My 2016 Chinese New Years Resolutions

Wow...another year? The Year of the Sheep has been extremely good to me. I worked my butt off and saw all of my efforts manifest into proud achievements and crazy new adventures. It almost sad to say goodbye to another year, but I'm hoping for more great things with 2016.

Next week will usher in the Year of the Monkey and I'm  bringing back my Chinese New Year Resolutions. To keep things really simple and focused, I only have three goals. 

#1: Australia
For a variety of reasons and factors, I feel as though is it really now or never with Oz. The time is now and I need to get myself back to the land of vegemite and Tim Tams.

#2: Save More
Probably not a good goal to have in mind when #1 is also a goal within the same year. I've been reading a lot about and getting really inspired by the minimalism/essentialism/frugal movement. Whatever you call it, I don't need as much stuff as I have. It's time to look at my budget and really think about putting my $$$ into smarter vehicles aside from clothes and shoes. 

#3: Work Smarter
Since T4s are filling up my desk space, I made how much last year?!? Yeh, I worked hard, but this came at the sacrifice of my personal time with friends and family. Is all that extra $$$ worth it? No, I need to work better (be more productive and efficient). It comes down to cutting off the excess to focus on the essentials. The money is nice, but I am going to stop trading in my youth and freedom for it.

A Decade of Difference

The photo was taken a decade ago. A decade! I was barely into my 20s and found myself halfway around the world without a single soul I could count on aside from myself. It was months of Corn Flakes and apples for breakfast, followed by dinners of Instant Noodles. It was one of the most stressful times of my life. It was also one of the happiest.

Australia was breathtaking in its beauty and incredibly warm in its people. The Great Ocean Road was and still is the best drive I've ever been on. Dizzy from the winding roads, the views made up for all of it. Still, the reason why Australia was the trip that changed me had nothing to do with any of that. It was all of those individuals in the photos that stirred something in me that left me as a new person.

As crazy as a time it was for me, it was also an insane time for them as well. Looking back, I had it easy. They are courageous, determined and absolutely fearless individuals. When I look back at 10 years, I see that I try to live my life with their qualities. It reminds me that as far as I think I have come, there is still so much more for me to learn. I was more of me then. Full of worry, questions and dreams that I had no idea of how to ever reach.

Who knows where I'll be standing in another decade. Who knows how many more of life's layers will come between the person in my skin and the person in that photo. I'm happy and grateful that my sense of adventure has not diminished one bit.

Weddings and Babies

Weddings and Babies

The weather is absolutely beautiful today. As the long weekend reminds me that summer is nearly over, it's also a reminder that I'll be another year older. Hitting 30 wasn't a big deal. The approach to it was another story.

The only reminder that I am older comes when yet another friend announces an engagement or another bundle of joy coming soon. Don't get me wrong, I party the heck out of weddings and I ooh and ahh over every ultrasound photo. Babies are the cutest creatures on earth and I enjoy a good snuggle when I can. 

I love being in my 30s because of weddings and babies. My late 20s were filled with annoying questions about the state of my ovaries and why there's no rock on my finger. These questions stopped as soon as my friends started planning their weddings and tiny humans started to pop out. Suddenly they understand that these are serious decisions and that my own personal reasons are perfectly apt. Then again, they are too tired and/or stressed to really care about my current life and their old one. 

No, I've never dreamed of a big white dress as a little girl. I'm saving myself for the world. Thankfully my bf is understanding enough to get that I'd rather pay for a safari than a wedding venue. I'm still on the fence about babies. 

The thing about getting older is that experience gives one perspectives that were not there before. It also gives one the tenacity to change our minds and not care what other people think. Who knows, I could end of pregnant and married by my next birthday. If I am, great. If I'm not, that's also great. 

Sunday Rituals

Sunday Rituals
A photo posted by Sharon (@onebookworm) on
My Sundays are absolutely precious. While I run around the city chasing meetings and deadlines during the week, Sundays are the only days I have to pause. Over the last few months, I've been trying to make a conscious effort to commit to nothing on Sundays.

This is my newfound ritual. Wake up without the sound of an alarm. Make myself breakfast from scratch. Brew the good coffee in the french press and read every interesting article in the New York Times. The plan for the rest of the day? Maybe a nap. Maybe a book. Maybe a movie.

Time slows down when I slow down. Deadline will still be there at the end of the day. At least today, I have luxury of taking it for myself.

Book Review: Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Book Review: Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Everyone and their mom have heard of this book by Marie Kondo. I was a bit late on the bandwagon, having only picked it up at the beginning of summer to see what all the hype was about. The NY Times wrote a great piece to sum it up, which convinced me to grab a copy.

