Parks #10: Sue Higgins Park

Date visited: October 7, 2021

Location: SE Calgary

Best Time of Year To Visit: Any time, especially for dogs!

Arriving at the Park:

I particularly wanted to mention how we got to Sue Higgins Park. We were walking along Blackfoot Trail. The intersection between Blackfoot Trail and Deerfoot Trail is near the park, and it was a trip down memory lane. When we arrived in Calgary, we took Uber from the airport and drove through this intersection. I mean, rolling prairie with a city view? What’s not to like?

A Note About the Trails:

If you see any street feature that ends in “trail” in Calgary, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be either a main road or a freeway. The freeway trails are the intersection between the suburbs and the city and you can use them to connect to freeways that lead to other parts of Canada.

Deerfoot Trail is the butt of everyone’s jokes!

Crusty Like Rush Hour on Deerfoot

I have found many more jokes like that on Reddit and social media!

Although, there are common warnings about safety on Deerfoot. Revisiting this intersection between Blackfoot and Deerfoot affirmed to me that it’s challenging to drive in this area. I still haven’t driven in Calgary yet, but I’m going to get my bearings in the city first before I attempt the trails!

Another thing I wanted to mention is the trails are an indicator that Calgary is an oil and gas town. Oil and gas industries deliberately put transportation infrastructure in areas where do most of their work. It’s good quality infrastructure, but with population growth, it doesn’t seem to have kept up with the times. I have heard so much about accidents on the trails and complaints of traffic that reminded me a lot of California. The same thought pops into my head about both places, which is, “Isn’t it time for an update here?” I am wondering with the shift to working from home more often if changes will happen.

Anyway, back to Sue Higgins Park!

THE Park to Take Your Dog!:

Dogs react to their living areas in a certain way. You cannot get Calgary dogs out of the water! They LOVE the rivers! Plus, they have a certain spring in their step if they have been in the water. If it weren’t for the wet coat, you would know a Calgary dog has just been in the river. In general, Calgary is a dog-friendly city. Cities are just as stressful for dogs as they are for people and it’s nice to see dogs more relaxed in the city.

There are on-leash and off-leash areas in this park. I couldn’t believe how the off-leash areas had more than enough space for large dogs to run.

River Fun!:

The Bow River is right next to the park. Nothing indicates that better than a dog that just came out of the river with that look on its face.

It’s nice to have a bridge over the river, but there are these trails in the park where it’s easy to take your dog down to the river.

  • Sue Higgins Park
  • Sue Higgins Park

Challenges:

Keep an eye out for wild animals, especially if you have a dog! There are signs up reminding you to exercise caution. After all, we are guests on wild animals’ territory.

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!

Park #9: Reader Rock Garden

Date visited: September 5, 2021

Location: SE Calgary (at least this one is clear!)

Best Time of Year To Visit: Any time there is greenery out, otherwise you just get rocks, bare deciduous trees, snow and ice. I don’t recommend going when the Calgary Stampede is on though. You won’t get any peace and quiet if you do.

What does Reader Rock Garden have to do with the Calgary Stampede? It’s right across the street from Stampede Park.

Reader Rock Garden

History:

This garden has an interesting history. If you can’t read the photo below, here’s a synopsis of it. William Reader was an English professional gardener and landscaper who turned Calgary into a green space. He experimented with 4000 different plant and flower species and designed gardens for important clients, such as the Prince of Wales. He also founded the Calgary Horticultural Society and the Calgary Vacant Lots Garden Club. The garden was left to deteriorate after his death, but then it was restored. All I can say is I’m sure glad it was restored!

Reader Rock Garden History

We didn’t go into William Reader’s house. We figured with COVID-19 it was safer not to do so. Plus, there was an event going on. Still, we got some lovely photos of the garden outside his house. I would love to see this garden when it’s blooming in the spring, but early autumn is still a lovely time to see this garden.

More From the Rock Garden:

This is where things get steep and slippery. There are advisories to wear proper footwear and go in small groups. Dogs are not permitted either. Trust me, that’s good for everyone. Even though things had been pretty dry for a while, it was still good to be attentive where I stepped. I was impressed my Mum was able to manage with her cane, but I’m glad we did this park early enough in our challenge so she could see it too.

Who else likes rock gardens that have little waterfalls and rock pools? Me too!

  • Little Waterfall
  • Rock Pool

I don’t know why I love seeing flowers growing among rocks. There’s something beautiful and special about it. Maybe it’s because rocks tend not to be associated with green living things. Then, when I do see green, living things next to rocks, it’s special!

