Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Taking a Break

Please consider a trip down memory lane and visit  my blog archive - in particular some of the 2009 Xmas season blogs.  Scroll down the sidebar to the left and click on 2009. Happy Holidays everyone!  I hope to be back in the New Year with some fresh perspectives.

Decomama xo

Thursday, November 10, 2011

OK, OK, I'm coming!

About an hour ago, I was driving toward home from the east, heading straight west, the sun just starting to head toward the horizon, but still up high enough in the sky to necessitate wearing my sunglasses.  There were some big puffy clouds obscuring parts of it and there were several minutes where the beauty of this scene was so intense in my mind that it brought tears to my eyes.  This happens to me occasionally when I am awestruck by something so perfect it fills my heart with something akin to how I felt when my daughter was first born and I could not stop staring at her.  I was so full of love for her tiny innocent self, this seeming miracle that had bestowed itself upon me. For weeks I was almost trance-like.  I will never forget that time in my life where nothing else seemed to matter.  She was and still is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

So now, whenever I experience even a moment of that sort of intense feeling, I am reminded of what is important and precious in my life.  Now, a short time later, I am sitting looking out from my perch here on the 16th floor and the full moon is casting it's glow on the lake and twice within an hour I have been moved to tears by the perfect simplicity of nature.  These are the things that feed my soul and lately I could use as much of this "food" as I can possibly get.

I have to admit, the introspective journey that I have been on for the last couple of years had better be coming to an end soon, because I am getting so fatigued by my own navel-gazing that if it doesn't end soon, I may have to go back to that unconscious place I was living in before all this started and after all the work I have done that would really be such a waste of growth, not to mention excellent fodder for my novel.  But really, did I have to fall into the depths of despair to be able to crank out some good material?  I think many artists who have gone before me have.  I am hesitant to lump myself in with them, but I do think that lots of creativity is born of "hitting rock bottom".

That is not to say I have had a drug or drinking problem.  I have not.  But I would say I have had a "crisis of consciousness" so to speak that has felt like rock bottom some days.  I have and still am completely transforming my life and it has been perhaps the scariest and most exciting time in my entire existence.  No, I have not found Jesus, nor have I accepted him as my personal saviour in case you are wondering.  But I have come through a rebirth of sorts.  Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Those are pretty major I reckon. I have rejected the status quo (huge for me), walked away from what most would consider a good marriage, bared my soul and needs and flaws to anyone willing to listen, (like Meryl Streep in Out of Africa), shed more pounds than I care to admit and strengthened my body and immune system drastically, changed my work, succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and then plummeted just as quickly, faced death and illness in my extended family, left behind some of my joys and passions to  pursue new ones, made new friends and ended relationships that no longer served my growth or fed my soul, re-ignited parts of me that were lost and buried and those are just some of the things that have happened.

Whew!  It tired me out just listing it all.  Essentially, I have just opted to follow the path of my soul's purpose in this life, as difficult as it has been and it has taken all my courage and all my energy and it has been extremely painful and extremely joyful and I have never felt so alive in my entire life.

Would I recommend it?  Yes and no.  It is certainly not for the faint of heart.  Nor is it for everyone.  Would I do it all over again?  The jury may still be out on this one.  One thing I know for sure - sometimes it is necessary.  I  just knew in my heart it was for me.  I had to listen.  I read a quote about a year or so ago that sort of summed it up perfectly...

"You might as well answer the door my child, the truth is furiously knocking." - Lucille Clifton 


Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's all Greek to her.

Ancient History.  The Classics. Greek and Roman Mythology.....with a minor in Film Studies.  How about that?  This my dear readers is what my lovely daughter wants to study in university next year.  She has come a long way from wanting to be a veterinarian.  I'm not really sure if she actually wanted to do that or if her father and I were pushing her in that direction.  There was a time when she loved animals so much that it seemed natural, but all that has changed now.

Lots of things have changed for her in the last few years.  She has grown up, matured, found something she is passionate about, traveled to Scotland, England, France, Germany, Belgium and beautiful British Columbia.  At 17 she has had more worldly experiences than many and certainly more than I had had at that age.  I did not really start to travel the world until I was 19, so she has a good head start on me.

The environment she has grown up in is so vastly different from what my reality was at her age.  I am continually surprised by how much she knows that she has not even experienced largely due to the Internet and the world at her fingertips.  The library is a thing of the past now. Just Google it - it's so simple.  In about 9 months, the same time it took my body to nurture her into being, she will be taking the next big step in her life. 

I am not one of those parents who frets and worries about her leaving.  I am actually excited for her, knowing that the next few years will be some of the most wonderful years of her life.  She will make life long friends, learn how to fend for herself, fill her brain with knowledge, get up to a bit of mischief maybe (currently she is a self-professed geek), so I hope she does let loose a bit and hopefully figure out who she is and what her soul's path is in this life.  I am so fortunate.  She has been easy.  Not perfect, but never difficult.  She marches to her own drum and is not a follower.  Sometimes that can be a bit lonely for her I imagine, but it suits her and it certainly makes life easier for me.

I have never had to worry about her getting into a car with other kids who are under the influence.  She does not hang with that kind of crowd.  She is very conscious of what is right and wrong and she is almost a bit too cautious sometimes, but again, I rarely worry she is making the wrong choices.  I still wonder how the hell she came from me sometimes.  It does speak to how your environment plays a key role in one's development though.  She grew up in a peaceful, loving and supportive home as an only child, so she did not even have a sibling to influence her decisions.  She knows I was a bit of a wild child and she loves hearing tales of my own misspent youth, but she does not feel the  need or desire to follow suit (thank god).

She has spent the past two weekends touring her top two picks for university.  One is in Ottawa and the other in Peterborough.  Either is fine with me - but time will tell where she ends up.  For now, she needs to work to get the grades to get in - that is the current challenge.  How badly does she want it?  That is really the question.  She is beyond capable, but she is typical in some ways when it comes to being a teenager.   Focus is not her strong suit.  Nor is time management and organization.  I do believe she will get there.  But it won't come easy.  This term will determine her course, so it is critical to do well.  That is a lot of pressure at 17.  I don't know if I could  have done it.  I went back to school at 24 as a mature student - I was not even close to ready after high school.  I went to the school of "travel" instead.  It was the right route for me, but it is not for everyone. 

I dropped out of community college after one year of a two year program and hit the road, backpack slung over my shoulders and no bloody idea of what I was doing or even where I was going other than I was landing in Amsterdam and I would figure the rest out when I got there.  Pretty ballsy now when I think about it - but at the time it was all I wanted to do.  See the world.  Get the hell out of Dodge.

If she came to me next summer and said she wanted to do the same thing I am not sure how I would respond.  It's a different world now.  I hitched rides all through Europe, took the odd train, had a few close calls with danger but survived to tell the tales.  Those days are long gone.  Her experience would need to be more planned, safer, more structured.  I grew up without any of the safety nets our kids have now.  Why would it have been any different trekking around the world without a plan or seat belts, or a specified destination at the end of the day?  I do wonder if we have coddled our kids too much. 

In any case, she is about to venture away without me and although her reality will be vastly different from mine, it will be her adventure with her signature on it and that is what really matters.

The world of academia awaits.  You go girl.......my girl, my sweet child.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not long out of the Cave....that has to be it.

I was going to ignore it, but it has been a few days now and I just cannot.  I am compelled to talk about this.  This will not be one of my humourous blogs.  There is no room for humour here.  Not even a little bit. NONE. NADA.

By now, most of you are aware or have seen the video of the little 2 year old girl in China being struck by a panel van in the street.  The video shows her being hit, rolled over with both sets of tires, the truck moving off and not stopping.  Then it gets worse.  People pass by and glance at her and keep walking.  And worse again.  Another vehicle hits her a second time.  Still no one stays at the scene and people keep ignoring her plight.

Finally someone scoops her body off the side of the road and takes her away.  She is still alive, barely.  I have since learned that the driver was caught, thanks to the video that captured the entire thing happening.  Then I learned that he ran over her with his back tires on purpose to make sure she was "good and dead".  Apparently, dead is better than injured as he has to pay less compensation to her family.  Had she had medical bills, he would have been responsible to pay those for her family.

