Park #8: Eau Claire Plaza

Date visited: August 21, 2021, September 24, 2021

Location: Downtown Calgary

Best Time of Year To Visit: Any time there’s foliage.

Eau Claire Plaza was right next to Prince’s Island Park. By default, we knocked off two parks at once when we went to Prince’s Island Park. Even so, I knew I HAD to see Eau Claire Plaza again when the foliage started turning. I was sure that I would be missing out if I didn’t and I was right! The photos here are mainly from my visit on September 24 instead of August 21.

I’m only going to say this once. For those of you who don’t know my name, yes, it’s Claire and yes, you can make “Oh Claire” jokes in the comments! Bring it on!

Claire in Eau Claire. Okay, this is SUPER cheesy!

Autumn Porn:

I went nuts with my camera because the trees were GORGEOUS!

Trees with a city background:

There was a garden there which was still looking beautiful. I wonder how it will look in spring?

The park continues onto a river walk, which I didn’t take this time, but it’s good to leave some things for later!

Some Nice Buildings at Eau Claire:

Eau Claire is a nice place to shop and it’s got some nice buildings that make you feel stuck in time. It’s right next to Chinatown too.

Additionally, Happy Earth Day! I thought this was a good post to choose for Earth Day!

Challenges:

I would say that it’s good to know when the Plaza gets busy, and be careful of cyclists. The Peace Bridge makes for some heavy foot and bike traffic.

If you miss any of my future posts on my challenge or want to reread my past posts, you can go to my page Calgary Parks Challenge. You can also find more photos from the parks on my Instagram page here.

See you at the next park in my challenge!

From Self-Care Challenge to Well-Being Days

Hi everyone! Hope you are all preparing for a lovely Easter! I’m going to have a relaxing Easter and do one of what I call my Well-Being Days. My Well-Being Days started as a Self-Care Challenge and have flourished into something amazing. Read on to find out the process!

My Initial Self-Care Challenge:

I want to go back to when I first moved to Canada. Little did I know that I would start a habit that would change my well-being. It’s hard to do self-care when moving to another country because too many things can happen at once. If there is one thing life has taught me it’s to prioritize my well-being when times are good and slow-paced. Then, when times get hard, or even fast-paced, I have the resilience to see it through.

My nerves were frayed for the first month I was in Canada. When we first arrived, Mum and I were heavily dependent on my cell phone. I had to use it far more than I normally do. I was exhausted, which meant it took a while to get things organized. The only escape I could find was in reading and writing. In my first full month (November 2020), I decided that I would take a few days for a self-care challenge. I chose one day to devote to finances, one day to just organize all the crap that had accumulated, one day off from my phone, and one day to just rest (and I mean REST!). I ran those days by Mum and she thought it was a great idea and wanted to do them as well.

The Results of the Self-Care Challenge:

After each of the days, I found myself thinking, “Wow! These kinds of days should not just be a luxury! We should do them every month!” Do you know what was REALLY funny? Mum was thinking the same thing! I find self-care challenges overrated and words like well-being overused. This time, it worked like a charm! I guess desperation was the motivator to kick-start something lasting.

Our Well-Being days were born! We learned the first time we did them that the days should have guidelines and few if any, hard and fast rules. Over time, we added more days to our Well-Being Days. Will I continue my Well-Being Days once I start my own business? Heck yes! I am not a fan of working myself to death. Been there, done that and it’s not happening again! I’m going to whip a dead horse here. Brutally. These kinds of days should NOT be a luxury! I have found they are an effective burnout prevention tool. Okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. Anyway, here are my Well-Being Days and what they entail!

Well-Being Days
Well-Being Days

Money Day:

Do you know how people in finance say that you should set aside some time every month for your finances? Well, this is the day I do the majority of my finances! If I can, I save all the heavy-duty stuff for this day. I am fortunate that Mum and I have worked out a mutually beneficial system. My Dad is still currently in California, but I feel like he’s grateful that Mum and I have this Money Day. I can’t wait to introduce this to him as well as our other Well-Being Days!

Deep-Cleaning Day:

This one has been a newer edition to our Well-Being Days. Here’s the story behind this one. Last October, Mum and I were planning to clean our place thoroughly before winter, but then she got sick. For a few months, we completely forgot about cleaning the apartment and just let things gather dust. I have heard stories from people I know who have taken care of parents and they completely forget about their living space. Sometimes, their house will literally crumble around them.

In March, we got the urge to clean one room at a time and we got through it! We decided to do a Deep-Cleaning Day every month while also making a point of staying on top of the little chores when it’s not Deep-Cleaning Day. The little chores make Deep-Cleaning Days easier because our place collects a LOT of dust!

