Free money anyone? Not for long.

<rant>

So, I open my mail and gratefully pull out my $182.50 quarterly HST credit from our lovely government. Fondly, I think of how this is going to be one of the last few cheques of this nature that I will receive. Soon it’s going to go back to GST and PST credits.

I’d like to point out the following:

HST credit: $182.50 x 4 = $730/year in free money

GST credit (how it was before HST): $67.50 x 4 = $270
+
PST credit (how it was before HST): $75 annually
= $345/year in free money

Notice how the HST credit is more than twice the GST & PST credits. Oh and, the amount you receive varies per person. Some people receive twice what I receive quarterly. Think of all the free money!

Now, let’s think about this for a minute. First, I’d like to point out that in order to receive the tax credits from the government you have to make LESS than a certain amount of money each year, ie. come from the poorer demographic. Now. Who are usually the type of people to be mad at the government, always nit-picking on the way the government does or doesn’t run things, always complaining about taxing, blah blah blah? Usually the people who are less informed, have nothing better to do, make less money, in other words the people who come from the poorer demographic. (Not trying to be disrespectful, I know there are some well-informed people out there who care about our country and the well-being of its citizens).

I know there are other facets and pros/cons to how HST and GST/PST work. But for my rant I don’t have the energy to get into those. I’d like to thank all the uninformed idiots who blindly voted the HST out. In the end you were just screwing yourselves. You’re in the poorer demographic, and really, unless you have 72034 credit cards you’re not really gonna spend more than $730 worth of tax in a year. $730 in tax is approximately $6000 in taxable goods and services each year (not including food). That’s a lot of stuff for a poor person to justify buying in a year. I know I spent less than $6000 on taxable goods and services last year, so the $730 from the government MORE than made up for all the tax I spent. And if you do have 72034 credit cards your debt should be more of a concern to you than how the government chooses to tax us. Oh and another thing, if you’re spending more than $730 worth of tax in a year and are in the poorer demographic then you’re probably forever gonna be in that demographic (ever want to move up in society?). So you just screwed yourself out of more free money from the government. I thought you guys liked handouts? Hmm…

And I don’t even want to get started on how the whole ballot was worded for the HST. It was designed to confuse people and get them to accidentally vote the wrong way. My boyfriend checked the wrong box because it was worded weird and confusing and thus wrecked his ballot, discounting himself from the vote. I wonder how many other people did that.

Also, it may seem like a better idea to not have the HST, but think of the deficit that was created by cutting out that tax system. Now the government is just going to have to think up a new system of taxing somewhere else to make up for that deficit. And who’s gonna get angry about it and put up signs and petitions to get rid of that tax? All the same people who voted out the HST in the first place. Nice move.

I’m just a bit irked at the way this country is run sometimes and how the stupid idiots who live in it are never satisfied unless there’s some sort of handout or immediate fix for a problem. They’re never thinking about the consequences or long-term effects of anything. And somehow these same stupid idiots get away with everything, whether it be this issue or anything else (think “justice” system, among other things).

Anyway. That’s all I have to say. I’m off to put my cheque into the bank.

</rant>

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Happy Failing: How to Turn Your Failures into Successes

My boyfriend Jonathan, who is the brain behind In The Limelight, recently posted an interesting article called Learning From Success Versus Learning From Failure and it got me to thinking. He states that learning from failure is an ineffective way to learn and that often times people don’t even learn anything when they fail because they are too discouraged by their shortcoming to even try to see the positive side.

I agree that failure is an ineffective way to learn something. However, it is at the very least an opportunity to learn something. One can take a failure and just stare at it and think “I’m such a stupid person, all I can do is fail, fail, fail. I can never do anything right. This must be a sign that I just suck at life.” And then from there, they choose to lead a very unfulfilling life because they have “learned” from failure that they are incapable of becoming anything great, achieving anything of significance, or meaning anything at all to another human being. And so they invest everything in this way of thinking and begin a downward spiral of not allowing themselves to try anything at all because there is even a risk of failure. They allow the failure to take them over and stagnate their lives. This way of thinking is, in a sense, failure.

