me to attain
  • Because I enjoy the quiet reflection time
  • Because it feels good in my brain

Your reasons will probably look different from mine, but I hope you allow some softness and forgiveness into your check in as well.

BUILDING THE CHECKLIST

When I decided to try this format for my Monday journaling routine, I went looking for ideas. The winner jumped out at me on Pinterest of all places. It was very productivity-focused which is not one of my values, and kind of missed the mark on how I envisioned this unfolding. But it was a good start, so I printed it off. After the first few rounds, I could see what was working and what wasn’t. I started tweaking some questions, and filling in the holes with statements that more aligned with my values and goals for the year.

After many rounds of edits – sometimes as small as one word – I landed on a checklist that works for 90% of my weeks. Or at the very least, gives me a chance to pause for a moment and look at the bigger picture before moving on to the next task.

COMPLETING THE WEEKLY REVIEW

I had a dedicated journal for this, and I filled it up. So we’ve moved on to another one, but it’s only sort of working out. Isn’t it funny how that makes such a difference? But perfect is the enemy of good and the enemy of complete so I am trying to get comfortable with grabbing whatever paper is laying around. It’s interesting to read through previous week’s reviews, but that’s not the primary goal of this exercise. The main goal of the checklist is actually the first thing on the list: get things out of my head and on to paper.

And this might not even be “on paper” for you. I work best when I am able to write things down, but it would be just as easy to create an online document or note in your phone to review your check-in prompts on a schedule that makes sense for you. I formatted the list to the same size as my planner, and printed them on a sheet of purple paper so the sheet lives in my planner binder. Once I complete it, I move it to the next week in my binder. It’s presence serves as its own reminder.

HOW DO I REVIEW MY GOALS

You’ll notice there isn’t a specific prompt to “Review Goals”. Because that is too huge, too general. And terrifying, to be honest. One of the reasons I love the weekly review prompts in this format is because it breaks things down into bite-sized chunks. Teeny, easily digestible morsels. So whether you realise it or not, you are evaluating a goal (or an action item) with each response. My word of the year usually guides my goal-setting, and this year was no different. Although my goals have been hard to measure, which can make them hard to evaluate. The prompts guide me toward those feelings and I can adjust or create any actions that might move me forward if I feel stuck. What makes these weekly review prompts so great is that even if you don’t have big, specific goals, you can still do some personal reflection.

As I am always telling my Accountability Club, if a goal or action isn’t working for you, be honest and either change it or get rid of it. There is no harm in that. In fact it makes zero sense to keep pushing something that’s not working right now. Any kind of reflection works for this, it doesn’t have to be weekly. Find what works for you! Accountability Club meets online together once a month, and for many of the participants this timing works well for reflection and a reset.

CHECK IN PROMPTS IN FLUX

These check-in prompts are not carved in stone. Thank goodness! They can and will change as I change what and how I want to review my goals or commitments. In fact, I think a change is coming soon. While sorting through some items leftover from my previous job, I found two sticky notes. The questions I wrote on there used to be my quick version of a check-in. They still resonate with me, so I will be finding a way to incorporate these notes in my current weekly check-in prompts. They are very feelings based, which I think there needs to be more space for when evaluating goals.

SLOW DOWN AND SOFTEN UP

I try to push back against mainstream messages of productivity where I can, and I found this post starting to go there. So let me clarify. This is just a tool that I use to help me slow down and take notice of what I am doing.

What did I learn about myself, what did I notice this week about my life, about myself. What made me happy or sad, and why. What is something that I am proud of. Rather than the capitalist focus on productivity and self-development, personal growth and individualism, my weekly check-ins serve to ground my being in the slow ways of personal empathy and community-mindedness. They help me integrate new ways of knowing and process new ways of being that I have been exposed to. As a reflection tool, the questions change based on my growth and new knowledge. Completing the check-in helps me continuously build a better check in system for myself, my values, and my goals.

We move through our lives so quickly, rarely stopping to appreciate the changes that we have made. Or acknowledge the changes that were made without our control. My weekly check-in allows me to work within the framework of my mental illness and get shit done. But it also gives me the opportunity to be kind to myself, and better understand my patterns.

HERE ARE THE PROMPTS

Y’all here is what I’m sure you have all been waiting for. The actual prompts! Again, I welcome you to approach this with an open heart and mind, and adjust the prompts to comfort and challenge you in balance.