As I write these words, the shock of all of this is still processing in my brain.  I find the entire thing almost impossible to comprehend.  Such utter disregard for human life.  The driver was not even going very fast.  Surely he had time to stop, to brake before he struck her.  Even if it was an accident, the fact that he did not get out of his van to help her, again, strikes me as beyond inhumane.  A small innocent child treated in this manner is the most appalling of atrocities.  I know this is not the first time, nor will it be the last that someone of my own human race has acted in such a barbaric manner.  It does nothing to comfort me.

It makes me feel ashamed to be part of the collective.  As I try to understand how anyone could behave in this manner, I ask myself many questions.  Could this happen in my country?  Is it a race thing?  Is it a sex thing (girls having little worth in some cultures)?  Is it a complete nation lacking in any soul or conscience? Was this perhaps some sort of divine intervention for that poor child - will she be better off dead than live amongst such a heartless tribe?

If you do the math, the number of people that did not help her far outweigh the one person who finally did stop to come to her aid as she lay limp and bleeding at the side of the road, alone, vulnerable, in pain, helpless.  What brought them to this point in  their lives?  What atrocities have been wrought upon them to leave them in such an unfeeling zombie-like state?  And how does one begin to try and fix them?  Can they be healed? 

It makes me angry.  It stuns me.  It fills my heart with grief.  Yet, my life goes on.  I will wake up tomorrow and be grateful for the sunrise, for my daughter sleeping peacefully in her cozy cocoon of down and feathers, for food that is plentiful, for my surroundings and my shelter from any storm, for my good health.

What I will be especially grateful for though is this.  I will appreciate the fact that if I ever accidentally struck a small child on the road, I would stop my car and do everything in my  power to help her....or him....or even if it was a dog or a cat.  I would take responsibility and my heart would ache for what had happened.  I am thankful I would FEEL something.  For that, in my mind is what sets us apart from the animal kingdom.  Perhaps there are still people out there in this world that walk and talk like humans, but really are not quite that evolved yet.

Surely, the people involved in this incident are not long out of the cave. 

Perhaps that is it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's the Point?

It has come to my attention that there may be some confusion as to the purpose of this blog.  Some see it as an on-line diary, others as an occasional commentary on current events, either in the world at large or just in my own life.  The purpose for me is to express myself, keep improving my writing by just writing regularly and to entertain the few who do read or care about what I have to say.

I have said it before and I will say it again - in an ideal world, I would be like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City and would actually get paid for my ramblings. I want to be a columnist. I am after all an experienced, educated woman, mother, design professional and sporty gal that feels I actually do have the odd thing to say or share or rant about.

Some women like to knit or paint or engage in some sort of hobby after a long day at the office.  I like to carve out a bit of time for this.  It is not always easy.  It is a little way down the priority list after working out, helping my daughter with her homework, cooking dinner, socializing and catching up on my reading......well the list goes on.  Like I said, I wish I had more time for blogging.  I find it creative, introspective and I can get lost in it so completely that it is also a good way to combat anxiety and stress which I rarely choose to "medicate" with alcohol.  My first choice for stress relief is exercise. It makes me feel awesome physically and mentally.  It is "hands down" the best "medication" for just about anything that ails you, particularly if you have a tendency toward depression.  Western medicine practitioners should be prescribing brisk walks in the fresh air before handing out prescriptions for antidepressants - give that a whirl before they automatically line the pockets of the drug companies and collect their kickbacks from them.....don't get me started.

  Exercise works way better and does not give me a hangover, just tighter abs and a firmer butt, which I think looks better on me than the bloodshot eyes and and other nasty side effects I see on some women.  There is a bar down the street from me that I walk by regularly and the smokers have to come out and stand on the street to get their nicotine fixes and I am generally shocked at the sad and sorry group of women my same age that are standing out there. Not only are they filling their lungs with toxins, they are dressed for prowling and most of them are waaaaay beyond looking good for this activity, but hey - maybe they are onto something - who knows?  I just know that is not for me.   

OK, so I just had to pause to help my daughter with her Philosophy studies.  She has a test on  Friday.  It has been quite awhile since I looked at all these definitions of various philosophical schools of thought.  I was most intrigued by Determinism.  I forgot that something I actually wonder about has actually got a name.  The definition is - "the theory that everything that occurs happens in accordance with some regular patterns or law; the view that human actions are completely determined by prior events."  Not to be confused with "fatalism" - the view that events are fixed and that humans can do nothing to alter them."

One could apply whichever philosophy suits them at any given time I suppose.  Currently, I think I may be falling into the "fatalist" category.  It helps me accept things.  It is flawed though much like anything.  It could be used as an excuse to stop trying.  To stop hoping.  To stop believing.  I recently read "Excuses Be Gone" by Wayne Dyer.  He made some really valid points.  We use excuses all the time.  "I don't have time, I can't afford it, it's the way I am, it will upset my family, and on and on.   All excuses.  We are all guilty of these in one way or another.  Check the book out if you find  you are finding excuses to not move forward in  your life - it is one of the best motivational books I have read in some time.  You have a lot more choices and control of your life than you realize - he will show you how to turn things around.  Highly recommend it.

OK, so where was I?  OK, yes, back to my blog's "purpose".  No, it is not "about" anything, it is about "everything".  It helps lead me to my "purpose".  The more "word vomit" I eject, the better I feel.  When someone responds to something I have written and finds it funny or informative or even just relateable, I am happy.  It gives me pleasure to know I have made someone think or laugh or cry or even get angry.  We are all human - we have feelings, we need to express ourselves.  I don't expect everyone to agree with me or even care about my words - I only care that by being able to express myself, I have revealed something of myself and by so doing, have opened my heart and my soul to make room for something new to enter.

That is what fulfills me.  (One thing, anyway.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Keeping it Simple......not so Stupid

I am sitting here, my morning off, watching the waves crashing onto the shore here in Port Credit, music playing, sipping a nice latte, putting a plan in place for the rest of my day and a few things have occurred to me.  Nothing earth shattering really, but curious enough that I feel like sharing some of my thoughts.
They have to do with simplicity.  My latte for example.  No one can deny that it is a simple drink.  Brewed espresso with hot steamed milk, all warm and foamy and delicious.  Now you may be thinking I slipped out to Starbucks or The Second Cup to order one up, but I did not.  I  made it here in my own kitchen.  That too is nothing unusual, except, here comes the simple bit.  I do not own a fancy coffee machine.  I used to at one point in my life, but I found it cumbersome on the counter and whenever people came by for dinner, I felt like I missed out on all the after dinner chat while I was stuck in the kitchen whipping up cappuccinos for my guests.  And the clean-up of said machine was a giant pain in the ass.

So, I sold it.  I bought a simpler version and kept it in the cupboard and did not offer fancy after dinner coffee drinks to my guests anymore.  But even that machine was a pain in the ass to clean.  So I got rid of it too.  Since then, for many years now in fact, I do this:  I make the coffee part in a single cup bodum.  Then, I put some milk in a glass measuring cup, pop it in the microwave, then I take this little $9.99 battery operated whipper and insert it into the hot milk and voila - luscious, foamy milk that I then add to the coffee and I have a great latte.

My point being, all these expensive machines and gizmos - are they really necessary sometimes?  I feel the same about food - the simpler the better in many cases.  Fresh natural ingredients, nothing processed, flavourful herbs and simple grilling.  I always feel better after eating food like this. 

The gym.  Another thing I think can be simplified.  The only piece of equipment I actually find entirely necessary is the treadmill. (and if I lived somewhere hot - would not need that either) The universal gym sits there,  unused for the most part, like a giant metal sculpture in the middle of the room.  I use the  hand weights, the mats, the balls and only occasionally get myself all twisted and turned about on that thing.  I don't seem to have trouble toning my body without it.  In fact, I wish it was out of there, I would have more room to do the rest of my routine.  I do use it as a surface for my towel, water bottle, keys and glasses, so I suppose you could say it has some reason to be there.  There is one guy I have seen really take advantage of it, but he is the body-builder type and unless I am overcome with an urge to look like a female Arnie, I doubt I will follow suit.

