Car troubles

If you know me, then you know that there are very few things that I will buy brand new. I’m a hand-me-down, second-hang kind of gal. So obviously, my car is an old hunker. But don’t be fooled, he’s strong and sturdy; heck, he even drove me across Canada back and forth, twice!

There’s always pros and cons about getting a used vehicle versus getting a new vehicle.

NEW CAR:

Pro – works great, most likely will not need repairs

Con – monthly payments get expensive

OLD CAR:

Pro – paid in full, way cheaper than the cost of a new car

Con – needs repairs at least once of twice per year

I could list a bunch of other pros and cons but those are the only two that really concern me for now, especially with the recent circumstances.

Every year, I put about $1000 down on my 2004 Oldsmobile Alero. The first year was worse than the others because the timing chain let go not long after my dad bought it – can I just take a moment to say how fortunate I am that my dad is able to help me out with something like this?! – and it needed to be replaced if I wanted to use the car ever again. Boom, $1200 in one shot. It made me nervous about keeping it because I didn’t know how much it would cost me per year, but after several years of driving it around, I was able to estimate an average cost and budget accordingly.

The upside to this is that I know that I end up paying WAY less in repairs than I do on car payments, and that in turn means that keeping up with repairs on my car is worth it. But at what point do I draw the line? When will it be time to say, enough is enough, my car is no longer a financial gain. When will I know when it is not feasible to keep putting money into it? Well, I haven’t really figured that out yet, but I’m on my way there.

On Friday night, Max, Benoit and I were hanging out at Cards, the local board game café. We were enjoying some drinks while finishing our game of Munchkin Adventure Time edition when all of a sudden Benoit suggests we go to Edmonton tomorrow. None of us were working, and we hadn’t done any travelling since we got back from Christmas break, so why not! It was super last minute, and so of course, I got right to planning. We would be leaving in the early morning and spending most of the day at the West Edmonton Mall. The guys also wanted to spend some time at Cabela’s and at a local firearm shop, so I made sure to work that into the tentative schedule as well. Oh, and we had to make sure to stop for homemade donuts on the way out – apparently the best in Alberta! – and get the best poutine in the West Coast at a restaurant whose name escapes me in Edmonton. The only thing we weren’t sure about was which vehicle to take. Benoit had just bought a truck on Wednesday and was eager to drive it around, so he suggested to take his vehicle. Max chimed in right away and said it would probably be a lot cheaper on gas to take my car, and there’s plenty of space too so it would still be a comfortable ride. We agreed we’d rather spend less on gas so my vehicle it is!

The next morning, we got up – OK, I got up – at 6AM and got everything ready for the trip. I packed water, snacks, first aid kit, yarn, spare oil, windshield washer, and comfy shoes and a lighter jacket for walking around in the mall. I woke Max up at 6:30AM, he showered while I packed the car, and then we headed out to pick up Benoit and breakfast.

The drive from Grande Prairie to Edmonton is about 4.5 hours. The weather was great, and it had been so warm in the past week that there was hardly any snow on the side of the road. It was smooth sailing – or so we thought.

When we were about 3 hours or so out of town, my car’s transmission started acting up a bit. I told Max it was probably nothing. It had happened to me once two and a half years ago, and they never found a problem with it. All I had done was stop on the side of the road, turn off the car for a few minutes while I panicked and called my dad, and then headed back home and everything was fine. So Max did the same. We pulled over on the side of the highway and turns the car off. He popped the hood and went to examine. (Side note: I am so blessed to have an amazing boyfriend who is so knowledgable in various domains, including mechanical work!)

He took a look at a few things and then asked me to start the car again. Uh-oh. Nothing was happening. The nervousness started to kick in right about now.

Shit, I knew this was bound to happen… how long has it been since I got repairs done? Ouf… almost a year. Is that bad? That’s probably really bad. Oh God, is this the end? Do I have to buy a new car now? I’m unemployed, I can’t buy a new car!! 

After a few minutes, Max came back into the car.

“Should I call CAA?”

I think Max had been worrying too. He looked pretty relieved when I reminded him that I have a CAA membership. I put the call in, although he did continue to try to see if he could fix the problem. The man on the phone was really helpful and told us he could call for a tow, and we could be taken to the nearest garage in Whitecourt. He just needed to call the Maritime Branch to confirm that my membership was still valid and how many kilometres I had for each tow. While he was making that second call, Max had been revving the engine and all of a sudden it started up again! Ok, so the battery probably just had a short, we should be good for a little while now. When the man from CAA called back, I told him to cancel the tow.

