New Years Resolutions

The majority of resolutions made by North Americans fall into one of two categories: self-improvement & education, and health & fitness. This year I kept my goals simple, but in keeping with the trend, resolved to learn (how to better use my DSLR) and to adopt a few new healthy habits (flossing every day and drinking warm lemon water every morning). If you too fell in line with the masses (and in particular if your health and fitness goals are loftier than mine), here are some resources to help you keep those resolutions.

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Get Fit

Nike Training Club: We’ve written about this amazing app before and having been in bridal boot camp mode for a couple months now, I stand by our initial impressions.  Looking for a high intensity calorie blasting work out?  A focused 15-minute ab burner?  Help building muscles and gaining strength?  Nike Training Club offers all that and more with minimal equipment and amazing instructions.  It’s easy to follow and crazy effective.  I rely on NTC workouts on days when I’m lacking focus at the gym and it consistently kicks my ass way harder than I kick my own.

Passport to Prana: Another repeat on this blog, but whether your a current practitioner or looking to build a yoga practice, the value of this pass can’t be beat.  Valid for a year following activation, this $30 card allows you to attend a yoga class at all of the participating studios.  There are about 40 studios downtown and at regular prices of $15-$25 a class, the pass pays for itself in no time.  Bonus: there are several participating studios throughout the GTA, so you have no excuse when  you’re visiting relatives in the suburbs :)

Pedometer: There’s nothing new about it and its as simple a piece of fitness equipment as you can get, but a pedometer provides a great impetus to make those small changes to your day (taking the stairs, parking further from the building, walking to the grocery store, etc.) that can mean big changes in the long run.  I’ve been “working” from home for the past couple of months and days where I don’t leave the house are not uncommon.  Had I been wearing a pedometer that informed me I’d taken a mere 100 steps in a day, I think I’d be much quicker to strap on a pair of running shoes!  There are loads of different pedometers out there from the high tech to the very low.  Think about your fitness goals and what you actually want to keep track of and then stop by your local sports store.

Race Goal: The only time in my life that I’ve run even remotely regularly is when I committed to running the Sporting Life 10k a few springs ago.  I am not a runner (in fact I find running to be a painful experience) and knew I would crash and burn if I didn’t train for the race.  And since I joined the race with my new boyfriend I couldn’t possibly let that happen. So I ran. Outdoors, on the treadmill and even on some trails. And come race day, I killed it and it was pretty much the best feeling ever.  If you’re looking for some inspiration, the Sporting Life race is a super easy starter.  It’s mainly downhill, you’re paced with runners your own speed, and now is the perfect time to start training.  Plus I’m now engaged to that new boyfriend, so you never know!

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Learn Something New

Ladies Learning Code:  Since Robyn and I started blogging we’ve been talking about taking a course to learn code.  If you’re a blogger or have ever tried blogging, you know how frustrating it can be to not be able to make your blog look and work the way you want it to.  Ladies Learning Code is a women-run not-for-profit organization that teaches beginner-friendly technical skills in a comfortable, social environment.  I’m waiting for the Photoshop & WordPress for beginners classes to come around again and then maybe I’ll see you there!  If you’re interested in blogging specifically, I’d also recommend staying tuned for the new e-courses coming up soon from A Beautiful Mess. Continue reading

Ai Weiwei: According to What?

EVERYTHING IS ART. EVERYTHING IS POLITICS.

Here I go again eagerly and excitedly reporting back from yet another incredible exhibit showing at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Before I booked my ticket to the Ai Weiwei: According to What? exhibit last weekend, I was not particularly familiar with his background or importance in the art world.  To be frank, all I knew was that he is a renowned Chinese contemporary artist who is barred from leaving China, is without a passport, and that there is a documentary about him on Netflix.

I won’t recount all that I learned about Ai Weiwei, nor will I show you all of my pictures from the exhibition; this wouldn’t leave you anything to see for yourself! But this is what you should know. Known as the most famous living artist in the world right now, this exhibit was first curated with Ai Weiwei himself in 2009 for viewing in Tokyo, and this is only the second time it can be seen in North America.