Capture

  • Get things out of my head and on to paper
  • Collect any relevant notes laying around
  • Process into the right places

Reflect on the previous week

  • Did I get everything done? If no, why not?
  • What needs to get moved to this week’s to-dos and what can get scrapped completely?
  • How are my daily routines and habits going?
  • What brought me JOY this week?
  • Where did my WORD show up?

Review next week

  • What commitments do I have?
  • What preparation do I need to do?
  • How much (realistically) can I do in a day?
  • Add in actions related to my goals and tasks
  • Block off time I need to rest

Review the week after next

  • What events are in there, and
  • Do I need to do anything about them this week?

Review goals and projects

  • Do they have clear next action points to work on?
  • Edit out impossible things and things I’ve let go of
  • Add anything new that has come up

Check in with Accountability Club.

Do something to celebrate how good this feels.

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

My current planner is by Agendio, and my previous planner is the Get To Work Book by Elise Cripe. This is my favourite pen. It’s refillable.

I love setting goals, helping other people set goals, and writing about setting goals. I’ve set goals around my sobriety, creativity and house projects, clothing, and books, to name a few.

Some of the ways I document goals are through my Word of the Year, numbers, and here on the blog.

Speaking of goals, here are 5 Waste Reduction Resolutions You Should Make Even Though They Won’t Solve the Climate Crisis.

How To Read 80 Books in a Year

How to Read, Enjoy, (and Quit) 80 Books in a Year

First of all keep in mind that some years this will be easier than others! 2022 was a hard year for me to read 80 books. I stopped tracking in July, had a bunch of duds in a row, and by November I had read only 38 books!

So I put together the best tips that I use to achieve my reading goals. I am taking my own advice with these tips on how to read 80 books per year.

FINDING BOOKS TO READ

These are not tips on where to buy books, although as an environmentalist, and a book-minimalist, I always find myself recommending the library and second hand book stores over buying new. There are so many sustainable – and accessible – ways to read 80 books every year! This section is for folks who don’t know what title or author to read next. How do you find new books to add to your TBR – to be read – pile? Where do you look for recommendations? Here are some tips on how to read 80 books per year if finding books to read is hard for you.

1.Join a book club. Being in a book club is one of my greatest goals, and this year I have finally experienced a bit of success! Every two months we get to vote on three books. The one with the most votes is the one we discuss at our next meeting. So right there is at least 18 books I can add to my TBR pile! If you aren’t already in abook club you can find one through your local library.

2. Speaking of your local library, they have loads of resources for finding new books to read. At my local library I really like the mystery bags. They also have a really strong staff picks section at each branch. And are always featuring new titles or authors on their website and blog.

4. Ask your friends what they are reading. I have one internet pal who I know reads the same theme of books as I do. So when I am in a desparte drought, I put the call out to Sarah for some ideas!

5. Listen to a podcast about books. My favourite is Get Booked from Book Riot, but they have dozens of podcasts to choose from.

HOW TO READ MORE

Let’s be honest, 80 books is a lot of books for most folks. I mean, I think it’s a lot. I have a high school pal who reads over 100 books per year and please pick my jaw up off the floor. Some books take me the full 3 weeks of my library time, and a few overdue weeks as well. If “how to read 80 books in a year” seems overwhelming and impossible, maybe you need to start with 40 or 10! Whatever number seems doable and challenging. That’s the sweet spot to try and hit.

So now you’ve set your numbers goal. How do you ensure you can read more books. Here are 6 tips to help you read more books.

1. Don’t forget that audiobooks are “real” books. It really cheeses me off when people say that an audiobook isn’t a real book. Are you getting emotionally involved in the charcater development? Are you learning and being challenged by the material? IT COUNTS so you better count it. Plus, audiobooks are more accessible to some folks, so it is ableist to say that audiobooks aren’t real books.

2. If you don’t like it, quit it. I know what I like and what I don’t like when it comes to books. And I can usually tell pretty quickly with a book if it is one I am going to enjoy. If it is not, I feel no remorse for quitting it early. Why struggle through a title that you don’t even like, just to get a checkmark on your year? Life is short. Let’s make sure our reading material is interesting or entertaining. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t read hard books. Part of my goal setting every year is to find books that challenge my world view or understanding of things. This is important especially for white, cis, straight readers.