Things were looking up – for about 2 minutes. The transmission would shift out of 1st gear so the RPM was going crazy trying to shift. Max looked for the nearest place to turn around, and not long after, the battery just flat out died. We pulled over to the side of the road and hoped maybe someone could stop by to boost us, see how far we could get into Whitecourt. I called CAA again to let them know what happened and that we needed the tow after all. I didn’t want to chance it trying to drive all the way to a garage with whatever the heck was going on with my car. Max also called the local garages to see if any of them had a mechanic on duty that could take a look at the car. We got pretty lucky because there was only one guy in town on duty, and he said he could squeeze us in.
The tow truck was going to take approximately 45 minutes to get there so we sat and we waited. During our wait, a man stopped by and actually gave us a boost and said he would follow us into town. We drove for a minute or two and the battery died again. He gave us a second boost but Max told him he didn’t have to stay behind with us, a tow was on its way now. We still made a bit of way with the last boost, but still about 4 kilometres away from the garage.

We got towed around 11:45AM and made our way to Fortune Tires. Max had asked the driver to see if he could make a stop at Canadian Tire so we could buy a new battery, assuming that was the problem, but the driver said he was only supposed to take us to one place.

At the garage, it wasn’t long before the mechanic took a look at the car. He checked the battery and it was in fact kaput. He called to get a new one and then set it up. We waited. I don’t know how long, but we waited.

When he finished installing the new battery, he tried starting the car. He immediately saw that the alternator wasn’t charging the battery, so that was most likely what had caused the old battery to die. OK, and the fact that the battery was probably 12 years old didn’t help.

The mechanic started making some calls to see if he could find an alternator in town, but it didn’t look good.

Crap!! I think this is the end of the line. Max’s boss is selling an old Chevy pick up for $500, I should probably make him an offer… 

Benoit tried calling his roommate to see if he could pick us up with Benoit’s truck. Meanwhile, Max texted his boss to get some more info on the truck. He was thinking we could offer $400 and a pack of beer and we’d be good to go. I was beginning to let it all sink it, that this might be the last time I got to drive Oscar – yes, I named my car Oscar.

Plot twist! So the owner of the garage found an alternator at Canadian Tire, but all the employees were too busy to drive there. But, he told Max that he could take the company truck and drive us to Canadian Tire! They didn’t even ask to see his license or anything!! And when I say company truck, I’m not talking like regular small town truck, I’m talking 1 ton truck with a crapload of equipment in the back! What the heck?!

So off we went, Max, Benoit and I in the company truck. We drove to Canadian Tire and got what we needed pretty quickly. Max said I should probably buy a new belt for the alternator as well, since they were changing the alternator anyway. It came out to about $265, and both the alternator and the belt had warranties on them. Before heading back to the garage, Max figured it would be a good idea to stop and get them a pack of beer to thank them for letting us use their vehicle to go get the part ourselves. And I think it was greatly appreciated because they gave us a great deal when it came to the bill!

Back at the garage, the mechanic was busy working on another vehicle, so it was a longer wait. I also have no idea how long it takes to change an alternator, but it’s probably not a quick job. Regardless, we had no where to go, so we just waited.

As my mother would say, “Praise baby Jesus!” The car was fixed! At 2:30PM, the mechanic explained to us what work he did and then printed out the bill. He only charged us 1.5 hours for the whole thing, even though the flat rate for just changing the alternator was 2.5 hours! Big thank you to Max for his idea, it definitely paid off! The total came to about $400, so I pulled out my MasterCard to pay. Unfortunately, I assume my credit card payment didn’t go through on Friday because the payment didn’t go through. Luckily, I have a loving boyfriend whose MasterCard bill is not at its limit so he paid for me. (Don’t worry, I’ve already paid him back!)

Did I mention we didn’t stop for lunch? First stop: McDonald’s for a quick meal. By the time we hit the road it was 3:00PM. Direction: back to Grande Prairie. I guess we’ll have to try to go to Edmonton another day. And we will most definitely be taking Benoit’s truck, even if it does cost a bit more on gas.