It's a detailed look at how to declutter the junk in your life with cutesy Japanese tidbits of soundbites. Kondo writes about her obsession with organizing that stemmed from childhood. This is done in part to outline how her expertise has been honed over her young life. She names this organizing technique after her first and last name, KonMari. She also secured the aptly titled website,

If you just want the goods, skip the first sections of this autobiographical account. To sum up the Konmari method:
  1. Organize by types; not rooms (i.e clothes and not bedroom, and then T-shirts before pants..etc).
  2. Take everything out at once (so you're damn committed)
  3. Touch each piece and ask yourself, "Does X bring me joy?"
  4. According to your answer: toss, donate or fold meticulously and put back in place
Some people have really taken to this (look up all those YouTube videos), but aside from a few specific techniques, there's not really that much new.  I wouldn't be as bold to call this a new idea since the philosophy of KonMari essentially boils down to our relationship with stuff. The question is one way to really make one consciously aware of what we feel about said stuff.

I just organized my underwear drawer and didn't ask, "Does this itchy bra I bought on sale bring me joy?" It was common sense. With all this being said, I do think that this book could be eye-opening to a lot of people who never thought about all the stuff they keep around them. 

Back at it

Back at it
It has been a glorious summer. Work was non-existent. I read books upon books and lounged around the city without obligations or responsibilities.

It is now Wednesday August 19, 2015. While I could continue my pattern of sloth into the dwindling weeks of summer, I'm making the effort to buckle down and get some work done. I'm staring at a busy fall/winter with classes to teach, courses to ace and trips to take. Oh, and for fun, blogging again. Who am I kidding? This is my leisure time activity when I'm in the midst of work.

There are old trips to catalogue and an insane amount of books to review. Hope you're liking the new look of the site!

Next Destination: Iceland

Next Destination: Iceland


Dear Past Sharon,

Thank you very much for booking this trip 6 months ago when the Canadian dollar was stronger than what it is today and when the Icelandic economy was facing signs of trouble. How else could such a destination be so affordable?

Thank you again for having kind foresight, or perhaps supreme psychic abilities. I had no clue that my life would become as busy as it has over the last few months. Deadlines, contracts and obligations abound, so what better time for a vacation? There wasn't a hint of sarcasm in that last sentence. I really do think that I would have worked myself into a hysterical fit if it were not for this vacation.

Money is great, but what's the damn point if I don't get to enjoy my limited time on this earth? In a few short days, I'll be trekking on glaciers and bathing in thermal hot springs. If all goes well, throw in the Aurora Borealis.

Gratefully Yours,

Present Sharon

P.S- You should have exchanged money before the Canadian dollar sank!

Ecuador: Day 6, 7, 8

DAY 6 

Saying goodbye to the jungle, we started our trek up to higher altitude and cooler temperatures. This was a relief since humidity is my enemy. To get more exercise in, we ended up in La Punta Ahuano  to see El Paillon del Diable or "The Devil's Cauldron". It's a waterfall and when viewed from the front base, you're supposed to see the devil's face. Originally, I thought it got its name from the insane gush of water and jagged rocks at the bottom of a nearly enclosed pit.

Checking in: 6 months in Chinese New Years Resolutions

At the end of January, I wrote about my Chinese New Year Resolutions and then I checked in on myself about 3 months in. This is my latest check in roughly the halfway mark. I'm keeping it simple and to the point:

#1- Drink More Water
Keeping it up and the results are starting to show up on the scale. 5 pounds gone, without any major changes to diet or exercise, just from water drinking on the daily.

#2- Read One Classic
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is currently blowing my mind. I love it when you read the right book at the right moment in your life.

#3- See One New Country

#4- Write Weekly
I think I one up'ed this resolution, but I'll post about this once it actually happens.

#5- Stay Happy, Stress Less
And for the biggest piece of news...I'm leaving my secure, sit-all-day-at-a-computer-job! It was a toxic work environment, despite the actual work itself, which I enjoyed immensely. Taking a cold hard look at how I was spending my work hours, the times that I was truly enjoying myself were not enough to overshadow the times I wished to be somewhere else doing anything else.

I literally do not know where I'll be a few months from now, but I feel free and happy.

Ecuador: Day 4 & 5

One of the main reasons for the trip was a visit to the Amazon.  Although Brazil is famous for it, we knew our budget would not allow for a Brazilian vacation during a World Cup year. So we looked at a map and looked to see where else we would be able to affordably see the Amazon. 

I loved it and I hated it. I hated myself for loving parts of it. It's complicated to wrestle with the images of extreme poverty and my own participation in the middle of all of it. What could I do? (I'll explain later.)

Ecuador: Day 2 & 3

Back into the blogging swing of things, I plan on posting the rest of my Ecuador entries before the month is out!

