a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Nov, 2016

Choppy waters, clear skies

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I don’t want to get into the whole Trump thing too much but I think it would be weird if I didn’t address it. We watched a few hours of election night coverage and went to bed. I woke up at 3 a.m., rolled over, and checked the iPad to confirm that Hillary had won. What greeted me, however, was a very big red line at the top of the CBC page I’d been following. And, as I quickly discovered, THIS WAS NOT A NIGHTMARE, even though it felt like one.

Suffice it to say, I did not sleep well for the rest of the night.

I will say this. Part of the shock and dismay, other than the fact I despise the guy and think he is completely unqualified for the job, arises from the fact that I had thought things were looking pretty good and actually heading in the right direction. Even though there’ve been hiccups (er, like mass shootings/major gun control issues, racism etc) our neighbours to the south DID elect a black president, twice, and were moving towards some progressive policies. Or so I thought.

I am being flippant, but perhaps it’s because I have officially over-saturated myself with media coverage of the U.S. election: before, during, after. It has thoroughly taken over my brain, which even continues to process information in the background. I was putting my shoes on to walk the dog when I suddenly thought: Is Donald Trump the male version of Sarah Palin? It was then that I realized I had to take a break or I might just explode.

And then, strangely, instead of dwelling in this dark space, something changed. I was waiting for the water to warm up in the shower this morning and I found myself whistling a tune and dancing around. I recognized this feeling: it was happiness, and it comes when I start using my Litebook again. Suddenly, I am better able to cope with life’s challenges.

In this recent post, I wrote about my efforts to find that elusive “life balance.” Let me be clear, I don’t like that term. Honestly, whoever invented the term deserves  a kick in the pants because I don’t think there is such a thing as perfect life balance… yet we all beat ourselves up because we don’t/can’t achieve it. I prefer to think of “life balance” as a seesaw of sorts: some times are up-in-the air busy, some times are calm, and other times you’re thinking: JUST GET ME OFF THIS THING ALREADY.

I’ve been on the road a lot this past month or so and it’s been adding to my stress levels. I downloaded an audio book to keep me company while I was away. I wanted to maximize my time to decompress and prevent my brain from defaulting to work and worry, so I opted for the audiobook version of Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. I had read one of her previous books, The Happiness Project, and really enjoyed it. (Sidebar: many moons ago I ran into Gretchen, who was speaking at a blogging conference I was attending. Unfortunately, I was totally tongue-tied in that moment and I’m fairly certain she thought I was a lunatic.)

ANYHOO. I’ve only listened to half of it so far but I can confidently say that it’s given me a lot of food for thought – about who I am, what I want to achieve – and it has been positively life-changing. The book is essentially about cultivating good habits, and it’s been so insightful. I suppose I’ve always known some of these things but needed someone else to tell me. For example: in order to cultivate good habits we need to build up our foundation: sleep and eat better, get excercise, and create order in our universe. According to Gretchen: “people who get their basic Foundation habits under control find it easier to add additional good habits, even if those habits don’t seem relate.” (Read more about foundational habits on her blog.)

So this past little while, in addition to my daily dose of light with my Litebook, I’ve tried to watch less TV and get more sleep by sticking to a bedtime. I’m continuing my 10K daily step goal and have added back in visits to the gym now that my membership has been renewed.

In my quest to find a better balance I have added one more simple routine to my day that I wanted to share with you as well. I’ll be writing more about that on Monday, AND, there’s a giveaway involved too. Stay tuned!

8 Responses to "Choppy waters, clear skies"

1 | Misty Pratt

November 11th, 2016 at 3:26 pm


Just ordered the book from the library :) Thanks for the suggestion!

2 | andrea tomkins

November 11th, 2016 at 4:51 pm


Let me know what you think Misty! I think I’m going to have to go and buy a copy so I can make notes in it now!

3 | jane

November 11th, 2016 at 4:32 pm


Andrea, I picked up a Verilux Happy Lamp (yes! a Happy Lamp) a few weeks ago. I am sure I suffer from SAD and
de cided I would get a jump on it this year. But the thing makes me sick. I feel woozy, light headed and even more blah. And that is with 5 minutes of it shining in my general direction. I am so sad!!! I had really wanted it to help but I am going to trade it with a friend for a hair straightener (maybe straight hair will make me un-SAD)

4 | andrea tomkins

November 11th, 2016 at 4:53 pm


Oh no! That sucks. I know there are possible side effects but I haven’t had any myself. I hate to ask this, but are you sure you’re using it at the right distance and angle? Maybe that’s the issue?

5 | Heather

November 11th, 2016 at 8:18 pm


Love all Gretchen Rubins books. As well Gretchen Rubins Happier podcast is a great listen!Totally recommend this as what Gretchen hopes “make you a little happier!”

6 | Jen_nifer

November 15th, 2016 at 8:25 am


What’s the new routine?

7 | andrea tomkins

November 15th, 2016 at 10:19 am


It’s coming!

8 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Taking small steps to find balance (plus a giveaway!) - a peek inside the fishbowl

November 23rd, 2016 at 9:14 am


[…] Last Friday I wrote about some of the steps I’m taking to give my sanity a helping hand. These past few weeks (months?) have been stressful and I knew that I needed to take some steps and find balance again. […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! 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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