On the flip side, if one experiences failure and confronts it head on and decides that, yes, they can learn something from this, then I think they are allowing themselves to become more as a person. They have recognized the failure, realized that they did something wrong and chosen to move beyond it instead of letting it be a permanent obstacle. It is through admitting that you were wrong and acknowledging the fact that sometimes you don’t necessarily do everything right the first time that you are not allowing failure to get the better of you, thus allowing yourself to live a more free life. This all takes a lot of humility because who wants to admit they were wrong? However, if you step back and have that humility, in the end, it is so worth it compared to the alternative.

I know this is true because I have experienced some pretty big and significant failures in my life. And at first I allowed them to consume me. I turned into a depressed, unmotivated person. I didn’t want to try again because I was afraid that I would only continue to fail and I didn’t want to experience the feeling of letting yourself or those around you down again. Luckily I slowly began to realize that this way of thinking would never allow me to even go back to where I was in life before I failed, let alone ever go beyond that. That was when I took hold of my failures, saw them for what they were, admitted I had failed (which by the way is very hard, if you are not a humble person by nature, like me) learned all the intricacies of each one (the whys and the hows), and made peace with myself through recognizing that I had failed and not allowing myself to continue in the downward thinking of never being able to succeed. Through that process I turned those failures from obstacles into opportunities. And the feeling of making peace with yourself and your mistakes is such a huge relief.

Of course, you’re probably thinking, it would be nice to have never had to deal with those failures in the first place. But then, those things wouldn’t be a part of our lives, and I honestly believe that everything we experience shapes us into who we are at this very moment. You can go through life with an “avoidist” kind of attitude, keeping yourself away from any chance of failure, but I think that kind of lifestyle only makes boring people who don’t take risks. I believe the better option is to can go through life taking those risks and when failure does come to learn from the mistake. Or better yet, take the risk and reap the joys of the great successes that came as a result, because without those risks, there would never even be a possibility of success.

Sure learning from failure is an inefficient way of learning, and I most certainly wouldn’t suggest going out and trying all the options you have knowing you’ll fail in the off-chance that you might learn something. No. But it’s all in how you look at it. Approaching all things in life with an open mind and trying to pick yourself up each time you do something wrong. Taking risks and hoping for the best. Putting value in the lessons you have learned from failure and rejoicing in all of your successes. I guess it’s easier said than done, but then again, I am an eternal optimist. In any case, I wish you, with the greatest sincerity “happy failing”.

Inspiration, Finally

I am a different person.

Let me be more specific: I am a different person than I was two months ago.

Two months ago I was searching, meandering through life. Doing everything and anything with the hope of finding some form of meaning or self-worth. I had lost many pieces of myself, pieces which made me into who I am. Things I valued, things I loved, things I wanted, things I didn’t. I was pursuing valueless things with disregard for any moral implications or social consequences. I was living for myself, not in a good way, but in a haphazardly selfish way.

Then something happened.

I cannot describe exactly what it was, because it was truly an experience that could not have happened had not each piece of the puzzle been placed exactly where it was. Somehow, I stumbled upon something so supremely unique and wonderful. I don’t know how I was privileged enough to have had this happen to me, but it did.

I met someone. Someone who, over the span of the past few weeks, has quickly become my world. Someone who means everything to me.

Now you may be thinking, ‘hah, this is typical. Girl meets boy. Girl falls for boy. But it’s just lustful infatuation. They’ll be together for a while but it won’t last.’ I can say wholeheartedly that this is not the case.

How do I know? Many reasons.

No one has ever inspired me on so many different levels. Since I have gotten to know this person, I have rediscovered things I used to value, chosen new paths to follow, closed doors that should never have been opened in the first place, found reason to seek after things that used to drive me, and reevaluated what truly matters to me.