Don't get me wrong.  I have toyed with that idea.  I see those women in magazines all slick with oil and flexing their biceps and abs in teeny tiny bikinis and for a brief moment, I think, hmmm, I could do that.  Then the reality of the time investment it takes to look like that hits me and I leave that fantasy in the dark where it belongs.  I don't really want to look like that anyway.  Not that extreme.  Then, once you get there, you  have to keep it up, or you know what happens.  I have seen those supermarket tabloid shots of what Arnie looks like now that he isn't pumping iron anymore - that is scarier than the toned terminator - no thanks.

Where was I?  I was lost in my view for a minute.  OK, right, simplicity.  Here is another one.  Cable.  Basic cable vs umpteen channels.  I watch TV for about 2 hours a week - 4 if there is a good movie or something going on in the world that I feel compelled to follow.  I wondered when I was getting set up here in my new digs if I would miss the umpteen channel thing.  I think I did once when I just assumed one of the channels I used to get was available, but I survived the moment of deprivation and carried on to live another day, so no, I don't miss it.  It's easier to figure out the bill too.  Pretty straightforward.  Basic cable ............$whatever.  I did notice underneath in fine print the words: bloody cheap bastard, but my eyesight ain't what it used to be so I can easily ignore that part.

OK, I could go on and on with other simple changes I have made in my life, but I need to hit the gym after I go outside for a simple brisk walk/run in my simple work-out top with the built-in bra (whoever invented that was genius - no falling straps) and then eat a simple lunch before I head to tennis for my weekly doubles match with the girls which I play at a very basic winter club - no pool, or fancy clubhouse or luxurious change rooms.  You just show up, enter the bubble, go to your assigned court, play a simple game - costs about a tenth of some clubs with all the bells and whistles and I found I never used all that other stuff much anyway. 

OK, signing off here from my simple HP comp....works for me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Six more Weeks, eh?

Have you ever noticed how your life only seems "just right" for brief periods of time?  That is my experience anyway.  You know, when all the elements seem to be in sync and you are in a groove and then you wonder when the other shoe will drop. 
My life has pretty much resembled a roller coaster ride for the last couple of years and just when I thought one decision was going to slow that down a tad, now it seems I am faced with yet another disaster and frankly, I am getting a little tired of gathering up the energy and resolve to put another fucking piece of my life back together.  As a friend of mine likes to say "It's always something." 

I read a lot of spiritual, inspirational, philosophic stuff - I find it helps me get through the rough spots and a really good poet can really lift my spirits, but lately even these words of wisdom and encouragement are not really doing much to solve my current dilemma.  According to my astrologer, I am going through a Pluto transit and it will apparently be coming to an end once and for all around the end of November.  If this is in fact true, I only have to scratch and claw my way through another what?, 6 weeks or so? 

So, that's not so bad, I can be like the little engine that could.....I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  I loved that book when I was a little kid.  I remember having it read to me and how I so rooted for that little engine to make it up over the hill.  It was hopeful.  It taught me a lesson, even though at the time I did not realize that was what it was all about.  Believe in yourself.  I do.  I do believe in myself.  I just wish I could figure out how to translate that belief in myself into more income.  I used to want to make gobs of money, but now I would just be happy with enough to cover my expenses and live a simple normal existence without worrying.  How did I end up in a job that pays straight commission?  I did not sign up for it, that's for sure.  When I first took my present job, it was a salary-plus commission deal, but about a year in, they changed the system on us and now it is straight commish baby.  Great when the economy is humming but sucks when it is not.

If I lived in NYC, I would be joining the throngs down on Wall Street - occupying it.  I am one of them now.  Who knew?  I really believe the world is on the verge of huge change, about to finally evolve into something better, but it won't happen overnight.  It is time in my view.  Long overdue.

A metaphor for my own life really.  Time for a huge change.  Long overdue. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ire, Ego, Darkness and Magic

I have so many things I feel like blogging/blabbing about that I can't really decide which topic to pick.  Over the last few days I have had my ire raised, my ego stroked, my dark side make an appearance and experienced a bit of magic.  I have had no time to document any of it, but it is all swirling around inside my heart and my cranium looking for a way out.

So, in the vein of "giving" this Thanksgiving weekend, I will give you a few snippets of them all - like a confession of sorts.  Growing up Roman Catholic, I got quite good at condensing my sinful behaviour for that bizarre ritual.  Mostly I did not know what to say when I got inside that little dark box, so I remember making up what I thought Father Whomever wanted to hear.  I did not get that I could have actually taken advantage of a little free therapy, but no one tells you that when you are 10.  So essentially I reported the same sins each time.  I was mean to my kid brother, I lied to my parents, and I took the name of God in vain.  That sounded like a reasonable list to me and it would warrant minimal penance.  I had not killed anyone, stolen anything, or committed adultery (whatever that meant - at the time I did not understand that term).

Old Padre Whatshisname would then make the sign of the cross, admonish me for lying and being mean to my family and tell me to recite a few Hail Marys and an Our Father and it was over for another quarter.  Then, I would live with the guilt of not having told him what I really had done that seemed sinful and wonder if I was going to burn in hell for that too.  Talk about brainwashing and fucking with a little kid's conscience - it's criminal when you think about it.  I think I was 16 before I really realized what a pile of crap it all was and I have never looked back.

However, that is not what I wanted to talk about today.  Today, I want to say a few other things that have been on my mind lately.  Let's start with Steve Jobs.  Not that I have anything new to add to the volumes that have been written since his death the other day, but I am glad I listened to his Stamford Commencement speech and even happier that I shared it with my 17 year old daughter.   It echoed what I have been telling her all along.....follow your heart.  If I have ever given her any worthwhile advice since the day she was born, I honestly think that is the one piece I cannot emphasize enough.  Hearing it from another source validated it for her and I loved that she heard it from someone like him, not just her mother.  I think she may have even "gotten" it.  She "got" the importance.  Thing is, now she has to live it.  That may not be as easy as it should be.  There is so much pressure to compete, to keep up, to impress.  So far she seems able to avoid those traps and I am proud of her for that. 

I actually think she might be able to pull it off.  And as we know, few really do.  I actually heard some women use the term "MRS degree" this week and it made me sad to think there are still women (and men) out there that think women can rely on finding a man to take care of them financially, so it does not matter what they study or do for a living, as long as they can land a second pay cheque, all will be well.  I have never suggested that to my daughter and I never will.  My own parents, despite their lack of education and knowing never said that to me either.  It never even occurred to me to take that path.  As it happened, I ended up married to a man who was able to provide financially, but it was not the reason I married him and now that I am no longer with him, I once again realize the importance of being self-reliant.  It should be compulsory.  Suggesting anything other than this is preposterous to me - it truly is.

That was what raised my ire. 

Now, on to the ego stroking.  I got singled out at work this week to be sent to the corporate headquarters to collect a "rising star" award.  This was based on the last fiscal year and ironically, ever since that fiscal year ended, I have been sliding down a slippery slope......a falling star it seems.  I wonder if I continue this slump if they will cancel my flight and take back my prize.  The jury is still out on this one, so I will keep you posted.  I am trying to figure out what the universe is trying to tell me.  I always look for the message in everything that happens to me.  But this one has me a little stumped.  Could just simply be that the economy sucks right now and people have tightened the purse strings, or I have lost my mojo, or a combination of both, but I am more inclined to think this is the universe pushing me to make a change again.  Even my daughter suggested I might need to look at tending bar for awhile if things got really bad.  I did that in my twenties and I actually liked it, so it would not be such a bad thing really other than the hours.  I don't do late night so well anymore.....we'll see.

The pirhana bitch made an appearance Friday night.  I lost my temper, said a few things I now regret and have since made her swim back down into the murky waters hoping she will stay put for a while.  I know she will never go away permanently, but as time goes on, I can only hope she makes fewer and fewer appearances.  I apologized, admitted my sin.  It's over.   Nuff said.