Home organization

If you don’t know this about me already, I am slightly obsessed with cleaning and organizing my home – or anyone else’s home for that matter. I started looking into it via Pinterest a little over a year ago and it’s actually amazing how much my life has improved since then. Notably, I’m talking finances. Getting organized helped me get things done, and getting things done helped me save a ton of money.

Here’s how:

  • Meal planning
  • Stock piling
  • Couponing/Points Cards (including coupon apps!)
  • Waste reduction
  • Decluttering
  • Budgetting

By implementing good habits as listed above, I was able to not only save money, but to feel good about it because I knew that it was my hard work and dedication that helped me achieve my goals. Dedication is really a key aspect when taking on any challenge, and when it’s combined with consistency, you begin to see change.

I want to take the time to underline again that I LOVE doing this kind of stuff, which makes it easier to motivate myself to keep doing it every day. It’s a lot trickier when you want to be able to get organized, but you don’t like doing it therefor it feels like a chore you need to keep doing, over and over again. Don’t get discouraged even if this may be the case; you can always make changes that are adapted to your lifestyle and find a way to make it work under your terms.

The first topic of home organization that I was interested in was meal planning. I lead such a busy life, always getting involved with events, volunteer work, gigs, work, projects, etc., and I was tired of – and broke from – going to the restaurant all the time and buying groceries every other day because I never had all the ingredients I wanted to make the meals I wanted. So I did some research on meal planning, just to see what I could find. Unfortunately, one of the biggest fads was “Freezer Meals”, most of which contain meat. The problem being: I’m a vegetarian. There were also tons and tons of meal ideas for monthly meal plans, but again, they were all easy go-to meat-based recipes that I had absolutely no interest in making. The solution: I needed to buy myself a good vegetarian cook book. I actually owned one, not that I had ever really used it. My dad bought it for me when I decided to become a vegetarian when I turned 16. The only meal I had ever tried to make was a vegetable lasagna – YUM – but it always took so much time and effort that I only ever made it twice, and the second time was for a fundraiser and I wasn’t even the one cooking.

I’ve never thought of myself as a fussy person, but just by browsing through the veggie cook books at Chapters, I realized how limited I had made my diet. I suppose it was due to habits; I ate what my parents ate. So I took a leap of faith and bought a book with a wide variety of vegetarian meals, and decided I would start a 30 Day Home-cooked Meal challenge to try a new recipe every day. (See: Cooking With Gary the Giraffe)

Next up was to find a meal planner. Did I want to use an app or a print out sheet? I couldn’t decide so I decided to try both. I downloaded the Pepperplate app on my phone and iPad, and printed out some free sheets from Pinterest searches that I thought looked good. At first, I tried doing a weekly meal plans, so that meant picking 7 meals, writing down all the ingredients I needed for them, and only shopping for those items – and snacks, of course. It worked pretty well, although sometimes I would switch them if I wasn’t in the mood for a certain meal on a certain weekday. I tried to make sure my time was well managed around making the meals. What I mean by that is that I used to have choir practice every Monday night at 7pm, and since I work until 4:30pm, that means I only have a little over 2 hours to cook the entire meal, sit down to eat, and clean up. In that case, I would always make sure that Monday meals were quick and easy to make so that I could have some extra time to take a shower, watch some TV, or catch up on my e-mails.

After finishing the 30 Day Challenge, I realized that weekly meal plans felt limited, so I printed out new monthly meal planning sheets – I still use these today. My new plan was to pick out enough meals for the entire month and post that on the fridge. Then I would also use the weekly meal planner to make sure I was only going to do groceries once a week. I also clicked in that it would be more efficient to make sure I used some of the same ingredients for more than one meal in the same week. For example, if I buy spinach for just one meal this week, it is most likely going to go bad because I haven’t planned a second meal that contains spinach to use it up before the expiration date. I worked this into the planning and it helped reduce the amount of food I was throwing into the garbage – make that compost, now.

The whole meal planning did save me money, just like that, without even doing anything else. But to me, it was like taking the first bite of a delicious chocolate cake that just melts in your mouth, and I wanted more. Next up was a combination of stock piling and budgeting. (Side note: the coupons were a part of it, but I wasn’t fully immersed into couponing until just now.)