Organizing Day:

There is some overlap between an Organizing Day and a Deep-Cleaning Day. At first, we did some deep-cleaning on an Organizing Day. Then we realized there are some things that need to be done separately from a Deep-Cleaning Day. The things that are prioritized for an Organizing Day are papers, emails and digital files, or anything else that needs some straightening up.

It’s amazing how much useless paper, emails and digital files accumulate in a month! When I first started the Organizing Days, getting rid of the useless crap was quite tedious! Now, it’s just a matter of cleaning out what accumulated in a month! Additionally, it helps to have a temporary filing system, so that when the Organizing Day comes around, the files can be moved to our permanent filing system with relative ease.

The best source I have ever encountered about filing systems is Randy Pauch’s video on Time Management. Mum and I agreed early on from sharing an apartment that, to quote Randy Pausch, “A filing system is absolutely essential”. The part on filing systems starts at 25:34

A filing system is absolutely essential! Starting at 25:34

No/Limited Tech Day:

This is one of my most important Well-Being Days! I have become increasingly aware of just how much technology stresses me out. It took a while after starting a No Tech Day to realize that I need boundaries on tech in general. I have also discovered differences between essential and optional tech use. The reason why I say it’s a No/Limited Tech Day is that sometimes things come up on that day that I absolutely need to take care of and it’s necessary to use tech to solve them.

One exception to the day is if there is something good to watch on CBC Gem. You have probably figured out by now that I’m obsessed with CBC Gem! It is an affirmation that tech can be genuinely fun!

Overall, having this day from the get-go has made me more mindful of tech. My life changed for the better when I gave up my personal social media accounts. I use IG and Twitter for this blog on my own terms.

Another thing I have noticed is that when someone sends me a message with a certain tone to it, I think to myself, “Were they just doomscrolling on (insert social media site here)?” Each social media site has its own flavour of doomscrolling and I can see it more now that I don’t have personal social media accounts. That’s not to say I don’t fall down a doomscrolling rabbit hole, but I do something that does not involve tech to cool off. Plus, when I get messages like that, I don’t answer immediately. I wait for that person to cool off. Of course, I cringe to think that I did the same thing. It’s not at all intuitive.

To the people who were also affected by my doomscrolling, I apologize!

Rest Day:

This is another Well-Being Day of great importance. Naps are non-negotiable. Plus, I tend to lie in bed and read A LOT! I think one reason why Rest Days are important to me is because of living so far north and the sunrise and sunset times really messing with my body clock, even with SAD lights. Time changes are the weirdest thing. If it’s not the sun rising at 8 am in the winter that’s messing with me, it’s the birds singing their dawn chorus happening between 5 and 6 am in the summer.

It’s amazing how in this day and age that you literally have to force yourself to SLOW. THE. FUCK. DOWN!!

Pampering Day:

Sometimes, I’m not able to do everything I want to on my Rest Day, so this day is for things like footbaths, face masks, bubble baths, OR even MORE reading! I also like to treat myself and Mum to something special from our favourite patisserie. I could do a whole photo album of the pics I have taken of their food. Sometimes, I get us a treat on the other Well-Being Days too, like the Money Day or Cleanup Day or Organizing Day. After all, those days are more hardcore and it’s nice to have a treat at the end.

Fun Day:

My next Fun Day is Easter Monday! On that day, anything goes! Sometimes, I try something new. Sometimes, I devote myself to my other hobbies. My favourite thing to do is go outside. If I can go to a park, even better. This makes me think of the Big Bang Theory when they have Anything Can Happen Thursday.

One thing I have learned from this day is even when it’s not a Fun Day, it’s wonderful to be so close to nature. Sometimes, I need to go to the river and just discharge from something that’s stressing me out.

Creative/Arts Day:

I make a point of eliminating unnecessary tech use on this day! As Steve Jobs discovered, tech kills creativity. Have you ever wondered why he and Bill Gates and tech executives won’t let their kids use technology? Exactly. Creativity is best when your mind is quiet and clear, so I make sure mine is before this day happens.

I do like doing stuff for my blog on a Creative/Arts Day, so I make an exception for that. Otherwise, I like doing stencil drawings and listening to music a lot. Sometimes, I find new ways to be creative.

When Well-Being Days Don’t Work:

The one time Well-Being Days don’t work is when emergencies happen. There is too much going on that has to be dealt with on the spot, and there is a period of time afterwards dealing with the fallout. When Mum got sick last October, we didn’t get back to our Well-Being Days until the New Year. If we needed to rest or have a few hours of no technology, we did it. If we had to organize our stuff related to the emergency, we just got it over and done with! When you think you’re done with one thing, another thing comes up and you just have to zip it and then savour the serenity when it’s done!