And now for the magic. Like pumpkin pie, I saved the best for last.  Josh, Jay and Matt.  Kind of like the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.  Not really, but I just felt like saying that.  No, just three awesome young men that I shared a story with last night that made me realize once again that all any of us really and truly want in life is to be loved for who we are, to feel truly connected to another human being and to know that there is someone out there for all of us. 

It's true Matt.  Just don't forget, it requires maintenance, not unlike a car needs oil changes, or a house needs a new roof every few years.  Don't be afraid of it.  Embrace it.  Throw every ounce of your being into it.  Let yourself be known.  Don't hold back. 

And in the wise words of the great poet Rumi - "Gamble everything for love.....or leave this gathering."

PS.  Burt's Bees Lip Balm RULES!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

About to Erupt

There. Unpacked. Now it is official.  My vacation is over.  Ugh.  It took me 4 days to finally empty my suitcase.  It was an admission of an ending. Not unpacking allowed the memory to linger somehow.  It is always such a mental adjustment coming back from holidays, particularly one that really takes you away from the norm.  The kind that makes you really question your present existence.  City life vs country life.  Cold climates vs warm ones.  Simple vs complicated.  Priorities. Perspectives. The re-examining of one's life choices.  Holidays can really push the envelope for me.
There was a cottage perched on a big rock slab (see below) on the shore of Mabel Lake that we boated past every day.  It was very simple, white siding, a large rectangular deck, a sloped roof, nothing exciting from an architectural perspective, but it stood there calling my name day after day.  It was all alone, nestled amongst a few trees, the location being the most appealing thing about it really.  I could see myself sitting there, at a table near the window, looking out at the lake and mountains, writing, writing and writing.  It fit this vision I have had for so long now. 

My life would be simple, basic, quiet, uncomplicated.  I used to wonder if I would go stir crazy living like that.  Now I don't wonder that so much.  I would need a few things.  I am too used to having contact with the world now - so I would need Internet access, a phone and a car.  There is no cell phone service there, so I  might need to do without that.  When I talk to  people about it, they look at me and think I have lost my mind.  They probably think I just want to take a break.  Maybe they are right.  Maybe that is all I need.  But more and more, when I examine and re-examine, I feel more and more sure that it is what I want. 

Being back here in the city just further emphasizes my desire.  The noise, the traffic, the constant "doing".  A sabbatical.  I think that's what most people call it.  Those fortunate enough to take a year away from their regular lives and go off and write their novels or their thesis, or compose music, or paint or sculpt or indulge in some form of creative expression.  A whole year to just vomit it out.  That's what I need.  And that is what it feels like.  Like I am about to vomit it all out. Like some ancient, lurking, primitive word vomit that is ready to erupt like a volcano if I could only find the time and space to let it out.  Words pouring out of my mind like hot lava covering the past forever and creating an entire new path.

Re-inventing moi.  Phase 2.

Coming Soon.

Writer's retreat of choice

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back from Paradise...for a time.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.  Truer words were never spoken.  Leaving our most western province on Sunday was exactly that.  It happens to me every time.  I fall in love with the beauty that is British Columbia over and over again.  The mountains fill me with awe, the smell of pine and spruce needles drying on the forest floors, the pristine waters of the lakes and rivers and that west coast attitude never cease to grab me. 

And then I start to question why.  Why do I live in Ontario?  Why don't I move back to B.C.?  Please don't take this as a criticism of Ontario.  There is much to love about it.  I was born in this province.  It is home to me, but the first time I cast my eyes upon the Rockies when I was a young woman of 20 or so, it was love at first sight and I don't think I have ever gotten over that first crush.

I lived in Banff for a time, Vancouver on two occasions and have spent a bit of time in Kelowna and Mabel Lake where my brother lives and summers.  I don't think my association with B.C. is over yet.  This last trip left me with a deep yearning to return.  It almost feels like running away.  Maybe that is part of the appeal.  It is vastly different from Ontario - like another country really.  I miss my brother and he is there for life - no question about that. 

At this stage in my life, it is almost a question of "why not?".  What difference would it make to me now?  In less than a year, my daughter will be off to university.  Does it matter where I live?  Between air travel and skype and all the other instant access technologies, what difference does it make if I am here or there?  I would even consider taking up skiing again - something I gave up a few years ago when a knee issue was plaguing me - but it seems much better now - maybe it could take it. 

I have some choices to make over this next year.  And as they say, change is good.

And inevitable.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shine on "Pirhana Bitch"

My astrologer was right.  Today's full moon in Pisces conjunct my natal moon exact is having some sort of major effect on me.  Not quite what I had hoped for, but noticeable nonetheless.  She told me that "all of my demons" would come out today and in retrospect now as I sit here reviewing my day, she may be on to something.

Demons, eh?  Hmmfff!  What demons? OH, THOSE demons.  She also said I might let out my "pirhana bitch" and want to "rip off someone's head and piss on their brain."  When I read that, I thought it sounded a bit dramatic and overly exaggerated, but I took it with a grain of salt and waited.  

The beautiful harvest moon just showed its orange glow over the lake about an hour ago and it was awesome, so much so, I grabbed my camera and took a photo.  Then I sat down and thought about her predictions.  Had my demons risen to the surface today?  Had my "pirhana bitch" reared her ugly head?  Hmmmm. Pondering here.  Oooooo, admittedly, yes.....and yes.  On both counts.  

I hate it when she is right.  So, on that note......sorry Tyler for the bitchy text I sent you about the useless washing machine installers, not  your fault, I know.  Sorry Emma for biting your head off for not wanting to eat the pasta dish I had lovingly made and unthawed for you - why wouldn't you want to eat some mass-produced plastic bowl of preservatives instead?  Also, sorry for scolding you for dropping your fork on the fragile glass coffee table and your food on the white carpet - I can always buy a new table when it breaks and have the carpet shampooed - no worries - I love spending money this way.

After nearly 4 weeks with a broken washing machine, I finally get a new one installed today, only to find out when I get home, that now the dryer won't be functional until Wednesday.  I will just ignore the mountain of laundry in my now impossible to "walk in" closet for a couple more days.  I will wash some delicates and hang them from every available faucet, shower rod or door knob for the next two days to dry - soooooooo attractive.  This "visual demon" that exists inside me - let's address her.  Why do I find it sooooooo hard to live with ugliness?  I walk in the door tonight after work and there is my clothes dryer sitting in the middle of the space between my kitchen and my living room resting on top of a piece of lopsided Styrofoam as though it believes it is some sort of sculpture.  I am not amused.....or  able to see it that way.  My millions of razor-sharp little teeth are really becoming visible now.

So, lets go back a few more hours - work was super busy and so I never really  had too much time to dwell on the email from a client who I had devoted an entire week of my life to a couple of weeks ago.  The email that told me they were not going to move forward with their project for now, "sorry."  Sorry.  They are sorry.  Not nearly as sorry as I am about not being able to meet all my expenses next month thank you very much.  (Insert sound of "pirhana teeth sawing through bones here.) 

Hold on - going to refill my drink cause I believe I am just getting started.  Long cool sip. "Ahhh, yum."  Ok, where was I?  Right - the full moon effects. My lunch.  Or rather the lunch I never got around to eating.  I had thrown a piece of what I thought was lovely aged cheddar in my lunch bag, only to discover when I finally got around to slicing into it at about 4 o'clock, that it was not cheddar at all but a stale piece of asiago that was really inedible.....gag. (I really need to clean out my fridge more often).  So I ate a power bar and some almonds instead and really never felt satisfied.  Hope the resident mice at my office are enjoying that old hunk of cheese in my waste basket right about now - that's where I left it.

I am leaving for vacation on Friday.  This is a good thing you would think, and you're right, it is, however, there are things to tend to before one heads off on holiday and my list is long.  Hair, nails, organize, pack, tie up loose ends at work, pull off miracle at work, drown plants, empty fridge, find time for workouts, sleep and pulling off miracle at work and lose five pounds by Friday.  No worries, got it all under control. 