To give this a bit more meaning:

  • I have rediscovered my love for food and cooking, two things that used to be very important to me
  • I have learned that meaningless relationships with no future are pointless and demeaning, and that meaningful relationships with commitment and care are the only kind of relationships that truly satisfy in all spheres of life
  • I have decided to make certain lifestyle choices to make me a better, healthier person
  • I have found new inspiration with which to express myself through the art of music
  • I have chosen once and for all to become drug-free and remain so for the rest of my life (this decision helped me really search myself and find that I never really liked drugs. Somehow it got buried along the way with all my other values when I stopped caring and went on my whole selfish eff-the-world-attitude spree)

Along with all of the above, I have also begun living my life without just myself in mind. I have fallen so deeply for this person that I am beginning to care so much about them that I want to do everything I can to make their life happier. I evaluate my decisions less from a selfish point of view and more from a point of view that takes others into consideration as well.

I cannot describe how much this person means to me. I cannot try to describe how much I care for this person. In such a short period of time, they have turned my world upside down and turned me inside out. And guess what? I like it. My life has never been in a more positive place.

———————————————————————————————————————-

I have made a choice
today and always
to be a better person

You have given me reason
to become,
something new and beautiful

And yet, it isn’t really new
it is something that was
there all along

You have helped me
rediscover who I am,
what really matters most.

That which I had lost,
you helped me find
and I found even more than I originally had

I am inspired,
I am renewed,
I am finally, truly, me.

2010 Reading List

It’s late and I’m bored. I give you: What I want
to fill my head with this year (even though the year is more than
half over, which means I have a lot of reading ahead of me!!). I
want to pass on books I have deemed worth reading so you can
experience them as well. My ratings out of five are included, and
if it’s a reread it must be good (=

[ ] A Perfect Mess – Eric Abrahamson, David H. Freedman

[3 1/2] Baby Proof – Emily Giffin

[4] Beatrice and Virgil – Yann Martel

[4 1/2] Best Friends Forever – Jennifer Weiner

[ ] Congo – Michael Crichton

[ ] Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

[ ] Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes (reread)

[4] For One More Day – Mitch Albom

[ ] Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger

[ ] Gluten-free Girl – Shauna James
Ahern

[ ] Life of Pi – Yann Martel (reread)

[5] Love the One You’re With – Emily
Giffin

[ ] My Name is Memory – Ann Brashares

[5] Pirate Latitudes – Michael Crichton

[4 1/2] Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin

[4] Something Blue – Emily Giffin

[5] The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom (reread)

[ ] The Heart of the Matter – Emily Giffin

[ ] The Last Summer of You and Me – Ann Brashares (reread)

[5] The Lost Girls – Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, Amanda Pressner

[3] The School of Essential Ingredients – Erica Bauermeister

[5] The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

[ ] The Woman At the Well – Patty Froese Ntihemuka (reread)

[5] Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom

Untitled IX

A tale untold in words
Made known in actions of love or hate
This story will unfold
Until its hero shall meet his fate

He walks through life unseen
So he tries to make those who don’t see him
See who he really is
But his choices become his trap

Living each day in fear now
He tries to understand why he must
Undo every wrong he has committed
And still be no one at all.

Rachelle gets creative in the kitchen

So my mom asked me to cook dinner for 13 people. Of course, being that I love cooking, I obliged. The cuisine she picked happened to be my favourite to cook: Mediterranean. The menu: Greek salad, Greek-style carrots, spanakopita, another type of spanakopita made of mushrooms and parmesan, a Mediterranean chicken dish, and dolmades. After acquiring all the ingredients, I began my quest at 11:30pm last night. I went to bed just before 4am and continued cooking for a couple hours in the afternoon. All in all, it was a fun and easy job, mostly because it was very organized. Everyone enjoyed the food immensely, and there are plenty of leftovers which makes me very pleased (my mom had me make enough food for 25 people instead of 13…).

For this particular cooking adventure I invented two recipes. The first is a form of spanakopita, but instead of spinach and feta it has mushrooms and parmesan and a very interesting flavour due to the sundried tomatoes. The second is a Mediterranean-style chicken dish, which ironically I can’t fully eat because I recently decided to change my diet to vegetarian. Nonetheless, it results in quite possibly the moistest chicken you’ve ever tasted.