What is stock piling, exactly? Well, basically it consists of buying a LOT of non-perishables when they’re selling at their best price. How do you do this? Flyers. All of the flyers. It’s a process too, because you need to visit every store that sells the items that you use – oh yeah, good tip: only buy stuff you know that you use! – and compare the regular prices to the sale prices. Sometimes Sobeys will have an item on sale, but the regular price is still cheaper at Superstore, so obviously, I’m going to buy it at Superstore. The smartest way to do stock piling, is to ONLY buy sale items, when they are at their cheapest. This makes it a bit more difficult because at the beginning, you don’t necessarily have a lot to work with. The first time I started stock piling, I bought non sale items as well, but made sure to stay on or under budget.

As for the budget itself, I’ve tried a lot of different things. I did print out sheets to keep track of what I was using. I tried spreadsheets to keep track of all my finances. And then finally I found what worked best for me (at the time): cash. What that means it that I budgeted my money by only shopping with cash, that way I could never overspend – not that I usually do anyway, I’ve been frugal my whole life. I bought a coupon organizer and put a set amount in there with the coupons every week I went to do my groceries. I also kept track of the money I was spending on cue cards. Each cue card represented a month, and for each week of spending, I would write down the total spent, and the total savings. Then at the end of the month, I wrote down the grand total which would indicate if I went into the positive or into the negative. The reason I even mention going over budget in this scenario is because the stock piling can cause the budget to be a little unbalanced the first week of every month, and I would allow that because I knew I would still end up saving money at the end of the month. And I did. In only 6 months, I saved over $250! Imagine how much you could save every year!

Unfortunately, I moved after 6 months or so, which meant I would have to start over. This is when I started implementing waste reduction and decluttering – it’s pretty much necessary to get rid of clutter when you move anyway so it’s a win-win. As for waste reduction, I’ve always been eco-friendly, very aware of my environmental impact and my ecological footprint, but I hadn’t really gotten into good habits concerning waste management at home. I had just moved into a nice spacious house with only one roommate, so I knew I had more flexibility when it came to deciding I wanted to compost more frequently. Another important thing – that I’m not very good at – is to portion foods so that it doesn’t go to waste, in other words, always finish off your plate. Luckily, I have an amazing brother who will eat anything I can’t finish, and then I got a wonderful boyfriend who could do the same. So although I am relying on others, I can say that I’ve got that accomplished. But in all seriousness, I do serve myself smaller portions and I take home any leftovers if/when we go out to restaurants.

And then I moved again! I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to cope well, despite the instability of living arrangements in the past 6 months. But it also meant starting over, again. Not to worry, given the fact that I was – and still am – unemployed, it gave me plenty of time to get everything in order to have a budgeted, organized and eco-friendly home. With all this free time, I decided it was time to get into couponing and get my points-card game on! I found a printer on Kijiji for $10 – booya! – and got right to printing coupons. I already had three coupon apps on my phone, but I figured there must be others I haven’t heard of, so I did some research and ended up with these:

  • Checkout 51 (My all time favourite)
  • Zweet (Pretty good app, but fewer options)
  • Snap by Groupon (Often the same options and you can only use them once each)
  • Cartsmart (Just downloaded it. Seems to have a decent variety, but not a huge selection)
  • Coupgon (Just downloaded it. Very limited because it’s based on specific stores and it only recognizes one store in my area)

*Bonus app: Flipp! Absolutely amazing app that gives you coupons and shows you all the weekly flyers for the stores around you. Win-win!

And then of course there are the points cards:

  • Air Miles (not a huge fan, and there’s no Sobeys or IGA in my area right now)
  • PC Plus Points (LOVE this one! You can redeem $20 with just 20 000 points. I’ve already redeemed $140 since I got it a year ago. Can be used at Superstore and No Frills)
  • More Rewards (This one is for Save On Foods. Seems hard to accumulate points fast)
  • Optimum (A lot of people are familiar with the Shoppers Drugmart points card. I only recently became more aware of the points system and got $30 of free groceries last week!)
  • Smart Shoppers Cards (These can be used at Freson Bros by collecting stamps and filling out cards to redeem free or reduced price groceries. Love it, but the food at this store is expensive so you have to spend a lot of money to acquire enough stamps for free food.)

And that’s where I’m at right now. I just started my new stock pile so I’m pushing the budget quite a bit and will continue to do so for a maximum of 2 more weeks. After that, it should be smooth sailing with savings a plenty!