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Patti Smith: Camera Solo

After a couple of years filled with frequent trips to New York City, I developed much love for the Big Apple. A good (and very thoughtful) friend bought me a special present to help deepen my appreciation for the (rock & roll) history of NYC: Patti Smith’s memoir titled Just Kids. Admittedly at the time I didn’t know much about Patti Smith. I knew she was a legendary rock star and that other musicians, old and new, spoke highly of her talent and success. Just Kids was an eye opener.

I learned so much from reading Patti Smith’s self-penned memoir. I learned that Smith’s first artistic expressions came in the form of painting, sculture and poetry. I learned about her intense love affair and friendship with famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and got a glimpse of the struggles of trying to make it in NYC in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. There were also Smith’s interactions with Andy Warhol and the artists associated with his Factory that were fun to hear about. Just Kids ends just as Smith’s music career is being propelled and the rest I had to learn on my own (wikipedia?).

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Beyond my interest in Smith’s rise to fame and learning about NYC’s Lower East Side, I took away a sincere appreciation and respect for Smith as a writer and artist. Her ability to recall the details of her early years evocatively and with beautiful emotion paints a clear picture of a semi-charmed life through rose-coloured glasses.  More than a memoir, Just Kids is poetry highlighting Smith’s intelligence and artsy disposition.

Why blog about Patti Smith now? On February 9th, 2013, the Art Gallery of Ontario will present an exhibition of Patti Smith’s work for the first time ever in Canada. The show, titled Patti Smith: Camera Solo, will feature over 75 pieces of work, including photography, objects and film and will highlight her interest in poetry and literature. There will be free a audio guide to accompany the exhibit, and if that weren’t enough, Smith will perform two live musical performances at March’s AGO 1st Thursday on the 7th. Ticket prices remain $8 for members and $10 for non-members and go on sale on February 8th.

Patti Smith, live in concert for $10. Did you get that?? This is not a small deal, folks!!! Put it in your calendars and tweet it to the world – all those Bonnaroo/Coachella/Lollapalooza/Glastonbury concert-goers everywhere are losing their shit.

AGO’s 1st Thursdays

I have longingly read about cool parties being thrown at famous art galleries like the MOMA (in NYC), the Art Institute of Chicago, and the LACMA (in LA) and truly pined for something similar to take place in Toronto. These events serve to engage a generation of young(ish) adults in art in new ways. Bringing together music, education, and art with themed events, these after hours parties allow the art-minded community to visit the galleries under new and unique parameters.

The ROM began a Friday Night Live event this past spring, but something about just wasn’t quite my cup of tea.  And then in October, the AGO launched its inaugural 1st Thursdays event. I attended the second event in November and you know what? It was THE most amazing night.  I had that incredible feeling of civic pride, mixed with warm fuzzies, splashed with a real sense of community and belonging.  Best yet, I felt this all under the roof of my favorite building in the city.

1st Thursdays is an art party extraordinaire with two installments under its belt, both to sold out crowds. Tickets are a mere $10 ($8 for members) and are available in advance on the AGO website.  Each month’s event has focused on one of the many exhibits on display at the gallery, along with a myriad of other activities and performances to suit any taste.

November’s 1st Thursday showcased contemporary photography and the 2012 Grange Prize winner was publicly announced.  All of the nominees were in attendance and their work was on display to be viewed. I had a great chat with this year’s winner, Jo Longhurst,  about being nominated and her upcoming 2-month stint as artist-in-residence in Toronto. She is quite excited to work in Toronto, a change from her native London, UK.

2012 Grange Prize winner, Jo Longhurst.

Musical guests DIANA, a newly-formed band from Toronto, played in the main atrium below the baroque stairs. Their sound was beautifully amplified in the big space and artwork specially curated for their set adorned the space around the stage. They can absolutely consider me a new fan & supporter.  After DIANA’s set, Katie Stelmanis, lead singer from one of my favorite bands of the moment Austra, took to the decks and DJ’d for the rest of the evening under mellow lighting.

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