3. Put a book in your bag. This is especially handy if you read e-books or audiobooks! But it can be done with your favourite hardcover as well. This enables you to read on the bus, or while waiting for an appointment. Just make sure you don’t get so involved in the plot that you miss your stop!

4. Start Tracking. It’s pretty traditional goal-setting advice that if you aren’t tracking your goal, how will you know and measure success? It doesn’t have to be fancy either. I started a really simple Google Sheet where I can track the title, author, and component of the book that matches my other goals (essays, non-fiction, Canadian authors, etc.). Maybe you have a nice notebook, planner, or Bu Jo (Bullet journal) where you can jot titles down as you go. This will give you a great place to go back to as well if you are running out of ideas.

5. Stretch Goals. If you reach 70 by October, set an even bigger goal for the end of the year.

6. Break up the year into sections. Maybe you know that your summers are very busy with work-travel-kids, etc. so you only plan to reach 10 books from June to September. Or maybe summer is when you get most of your reading done so you put 40 books on the list for those months.

Like I wrote at the start, setting book goals can be difficult some years. If you are really keen on creating a better habit for reading more books, it can be difficult to “find time”. Sometimes you have to be really intentional to carve out time to reach your “80 Books a Year” goal. Grab your book while dinner is cooking and get a few pages in. Instead of playing on your phone while waiting for an appointment, put on an audio book or e-book. A few pages a day adds up. And some days maybe you’ll get more read. Where I live, we get snow and cold in the winter. I love a good stormy, snow day for cozying up on the couch and reading an entire goofy mystery.

Do you have any tips for reaching big reading goals? And reading 80 – or more – books per year?

Step-by-Step to start your own Family Mini Scrapbook Tradition in 2022

Step-by-Step to start your own Family Mini Scrapbook Tradition in 2022

Step One for me is pulling out the previous six scrapbooks (six!) to reminisce and remember how to do this! But seriously, this has been a fun and amazing tradition for our family. Especially considering that we don’t have a lot of traditions. Scrapbooking is one of my hobbies, and it provides the base for this tradition. But instead of creating memories and then documenting them, the action of creating the scrapbook becomes the memory while it captures a moment in time. Wild.

STEP ONE – TIMING IS AND ISN’T EVERYTHING

There is no perfect time to start this tradition. And also, right now is the perfect time to start this tradition.

Consider who your group is, and when you will all be together for a special gathering. If you want to host this every year at a certain holiday, be prepared that plans might change down the road. And be ready to pivot! My first plan was to complete this every year at Christmas. But in year two I forget, so we completed it on New Year’s Eve. Then the next year my sister moved to Dubai!

The setting might not always look the same, which is why it’s the people that truly make this special.

STEP TWO – GATHERING THE DOCUMENTING SUPPLIES

For your documenting supplies you will need paper for your group to write on. If you already have journaling cards this size, great! If not, you can easily cut some larger paper down to size. I love this small card size – 2.5 x 3.5 – because if forces people to be succinct and it keeps all the focus on the writing and photos, requiring little other embellishment. And it’s just fun sized!

You will also need a good pen. My favourites are anything by Staedtler. In black.

The camera is also an important aspect. I’ve written about it before, but I’ll say it again: “I have been using our Instax instant camera in order to simplify the project, and ensure it gets completed in a timely fashion.” (October 2021) I also personally really like the appearance of the Instax print. If you don’t have an instant camera, use what you have, and print the photos where it is most convenient for you.

STEP THREE – CHOOSE YOUR QUESTION

This is possibly the most important part of the whole exercise, but don’t let that stress you out. I’ve got three tips for a smooth selection.

  1. Succinctness wins every time. It shouldn’t need a lot of explainer, or background info.
  2. Simple enough that even a four year old can understand. We started this tradition when one of my nephews was
  3. Universal enough for anyone to be able to answer. “What is your favourite wind surfing beach” is probably not the best choice, for example.