Day 2 and 3 of my Ecuador adventure saw us jumping from city to city. Waking up early in Quito, we checked out the colonial section of Old Town, a UNESCO heritage site. We whizzed through Independence Plaza, the Cathedral, Presidential Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace

Pause for Peonies

After an unusually stressful week, I came home to some beautiful blooming peonies. My photos do it absolutely no justice. After hiding inside the large buds, it opened all at once. Petals upon petals just burst forth filling my front porch with pink. They are such a beautiful sight to behold. It's enough for me to stop before I leave for work in the morning and again when I return home. 

It's these little moments of pause that I am grateful for lately; these little bits of thoughts filled with admiration and nothing else. 

Drama at work has made the morning and afternoon portions of my day a bit of a drag. Looking after my house and then my mother's house is proving to be coming at the worst time. Have my life always been this hectic? 

I must thank past me for intuitively knowing that I need a bit of time off. Somehow the week long pause I have for next week is exactly what I need. Even though I don't think I'll be able to afford the time to pause, it will be just enough time for me to catch up and find my breath. 

Ecuador: Day 1

Yes, I went to Ecuador. No, I did not go to the coast or visit the Galapagos Islands.


It's much cheaper to see the rest of the country and to explore the incredible volcanoes atop heights close to 9,000 feet above sea level and then to venture all the way down to the jungle. 

Why did I go during rainy season?

To escape the bitterly long Canadian winter. And when you travel at the tail end of the rainy season, you get a few beautiful days when chance smiles upon you. 

DAY 1-  Arrive in Quito

Flights into Quito are a bit tricky if you're Canadian.Tricky in the sense that you have no choice but to go through the states. American airport security makes no sense. We landed, got through customs and security for a second time before we repeated the whole thing all over again at another airport in a southern state. We only had carry on luggage, which saved us a bit of time, but we still ended up annoyed and tired. 

We arrived in the middle of the night and cabbed it to our hotel. Cheap cab fare, considering the trip took a little under an hour. We were exhausted and fell asleep immediately. When we woke, this was outside our window:

It was a good omen, despite it being rainy season, we woke to a clear blue sky. We hopped out of bed immediately and hit the town to see as much as we can before the clouds arrived. 

Our first stop was the Basilica del Voto Nacional. On top of a hill, the Gothic cathedral was impressive on the outside. The inside, which only cost $2 US to enter, was a bit of a bore. The day we went, the steps to their tower was closed off for repairs, so it was a bit disappointing. We spent more time outside, looking for all the South American animals on the outside of the church. 

With the sky still blue, we made for El Panecillo. We negotiated with the cab driver (which is how to take a cab in Ecuador) to take us up the hill for a mere $5 US. The dab driver took it upon himself to drive us to the prison and point it out to us first. For limited English and poor Spanish, we got on quite well. 

And there she stood, La Virgen de Quito. She was impressive and so was the sight from the top. The entire city laid out before us and it hits me that we were in a vast, growing city where poverty still haunts. While a small portion of it looks like any other metropolis, the haze that was starting to show from diesel powered buses weren't enough to obscure the slums covering the hill side. This was Quito, the capital city. I knew that these were the lucky ones and that I'll only see more over the rest of my trip. 

When the clouds started to gather, we knew that we need to head back down to the city. We caught a cab and this time the fare was only $4 US. We wandered in and out of souvenir shops in Old Town. I thought these figurines were rather odd and could only think to associate it with the racist past of southern USA. Later on in the trip, someone explained that these were in fact cucuruchos. They are men dressed in purple cone shaped coverings during holy week and walk in a procession carrying giant crosses and chains on their feet.

Despite being healthy late 20-somethings, my boyfriend and I both got altitude sickness on the first day. Quito rests at a little over 9000 feet above sea level. We grew short of breath when we climbed the virgin. We weren't able to see or do as much as we planned on the first full day. By 3pm, I had a migraine and needed to go back to the hotel to rest. Lucky for us, that's when the rain started.

After a nap, we had a light dinner and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing. More physical aspects of the trip were still coming up, and we didn't want to tire ourselves out immediately. 



One of the worst ways to appreciate life is when you confront death. You can look at the past and feel grateful for the happy childhood and wonderful people you’ve met. You can smile over those experiences. You also look to the future to see all the missed opportunities or milestones never to be reached or chances that will remain forever not taken.

Grief makes you think about all of these things, but it really makes you pause. I'm not quite 30 and I've attended more funerals than someone my age should. It feels surreal and not quite right when the funeral is for someone my own age. They've been robbed of infinite possibilities. It also brings me to reflect on my own life and how I'm living it. 

Am I making it as meaningful as it could be? Am I fulfilling what I want to do? Sobering thoughts enough for anyone to away from the internet for a while.