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to take care of yourself during an emergency, or for a while afterwards. It’s important to understand what is possible at times like that. When you can take a moment for yourself, be grateful! Remember, self-care is a necessity, not a privilege!

For the Future:

I had originally started doing a Dutch Immersion Day. Then some changes happened. We found another way that we can possibly stay in Canada. It could still fall through, but the plan is that we will move to the Netherlands if it does. Plus, we don’t feel like it’s a good time to move to Europe with the refugee crisis happening and the higher cost of living. Now, learning Dutch is more lowkey.

Will I add more Well-Being Days in the future? It’s hard to say. I don’t want too many, then I won’t have some good ones to look forward to. I can tell when I’m about to have one of my Well-Being Days because my body responds in such a way that it cries out for them.

Sometimes, things don’t last an entire day, or I’m not able to follow through for an entire day, but that’s okay. Even devoting a few hours to one of these days makes a difference. That affirms to me that these days are a necessity.

Happy Easter to you all. Have fun or rest, but enjoy whatever it is you are planning to do!

Moving to a New Country- Collab Post with Tall Blonde Tales

Hi everybody! I did a collab post on moving to a new country with Tia from Tall Blonde Tales. You can view her blog here. Since we have both gone through the process of moving to a new country, we felt it would be great to do a post together for our readers. Enjoy!

Tia:

Today I’m doing a collab with the lovely Third Culture Kid, where we’ll be sharing our experience and tips of adjusting to other countries. Both of us have definitely had some experience with moving overseas, and adjusting to another country can be quite a process so we thought we’d share that whole journey with you, as well as some tips that we picked up along the way. Personally, I’ll be sharing my experience of adjusting to life in England.

For all of you to know quite how interesting my adjustment was, you have to know where I’m from – I was born and bred in South Africa! So, while moving to England wasn’t too terrifying in some ways, it was also so different in other ways. There are some similarities between the two countries, because England did colonise South Africa way back when which has obviously left some impact. So in some ways, things are quite similar because a lot of South Africa and its systems were modelled after the British.

That is where the similarities end though.

Adjusting to living up in the north of England was definitely an experience, not negative in any sense but definitely one with some twists and surprises. Firstly, you don’t realise quite how much sun you normally get until it’s gone. I’m not kidding – vitamin D deficiencies up there are a real thing and after living in one of the sunniest places in the world most of my life to a country that is known for its grey cloud coverage and drizzle is quite a shock to the system. It was cold, and quite grey, which certainly took a lot of getting used to, but once you get over the initial shock, with the right amount of layers, a waterproof jacket and some vitamin D pills it’s really not so bad.

When it came to adjusting to way of life there, that was surprisingly easy. In fact, it happened so naturally I didn’t really notice until I came home. Walking everywhere just became what I did, so was grocery shopping once a week with my friends or just popping into a pub or a teashop on the way home after a lecture.

I think what made adjusting to life in England so easy though was the people I was with. It wasn’t like I was thrown into the deep end such as having to start a new job in a new city living all by myself and knowing no one. With university though, it made the transition quite smooth and gradual. I already knew a few people from chatting on university social media groups and I wasn’t living alone. I moved into a flat with both local and international students and that helped me adjust to life in England in such an easy way because it was fun and I got to do it with friends.

Adjusting to a new country can be a really scary experience because everything is new and you may not be sure what to do or who to turn to, but it can also be such a fun and eye-opening experience if you’re open to it. That’s why I will leave you with the following tips:

1.       Try everything – don’t be afraid to try new things and see how they are because you’ll never know until you try and you may just discover your new favourite thing.

2.       Don’t be shy – yes it can be scary meeting new people but the only way for them to become friends and for you to make connections with them is to open up and try to connect and make friends with them so don’t let your nerves stop you from making new friends.

3.       Ask for help – it can be embarrassing to admit when you don’t know something or aren’t sure what to do and need help, but sadly the only way you’ll ever stop struggling with those issues is if you swallow your pride and actually ask your help. You’ll adjust much faster and avoid lots of stress and problems simply by learning when to admit you can’t do something on your own or may need to ask for help or advice.

4.       Take things one step at a time – you can’t suddenly become a local with a snap of your fingers, and getting used to a new country with a new culture takes time so you need to be okay with just taking things one step at a time. If you pace yourself and don’t overwhelm yourself, you’ll find you adjust far better and actually enjoy and appreciate the experience more than if you try to get it all in at once, where there is more chance you’ll just stress yourself out.