Ahhhh, now there is that other demon.....Control.  Yes, we know her well.  She sort of goes hand in hand with "aversion to ugly" demon.  She has been around for decades.  She arrived on the scene around the age of 7.  She is really hard to shake.  Just when I think I have rid her forever, some sort of event rolls around and stirs her up.  A party, a gathering, an event - she thrives on these things.  This really revs her up.  She is a perfectionist.  And she will not quit until everything is under control.  Until every detail is tended to and every detail is picture perfect.  Someone once told me she would make a great art director - she sees the world in vignettes.  Perfect vignettes.  She even notices the perfect vignettes every where she goes.  In movies, in homes, in shops, in restaurants, in nature, hell, she can see it almost anywhere and when things are not aesthetically pleasing to her, she has a desire to fix it or change it or "direct it".  She is really scary and she needs to learn to relax.  Wine helps. (when all else fails), but she also likes to be in control of that too, so it never gets out of hand, just necessary sometimes.

Ok, there.  "Pirhana bitch" is just about done for the day.  The drink has finally mellowed me enough that I actually feel less bitchy.  Like I said, necessary sometimes. 

And one last thing, one more apology.  I promised a friend I would do a favour for them today and I ran out of time and it will have to wait until tomorrow - please don't be mad - tomorrow, I promise! 

I really need a holiday. 


PS.  If you hear something strange and wolf-like coming from the north shore of Lake Ontario near Port Credit tonight, it is just the "pirhana bitch" howling at the full moon.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Table for One Please

That was fun.  OK, maybe fun is the wrong word.  It was interesting.  Nah, still the wrong word.  Let's see.  Liberating.  Yes, that might fit.  Or maybe just my new "normal".  Dining alone.  I have never really had a problem with it - well not since I turned 30 anyway.  Prior to that, I was not likely to seek it out.  My awesome amazing 17 year old daughter on the other hand does it regularly whenever the mood strikes her - she soooo impresses me with her independence and confidence that way - so unlike me at that age.

Anyway - back to dining alone.  I came home from work tonight, kinda tired, did not feel like cooking or going to the gym or anything that might be remotely good for me, so I cracked open a nice bottle of chardonnay and had a couple of glasses and enjoyed my view and some nice thin slices of parmigiana reggiano.  Well, that was a nice warm-up, so after reading a few passages from The Book of Awakening, I figured since I was still dressed, I would go out for dinner on my  own.  I was really craving some red meat.  I was pretty sure I could get a decent meal at this place near me as I have had some nice fish there and surely they could do a good grill job on some cow for me as well. 

So, I saunter over there - it's just kitty-corner to my building, a bit of a happening spot really, but on the Sunday night of  a long weekend - pretty quiet.  I am told it is wild there on Thursday nights, but knowing that, I will avoid that night.  Not into wild right now.  Anyway, I digress.  So the hostess seats me in a nice private quiet corner booth which is perfect since I wanted to read and as I got comfy, I read the menu (had to pull the candle over as it was so dim), was all decided and then I waited, and waited, and waited.  So then I start thinking no one was informed that I was there and I am getting impatient cause now I am really hungry and so I get this brilliant idea to phone the restaurant and tell them I am ready to order and could they please send a waiter over to my table.

Of course, I have to dial 411 to get the number and they don't understand me, so I have to wait for a live operator and by the time I go through all that, the waitress finally arrives at my table, whereupon I tell her I was just trying to call her.  She is not amused.  Hey, I thought it was pretty clever actually - so now I am getting a bit of a defensive attitude from her, but instead of giving it back to her, I say "hope you did not think I was being a bitch by saying that" and that sort of softened her up a bit, but not enough to bend on the prix fixe menu (I only wanted the main course, not the appy and dessert) so I said OK then - just bring me an appy, and I will have a taste and I will let you know later if I want the dessert.  I order a nice Australian Shiraz to go with my herb-crusted beef tenderloin and she departs.

I like my little dark corner.  It is almost too dark.  So I use the candle-light to read  my book while I wait for my wine to arrive and it works pretty well - not ideal, but doable.  I look up and take in the surroundings.  It is a newish place, so modern and minimalistic, 12 globe light fixtures hanging from a high ceiling at varying sizes and heights, sort of like a high school science project of the planets without Saturn's rings.  I wondered if the designer did 12 on purpose to emulate the zodiac.  Possible but not likely. 

My third glass of wine is kicking in nicely now - just about the same time it starts to pour outside.  I can see it coming down out the window next to me.  It is romantic and dark and wet and they  have some blue twinkly lights strung in the trees out on the patio and it makes me think of Christmas and that is one place I really do not want to go tonight, so I shift my gaze back to my book and continue reading Mark Nepo and his infinite wisdom and delicious philosophizing and think "this is the kind of book I would like to write."  The three glasses of wine convince me it would be a breeze and so I jot down a few things as I read his passages.

Some of them are so poignant, I feel a need to share them, so I text a couple quotes to some friends as they seem appropriate to their current situations. I also admit my dietary and financial irresponsibility to one friend as I decide to accept the trio of assorted gelato with fresh raspberries after all.  (It was included  - how could I say no?)  I savour every bit of this heavenly bowl of cool, creamy frozen Italian answer to joy and joke with the waitress when she picks up my empty dish telling her it was horrible and I want to send it back.  By now, she is warming up to me and she delivers my leftover dinner in a nice take-away container and this is how I justify my extravagant night out - it was two meals really.  Now I have lunch or dinner all ready for tomorrow.

The rain has eased a bit as I head for the exit and the waitress thanks me and refers to me as "my good lady" and for a moment I wonder if I am actually living in medieval England, or if Jack the Ripper will be waiting outside for me in a dark alley, but it is just a passing thought and I step out into the mist, the rain has stopped and the warm late summer night has the tiniest hint of cool to it and a hint of autumn in the air, and I feel content and OK, really OK.

I can do this. I really can.  I just did.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Bruno Mars Day

Up here in the clouds this morning - thick as mud. I can see the sun trying to break through, but it still has a bit of work to do. I love the ever-changing moods from my perch up here on the 16th floor and I am glad now that I did not get the same unit 10 floors below when I was deciding which one to live in. The lower floor was a little less expensive, but the view was not as stellar and for once, I did not let money dictate my decision - I let my heart and the universe decide for me. Those two are always right by the way.
My kitchen island where I am sitting right now is where I practically live as the windows that surround me here allow me a bird's eye view of everything going on around me. The street below, the lake, the surrounding hood and on a day like today, even a feeling of floating on a cloud. I initially had a little vertigo, but it did not take long to get over that. There is constant movement below. Cars, people, delivery trucks, sailboats, motor boats, yachts. We are always going somewhere. Doing something. We rarely sit still when you think of it. Yesterday I sat still. Every now and again, I find it necessary to do that.
Women understand this. This is a day where you don't care how you are dressed. You don't put on any make-up. You might throw a brush through your hair quickly. I ate what I felt like without thinking about what it was. A carb? A protein? Organic? I did whatever I felt. I went with the flow of my mood. I napped. I watched an old favourite movie (Good Will Hunting), I cooked a bit, I read a bit, I made a couple of phone calls to people I needed to reach out to. I tried to remain guilt-free about my lazy day and I think I actually succeeded. I did not work out. I did nothing taxing. It was great.
Today I will resume my usual pace. I will eat better. I will engage socially. I will work out. I will play tennis. I will shop. I will join the throngs 16 floors below me in the daily dance of "doing". But I will do it refreshed. My day of rest behind me. But for the moment, I will sit here in the remaining fog, sipping my coffee, gathering up the momentum to "get out there". I think foggy rainy days are a gift to us sometimes. They give us permission to recharge. It is almost impossible to have a lazy day when the sun is shining. Those are "do" days.
OK, the gym beckons. I'm off. Grateful for having the choice.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tomorrow can be too Late