Mushroom & Parmesan Phyllo

  • 1 pkg phyllo sheets
  • 1 pkg frozen spinach, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 med onion, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, julienned
  • 6 cups various mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Sauté onions until tender. Add mushrooms and cook until tender. Add spinach and cook until tender.
  2. Remove from heat. When cooled, stir in parsley, sundried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and eggs.
  3. Melt the butter and grease the bottom of a 12 x 8 casserole dish.
  4. Cut phyllo sheets in half. Place one sheet of phyllo in the dish and spread butter on top. Continue placing another sheet on top, spreading butter until half of the sheets are used up.
  5. Pour the mushroom mixture on top.
  6. Continue layering phyllo and butter until the remaining half of the sheets are used up.
  7. Cut into sections, without cutting all the way through to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until top is golden.
  9. Makes 10-12 medium servings.


Mediterranean-style Chicken

  • 16 chicken thighs or 8 chicken breasts, deboned and de-skinned
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 each red and yellow potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 pepper, red or yellow or orange, not green, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/4  large red onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 650g container plain Greek/Balkan style yogurt
  • juice of one lemon
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • chopped herbs: Italian flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, sage (about 4 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs rosemary, 2 sprigs sage)
  1. Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil on the bottom of a large casserole dish, at least 13×9, bigger might be necessary depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
  2. Arrange the chicken into four rows (either four rows of four thighs or four rows of two breasts).
  3. Arrange the potato wedges between the rows of chicken, alternating red and yellow pieces.
  4. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  5. Arrange the onion slices on top of the chicken. Scatter the pepper pieces.
  6. In a bowl mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs. Pour the sauce evenly on top of everything.
  7. Sprinkle the crumbled feta on top of everything.
  8. Bake, covered, in preheated oven at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until the potatoes are cooked through (the chicken should be fully cooked at this point, but double check it to make sure).
  9. Serves 8.

Tips: Prepare this dish beforehand and allow it to sit overnight to give the flavours a chance to blend together. Also, precooking the potatoes until they are half-way done can speed up the cook time in the oven. I did this once and only cooked it in the oven for about 40 minutes instead of the full hour.

More pictures here.

Carbonated Emotions

There are two parts to moving on: mentally and emotionally, the first of which is easier. You can consciously choose to move on in your head and therefore be mentally past whatever it is you are moving on from. However, you cannot necessarily control the emotional aspect of moving on. Sometimes you can think that you’re past something, really believe you are. You might say things like “I’ve chosen to deal with such and such and have moved above and beyond this…I am no longer allowing this to rule my life”. You can even live your life as if such a thing is true. And it may be true. But if you are [unexpectedly] put back into the situation or introduced to an evolved form of the situation even though you’ve made that decision mentally your emotions might not follow suit.

Life’s experiences can so deeply affect us that it is difficult to move on emotionally. Especially if you are the type of person to bottle up your emotions. They come out in unpredictable ways. Kind of like something under pressure–calm when not disturbed, volatile when shaken up. All of this time they, the emotions, have been held in, enclosed without escape, suddenly there is a small moment of vulnerability and everything spews out from within.

How do you fully move on from something? Because the feeling of moving on is a freeing feeling, I know, I’ve experienced it. I’ve experienced mentally moving on from something. And I’ve experienced the feeling of release and freedom from your bondage to that situation through mentally moving on. However, at the time I felt that I had fully moved on. Recently I realized, while I may have moved on mentally, I hadn’t completely moved on emotionally. That realization was a scary thought. I was forced back into a situation I thought I had freed myself from, forced to experience it again. It was painful, and I’m still trying to deal with my emotions and learn how to move on in that sense.

The only solution that I can come up with to help in the process of moving on from something fully is this: continued character growth, continued self-discovery, continued progress on the journey ahead. Finding out the “whys” and “hows” of the past. Choosing to embrace the things that have happened in your life as key experiences that have helped mould you into the person you are today. Choosing to deal with things instead of burying them underneath all the other baggage that is a part of your life. Not allowing yourself to focus on the past with of all its “what if this had happened” and “I wish I had done that better”. Instead, realizing the mistakes you made and taking those lessons away from the situation and bringing them along with you as you pursue your future.

I’m trying to figure this one out here because I’ve been without a solution for some time. I believe that the feeling of freedom is within my grasp, I just have to have the courage to move through everything to get there. It is a tough choice to make, one that will require a lot of strength, strength that I don’t necessarily have.