5.       Go out and explore – the only way to truly adjust is to experience where you’re living and the best way to do that is to go out and be a part of it. Walk through your new city, try the restaurants and cafes, speak to the locals, or go enjoy your lunch in the park rather than in your room. By going out and just getting a taste of everything your new home has to offer, you can get a feel for it and start to appreciate it and once you become more familiar with your surroundings, it will also help you adjust and feel comfortable where you are.

Me:

Hello everyone! Thanks to Tia for this lovely collab! It will take a while for me to go through my life story, so if you’re interested, you can read my blog too. I’m what is known as a Third Culture Kid which means that before I was 18, I lived in countries that weren’t my parents’ culture. I’m currently living in Canada, which is the fifth country I have lived in, but I am also in transition to the Netherlands at the moment. Being exposed to living in other countries from a young age was not only fun, but I learned some important life skills. One reason I started my blog was to show people what it’s really like to live in other countries and I believe in being transparent about it. Here are my personal tips for living in other countries:

  1. Find the hidden gems- Bouncing off what Tia said about exploring and trying new things, you will find the most beautiful gems in the most unexpected places. Culture is flowing and you will find it if you look hard enough and really think about the meaning behind it. It’s all very well going to a museum, but it’s important to discuss what you have learned from it. It’s amazing to go with other people who love the same thing and you can talk about it a lot.
  2. Learn how to manage your finances- Every country has its own unique systems when it comes to money, and it can take a while to adapt to it. Good personal financial practises will serve you well when adjusting to another country, but be flexible! It’s fine to be frugal, but you CANNOT be cheap! Sometimes, you’ll need to pay for things you didn’t think you had to pay for. Sometimes, you have to cough up money and you just have to deal with it. You can’t avoid financial problems in another country, but once you get through them, you will feel so good about yourself! One way you know you have adapted is if you can automatically convert currencies in your head for a rough estimate. 
  3. Think you don’t need health insurance or consider the healthcare system of your new country? Think again!- I have been in situations where I couldn’t qualify for healthcare in new countries, or didn’t get enough health insurance coverage. That landed me in deep doo-doo! You might say you’re okay with certain things about a new country’s healthcare system. When you’re actually living there, you may realise you’re not okay with certain things. I have moved countries because me or my parents couldn’t get the care we needed. So make sure you know the reality of your new healthcare system and do NOT under-insure yourself when you get health insurance! 
  4. Understand that your emotions are going to be a rollercoaster sometimes and take care of yourself mentally- Your feelings are totally valid. If you need mental health care, go for it! Try to find a counsellor who is at least open to discussing issues you are having adjusting to another country. Additionally, find people that you can talk to honestly about any problems you have. They will usually be people who have lived in other countries before. Sometimes, some well-meaning monocultural people (people who have lived in one place all their life) can say some things that will upset you. There are times in my life when I know I can only talk to people who really understand, like other Third Culture Kids. I also recommend seeking out books, movies and other entertainment you can relate to and keep them as a go-to when you’re going through a rough time.
  5. Remember: It’s ALWAYS worth it to live in another country!- There will come a time when things will either work out for you, or they won’t. If a country works out for you, that’s wonderful! If it doesn’t and you have to try again, or go back home, that’s perfectly fine. People say a place doesn’t make any difference to your life. That’s incorrect! You will gain so much from living in another country and it will serve you well in the future. It’s easy to think that you have failed if a country doesn’t work out, but that’s not true at all. I am currently in the process of moving to another country because Canada hasn’t worked out for me. I’m experienced with living in other countries, and I accepted that a country not working out can happen to anyone. I have gained some wonderful things from Canada, and I am always learning what I really want from a country.

So there you have it! Thank you again, Tia and I hope you all enjoyed reading our stories and tips!

First Dutch Immersion Day

My Mum and I have learned over 500 words in Dutch and are now at 30 lessons in Duolingo! We decided to try our first Dutch Immersion Day after we reached 500 words. That took about six weeks, but I feel we are making good progress. How did our first time doing immersion go? Let’s find out!

Immersion Day Plan:

Failing to plan is planning to fail, so here’s what the rules for the day were:

  • If we don’t know the word(s) but we can say the sentence, look up the word.
  • Have a computer going all day for Google Translate and use my phone for it too.
  • Spend 1 hr labelling things around the house in Dutch. Note: it is a great thing to do, it’s just that even now, we still haven’t done it yet. LOL.
  • Keep the Dutch radio on (BNR Nieuwradio). Plus, watch Arjen Lubach. See my previous post on learning Dutch for why I use these sources.
  • Do a complete review. Note: English during Dutch lessons is okay for translation purposes.
  • Switch computer and cell phone to Dutch.