  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden

It was a lovely, cool walk with great shade from the trees. Even though Reader Rock Garden is at the intersection of two main roads, you don’t hear the traffic too much. I still wouldn’t go visit it when the Calgary Stampede is on. I went near Stampede Park when the Stampede was on last year and there is a lot of noise! Garbage is a problem during the Stampede too. I don’t want to know if Reader Rock Garden gets trashed then.

Stampede Park:

I got some great views of Stampede Park from Reader Rock Garden. It’s a great way to view some of Calgary’s other iconic features as well.

There’s a reason why I got so many pictures of the Saddledome. It’s going to be torn down someday! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I find it shocking because it’s a major part of Calgary’s iconic skyline. Any city can have skyscrapers or towers, even if they have a different look. When my Dad visited, he called Calgary Tower the Space Needle. I haven’t seen the Space Needle, but my point about towers still stands. Not all cities have a stadium that looks like a horse’s saddle! I hope the new stadium has a similar look, but right now, I don’t know if it will.

Usually, I am all for city skylines changing. Soon after I arrived in London, the Gherkin was born. The Shard and its hype happened before I left. Both of those were cool additions to the London skyline, even if some other feelings were going on.

I feel particularly hurt that the Saddledome is going to be gone someday. Sometimes, I feel that way when I’m new to a city and something iconic disappears. I feel like saying, “I just got here! Let me enjoy it!”

Anyway, sorry for going off on a tangent about unique city skylines.

One Last Feature:

The Union Cemetery is right next to Reader Rock Garden. A diverse group of people are buried there: Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Chinese. I have gone past the Chinese section, but haven’t walked around it. The cemetery includes war veterans from the two World Wars and the Boer War. I think that one needs a special invitation to go to that part. I noticed they do a ceremony on Remembrance Day as well. This is the one hill in Calgary I haven’t seen people go sledding on in the winter, but that’s okay. There are plenty of other good sledding spaces.

Challenges:

It’s not the most accessible park there is. It’s all on a hill. Make sure you also go on a dry day or the rocks get slippery. At least the garden in front of Reader’s house is pretty flat.

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!

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!

Best Material Possessions in the Past 1.5 Years

Before I start, I want to say that it’s not a sponsored post. This is just what I have found to be extremely useful to me for my first year in Canada. When you move to a new country, you figure out what material possessions need to help you through your first year. In some ways, I regard these things as more of an investment than just buying things. Here’s my list of what has been invaluable to me and why.

Hardshell Suitcase:

Best Material Possessions
Hardshell Suitcases are LIFE!

I just happened to buy this the day before I moved to Canada. I was at Target trying to look for a luggage carrier. Things were getting desperate, especially since the amount of travel stuff was unpopular and overpriced because of COVID-19. I bought the largest hardshell suitcase I could find for a decent price. I was able to fit ALL my check-in luggage in there, plus some extra stuff that I wasn’t originally planning on taking with me.

When I got to the airport, I realized how maneuverable it was. The spinner wheels are sturdy and able to turn a full 360 when necessary. I didn’t have to worry at all if my things were going to be safe. I sometimes wish the suitcase I bought wasn’t exclusively for my check-in baggage. At the end of a long moving day, I looked at the suitcase and said, “Where have you been all my life?! I would sure like to shake hands with the genius that invented you!”

These suitcases come in a set of various sizes. You can get ones small enough to put in your overhead or possibly under the seat (depends on the brand). Hardshell suitcases are also available at Walmart so before I move to the Netherlands, I’m going to buy the smaller sizes! The brand I got was American Tourister. I love the colour and the product! It’s clean, protects your stuff, has an inside pocket within the inside pocket, and is efficient when you’re at the airport! As a TCK who loves travel, I’m positively drooling over hardshell suitcases! When I was waiting for my Dad at the airport last October, I ran into someone else with a hardshell suitcase and said, “That suitcase is amazing, isn’t it!” She agreed with me!

Handwarmers:

Cozy Handwarmers

These are the simplest and yet most effective things I have found to keep my hands warm when it’s below -10 C. They are little bags of what feels like sand and something else that turns warm when you shake them. Just shake them ten minutes before you step outside, put them in your parka pockets and you’re ready to go! I also put my cell phone in the same pocket as these warmers because extreme temperatures are not good for cell phone electrics.

I’m wondering if I can take a bag of them with me… remains to be seen.

Incandescent Lightbulbs:

Another moment where I said, “Where have you been all my life?” Or at least during my time in London. I talked said in my Winter: London vs Calgary post that discovering incandescent lightbulbs was like

I'm sorry. I just hallucinated.