Here are some examples of my past questions, to help you get started:

  • Your favourite thing about Christmas (this one can be tailored to whatever holiday your family celebrates)
  • Best moment, favourite things, fun times in blank (I asked this question on afamily trip to Mexico)
  • Favourite memory of the year or favourite memory of the summer
  • What you are most looking forward to next year? (this one is great if you complete the journal writing at a New Year’s Eve Party)
  • What is something you did this year that you are proud of?
  • What is something positive you were able to do, see, or experience because of the pandemic? (this one is very specific to a time and place, but also generated a lot of lovely answers)
  • What is something that brings you a ridiculous amount of JOY?

It is important to encourage honesty and seriousness from the contributors, but you also have to be okay if someone doesn’t take this as seriously as you! Sometimes my nephew didn’t want to answer the question, but he did want to include a fun drawing. My brother-in-law wrote some jokes on his card one year. And my son is a very reluctant participant, so I am always very pleased to get at least a one word answer.

STEP FOUR – ASK AND ANSWER

I like to have a bit of an explanation prepared, in case folks have questions. But otherwise, I simply present the stack of cards, a pen, and the question written out clearly on a piece of paper. Saying “no pressure, take your time” and then walking away while my each person crafts their response has also been a game-changer. If someone is really stuck, offer them your response, or a suggestion that you know might fit their personality.

Once they finished writing on their card, take a photo and put the items away.

STEP FIVE – BUILDING THE BOOK

Now it’s time to get creative! If you are already a scrapbooker or memory-keeper, or maintain a bu-jo, you are probably set for supplies! If not, here are some basic items you will need:

  • Adhesive (glue stick, glue tape, etc.)
  • Colourful paper
  • Sticker letters or other flat embellishments for the cover and back pages
  • Packing tape or washi tape

And finally, Step Six is “appreciate your hard work starting a new lovely tradition for your family or friend group”. When I come together with my family to create that year’s scrapbook, I like to leave out the previous ones. To remind them how fun, interesting, and important this tradition has become for us. Even if they grumble as I hand over the pen!

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

This Family Scrapbook Tradition in 2021

Not Ladylike Hikes July to September Recap

The gauzy, golden, end of the day in Edmonton is a spectacular time to get outside and explore the trails. This summer, Not ladylike Hikes changed up our routine and came together on Sunday evenings at 7:0pm. This gave folks who struggle with early AM on a weekend the opportunity to join in. And it offered us a chance to see Edmonton in a different – sunset – light.

STATS

I’ve started keeping “stats” for our hikes, not because I’m trying to beat any records here. But as another lens for remembering our adventures. Location is an easy one to track, and we visited 12 unique locations in amiskwaciwâskahikan.

  • Ada Boulevard
  • Fort Edmonton Footbridge
  • Mactaggart Sanctuary
  • Whitemud Creek
  • Rundle Park and Strathcona Science Park
  • Louise McKinney Park and Tawatina Bridge to Riverdale
  • Mill Creek Ravine
  • Victoria Park
  • Eagle Point Provincial Rec Area
  • Dawson Park
  • Nellie McClung Park to Walterdale Bridge
  • Terwillegar Park to Wolf Willow Stairs
  • Moss Lake Detour in Elk Island National Park

I don’t track our time on each trail, because the goal is to be out for approximately one hour. And sometimes we spend time chatting or taking photos instead of hiking! That’s the “building community” part of our mission. I do, however, watch our distance, which can vary a lot depending on the intensity of the trail. Our shortest distance was ~2.5km in Mactaggart Sanctuary. And our longest was ~6km going from Terwillegar Park to Wolf Willow Stairs and back. Our (approximate) total kilometres for all 12 hikes is 53.5km! (33 miles).

STORIES

The stats don’t tell all the stories though. And that’s what gets people coming out over and over again. Like our windy hike in Elk Island National Park, where all 22 of us (and 5 dogs) were spread out over almost 1 km! Or the time we had to act as parking attendants at Victoria Park. The stats can’t capture the colour of the sunset, or all the lovely dogs we’ve met. The stats can tell us that we had 6 new hiking enthusiasts join in this summer. But it can’t express the joy in meeting a new person. And the amusement from the rest of the group that Jo Ann sees someone she knows on almost every trail. We did 200 stairs at Glenora and got eaten by more than 200 mosquitos at Mactaggart Sanctuary. We finally saw a beaver in Whitemud Creek! (I’ve been promising this since 2020). The stories showcase the lovely community we are building, one hike at a time.