It's my first day off after working 14 in a row and so it should not surprise me that I am a bit pooped. In addition to that, it is one of those gray hazy days, almost foggy from where I sit up here on my perch and it seems almost suitable for some shitty news I got just a little while ago.
My brother's best friend from childhood and young adulthood passed away this morning. He would have been about 51. A stroke apparently snatched him away and now he's gone, just like that. When these things happen, especially these sudden, surprising deaths, it really causes one to pause. I am always struck with the finality of death. Like I can't or don't want to accept it. We say things to ourselves like, "no, it can't be true, surely someone made a mistake, not him (or her), they were too young." And then we start to think about the last time we saw that person, or someone from their family, or why we had not seen them for so long, or could we have made a difference in the outcome of their lives if we had been more present.
In this case, it was not really "my" friend but it was someone meaningful to my brother and I am sure he will be taking his own introspective journey over the next little while as he comes to terms with his old friend's dying. We are all faced with it sooner or later.
It is also usually a time when we become especially grateful for the people who are still alive and a part of our lives and maybe even nudges us to make that phone call, arrange that meeting, stop and give an extra hug, think before we do something that does not promote good health or contribute to our own longevity. Remind us yet again that this ain't no dress rehearsal.
Cliches abound at these times - but the truth is, they exist for a reason. Sometimes something or someone has to die in order for something or someone to live.....or start living. I just took a quote off my blog the other day, so I will say it here once again. Not sure who said it originally, but it is part of a lyric now by Drake - "Everybody dies, but not everybody lives."
If you are waiting for something in your life to change before you start to "live", I suggest you re-think that plan. Take the leap. Jump in. Move forward. Don't look back. Conquer your fear. You never know when you will never get another chance.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rising Above it All

Wow, I am a bit behind here now aren't I? Where did the last 6 weeks go and why did I not write a single blog that whole time?
Well, sometimes life gets in the way and my life got in the way in a huge way this summer, so I am finally feeling like I could spit out a few words for what they are worth. I am not going to get into what got in the way of my writing this summer. I will only say it has been rather life-altering and now I am just starting to adjust to the changes.
It did involve moving. I moved from a two-story, three-bedroom house in an established neighbourhood and into a lakefront condo in a charming neighbourhood where I now reside close to the top of said building with a bird's eye view of Lake Ontario and the downtown skyline, as well as a view north to Mississauga's city centre. I am awestruck daily at how beautiful the views are. In the morning I see the sunrise in all it's glory. Throughout the day I see sailboats and the tree canopy and the city off in the distance. At night, I see the twinkling lights of all the buildings and the moonlight on the lake and I honestly cannot decide which is the most awesome.
The sunrises and sunsets are about tied for their spectacular colours and moods and the sailboats are a close second as they are a bright pristine contrast against the clear blue sky and water. I have never lived this high up before and it is new and novel and more enjoyable that I ever expected it to be. I am still putting the interior together and there is a large blank spot above my sofa that is crying out for some art. Someone said to me - "what about a landscape?", and my first thought was - "NOT!", as I am completely surrounded by landscape art in all it's realistic glory. I am thinking something very graphic, black and white, almost Pollock-like but not quite as busy or frenetic, something a little more structured and architectural perhaps. I will know it when I see it and when I do, I just hope I can afford it. If not, maybe I will try to reproduce it myself (note to self - start saving!).
OK, so back to high-rise living. Garbage chutes - gotta love them! No more bins to wheel back and forth to the side of the road, no more smell, no more big green bags. Just a walk down the hallway, press the button for which type of trash it is, and open the door and "presto" it's gone.
The garbage chute is on the way to the elevator; yet another new part of my daily life. There are a bank of three. No matter which one I stand by, another one always comes. Most days I ride in the space alone, and on the occasion that there is someone already on when I board, it amazes me how friendly the other residents are. It's not like an office tower where everyone looks at the numbers descending, it is more like a social experience. It's quite pleasant really. There has been the odd time where someone immersed in their Blackberry hardly looks up, but mostly people say hello and exchange pleasantries. I have also discovered that there are a lot of dogs in my building; the woof woof kind, not ugly people. Were I a dog person, I imagine I would be making fast friends, but as I am not, I just smile and say things like - "Oh, what kind of dog is that?" or "What is your dog's name?", in hopes I might actually remember it at the next encounter, but I don't.
I do remember one woman who introduced herself though. She actually shook my hand, said "nice to meet you, my name is Diana, like the princess", and that is something I will never forget because I loved her and always will and now this woman's name is etched in my memory, thanks to her little tag line. I must try that one myself...."Hello, my name is Debra, like Deborah Kerr from the old movies, you know, An Affair to Remember? That would stick I think, well with women anyway as we are all complete saps when it comes to that movie.
Ok, back to my new digs. I am like a reformed smoker when it comes to my complete lack of mourning my yard and garden and the necessary maintenence. I don't miss my garden or yard at all - in fact, I barely remember to water the three potted plants on the balcony. I like this freedom. I read instead. Or go to the gym. Or go for a walk. Or do just about anything but that. I had found it had become a chore rather than a joy and with that behind me, I can now focus on all the things I never had time to do when I was stuck with that. Ok, ok, so I can't step out my door and clip some fresh herbs, or snip a quick bouquet for the window sill or table, but I can pick up those things on my way back from my walk and still enjoy them just as much. If I never have to fill a lawn mower with gas again, it won't be too soon either.
I will continue in the days and weeks to come to share my new found freedoms with you as they occur to me, but for now, just let me say....change can be good, not always easy, but definitely fresh and new and sometimes much needed.
And one more thing.....if the man who looked like Vince Vaughn on the elevator this morning with his chocolate lab is reading this post...I am not always as flakey as I was this morning. Really, truly, I am not. And the blonde hair is not original, so you can't blame that!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rarely a Dull Moment in my "Colourful" Life

Every now and again I am reminded how "colourful" my life has been. I go along thinking that in the big picture my life is fairly insignificant, but then I experience a moment in time that say "wait a sec, your life has been pretty interesting so far."
It is usually the result of feedback from others. Things said to me like, "Wow, Deb, is there any job you have not done?" Or, "Gee Deb, you have really seen a lot of the world." As time passes these things just seem ordinary to me, the sort of things I expected to happen to me on the journey I call my life, but apparently, not everyone has had such a "colourful" existence. In theory I get this. I know that when I see someone begging for spare change on the street in their early twenties, the likelihood they have "lived" much of a life at all is slim.
I get that some people have never left their home town or flown to a distant land, or earned a university degree, or never had to worry all that much about where their next meal is coming from. I imagine there are not many people sitting around right now sipping a cold glass of Pinot Grigio whilst shaving off and eating paper thin slices of fresh parmigiana reggiano, listening to some inspirational music and banging out a blog on their laptop keyboard.
The crazy thing is, I still feel like I have so many more things to experience, so many more things to do to fulfill my own particular "bucket list." And the problem is that sometimes I worry that time is running out. I am still healthy and young enough to do most of the things on my list, but the clock is ticking now - and ticking faster all the time.
When will I get my novel written? When will I hike in Patagonia? When will I finally seriously devote myself to a meditation practice? Will I ever build the house of my dreams? And what about all those art courses i want to take? I am not a patient woman. Some people might say - "oh Deb, you will get to it one day." But what if "one day" never comes?
Guess I need a plan. Not one of my strong suits. Planning. Sure, I can plan a trip, or book theatre tickets or enroll in a course for the fall, but what I need is a "life plan". But that is scary. Cause a "life plan" entails a beginning and and end. Time is a factor and if you make a plan for every year or every six months say, then eventually you run out of time. So maybe that's why I prefer to just fly by the seat of my pants and go with the flow of my feelings and whatever life presents me with at any given time.
I once met a woman at a Club Med in The Bahamas who had every trip of her life for the next 10 yrs planned. She knew that the following year she would take a trip to The Galapagos, the following year Tuscany, the year after that, an Arctic Cruise - I thought at the time that she was too organized. Too Type A. Too unspontaneous. And maybe all those things are true about her, but at least she was not disorganized and never sure about where she was headed like I am.
I just cannot for the life of me imagine living like her. Life is too unpredictable. That much I know for sure. I would rather not have plans. That way when they don't come to fruition, you don't have to get your knickers in a twist. Just shrug it off and say C'est la vie!
However, I will see if I can try to wrap my head around the next 6 months and see how that goes.
Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Electrical Box Installation - it's NOT Rocket Science!