There were also things I wanted to accomplish that day, but then decided it was worth waiting to do them.

There’s a reason why I decided to wait on these things. Right now, here’s how my first Dutch Immersion Day went.

A Dutch Morning:

The morning started off relatively easy. I had covered a lot of words typically used in the morning that are related to breakfast and greeting others. The night before, I had switched my computer and cell phone over to Dutch. To be honest, it was easy to understand the names of apps, login information and whether someone is typing on WhatsApp. At first glance, you don’t think about it when you see that information in your dominant language, but it’s easier to translate than you might think.

It’s not easy to wake up and automatically immerse yourself in a foreign language while your brain is warming up. No, wearing a toque doesn’t help. Wearing a toque in Canada provides a lot of benefits, but this isn’t one of them. LOL.

While doing the Duolingo lessons and review, I started to get overwhelmed. One of the rules for the day said that English is okay for translation purposes on Duolingo, but I could tell I was getting overwhelmed because I was leaning on English more and more. By lunchtime, I couldn’t go any further with Dutch. I lasted about 3-4 hours with immersion. I didn’t feel like listening to the radio, watching Arjen Lubach, or labelling items around our living space.

Wakeup Call:

Okay, I am NOT ready to move to the Netherlands yet! Plus, 500 words is good enough for a bit of immersion, but not for a whole day. If I were to move to the Netherlands tomorrow, I would probably be crying within a few days. I have always respected people who can move to a country and learn the language from scratch. Now, that respect has increased TENFOLD! I do wonder how often tears happen with people who have to learn a language from scratch in a new country. It’s not something that’s ever talked about.

I wish I could remember what it was like to move from France at two years old and learn English at school. Although, in some ways, it’s better that I don’t remember it. From what my Mum said to me, my teachers weren’t exactly supportive of bilingual children. I have a theory that this is why I rebelled against speaking French for years! It certainly knocked my confidence in French, and even though I have tried to regain it, it just hasn’t happened.

There was a high point in the day. I tested my comprehension of Dutch by watching the video of the Netherlands welcoming Trump in his own words.

America First Netherlands Second

In the video, I don’t need to turn on the Dutch subtitles until “This is a message from the government of the Netherlands”. Then, I turn the Dutch subtitles on. To my surprise, I was able to understand over 90% of the video! It makes sense though because the way Trump talks is VERY basic and if you translate that into another language, it’s very basic too!

Self-Care:

Even though I make a point of doing a bit of Dutch when I feel tired, I still understand that I need breaks sometimes. As my Mum said, you are kidding yourself if you think you aren’t going to encounter the language when you are stressed, tired, dealing with an emergency, or anything else that challenges your language ability. One thing I never really understood as a bilingual child is that sometimes you need a break from one of your languages. It wasn’t until I had a colleague who flipped out once because none of us spoke her language that I understood the importance of resting from a language. Okay, my colleague wasn’t exactly a nice person, but this time, I would say she had a point in flipping out.

I know when I can do Dutch and I know when I can’t, yet. I recently felt like crap physically after overdoing it on a workout and having a weird nap afterwards and I just could NOT do Dutch under those circumstances! One way I laugh about it is remembering this Jackie Chan blooper. He’s flubbing his lines and then he says, “I hate English!” Yep, I get that.

I did put some pressure on myself with this Dutch Immersion Day. I am good at learning languages thanks to being bilingual from birth. Sometimes, I have surprised myself with languages. There have been quite a few times that I have been on a bus in London (the perfect place for overhearing people’s conversations) and I am able to understand everything a person is saying in a certain language, even if I haven’t taken classes in it.

What Next?:

I wasn’t able to do everything on the list for my first Dutch Immersion Day. I will get to labelling items around the house and I will find a translation app that is suitable. Additionally, I will switch my computer and cell phone language to Dutch more often. I’m not ready to look up ebooks in Dutch yet.

The plan is to do another Immersion Day when I reach 1000 words. That might happen in May since it only took me six weeks to learn 500 words, and as of publishing this, it’s now 620 words. Heck, I laughed remembering when I had a hard time starting my Dutch diary of grammar and vocab words. It was like David Rose holding his crumpled tape measuring his cedar chest when Mutt asks him, “How far are you?” and David says, “I’m this far”.

So, that’s how well my first Dutch Immersion Day went! Feel free to share any stories you also have about language learning in the comments!