It has significantly helped with SAD during winter! I can’t live without them now. It also helps that Calgary is super sunny, even in the winter. I know in the Netherlands it’s going to be cloudy a lot. I have already resolved that if I can’t find incandescent light bulbs there, I am going to find some in Sweden or Norway!

PROPER Winter Clothes:

As the saying goes, “There’s no bad winter, only bad clothes.” Okay, I made a mistake with getting boots. Overall, though, I listened to all the advice about layering and when to do so. I ended up with some quality pieces like proper pants when it’s below -10 C and a wonderful parka! Not to mention Canadian toques (beanies in the US) are amazingly warm! I’m definitely going to be taking these items with me because the Netherlands is humid which makes things feel colder. Plus, I’m planning to travel to the Alps and to the Scandinavian countries.

Memory Foam Mattresses:

After some trial and error with past memory foam mattresses, we finally found ones that are wonderful for people who have musculoskeletal issues. It took some research to find them. Now there is no way I am letting mine go. I swear to wear it out! I don’t have too much to say because this speaks for itself!

Reading Socks:

Reading Socks

I ran into these accidentally. I went to an Indigo bookstore for Christmas shopping and I stumbled upon these reading socks! A realization hit me when I saw them. These work so well in cold weather climates! So, I bought matching pairs for myself and my Mum for Christmas. You know that trend of families getting matching pyjamas at Christmas? Well, we did matching reading socks. In order to stop people with a foot fetish coming onto my site, I am not posting a photo of me wearing the socks, but here’s a photo of them.

I noticed when I put them on how soft they are on the inside! Mum and I describe it as “bunny soft”. Anyone who has had a rabbit as a pet knows what I am talking about. I refuse to walk around in those socks because I don’t want to interfere with that softness. The best thing ever is to lie in bed with a good book and my bunny soft socks.

Triangular Leg Pillow:

Triangular Leg Pillow

I love propping my legs up while lying down, but I left my triangular leg pillow behind in California. Eventually, I caved and bought another one at Bed, Bath and Beyond. This one has four different ways you can set it up depending on what you need.

We made an interesting discovery about the leg pillow too. If you are having digestive discomfort while lying down, use the pillow to prop yourself up! It ended up being an invaluable life hack when my Mum had appendicitis and the hernia complication afterwards. Now, Mum uses the pillow full-time, but as long as it works for her, I don’t mind at all. Now, a leg pillow is a priority item for moving to another country!

Footbath:

My birthday came around a few months after moving to Canada and I asked for a footbath. Little did I know how valuable it would be! I was already in the middle of my first winter but hadn’t reached the point I was dealing with Winter Foot. Anyone who has lived in sub-Arctic climates knows what I am talking about. Once a week during the winter, I use my footbath for an hour and then take a pumice stone to my feet. Winter can mean too much dead skin, so this treatment isn’t optional.

I’m also going to get a pedicure when I am finally out of my winter boots (around May after Victoria Day Weekend). There comes a point where I CAN NOT wear my winter boots anymore! Fortunately, the footbath helps delay that time.

Additionally, I find the footbath helpful in the summer because my feet get hot and blistered, even when wearing sandals. So, it’s been a good year-round thing to have!

Proper Chairs:

Best Material Possessions
Proper Chairs Are Everything!

After years of struggling with chairs in our own ways, we FINALLY found some great chairs to meet our needs! Guess where they came from? A physiotherapist’s office was closing, so we bought their waiting room chairs for a significant discount. We looked them up online. We got them for 1/6 of the retail price and they are generally very dear, as we say in England! There’s only so much pain and musculoskeletal problems you can take until you buy proper chairs. They aren’t going anywhere!

Computer:

After 6 months of living in Canada, I needed a new computer. My laptop was dying and it was cheaper for me to get a desktop thanks to the demand for desktops being high. Plus, my circumstances had changed which made a desktop more suitable. My general rule for moving to a new country is to take whatever technology I need with me and if I need to replace it, do it! Additionally, I tend to wait until a store has a holiday sale. I waited until the Victoria Day sale to get my desktop, and it wasn’t a brand new computer, so I got a discount on top of a slashed price! Boom!

Sometimes, it’s not just about getting a great product that you genuinely need, it’s about being strategic to get a good deal! This isn’t about encouraging materialism either. There are material possessions that are essential while in transition.

Have you found with moving either domestically or internationally that there are certain things you need and consider them an investment? Let’s chat about it!