OK, I have come to the conclusion that most and I mean the MAJORITY of builders of new homes are complete and utter morons. I have evidence and 20 years of interior design experience backing up this statement and I have no problem with any builder out there who wants to challenge me on this. Bring it fucking on! On a weekly basis I see brand new homes. My clients meet me there to proudly show me their new homes they have purchased and hire me to assist them in making their design dreams come true. I love doing this. I love helping people plan and turn their empty shells into a home. What I DON'T love is the anxiety and disappointment my clients face when they see all the mistakes their builders have made when they step across the threshold of their dream homes. I have seen the horrific faces of these folks as they unveil their spaces to me, only to discover the wrong granite has been installed, the cheaper mouldings have been installed, the paint is the wrong colour, the electricians have installed their security system key pads or thermostats in the middle of a wall where a mirror or piece of art should hang, the electrical boxes for their chandeliers are not centred over their tables, or their islands, the bathroom fixtures are almond instead of the white they ordered - the list goes on! This is not rocket science folks. These are simple requests that have been ordered and paid for ahead of time that seem simple but apparently are NOT. This is not an occasional slip-up. This happens EVERY time. I have never been to a new home where the home-owner says - "LOOK DEBRA - every thing is just as we ordered - how lovely." NOPE! All I see and hear are all the mistakes that have been made. So, I have got to thinking. There must be a business opportunity here for me somehow. Surely, I could get it right for them. These are NOT difficult things. These are sloppy, unnecessary errors that could be avoided sooooooo easily. What is the bloody problem out there? I cannot believe what happens. It is beyond me how these things continually occur. Is the answer that only high-end jobs get done right? Is there no pride in one's work any more? Do these jerks install thermostats in the middle of an entry hall wall on purpose? Are they so out of touch with how a home is put together from an interior design perspective that they just don't give a rat's ass? Are they complete and utter morons? WHO is supervising these jobs? Who is allowing this? Do they really think it's OK? I DON'T get it!!!!!! Is it a ploy to have to get the electricians to have to come back and fix it - so they get paid twice? So the granite installers, painters, plumbers get paid twice? Is that it? Is it that simple? Is it just a money grab? Politicians could learn a thing or two from these guys. It's pathetic. It's pathetic that there is no pride in a job well done. It is pathetic that my clients have to pay more money to have these things repaired, replaced or re-done. It is just appalling to me. If I had to do every interior decorating job over again every time I would be out of work. How is it these guys get away with this? I feel I need to stop this - to stop this madness once and for all. It really pisses me off. Enough already. Time to do something about it. Give me some time - I am sure I will come up with a solution. If there are any tradesmen out there reading this who are up to the challenge of doing it right - send me a reply - we might have an opportunity here to get it right. Are you up to the challenge? Let me know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Feed my Play List ..... Please!

What is it about a new song that makes me want to listen to it over and over and over again. I have been doing this since I was a kid with my first record player. I had a red record player that had a lid on it and it actually ran on batteries. The first album I shelled out my hard-earned babysitting money for was Herman's Hermits - There's A Kind of Hush All Over The World. I bet I wore out a dozen batteries playing that song over and over again. My next question is what happens to make you reach the saturation point with a song? Is it because you just get bored with it? Or is it because a new hit comes along to replace it? And depending on the song, sometimes it gets to a point where if you have to listen to it one more time you think you'll scream. Other times, you just lose interest and stop pressing the play button on your I Pod and hit the forward arrow to find something you haven't heard in a while that get your mojo going. Right now I can't get enough of Rolling in the Deep by Adele. How long before I am sick of it? Any one's guess really. But at a certain point I will get tired of it and I will only listen to it occasionally instead of constantly. It's kind of like sex in a new relationship (I do remember what that was like). You can't get enough of each other - you're all over each other every day - several times a day, and then eventually, you are not. I do see a very interesting parallel here. It's not unlike addiction in a way. You hear it. You start to seek it out. You buy the song. You listen to it over and over. But eventually, you start to crave something new, something that will give you a fresh charge. And on it goes. At least with music, it is harmless and won't land you in the hospital or in a gutter or suffering with an STD. And what happens next? You stop listening to the song so intently. You no longer turn it up when it comes on the car radio. You keep it on your play list, but you sometimes skip it when it comes on. Once in a while you listen to it again all the way through, but not every time. Then it gets relegated to the "has been" list. You hardly ever play it at all. Time passes. Months. Years sometimes. Then oddly, one day you happen to hear it again and it sounds fresh again for some reason. You find yourself cranking it up again, singing along because your brain has filed away the lyrics and you know every word. You feel that same feeling again you had when it was new again. But it doesn't last. Over the next few days you might play it a few times, but it's only a brief encounter with the past joy it brought you. However, there are many songs that you will always love - and no matter when they reappear on the radio, or at a party, or in a movie, or being covered by a new and younger singer or band (never appreciated) and you have this little space in your heart for those songs because they are part of your history now and they often can make you recall a moment in time, a place, a person, an event - a song can transport me back in time so accurately it is almost scary. Sometimes I am actually amazed that I can be continually stimulated by new music - and I really notice when nothing has come along to pique my interest for awhile. And what is it that makes you like a new song? How many times do you need to hear it before it captures you? For me, it varies. It can happen the first time I hear a song, but that is rare. I usually need to hear it at least twice or three times before it sets into my brain like slow firming jello. Not unlike dating - sometimes you're into him on the first one, sometimes it takes 2 or 3 before something clicks and of course there are the songs/dates that never do it for you. Since, I started writing this blog, I have played Rolling in the Deep about 8 times. Not sick of it yet, still grooving to it, still moving to it, still memorizing the lyrics, it is still making me want to dance and turn it up. This one will have some staying power I suspect, but I say that about all of them at first. Am I alone here? Am I like a "love em and leave em" Casanova when it comes to music? Maybe I am. Maybe there is a 12 step program for people like me. If there is, I don't want to be cured. I refuse to join. Just keep giving me more hits. I'll keep listening. Feed my play list. Yum.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pass me a Sombrero - it's Nap Time

There is a rarity to this moment. It is 5:00 pm, on a late Saturday afternoon. The rain is falling steadily. I went to an early matinee with my daughter and when we got home we threw a nice pesto pasta primavera together, a late lunch/early dinner and now she is napping on the sofa behind me, a grey sky peering in at us from outside, nothing but the sound of this keyboard and the softly falling rain on the metal roof of this family room. Not a typical Saturday. Normally, we would be busy "doing". But instead, I am feeling quite mellow from the nice glass of Shiraz I drank with my pasta and there is a contented peacefulness surrounding me, her gentle breathing mixed with the sound of the rain, like a mantra were I meditating. Afternoon naps, not a common activity in this house, but for some reason today, completely appropo. There is a decadence associated with an afternoon nap. Some countries have it right - but not here. Not in North America. In Canada, we are a little more relaxed than our neighbours to the south, but generally speaking, we still place too many demands on our time - all self-inflicted. If you read my previous blog, you will learn I was up in the middle of the night writing it, so for all intents and purposes, I should be napping now too. Hmmmm, I think I just decided I would. See ya later. I'm off. I'll tell you about the movie later.

Did Sinatra lie awake too?

