a peek inside the fishbowl

09 Jan, 2015

About happiness and self-improvement

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

It was a sparkly day in Ottawa today.

I know what you’re thinking. OH GOD. Not another post about New Year’s/Happiness/Resolutions. I know. There’s a lot of this stuff floating around out there but I can’t help myself. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot lately because I’ve been taking steps to get my life in order. Funny, as I write that I feel like I need to point out that it’s not as if I believe my life is out of order or in a State of General Disarray. I guess I’ve merely come to the conclusion that I didn’t like some things, and change was needed. And you know who’s standing in the way of positive change? Me. I’m my own obstacle. How stupid is that?

What didn’t I like: Feeling tired. Feeling scattered. Did I really want to live the rest of my life feeling this way. (Hint, the answer is no.)

Recent lessons learned:

  • When I’m feeling happy, I noticed that I’m also not feeling tired. When I’m Not Tired, I’m happy. Strange. Removing the TIRED part of the daily equation has made my life a whole lot better. It’s amazing.
  • It was a smart move to step up my steppin’ with my Fitbit. You’d think it’d leave me more tired, but it has had the opposite effect. (Related: I found myself baking muffins last night. MUFFINS. If you know me you know how strange this is. (a) I don’t bake. (b) I don’t do these kinds of things at night because I’m always so bagged at the end of the day. CRAZY.)
  • An unforeseen result of the treadmill intervals is that I’m not easily able to read on the treadmill any more. I thought this would be annoying, but I find my mind wandering instead. This is not a bad thing. This is where ideas are born. I’m also happy to be spending less time glued to a smartphone.
  • Then there’s the Litebook. It’s a biggie. BIG. A few days ago I raised it up a bit so it shone on my face slightly differently and the effect was almost instantaneous.
  • I’m also back to using the MyFitnessPal app for the next while. Tracking food intake in a diary is always an eye-opener, and you can’t help but learn a few things about yourself during the process. I can honestly say that if I skip breakfast I end up craving junky “filler” foods at the end of the day. It’s as if it takes 12 hours for my stomach to realize it’s been mislead. Also, tracking food makes me realize exactly how much mindless zombie-like eating I’m doing. For example, eating the kids’ pizza crusts if they leave them on their plates. I hate wasted food, but does that mean I should be hoovering it up on their behalf? Gah. How annoying.

I’ve also been trying to add a little more structure to my work day by carving it up into very specific work segments and focusing on one job for that segment. This will sound completely obvious to some people, and completely insane to others. I wear a number of different hats, and during the work day I used to do All The Things, jumping from job to job, task to task. This left me feeling scrambled and dizzy (metaphorically speaking) at the end of the day and I found myself constantly worrying about work-related things. Laser focused chunks of works with mandatory “get off the computer” breaks in between has been helpful. I am able to get more done, and in the end I’m less worried about it all. This is all very new for me so I hope I can stick to it. I will say this, it’s very easy to get off track and get buried in email. Sigh.

The next thing I need to do is GET GLASSES. I know I need them, but I’m procrastinating like crazy. Perhaps I need a glasses stylist. I have no idea what kind of frames would look good on me. Where’s a great place to go in Ottawa?


7 Responses to "About happiness and self-improvement"

1 | Mary @ Parenthood

January 9th, 2015 at 11:46 am


We like Spinnewyn. Possibly not the cheapest location evah but Mark is a really great guy and his staff are amazingly knowledgeable.

2 | sassymonkey

January 9th, 2015 at 12:23 pm


The people at Albert Optical on Sparks are really good at picking out frames but their frames are NOT cheap.

3 | specs

January 9th, 2015 at 1:32 pm


Costco. Excellent service. Lowest cost. Most variety. And fast.

4 | Jen_nifer

January 9th, 2015 at 3:19 pm


Glad to read you are finding what works for you. Last year I upped my tempo on the cardio machines and also couldn’t read while doing so anymore. It’s great to let the mind wander and clear out some thoughts!

I need to start to structure my work day as well. My biggest excuse is that I never know when something urgent may interrupt, so I rarely actually sit down and structure my work time.

5 | Alison in Ottawa

January 9th, 2015 at 4:07 pm


Another vote for Mark and his staff at Spinnewyn. We have Ben going there for 14 years. Great service, interesting selection. More expensive than costo for sure but not insane pricing like at Albert Optical.

6 | andrea tomkins

January 10th, 2015 at 10:31 am


Great suggestions guys. Thank you! Spinnewyn is first on my list. I’d never heard of them before, but they look pretty cool. Thanks!

7 | Thing I Have Learned Recently >> a peek inside the fishbowl

January 13th, 2015 at 9:48 am


[…] is better than coffee while I work. Remember how I mentioned I have been dividing my day into work segments? I force myself to take breaks away from the computer every hour, if nothing but for the sake of my […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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