Things to do out West

Can you believe I live in Alberta now? I never thought I’d see the day! Moving into a new town definitely has its ups and downs. One of the hardest things about moving, I find, is not only getting used to the new setting, but also finding new friends and new things to do. So I thought to myself, “Why don’t I make a list of all the things I’d like to do out West?”

I got to work right away doing some research about activities and events going on in Grande Prairie. The first thing I noticed was that music events weren’t as easy to find as they were in the East Coast. So when I spotted a bar that had live bands playing almost every weekend, that was the first thing to go on the list.

What other kind of things could there possibly be to do in this town? What about volunteering? That was the second thing I was most interested in finding during my research. As you may have read on my blog post, Volunteering, I already got a jumpstart on that!

Everything else that popped up in the search would fall into two categories: hobbies and activities from my usual routine, and new exciting activities for me to try.

Here’s what I’ve gathered up…

Things To Do Out West:

  • Listen to live music at Better Than Fred’s
  • Go to Bingo!
  • Volunteer at the Art Gallery (Check!)
  • Learn how to shoot a gun (Check!)
  • Go to the Festival of Lights! (Check! See: November in a nutshell)
  • Listen to local music (Check – at the Festival of Lights!)
  • Attend Yoga classes
  • Go to a Dinner Theatre
  • Volunteer at the SPCA
  • Check out The Jump Yard!! – I am so excited, I can’t believe we haven’t gone yet!
  • Go to a First Nations public event!
  • Go Rock Climbing at the Regional College
  • Join a choir
  • Go to Banff
  • Listen to music at the Entrec Centre
  • Go to Jasper (Check! See: My 25th Birthday)
  • Visit the Dinosaur Museum
  • Listen to Red Moon Road in Valleyview!!! – THIS IS GOING DOWN ON FEBRUARY 6TH AND I CAN’T WAIT! 😀
  • Take a new class, like pottery or sewing
  • Travel to the Northwest Territories
  • Visit Alaska!
  • Visit friends in Calgary
  • Jam with friends
  • Go to a music festival in Spring/Summer
  • More to come…

 

Do you have any suggestions or ideas that I could add to my list? Leave me a comment and if it’s possible/it doesn’t scare the crap out of me, I’ll add it on!

A new year, a new adventure

I didn’t know how to bring it up, and it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but here it is: I moved to Alberta.

I made the choice just before Christmas, after having talked to my close friends and my family about it. One thing I realized about making that decision was that I made it on my own, and I’m not sure that was the best way to go about it.

What I mean by that is that I didn’t have a discussion with anyone concerning the impact that my decision would have on everyone around me; I just decided “Hey, I’m moving.” As I reflect upon, I realize know how unfair that was to a select (important) few. It wasn’t easy to choose this option, for many reasons, and I should certainly have gone about it a different way. I should have been clear and direct, but all the while listening to what others had to say in the matter so I could better weigh my options. But despite how sorry I am that I hurt some people by my rash decisions and lack of communication, I made the right decision.

It all happened pretty quickly. Max got a call on Saturday while we were in Halifax, so we drove back to Moncton on Sunday, packed our things, and left immediately. We didn’t have much time to say goodbye – or even to say hello to half of my friends – but we had a lot to do and were trying desperately not to forget anything. Side note: we still forgot a bunch of crap.

To everyone I didn’t get to see during the Christmas break, I hope you’re all doing well, and I wish I could have had more time to see you all despite our busy schedules. I’m available for Skype dates anytime if anyone wants to catch up though!

The drive up was actually the best one to date. We made a quick stop in Charlo, NB to see Max’s parents and pick up some of his things. I also got a pair of homemade wool socks from Max’s mom!!

IMG_0246
Don’t mind my lazy ass slouching on the couch…

Next stop was Montreal, QC to stay with Max’s sister. This time, we actually had some time to spare so we got to hang out, eat supper at an amazing vegan restaurant downtown, see a movie – even though we couldn’t see the same one because Max and I waited until the last minute to buy tickets and it was sold out – and even play on musical teeter-totters!

We actually got to stay over at John & Lois’ in Blind River, ON this time and I even got to see my cousin Sarah and meet her fiancé Phoenix for the first time! Our stay there wasn’t very long though because of the long drive from there to Winnipeg, MB. Although we made great time and the roads were pretty nice the whole way. We arrived to Mireille’s place at about 11PM and chatted with her and her sister. We didn’t sleep a whole lot that night either because next stop was Grande Prairie, AB, AKA another 16 hour drive. And we even managed to get Edmonton before the gun store closed so that Max could buy some reloading dies.