When the sun is high In the afternoon sky You can always find something to do But from dusk til dawn As the clock ticks on Something happens to you In the wee small hours of the morning While the whole wide world is fast asleep You lie awake and think about.......
It's 2:18 am. I'm awake. Women my age are cursed with this problem. We wake up and all the details of our day and the details of what we need to do the next day swirl around in our brains until we eventually fall back to sleep. Some nights are worse than others. Nights like this. Nights where I give in. Nights when no amount of counting sheep or "relaxing my body from head to toe," one body part at a time will lull me back to the land of nod. So I turn on the light. Sometimes I read, sometimes I get up and go to the kitchen and eat a bowl of cereal as it is sometimes hunger pangs that have awakened me. Tonight the sound of car tires on the wet roads, their whooshing monotony repeating again and again do not comfort, they annoy me. So here I am, alone at my desk, one small light glowing, the silence of the night surrounding me, the distant whooshing, less annoying now that I am not trying to fall back to sleep. I sometimes wonder if city living is what contributes to my nocturnal disruptions. The constant white noise of traffic, the odd siren, the occasional group of inebriated revelers passing by with their boisterous voices - is that what wakes me? I dream of sleeping somewhere night after night where it is completely quiet. Oddly enough, when I sometimes do, the silence seems strange and it can make falling and staying asleep just as difficult. I recall once staying at a friend's farm, the crickets early on in the night, followed by the low moan of distant cows, not all that peaceful really. There is one sound I like, the sound of rain falling on a roof, or skylight. That can act as a sedative. Maybe I am at a point where I need to look into sedatives, but I have such an aversion to any kind of drug or unnatural method, that gets ruled out. I wonder if we are waking for a reason? It can produce some of my more creative solutions; this time in the night when the world is at rest. There is a peacefulness about it that can be lovely really. Uninterrupted time. No ringing phones, no voices, no voice in my own head reminding me of things I should be doing. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure almost. Time that is all mine. Time I don't have to share with anyone. My mother says she suffers from this more and more as she ages. I think she lies awake reviewing her life now, wondering about the path she took and what she might have done differently. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe she just thinks about grocery lists and the changes she will make in her garden the next day, but something tells me her thoughts go deeper than that. Maybe she lies there next to my father, listening to him breath like she has for 53 years and wonders how she has managed to last the better part of her life with one man. Is there a comfort to that, or does she say - "what the hell was I thinking?" Hard to say. Does she ever wonder what might have been? Does she ever think about her destiny in this lifetime and whether or not it has been fulfilled? That is something I think about lately. All the time in fact. The fulfillment of my own destiny. I used to be content with motherhood. That seemed like a decent "destiny defining" role. But something happens when they grow up. What gave you a sense of purpose for many years, no longer needs you or feeds you in the same way. It's something all mothers face eventually I am sure. Some never stop, never really let go, but that's not me. I would be one of those mother birds that nudges her little ones out of the nest a bit early, forcing them to flap and fly, or fall. Maybe because I was an early out of the nest bird myself - that seems natural to me. No point trying to stay in the nest when there is a whole wide world out there to discover. I don't get these kids that stay home into their 30's these days. It's beyond me. Maybe our destiny is broken up into phases and I am in between phases, so this middle of the night waking is more of a "wake-up call". A time of clear-headed thinking that is necessary to soldier on to the next phase. In our busy lives, it is almost impossible to carve out the time during the day for this kind of thinking. It would be good now though if I could just move on to this next phase with a little more sleep being banked each night. I sense it is coming soon. I hope.

Friday, May 6, 2011

To Bloom or not to Bloom.......

And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. - Anais Nin
I love this quote. It has been following me around for the last couple of years, appearing regularly here and there. It was in the forward of a book I read, it was sent to me by my astrologer, it echoed in my memory as I bought myself a silver ring in the shape of a fully blossoming rose last summer. A few years ago, when I lived in Vancouver, I purchased a couple of botanical prints at a yard sale. I was not familiar with the flowers that had been masterfully painted by an artist named L. Noble. I would later learn she was quite famous for her botanical art and that had they been originals, I would have hit pay dirt, however, they were prints and I just liked them. One was the Pink Fawn Lily and the other was a yellow Trout Lily. I had never seen either of these at the time in real life, but when I moved to Toronto, lo and behold, there were some Trout Lilies growing in the little woodland garden in my own back yard. I was surprised how small they were, how delicate, how perfect. They come and go early in the spring here, so if you are not observant, you will miss them. They grow like weeds on the forest floor and they are in full bloom right now all along the Humber River trail that I walk at least a couple times per week. As I walked the trail earlier today, I took such joy at the many carpets of them that I saw along the way on the forested parts of the trail. I took an especially close look at them today and it occurred to me that not every plant produced a flower. Not unlike humans I thought. There they all were - masses of them, all reaching for the sun before the tree leaves arrive and block the light for the summer. It made me wonder why some were able to blossom while others could not. They all had the same environment. The soil feeding them was the same. The moisture levels were identical. And yet, only some were reaching their full potential. Only some were fulfilling their destiny, their purpose in life. How like humans indeed. And then I took it a step further and wondered if the non-bloomers were content with their lot in life, or like humans, were they frustrated that they could not bloom? Did they wonder what life might hold for them outside the forest floor? Did they seek answers for their inability to flourish? Or was it enough for them to just survive? Was living there amongst the bloomers OK with them? Were they envious of the beautiful blooms around them? Did they wish they could be more like them? Or, did they just sit back and accept their position amongst the bloomers? Perhaps the safety and security of just being alive in the crowd was enough to satisfy them. So it would seem. The truth is, the frail Trout Lily would not survive outside the cool and shady forest floor. They are in the forest for a reason. That is their home, the only place they can grow. Which begs the question, if humans were to allow nature to take its course, allow their destiny to unfold as it should, would we be more content? Would it create an inner peace inside us? Would we stop struggling, stop trying to swim upstream, slow down, stop beating ourselves up, stop trying so hard to reach that level of perfection? Just be the plant. Or, if you're lucky, the flower. Ahhhh, if it were only that simple. I envy those who are content to be the plant. The non-blooming Trout Lily that dares to try and grow outside the forest takes a huge risk. I imagine few even try. And it would surely be next to impossible to thrive elsewhere without the helping hand of a human. That would make it possible. The correct environment could be re-created, the soil conditions duplicated, the careful monitoring of moisture - all of it could be provided. But it's not natural. It takes work. It takes commitment. It takes desire. Only brave and courageous Trout Lilies could make it. Frightened or cowardly plants would stay behind in the forest. Which plant are you?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Day Without Music........well it just ain't gonna happen!

"Mom, it's like you're the teenager and I am the adult!" My 16 year old has said this to me more than once. Mostly she is referring to my taste in music. When she gets in my car, she immediately changes the radio station - from Virgin Radio 99.9 that I listen to mainly to Vinyl 95.3 (hits from the 60's 70's and 80's). Is there something wrong with this picture? She thinks so. I like pop music. She hates it. We do agree on the odd song. We both like Lady GaGa. She just came in here and asked what I was listening to. I told her Let's Play by Kristina Maria. She had no idea who I was talking about. It's my current fave song. It's dancey, kinda kinky and "oh so pop!" Oddly enough, she loves Earth, Wind and Fire - good thing, cause if she didn't - I might have to disown her. They were (and are) old faves of mine. I think she humours me a bit with some of the old disco music, but at least she does not switch the car radio when it comes on - tossing mom a bone perhaps. I have always liked the chart toppers - ever since I started listening to my first transistor radio in bed at night to lull me to sleep. It was one of those little hand held jobs - red - with a wrist strap. I loved that radio. I went through a lot of 6 volt batteries. I listened faithfully to CHUM AM for years. Static and all. I graduated to a larger red radio with a carry handle that ran on both battery power or electricity after that - I was about 11. It also had an FM band, so now I could expand my horizons a bit, but I still liked CHUM AM for a long time. In my later teen years, it was CHUM FM, Q107 or CFNY. I flipped around between those three until I found a song I liked - CONSTANTLY! I was never NOT on top of whatever new song was being aired. And now here she is, essentially listening to all that stuff I used to listen to for years. She is also into "alternative music". She is very selective. She hates rap and pop. I think she is probably more evolved musically than I am - although we both do enjoy some classical music too. She has Tchaikovsky on her I POD and I have some Vivaldi on mine. There are times when that is all that will soothe our souls. I could not live without music - at least I would not want to anyway. She is the same way. I'm glad she loves music. I don't care what kind of music. I'm just glad she finds solace and joy in it - the same way I do. Given the choice, I'd take listening to music over TV any day. And we both like it loud. We had a Musical Scrabble night on the weekend. She has a bit of a weakness for show tunes as well - and her Glee soundtracks cover a lot of that, so we invented Scrabble words and musical lyrics together - the perfect mother-daughter evening. Won't be long before she can join me on nights like this with a glass of wine as well. Simple pleasures. The best kind. Always accompanied by music.