LET’S GET POLITICAL

No topic is off limits on our hikes, and I’ve heard folks talking about city projects, oil and gas, and mental illness. One topic that does come up a lot is climate change, and all the symptoms and potential solutions. I am very conscious of the fact that our evening hikes were very warm this year. And are likely only going to get warmer. I also think a lot about our parks system in general and how we can utilize some of its features and benefits to increase our collective resilience to the climate-changed future. What does foraging look like in our parks? And how can we help increase the amount of native species of trees, shrubs and plants? Where are the parks located? Who has easy access to these spaces? How can we expand access and use of our parks to benefit the bodies and minds (and overall health) of all small-c citizens? Where are the Indigenous leaders and people? I obviously don’t have ready answers to these questions. That’s because we need to be talking and resolving them in community. Maybe on the next hike? I’ll see you there.

RESOURCES AND FURTHER READING

Let’s Find Out podcast episode 41 “How We Make Nature”(listen here)

A Little Bit Ritchie podcast episode 4 “Portrait of Mill Creek Ravine” (listen here)

Edmonton Community Walking Guides

Edmonton Native Plant Society. To note, these folks clarify that there is a Bylaw in Edmonton that makes foraging on public lands illegal.

“Canada’s 1st urban Indigenous ceremonial grounds taking shape in Edmonton’s river valley” (Global News – watch and read here)

Learn more about the City of Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River Valley Area Redevelopment Plan here

Camping, Hiking (and a Party) in Elk Island National Park

We are on year four of this tradition, and honestly it is a highlight of the year! Three of my favourite things – camping, hiking, and a party – in an amazing place. With many of the best and brightest folks in my life. I couldn’t ask for a better birthday celebration.

CAMPING

Camping in autumn is a lovely adventure. Chillier in the evenings and overnight. But the cool temperatures and the yellow leaves make for a very pleasant day. We keep the same set up no matter the time of year. And with Krista-Lee joining us, we finally get to make use of our extra dishes! Elk Island National Park is considered a dark sky preserve, and it was very clear on the second night, offering up an amazing view. I am only good at identifying constellations in the city limits. With all those other stars competing for action, I lose my favourites Orion and Auriga. Unfortunately, they are now charging for firewood. But we found that two bags (~$15) gave us a long enough fire on Saturday night to enjoy before an early bedtime.

HIKING

Our trail choice this year was Moss Lake Detour. Which is a shorter loop within the Moss Lake Trail. Mostly treed, there aren’t any views except for one section where you walk alongside a lake. We saw a lot of ducks, and beaver activity, but no other animals on this trail. This is outside of the safety zone, so the potential to see some larger animals – deer, moose, bison, bear – is there. I included a bit of safety talk in the introduction to bring the point home. But it wasn’t needed this time out. Chatting with folks throughout the day, most had seen some plains bison grazing by the road on the way in. Watching a 600kg beast eat their dinner is super cool from the safety of your car. But not if you come upon them on a trail with only your wits to protect you!

PARTY

This weekend marks my 42nd birthday. I asked for help from my parents to put together a picnic feast. Veggies, fruit, cheese and crackers. And cupcakes of course. Lots of options for the hungry hikers! The day use area at Astotin Lake was busy, and very windy! But we found a quiet spot in the sun, and took advantage of this time to catch up with old friends. I am slowly learning how to better enjoy parties, and happily made my way around the circle offering my greetings. I notice that most people do not interact with strangers at parties! It’s not just me! And so I feel much more comfortable letting everyone do their own thing. And not stressing out, wondering if everyone is having fun or not.

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

Here are some of my past blogs about Elk Island National Park. There are a lot of activities you can do within the Park, and it is a great option for folks in the city (Edmonton) to get out into nature without having to drive 200km.

Please familiarize yourself with any public park or day use space before going. Here is the official Parks Canada page for Elk Island National Park. On it you will find information about trail and road closures, park fees, etc. And here are some Elk Island National Park Bison FAQs, because everybody loves the bison!

I encourage everyone who is traveling to national or provincial parks to learn the history of this space. And the names of Indigenous folks who were pushed off that land in the name of “conservation” and “preservation of wildness” to create green tourist spaces for white settlers. This website will give you a decent start learning the names of the original folks to the lands of Turtle Island: Native Land.