Just so you all know, I actually did drive a few times during this trip, and Max drank a lot less energy drinks – yay! We made it home safe and sound around 10:45PM, although it took us about an hour just to unpack everything from the car! Then we promptly passed out and got some much needed rest.

Since our arrival on January 8th, exactly one week ago from today, I have been continuing my job hunt and got a pleasant surprise – an interview last Thursday at Crystal Parks School to be a Substitute Educational Assistant. When I got the call on Monday, I swear to God I almost crapped my pants I was so happy!! And it gets better… I got the job!! I just have to wait for my police check to get in three weeks from now, fill out some paper work, and boom, I can start taking shifts! It’s exciting and nerve wracking at the same time, especially since it’s substitute work. It’ll definitely be a challenge to form bonds with the kids since they might only see me once in a while. I said I would be willing to take shifts anywhere within the district, to get more calls, so that means jumping around a lot more. But it’ll all be worth it! I also dropped my resumé off at a game store where Max knows the owner and he said he could bring me in for an interview sometime soon since they need to hire someone part time ASAP. Doing both those jobs would be great because I could easily turn down a shift from the school if I already had a shift at another workplace. Although preferably I’d like to get more shifts at school since it pays quite well.

More good news: I started my own business called Carmen’s Crafts. All products are handmade by me, mainly knitted products, but there’s also a variety of do-dads of all kinds. More on that later – blog post to follow – but for now, feel free to check out my Facebook Page and my cool new website!

What else is new?? I feel like there’s just been so much going on and I keep not writing things down…

I can’t really think of anything else for now. Life is good, things are looking up! And I’m looking forward to everything that is to come throughout this new adventure, the good, the bad, and everything in between.

xo

I think I’ve gone and lost myself

I have a great life, don’t get me wrong. I have a wonderful, loving boyfriend whom I am currently living with. I am surrounded by amazing family and friends who are supportive of all the artsy projects I invest myself in. I have a roof over my head, I have a bed in which I can lay, I have a healthy body, and I have the means to take care of this body. I look at this body every day and I never think about it. And I mean really think about it. Do I feel beautiful? Yes! Do I love the body I was given? Yes! Do I feel like I’m taking good care of my body, that I am treating it right? Hell yes! But today I just realized that I don’t know if I recognize myself inside that body.

I used to be unhappy, and it took me a long time to realize why. Hell, I’m still not actually sure why, although I have a good idea. I was settling. I told myself I would never settle for less than what I deserved. But sometimes it’s hard to recognize that you’re settling, that where you are now isn’t where you should be. It’s hard to look at yourself, to look at your life, and answer the question ‘Am I happy?’ Sometimes the lines are all blurry because life happens, and it’s not always rainbows and sunshine. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is. And it’s so beautiful when moments like that happen. They should be cherished. But there’s always negativity to compensate for the positivity in life. I’m not saying that pessimistically, but rather I’m saying that realistically. For every action, there is an equal opposite reaction. I believe that to be true of happiness and sadness, positive and negative. It’s like yin and yang, when you get right down to it. Except I guess they aren’t equal; not always. Sometimes life is unbalanced, and that can be scary. But it can also be exhilarating.

One question I’ve been asking myself is whether or not – or rather, to what degree – we control our reaction to life’s ups and downs. We have a great array of choices. For example, we can choose to look at things in a positive light. Some people are like that, always seeing the best of every situation. Others, however, will choose to see the negativity of every circumstance and bring that to the forefront. And then there’s the third option of simply not choosing.

My whole life, I’ve thought of myself as a go-getter, as someone who thrives for greatness and nothing less. I am able and capable of accomplishing great things and my hard work and dedication are what drive me to continuously better myself. But what if all I’m doing is simply occupying my time with meaningless things? What if, deep down, I’m keeping busy so that I don’t have to choose? And that thought scares me.

But today is the day that I’m choosing not to be scared. Today is a day of awakening. Today I see myself for who I am. Today I look at my life with eyes wide open and I am aware of everything around me, of all the possibilities and especially of all the opportunities. Today I choose happiness.